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IN THIS ISSUE


American League


National League


ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Optioned LHP Eric Cyr to Arkansas (Double-A), and reassigned RHP
Brandon Emanuel to their minor league camp. [3/11]

Optioned RHP Derrick Turnbow to Arkansas (Double-A Arkansas), RHP
Steve Green to Salt Lake, and RHP Bobby Jenks to Rancho
Cucamonga (A-ball). [3/13]

Optioned OF-R Barry Wesson and Nathan Haynes to Salt Lake;
reassigned UT-Rs Trent Durrington and Adam Riggs, C-R Tom
Gregorio
, 1B/OF-L Jeff Guiel, and INF-Rs Keith Johnson and Oscar Salazar to their minor league camp. [3/14]

Eric Cyr has to rehab, Derrick Turnbow is one of a lot of Rule 5 projects where
it takes years to realize a return if there’s one to be had (as you’d expect
with anything involving pitchers), and popular amusement aside, Bobby Jenks has
a lot to prove before he deserves to be rated particularly highly in my book. So
what does that leave? Not a whole lot in terms of people who should have made it
but didn’t, or might have challenged but hadn’t. Eric Owens was already crowding
the outfield reserve picture, even if Barry Wesson or Nathan Haynes had a shot.
That pretty much leaves Jeff DaVanon for a notional last outfield slot, but when
you’re carrying a DH platoon, it’s hard to make space for a fifth outfielder
versus a sixth infielder versus a 12th pitcher. With the frontline talent
on squad, that’s been an issue for over a year, Owens or no Owens, so this is
nothing new.


ATLANTA BRAVES
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Optioned RHPs Matt Belisle, John Ennis and Billy
Sylvester
to Richmond; optioned RHP Brett Evert, LHP Chris
Waters
and OF-Ls Cory Aldridge and Ryan Langerhans to
Greenville (Double-A); assigned LHP Chris Haney, RHP Chris
Fussell
, and C-B Lee Evans to Richmond; assigned RHPs Bubba
Nelson
and Adam Wainwright and C-R Jean Boscan to
Greenville; assigned OF-R Jeff Francoeur to Rome (A). [3/12]

The fun or interesting thing about this list of demotions is just a reminder
that while the Braves are screwing around with this year’s rotation gamble
and the near-term seems and feels a little out of the ordinary, the
organization is still loaded with pitching talent. Note that I didn’t say
prospects, since the term ‘prospects’ is merely synonymous with ‘survivors’
most of the time. But in this particular case, you’re talking about a nice
swag, and should things go really sour this year–as they could,
considering they’re counting on Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz, for god’s
sakes–they might be able to take a peek at some of the pitching talent that
might be part of the next Braves powerhouse. That’s another way of saying
that this year’s team is a bridge team, between the great Braves past and the
future, whatever it might hold.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Traded 1B/OF-L Chris Richard and cash to the Rockies for DH-L Jack
Cust
; optioned RHP Sean Douglass and OF-R Darnell McDonald

to Ottawa; optioned RHP Mike Paradis, LHP Matt Riley, SS-R
Ed Rogers, and C-R Eli Whiteside to Bowie (Double-A); optioned
RHP Daniel Cabrera to Delmarva (A-ball); assigned LHP Rigo
Beltran
and 3B-R Brian Rios to Ottawa, and OF-B Tim Raines
Jr.
to Bowie. [3/11]

Happy days in Bal’mer, there was a nice bit of banditry to brag about here.
Now sure, I’m about as much of a Jack Cust doubter as there is these
days, since he’s done nothing but stay in place as a hitter from a
statistical point of view for the last couple of years. But getting him for
damaged goods like Chris Richard right now is a nice little flip and a
worthwhile investment of a roster spot, while Richard had no options, a bum
wing, and a bat that wasn’t a lock to contribute value in a reserve role.
Considering they’re still carrying Ed Rogers (among others from this group
of demotions), they’ve got lots of roster space to spare, so if they choose
to get aggressive between now and Opening Day, they can afford to outright a
lot of the dreck on the 40-man.


