American League

National League

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Outrighted 2B/OF-B Bernie Castro, SS/3B-R Ed
, 1B-R Alejandro Freire, and OF-Rs
Ramon Nivar and Keith Reed to Ottawa.

You might be a little surprised that Castro slipped through waivers,
considering he hit .315/.371/.382 while swiping 41 bases in 47 attempts.
He’s just 24, and in a world where people overpay for Tony
or Miguel Cairo, you’d think he’d be pretty

Now that he’s a minor-league free agent, which teams can land him with a tasty NRI deal. I’d suggest that the general
managers most likely to appreciate him are also the ones most likely to
try to get him signed up as a non-roster player. That way, if they wind up
in a situation where they don’t have a better option on the big-league
roster by April, well, everybody always seems to have some pitcher on his way to
the 60-day DL, so they can add Castro to the big-league roster as an
effective near-term solution. At any rate, Castro is a name to note
going into the hot stove league, in case your ballclub needs a second
baseman or has a big-name free agent at the keystone who may or may not
stick around.

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Acquired LHP Mike Stanton from the Nationals for RHPs
Rhys Taylor and Yader Peralta; transferred
RHP Wade Miller from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/29]

The timing may have seemed strange, since the Red Sox had discarded a useful
situational lefty in Matt Perisho just three weeks ago, and
they still had Lenny DiNardo around as a second lefty
behind primo specialist Mike Myers. Maybe it was all about
psyching out Alan Embree in a season-ending duel of old
specialists more closely identified with each other’s teams. Regardless, it
didn’t matter, and Stanton isn’t eligible for postseason play, so as moves
go, this was totally unnecessary. Happily, they only gave up a couple of
standard-issue “maybe” arms, but the only upside was that they had Stanton
around for a single series which he’d be hard-pressed to affect any more
significantly than DiNardo might have, while they may have given up somebody
with a future. It might be four or five years before we find out, but this
was a risk the Sox didn’t really have to take.

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Outrighted RHP Jason Young to Buffalo. [10/3]

Activated RHP Kyle Denney from the 60-day DL. [10/4]

Denney lost this year of his prospectdom to a skull fracture suffered on a
line drive back in June, but he did return to the mound before the end of
the season, and he should get into a bit of winter-ball action. He should be
on the fringes of the rotation equation next spring, with much depending on
his demonstrating he’s all the way back, and what the Tribe decides to do
with fifth starter Scott Elarton this winter.

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Fired manager Alan Trammell. [10/3]

Signed manager Jim Leyland to a multi-year contract. [10/4]

There’s just about nothing about this to really like, beyond the
atmospherics that Tigers fans are supposed to take in, that reuniting
Leyland and Dave Dombrowski signals the beginning of a run like their
Marlins made in ’97. So Tram gets jobbed, and if there was any attention
paid to the commissioner’s edict on the need to consider minority
candidates, either they did their minority candidate search through Friendster, or they skipped that step

That klaxon you hear going off is the alarms going off around
every joint in Jeremy Bonderman‘s right arm, because if
past history is any indicator, the true hallmarks of a Leyland team are
fragged young pitchers and a creeping case of disinterest once the team
falls out of contention. It’ll be the crime of the decade in terms of
pitcher abuse if Leyland gets to send Bonderman to the same scrapheap in
which he’s previously buried pitchers like Alex Fernandez,
Tony Saunders and Jesus Sanchez, and even
Pedro Astacio to some extent. We’ll have to see how much
Leyland rebels against the contemporary consensus on careful management on
pitcher workloads, or if he decides to do things his way. If you can invest
in orthopedic hedge funds, buy, and that’s without giving thought to the
potentially grim future for Justin Verlander, Nate
or Wil Ledezma.

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Announced that RHP Nate Field and OF-L Terrence
rejected their assignments to Omaha, and have become free
agents; claimed RHP Joel Peralta off of waivers from the
Angels. [10/7]

If there was ever a time to celebrate in Kansas City, it was the news that
T-Dog is an ex-Royal. That’s not to say this isn’t an organization with the
ability to summon up nearly as noxious a T-Dog substitute, but hopefully
they can get used to just taking their chances with Chip
. I can’t say I’m all that optimistic, though, not when
manager Buddy Bell’s two cents still seem to go further than other people’s.
Bell’s latest bloviations on how he’s done with Donald
and Ruben Gotay, because he likes what he
saw of Andres Blanco, should be cause for concern. This is a
franchise in ruins, and the calls on who’s part of the future should be
Allard Baird’s to make, not that of a retreaded field manager of no
particular note.

