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ATLANTA BRAVES

Optioned pitcher Mark Wohlers to Gulf Coast League Braves (Rookie League).
[6/20]


Wohlers requested this demotion so he could straighten out his mechanics;
although he’s limited batters to a .217 average, he’s walked 18 in 16 innings
after walking 38 in 69.1 innings last year and 21 in 77.1 innings in 1996. Kerry
Ligtenberg, Denny Martinez, and perhaps Mike Cather will share closer duties in
the interim, although a trade for Mark Leiter is now grist in the rumor mill.


BOSTON RED SOX

Signed pitcher Joshua Hancock and catcher Anthony Caridi, both 1998 draft picks:
signed the following non-drafted free agents: pitchers Mark Cisar, Christopher
Donohoo
, Robert Slomkowski and Christopher Zallie. [6/19]


CHICAGO CUBS

Purchased the contract of pitcher Dave Stevens from Iowa of the Pacific Coast
League (AAA); optioned outfielder Derrick White to Iowa; transferred outfielder
Lance Johnson from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. [6/20]

Optioned pitcher Kevin Foster to Iowa of the Pacific Coast League (AAA);
purchased the contract of outfielder Pedro Valdes from Iowa. [6/21]


The Cubs effectively swapped Foster out for Stevens and White out for Valdes.
Valdes is at least young enough to have a future, and was running a .998 OPS
repeating AAA, so this is clearly a move in the right direction. He could see
playing time at the expense of Oh! Henry, who continues to show exactly why the
Expos couldn’t get squat for him in trade. Stevens had pitched quite well at
Iowa, but more importantly, is a short reliever who once wore the tag of closer
(and wore it poorly), whereas Foster is a 7th starter on this team, and not a
great one.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Recalled pitcher Bob Howry from Calgary of the Pacific Coast League (AAA);
released pitcher Tony Castillo. [6/21]


Bevington’s left-handed lackey couldn’t get anyone out this year, and aged
specialists have little place on a team that’s not contending. Unfortunately,
Howry, acquired in the Alvarez/Hernandez dump last July, is 24 with an
unimpressive resume, and isn’t up for much more than mop-up work.


CINCINNATI REDS

Optioned outfielders Pat Watkins and Tony Tarasco to Indianapolis of the
International League (AAA); designated pitcher David Weathers for assignment;
promoted catcher James Davis from Chattanooga of the Southern League (AA) to
Indianapolis. [6/19]


These moves balanced the roster after the recall of Mike Frank, Sean Casey, and
Steve Parris last Thursday. Any move that brings Casey up is probably a good
one, and he certainly has more to do with the future of this team than Watkins
or Tarasco. Frank isn’t really a great hitter, despite the .341 average in 88
AAA at bats – his OBA/SLG of .389/.386 don’t exactly scream “prospect.” Still,
McKeon has said he’ll start every day in centerfield. Weathers’
replacement-level Tub of Goo II act finally wore thin, and Parris will fill the
swing role quite capably, as his surgically repaired shoulder appears to have
him back in his ’94-’95 form … not spectacular, but better than the gory
prospect of more David Weathers.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Sold outfielder Matt Luke to the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations.
[6/20]


A waste of roster-shuffling, and certainly nothing to help the Dodgers’ outfield
woes, particularly if this sends Cedeno to the bench. As for the Indians, one
wonders why the recently IPO’d club needs more cash. Perhaps they’re going to
reupholster the luxury box furniture with mink.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Placed outfielder Larry Walker on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June
18th, with soreness in his right elbow; recalled outfielder Jeff Barry from
Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League; moved pitcher Mark Thompson from
the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. [6/19]