BOSTON RED SOX
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Granted OF-R Benny Agbayani and RHP Willie Banks their
unconditional release. [3/12]

Optioned RHP Andy Shibilo to Pawtucket; assigned RHPs Tom
Davey
, Kris Foster, and Justin Kaye, LHP Kevin
Tolar
, and C-R Andy Dominique to their minor league camp. [3/14]

The usual polite thing to say here is that the Red Sox made the nice gesture
by releasing Benny Agbayani and Willie Banks now, with a few weeks to go in
camp. That way, they can catch on wherever opportunities might arise and/or
injuries occur. Agbayani immediately caught on, and Banks will be somebody’s 11th pitcher somewhere. Otherwise, there’s some good stuff here that’s
Pawtucket-bound, Justin Kaye and Tom Davey being two of my usual suspects in
terms of guys I’ve always thought were worth flyers.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Optioned RHP Felix Diaz to Charlotte, LHP Corwin Malone and
RHP Brian West to Birmingham (Double-A); reassigned OF-R Cliff
Brumbaugh
, C-B Steve Morales and 1B/OF-R Scott Morgan to
their minor league camp. [3/11]

Again, not really a surprising bunch of cuts, because the White Sox haven’t
had any major injuries, and they haven’t made any deals. Corwin Malone and
Brian West will need to have good years before they’ll earn real
consideration for a rotation slot in the second half. Even after nabbing
Bartolo Colon, the Sox are still not locked in on a fifth starter, and one
of Dan Wright or John Garland could just as easily regress as progress this
summer. Also, should any of the Frank Thomas trade rumors pan out, the
opportunity will be there for Cliff Brumbaugh to come back up and perhaps
get some platoon at-bats as the short half of a platoon with Brian Daubach,
assuming the Sox don’t bring in another bat in the deal.


CHICAGO CUBS
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Optioned RHP Todd Wellemeyer to Iowa, and RHPs Jon Leicester

and John Webb to West Tenn (Double-A); assigned C-Rs Eliezer
Alfonzo
and Casey Kopitzke and LHP Phil Norton to their
minor league camp. [3/11]

Optioned SS-R Nate Frese, OF-L Nic Jackson, and OF-R

Jackson Melian, and RHP Matt Bruback to Iowa; released 3B-R
Kevin Orie unconditionally. [3/12]

Optioned LHP Steve Smyth to Iowa; assigned RHP Mike Meyers to
their minor league camp. [3/15]

Not that Nic Jackson (coming off of an injury) or Jackson Melian (coming off
yet another disappointing season) had real shots at winning jobs this
spring, but the Cubs are flirting with carrying both Tom Goodwin and Troy
O’Leary as outfield reserves. This is another way of saying Dusty Baker’s
current “scoring runs is overrated” kick should strangle any
delusions of postseason grandeur in the cradle. Other options still include
the reliably punchless Lenny Harris, Charles Gipson, and Midre Cummings.
Fortunately, when not mulling over these tasty alternatives, Dusty’s
inspired to screw with Mark Bellhorn’s success. Improvement over Don Baylor
or Bruce Kimm is apparently very, very relative. Beyond those sorts of
self-inflicted or actively-sought-out woes, Bobby Hill is having a chilly
camp. The Cardinals and the Astros are pretty touchable, and the Reds are no
better positioned to mount a challenge in the NL Central, but the race seems
to be degenerating into thumbwrestling in a leper colony before things even
get started.


