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IN THIS ISSUE


American League


National League


BOSTON RED SOX
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Added RHP Robert Person to the 40-man roster; assigned 1B/3B-R
Earl Snyder, UT-R Lou Collier, and 1B-R Julio Zuleta to
their minor league camp. [3/21]

Optioned RHP Ryan Rupe to Pawtucket; assigned C-L Jeff Smith
to their minor league camp. [3/22]

Hey, it sucks to be a good contingency plan. It sucks almost as much to be a
good contingency for a contingency. So, it sucks to be Julio Zuleta or Earl
Snyder on a team that didn’t move Shea Hillenbrand and added Bill Mueller
and Kevin Millar and David Ortiz. Sometimes you can take the Duke away, but
not necessarily take away all the Duke-isms. Overstocking Pawtucket and
cutting no slack for any of the neat projects was a hallmark of Duquettery,
to the point that player agents really should have known better. For every
Troy O’Leary there were a half-dozen PawSox wondering why that sweet talk in
December seemed like so much sweetness and light at the time.


CHICAGO CUBS
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Optioned 3B?-R David Kelton to Iowa; assigned RHPs Angel
Guzman
and Will Cunnane, C-Rs Mike Mahoney and Keith
McDonald
and INF-R Phil Hiatt to their minor league camp. [3/20]

The Cubs’ catching situation is sort of resolved, in that they have Damian
Miller and Paul Bako to start off with. However, neither are anything more
than temps, and both didn’t have good camps. McDonald and Mahoney didn’t
really get looked at, however, and it remains to be seen if Dusty Baker was
really going to give the matter much thought. McDonald is still good enough
to make a good backup catcher in the major leagues, but he doesn’t have
Haselmania or Gary Bennett’s moxie or Joe Girardi’s famed amiability and
Yogi-esque lumpishness, so he’s on the PCL “see the world” tour
again.


CINCINNATI REDS
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Optioned C-R Corky Miller to Louisville; assigned OF-R Benny
Agbayani
to their minor league camp. [3/20]

Returned Rule 5 pick RHP Blake Williams to the Cardinals; released
RHP Luis Pineda. [3/21]

Purchased the contracts of RHP Josias Manzanillo and LHPs Jimmy
Anderson
, Felix Heredia and Kent Mercker; optioned RHPs
Seth Etherton and Jeff Austin to Louisville; accepted Rule 5
pick LHP Jeff Koronka back from the Rangers. [3/23]

Optioned RHP Chris Reitsma to Louisville; assigned OF-R Jose
Guillen
and Sibling-B Wilton Guerrero to their minor league camp.
[3/24]

It’s not everyday that you see a team purchase four contracts at once, for
the Opening Day roster no less, but the Reds really did have the roster
space to play with, and if it was going to be any team, it was probably
going to be this one. I’m not wild about the decision to hand a job in the
rotation to Jimmy Anderson, since he was slapped around in spring, but Chris
Reitsma didn’t do anything to keep his job, and this is the team with Don
Gullett, arguably the game’s best pitching coach, so if it’s going to work
anywhere, it might work here. As for adding Manzanillo, Heredia, and Mercker
to the pen, they’re the middlemen behind the pen’s core group of Scott
Williamson, Scott Sullivan, John Riedling, and Gabe White. Given that
Manzanillo’s been a nifty situational righthander, and Heredia’s got his
uses as a power lefty in a middle relief role, that’s shaping up to be a
very strong pen, again, so the Danny Graves experiment shouldn’t be
endangered by anything besides the performance of Danny Graves.


CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Optioned OF-B Coco Crisp to Buffalo; outrighted RHP Jerrod
Riggan
to Buffalo; assigned RHPs Jason Boyd, Dave Elder,
and Jason Phillips, 2B/3B-R Greg LaRocca, OF-R Wendell
Magee
, and OF-B Chris Magruder to their minor league camp;
released RHP Mike Thurman. [3/21]

Coco Crisp lost out, yes, and Jody Gerut looks like he’s back from the dead,
but this is definitely shaping up as an interesting Indians team. I’m not
calling it a good team, but it’s a team with people who deserve chances or
second chances, and it’s a team that should be a more hopeful squad than
last year’s opener with moldering oldies and temps. Although I like Greg
LaRocca, Casey Blake could do a nice turn as the next Ron Coomer, which
isn’t an All-Star, but it can give you a nice player at near-minimum salary.
Gerut’s been hobbled by multiple knee injuries, but the man can hit when he
can play. Crisp might grow into a useful fourth outfielder or somebody’s
decent starter in center, but Milton Bradley’s coming off of a great camp,
and needs to get this chance to shine. Ben Broussard had a great camp. Bill
Selby’s probably never going to be anything more than the next Wayne
Krenchicki, but he’s worth a spot on the bench. It’s turning into an easy
team to root for, I guess is what I’m saying. Once the rotation gets ironed
out, they’re going to be a tough opponent.


COLORADO ROCKIES
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Optioned 3B-R Garrett Atkins, 1B/3B/OF-R Kevin Eberwein, OF-L
Luke Allen, and RHP Elio Serrano to minor league camp;
assigned LHP Vic Darensbourg and 1B/3B-R Kit Pellow to their
minor league camp. [3/23]

It’s been sort of fun to see Garrett Atkins have a good camp this spring,
especially with the happy confluence of right-now goodness that has Jose
Hernandez at short, and with the recent injury to Pablo Ozuna, Ronnie Belliard at second. That, plus a
Greg Norton-Chris Stynes arrangement at third, and the Rockies should score
some runs right now, even if it isn’t exactly your next contending Rox
squad, let alone your 2004 Opening Day lineup. But that’s for the future,
when Atkins is ready, and the Rockies can play for right now to try and make
these guys commodities to peddle to the contending and needy at the end of
July. While Dan O’Dowd is supposed to be on his last legs, and while the
Jack Cust deal has nothing to recommend it in terms of his recent track
record, O’Dowd should have the opportunity to flip useful journeymen for
future Rockies, and he has the overall reputation for being a dealer. It
might be a risky proposition, but if Jerry McMorris can afford to wait, and
see what O’Dowd can being him come the deadlines, it’s possible that
everything could work out without anybody getting fired. This team won’t win
right now, but there’s no reason it can’t be built into a winner, and
bringing in a new management team every few years, only to see them get
overly focused on the Mile High Question, has to get old. Sometimes, it’s
best to take the bloody nose and learn.

If there’s a surprise, it’s that Vic Darensbourg got sent down, but the Rox
acquired him in part because he did have an option. But that’s in part
because they seem infatuated with Danny Miceli and Darren Oliver, two
particularly bad ideas that should disabuse themselves right off of the
roster by May 1 if the Rockies are fortunate.


DETROIT TIGERS
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Released RHPs Julio Santana and Oscar Henriquez. [3/23]


FLORIDA MARLINS
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Assigned RHPs Mike Judd and Doug Bochtler, C/UT-R Paul
Hoover
and OF-L Chris Wakeland to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Optioned LHPs Oswaldo Mairena and Steve Kent to Albuquerque;
assigned 3B-R Miguel Cabrera to their minor league camp. [3/22]

In the ‘pyhrric roster victory’ category, on the one hand, the Fishies
aren’t going to carry Paul Hoover, D-Ray castoff. On the other hand, they’re
pretty much guaranteed to carry Brian Banks as that ever-valuable fourth
catcher and mostly harmless extra bat. Of course, this is just part of Jeff
Torborg’s latest master plan, where he has every base covered by a man
wearing the tools of ignorance, ready to crunch baserunners on close plays.
That way, nobody will even try to attempt to duplicate the Marlins’
unparalleled speed on the base paths. Of course, they might settle for
scoring runs with baserunners, instead of making outs, but give Torborg his
due, he’s simply following in the footsteps of managerial greats. You know,
like Steve Boros, or that guy named Torborg who managed the Mets.


