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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Recalled C Ben Molina from Vancouver. [9/17]

Purchased C Chad Kreuter from the White Sox. [9/18]

Placed C Charlie O’Brien on the 60-day DL (broken thumb). [9/18]


With Phil Nevin’s sprained ankle and O’Brien’s season over, the Angels
scrambled to fill in behind the plate, and the Sox were nice enough to oblige.
Of course, as we now know, it really didn’t matter, except to tell everybody
Bill Bavasi gets antsy at crunch time.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Activated OF Danny Bautista from the DL. [9/17]


Bautista’s return is important, since he’s Klesko’s platoon-mate and defensive
caddy. Even so, that doesn’t guarantee first-round starts against Sterling
Hitchcock, Terry Mulholland, or Shawn Estes or Kirk Rueter (depending on how
this weekend’s NL wildcard fun plays out). Because Ice Williams has done his
usual lefty-mashing and outstanding defensive work, Bobby Cox can elect to
start Michael Tucker along with Williams and Andruw Jones, and keep Klesko and
Bautista on the bench for pinch-hitting duties. Unlike prior seasons, the
Braves made no effort to play at carrying a third catcher, which is courtesy of
the great years both Javy Lopez and Eddie Perez have had.


BOSTON RED SOX

Recalled RHP Robinson Checo and CF Michael Coleman from Pawtucket; recalled
RHPs Jin Ho Cho and Rafael Betancourt and 2B Jim Chamblee from Trenton of the
Eastern League (AA). [9/22]


Cho and Checo are still outstanding pitching prospects, but they’ll have to
wait for next year’s camp for serious shots at the rotation, in the expectation
that Avery and Schourek will be elsewhere. Chamblee struggled to make contact
in the Eastern League–the toughest AA league for a young hitter–but
he still managed to hit for power and draw a healthy number of walks. With the
mighty Mike Benjamin going into ’99 as the incumbent, the Sox could choose to
go in any one of a number of directions at second, either by finally committing
to Donnie Sadler, or taking a long look at Chamblee, or looking at dark horses
like Arqui Pozo or Lou Merloni, or by resuscitating Mark Lemke or recycyling
Benjamin. Since this is Dan Duquette’s team, choose any of the above each day,
change your mind in alternate hours, shake, stir, scramble, confuse.


CHICAGO CUBS

Belatedly signed 1998 first-rounder OF Corey Patterson.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Sold C Chad Kreuter to the Angels. [9/18]

Recalled CF Brian Simmons from Calgary. [9/20]


Two good things for the Sox. Kreuter’s a free agent in the offseason, and it’s
likely they’ll give re-signing him some thought. In the meantime, it gave them
the final ten days of the season to look at Mark Johnson behind the plate.
That’s if they’re smart, because there’s no reason to prefer Roberto Machado
over Johnson, offensively or defensively. They may elect to just skip signing a
veteran catcher altogether, but letting Johnson learn from a veteran backstop,
instead of having Machado around, is probably the best combination.


As for the Simmons callup, this highlights the interesting situation the Sox
find themselves in for next year’s outfield. Mike Cameron is going to have to
fight for his playing time, and Simmons is a good defender and a useful
offensive player. Magglio Ordonez has had a nice little season, and the Sox are
finally admitting to themselves that Jeff Abbott is a hitting machine. Should
the Dodgers acknowledge the extra money they’re already paying Gary Sheffield
(or if anyone else signs a bigger contract), Albert Belle’s a free agent. What
to do in this situation? Throw into the mix that Mario Valdez had a nice little
season as Calgary’s first baseman, that Robin Ventura is a free agent, and that
the Sox have three good third basemen in their system in Olmedo Saenz, Carlos
Lee, and Joe Crede, and about the only conclusion you can come to right now is
that Wil Cordero’s out of a job and that Greg Norton should not be considered
anything more than a utility infielder. The most important thing is to get used
to the idea that letting Ventura walk to keep Belle around is for the best.
After that, the Sox need to stop thinking that Ordonez’ spot in right is safe.
Although he had a good season, there’s nothing about him that earns
him consideration above Cameron, Abbott, or Simmons.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated 1B Jim Thome from the DL. [9/16]

