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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed INF Craig Shipley on the 15-day DL (irritated nerve – right hand);
activated 1B Chris Pritchett from 15-day DL and optioned him to Vancouver;
recalled LHP Rich Robertson from Vancouver. [4/16]

Activated RHP Pep Harris from the DL and optioned him to Lake Elsinore (A).
[4/18]


Losing Shipley may make the pickup of Carlos Garcia and Paco Martin seem like
canny hedges, but none of these players were good ideas to man second
regularly, and the Angels have already discarded the guy who was arguably their
best internal option, Robert Eenhorn. So now Terry Collins’ options when it
comes to picking his poison are limited, not that it matters. What’s
interesting is the decision to go to a 12-man staff by adding Robertson. With
Watson and Dickson getting routinely thumped, the Angels are now carrying three
long relievers to staunch the bleeding: Robertson, Omar Olivares, and
Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Pep Harris, after he recovers from his de facto rehab
assignment, will give them another option. In the short run, it will be very
interesting to see how long Disney and Tavares tolerate struggles from their
starters, because it will reflect how much they believed their own
(unrealistic) hype about the Angels’ competitiveness entering this season.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Activated RHP John Smoltz from the DL; optioned LHP Adam Butler to Richmond.
[4/15]

Placed OF Danny Bautista on the 15-day DL (torn labrum – left shoulder);
recalled RHP Paul Byrd from Richmond. [4/19]


Smoltz’ return puts El Presidente back in the pen by 4/25, but the benefits of
going to a twelve-man pitching staff for four or five days in the wake of
Sunday’s double-header seem pretty slender: the Braves don’t usually need lots
of middle relief because of their rotation, and going without an extra body to
pinch-hit (or sub for Klesko in the outfield) doesn’t seem too smart. If
anything, taking away one of Richmond’s rotation starters away to allay worries
about an extra-inning game in the next couple of days seems like an egregiously
predatory move by Schuerholz.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed RHP Mike Mussina on the 15-day DL (wart on his right index finger);
recalled RHP Sidney Ponson from Rochester. [4/17]


Ponson will almost certainly slide into the fifth spot of the rotation, which
means Kamieniecki and Drabek will each move up a peg, which won’t exactly help
the O’s too much for the next two weeks. The option is to give Arthur Lee
Rhodes a spot start, but that would tamper with the plan to keep the pen loaded
at all times, and possibly going to a twelve-man staff in the next week.
Fortunately, Mussina is only expected to miss two starts.


CINCINNATI REDS

Activated RHP Mark Hutton from the 15-day DL. [4/16]

Traded OF Chad Mottola to Texas for a PTBNL. [4/18]

Activated LHP Steve Cooke from the DL; designated LHP Ricardo Jordan for
assignment. [4/19]


Cooke’s return from the DL moves Gabe White out of the rotation. Dave Weathers
is giving up two baserunners per inning and six runs per game, and that’s about
what he’s capable of, anywhere, anytime. White has a similar ERA, but fewer
runners, and that’s worse than you’d expect from him given his track record.
White is the only lefty in the pen with Jordan’s release, but that doesn’t
explain why the Reds don’t just put Hutton in the rotation and find one of the
many hominids who are better pitchers than Dave Weathers. Trading Mottola is
sort of a nice gesture on Jim Bowden’s part. Mottola was clearly unhappy about
being a forgotten man, and had been easily passed by Pat Watkins on the
organizational chain.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed RHP Raffy Medina on the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Robby Stanifer. [4/18]


Losing Medina will eventually create a question as to who will be the fifth
starter, but with the off-day on Tuesday, that won’t come up until Saturday or
Sunday. The probable choice is Kirt Ojala, and as I’ve said before in this
space, that shouldn’t hurt too badly; little lefty Jesus Sanchez (the Rule V
draftee out of the Mets’ organization) is already in the rotation and due to
start on Wednesday, and since he outpitched Brian Meadows in the Eastern League
last year, its nice to see he’ll get the chance to do the same thing in the
majors this year.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Recalled RHP Danny Rios from Omaha; optioned 2B Jed Hansen to Omaha. [4/16]


Why the Royals feel the need to go to 12 pitchers is totally beyond me. Maybe
the team’s doing too well for Herk Robinson’s tastes. Why you add Rios, a long
reliever, to a team that’s getting six innings per start from all five starters
(none of them Kevin Appier), and has Jim Pittsley and Jose Rosado in the pen
for long relief, is inexplicable. As for demoting Hansen, that at least does
make some sense, in that he’s gotten almost no playing time behind Jose
Offerman, and probably needs some regular work at Omaha. But for an unneeded
body?


