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IN THIS ISSUE


American League


National League


ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Activated RHP Aaron Sele from the 15-day DL; optioned OF-L Gary Johnson to Salt Lake. [5/9]

As anticipated, Sele slipped right into the rotation, trailing the return of
Kevin Appier, bumping Scot Shields and Mickey Callaway back into the pen. If
anything, that puts the Angels’ rotation in a precarious position. Ramon
Ortiz has made only two quality starts in eight, and John Lackey’s only made
two in nine. The only starter they’ve been able to rely upon in the first
six weeks has been Jarrod Washburn. At least by putting Shields and Callaway
in the pen, they’ve shored up the bullpen that’s going to have to continue
to be the team’s major strength. As a unit, it’s the best pen in the AL
according to Michael Wolverton’s reliever evaluation tools, and it’s the
only area where the Angels have had any sort of consistent advantage over
their opponents. That the pen has been that effective while dealing with
Troy Percival at less than his best and Felix Rodriguez’s struggles and
absence is a testament to the continued wisdom of the organization’s
commitment to digging up relievers from any and all of the four corners of the globe. But
that sort of underscores the point that the Angels have gotten most of their
good work out of just two relievers, Shields and Brendan Donnelly, similar
to how they’ve really only gotten consistent good work out of one starter.
Given that they’re still right around .500, it isn’t like they’re dead in
the water, but with so few pitchers doing as well as the Angels might have
reasonably expected coming into the season, it’s going to be pretty
important for Mike Scioscia and Bud Black to get a few more of their charges
into working order.


BOSTON RED SOX
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Added LHP Bruce Chen to the active roster; optioned RHP Kevin
Tolar
to Pawtucket; outrighted INF-B Angel Santos at Pawtucket
off of the 40-man roster. [5/9]

So here he is, Bruce Chen a Red Sock, the brazenly uncoachable prodigy. To
reiterate, it’s a good thing for them to take a flyer. Their pen has been
the worst in the AL in terms of performance, which they can blame
on injuries or pressure or just plain old bad luck or whatever. It would be
easy to say it’s all about the “unsettled roles,” but that sort of
nonsense is basically coming from the same people who insisted Mariano
Rivera and Byung-Hyun Kim were finished after their 2001 postseason
performances. Less than the role, it has everything to do with the people
selected. Chad Fox? Bobby Howry? The Sox were overenthusiastic bidders for guys
like Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Timlin, and now they’re counting on Brandon
Lyon and Chen and Jason Shiell, none of whom cost anything like what their
more highly-touted pickups did. There’s no substitute for performance
analysis and scouting, certainly not mere money.


CHICAGO CUBS
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Traded RHP Alan Benes to the Rangers for a PTBNL. [5/9]

Placed RF-R Sammy Sosa on the 15-day DL (infected toe); recalled RHP
Todd Wellemeyer from Iowa. [5/10]

The Cubs are in first place, but losing Sammy Sosa for any length of time is
going to help make a tight NL Central race stay tight. Their offense has
been strong because none of their lineup regulars have struggled in the
opening month or so. That’s less the problem than that losing Sosa also
exacerbates a bad situation as far as Dusty Baker’s roster design foibles.
The roster has no automatically sensible lineup replacement for Sosa because
they’re carrying people like Troy O’Leary, Tom Goodwin, and Lenny Harris on
the bench. These aren’t the kinds of players you plug into a lineup for two
weeks or longer (it’s uncertain how long Sosa’s going to be out). They’re a
trio of bench-warmers and managerial cronies you carry around, apparently to
cater to your celebrity manager’s sensibilities. If, instead, you wanted to
score some runs, then you’ve got some problems. Carrying two first basemen
who don’t play another position while paring down to only 13 position
players really hurts, and because the Cubs don’t have somebody they can bump
onto the 60-day DL, they don’t have roster space to play with to add
somebody like Phil Hiatt to fill out the bench.

