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September 23, 2009

Transaction Action

AL Roundup

by Christina Kahrl

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CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Released RHP Bartolo Colon. [9/16]
Activated RHP Jake Peavy from the 15-day DL. [9/19]

Peavy's getting a brief spin to give the organization and its fans a brief teaser, an 'up' from a stretch drive that's involved far too much down. However, as the curtain goes down on the Sox, there's a lot to take satisfaction in as far as the rotation's concerned, beyond getting a peek at Peavy. Gavin Floyd and John Danks both proved that their 2008 campaigns weren't mirages by again delivering quality seasons, with .543 and .545 SNWP marks, respectively. Mark Buehrle rattled off four consecutive quality starts before his last turn to help stifle concerns that the perfect game paradoxically ruined his year. Freddy Garcia's comeback appears complete, in that he's got a live six-quality-start streak and is going deeper into ballgames. In short, the rotation's fine, and remains the platform upon which any future aspirations for contention rest; the decision to ditch Jose Contreras has less to do with running up a white flag as it does with an acknowledgment that the Sox already had a number of better options. The problem has been the lineup, and while Alex Rios has gotten much of the flogging on that score, Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye have busily done their part to sap the offense of life and bring the team's season to a premature, bitter end.


CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled C-R Lou Marson from Columbus (Triple-A). [9/7]
Purchased the contract of SS-S Niuman Romero from Columbus. [9/8]
Placed CF-L Grady Sizemore on the 15-day DL (elbow), retroactive to 9/4. [9/11]
Placed RHP Joe Smith on the 15-day DL (sprained knee). [9/14]

Marson's up and getting a look, but I guess I keep wondering why there's that much point on the attempted hook, that this is a redemptive bit of "looky, we got something for Cliff Lee!" He's not someone who represents a great bet to supplant Kelly Shoppach now, or to keep the job away from Carlos Santana later. He might figure into some playing time if Shoppach's arbitration-related payday puts him on the block this winter, and then later should the Indians elect to observe with Santana a usage pattern not unlike Victor Martinez's, alternating between catching chores, first-base play, and some DH time, leading to plenty of work for the backup catcher. However, the complete failure to develop any kind of power handicaps expectations that Marson will have all that much upside, so while he's not a top prospect, he's somebody better than, say, Jeff Mathis, a second-division starter or a good backup. You can start walking down the path of asking: 'If the Indians didn't have better alternatives... .' Except that they do, and they're much, much better.


DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated RHP Alfredo Figaro from the 15-day DL. [9/16]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Purchased the contract of SS-R Luis Hernandez from Omaha (Triple-A). [9/6]
Recalled 3B-L Alex Gordon from Omaha; purchased the contract of LHP Lenny DiNardo from Omaha; transferred RHP Doug Waechter from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]
Placed RF-R Jose Guillen on the 60-day DL (strained hamstring); signed RHP Aaron Crow to a MLB contract. [9/18]

I have long since given up trying to understand my fellow human beings. I mean, there are philatelists, sure, and that's a bit interesting for those not given to elaborate auto-philating entertainments, for the first few minutes at least. Then you get into those people who have to have an endless collection of virtually identical things, and who delight in the minute, generally uninteresting distinctions between them. Hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

Is this compulsion to collect, that rapacious reptilian need to snap up everything, really a valuable leftover from our less prehensile past? I wonder about this because here we are in September, and the Royals have had five different shorstops start a dozen games or more for them this year: Hernandez and Tony Peņa Jr. bring up the rear behind the only-too-similar Yuniesky Betancourt, with Mike Aviles and Willie Bloomquist mixed in for [insert suitably diffident adjective here] measure. Setting aside Aviles' injury as the sort of thing that brought him down to a numbing similarity to his colleagues, and there's a sort of damning consistency, in that these are all shortstops you'd wish on your worst enemy, not ones you'd choose for yourself. Maybe it's the curse of Freddie Patek that nobody remembered because no one looked down and got to witness his angry little fist being shaken at them, but his record for three seasons with an EqA above .260 stands as the highest tally for any Royals shortstop. That's a list of six of Patek's subsequent replacements: U.L. Washington (who did it once), Kurt Stillwell (twice), Greg Gagne (never), Rey Sanchez (let's not kid around, you know the answer), and Angel Berroa (once). Washington's 1982 campaign with a .278 EqA still represents the finest season at the plate for any of these guys. Jay Bell had held the single-season mark at .287, but he escaped KC after a single season, and Aviles topped that with last year's partial-season .294, no doubt drawing the diminutive ire of the Little One from on low.