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Activated SS Kurt Abbott from the DL; optioned SS Jorge Velandia to Edmonton.
[4/16]

Placed CF Jason McDonald on the 15-day DL (groin strain); announced they will
recall CF Ryan Christensen from Edmonton. [4/19]


Slowly but surely, the roster that was supposed to be there on Opening Day
starts taking shape. Christensen will have to show some of his spring training
glimmer to hang on to the CF job in McDonald’s absence, because he was
struggling at Edmonton (.217/.308/.283). All that’s left now is for Tejada to
get healthy and reclaim the shortstop job, and for Mark Bellhorn to chase Mike
Blowers off the major league roster, and the A’s will be moving on to the
serious business of building a team to compete with.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Placed RHP Bob Wells on the 15-day DL (strained abdominal muscle); recalled RHP
Felipe Lira from Tacoma; announced that RHP Jim Bullinger cleared waivers and
was outrighted to Tacoma. [4/16]


In the overstated hysteria surrounding all things involving the Mariners and
their bullpen, even the loss of a guy like Bob Wells gets portrayed as a
disheartening blow. Wells has his uses as a mopup man and middle-inning
slopper, but has he ever been somebody you really have to have around? Felipe
Lira is somebody who’s coming off of an outstanding ’95 in the Tigers’
rotation, followed it with a good ’96, and now suffers from an apparent
incompatability with Lou Piniella. He’s been better than Bob Wells for quite
awhile now, not that being better than Bob Wells is a remarkable level of
skill. Unfortunately, it isn’t likely that Lira will fit the bill for the
Mariners: he needs to work on his mechanics, and the Mariners are busy
panicking about winning the AL West by May 1.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Signed CF Ray Lankford to a five-year contract extension through 2003. [4/15]

Placed RHP Matt Morris back on the 15-day DL (sore right shoulder); activated
LHP
Donovan Osborne from the DL. [4/16]


Five innings, 10 baserunners, 88 pitches, and a return to the DL for Morris.
It’ll be a shame if LaRussa really has slagged him for whatever benefits there
were for having him carry one of baseball’s heaviest workloads after last
August 1. Even without him, the Cardinals’ rotation is being held together with
baling wire: Osborne may never be right, and Aybar is a big injury risk.
Fortunately, Cliff Politte has been good early, but in this case, the Cardinals
are probably one of the few teams that should carry twelve pitchers: having
Busby, Petkovsek, and Acevedo around for long relief is a worthwhile investment
that may let the team spare the rotation any more work than it can handle.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed RHP Rick Gorecki and 3B Wade Boggs on the 15-day DL; recalled RHPs Jason
Johnson
and Eddie Gaillard from Durham. [4/18]


Johnson’s D-Rays debut in the rotation will come on Thursday (the 23rd), and
since he last pitched for Durham on the 14th, he’ll be well-rested. As I
usually do, I’ll gripe that going to a 12-man staff isn’t a good idea, but
since Rothschild almost never goes to his bench (he went almost two weeks
before he made any in-game changes to a lineup in a D-Rays win), it doesn’t
matter too much for anyone other than Gaillard, who will get work infrequently.


TEXAS RANGERS

Activated RHP Danny Patterson from the 15-day DL; designated RHP Julio Santana
for
assignment. [4/17]

Acquired OF Chad Mottola from Cincinnati for a PTBNL. [4/18]


The slender benefit of having a bunch of junk left over from the Grieve era in
the upper levels of your organization is that you can put your ex-#2 prospect
(Santana, ’96) on waivers, and other than worrying about the perpetually
curious Jim Bowden, you can probably sneak him through. Santana is still
learning the basics of the craft of pitching, and he didn’t belong in the
majors before expansion, so I wonder if his demotion post-expansion means
something to that group of folks predisposed to whine about “expansion
pitching.”


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Placed RHP Kelvim Escobar on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 16 (inflamed
right elbow); recalled 3B Tom Evans from Syracuse; announced 1B Carlos Delgado
will begin a rehab assignment with Dunedin (A). [4/17]


We gain a bit of insight to Escobar’s early struggles. Evans was hot in the
early going in the International League (.318/.423/.818), and his callup brings
the Jays back down to 11 pitchers. It’ll be interesting to see what happens:
will the team finally trade Erik Hanson so that Chris Carpenter can return to
the rotation, or will the health of Pat Hentgen or Roger Clemens make that
point moot? Will Evans eventually go back down, so that the Jays can keep Juan
Samuel around? Does Evans, let alone the long-suffering Pat Lennon, really have
to wait around because Tim Johnson wants to carry a roster with four DHs (once
Delgado returns in two weeks) and no backup outfielders?