CINCINNATI REDS
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Re-signed OF-R Jose Guillen to a minor league contract. [3/12]

Optioned RHP Ricardo Aramboles to Chattanooga (Double-A) and assigned
RHP Carlos Almanzar to their minor league camp. [3/13]

Signed OF-R Benny Agbayani to a minor league contract; reassigned
RHPs Dustin Moseley and Bobby Basham back to their minor
league camp. [3/14]

Optioned 1B/LF-L Dernell Stenson to Louisville. [3/15]

While it’s nice to be set free and all of that, why would you, as a free
agent outfielder, choose to come to the Reds organization? There’s depth to
go around, and a finite number of jobs. Griffey, Dunn, and Kearns are a
pretty good unit. Reggie Taylor strikes his manager’s fancy. Ruben Mateo’s
here, and apparently healthy, and he’s out of options. Wily Mo Pena has to
make the team or get (perhaps inevitably) diagnosed with daunting hamstring
problems. Russ Branyan and Brandon Larson need at-bats. Now sure, Kearns and
Larson are nursing minor hurts, so I suppose shooting for even more depth
makes sense if you’re the Reds. But why does it make sense for Benny
Agbayani?


CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Optioned RHPs Fernando Cabrera, Francisco Cruceta and
Jeremy Guthrie and OF-L Ryan Church to Akron (Double-A);
optioned OF/1B-R Luis Garcia to Buffalo. [3/14]

Acquired LHP Derrick Van Dusen from the Rangers in exchange for
surrendering their rights to Rule 5 pick INF-R Marshall McDougall.
[3/16]


COLORADO ROCKIES
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Acquired 1B/OF-L Chris Richard and cash from the Orioles for DH-L
Jack Cust. [3/11]

Optioned SS-R Clint Barmes, 1B-L Brad Hawpe and OF-R Choo
Freeman
to their minor league camp; assigned RHPs Brad Clontz,

Matt Miller, Chin-hui Tsao, and Jason Young, LHP
Chris Michalak, and C-B Mandy Romero to their minor league
camp. [3/15]

Dan O’Dowd has managed to outmaneuver himself so convincingly, that this
latest stroke is perhaps the penultimate organizational masterstroke, right
before his ultimate gesture, dealing himself to an organization to be named
later for a general manager to be named sooner. It’s a bit surprising to see
him convert Jack Cust, a player who was worth acquiring, for an identifiable
veteran commodity in Mike Myers, then flip Cust after a couple of years
of cooling his jets for a damaged spare part. As disappointing as Cust’s
lack of progress has been, the decision to wait for the better deal really
seems to have led to no good end. A healthy Chris Richard can play
baseball, but he’s also just another warm NRI-caliber talent. Sometimes,
it’s a good thing to flip talent for value, but when it’s a young DH, it’s
worth asking what value he’s really going to have. O’Dowd had an opportunity
to shop, and uncharacteristically, he was less aggressive than normal, and
was left holding the bag.


DETROIT TIGERS

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Optioned LHPs Adrian Burnside, Tim Kalita, and Nate
Robertson
, RHP Jorge Cordova, and OF-L Cody Ross to
Toledo; optioned OF-B Nook Logan to Erie (Double-A) and INF-B

David Espinosa to Lakeland (A); assigned LHPs Carlos Alvarado,
Rob Henkel, Jason Jimenez, and Rafael Roque, C-Rs
Russ Cleveland and Max St. Pierre, C-B Andy Kropf, and
3B-R Tom Evans to their minor league camp. [3/12]

There isn’t much to note here. Pitchers like Adrian Burnside, Nate Robertson
and Tim Kalita will be up at some point, while Tom Evans probably deserved a
longer look than what he got. There’s the unresolved issue of where the
organization wants David Espinosa to wind up on the diamond, which, if
rumors of his shoe size (insanely NBA-sized large) are true, should rule out
the middle infield. Overall, it looks like Alan Trammell is working his way
down to the short-term decisions that need to be made, looking at fringe
people like Hiram Bocachica and Craig Paquette and Craig Monroe to see if
they can stick around or not. Larger issues can be tackled later, when the
epic battle for third place in the AL Central reaches a crescendo.