Iowa doesn’t really provide an alternative to doing this or futzing around
with the likes of O’Leary; the outfield regulars there are Midre Cummings,
Jackson Melian, and Nic Jackson, backed up by Treni Hubbard. Jackson’s not
hitting and making up for time lost to last season’s injuries, and guys like
Cummings or Melian aren’t really solutions any more than O’Leary is. Dave
Kelton’s been moved back to third, temporarily ending the experiment with
making him a left fielder, but he’s not really hitting either.

Given the talent on hand, they could bump Mark Bellhorn to left–he’s gotten
a bit of experience there in Triple-A in years past. Then they could ride
the hot hand and play Ramon Martinez at third regularly, and at least keep
as many worthwhile bats in the lineup as possible. Martinez has been very
productive in the early going, and Baker’s crankiness with Bellhorn’s
patience aside, at least Bellhorn’s getting on base, something beyond any of
his trinity of roster lackeys. But the odds of that are pretty remote. It
seems far more likely that the Cubs will just keep plugging in O’Leary,
because at the end of the day, they can just blame him if and when he
doesn’t hit or continues to not hit. I’d consider that an abdication of
responsibility as well as a failure to take your shot at contention
seriously, but I’ve been known to jump to a conclusion or two, especially
where the Cubs are concerned.


CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Placed OF-L Karim Garcia on the 15-day DL (strained wrist); activated
CF-B Milton Bradley from the 15-day DL. [5/8]

This is basically a net gain for the Indians, in that Karim Garcia didn’t
look like he was going to achieve a reprise of one of his few big league
career high notes, wrist problem or no. In his absence, they’ve got Bradley
back in center, and they get to take a look at Jody Gerut in right to see if
he can adjust to a platoon role with Shane Spencer. So they get a bit of a
net gain defensively, and they get to evaluate the talent that may or may
not be in the outfield for the next contending Tribe squad.


COLORADO ROCKIES
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Transferred OF-L Chris Richard from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/10]

Recalled RHP Jason Young from Colorado Springs; designated RHP Dan
Miceli
for assignment. [5/11]

Because of last week’s rescheduling and the double-header they ended up
having to play against the Braves on Thursday, the Rockies needed a sixth
starter to make Monday’s start. While nobody in the rotation besides Shawn
Chacon is pitching all that well, Denny Neagle’s rehab hasn’t been as
wrinkle-free as either he or the Rox would like. If Young made a
nice impression, he might have the opportunity to come back sooner than
anyone might expect. He’s sort of in an interesting position, particularly
vis-a-vis having Aaron Cook in the organization. Lest anyone pretend there’s
such an animal as absolute consensus in the stathead community, it’s fun to
bring up Cook and Young. Citing strikeout rates from their minor league
careers, some statheads and some scouts peg Young as the more promising
talent of the two. He’s a recent Stanford product with good command and a
full assortment and solid velocity, after all. Citing physical talent,
particularly high 90s heat and a great sinker, some statheads (and, of
course, some scouts) go with Cook instead. You could argue that’s good old-fashioned ornery contrarian instinct, or that it reflects a certain
dependence on the organization’s claim that they’ve been trying to get Young
to work on command and to get away from being a power pitcher. That’s the
sort of anecdote that generally sets off my alarm bells, flashing me back to
old claims that Todd Van Poppel’s curve was so good, minor league umps had
to call it a ball because they’d never seen something so effective (ahem),
or going even further back, Mel Stottlemyre’s insane determination to make
Doc Gooden less of a power pitcher. At any rate, Young wasn’t really doing
all that well in Colorado Springs; a 3.82 ERA and a 3-1 record sounds good,
but he’d given up 18 runs and 19 walks in 33 IP, while striking out 21. He’s
still talented, and still worth taking an interest in, but sometimes in the
prospect prospecting biz, doublethink is more trouble than it’s worth, and
foxy outfoxing can be just so much wankery.


