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BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Purchased the contract of 2B/3B P.J. Forbes from Rochester; designated RHP Joel
Bennett
for assignment. [7/21]

Traded OF/1B Joe Carter to San Francisco for RHP Darin Blood. [7/23]


Good news for the Orioles has been pretty infrequent, so its news when they
pull off one addition and one bit of addition-by-subtraction. Sending Joe
Carter away is their outstanding good fortune. First, it creates playing time
for significantly better offensive and defensive players (Rich Becker, Jeffrey
Hammonds, and Harold Baines when he returns, and yes, Baines is a better
defensive player if only because no one pretends he can still play the field).
Then, as a reward for that upgrade, they get a borderline pitching prospect in
Blood for it. Blood hasn’t been dominating since the California League in ’96,
but he’s a starter with a four-pitch assortment and decent control who’s
managed to put up adequate ERAs in the Texas League and the PCL (4.66 at
Fresno). Meanwhile, the Orioles also add P.J. Forbes, which is a nice gesture
for the 30 year old minor league vet. He’s having what might be the best year
of his career at Rochester, pelting 34 doubles while hitting .312/.361/.468. It
doesn’t mean much to mention he’s a more dangerous hitter than anyone else on
the left side of the Orioles’ infield, or to mention that he won’t get much
playing time.


BOSTON RED SOX

Recalled RHP John Wasdin from Pawtucket; placed RHP Jim Corsi on the 15-day DL,
retroactive to 7/18 (stiff neck, jammed thumb). [7/22]


Wasdin came up to take his shot at the fifth spot in the rotation, and gave the
Red Sox a decent outing. Its now up to them to just leave him alone in the
slot, or continue the Jin Ho Cho experiment, instead of fooling around with
both, either, or neither so that they can piddle around with Derek Lowe or
Robinson Checo for two weeks. Unless the Sox start making a commitment to one
starter or another, they run the risk of not having anyone ready should (or
more likely, when) Bret Saberhagen get hurt. In the meantime, losing Corsi
weakens the Sox pen considerably, and may create an opening for the Eck to
finally return (not a good thing).


CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned OF Matt Mieske to Iowa; recalled RHP Rodney Myers from Iowa. [7/22]


Mieske has basically been moved because of two factors: today’s doubleheader
against the Mets means that Don Wengert will take another tateriffic crack at
starting a ballgame, and with Lance Johnson healthy and Glenallen Hill on the
roster, the Cubs think there isn’t room for all of them. You might argue that
Hill makes Mieske superfluous, except that Mieske is the better defender and
the better hitter against lefties, so he’s the better platoon mate for Henry
Rodriguez. The point is essentially moot, since Mieske will be brought back
shortly. But there are additional sources of misfortune: why let yourself be in
a situation where Wengert has to start (in other words, why did lose Amaury
Telemaco? why promote and demote Kennie Steenstra? why not start Rodney
Myers?)? And why is third catcher Sandy Martinez’ spot on the roster sacred?
The Cubs keep claiming he’s a young "work in progress," but he had more major
league catching experience than Tyler Houston coming into this season. Martinez
is out of options, but pity the team so desperate that it would need to enter a
waiver claim on him if the Cubs ever wise up. Rod Myers was enduring his usual
struggles as a mediocre AAA swingman, and his control (his one asset last year)
is slipping.


CINCINNATI REDS

Signed RHP Pete Harnisch to a two-year contract with a team option for 2001;
signed RHP Jason Bere to a minor-league contract. [7/21]


I think the major message being sent with giving Harnisch a multi-year deal
that prevents him from being traded this year is that it also formally signifies
that Barry Larkin is off the trade market. As for signing Bere, he won’t even
be the Reds’ best ex-White Sox wunderkind in the organization, since Rod Bolton
is doing some good work for Indy. But hey, they wasted almost three months on
Dave Weathers, so don’t be surprised when they pick Bere over Bolton.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed LHP Jim Poole to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Buffalo.
[7/22]

Traded UT Shawon Dunston, RHP Jose Mesa, and LHP Alvin Morman to San Francisco
for RHP Steve Reed and RF Jacob Cruz. [7/23]

Traded RHP Eric Plunk to Milwaukee for RHP Doug Jones. [7/23]

Recalled LF/1B Richie Sexson and LHP Ron Villone from Buffalo. [7/23]