Jeff Barry? Granted, Derrick Gibson hasn’t impressed (.297/.352/.447) in
Colorado Springs, and Clemente has been awful (.247/.322/.447), but what is the
point of bringing up Barry? Barry is 28, hasn’t appeared in the majors in 3
years, and his .288/.375/.489 isn’t all that much better than Gibson’s
performance. It’s high time the Rockies realized they’re out of it for ’98 and
started working toward ’99 and beyond. Granted, it’s difficult when your AAA
team is populated by guys like Barry, Nelson Liriano, and DJ Boston, but it’s
better to spend a lost season finding out if your “prospects” like Gibson
are going to be part of your future than to spend it giving playing time to
has-beens and never-wases.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Signed the following 1998 draft picks: pitchers Ryan Harber, David Noyce, Paul
McCurtain
, Eric Jupe, John Seaman, David Campos and Kevin Olsen; shortstops
Derek Wathan, Terrence Smalls and Frank Niles; first baseman David Callahan;
third baseman Heath Honeycutt, catchers Matthew Frick and Julio Rivas; and
outfielders Matt Padgett, Willy Hill and Randy Rigsby. [6/19]


HOUSTON ASTROS

Recalled pitcher Scott Elarton from New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League
(AAA) and optioned outfielder Ray Montgomery to New Orleans. [6/19]


Elarton scuffled a bit at New Orleans this year, with an ERA of 4.01 and 41
walks in 92 innings (with 100 Ks). Still, with Holt and Garcia out for the year,
there’s no reason to wait around for guys like Sean Bergman to turn back into
pumpkins, and Elarton’s recall sooner rather than later probably won’t have a
huge impact on whether the Astros go to the playoffs or not.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Placed pitcher Ramon Martinez on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June
14th, with cartilage tear in his right rotator cuff; recalled catcher Paul
LoDuca
from Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League (AAA); agreed to terms with
outfielder Bubba Crosby, their 1998 first-round draft pick; designated infielder
Thomas Howard for assignment; [6/19]

Placed infielder Bobby Bonilla on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June
17th, with an intestinal infection; recalled pitcher Will Brunson from
Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League (AAA). [6/20]

Fired manager Bill Russell and general manager Fred Claire; named Glenn Hoffman
manager and Tommy Lasorda interim general manager. [6/21]


You’d think the apocalypse was upon LA for all the distress over the loss of
Ramon, and while he had been pitching better than he had in the last five years,
the team was sunk with or without him. Besides, they knew about the injury last
year, so why is this any surprise at all? Reyes likely returns to the rotation,
although Mike Judd or Gary Rath could see time when Reyes himself blows out.
Bonilla hasn’t been any sort of offensive or defensive contributor, and if his
absence means more PT for Konerko and Cedeno, then the loss of Bonilla could be
a net gain for LA in the long term. As for the management shakeup, putting
Lasorda in charge of player moves adds little benefit to the club, since he was
partly responsible for building the lousy offense on the field now. Getting
Russell out may help Ismael Valdes, with whom he feuded early and often. Rumors
that Piazza may return now that il paesano is in the GM’s chair and Russell is
gone seem out of place; with Johnson entrenched behind the plate and either
Karros or Konerko at first next year, where would Piazza play?


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Purchased the contract of pitcher Travis Smith from Louisville of the
International League (AAA); optioned outfielder Geoff Jenkins to Louisville.
[6/20]


The run of injuries in the Brewers’ rotation takes an unfortunate toll on
Jenkins, who had performed quite well in his stint in the majors. Management has
surely taken notice, which means that Jaha is gone after the season. Bronswell
Patrick will move into the rotation in the meantime, putting Smith in the pen.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Signed pitcher Peter Fisher, their 1998 fourth-round draft pick. [6/19]

Placed designated hitter Paul Molitor on the 15-day disabled list with a broken
rib; purchased the contract of first baseman Scott Stahoviak from Salt Lake of
the Pacific Coast League (AAA). [6/21]


Tom “Piniella Lite” Kelly strikes again, choosing the decrepit, useless veteran
(Stahoviak) over the player in whom the organization has real stock (Corey
Koskie, slugging .532 with actual Plate Discipline ™). If Stahoviak scuffles,
Koskie may still get the call before Molitor’s return in about six weeks.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Outrighted pitcher Jason Baker to Harrisburg of the Eastern League (AA);
purchased the contract of pitcher Shawn Boskie from Ottawa of the International
League (AAA). [6/19]


Yes, Boskie pitched well against Atlanta. Don’t expect it to last, as he wasn’t
nearly as solid in AAA this year. If he actually stays hot, they’d be wise to
trade him to a contender for anything resembling a prospect, congratulating
themselves on a successful investment in a penny-stock pitcher.


