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CHICAGO CUBS
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Optioned RHPs Blake Parker and Jeff Stevens and C-R Welington Castillo to Iowa (Triple-A). [3/19]

CINCINNATI REDS
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Optioned LHPs Bill Bray and Philippe Valiquette, RHP Jordan Smith, and 1BL Yonder Alonso to Louisville (Triple-A); received Rule 5 pick LHP Ben Jukich back from the Cardinals, and assigned him to their minor-league camp. [3/18]
Optioned RHPs Enerio Del Rosario and Sam Lecure, LHP Pedro Viola, and MIR Chris Valakika to Louisville. [3/19]

From among these wavelets of demotions, Bray's the name that might mildly surprise some, but the Reds do have both Arthur Rhodes and Daniel Ray Herrera rostered and ready to supply situational southpawing. As is, Bray's coming back from TJS, so it isn't like there's a dire need to rush him back to the big leagues.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Optioned LHP Taylor Tankersley, RHP Cristhian Martinez, OF-L Scott Cousins, and OF-R Jai Miller to New Orleans. [3/19]

It might seem modestly surprising to see Cousins go down despite having an outstanding camp, but there are no really shocking send-downs among this quartet. Tankersley's trying to come back from a 2009 season lost to injury, and Martinez is well behind a crowd of more experienced (and in some cases option-less) options for right-handed relief help. The outfield seems stocked with choices, with Brett Carroll also doing well and seeming set as the first-rank choice for fourth outfielder. There is as well the latest attempt to redeem Emilio Bonifacio, by expanding his applications to use him in the outfield. If Bonifacio can handle any position on the diamond besides pitcher, catcher, and first base, that's not the worst player to have around as your last man on the bench; while playing him regularly remains a bad idea, a switch-hitter with speed and that kind of positional flexibility has his uses as an early-game pinch-hitter and roster expander in this age of short benches. Even then, the outfield picture remains crowded, even with Mike Stanton's bid for pushing his way into the lineup currently stalled with a sore elbow, as Bryan Peterson's also making a nice case for a future as a fourth outfielder. So, while Cousins or Miller, or Carroll or Peterson, may not be future stars in the way that Stanton is, the Fish outfield at least has a good measure of depth beyond its big-name players.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Optioned CF-S Trayvon Robinson to Chattanooga (Double-A). [3/18]

Robinson had a nice camp, getting just five plate appearances but reaching base in three of them. Already someone who has managed to come this far as part of a new generation of ballplayers who've come from Crenshaw in LA, he was the last of the organization's top position-playing prospects shipped out this spring. Which is not to say that the Dodgers are back to a major league veterans-only proposition. Minor-league vet A.J. Ellis looks to be the club's regular backstop during Russell Martin's absence in April, Blake DeWitt seems to be winning the job at second base, and Rule 5 pick Carlos Monasterios is making a bid to join the team in a swing role (or more). So, as much as some will end up gnashing their teeth over well-word add-ons like Doug Mientkiewicz or Garret Anderson or Reed Johnson, Ausmus or Nick Green, this year should be a motley assemblage of geezers alone.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Optioned INF-R Brian Bocock to Lehigh Valley (Triple-A); optioned LHP Sergio Escalona to Reading (Double-A). [3/19]

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Optioned LF-R Chad Huffman to Portland (Triple-A). [3/17]

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Optioned 3B-L Conor Gillaspie to Richmond (Double-A). [3/18]

In case you missed the news, the Giants' Double-A affiliate has moved from Connecticut, abandoning the land of Lieberman and Lovecraft to drive forward to Richmond, where they've gone from being the Defenders to the Flying Squirrels. Not just any squirrels, but really mean-looking flying squirrels, the sort of evil-tempered sidekicks that perhaps the Wicked Witch's evil sidekick flying monkeys would have had if they were allowed to keep pets in the monkey barracks. Or would that be the monkey house? Well, whatever the domestic arrangements of WW's minions, I suppose Flying Squirrels are better, what with the obvious historical association with another great figure of American literature. As for Gillaspie, the challenge in moving up to Double-A will be to see if he lives up to the claims that his command of the strike zone hurt him in the Cal League, and whether instructional league coaching has improved his footwork at third enough to kick-start his flagging prospect status—it isn't exactly a happy outcome when a 2008 college-trained first-rounder doesn't even merit a courtesy mention among a team's top prospects.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Returned Rule 5 pick LHP Ben Jukich to the Reds. [3/18]

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Received Rule 5 pick RHP Zech Zinicola back from the Blue Jays. [3/17]

The Jays' Alex Anthopolous stated that he tried to swing a deal to retain Zinicola in Toronto's farm system; the Nats, almost equally thin in terms of total talent, understandably declined and paid out the chump change to get the former relief prospect back. Which is not to say he has a shot at anything more than another spin in Triple-A to see if he can finally do more than throw hard and get hit hard; a blend of 47 strikeouts and 15 unintentional walks in 54 IP last year is promising, but 67 hits allowed isn't all just something you can lay at the defense's doorstep.

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fawcettb
3/19
Monkeys live in houses. Baboons, since they're our true ancestors, live in troops, so they get a barracks. Everything else seemed pretty accurate, though.
mhixpgh
3/19
killjoy
clayd
3/20
Totally Meaningless Dept.: By getting Zinicola back, the Nationals have three consecutive players in the master alphabetical listing of current players, with Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, and Zach Zinicola. Its the only such spot in the list.
clayd
3/20
My fingers refuse to type "Zech" correctly.
acflynn
3/20
Maybe they can work a deal with the Cardinals for Charlie Zink . . .
pizzacutter
3/21
Is Paul Zuvella still playing?
singledigit
3/21
Might be just the spot for Joel Zumaya. Lawd knows, he's having trouble where he is.