DETROIT TIGERS
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Optioned RHP Matt Anderson to Toledo. [5/8]

Purchased the contract of LHP Steve Avery from Toledo. [5/9]

The nicest possible way to interpret this is that the Tigers might get two
or three good months out of Steve Avery before they can flip him to a
lefty-less contender for the inevitable live arm from A-ball. More
basically, it reflects a certain double-edged desperation. Given the large
number of people in the pen without much in the way of big league
experience, it can’t hurt to have a former phenom and much-lauded Brave come
in and serve as a model citizen and sounding board. And given that Matt
Anderson seems broke in a way that ain’t easy to fix, taking him away from
the miseries of the present isn’t a bad idea. If, at the end of the day, the
Tigers can flip Avery at the end of July or August, and in the meantime he
teaches something to Wil Ledezma or Chris Spurling, that’s about as close as
it gets to good news in the Motor City these days.

As for Anderson, the Tigers seem to be doing the sensible thing, in that
he’s going to try to get back on track by pitching for two or three innings
at a time, to improve his arm strength and/or adapt to life without the
velocity he left on the surgeon’s table. There’s no wishcasting here,
everyone needs to just grit their teeth and hope he adapts.

I’m sort of more intrigued by the notion that, in Anderson’s absence, they
might let knuckleballer Steve Sparks get a save now and again. He is the
other veteran in this team’s pen beyond Avery, and while Franklyn German is
the guy who pumps gas, he’s also wild as sin. Not that there will be
that many save opps to go around, but this could be the sort of gig that
gets Sparks one good contract. I hear the Red Sox pay well for modest past
relief success, so perhaps that’s something to keep in mind if you’re
Sparks. Or his agent.


FLORIDA MARLINS
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Purchased the contract of LHP Dontrelle Willis from Carolina
(Double-A); placed RHP Josh Beckett on the 15-day DL (strained
elbow), retroactive to 5/8; recalled RHP Blaine Neal from
Albuquerque; outrighted OF-R Gerald Williams to Albuquerque. [5/9]

Fired manager Jeff Torborg, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and
strength and conditioning coach Dale Torborg; named Jack
McKeon
manager, Doug Davis bench coach and promoted Wayne
Rosenthal
to pitching coach. [5/10]

There’s a story about Huey Long down in Louisiana, if I remember correctly,
that ran something like this: When speaking to a group of potential
benefactors and campaign contributors, Long promised that anybody who threw
in his lot with Huey now could expect a big piece of the action, that
anybody who waffled and later came aboard could expect a littler piece of
the action, and that anybody who didn’t side with Huey Long could expect,
after his election, “good government.” I can’t say I’m kidding
when I suggest baseball is run any differently as an industry. By hiring
McKeon without considering a worthy minority candidate or two, the Marlins
have now apparently run afoul of Bud Selig’s campaign to create
token-stroking procedures that give credence to a claim that minority
candidates get due consideration–this in an outfit where competence hasn’t
really made it to the level of being a core concern in the industry’s hiring
practices. Given that the Tigers managed to duck the rough justice that the
commissioner was supposed to have meted out when they jumped into bed with
Phil Garner without even bothering to invite anyone else to the party, what
can we expect from Bud now? If he really does fine the Lorians, he’ll
probably end up having to loan them the money to pay the fine. If he doesn’t
fine the Lorians, he’ll merely add to his laboriously built-up reputation
for being a weak reed in any tight spot involving anything besides the
union. The Lorians have basically been his creatures from the start, so he’d
undoubtedly feel some anguish over deliberately trodding on one of their
tentacles for mere public sport. However, he does have to consider the
embarassments the game has endured in terms of minority hiring (which, to be
fair, have been overstated compared to some professional sports
organizations, the NCAA in particular coming to mind). And, to the
wonderment of the rest of us, Selig seems to have this almost Clintonesque
obliviousness as to his historical destiny being simply odious no matter what
he does from here on out. As a result, I can see Bud playing to the crowd in
fine ham-fisted style, and judiciously fining his good friend Jeffrey
something less than the maximum, and something close to either what his good
friend Jeffrey can afford or that he can afford to borrow. None of this will
get Chris Chambliss a job before the likes of Ned Yost or a reheated Jack
McKeon, but it will work out sort of neatly, from at least somebody’s point
of view.

