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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Purchased contract of C Steve Decker from Edmonton; recalled 1B
Chris Pritchett from Edmonton; optioned OF Reggie Williams to
Edmonton; designated INF Dave Silvestri for asssignment. [5/18]

An interesting pair of callups. First off, it means that Bavasi and Collins
belatedly realized that Dave Silvestri doesn’t add much value over Andy
Sheets. Second, they’re obviously feeling the need to carry three catchers
now that Todd Greene will be playing quite a bit of in the outfield in Tim
Salmon’s absence. As badly as Charlie O’Brien has played in limited duty,
Decker may have another slender opportunity to add some service time.
Lastly, calling up Pritchett gives them the opportunity to do something to
help this pitching staff: play Pritchett at first, move Darin Erstad to
center field and get Garret Anderson into one of the corners instead of
people like Tim Unroe. It isn’t that I expect Pritchett to turn into an
offensive powerhouse, but he won’t hurt the offense by replacing Orlando
Palmeiro or Unroe in the lineup, and getting Erstad back into the outfield
can help cover the gaps for a pitching staff that already has more than its
share of problems.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Placed RHP Todd Stottlemyre on the 15-day DL (partially-torn
rotator cuff); recalled LHP Brian Anderson from Tucson. [5/20]

The Toad has thrown a ton of innings around a few injuries, with very
little actual rehab time, so the idea that he may finally have a
season-ending–and potentially career-threatening–shoulder blowout isn’t
that surprising. Of course, the Diamondbacks may not feel too great about
that, but at least they can feel good about not trading Brian Anderson for
a closer.

What Stottlemyre’s situation highlights is a potential conflict between a
player’s long-term interests and an organization’s desire to accomplish
short-term objectives, often within the span of certain big-money
contracts. Stottlemyre may or may not have been well-served by getting some
time off after being abused in 1996, but by then, the expectation was that
he was a horse and he was making the big bucks, so he’d better take the
ball. And being healthy enough to pitch, the Toad was happy to oblige. In a
sense it worked, in that whatever happens he’ll be cashing checks from
Jerry Colangelo. For his career, I suppose it depends on whether you think
Stottlemyre could somehow improve on what he’s done so far. At any rate,
losing the Toad–possibly for only six weeks, but probably for the
year–gives the D-backs a handy excuse when the time comes to account for
why a very expensive team didn’t win anything.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned RHP Scott Kamieniecki to Rochester; recalled RHP
Jason Johnson from Rochester. [5/18]

Again, I’m not weeping for Kammy. Despite a chronically weak arm, he
managed to snooker Peter Angelos into a multi-year deal. The Polish Prince
was already a bad bet to have a great career, so I hope he’s happy with his
agent. As for what this means for the Orioles, having already snagged
Johnson for Danny Clyburn, it seems fine to give him a crack at the
rotation. He, Sidney Ponson and eventually/possibly Rocky Coppinger should
get the opportunity to be part of the next good Orioles team, which is more
than you can say for Scott Erickson, Juan Guzman or Kamieniecki.


BOSTON RED SOX

Returned C Scott Hatteberg on the 15-day DL (elbow inflammation);
recalled C Mandy Romero from Pawtucket. [5/18]

Placed RHP Kip Gross on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/17 (broken
bone in his hand, or tater-induced whiplash); recalled RHP Brian
Rose
from Pawtucket. [5/19]

Placed RHP Juan Pena on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/15 (shoulder
tightness); recalled RHP Tim Harikkala from Pawtucket; transferred
RHP Ramon Martinez from the 15- to 60-day DL. [5/20]

Several convenient "accidents" combined with a bad break for
Pena. Gross’ broken finger supposedly happened a month ago, but you can’t
tell me that Gross ineffectiveness, capped by Carlos Delgado’s big blow on
Sunday, didn’t play a part. Hatteberg’s return to the DL coincides with
Jason Varitek’s bat heating up. With the Sox needing all the offense they
can get, calling up Romero instead of Creighton Gubanich doesn’t seem to
help. The conclusion to draw is just that Varitek will catch regularly.