HOUSTON ASTROS
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Optioned SS-R Adam Everett and OF-R Jason Lane to New Orleans;
assigned INF-R Tripp Cromer, RHP Scott Linebrink, C-L Chris
Tremie
, and C/1B-B Alan Zinter to their minor league camp. [3/24]

I’ve campaigned for Everett as Julio Lugo’s partner at short for a while now–despite the frequently ugly at-bats where it looks like the bat could be
knocked out of his hands–because he’s not that bad, he’s willing to take a
walk, and he’s a plus defender on a team that doesn’t have great
middle-infield defense. Jose Vizcaino is collecting a nice check to at least
notionally handle that job, however, so Everett’s hosed, as are potentially
nifty spare parts like Dave Matranga. However, with bench weapons like
Orlando Merced for pinch-hitting, Vizcaino and Geoff Blum to range anywhere
and switch-hit, Brian Hunter to pinch-run and replace Craig Biggio late in
the game, you end up running out of bench space pretty quickly, because
you’re loaded up on specialists. As things stand now, they might not keep
Morgan Ensberg, because all he should be is their starting third baseman.
Unfortunately, he apparently labors with a weighty 20-month age
inferiority to the immortal Blum. Similarly, Jason Lane’s boxed out, even
with Daryle Ward gone, because Jimy Williams wants his club well-tenderized
from lots of big league exposure. After all, the experience didn’t win last
year, and that’s this year’s plan, right?


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Optioned RHPs Kyle Snyder, Brad Voyles, and Jeremy
Hill
, and OF-L Aaron Guiel to Omaha, and C-R Mike Tonis to
Wichita. [3/23]

Snyder didn’t have a good camp, Voyles didn’t get into many games, and Hill
didn’t push his way past Mike MacDougal, Ryan Bukvich, or Rule 5 pick Dan Carrasco.
Additionally, Kris Wilson and Rich DeHart have had good camps, and
the Royals pen actually doesn’t look so bad. Over on the rotation front,
Chris George looks like he’s put the final nail in James Baldwin’s coffin,
so this should be an interesting blend of scout’s choices, journeymen, and
homegrown talent. It’s a path they may as well walk, to see what they’ve
got, and if it’s enough for a fourth-place finish ahead of the Tigers. It’s
probably just me, but this is the most optimistic I’ve been about the Royals
in almost a decade.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Assigned LHP Troy Brohawn to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Assigned RHPs Brian Mallette and Bill Simas to their minor
league camp. [3/22]


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Signed RHP Pasqual Coco to a minor league contract; placed RHP
Jayson Durocher on the 15-day DL (elbow). [3/21]

Acquired OF-L Jason Conti from the Devil Rays for C-B Javier
Valentin
; optioned SS-R Bill Hall and RHP Francisco Campos
to Indianapolis. [3/24]

Acquiring Jason Conti for Javier Valentin wouldn’t normally be my idea of
value, but the Brewers seem determined to pick the worst available options
for their catching situation this spring (having already shipped out Cody
McKay), so that they can run with Eddie Perez and Keith Osik. To be fair, they gave Valentin a long look,
and he had a bad camp, but nevertheless, when you’re ignoring the careers of
Perez and Osik, you deserve
what your customers will end up having to pay–and increasingly, not pay–to
see.

So instead, the Brewers decided to address another problem, which they do at
least have the good sense to identify as a problem, which is the outfield.
Alex Sanchez is playing on wounded wheels, and none of the other outfielders
likely to make the squad can play center, and both Geoff Jenkins and Jeffrey
Hammonds come at you straight from a bric-a-brac set themselves. So clearly,
a little bit of depth wouldn’t be a bad thing, and Conti can play center and
hit well enough that he’s not a huge liability. For Conti,
escaping from Tampa Bay to Milwaukee probably doesn’t affect anything
besides his tan, since he’ll get a couple of hundred plate appearances
either way. At least in Milwaukee he can eat cheese curds and watch the
sausage race.