Now, having said all that, I’m
still sort of glad to see McKeon back. He’s an underrated manager in many
respects, and certainly a better choice than Jeff Torborg ever was for
resurrection. The question is whether or not McKeon is, in his professional
twilight, here to be a self-mockery a la Thrift, collecting checks from a
meddlesome owner and catering to his various cronies so that he can remain
in the game. Or will he instead do what Jack McKeon has generally done in
the confused situations he’s inherited in the past, which is shake things up
a bit, and help create a sense of direction? For both his legacy and that of
the Fish and their fans, I hope it’s the latter. There’s already the
scramble to question whether or not McKeon might overwork the pen in the way
that Torborg overworked the rotation, creating a staff holocaust in-season
that only a few have ever achieved (Terry Bevington comes to mind).
Frankly, I think such concerns are overstated. Scott Williamson was
dubious/questionable goods in terms of his long-term health before McKeon
got hold of him in Cincinnati, and none of the other relievers broke down
under workloads that only seem high compared to the pampered 40-inning
seaosns lefty situational clowns get in some places, or the 60 innings
neatly carved out for ace closers to log save stats while contributing very
little toward team wins. McKeon made Mark Davis a very wealthy man, and seemed
to effortlessly get good years out of people like Doug Bird or Lance
McCullers or even Mark Grant. I’d think the concerns about McKeon’s ability
to handle a big league bullpen these days are more than a little overstated;
there’s controversy enough with this particular fishmongering to far from
require a body or two in a closet to provide otherwise absent skeletons.

As for the decision to plug Dontrelle Willis into the rotation right now,
I’m not wild about it. The team thinks it’s a contender, and Willis has only
six starts above A-ball–and only 11 above low-A–under his belt in his
career. Admittedly, he’s coming off of a great six starts at Carolina,
posting a 1.49 ERA (and no unearned runs to spoil that), and only 33
baserunners against 32 strikeouts in 36.1 IP. But between organizational
expectations and desperation and his relative inexperience, we’re going to
have to hope that McKeon keeps Willis’ workload relatively modest.


HOUSTON ASTROS
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Waived SS-R Julio Lugo. [5/9]

This non-shocking denouement leaves Lugo unemployed, the union having to
file a grievance that won’t add any to its reputation with fans or
commentators, and the Astros smug in their moral certainty while getting no
closer to having a shortstop than they were before. No, I’m not a member of
the Sons of Damaso Garcia, grieving for all the victims, worthy and
unworthy, of Jimy Williams’ managerial decisions. And no, I’m not condoning
the actions that Lugo has been accused of taking. I just don’t share the
certitude that the Astros have done the right thing, not when they could
have worked on rehabilitating Lugo. Now he’s unemployed and someone with a
rep for anger management issues. This is a positive result?


MINNESOTA TWINS
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Activated UT-B Denny Hocking from the 15-day DL; optioned UT-R
Mike Cuddyer to Rochester. [5/9]

The Twins’ ongoing nice problem of having too many talented young players
continues to create little roster quakes, with Mike Cuddyer’s demotion–and
the decision to instead keep Todd Sears around–being the latest. Much as I
might agree that having Cuddyer get regular playing time is a good idea, I’m
not sold that that playing time has to be at Rochester. Now I know I’m
beating the horse’s bones to dust by now on this, but the problem remains
Doug Mientkiewiecz, and, to a lesser extent, Dustan Mohr. Even with Mike
Cuddyer and Sears around, Minky and Mohr are getting regular playing time.
Bobby Kielty’s nicks and bruises are contributing to that, at least to
Mohr’s benefit, but I’m still more than a little surprised that the Twins
are so reluctant to come to terms with Minky’s essential mediocrity. He
can’t keep the job because of the cachet of being around the 2002 Twins
forever, can he? The only interesting wrinkle is that the Twins had Cuddyer
play second in Rochester, which would at least present a creative solution
to Luis Rivas’ continuing non-progress as a prospect.