As for losing Pena after his hot start, Brian Rose ended up giving the team
an excellent emergency start against the Yankees, and once Pena heals (by
Memorial Day), the Red Sox should have another reason to send Pat Rapp away.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Assigned CF McKay Christensen to Birmingham (Double-A); recalled RHP
Chad Bradford from Nashville. [5/18]

The horrifying aspect of this is that the Sox are handing the left-handed
half of the center-field platoon to Chris Singleton. If the Sox wanted to
be serious at all about posting an above-.500 record, they wouldn’t bother.
Yes, Christensen isn’t ready, and yes, I generally like to see good minor
leaguers get shots at jobs. Unfortunately, Singleton isn’t a good minor
leaguer. He’s a bad minor-league veteran who’s managed to strike Jerry
Manuel’s fancy. At least Sox fans can take heart in submariner Bradford’s
return, even if it means a return to a twelve-man staff. Bradford had
pitched well in Nashville, and the rotation struggled badly against the
Indians. With David Lundquist struggling, Bradford may get to stick around
once the Sox go back down to 11 pitchers.


CHICAGO CUBS

Placed RHP Rod Beck on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/17 (bone
spurs – elbow); recalled LHP Ray King from Iowa. [5/18]


Bad back, bad pitching, now a bad elbow…it’s looking like Beck is going
to need major surgery and may be done for the year. That isn’t the end of
the world. The Cubs have wised up and are using Scott Sanders in the pen,
Terry Adams looks healthy, Felix Heredia’s pitching relatively well, and
most importantly, the pen will pitch less now that the rotation is healthy.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Recalled RHP Mark Brownson from Colorado Springs; optioned LF
Derrick Gibson to Colorado Springs. [5/18]

Optioned LHP Roberto Ramirez to Colorado Springs; recalled RHP
David Lee from Carolina (Double-A). [5/20]

As expected, Gibson’s stay was short, as the team called up Brownson to
move back to 12 pitchers. He doesn’t do enough different things to make him
valuable on a team carrying just four bench players, as opposed to the six
or seven ways a Chris Sexton can be mediocre. He’ll be up and down a few
more times. Brownson pitched well Tuesday, although nothing like his 1998
debut.

Ramirez’ demotion was Jim Leyland’s overreaction to his ugly performance in
the third quarter of Wednesday’s 36-run CoorsFest. Leyland seems determined
to run his roster is a willy-nilly fashion, making moves based less on a
long-term plan and more on who’s ticked him off most recently. Of course,
he is a "genius", so how can you complain?


HOUSTON ASTROS

Agreed to a contract extension with INF Bill Spiers for 2000 with a
club option for 2001. [5/20]

A nice reward for someone who is probably the best bench player in
baseball, and an absolute bargain compared to the comparable deals people
like Mike Benjamin have.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Recalled OF Trenidad Hubbard and C Angel Pena from
Albuquerque; placed RHP Antonio Osuna on the 15-day DL (elbow
soreness); optioned C Paul LoDuca to Albuquerque. [5/18]

Placed INF Jose Vizcaino on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/17
(strained hamstring); transferred INF Alex Cora from the 15- to the
60-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Doug Bochtler from the Blue
Jays. [5/19]

The Dodger pitching staff is starting to look like a train wreck, with
Carlos Perez unable to get into the sixth inning, Jeff Shaw becoming
homer-prone, and now the loss for two months of their best reliever. Osuna
gamely tried to pitch through pain, but he’s lost 5-7 MPH off his fastball
and couldn’t be used on consecutive days. He should be back in July.

More interesting is the promotion of Pena. Despite Todd Hundley’s offensive
improvement in May, he’s still can’t throw anyone out or hit left-handers,
while Pena is capable of doing both. It will be interesting to see just how
much time Pena gets, especially if he contributes a little with the bat and
the pitchers begin to notice how not every ambulatory runner on first base
ends up in scoring position. The Dodgers absolutely need Hundley’s
left-handed bat in the lineup.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Optioned LHP Rafael Roque to Louisville; recalled LHP Horacio
Estrada
from Louisville. [5/20]