FLORIDA MARLINS
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Optioned OF-R Chip Ambres and SS-R Wilson Valdez to Carolina
(Double-A) and C-R Josh Willingham to Jupiter (A-ball). [3/11]

Claimed LHP Steve Kent off of waivers from the Mariners. [3/12]

Optioned RHP Nate Bump and 2B/SS-R Kevin Hooper and 2B-R
Jesus Medrano to Albuquerque; optioned LHP Ryan Snare and SS-R

Josh Wilson to Carolina (Double-A); announced RHP Jose Cueto
cleared waivers and was outrighted to Carolina; assigned UT-B Derek
Wathan
and C-R Ryan Jorgensen to their minor league camp. [3/14]

Snagging Steve Kent makes a goodly amount of sense, since the Fish aren’t
wealthy in lefty relief alternatives; they’ve had to consider Oswaldo
Mairena, after all. There might be some modest surprise that Kevin Hooper
got sent down already, but with Mike Mordecai and Andy Fox holding down the
utility infield jobs, and Jeff Torborg predisposed to carry a third catcher
(likely Ramon Castro) and perhaps even a fourth (utility non-catching catcher
Brian Banks), Hooper’s best shot to make the squad was if the Marlins
thought of Andy Fox as an outfielder. That way, Hooper would have been
contending with people like Chad Allen or Ice Williams or (heaven help the
forces in teal) Al Martin, people he could have beaten out for a job much
more easily than he could vanquish his manager’s fancy for the tools of
ignorance.

HOUSTON ASTROS

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Signed LHP Bruce Chen to a minor league contract; optioned RHPs
Jimmy Barrett, Santiago Ramirez, and Rodrigo Rosario,
LHP Greg Miller, C-R John Buck, SS-R Tommy Whiteman,
and OF-L Henri Stanley to New Orleans; assigned RHP Chris
Gissell
and C-R Toby Rumfield to their minor league camp. [3/14]

Whither Chen now? To Astro-land, and another pitching coach willing to take
a flyer on talent and hope that he’s the one who can turn talent into value.
Having taken his tour of the NL East, I guess it’s the NL Central’s turn,
after which he can sweep through the NL West, then that other league, and
eventually find himself by his 50th birthday or so. If it worked for the
Boomers, why should baseball be any different?

Elsewhere, the Astros simply cleared away some of their up-and-coming
pitching talent to review their options. With journeymen like Scuffy
Moehler, Peter Munro, and Ken Vining having good camps, the pressure is on
the upper level pitchers like Kirk Saarloos and Tim Redding to put up or get
reacquainted with New Orleans.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Released OF-R Mark Quinn; optioned LHP Jimmy Gobble and SS-R

Alejandro Machado to Wichita (Double-A); optioned RHP Ian
Ferguson
to Omaha; assigned RHPs Buddy Carlyle, Brian
Rose
, Jason Turman, Nate Field, and Zack Greinke to
their minor league camp. [3/11]

Returned Rule 5 draftee C-R Ronny Paulino to the Pirates. [3/13]

Claimed CF-R Rontrez Johnson off of waivers from the Rangers. [3/14]

Mark Quinn hitting the unemployment lines at the same time as other problem
children like Bruce Chen or Rob Bell doesn’t seem really extraordinary.
Quinn is about to turn 29, so he isn’t exactly a young prospect anymore,
he’s made himself a bit of a nuisance during his brief major league career,
and he’s fragile. If Ken Harvey’s poised to win the DH job, that means Raul
Ibanez is going to have to man an outfield corner pretty regularly, which
eats into whatever at-bats might have gone to Quinn. And would Quinn accept
that? Sure, on paper you could see Quinn making a good platoon mate for
Ibanez and/or Michael Tucker in an outfield corner, but if he’s Chad Curtis
Lite (all of the charm, none of the calories), why bother? Perhaps it’s
amusing to consider that Morgan Burkhart’s good camp contributed to the
decision, and certainly making space for a backup center fielder like
Rontrez Johnson looms large with Carlos Beltran’s nagging health
considerations. So all in all, it’s not one of Allard Baird’s worst moves.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