Released Large Person Cecil Fielder. [9/18]

Recalled OF Alex Ramirez and purchased the contract of LHP Jason Jacome from
Buffalo; activated LHP Tom Martin from the DL. [9/19]

Recalled LHP Eddie Priest from Buffalo. [9/21]


Fielder ended up being a waste of time, although we don’t hear his agent
bleating about how unfair this latest cut is when his client has no chance of
out-hitting Richie Sexson, ever. The key here is what this might mean for the
Indians in the offseason. John Hart did an outstanding job of moving Marquis
Grissom before the Indians had to pay off the majority of his multiyear
contract, and the challenge for this winter is to do the same with David
Justice, to create more playing time for Sexson.


DETROIT TIGERS

Recalled C Rob Fick and OF Gabe Kapler from Jacksonville (AA). [9/19]


If the Tigers are serious about making themselves better in ’99, they’ll have
to skip token public relations moves like signing Luis Gonzalez or Bip Roberts,
and abandon their commitment to Brian Hunter. What then? Play Kapler in left,
and find a way to get Fick behind the plate. The Tigers have the pieces to make
themselves a very good team, but they’re in the same boat as the Pirates: they
have to move beyond the gateway players that helped make them a fun surprise in
’97, and start playing their promising young players rather than devote entire
seasons of service time to placeholding veterans.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Recalled RHP Brian Sikorski from New Orleans. [9/16]


Should this Sunday’s game against the Cubs be meaningless, don’t be surprised
if he either gets the start or works long relief. Sikorski struggled badly
after a midseason callup to New Orleans, so he isn’t well-positioned to mount a
push for the fifth starter’s job, even if Chris Holt or Scott Elarton don’t end
up competing for it.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Purchased the contract of C/3B Mike Barrett from Harrisburg (AA). [9/18]


Barrett has drawn a reasonable amount of attraction as a prospect, and if the
Expos do end up non-tendering Shane Andrews to hand Barrett the hot corner,
that isn’t a bad thing. Andrews or Barrett, the burning question is: where the
Expos ever play a hitter who doesn’t hit .270/.310, assuming they ever produce
one? Rondell White doesn’t get on base very well, so they can look forward to a
lineup that has Vlad Guerrero, five men (Guerrero, Fullmer, Cabrera, Barrett, White)
with dandy batting averages and rotten OBPs, a nice catching duo in Chris Widger
and Bob Henley who nevertheless aren’t major offensive assets, and a left fielder
to be named later. The hope is that it will be Pete Bergeron, but it’s no sure
thing that he’ll be ready for the majors by Opening Day ’99.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Annouced that OF Ruben Amaro will retire to become the assistant GM, effective
at the end of the season. [9/18]


According to my Phanatical Phillies Phan Phriend Jeff Hildebrand, Amaro was
effectively on the roster to keep Bobby Abreu company this year. Like sending
Gregg Jefferies away, it shows they’re getting a bit more serious about next
year’s team.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Activated LHP Terrell Wade from the DL; transferred OF Dave Martinez from the
15- to the 60-day DL. [9/17]

Recalled LHP Mike Duvall, 3B Scott McClain, and OF Kerry Robinson from Durham.
[9/19]

Recalled RHP Dave Eiland and LHP Brad Pennington from Durham; placed RHP
Rolando Arrojo on the 60-day DL, and transferred RHP Jason Johnson from the 15-
to the 60-day DL. [9/21]

Claimed C Julio Mosquera on waivers from the Blue Jays; designated LHP Matt
Ruebel
for assignment. [9/23]


Since only three rotation spots are set for next year, Wade will be given a
start or two to symbolize his early bid for a spot in next year’s rotation. The
other name to note is Duvall, who should claim the job as the main lefty in the
pen next year. Kerry Robinson is probably out of luck as far as ever becoming a
regular. Randy Winn skipped past him to claim the centerfield job, and the
organzation has its fascination with Quinton McCracken to overcome. If they’re
struggling to come to terms with the idea that Bubba Trammell should be playing
every day, Robinson doesn’t stand a chance.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed C Guillermo Quiroz; outrighted RHP Joe Young to Knoxville (AA). [9/23]