As for the bullpen, Durocher is out until May, which adds to the confusion
in what looks to be another random jumble of relievers. It probably helps
the opportunity for Brooks Kieschnick to make the team as a long reliever
and pinch-hitter, although losing Durocher in particular creates an ugly
situation where the Brewers might only have two right-handed relievers in
the pen, Mike DeJean and Curtis Leskanic. They’re sorting through five lefty
relievers (including Kieschnick), although Wayne Franklin might end up in
the rotation. He would probably replace Ruben Quevedo, who might then be in
the bullpen as an extra right-handed pitcher. Pity Ned Yost, it’s going to
be about as brutal as Alan Trammell’s situation in Detroit, with even less
upside. Hence the decision to claim the sticky-fingered Pasqual Coco,
because he goes from being persona non grata in Toronto to one of the
most promising arms in his new organization.


MINNESOTA TWINS
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Optioned RHP Juan Rincon, LHP Brad Thomas, and OF-L Mike
Ryan
to Rochester; assigned RHPs Ben Ford and Mike
Nakamura
, C-R Brandon Marsters, C-L Joe Mauer, and INF-R
Alex Prieto to their minor league camp. [3/23]

If there’s a disappointment in the Twins’ camp (beyond Johan Santana not
getting to enter the rotation), it’s that they’re farting around with the
Mike Fetters vs. Jose Cabrera battle royale for the last spot in the
bullpen. Although both Fetters and Cabrera are good enough to belong in the
major leagues, neither are notably superior to Juan Rincon or Mike Nakamura
(or even the long-since dispatched Grant Balfour) in terms of likely
performance, and Fetters, the probable winner, is notoriously
high-maintenance. This could have been an opportunity for the Twins to have
retained and rewarded a prospect like Rincon or an organizational soldier
like Nakamura, and instead they’re going to give service time and roster
space to one nondescript journeyman or another.


MONTREAL EXPOS
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Assigned RHP Eric Knott to their minor league camp. [3/22]

Optioned 3B-L Scott Hodges, CF-L Peter Bergeron, and UT-R
Tony Medrano to their minor league camp. [3/23]

Acquired RHP Livan Hernandez, UT/C-L Edwards Guzman and cash
from the Giants for RHP Jim Brower and a PTBNL. [3/24]


NEW YORK YANKEES
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Assigned C-R Mike Hernandez to their minor league camp. [3/22]


NEW YORK METS
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Assigned C-Rs Joe Depastino and Virgil Chevalier, SS-B Jose
Reyes
, LHP Pedro Feliciano, and RHP Dan Wheeler to their
minor league camp. [3/20]

Although we usually like to tout the young, perhaps out of a taste for the
Cult of the New, or perhaps because if you had to watch Rey Ordonez bat
about 400 or 500 times too often each season, you’d want to change channels
too, at the end of the day, it was worth it for the Mets to not break camp
with Jose Reyes. Beyond the obvious economic advantage that comes with not
starting his service time/arbitration clock ticking (who wants to wind up as
the Mariners did with A-Rod?), he didn’t have a good camp. This was exactly
the pair of contingencies for which Rey Sanchez was acquired to hold the job
in the early going, where the Mets can contend or wallow on their own
general merits, without any pressure on Reyes. It’s perhaps just as well,
since this team should rise or fall on the basis of whatever Roberto Alomar
or Mo Vaughn or Jeromy Burnitz have left in the tank. Since I happen to
think the answer to that is “not much,” this way Reyes remains
clean when the Mets falter, and he gets to come in after the usual
self-pitying local firestorms starts burning itself out.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Optioned RHP Aaron Harang to Sacramento; outrighted RHP Chad
Harville
to Sacramento. [3/20]

Optioned LHP Ed Yarnall to Sacramento. [3/22]

Optioned SS-R Bobby Crosby to Sacramento. [3/23]

Optioned RHP Erik Hiljus to Sacramento. [3/24]