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Optioned C-B Koyie Hill, LHP Rick Roberts, RHPs Andrew
Brown
and Calvin Maduro to their minor league camp; released LHPs

Pedro Borbon and Yorkis Perez; reassigned UT-B Chris
Clapinski
to their minor league camp. [3/13]

Koyie Hill got serious playing time but is still a ways off from a real
shot, which leaves the Dodgers still taking Todd Hundley seriously as a
catcher, not that they have much choice. While cutting Yorkis Perez and
Pedro Borbon is thoroughly understandable, it does leave the Dodgers having
to take that much more of an interest in Wilson Alvarez, and it makes Troy
Brohawn resemble a lock at this early date. Needless to say, it seems more
likely that the boys in blue will be shopping for lefty relief help between
now and Opening Day.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Optioned C-L Cody McKay and RHP Ben Diggins to Indianapolis;
assigned INF-Rs Manny Alexander and Scott Seabol and OF-L
Mark Budzinski to Indianapolis. [3/16]

Ugh. As much as I want to believe that things can only get better under Doug
Melvin, and as much as it’s relatively small beer, whacking Cody McKay while
keeping Keith Osik or Eddie Perez around is illin’. Not fresh illin’,
either, more that sniffly, sneezy, stuffy head, no-rest, why let that guy ever
bat illin’, where season ticket holders can rightfully ask what it is
they’re paying for. Worse still, Javier Valentin’s had a godawful camp,
which means you could be seeing a whole lot of Robert Machado or Osik or
Perez, none of which does the Brewers any good now or into the future.


MINNESOTA TWINS
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Signed LHP Kenny Rogers to a one-year contract; placed LHP Eric
Milton
on the 60-day DL. [3/12]

Optioned 1B-L Justin Morneau, INF-B David Lamb, OF-L Lew
Ford
, OF-R Michael Restovich, and RHPs Grant Balfour and
Kevin Frederick to Rochester, and RHPs Jon Pridie and Beau
Kemp
to New Britain (Double-A). [3/14]

I’m sure it makes sense on paper to bring in the veteran lefty to replace
Eric Milton this year, but Kenny Rogers’ peripherals aren’t pretty, and
having to count on him and Rick Reed and Joe Mays just doesn’t bode well.
The Twins would have been better off sticking with Johan Santana, and seeing
what that got them. All’s not lost on that front, of course, considering the
worries those other three generate, but all in all, the White Sox and their
concerns with the bottom of their rotation don’t look quite so limiting any
more.


MONTREAL EXPOS
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Optioned LHP Scott Downs, RHPs Julio Manon and Claudio
Vargas
, 1B/OF-R Valentino Pascucci, and OF-L Terrmel
Sledge
to Edmonton; optioned RHP Seung Song to Harrisburg
(Double-A); assigned RHPs Jose Colon and Josh Karp, 1B-R

Jeff Bailey, and C-R Scott Sandusky to their minor league
camp. [3/14]

It might have been cool to have taken a longer look at Val
Pascucci or Terrmel Sledge, given the lack of two regulars in whatever
positions between center, left or first base that Brad Wilkerson isn’t
manning. However, Pascucci isn’t coming off of a great 2002 season in Double-A,
and the Expos are sorting through potential outfield reserves like Ron
Calloway and Damon Buford, and with the rest of the potential roster clogged with
positionless bodies like Jeff Liefer, Jose Offerman, Jose Macias, and Will
Cordero, it’s easy to get overlooked.


NEW YORK METS
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Outrighted RHP Franklin Nunez to Norfolk. [3/12]


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Reassigned RHP Jose Silva and 1B-L Graham Koonce to their
minor league camp. [3/12]

Optioned RHP Roy Smith to Sacramento and assigned C-R Jeremy
Brown
to their minor league camp. [3/16]

Again, no real surprises. Jose Silva wasn’t supposed to earn a job, and Roy
Smith didn’t have a great camp. The A’s need to make their decisions with
Buddy Hernandez, Mike Neu, and Jeremy Fikac now, especially with Hernandez
and Neu being Rule 5 picks, whereas Smith had an option and Silva has a list
of injuries that would make most ER docs blanch. So they’re sorting through
the bodies, and because their preseason ends (and, inanely, re-starts)
sooner than 28 other teams, they need to move quickly on these decisions.


SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Optioned RHP Mike Nicolas to Mobile (Double-A), and assigned RHP
Kris Keller, UT-R Chris Sexton and 1B-L Mario Valdez to
their minor league camp; acquired the rights to 2B/3B-L Oscar Robles

from Oaxaca of the Mexican League and promptly handed him a spring training
NRI. [3/16]

The interesting story is the sudden interest in Mexican Leaguer Oscar
Robles, which, given the injury to Phil Nevin, does create the possibility
of some at-bats in an outfield corner. They could always elect to play both
Brian Buchanan and Bubba Trammell every day in the corners, but the results
wouldn’t be pretty. If there’s a guy who’s been shafted here, it’s arguably
Mario Valdez, but after signing on with a team that had already hauled in
Dave Hansen, you could understand some ease. However, this is the team
that’s seriously considering Brady Anderson, Roberto Kelly, and Keith
Lockhart, so you could understand Valdez being a little exasperated for the
same reasons that you can accept a late pickup of Oscar Robles.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Assigned 3B-R Angel Chavez, SS-L Jamie Athas, INF-B Carlos
Mendoza
, C-Rs Guillermo Rodriguez, John Pachot, and

Alberto Castillo, OF-Bs Todd Linden and Brian Simmons,
OF-L Adam Shabala, and RHPs Boof Bonser, Luis Estrella
and David Cash to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Jerome
Williams
to Fresno. [3/12]

There aren’t really any shockers here. Brian Simmons might have deserved a
longer look, but the blush is pretty thoroughly off his particularly dusty
rose. It would have made sense to have taken a longer look, since he’s not a
bad choice for a fifth outfielder, especially with a Marquis Grissom/Marvin
Benard platoon being their best option for either center or right (wherever
Jose Cruz Jr. isn’t). Instead, they seem determined to watch Tony Torcato do
a nice little Scot Thompson impression. But with Joe Vitiello shining and
Neifi Perez certain to throttle the life out of one roster spot, it’s
looking like a crowded camp, where coming to terms with whether or not
Andres Galarraga serves any sort of value should be high drama in the next
two weeks.

On the pitching staff, Williams probably deserved a longer look, while Boof
Bonser got into a few games and didn’t shine. Both, obviously, will be back,
but both also have to wait for Kurt Ainsworth to get his well-deserved shot
first. With both Livan Hernandez and Ryan Jensen looking unlikely to hold
their rotation jobs into June, Ainsworth, Jesse Foppert and company might end up with
plenty of opportunities to win jobs this summer.


TEXAS RANGERS
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Released RHP Rob Bell. [3/12]

Offered INF-R Marshall McDougall back to the Indians. [3/14]

Acquired the rights to McDougall from the Indians for LHP Derrick Van
Dusen
. [3/16]

Bruce Chen might get all the headlines for exasperating his coaches,
managers, and general managers, but Rob Bell deserves a little spot in the
Hall of Fame’s closet for managerial frustration. If there’s a consistent
theme, it’s the Braves, and a guy that they lost patience with and peddled.
While these are the sorts of things that might provide cover for the
otherwise indefensible Millwood trade, more generally it might provide other
GMs a reason to hold back when the Braves start peddling the young and
unproven. Bell’s talent has gotten exceptional marks for years, and his
failure to fulfill expectations has been equally remarkable. Not too many
people turn out well after Don Gullett gives up, and this may well provide
another example for doubting Thomases of the non-Gorman variety. It might
not mean much to the already-burned Rangers per se, but a wider acceptance
of worthy concern on this front should be of interest to the Mets and
Phillies, for example.