Another soft-tossing Brewer lefty bites the dust, leaving just Scott Karl
and Steve Woodard left standing from the Opening Day rotation. Well, sort
of, as Jim Abbott looks to be the immediate beneficiary here, getting the
start Thursday against the Mets. With an off-day Monday, look for Phil
Garner to delay a decision on who starts in the #5 slot next for as long
as possible.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Activated RHP Jeff Nelson from the DL; designated LHP Tony
Fossas
for assignment; recalled RHP Todd Erdos from Columbus;
optioned RHP Jay Tessmer to Columbus. [5/20]

A massive upgrade for the champs, although not the solution to their real
problem: scoring runs. Fossas’ career may finally be over, having let
lefties go three-for-five with a grand slam off him. The Erdos-for-Tessmer
move is a case of the right decision for the wrong reason, as Tessmer is
being punished for allowing too many extra runs in games that had gotten
away. Erdos wasn’t pitching that well at Columbus (5.21) but was being used
in part as a starter. Left alone in the pen, he can be a contributor.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated RHP Francisco Cordova from the DL; optioned CF Adrian
Brown
to Nashville. [5/19]

Cordova’s extended rehab was a good bit of caution from the organization,
and getting Jose Silva out of the rotation will only help as far as the
Bucs accomplishing some neat goal like 80 wins. On the other hand, sending
Brown down after deciding to move Brian Giles to center field seems odd.
This Brown can play center, and with the outfield Gene Lamont is putting on
the field, this team is going to need to use its defensive replacements.
Unfortunately, they’re caught in a numbers game: too many guaranteed
contracts (like Turner Ward) or shlubs without options (like Freddy Garcia).


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed OF J.D. Drew on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/16 (strained
quad); purchased the contract of OF Thomas Howard from Memphis. [5/20]

While this will no doubt bring joy to the “Drew is a spoiled child” crowd,
it’s poor timing for the outfielder, who was shaking off his poor start and
really hitting in May (.400/.500). His low average masks what is a fairly
good year so far, with walks, power and defense. After two weeks out of
sight, he may get come back and explode on the league.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Optioned RHP Stan Spencer to Las Vegas; recalled LHP Heath
Murray
from Las Vegas. [5/19]

Placed 1B Wally Joyner on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/17
(chipped clavicle). [5/20]

Spencer wasn’t pitching well and Murray was, so it’s a flip of C prospects
for the obvious reasons. Murray’s got a bit more upside, as a "crafty
left-hander" approaching the magical age of 30, while Spencer has the
age without the label. Hey, the Padres got their park, so they can afford
to be less-than-judicious about who they hand out jobs to.

The loss of Joyner isn’t much of one, as the team can rotate Phil Nevin,
Jim Leyritz, Dave Magadan and John Vanderwal at the cold corner while using
better defensive players in left field and behind the plate. It does
exacerbate their right-handedness a bit, but hey, nobody can take the
stadium away.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Placed OF Raul Ibanez on the 15-day DL (conveniently pinched nerve);
recalled RHP Rafael Carmona from Tacoma. [5/18]

Placed RF Jay Buhner on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled
UT Charles Gipson from Tacoma. [5/19]

A partial solution to the problem of too many outfielders, Ibanez was nice
enough to mention that gosh-darn twinge he’d been feeling and ask that,
gee, shouldn’t I go on the DL for a couple of weeks until it heals up?
Carmona drew the short straw at Tacoma, and gets to feel Lou’s Tough Love
for a few weeks. No longer a prospect, and past the point of being valuable
to the organization, he’s probably going to stick around in Seattle for a
while.

Buhner’s injury gives the team a chance to continue showcasing Butch Huskey
for a deal. His 15 minutes of competence are about up, so Woody would be
well-served to package him to anyone–the Angels are interested–who’ll
take him, and fast.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Optioned DH Kevin Witt to Syracuse; purchased the contract of OF
Patrick Lennon from Syracuse. [5/20]

Hollins will be activated on Friday, so is Lennon’s callup a sign that
Brumfield’s about to go away? Or Berroa? How many right-handed DHs does
one team need? The bad thing that could happen here is Willie Greene’s
demise, as he’s hitting a buck-fifty and has been buried by Tony
Fernandez’s resurgence.