Small market, big market, none of that matters when you’re just smarter than
your peers. I’m speaking about the trade with the Giants, since the Jones-Plunk
swap is basically an exchange of problem relievers who’ve lost their jobs (even
so, Jones’ 15 homeruns in 54 IP is frightening). Reed isn’t just the best
player in the deal, if that’s your standard of success in trades; he’s one of
the best relief pitchers in all of baseball this year, and over the past five.
When he’s on, his sidearm to three-quarters delivery and good heat just nukes
right-handed batters. For that, the Indians gave up roster garbage, gained
roster space for two good young players in Villone and Sexson, and didn’t even
have to hurt Buffalo’s chances in the International League, because the Bisons
get Cruz to replace Sexson and Poole to replace Villone. How often do you see a
trade that improves your depth and quality at both the major league and minor
league levels simultaneously? John Hart didn’t even have to give up Enrique
Wilson or Brian Giles or Russ Branyan or Sexson to make his team better. The
Giants didn’t just get the shaft: they got a postcard with a picture of the
shaft signed "Love ya, Johnny."


DETROIT TIGERS

Placed C Raul Casanova on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/21 (hamstring);
optioned RHP A.J. Sager to Toledo; recalled 2B/3B Frank Catalanotto from
Toledo; purchased the contract of C Joe Siddall from Toledo. [7/23]


It seems like Casanova is just snakebit, because this was supposed to be his
opportunity to claim half of the major league job. Now Paul Bako gets to
solidify his hold on it. Meanwhile, Frank Catalanotto will hopefully get some
regular playing time between second, third, and DH.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed RHP Eric Ludwick on the 15-day DL (hand); recalled RHP Andy Larkin from
Charlotte. [7/23]


Speaking of bad luck, Ludwick is on the DL again for his third non-pitching
injury this season. Larkin will slide into the rotation again, leading to the
usual fireworks, since he’s already run up a not-unusual-for-him 5.86 ERA at
Charlotte. Where’s Ed Yarnall? Struggling and pitching in relief in Charlotte,
and at best just being hidden away from Jim Leyland.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Activated 3B Terry Pendleton from the DL; optioned INF Shane Halter to Omaha.
[7/21]


Shane Halter was sent down for not doing "the little things" after he blew a
bunt. When does Terry Pendleton get cut for not doing "the big things," like
playing baseball well?


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Traded RHP Jim Bruske to San Diego for RHP Widd Workman, and assigned Workman
to San Bernardino (A-ball); recalled RHP Mike Judd from Albuquerque. [7/23]


The Dodgers are being semi-sensible for once, in that Bruske isn’t a major
asset (but then Workman isn’t a prospect), but making room for one of their
best pitching prospects in Judd makes good sense. Initially, he’ll get most of
his work in middle relief, which is probably for the best given his struggles
at Albuquerque (a superficially nice-looking 4.56 ERA glosses over 62 runs and
17 homeruns allowed in 94.2 IP).


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Traded RHP Doug Jones to Cleveland for RHP Eric Plunk; activated RHP Paul
Wagner
from the DL; optioned RHP Bronswell Patrick to Louisville. [7/23]


Plunk’s battled a variety of injuries over the season, so he has some excuses
for his ineffectiveness, whereas Jones’ palmball had simply been figured out by
his league for the fifth time in his career. His fastball still has good
movement, so he may yet recapture his previous success. Patrick didn’t deserve
the demotion, but he has options while Dave Weathers doesn’t, and after
pitching in Wednesday’s double-header and with another one on tap for Friday,
the Brewers needed a body to toss on the mound. Enter, and shortly thereafter
exit, Wagner.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Placed RHP Mike Morgan on the 15-day DL (abdominal strain); recalled RHP Frank
Rodriguez
from Salt Lake. [7/21]


Frankie (or F-Rod, pronounced "fraud," to disgruntled fantasy league types)
will once again resume his spot in the rotation, and probably Tom Kelly’s
doghouse. With both Morgan and Bob Tewksbury on the DL, don’t be surprised if
the Twins fall out of second place in the AL Central. Rodriguez didn’t embarass
himself in the PCL, going 5-7 with a 4.67 ERA, allowing only 97 hits in 96.1
IP, 9 HRs, and a nice 79:35 K:BB ratio. This is probably his last clean shot at
a rotation spot with the Twins.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Optioned 2B/SS Ray Holbert to Ottawa; recalled RHP Jeremy Powell from
Harrisburg (AA). [7/23]


Powell looked pretty good on Thursday against the Cubs, freezing them with his
sweeping curve and solid control. He deserves to be up to stay, having shown
significantly improved control in his first year at AA. Holbert wound up being
the demotion of desperation, since the Expos had initially wanted to designate
Darond Stovall for assignment, only to learn that a player cannot be designated
for assignment to clear a roster spot for a minor league player, but instead
only for the reactivation of an injured player. Stovall instead had to go
through waivers, which he cleared, and he’ll be sent off to make room for Mike
Thurman’s start in tonight’s double-header. That means the centerfield job is
all Terry Jones’, which should do wonders for the Expos’ drive for better draft
position.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed RHP Rich Loiselle on the 15-day DL (back strain). [7/22]