On the other hand, it’s worth wondering where Baird would steer the good
ship Royal. Nabbing Peralta and dumping Cerda doesn’t make a lot of sense
from a scout’s point of view: Peralta’s the sort of talent you can get for a
dime a dozen among minor-league free agents, while Cerda’s a lefty with a
good arm, and the Royals aren’t so rich as to go around discarding people
with talent. As much as Cerda hass not had a tremendous track record of
success, I’d rather keep taking chances on lefties who can strike out close
to seven guys per nine than give up on them.

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Ourighted 2B-R Brent Abernathy, OF-L Mike
, and 2B-R Luis Rivas to Rochester. [10/4]

Outrighted C/1B-R Matt LeCroy, OF-L Jason
, and INF-R Glenn Williams to Rochester;
reinstated CF-R Torii Hunter from the 15-day DL; announced
they have declined their 2006 option on RHP Joe Mays.

I’m frankly stunned to see that LeCroy made it through waivers, but
considering he’s arbitration-eligible, I guess no one wants to risk the
expense. Frankly, I’m not quite sure how this works out, as far as having to
tender him a contract, or if LeCroy will be non-tendered and get to walk as
a free agent before we even have to speculate about whether or not he’d be
exposed to the Rule 5 draft. The move coming on a Friday as it did, I
couldn’t sort out the various possible wrinkles before turning this in, so
I’ll be trying to follow up and see what the various permutations of
possibility offer. Clearly, LeCroy is a hitter with some value to a team
with a lot of lefty power that needs a platoon monster to help hurt the
other guys (Oakland, anyone?), and given that he can help out at first base
or catch a bit, he ought to be in demand.

The less surprising choice was the decision to cut bait on Mays. If
anything, it should presage a similar fate for Kyle Lohse
rather than award him another raise, courtesy of arbitration inflation.
Although the reasoning behind these moves may be more economic than by
design or an appreciation of the talent involved, on a practical level, they
do stand a good chance of upgrading their rotation with Scott
and Francisco Liriano in the fourth and
fifth slots, with Boof Bonser waiting in the wings, and
Adam Harben and J.D. Durbin none too far

Meanwhile, although he’s already been injured, I think Mays would make a
great Mariner: famous without actually putting together the track record to
justify it, and easily broken. Yes, that’s something short of the legacy of
Randy Johnson or Mark Langston, but those
days are long gone.

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Announced a failure to come to terms with manager Ken Macha, making him
somebody else’s problem. [10/5]

For all of the controversy beyond a certain point, managers are basically
fungible, and I don’t think Alan Nero really gets that. Starting off asking
for $4 million over three years was evidence enough, and even his
“climb-down,” low, low, low price of $3.1 million over
three was much more than Billy Beane had any interest in paying. Tedious
comparisons to whatever money Pittsburgh threw away on Lloyd McClendon or
the Astros rewarded Phil Garner with for last year’s half-season really
don’t work, in no small part because this isn’t an arbitration situation,
where the other organizations have to live with the market price established
by a competitor’s mistake. Beane had the discretion to make a choice, and
wished Macha well. Whether he lands in Pittsburgh or Baltimore, we’ll have
to see, but in the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see if now is the time
that the A’s turn to Bob Geren, or if they go looking for
an external candidate. Third-base coach Ron Washington is another candidate,
assuming he doesn’t get the job in Florida, but I have to think that Geren’s
track record managing Sacramento before coming up to the big-league coaching
staff will win him the job.

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Activated C-R Dan Wilson from the 60-day DL; transferred
INF-R Willie Bloomquist from the 15- to the 60-day DL.

This was just a little thing, but something to the Mariners’ credit. I may
not have had much use for Wilson over the majority of his career, but I’m
always willing to credit a team that makes a gesture of appreciation, and
allowing Wilson to play in one last game before hanging it up was a
particularly nice one. Embittered Mariners fans might gripe over the huge
amount of money spent to keep a merely adequate catcher on the hometown team
these last eight years (more than $3.6 million per, from the point at which
he became arbitration eligible). For better or for worse, Wilson is probably the best
catcher in franchise history, although I guess it depends on how
fondly you remember Dave Valle. I can understand if someone
was nostalgic, what with the sentimentalist crowd complaining about how much
they miss the imagined days when everybody stayed on the same team forever.
But Wilson’s as much an example of why that imagined past is nonsense, not
that anyone should remember Wilson’s coming up with the Reds for anything
more than that it was that experience which brought him to Lou
Piniella’s attention, and it was that which brought Wilson to
Seattle in Mt. Piniella’s shadow.

