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ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Placed CF/1B-L Darin Erstad on the 15-day DL (ankle),
retroactive to 5/1; activated OF-R Juan Rivera from the
15-day DL. [5/8]

Placed 1B-L Casey Kotchman on the 15-day DL (viral
infection); recalled 3B-L Dallas McPherson from Salt Lake.
[5/9]

Like last season’s decision to react to Kotchman’s hot streak in Utah, the
Angels seem inclined to let McPherson’s recent slugging in the PCL be enough
of a case to have him up. He responded with an instant sombrero while starting at first base, which highlights the always-interesting possibilities for the
Angels with Erstad and Kotchman simultaneously out of action. Remember,
Chone Figgins can only play one position at a time.

Depending on where the great supersub isn’t, the team needs to
pick starters at two from this list: first, third, and center. There’s some
overlap, but at first, they have McPherson, Robb Quinlan,
and Howie Kendrick; in center, Figgins, Rivera, and
Tommy Murphy; and at third, Figgins, McPherson,
Edgardo Alfonzo, and at least notionally, Kendrick and
Quinlan. Let’s discard Alfonzo, giving the Angels the benefit of noticing
that he has more forks sticking out of him than a victim of the Blue Rajah. Beyond
Figgins, the guys I’d want playing in that group are probably Rivera and
Kendrick, although that probably puts Kendrick wondering if he’s stuck in a
re-enactment of Rod Carew‘s career, without first getting
some real time at the keystone. However, Kendrick’s struggles against major
league pitching seem to have opened the door for McPherson, and perhaps a
McPherson-Quinlan platoon… at first. So far, there’s no suggestion that
Figgins is really a utility man as much as he’s a full-time third baseman,
with benefits.

What might change that? How can the Angels get Figgins into center,
and play Kendrick regularly? Assuming that Kendrick taking
grounders at third bears no fruit–it hasn’t so far–that puts him at first
base. Quinlan’s not really a good idea at third base anymore, so if the
Angels are going to build a platoon, I’d suggest that it might instead be
one that involves McPherson and Rivera, with Figgins playing center against
RHPs, and McPherson at the hot corner in those games. Against lefties, Rivera
plays center, Figgins goes to third, and McPherson hits the bench.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Activated OF-R Luis Matos from the 15-day DL; placed C-R
Javy Lopez on the 15-day DL (strained back), retroactive to
4/28. [5/5]

Losing Lopez still leaves the Orioles short a hitter, although now that
Miguel Tejada is back at shortstop, the good news is that
they’re platooning prospect Brandon Fahey with
Chris Gomez at second. That’s better than starting both of
them, and as platoons go, this one sort of reminds me of San Diego’s Tirry
Flanoyster setup in the mid-’80s, with Fahey doing Tim
Flannery
‘s side of things, and Gomez doing Jerry Royster‘s
utilityman and starter-versus-lefties gig. Cognoscenti might prefer a
reference to the Mets’ setup of Rally Backenhire at second from that same
period, because Fahey seems to be drawing top-of-the-order work the same way
that Wally Backman did. But Fahey’s no Backman, and I just
don’t think comparing Gomez to Ron Gardenhire is fair to
Gomez, no matter how down on him anybody might be.

Meanwhile, getting Matos back seems to be the perfect way for both
Corey Patterson and Nick Markakis to
outlast their shortcomings, because however badly things are going for them,
it’s even worse for Matos. Losing Lopez highlights the extent to which
signing up Jeff Conine and Kevin Millar
didn’t really give the team a left fielder, first baseman, or a DH as much
as it gave them famous old men, emphasis on ‘old.’ Dealing either to the
Cubs won’t generate riches, not unless Cubs GM Jim Hendry makes an
uncharacteristic mistake and overpays. Orioles fans shouldn’t hold their
breaths on that score.