NEW YORK METS
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Optioned C-R Jason Phillips to Norfolk; recalled RHP Pat
Strange
from Norfolk. [5/10]

Placed RHP Scott Strickland on the 15-day DL (strained groin);
recalled LHP Jaime Cerda from Norfolk. [5/11]

Wait a minute, wasn’t Art Howe supposed to inject a bit of that easy manner
and confident handling of his players for which he gets credit? Instead, we
get a mini-brouhaha over who’s on first? This is nuts. If you fail to ask
your team’s star player if he’s OK with moving to first before leaking it
to the press, what’s the supposed difference between that and Bobby
Valentine’s old shenanigans?

Meanwhile, it would be fair to say the bullpen is sort of a shambles.
They’ve got three lefties, only one reliable righty (Stormy Weathers),
Armando Benitez trying to get back on track while fending off rumors of his
imminent dispatch to everywhere between Churchill and McMurdo Sound in this
hemisphere, and then they’ve got Pat Strange and Jason Middlebrook sort of
cooling their heels in the pen. Strange and Middlebrook have value, and
could easily turn into middle relief assets the way that Grant Roberts did
before his injury, except that isn’t really Howe’s modus operandi
with young starting pitchers. In Oakland, he wasn’t running the staff, and
in Houston, his lone real success on that front was arguably Curt Schilling
in 1991–and the Astros gave up on Schilling after the experiment. So I’m
not confident that Middlebrook and Strange will get real work. But what’s
everyone concerned about? David Cone and John Franco will haul their
broken-down selves back onto the active roster soon, and that’s going to
help, right?


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Purchased the contract of LHP Micah Bowie from Sacramento; optioned
RHP Jeremy Fikac to Sacramento. [5/11]

I’m not wild about this move, not that I’m a huge believer in the as-yet
unachieved greatness of Jeremy Fikac, or one of those chauvinists who thinks
that Micah Bowie can’t pitch, as much as I fret about what the switch means
in terms of how the pen is structured right now. By adding Bowie to the pen,
the A’s have only two right-handed relievers they seem comfortable using,
Keith Foulke and Chad Bradford. Rule 5er Mike Neu has been used very
carefully, although Ken Macha seems to be giving him more work in lost causes
in recent weeks. Jim Mecir doesn’t really seem to be 100%, and he isn’t
getting time on the mound to regain his touch. Fikac might have been
struggling, but assembling a pen that might encourage Macha to overuse
Foulke and Bradford before the All-Star break doesn’t seem like a really
good idea.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Recalled RHP Eric Junge from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; optioned RHP
Brandon Duckworth to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/9]

Because of the schedule, the Phillies won’t have a lot of call for a fifth
starter, so rather than let Duckworth shuffle between the pen and the
rotation, they’re keeping him in turn by flipping him back down to Scranton,
and letting Eric Junge join Joe Roa in the long relief role in the pen. As
long as everyone’s comfortable, and Duckworth isn’t going to get bent out of
shape for being bumped like this at every instance, it can work just fine.
Unfortunately, Duckworth is struggling, and the Phillies might need to come
to terms with the idea that it would make sense to avoid some of these
Duquetteish roster machinations if it costs them the confidence of one very
promising pitcher. As is, they’re barely using Roa, so it isn’t like they’re
putting all of their roster spots to work, and a supernumerary mop-up man
should rank pretty low on anybody’s list of needs or wants.


SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Placed RHP Adam Eaton on the 15-day DL (strained groin), retroactive
to 5/5; purchased the contract of LHP Roger Deago from Mobile
(Double-A); transferred UT-R Phil Nevin from the 15- to the 60-day
DL. [5/9]

There’s always a little thrill when somebody comes up that you know nothing
about. It doesn’t happen all that often, sadly, but still, here it is.
Despite all of the injuries and problems that have afflicted the
organization’s pitching, the Padres had choices. Instead, they skipped past
their issues with Dennis Tankersley or Oliver Perez, decided not to pressure
Cory Stewart, or to take a chance with Carlton Loewer or Randy Keisler or
even Charles Nagy, or overlook past dissatisfactions with Brian Tollberg.
Instead they dipped down to Double-A to call up Roger Deago. My mind goes
blank, the name means nothing to me. Who is Roger Deago? Another one
of the Pads’ Mexican imports? Some college star I overlooked? An
organizational soldier finally catching a break? No, none of those things.
Deago’s a ‘veteran’ of the Panamanian national team and a lefty junkballer,
probably younger than Jesse Orosco and older than Rick Ankiel. Down in
Mobile, in his professional debut, he allowed 29 hits and a dozen walks in
33.1 IP, striking out 32, and posting a 3.51 ERA. As choices go, I guess it
counts as inspired, since who really has scouting reports on somebody like
this? Spotting him against the Mets, a team with its share of offensive
problems, was a nice stunt, and it’ll be interesting to see how he does
against the Braves and Brewers if he gets another couple of starts.

Curiosities aside, losing Adam Eaton isn’t really the end of the world,
since it doesn’t look to be a major injury. In his absence, Mike Bynum and
Deago might claim rotation slots, which would crowd out the likes of Clay
Condrey when Eaton returns.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Placed OF-L Marvin Benard on the 15-day DL (knee inflammation),
retroactive to 5/5; recalled OF-R Jason Ellison from Fresno;
activated RHP Ryan Jensen from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Chad
Zerbe
to Fresno. [5/9]

Placed 2B-B Ray Durham on the 15-day DL (sprained ankle); recalled
SS-R Cody Ransom from Fresno. [5/11]

All in all, this really hurts, so the rest of the NL West should be cheered
by this news. First, the good news for the Giants: Ryan Jensen isn’t
replacing Jesse Foppert in the rotation, and will instead give the pen an
alternative to Jim Brower to handle long relief duties. None of the Giants’
starters are workhorses in terms of being able to rack up innings, so having
a couple of guys who can handle two or three inning outings in blowout wins
or blowout losses is probably pretty handy on a team that has to count on
the pen’s core four of Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell, Joe Nathan, and Scott
Eyre to handle the close games. Again, because the rotation rarely goes
beyond the sixth inning, the Giants have to worry about using those four in
the games they’ve got their best shots to win, and can’t afford to use them
in the games where they don’t. While there’s plenty of attention being
devoted to the loss of Robb Nen for the year, they’ve got four good
relievers and useful middle relief. The pen is not this team’s most
significant problem.

Less happily, losing Durham and Benard really hurts. Durham’s replacement is
Sabean’s latest roster folly, Neifi Perez, giving opposing pitchers a
much-needed third relatively easy out in the lineup. Cody Ransom isn’t much
of a prospect, so he doesn’t really give the Giants an alternative during
the month or so that Durham’s expected to be out. And losing Benard, despite
his light contributions this year, robs the Giants of their best
pinch-hitting option on the bench, while locking them that much more into
having to play Marquis Grissom or Ruben Rivera in center. The Giants are
still in first place in part because nobody else in the division has their
act together, but these are the sorts of things that add up in terms of not
putting more distance between them and the pack now, when they had the
advantage of getting the jump on the Dodgers or Snakes.


SEATTLE MARINERS
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Activated RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP
Rafael Soriano to Tacoma. [5/8]

There isn’t a whole lot to say here. Sasaki wasn’t immediately pushed back
into the closer’s role, his absence made no impact on the Mariners in the
grand scheme of things, and Soriano gave them a nice reminder that hauling
in Giovanni Carrara might have been entirely unnecessary. If they don’t take
the lessons that sort of stuff provides, so be it, and if they lose an extra
game because they wanted Carrara instead of Soriano, or have that much less
money to spend because they have to have Sasaki and Nelson and Rhodes, and
thus can’t do something like go out and get a third baseman or a left
fielder with some sock, don’t expect anyone else in the league to feel their
pain.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
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Purchased the contract of LHP John Rocker from Orlando (Double-A);
recalled INF-R Felix Escalona from Orlando; purchased the contract of
OF-L Jason Tyner from Durham; activated LHP Jim Parque from
the 15-day DL; designated OF-L George Lombard and 3B-R Chris
Truby
for assignment; optioned RHP Victor Zambrano to Durham;
placed RHP Steve Parris on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis). [5/9]