As an A’s fan, I guess I take some satisfaction from Seattle’s contentment
with Wilson over the years, particularly in contrast with Oakland’s decision
to let Terry Steinbach walk after his big 1996 season. As
much as I loved watching Steinbach play, it made sense to let him go in free
agency, save the money, and take a look at the raft of middling catching
prospects the A’s had at the time, including A.J. Hinch,
George Williams, Izzy Molina…a list of
suspects that it took three years and Ramon Hernandez to
bring to a halt. Steinbach seemed happy to wrap up his career with the Twins
and closer to home, while the A’s got the benefits of the negative test,
that Hinch and the rest weren’t going to pan out. Which, come to think of
it, sort of sucked to have to sit through at the time, so serves me right
for trying to enjoy a bit of schadenfreude at Mariners fans’ expense.
What this contrast of approaches really highlights is that with Wilson, the
Mariners acquired or felt they had acquired certainty, and if that came at a
high price, I guess it did at least spare them from ever finding out what
Dusty Wathan might do.

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Announced the firing of general manager Chuck LaMar, director of player
personnel Cam Bonifay, and assistant general manager Scott Proefrock; named
Matt Silverman club president. [10/6]

Some regimes have become so loathsome, so identified with failure, and yet
so delightfully bombastic about their own virtues, that when the fall does
come, you really should expect orgiastic expressions of joy. On this score,
the final fall of LaMar might make you think it was an iron curtain coming
down. Few regimes have had a more remarkable track record for failure in the
history of the contemporary game than the D-Rays. I know a lot of people are
ready to nominate the Rays as a team ready to turn the corner, as if they’re
at the same point as the Jays might have been in 1982 or 1983. It’s not a
bad comparison, in that those Jays, like these Rays, were notable for young
talent that was finally coming into its own. It isn’t hard to look at
Delmon Young or B.J. Upton, or think about
a pitching staff that will have Scott Kazmir and
Chad Orvella, and feel good about the direction things are

But unfortunately, nothing about the LaMar regime should have given anyone
any confidence that the management of the organization would be able to
weave that talent into the big-league lineup while digging up the right
veterans to surround them with. LaMar was the guy who would sign up
Travis Lee or cycle through second basemen like
Brent Abernathy and Marlon Anderson. He
was the guy who failed to deal veteran ballplayers meant for flipping,
whether it was Jeremi Gonzalez or Aubrey
. He was the guy who traded Joe Kennedy to get
Mark Hendrickson. There’s obviously something to build off
of for the next guy, but if general managers are like managers, and do some
things well and some things badly, beyond an agricultural patience that the
crops would eventually come in there was little about LaMar’s regime to
recommend it as far as anticipating that he would ever be the man to guide
the franchise around the corner. LaMar was always happy to talk about where
the corner was, and how confident he was that he’d reach it, but you can
only talk about the better days to come for only so long before you start
sounding like Herbert Hoover, and lose you credibility with your
constituency every bit as thoroughly.

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Announced the resignation of general manager John Hart; named Jon Daniels
general manager. [10/4]

Outrighted RHP Kevin Gryboski and LHP Michael
to Oklahoma. [10/7]

It’s easy to flog the Mariners in this division, but if you’re an A’s or
Angels fan, I suspect that the naming of another sharp knife to a GM’s job
in the division is only going to make things that much more difficult. I
think we can rest with the record of Daniels’
interview here at BP
, which helps underscore that the Rangers have
hired a guy who reflects the actual trend in front-office hires today:
someone who understands the value of applied research, but who also operates
within the game with the credibility that has to be earned, and who
understands the old school every bit as much as he explores the new. The
West may well be the most competitive division in baseball for years to
come, but at the very least, I think it just became that much more difficult
for the A’s and Angels to simultaneously rebuild and contend. Right now, I
wouldn’t automatically nominate Texas from among those three to be the one
that winds up getting to be the Blue Jays, the well-run wallflower that
watches the other two divisional monsters race for October.

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Signed RHP Ryan Dempster to a three-year, $15.5 million
contract extension. [10/1]

Object lessons only live up to their names if somebody learns something,
otherwise you just have disconnected events. Sadly, that’s what seems to
have happened here. Like Joe Borowski before him, the Cubs
seem to have learned nothing about where closers come from, instead
supposing that the ability to “close” appears as magically as
flies in Francesco
Redi’s open jars
. To put it another way, in Adjusted Runs Prevented, Dempster ranked 40th among big-league relievers with 50 or more relief
innings pitched
; perhaps significantly, only one of the 39 guys ahead of
him (and only three of the top 50) was worse with other people’s
baserunners. A better number for him is his WX
, where Dempster ranked fourth in the major leagues.

I guess my problem really
boils down to shelling out more than $5 million per for a pitcher who’s been
worked hard and broken down in the past, and who will probably only continue
to be a one-inning saves hog as closers go. It could be worse, if they’d
wanted him to be a starting pitcher again, I guess. Basically, that’s a lot
of lucre for a guy whose track record is every bit as much about breaking
down and his wildness as it is not about any demonstrable consistency
over the last five years.