BOSTON RED SOX
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Optioned RHP Manny Delcarmen to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [5/7]

Purchased the contract of LHP Mike Holtz from Pawtucket.
5/9]

As exchanges go, this is really all about the question about what to do for
two different bit roles, fifth starter and lefty specialist. As talented as
Delcarmen is, he can’t be either of those things. Lenny
DiNardo
might work in either role, but as the team’s fifth starter
of the moment, he isn’t shining, posting two decent starts against weak
Mariner and Oriole lineups getting smacked around by the D-Rays and B-Jays.
Certainly, he hasn’t done anything to garner him any consideration
once David Wells returns in another week or so.

DiNardo’s problem is that he might lose the other job while he’s being
plugged into the rotation, because Holtz might be better equipped to do
lefty situational work. He’s apparently refreshed from a stint in Japan
after two years in the minors (spent pitching for the equally hapless Devil
Ray and Pirate organizations). Before that, he was pretty much central
casting’s answer to anybody’s call for a second lefty in the pen, which
might be enough for Boston’s situational needs. Complicating the situation
is David Riske‘s coming return from the DL–even if Boston moves up to a dozen pitchers, one of DiNardo or Holtz will go down.
DiNardo’s hopes rest on things out of his control: the combination of off
days and Jumbo’s recovery time before re-entering the rotation, and whether
or not Holtz does well in the situational gig in the meantime.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Placed RHP Jose Contreras on the 15-day DL (sciataca), retroactive to 5/5;
recalled RHP Charlie Haeger from Charlotte (Triple-A). [5/9]

No, the man did not go onto the DL with a prison riot,
sciataca’s a pinched nerve. Happily, the advantage to having four other
quality starters in your rotation is that you can do something different
with your fifth slot, and with a nod towards their own history, it seems as
if the Sox have done exactly that. In Contreras’ absence, the White Sox get
to indulge in everyone’s favorite area of curiosity, taking a look-see at a
young knuckleballer. Whether you want to talk about Wilbur
Wood
or just remember Charlie Hough‘s two-year
stint on the South Side, you don’t have to go all the way back to
Eddie Cicotte to remember that there’s a taste for the
flutterball in Bridgeport. Considering that Haeger’s only 22 and was pretty
hittable last season, it’s hard to get too worked up about him, but he’s
also as promising as his performance at Charlotte this season suggests: 2.3
runs allowed per nine, and 25 hits allowed in 40 IP, and no home runs. He’s
still far from mastering the pitch–assuming he ever will–with 20 walks in
that time, but it would be insanely cool fun to have a capable young
knuckleballer live up to the overbilling previously accorded to
Charlie Zink. It isn’t like Contreras will be gone for that
long, so this is more a cameo than anything else. Beyond catchers A.J.
Pierzynski
and Chris Widger, the only person who
might feel put out by this might be presumptive rotation candidate
Brandon McCarthy. However, the Sox’ pen is pretty shallow,
and leaving McCarthy where he is and will probably have to be down the
stretch makes sense. If Haeger proves capable during his audition, the Sox
will have expanded their options.

DETROIT TIGERS
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Activated DH-B Dmitri Young from the 15-day DL; designated
OF-L Alexis Gomez for assignment. [5/5]

Getting Young back does give the Tigers the happiness of an extra bat from
the left side of the plate to break up a heavily right-handed lot, but it
comes with the price of making it slightly more difficult to get
Magglio Ordonez out of the field now and again without
having to bench their DH. Still, it’s a nice problem to have.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Optioned 3B-L Mark Teahen to Omaha (Triple-A); recalled
OF-L Aaron Guiel from Omaha. [5/5]

Announced that RHP Luke Hudson cleared waivers and was
assigned to Omaha. [5/6]

Activated RHP Denny Bautista from the 15-day DL; designated
RHP Joe Mays for assignment. [5/8]

Okay, as much glee as Royals fans should take from getting rid of two of
their most loathsome millstones, one apiece from the mound and the offense,
let’s consider what we’ve got here. You’ve still got a lineup featuring
Kerry Robinson and Esteban German. Ken
Phelps All-Star types like Matt Stairs and Emil
Brown
, or even Guiel, might be fun to have around. Unfortunately,
progress up and out of this hole cannot be measured in Stairs, not when
you’re trying to climb out of the Marianas Trench. You still have
Justin Huber on the bench. You still have the team that’s
making excuses for Angel Berroa instead of judging him. You
still have the team that thought bringing in Mark
Grudzielanek
, Doug Mientkiewicz, and
Reggie Sanders were good ideas. It’s time to stop singling
out the worst from among the bad, time to stop burning people in effigy, and
move on to burning down the house. There aren’t five players currently on
this team who will substantively contribute towards the organization’s next
.500 record. That isn’t deadly, that’s death.

