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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Signed LHP Rich Robertson to a minor league contract. [1/19]

Signed OF Gary Thurman to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI.
[1/22]


Neither are bad additions. The Angels rotation is currently looking to be Chuck
Finley, Ken Hill, Allen Watson, Jason Dickson, and Omar Olivares. Robertson
joins William VanLandingham on the fringes as a veteran alternative should the
Angels prefer to not give shots to Jarrod Washburn or Geoff Edsell when one of
the starters goes down. Olivares is always fragile, and Dickson has been ridden
pretty hard the last two years. As for Thurman, he has a dandy opportunity to
push past Orlando Palmeiro for the last OF spot on the bench, and the fact that
he bats righty when Garrett Anderson, Jim Edmonds, and Darin Erstad all bat
lefty won’t hurt.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Signed RHP Russ Springer to a two-year contract. [1/20]


As I’ve said before in this space, Springer isn’t a bad guy to have around, but
with the D-backs, there’s a definite danger that he’ll get away from the relief
role that he succeeded in with the Astros, and move into the sparsely populated
rotation. That should be nothing if not entertaining.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Signed PH Keith Lockhart to a one-year contract. [1/19]


Lockhart was, remarkably, arbitration-eligible at the ripe old age of 33. That
he’s finally around to stay thanks to the well-cultivated image of “clutch
pinch hitter” he nabbed with the Padres in ’94 after years of scuffling in the
Reds’ chain should be considered an inspiration for the Brian Raabes or David
Dosters of the world.


BOSTON RED SOX

Signed LHP Curtis Shaw to a minor league contract. [1/16]


Curtis Shaw’s existence is a sort of codeword between A’s fans for the bad old
days when A’s minor league pitching discussions circled around the stiffs other
than the Four Aces stiffs. In what inevitably turned out to be conversations
that started with “Todd Revenig’s getting jobbed,” you could work your way to
“can you top this” games that invariably got to the dregs, like Curtis Shaw,
who could only be trumped by a reference to Dana Allison. But he’s still
around, and he’s LH, so he can hope he has Ken Grundt’s good fortune…


CINCINNATI REDS

Signed RHP Pete Harnisch to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract. [1/21]


A duck-soup gamble, in that even if you’ve got it, do you want it? From a human
interest angle, I think we’d all like him to come back. However, even if he’s
beaten his personal demons, he’s homer-prone, and he’s been an oft-absent
mediocrity in great pitcher’s parks for the last four years. Coming to a Cincy,
a good power park, isn’t the best place for him to pull off his comeback, but
as a German boy coming to the Rhineland, at least he might be a friendly
environment.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed INF Jolbert Cabrera to a minor-league contract with a spring training
NRI. [1/19]


Minor league FA refugee from the Expos’ organization, and not a prospect.


DETROIT TIGERS

Invited DH Pete Incaviglia to spring training as a non-roster player. [1/16]


Inky’s praying he catches on as a part-time DH or platoon-mate for Luis
Gonzalez.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Signed RHP Bob Milacki to a minor league contract. [1/21]

Signed LHP Mike Hampton to a three-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration.
[1/20]


Over the last three years, Hampton has faced 641, 691, and 941 batters. He may
have grown into the workload at 24, but scout’s biases against short pitchers
seem to be the product of the experience that shorter pitchers can’t handle
extended heavy workloads. We’ll have to see. Milacki’s coming off of a bad year
in Japan with Kinetsu, so I doubt he’ll be able to help much at AAA.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Signed RHP Lee Smith and Lucky Charm Terry Pendleton to minor league contracts
with spring training NRIs. [1/20]

Signed RHP Pat Rapp to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI.
[1/22]


Right now, the Royals’ rotation looks to be Kevin Appier, Tim Belcher, Jose
Rosado, and who knows. The bottom two slots will go to the victors of a spring
training struggle between Jim Pittsley, Glendon Rusch, a recuperating Chris
Haney, and now Pat Rapp. As is, the Royals’ upper levels are almost devoid of
starting pitcher prospects, so the losers of this fight will anchor Omaha’s
rotation. Lee Smith has been pretty astute in his choices for where he can
actually make a team out of spring training; like Montreal last year, I expect
he’ll be gone by the end of May. Signing Terry Pendleton is a cruel joke for
just about everyone concerned. If Herk Robinson is trying to turn the Royals’
organization into a distressed property for Tom Vu to snap up, he couldn’t do
much better than this.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Signed OF Mike Devereaux to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI.
[1/16]