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Announced that INF-R Aaron Holbert refused an outright
assignment to Louisville and became a free agent. [10/3]

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Exercised their option on LF-R Matt Holliday for 2006;
declined their 2006 option on C-R Todd Greene. [10/4]

Claimed LHP Jaime Cerda off of waivers from the Royals;
outrighted INF-B Eddy Garabito to Colorado Springs. [10/5]

Declined their 2006 option of OF-R Dustan Mohr. [10/7]

Keeping with a leitmotif from this past season, the Rockies are
dispensing with their veteran dross to see whether the gold in the system is
the genuine article or just so much pyrite. (I’m
disappointed the link doesn’t have a picture of Todd Van
, but mineralogists probably aren’t noted for their sense of
humor.) You certainly won’t find me contesting the suggestions that less
Mohr is more, or that less Greene puts you in the pink. As the Rockies
discovered for themselves, if all you want is a veteran with some pop who
can catch and throw, Danny Ardoin is useful and relatively
cheap. However, I hope they’ll be more ambitious than that in digging around
for a journeyman to challenge J.D. Closser for the starting
job; Greene certainly wasn’t that guy, as he couldn’t catch
effectively enough or regularly enough to give you a reliable alternative or
even a reliable backup.

As for Mohr, I’d hope that the Rockies realize that if they aren’t going to
make Jorge Piedra a starter, they at least have the good
sense to keep him around as their fourth outfielder. Assuming they don’t go out and get a reserve center fielder to take
the job from Cory Sullivan, Piedra remains the best
challenger from within the organization. Mohr couldn’t really play center,
so if the Rox had an interest in an alternative to Sullivan or Piedra, it
wasn’t going to be him, anyway.

What of Cerda? Not that going to Coors is ever the happiest outcome for a
pitcher, it isn’t like the Royals know what they’re doing, and getting out
of the organization has to be a blessing, even if it means coming to the
most hostile environment for pitching in the major leagues. Cerda has pretty
good velocity for a lefty reliever, and velocity doesn’t go away at
altitude, so as claims go, I like it.

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Announced the resignation of manager Jack McKeon. [10/2]

Released INF-B Derek Wathan and RHPs Tim
and John Riedling. [10/3]

Every manager has the capacity to outlast his usefulness. While I think
everyone outside of the New York metropolitan area enjoyed the story of
McKeon being the man with a plan who helped square away the Marlins’ bullpen
and guide a young team to a championship, I’d suggest that McKeon is also
the man who really should have given retiring at that point some thought.
Staying on more than the next year really didn’t do him or the organization
any favors.

I guess what we’re all really wondering is whether or not the McKeon
experience was singular, and if the Marlins will thus make another
Torborg-flavored mistake. As managers go, we’re mired in a generation of
gray men of modest abilities trying to operate in a game where,
unfortunately, press management ranks with tactical acumen and player usage
patterns. Maybe that’s a shudder of anticipation that someone as popular,
affable and poised as Yankees coach Joe Girardi might seem
like an easy choice, but it could be worse, and involve recycling
Bob Boone. Happily, the other names mentioned are also not
unflushables, fellow prospective rookie managers Ron
Washington from the A’s staff and Cubano Fredi Gonzalez of the

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Released C-R Keith Osik, Antonio Osuna,
and LHP John Halama; purchased the contracts of 3B-L
Kory Casto, OF-R Frank Diaz, and RHP
Armando Galarraga. [10/3]

To give credit where credit is due, Jim Bowden took advantage of the nervous
nellies up in Beantown to add a couple of live arms for a weekend-long
rental of a veteran about to be discarded. Peralta is Dominican and Taylor is
an Aussie, both will be just 20 next year, neither has any substantive
experience above Rookie ball, and neither should need to be added to the
40-man roster for 2006. As a nice little way to restock the shelves made
bare on Omar Minaya’s watch, this was a nifty little move, even if neither
pan out. The Nationals need talent, pure and simple, and anything that
involves improving their system is going to be a good move.

Less positively, they get to clear out some of the dreck that Bowden
strangely favored in putting together this team. Osuna was another bad free-agent signing from a winter loaded with bad free-agent signings, Osik is the
sort of organizational depth you hope you never have to use, made worse by
another bad free-agent choice (backup catcher Gary
), and Halama’s presence simply serves as a reminder of how
much pitching talent Bowden squandered during his frenetic posturing as the
general manager of a contender. That the Nationals wound up needing someone
like Halama stands, like the similarly unfortunate fascination with
Ryan Drese, as a reminder that not all free or
freely-available talent is worth an exercise in free will.