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Placed RF-R Gary Sheffield on the 15-day DL (hand),
retroactive to 5/6; recalled OF-B Melky Cabrera from
Columbus (Triple-A). [5/9]

I wonder about Cabrera’s being taken seriously on what he can do, as opposed
to being labeled for what he can’t. He doesn’t look like he’ll be able to
play a major-league center field, but that was the first unreasonable thing
the Yankees expected from him. Now he’s being asked to replaced Gary
Sheffield, and although this year’s start at Columbus is promising
(.385/.430/.566), it would be pretty optimistic to say that he already
projects as a quality power bat. Still, this is more like a Jerry
Mumphrey
problem, not a Dave Collins situation,
and to their credit, after successfully breaking in and sticking with
Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang last
summer, the Yankees aren’t quite so allergic to youth these days. Hopefully,
this will wind up being a situation where Cabrera doesn’t embarrass
himself again, and instead makes a case for why he should be ahead of guys
like Andy Phillips and Bubba Crosby when
the Yankees determine their postseason roster in August.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Recalled RHP Matt Roney from Sacramento (Triple-A);
optioned RHP Chad Gaudin to Sacramento. [5/5]

Placed OF-B Milton Bradley on the 15-day DL (sprained
knee). [5/7]

Recalled C-R Jeremy Brown from Sacramento. [5/9]

Goldstein’s already plugged Brown, so I’ll simply note that he’s slipping
into town to replace the suspended Jason Kendall, as the
A’s try to cheat the usual advantage that New York teams reap by benefit of
playing in the same city that suspension appeals get conducted in. It’s not
really a setback for the A’s, since Brown can catch as well as hit, and
Adam Melhuse has always had some virtues at the plate if
less so behind it. Frankly, the whole question of coaxing Kendall to do this
to avoid having to option Antonio Perez to Sacramento
instead seems a wee bit overwrought. Perez desperately needs at-bats, and as
long as the team keeps pretending that they’re perfectly fine with
Marco Scutaro as the primary utility infielder, they’re
wasting the roster spot anyway.

In Bradley’s absence, Bobby Kielty and Jay
Payton
haven’t done much to earn their keep, making it seem that,
even with Nick Swisher‘s hot start, the outfield problem is
no more close to being solved than it was in years past. Bradley’s looking
like he’ll be gone for most of the next seven days, so Payton and Kielty
will get further opportunities to demonstrate the faith in them has not been
entirely misplaced.

Gaudin had tossed seven innings across the previous five days, including
four the night before he was optioned, so this was more about getting in an
available arm for the weekend than an indictment of Gaudin’s performance.
(Keep in mind, Justin Duchscherer‘s persistent problems
figure large here.) Roney wasn’t really doing all that well or badly
pitching in relief at Sacto, allowing a hit per inning pitched, but with 19
Ks in 15 frames.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
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Activated SS-R Julio Lugo and 3B/1B/OF-L Aubrey
Huff
from the 15-day DL; placed RHP Dan Miceli on
the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Chad Harville from Durham
(Triple-A). [5/5]

I suppose the only thing that’s significant about Miceli’s absence is how it
affects Chad Orvella. After all, what else is there?
Harville’s going to pitch, of course, and probably not all that well if past
performance is any indication, and Tyler Walker appears to
be the closer du jour. So what about Orvella? The battle with his pitching
coach over his mechanics seems to have had no positive result, as he’s been
uncharacteristically wild, and unless the Rays want to spend their entire
existence mulling the benefits of the Micelis over the Harvilles and getting
worked up about the Walkers, a little bit of flexibility might serve them
well.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Recalled RHP Scott Feldman from Oklahoma (Triple-A);
optioned RHP Robinson Tejeda to Oklahoma; designated LHP
Brian Shouse for assignment. [5/8]

