August 20, 2009
Claimed RHP Chris Lambert off of waivers from the Tigers, and optioned him to Norfolk (Triple-A). [8/20]
Outrighted RHP Chris Schroder to Sacramento (Triple-A). [8/19]
Purchased RHP Scott Patterson from the Padres. [8/20]
Placed LHP Eddie Guardado on the 15-day DL (knee), retroactive to 8/15; recalled RHP Willie Eyre from Oklahoma City. [8/19]
Activated OF-R Nelson Cruz from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Guillermo Moscoso to Oklahoma City; traded INF-S Jose Vallejo to the Astros to complete the trade for C-R Ivan Rodriguez. [8/20]
Bass-ackwards lefties with durability issues are hard pitchers to create useful usage patterns for, to the point that you should ask yourself who's being served by the attempt: you, or Mr. Ackwards. Unsurprisingly, Guardado's been anything but an asset this season (outside of the solid citizenship categories, I suppose), handily ranking as the Rangers' worst regular reliever: 5.80 FRA, -2.0 ARP, -0.1 WXRL. Add in the pastings he takes from his fellows among the gauche (lefties have hit him at a .370/.442/.587 clip), and what sort of role is left for him? Going after right-handers who don't have a lot of power when you've got a big lead (he's given up five homers in 91 PA)? Do you really need to pay Eddie Guardado in particular to address that critical mission?
Which is to say, whatever might be said about his value as a person and as a teammate, they're not going to miss that kind of performance all that much from their second lefty. Instead, they've opted out of having one, leaving the situational duties to C.J. Wilson alone, while adding Eyre to sop up middle-relief opportunities that don't already go to Jason Jennings. Since Neftali Feliz is shining in a set-up role, and Wilson complements Darren O'Day to give Ron Washington an excellent pair of situational weapons, the Rangers' pen isn't even remotely short-handed because of Guardado's absence.
8/21 Addendum: So, they did the interesting thing by way of keeping Julio Borbon on the roster with Cruz back and active, which is entirely swell... except that in that first game last night, they put Cruz back out in right, left Josh Hamilton in center, and had Borbon DH; Marlon Byrd started in left and batted cleanup. It's one night, sure, and I can understand wanting to put Cruz back on the field to get him back on that horse, so to speak. But a huge component of Borbon's value is his glove work in center field. Hamilton may not be more than the third-best center fielder on the team, yet he's the one starting there? Meanwhile, they're still carrying Hank Blalock's stiffening bat at first base, as he plunges deeper into Dave Hostetler-level ignominy. How many favors do the Red Sox need to call in to make it into October, anyway?
Outrighted OF-L Jeff Salazar to Indianapolis (Triple-A). [8/20]
Sold RHP Scott Patterson to the Athletics. [8/20]
Optioned RHP Mitchell Boggs to Memphis (Triple-A); signed RHP John Smoltz. [8/19]
Activated LHP Jaime Garcia from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to Memphis. [8/20]
Having signed the elder statesman in a move of Heintz-like anticipated, slow obviousness, it's important to recognize that his role, at least initially, will not be in the bullpen. Instead, he's taking over the fifth slot of the rotation from Boggs. He'll also get the benefit of as soft a landing as you might conjure up in the abstract, since he'll get to face the Padres this weekend in Petco come Sunday. He also stands to get additional rest between his Cardinals debut and his second start, courtesy of the offday next Monday, putting him in line to make his first St. Louis start against the Nationals the following weekend. And if he's having any problems bouncing back? Because of another offday on the Monday after that, he could be moved back to make his third start the weekend after that, in Pittsburgh. Doing that and putting him on the mound in Pittsburgh on September 5th would line him up to face his first actual good opponent-the Braves-on 9/11. Such a schedule would put Smoltz at no danger of having to start on as little as four days' rest between turns until the middle of September, or a point at which they ought to have Todd Wellemeyer back, as well as know how much they need to worry about such things, or if they aren't already so far ahead of the Cubs that the division title's a foregone conclusion.
Of course, there's also his extensive experience in the bullpen and in the postseason, which will come in handy should Smoltz not be numbered among their front four in the rotation by the time October action rolls around, because it isn't like they couldn't just slap him into the pen a la el Duque '05, and have cause to feel good about it. It isn't like Brad Thompson or Jason Motte are doing great things in the Birdpen.