Purchased the contract of RHP Jeff McCurry from Nashville; transferred RHP Marc
Wilkins
from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/23]


Closer cachet or no, Loiselle won’t be missed. He’s been a terror with men on
base… to Gene Lamont, and blowing a third of your save opportunities isn’t a
skill most people need to cultivate. The resulting shakeup of the bullpen ought
to leave Ricardo Rincon in sole possession of the closer’s job, with Mike
Williams and Jason Christiansen being his primary setup men. That’s surprising
for both of them: many expect Christiansen to be elsewhere in a week, while
Williams is the same guy who the Phillies kicked around for years.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed RHP Juan Acevedo on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/18 (strained elbow);
recalled RHP Curtis King from Memphis. [7/22]


Losing Acevedo might be a serious misfortune for the Cardinals push to remain
on the fringes of the wild card race. Six weeks of good work had made him their
second-best starting pitcher, and in his place, the always-flammable Bobby Witt
will start until Donovan Osborne’s groin has a good week. King may get a crack
at some saves once Rick Croushore goes back to being a pumpkin, which just
means that a bad situation will continue to get worse.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Traded RHP Widd Workman to Los Angeles for RHP Jim Bruske; optioned LHP Roberto
Ramirez
to Las Vegas. [7/23]


With Brian Boehringer struggling badly, and Ramirez turning out to be a major
disappointment, the Pads were right to try to strengthen their pen slightly.
They’re familiar with Bruske, he’s pitching about like he should (3.48 ERA),
and they got him for the right price. A nice bit of roster tweaking.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Acquired OF/1B Joe Carter from Baltimore for RHP Darin Blood; acquired RHP Jose
Mesa
, LHP Alvin Morman, and UT Shawon Dunston from Cleveland Indians for RHP
Steve Reed and RF Jacob Cruz. [7/23]

Placed C Brian Johnson on the 15-day DL; recalled C Doug Mirabelli from Fresno
[7/23]


Well, it took longer than expected, but everyone can send in those "you’re
an idiot" letters to the Brian Sabean now. Carter isn’t merely worthless;
that’s an insult to worthless things, like the rupia, a politician’s campaign
promise, or asteroid movies. An outfielder with no range hitting .247/.297/.424
in a tater haven like Camden Yards is just another way of saying "washed-up,"
and he’s probably going to chase Stan Javier to the bench, when Javier’s the
better player. But that was the bounty of Mr. Sabean’s "good" deal. The trade
with the Indians is astonishingly bad. Dunston has no position, and even less
offensive value than Carter. Mesa may pitch better now that he’s away from
disgruntled Indians fans, but it isn’t like he’s going to ever get back to his
amazing ’95 season. That year is the only reason you can even mention him at
the same time as Steve Reed, because Reed is having a great season in what’s
turning out to be a great career. Mesa’s hittable, and he’s been hittable for
three years. Alvin Morman? You give up one of the best relief pitchers in
baseball for somebody who used to be one of the best relief pitchers in
baseball, and your best minor league outfield prospect above the California
League, and you get what’s left of Shawon Dunston and the Tribe’s fourth-best
lefty reliever?


SEATTLE MARINERS

Placed C Dan Wilson on the 15-day DL (torn ligaments – ankle); recalled C Raul
Chavez
from Tacoma. [7/21]


Wilson has been suffering through a miserable season (.254/.307/.394), and now
it looks like he’ll miss August for his troubles. In the meantime, Mt.
Piniella’s paisan’ John Marzano will do most of the catching, and that’s never
been a good idea.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed OF Dave Martinez on the 15-day DL; recalled OF Rich Butler from Durham.
[7/22]


Martinez is looking like one of the major free agent busts of the season,
hitting a miserable .256/.334/.320. For a corner outfielder, that’s downright
Joe Carteresque. What’s going to happen in his absence? The D-Rays would be
best off with giving Bubba Trammell and Rich Butler as many at-bats as
possible, but instead don’t be shocked to consistently see them run the three
centerfielders out there: Quinton McCracken, Randy Winn, and Mike Kelly. At
some point, you’d have to expect even Larry Rothschild and Chuck LaMar to
notice that doesn’t help the worst offense in the major leagues, but they’re
invested in each of the three of them, and having to bench, demote, and
suitably reward McCracken or Kelly for their ineffectiveness would be a public
admission of error, and we won’t see that.

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