The Rangers are gaming the system, having sorted out that once you sort out
that you don’t have a reliable fifth starter, you don’t need to keep any one
of the aspirants around for much time between starts. It appears that
John Rheinecker will get the next call to handle the role,
but it’s more than a week until the Rangers need a fifth again, and why let
the roster spot go slack with a last-reliever-in-the-pen guy when you could
instead let someone like Tejeda continue starting by shipping him back to
Okie? Unless Tejeda (or Rheinecker) can’t handle the psychic trauma of
yo-yo’ing back and forth, the only thing the Rangers have to worry about
racking up are frequent flyer miles. Consider this a successful little bit
of gaming the system. In taking the disadvantage of not having a steady
fifth man, and instead using it as a way to make sure you have a spare
reliever around. Feldman’s pretty handy, keeps the ball on the ground and
throws hard, so credit the Rangers for making a silk purse out of a sow’s
ear. (Beats feeding the thing to the dog, donchaknow.)

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Recalled RHP Francisco Rosario from Syracuse (Triple-A);
optioned RHP Vinnie Chulk to Syracuse. [5/5]

When it turns out that offseason plaudits don’t automatically entitle you to
a .600 record on the field, you’d probably get testy too, but this isn’t
drastic, this is the benefit of having good stuff down on the farm. When
guys like Chulk or Frasor struggle, it’s not like the Jays are busy
determining the whereabouts of Jason Grimsley. Rosario was
flashing some of his former promise as a prospect in the minors, striking
out 29 in 22.1 IP while allowing 20 hits (one of which left the yard) and
eight walks, and Chulk had been terrible. Having options when you’re
struggling and the whole team isn’t living up to its billing is a bad place
to be in, no doubt, perhaps made worse when you don’t have the benefit of a
big contract, a la Josh Towers. You can be forgiven for
wondering whether or not blaming the expensive people would reflect on
management, and whether or not it’s easier to snipe at the small fry to
reinforce the point that expectations remain high. Nevertheless, most teams
would be ecstatic to have guys like McGowan and Rosario to call up after
better-established pitchers have faltered, and the Jays can afford to send a
message and run a meritocracy in these specific cases.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Activated LHP Horacio Ramirez from the 15-day DL; placed
LHP Chuck James on the 15-day DL (strained). [5/6]

Returned LHP Horacio Ramirez to the 15-day DL (hamstring). [5/7]

Purchased the contract of RHP Chad Paronto from Richmond.
[5/9]

Ramirez’s activation was an emergency measure in case of his possible use on Sunday, but now the Braves have put him back on the DL to make sure that he gets
three rehab starts in Richmond before they really press him back into
action. And when the alternatives include somebody like Paronto, can you
blame them for this sort of thing? Maybe I’m appropriately skeptical about
how well the Braves will be able to get good use out of the Will Cunnanes of
the world now that Leo Mazzone works in Baltimore. Since washing out as an
Orioles prospect, Paronto’s bounced from Buffalo to Memphis to Nashville to
Richmond, and while that might have afforded him the opportunity to visit
just about all of the major battlefields of the War of 1812 and the Civil
War, he doesn’t appear to have picked up an out pitch along the way.