So there it is, Mike Neu and Jeremy Fikac win jobs in the pen, and the fifth
starter will be John Halama until someone else is ready to claim it. It
remains to be seen if that’s going to be Ed Yarnall or Aaron Harang, or if
Rich Harden will slip into the picture by August. But if I were a betting
man, I wouldn’t bet on Halama still holding the job by June. As for Neu and
Fikac, although short fireballer Buddy Hernandez and sidearmer Roy Smith
perhaps commanded the most attention from seamhead outfits like ours, Neu
and Fikac outpitched them both in camp, and both have the track records of
success in the minors that made them every bit as viable as pen options as
Hernandez or Smith. The question will be if both have good Aprils, because
eventually Jim Mecir will heal up, and somebody’s job will be endangered.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Optioned OF-L Eric Valent to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; assigned RHP
Mike Fyhrie to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Eric Valent’s job opportunity essentially depended on some combination of
other people getting injured and/or Ricky Ledee having a bad camp, but Ledee
hasn’t merely kept the fourth outfielder’s job, he’s hit so well that he’s
wrestling with Marlon Byrd for the starting job in center. So instead,
Valent’s getting trapped on the Jon Zuber career path, not that not hitting
in camp justified his escape.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Released RHP Rolando Arrojo; optioned C-R Humberto Cota and
RHP Duaner Sanchez to Nashville; assigned RHP Nelson Figueroa
to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Placed RHP Mike Lincoln on the 60-day DL; optioned RHP Brian
Meadows
to Nashville; assigned RHP Pat Mahomes and INF-Rs Mike
Gulan
and David Doster to their minor league camp. [3/24]

Arrojo and Meadows lost out to The Jeff D’Amico Not To Be Confused With The
Less Significant Jeff D’Amico (The Other Guy, Who Pitched For The Royals,
wacky symbol pending) for the fifth starter’s job, and Jeff Suppan won the
fourth starter’s job, so the Pirates have the retreaded portion of the
rotation to go with former wonderboy Kris Benson and the White Sox Swag Duo,
Kip Wells and Josh Fogg. Meadows had a decent camp, but he also had an
option, and he’s Brian Meadows, pitching’s answer to Gene, Gene, the Hit
Machine. And while Arrojo had good strikeout-walk numbers in camp, he was
hittable and his usual fragile self. It might have been nice to keep him
around in a relief role, but Lloyd McClendon seems obsessed with another
crowd of journeymen to stock his pen with. That particular crowd has already
been slightly thinned out by the freak injury to Mike Lincoln. So the Bucs
are left with Salomon Torres, Matt Herges, Julian Tavarez, and Dennys Reyes
fighting for three spots in the pen instead of two. Perhaps shockingly,
Julian Tavarez is considered a lock, and although the Pirates already have
two lefties in the pen (Scott Sauerbeck and Joe Beimel), Reyes has his uses.
Whereas Torres is everyone’s tough luck poster boy you want to see get that
next chance, and Herges used to be that sort of guy before he became merely
hittable and overpriced. While Tavarez and Herges don’t seem like the kind
of guys you’d want to devote much thought to, it could have been worse, they
could have kept Pat Mahomes around.

What would have been nice, considering the light offensive contributions
they can expect from the middle infield, was if they found a way to keep
David Doster around as a more offensive-minded backup infielder. However,
Abe Nunez had a very nice camp, so while he doesn’t offer a distinction from
the skittering water bug offensive contributions of either Jack Wilson or
Pokey Reese, he did earn his place, and Rob Mackowiak had a stranglehold on
the John Wehner/Keith Osik token ethnic-Euro-whitey-name roster spot.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Optioned RHP Mike Crudale to Memphis; assigned LHP Kevin Ohme
to their minor league camp. [3/20]

Assigned C-R Yadier Molina to their minor league camp. [3/22]

Assigned OF-L Todd Dunwoody and RHP Gabe Molina to their minor
league camp. [3/24]

It’s a little interesting to see Crudale and Molina both go down, because it
might mean that the Cardinals are stuck with Russ Springer and Joey Hamilton
as their right-handed setup men. Cal Eldred might crack the squad, if only
because he’s been better than Dustin Hermanson. They’re already looking at
having to carry four lefty relievers, however (Steve Kline, Jeff Fassero,
Rick Ankiel, and Lance Painter), and not even La Russa will find a way to
make every platoon split matter if he carries four lefties in the pen, even
with five right-handed starting pitchers.