Now, ideally, a healthy Aviles would get a shot at adding a second quality campaign to his track record, but the Royals being the Royals, having stumbled last season across a good player at the position, seem perfectly willing to forget about that and strap in for at least two more years of Betancourt. When you're the Imelda Marcos of bad shortstops, you don't let a little thing like the quality of play get in the way, after all. Besides, he's Cuban, and you know that's catnip to front-office types.

Meanwhile, there are other developments afoot. Leonardo DiNardo joins a rotation that's otherwise taking a look at Robinson Tejeda to round out the quintet while Brian Bannister's been shut down, Gil Meche's shoulder keeps him shelved, and Kyle Davies deals with a sore oblique. While DiNardo's not running with the opportunity, Tejeda is, and because of the injuries, it's not quite the same thing as placing faith in Sidney Ponson or Bruce Chen; it's more a matter of needing bodies to finish the season with. DiNardo had a nice year at Omaha, striking out 127 and walking 38 in 151 2/3 IP while generating an impressive 2.3 ground-ball outs for every fly, allowing just five homers and 3.6 R/9. He's still a soft-tosser who doesn't figure to be anything more than filler, but the ground-ball rate's impressive, even by his previously-set standard for surviving by keeping balls in the infield.

Finally, Alex Gordon's hitting well since his return to the majors (.306/.409/.472), suggesting that, regardless of whether some wonder if he was rushed back from the DL or is more inspired this time around, he's still Alex Gordon, very good prospect, and not something you throw out with the trash like he was, well, Mike Aviles, I guess.


MINNESOTA TWINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated 3B-R Joe Crede from the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of 1B-R Justin Huber from Rochester (Triple-A); recalled RHP Armando Gabino from Rochester. [9/8]
Traded LHP Sean Henn to the Orioles; activated LHP Francisco Liriano from the 15-day DL. [9/9]

Huber's vintage as a sabermetric fave has generally already turned to vinegar, but the Aussie is only 27 this year, the club is without Justin Morneau, and you can't help but wonder if starting Huber wouldn't be semi-appealing when the alternative is the decision to move Michael Cuddyer to first and return to the anti-poppery of Delmon Young in left. Huber's coming off of a decent year at Rochester, hitting .273/.356/.482, which translates to .250/.332/.457; still terrible for a first baseman, but not the sort of thing to take lightly when your stretch-run lineup is counting on both Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert beyond the dissatisfactions of employing Young. Naturally, this would have been exactly the right time to be able to turn to a home-grown power source with an extended track record for slugging, but Garrett Jones scrammed for Pittsburgh just this past winter as a minor league free agent after never being taken very seriously in the Twin Cities. A pity, especially since the club's also reduced to "Staff" when it comes to selecting a DH on a nightly basis.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Vin Mazzaro on the 60-day DL (shoulder tendonitis), retroactive to 9/8; purchased the contract of OF-R Matt Carson from Sacramento (Triple-A). [9/18]
Recalled RHPs Jon Meloan and Henry Rodriguez and OF-L Travis Buck from Sacramento. [9/19]

Memphis dealt Sacramento humiliation and pain in the PCL finals, skunking the River Cats with a quick three wins to end the series in the minimum. So, another bit of being thwarted as far as A's fandom goes, but at least there's the season-ending treat of seeing if Henry Rodriguez can reliably hit triple-digits on the speed gun during the waning weeks, and put an exclamation point on his bid for a spot in next season's bullpen.


SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated RHP Carlos Silva from the 60-day DL; placed RHP Sean White on the 60-day DL (shoulder tendonitis). [9/15]
Sold C-R Jamie Burke to the Nationals. [9/18]

Silva may be back in action, but he's not getting his rotation slot back. Having no responsibility for the disastrous deal Bill Bavasi gave the control artist, it'll be interesting to see if Jack Zduriencik has the freedom of action to have the club eat a good chunk of the deal and see if there's any interest in Silva at a steep discount. Perhaps the senior circuit would be the best match, but once you start thinking in these terms, you might actually arrive at the happy realization that, at the very least, you might have someone else paying the minimum by picking him up after you cut him, and at least that's $800,000 or so of the $25 million you have to pay him between now and the end of 2011 anyway.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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