The guy who gets a reprise out of this is Jorge Sosa. Until
Ramirez is back, it’s his spot in the rotation that’s at stake, especially
now that John Thomson has worked back into the club’s good graces. James could look forward to a similarly lengthy and perhaps
productive rehab effort once he’s ready to go, getting some innings, perhaps
with an eye towards whether or not he might get used for bigger things later
on this summer. In the meantime, I expect we can look forward to Ramirez
returning to the rotation, Sosa going to the pen, and Paronto going back to
Richmond.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Outrighted OF-R Michael Restovich to Iowa (Triple-A);
recalled INF-R Ryan Theriot from Iowa. [5/8]

Platoons hard, make brain hurt. What’s more remarkable, that the club hasn’t
noticed Jacque Jones‘s 1-for-18 start against LHPs, or that
a team with four guys who can play second base felt itself short of second
basemen, and called up Theriot to make it five? The Cubs are wondering about
their offense, for good reason, but it’s always going to be easier to blame
the players–Juan Pierre for his cold streaks,
Derrek Lee for getting hurt, Jones for not being the
everyday slugger they pretended he was this winter–than to look in the
mirror, or ponder what tactical modifications you might make to let players
do what they can do well and not ask them to do what they can’t. Instead,
they’ve got a manager who uses his son as a human shield at postgame press
conferences, because those mean old reporters might someday ask what the
hell is going on here.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Activated 1B-L Todd Helton from the 15-day DL; optioned
OF-R Ryan Spilborghs to Colorado Springs (Triple-A). [5/5]

Helton’s return is nice to see, not simply because of his status as Greatest
Rockie Ever or because of his unfortunate intestinal discontent. It’s nice
simply on the level of Colorado having its best player back during its first
extended stretch of meaningful ballgames in what seems like ages. The lineup
needs the help if Colorado is going to keep itself above .500, and it wasn’t
like Eli Marrero was going to slug .600-plus from here on
out. Heck, the club even seems to have gotten over its massive mancrush on
Luis Gonzalez, and barring their getting to that place
where Cory Sullivan is concerned once he cools off, getting
Helton back really only leaves their catching situation as the one obvious
area requiring an upgrade.

The nicest thing you can say about Spilborghs is that at least he’s an
eminently outrightable player on the 40-man, should the Rockies pull off a
two-for-one deal or want to purchase the contract of somebody before
November.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Outrighted OF-L Matt Cepicky to Albuquerque (Triple-A).
[5/5]

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Placed 2B/OF-R Chris Burke on the 15-day DL (dislocated
shoulder); purchased the contract of UT-R Joe McEwing from
Round Rock (Triple-A). [5/7]

After all of the hype, and even with a bit of postseason celebrity to his
credit, Burke’s been somewhat buried this season. In part, that’s what
bringing in Preston Wilson hath wrought, because fellow
subs like Orlando Palmeiro, Mike Lamb, and
Eric Bruntlett aren’t getting too much time either. Both
Wilson and Jason Lane are struggling to consistently put
runs on the board from the outfield corners, so once Burke comes back, he
might get a wee bit more playing time, but in the meantime, McEwing seems
perfectly well equipped for a role that generally involves being
ignored.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Placed C-B Dioner Navarro on the 15-day DL (bruised hand);
recalled C-R Russell Martin from Las Vegas (Triple-A);
[5/5]

Placed LHP Odalis Perez on the bereavement list; purchased
the contract of RHP Aaron Sele from Las Vegas; transferred
RHP Yhency Brazoban from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/6]

Activated LHP Odalis Perez from the bereavement list; optioned INF-L
Oscar Robles to Las Vegas. [5/9]

Martin may well be in vogue within the organization because of what he isn’t
(somebody Paul DePodesta picked up), but that shouldn’t lead anyone to
overlook that he’s a catching prospect in his own right. The power that
disappeared in Double-A last season hasn’t put in a reappearance yet (he was
hitting .297/.389/.417 at Vegas), but we’re still talking about a good
catcher who can hit, and he’s only 23. Certainly, if he hits now, between
his experience working with the Dodgers’ talented young pitchers and his own
abilities, then GM Ned Colletti will have the opportunity to ponder whether
he might want to shop Navarro sometime between now and next April. In the
meantime, the Dodgers are fine behind the plate, and get the time to see how
ready Martin is, so despite losing Navarro, treat this as a positive
development.

