From the "they also played" gang, those few who have jobs to win and trips to Fresno to avoid.
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitcher(s): Just 11 years, a bad press conference, and all sorts of money since he was last a front-end rotation asset, Mike Hampton is in camp. This has to be one of those bad-penny propositions, where everyone who operates a franchise has to take a turn paying for a Hampton surgery, otherwise you haven't really made the grade as an owner. And they've got Micah Owings back, four years since he gave the Snakes cause to believe he might be a rotation stalwart. Given that this is the team that puts Zach Duke or Hampton in cleats, what's several bad seasons in a row between friends? Hitter(s): I already touched on the most obvious impact NRI, Russell Branyan, on Tuesday, but he's not alone. Wily Mo Pena makes for an interesting platoon possibility in left field with Brandon Allen if Kirk Gibson decides to build something that could bop. And we can always double-count Micah Owings, since he's one of the only active players who genuinely extends a roster to 26 by contributing as both a pinch-hitter—or maybe even a spot starter at first?—and as a pitcher.
Rounding out the NL East and turning the antics in Wrigleyville.
Obvious Good Move: Nothing in particular. With so many of the usual suspects summoned up for their third or fourth or fifth spin in Wrigleyville, it isn't like these guys don't know their way around the cramped clubhouse, or the names of the guys already here. Maine might come in handy as an extra lefty, but his rates at Iowa were bass-ackwards. Welington Castillo should get a few more reps behind the plate with Soto done for 2010, not least because there's something sort of depressing about the proposition that Koyie Hill could end up starting a third of your team's games behind the plate, but also because Castillo is a decent prospect who's up after a slugly season for the I-Cubs, with a .243 ISO while gunning down 39 percent of opposing base thieves (to accentuate the positive).
No Bowdens, Bumgarners, or Flowers a-blooming, not even the sound of Mike Stanton's bat booming.
The fact that the Sox shipped out the other Ramon Ramirez (cue Scooby-Doo, it's "Ram-Ruh!?") shouldn't surprise, and like Bates, the organizational soldier, he's among the likelies as far as who gets bumped from the 40-man by any subsequent decisions to add veteran relievers Joe Nelson and/or Brian Shouse. (And perhaps Alan Embree later still.) But rain falls on the prospect-y as well as those less so, as Bowden's fate and a third return to Pawtucket reflects. In any one of a number of second-division camps, Bowden would be vying for a rotation slot after spending most of the last three years at Double-A or higher. Considering that he's only 23 years old and that he's got a low-90s fastball and a good changeup, it's not like he's the next David Pauley. The challenge is to see if he tightens up his breaking stuff to the point that he becomes a better prospect, or if, failing that, he has to eventually head to the pen, where he could still be an asset. Whether he succeeds or fails, his real problem as far as making it back to The Show and sticking around is the organization he has to call daddy. The Red Sox have little space for the middling or not-quite-ready to help them in their quest for a playoff slot, with six solid starters already available to staff the big-league rotation, plus multi-year commitments to five of them (excepting free agent-to-be Josh Beckett), and with Junichi Tazawa already apparently hop-skotching past him on the organizational depth chart. Bowden's best bet is to knock the socks off people's paws as a PawSock, and see if that makes him an in-season fill-in or a Pittsburgh Pirate by August.