Yadier Molina was sent down, but he might return because of Joe Girardi’s
injuries. To say that that would be ridiculously premature for someone who
spent last year in the Midwest League would be obvious, but the La Russians
always know better, or so they’re ready to say. And since Eli Marrero is
less than fully healthy, and even then the outfield is short with J.D. Drew
out, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a resurrection of the catcher hitting
ninth gambit, since they’ll have more pitchers than catchers to be able to
replace with a pinch-hitter. Because as is, without Drew and potentially
Marrero, you’re looking at one outfield slot being staffed with the likes of
Orlando Palmeiro, Kerry Robinson, Eduardo Perez, and So Taguchi, with the
other three being the primary…I can’t say it, I can’t say “weapons
off the bench,” it would be false advertising.


SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Signed OF-R Mark Quinn to a minor league contract. [3/20]

Optioned SS-R Donaldo Mendez to Portland; assigned RHP Charles
Nagy
, C-R Miguel Ojeda, 1B-R Tagg Bozied, and OF-R Mark
Quinn
to their minor league camp. [3/24]

It’s a little surprising to see the Padres dispatch Mark Quinn as quickly as
they did, considering they’ve still got Roberto Kelly around, and he might
make the team. You could chalk this up as a chemistry choice, since Quinn’s
citizenship grades would need to come up a lot, and the Pads seem intent on starting
Xavier Nady in right and Sean Burroughs at third. Given their grim
determination to make Gary Bennett into a latter-day Bob Boone, they’re
clearly intrigued with players who carry themselves a certain way this
spring, and Quinn’s never been considered one of those guys.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Optioned OF-R Carlos Valderrama and 1B/3B-R Lance Niekro to
Fresno; assigned 1B-R Joe Vitiello to their minor league camp. [3/23]

Acquired RHP Jim Brower and a PTBNL from the Expos for RHP Livan
Hernandez
, UT/C-L Edwards Guzman, and cash. [3/24]

With how little regard did the Giants regard Livan Hernandez in the end?
Enough to pay him to be an Expo, pay to have an end-o’-pen reliever like Jim
Brower around, and give the Expos Edwards Guzman for their trouble, and for
being so kind as to pick up the phone. That’s what you might technically
refer to as contempt, as well as a frank appreciation that they’re better
off with Kurt Ainsworth in the rotation, and the more derisive judgment that
they’re better off keeping Ryan Jensen as their fifth starter. And where
better to send Livan than Minayaville, the industry’s personal island of
misfit Latin contracts? Much as I agree with Brian Sabean in terms of his
preferences in the matter, because Ainsworth’s ready and all that, hopefully
the Giants get something of value as the PTBNL. Otherwise, this is merely a
handwashing exercise.


SEATTLE MARINERS
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Released LHP Norm Charlton. [3/20]

I’ve written his professional obit before, so shame on me. He’s also
scragged, and the Mariners made it plain they’re done with him, so this
should finally be the last of the last Nasty Boy. Hey, at least Jose Rijo’s
back, that should keep Dibble from getting too emotional, right?


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
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Released DH-R Greg Vaughn and RHPs John Frascatore and Bob
Wells
; optioned 3B-R Jared Sandberg, INF-R Antonio Perez,
and RHPs Jason Standridge and Delvin James to Durham. [3/22]

Assigned OF-R Ryan Thompson to their minor league camp. [3/23]
Acquired C-B Javier Valentin from the Brewers for OF-L Jason
Conti
; optioned RHPs Dewon Brazleton and Gerardo Garcia to
Durham; assigned C-L Jorge Fabregas to their minor league camp.
[3/24]

Wow! Now, sure, Javier Valentin is coming over after a godawful frosty camp
with the Brewers, but he’s been a nifty hitter the last couple of seasons,
his knees don’t appear to have given him too much trouble, and the Devil
Rays couldn’t ask for much better for a backup catcher to Toby Hall,
especially if Hall elects to earn another early-season demotion this year.
When the alternatives were people like Sandy Martinez and Jorge Fabregas,
it’s nice to see the Rays actually take themselves seriously for once, and
make a good talent move that doesn’t involve employing the mostly lifeless.