As for Robles’ most recent dispatch, what do you expect? The club already
made a point of favoring Ramon Martinez, so even getting on base wasn’t enough to earn him any extra consideration. Aaron
Sele is an ex-famous person, and as Colletti would be sure to tell you, he’s
no Scott Erickson. However, Sele is merely moving into the
opportunity that Perez created through his own ineptitude. I don’t really
think it’s a lasting solution, although there is the danger that if Perez
pitches well in the pen, no amount of Sele being Sele might get him his old
job back. Tim Hamulack isn’t rising to his opportunity in
the pen, so the Dodgers can be rightfully concerned about whether or not
they have any reliable lefty relief help. The problem is that carrying
Hamulack, Perez, and Joe Beimel seems like a pretty
major overcompensation gesture, and the bench would definitely be better off
with a second backup infielder.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Recalled RHP Jared Fernandez from Nashville (Triple-A).
[5/5]

NEW YORK METS
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Placed RHP John Maine on the 15-day DL (inflamed finger);
recalled RHP Bartolome Fortunato from Norfolk (Triple-A).
[5/6]

Placed RHP Victor Zambrano on the 60-day DL (elbow);
purchased the contract of RHP Jose Lima from Norfolk. [5/7]

Recalled RHP Heath Bell from Norfolk; optioned LHP
Bartolome Fortunato to Norfolk. [5/8]

Zambrano’s done for the year, which is pretty amusing when you consider that
he was acquired for Scott Kazmir on the Mets’ faith that
Kazmir would break down irretrievably and soon. Now that it’s Lima Tima
(“kaboom sound included”), at least Mets fans can take solace in the
knowledge that there is now somebody definitively worse than Darren
Oliver
on the roster, although Oliver does seem to be enjoying one
of his rare good seasons in the early going. But as I noted in the NY Sun,
the real answer to this team’s rotation issues is in their bullpen, and the
sooner they just accept that Aaron Heilman is the third
starter this rotation otherwise lacks, the better for their prospects now
and into the postseason. Futzing around with the Olivers, Limas, and
Jeremi Gonzalezes of the world is not going to fix the
rotation, and finding good pen help is much more easily done. If Willie
Randolph and Rick Peterson are dismissing the suggestion out of hand, it’s
worth bringing up the folly of relying on their own experience too heavily.
Instead, a little bit of recognition of a capacity for error needs to be
acknowledged, particularly concerning Peterson’s part in getting Zambrano
for Kazmir.

The bullpen might seem shallow, but that’s not really the case. Beyond
closer Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez has
been fine, Chad Bradford and Pedro
Feliciano
have their situational uses. The problem has been turning
around Jorge Julio, because while he’s doing a much better
job of throwing strikes, he’s also still doing a great job of catching too
much of the plate in a way that only creates instant happiness (and
souvenirs) amongst bleacher creatures.

Enter Bell, who you might hope could help shore up the pen after notching 20
Ks in 13.1 IP at Norfolk. As we noted in this year’s edition of the annual,
Bell was among the most unlucky pitchers in baseball last season when it
came to BABIP, but if he’s finally harnessed his fastball/split combo, he
could wind up being the second quality setup man the pen would seem to
require to reassure Randolph’s anxieties over moving Heilman to the
rotation. We can certainly hope so, even if you aren’t tired of seeing the
Braves win–I’d much rather see the Mets take their best shot than allow
their season to be poisoned by the contributions of Jose Lima and his ilk.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Placed C-R Mike Lieberthal on the 15-day DL (knee
contusion); recalled C-R Carlos Ruiz from
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A). [5/5]

Activated RHP Julio Santana from the 15-day DL; optioned
RHP Clay Condrey to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/6]