NEW YORK METS

Signed outfielder Ruben Sierra to a minor-league contract. [6/20]


Solid insurance in case Huskey needs knee surgery before the season’s out.
[howls of derisive laughter]


NEW YORK YANKEES

Activated shortstop Derek Jeter from the disabled list; optioned outfielder
Shane Spencer to Columbus of the International League (AAA). [6/19]


…mercifully sending Luis Sojo back to the bench.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated infielder Archi Cianfrocco from the disabled list; optioned outfielder
James Mouton to Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League (AAA). [6/19]

Acquired catcher Jim Leyritz and minor-league outfielder Ethan Faggett from the
Boston Red Sox for pitchers Carlos Reyes and Dario Veras and catcher Mandy
Romero
; recalled pitcher Will Cunnane from Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League
(AAA). [6/21]


Leyritz should be thrilled, going from reserve status in Boston to reserve
status in San Diego. I’d guess he’ll go about three weeks before requesting another
trade. Boston did well to get anything for Leyritz, since the entire free world
knew he wanted out, but the fact is that the Pads didn’t give up much beyond one
useful short reliever (Veras). Cunnane’s control seemed, well, under control in
his brief stay at Las Vegas, so there’s reason to hope he’ll be more helpful
this time around.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Recalled pitcher Russ Ortiz and infielder Ramon Martinez from Fresno of the
Pacific Coast League (AAA); sent infielder Jeff Ball and outfielder Jacob Cruz
to Fresno. [6/20]


More roster shuffling without purpose. They won’t sit Snow, regardless of how
poorly he plays, so Cruz has to rot in AAA waiting for Javier or Hamilton to
drop from some injury or other. The irony of having Orel Hersheiser and Ramon
Martinez on the Giants’ active roster is rich.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed outfielder Ron Gant on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right
hamstring; purchased the contract of outfielder Shawn Gilbert from Memphis of
the Pacific Coast League (AAA); signed outfielder Tim Lemon, their 1998
second-round draft pick, and assigned him to Johnson City of the Appalachian
League (Rookie). [6/21]


This is the same hamstring that has bothered Gant on and off since 1995 – before
he signed the gaudy 5-year deal with the Cards – and while I’d like to say it
serves them right for ignoring it, the fact is that they’re not much worse off
without Gant (.213/.304/.463). John Mabry (.273/.344/.407) and Gary Gaetti
(.261/.350/.438) are expected to see more playing as a result of the injury.
Gilbert was acquired in the blockbuster Wayne Kirby trade, and will fill the
unhappy role of backup to backup David Howard.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Activated catcher John Flaherty from the 15-day disabled list; optioned catcher
Tim Spehr to Durham of the International League. [6/20]


TEXAS RANGERS

Purchased the contract of pitcher Todd Van Poppel from Oklahoma of the Pacific
Coast League (AAA); assigned catcher Rick Wrona outright to Oklahoma. [6/20]


After all the hemming and hawing about whether to call TVP up, and all the
claims about how he’d turned himself around, he got the tar kicked out of him in
his first outing – something Bobby Witt could have provided with much less
fanfare. I doubt he’ll pitch that poorly going forward, but it should be evident
that he’s not the savior for the Rangers’ beleaguered staff. If he can be a
dependable 6-inning guy at the back of the rotation, that should be enough to
make everyone happy.