Similarly, cutting loose Greg Vaughn and sending Jared Sandberg down seems
unimaginable if Hal McRae was still simmering here. Vaughn’s expense is
sunk, and having him around just meant that Ben Grieve was going to have to
ooze around one outfield corner or the other on a nightly (or indoor
twilightly) basis. Instead, Grieve should get to spend a good chunk of his
time at DH in what will apparently be a DH by committee. The really big
repercussion is that this, in conjunction with shipping off Conti, cinches
the news that Rocco Baldelli is Lou Piniella’s Opening Day center fielder.
I’m less excited about Baldelli than some of my cohorts or Baseball
America
, but I’m more than happy to concede I could be wrong, and that
Baldelli will slug better than .450 and cover ground in the outfield, and
perhaps pick up a thing or two about hitting from the old man. And when the
alternative is somebody like Jason Tyner, it’s pretty easy to say
fuhgeddaboutit and take a chance. But Baldelli’s job was pretty
much a certainty anyway. The other repercussions of releasing Vaughn and
banishing Sandberg are that Damian Rolls might get a lot of playing time in
right, at least until they find an alternative (perhaps on waivers,
considering it’s Damian Rolls), while Aubrey Huff gets third base to
himself. It’s easy to make light of that choice, considering that Huff will
be their token major league hitter in their infield, but it escaped McRae,
after all. But in light of these decisions, the D-Rays don’t consider
themselves done, and reasonably enough, they want to find an outfielder
and/or infielder on the wire or in a minor deal.


TEXAS RANGERS
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Assigned LHP Ron Mahay to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Placed RHP Todd Van Poppel (strained groin), OF-L Kevin Mench
(strained oblique), and 3B-R Herbert Perry (bruised knee) on the
15-day DL, retroactive to 3/21; acquired INF-R Manny Alexander from
the Brewers for future considerations. [3/24]

OK, on the one hand, having to put people on the DL generally isn’t what
you’d call good news, but at this time of year, it’s not a bad thing,
because it beats having to lose people on waivers or make a deal you have to
think twice about just to make space. Yes, Kevin Mench is good stuff, and
needs to be on the roster and in the lineup, but not having him around means
that Carl Everett will get at-bats in an outfield corner, and the Rangers
can keep working on peddling him in case there’s a buyer on this continent.
Similarly, losing Herbert Perry makes it easier to keep both Hank Blalock
and Mark Teixeira. One might struggle, but if both don’t, then John Hart and
company have a nice problem on their hands if both futures start now instead
of one now and one in 2004. And if that keeps Michael Young happy, because
Young’s playing second while Blalock and Teixeira alternate between third
and DH because Everett’s in left instead of DH, then the Rangers essentially
get to open the year with a happy blend of youth and defense that lets them
get a sense of how close their next contending team might be. And now that
they have Manny Alexander around to remind them about Ken Caminiti’s
Breakfast of Champions, what isn’t possible?


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Optioned RHP Corey Thurman to Syracuse; returned LHP Tim Young
to their minor league camp. [3/22]

Corey Thurman’s going back to Syracuse to return to being a starting
pitcher, while Tim Young lost the second lefty’s job to Trever Miller. This
in turn means that the Jays’ pitching staff is pretty close to set. Given
some questions about durability and reliability in the bottom of the
rotation, not to mention a pretty rigorous April schedule, they’re almost
certain to go with 12 pitchers to open. In part, that’s because they
should wind up keeping Rule 5 pick Aquilino Lopez, but it also looks like Doug
Linton will probably make the team as a spare swingman and long reliever,
replacing Pete Walker in the role Walker initially held last season before
working his way into the rotation. Then, if Tanyon Sturtze or Mark
Hendrickson is having trouble at the end of April or in mid-May, the Jays
will have some choices to make, with Justin Miller or Linton as
alternatives.

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