Placed SS-R Rey Ordonez on the 15-day DL (sprained knee); recalled
INF-R Antonio Perez from Durham. [5/10]

OK, it’s undoubtedly silly to weep for Chris Truby, but what the hell
happened here? Teaches me to ever start interpreting a random series of
choices by the randomly-run organization in a positive way. My modest hopes
for the likes of Truby or George Lombard aside, who in their right mind
resurrects Jason Tyner, symbol of all that was wrong in years past? Does
this mean his Bobblehead Day is back on? Is keeping Al Martin’s job safe
really this important? Why is Damion Easley still here, and was Truby
excused for making Easley look useless? Admittedly, what doesn’t show up
here is the plan to promote Jared Sandberg and hand back the third base job,
but that still begs the question of what guys like Easley or Martin are for,
let alone Tyner. An added misfortune is that in losing Rey Ordonez, they
don’t really have a utility infielder who can handle shortstop, so they’re
pressing Felix Escalona into action at his least-likely position. Escalona
still doesn’t have a lot of experience above A-ball, so the absence of a
real alternative to Ordonez (of all people) really doesn’t look too good.

As for the state of the staff, it’s not quite as stunning. Steve Parris is
never going to be the kind of guy you can count on for too long these days,
although replacing him in the rotation with Jim Parque is just more of the
same. After a bad outing and a postgame tantrum, Jorge Sosa’s out of the
rotation, leaving a slot open for the moment, although Travis Harper might
end up getting slipped into the fifth slot now that Zambrano has been
banished and while Nick Bierbrodt still gets rehabilitated in a long relief
role. What it really means is that you can sort of count on Joe Kennedy and
maybe Dewon Brazelton every fifth day, and after that, all bets are off.
Practically speaking, the Rays are really only running an extended spring
training in a season where they’re over their more normal .333 because they
won four out of six against the Tigers (raising both team’s winning
percentages). They nevertheless seem to be quite earnest–if unfortunately
directionless–in their ambitions to be something more than what they are.


TEXAS RANGERS
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Acquired RHP Alan Benes from the Cubs for a PTBNL; optioned RHP
Ryan Drese to Oklahoma. [5/9]

Activated 1B/3B-R Herbert Perry from the 15-day DL; optioned UT-L
Mike Lamb to Oklahoma. [5/10]

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s Alan Benes into the rotation,
Todd Van Poppel and Ryan Drese out of the rotation, and your basic Ranger
shambles. Benes is the right sort for the Rangers to just hopelessly cast
their lot with, effectively getting him off of waivers or for the
organizational equivalent of a lint sandwich (hold the bread) to just keep
having bodies to start the game with.

Now that Herb Perry’s back, it’s interesting that they elected to keep Mark
Teixeira around. They’re basically without a fourth outfielder by carrying
both Teixeira and Ruben Sierra on the roster, and Perry’s not going to take
playing time away from Hank Blalock anymore. So if they want to pinch-hit
for Ryan Christenson–and with all those bats around, why wouldn’t you want
to?–they have to bump Carl Everett or possibly even Michael Young out to
center field, except that they don’t really have a utility infielder either,
so Blalock has to play second or Sierra or Teixeira an outfield corner if
you want to get Christenson’s bat out of a high-leverage situation. Talk
about choices that come with a price. Needless to say, I’m not impressed,
keeping all of the bats without having a way to use all of them is one of
those basic mistakes that people like Pat Corrales might have made during
their managerial careers, but that you’d think teams would avoid these days.
Apparently not.

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