While losing Lieberthal sounds serious, it isn’t the setback it once was.
Remember that he isn’t the star he
used to be. Instead, he’s merely a good player these days, and one you can
afford to replace with substitutes like Sal Fasano and
Ruiz. Although not really a prospect considering his age (he’s already 27)
or his experience (entering his fourth season above A-ball), Ruiz was
hitting .385/.448/.637 down at Scranton, and that’s not a bad guy to have
around as an alternative to Fasano in case he gets into one of those nightly
sombrero jags that he can be prone to. Ruiz’s top comparable is Mike
Heath
, which doesn’t make that much sense considering that this is
his first shot, while Heath already had three years as a near-regular
catcher at this age. However, Ruiz has a better rep as a receiver than Heath
ever did, and has the strong arm Heath had, so if the offensive skill sets
are as similar as their defensive talents, that’s more than a useful player,
it’s somebody worth starting. Maybe it’s a matter of propinquity, but
Phillies fans might do well to compare him to Bo Diaz a
talented enough all-around backstop who caught a late break and was a
worthwhile starter on a pennant-winner hereabouts.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Placed 3B-R Joe Randa on the 15-day DL (foot), retroactive
to 5/2; recalled 3B/UT-R Jose Bautista from Indianapolis.
[5/7]

While I like what manager Jim Tracy is doing with his catching situation,
I’m a little less impresed with what he’s doing at third base in Randa’s
absence. I know there’s some enthusiasm in the organization for making
Bautista a multi-positional supersub, and that’s just dandy, but with the
playing time available, giving their hot corner starts to Freddy
Sanchez
while Bautista gets to spice up the “who’s today’s
center fielder?” drama is a poor allocation of assets. The Pirates are
guilty of being overly enthusiastic about both Chris Duffy
and Nate McLouth, but that’s the organization’s
fault–either might make a serviceable temporary solution in center, but
Sanchez will never be more than that at second base, not third. As
long as Randa’s out, and with the season looking like the disappointment
many of us expected it to be, better that Tracy and GM Dave Littlefield
take an extended look at the prospect who should be playing third every day
no later than August. At that point, they’ll have hopefully sorted out that
people like Randa and Burnitz (and Sean Casey, for that
matter) can’t help them, because the club really should be trying to decide
whether or not Bautista, McLouth, Sanchez, and Duffy ever will.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Placed OF-R Moises Alou on the 15-day DL (sprained ankle);
recalled C-R Justin Knoedler from Connecticut (Double-A).
[5/6]

Optioned C-R Justin Knoedler to Connecticut, then transferred his
option to Fresno (Triple-A); recalled OF-B Dan Ortmeier
from Fresno; activated LHP Noah Lowry from the 15-day DL;
designated LHP Jeff Fassero for assignment. [5/8]

Consider this one of the penalties of cultivating the aged. Alou’s out for
four to six weeks. Replacing him in the lineup will be Steve
Finley
, but playing center field of course, with the odd ripple
being that Randy Winn will have to lob his dying quails
from right. That makes for some interesting outfield play, to be sure,
considering Barry Bonds‘s relative immobility in left. Skip
asking whether or not Jason Ellison or Ortmeier now get to
claim to be Barry’s
legs
–after hitting .304/.357/.470 at Fresno, the Giants might need to
press Ortmeier’s bat into the lineup at first base to make up for the sudden
realization that Lance Niekro is not an everyday player.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Activated OF-L Larry Bigbie from the 15-day DL; optioned
OF-R John Gall to Memphis (Triple-A). [5/8]

What’s interesting about this is how much playing time Bigbie might get, or
if this makes So Taguchi the club’s top righty-hitting
reserve. Either way, it’s the wrong question to ask, because Bigbie’s not
going to outhit John Rodriguez, the guy who really should
push Taguchi to the bench. If that’s the question you’re asking, then you
need to wonder whether you’d rather have Taguchi, Bigbie, or Juan
Encarnacion
starting in the other outfield corner, and I
don’t think that the answers are all that cut and dried. Encarnacion is
looking like the mistake this team needed to avoid making when it came to
replacing Larry Walker (which makes Rodriguez that much
more of a godsend), but I don’t think it’s impossible that the Cardinals
could craft a workable job-sharing arrangement between the four hitters in
the two corners. The decision that really needs to be made is getting
Rodriguez into the lineup more often, but Tony LaRussa seems to have gotten
most of the way there already.