Devereaux should have been considered done a few years back, but there’s a
definite danger that he could make the team, and if they lose their patience
with Roger Cedeno again, garner serious playing time.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Signed LHP Eddie Guardado to a two-year contract, with a club option for 2000.
[1/21]


Laboring in the obscurity of Minnesota, Guardado has steadily improved into one
of the game’s great LH specialists, which means he’s great potential trade bait
for a stretch drive, a la Graeme Lloyd.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Signed PH Scott Livingstone and INF Mike Mordecai to minor-league contracts
with spring training NRIs. [1/16]

Signed RHP Mike Maddux and CF Lee Tinsley to minor-league contracts with spring
training NRIs. [1/19]


Livingstone and Mordecai are conceivably a platoon at third, if les ‘Spos don’t
go with Jose Vidro. Tinsley could very well be the Expos’ starting LF, since
his major competition are such greats as nepo-scrub Derrick May, one of Ryan
McGuire and Brad Fullmer (whichever isn’t starting at first), and DaRond
Stovall. Jim Beattie has said Jon Saffer will not be invited to the major
league camp. Let’s just say this isn’t the year to be saying Felipe Alou will
do more with less. Mike Maddux is still trying to recover from Kevin Kennedy’s
slagging, and with Montreal, he’s in the right place to try to make a comeback.
Of course, that would be 15 good starts, after which he’ll be peddled to
Milwaukee or somebody who thinks they’re one pitcher away from being a
wild-card team.


NEW YORK METS

Signed RHP Bobby Jones to a three-year contract. [1/22]


Jones has turned out to be a far better major league pitcher than the Young
Guns, good for 30 starts and 190 innings per year. It isn’t greatness, but you
can’t do much better for a second or third man in your rotation.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Claimed RHP Hector Ramirez off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, and
designated him for assignment. [1/20]


Ramirez isn’t really a prospect, but this is probably one of those
nose-thumbings between moguls.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Signed LF Rickey Henderson to a one-year contract. [1/22]


His fourth return to Oakland, Rickey could get to score the 2000th run of his
career in green and gold this season. Currently at 1913, that will move him to
sixth on the all-time runs list, behind Ty Cobb (2245), Babe Ruth and Hank
Aaron (tied at 2174), Pete Rose (2165), and Willie Mays (2061). It doesn’t seem
likely that he’ll be a regular for the three seasons that it would take for him
to get a crack at the record, given that he’s 39 and many teams are skittish
about playing a LF with little power and a low batting average, but Rickey
hasn’t put up an OBP below .400 since 1988.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Named Bob Quinn senior advisor and director of Arizona operations. [1/20]

Signed SS Rey Sanchez to a one-year contract with a club option for 1999.
[1/22]


Bob Quinn is a lucky guy. He was a contemporary of Lou Gorman, so he was rarely
on the top of the list when people gave thought to “worst GMs of the 80s.” He
put in some time with the Yankees, garnering that media halo for having been a
“standup guy” working for the Great Satan. Now he’s well-poised to help the
organization refine and develop prospects galore in the uncharted waters of
Phoenix’ finer golf courses.

Rey Sanchez is exactly what this Giants’ team doesn’t need, since he’ll keep
Rich Aurilia on the bench. The nicest thing you can say about this signing is
that he isn’t Ozzie Guillen.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed OF Phil Plantier to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI.
[1/20]


With Carlos Delgado hurt, Plantier has an outstanding opportunity to get some
playing time in his absence (which in turn means Mike Stanley should get most
of the playing time at first). A pleasant alternative could be that Kevin Witt
could impress Tim Johnson and work his way into things. A bad scenario is that
they move Ed Sprague to first, but even that would at least get Tom Evans on
the field.