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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Exercised their option on RHP Troy Percival and
agreed upon an additional option for 2002. [10/19]

Named Dick Pole pitching coach. [11/7]


Percival remains one of the best closers in the game,
and the Angels aren’t going to have to worry about him
until 2002.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Exercised their options on LHP Brian Anderson and
RHP Gregg Olson for 1999. [10/23]

Traded LHP Alan Embree to the San Francisco Giants for
outfielder Dante Powell. [11/10]


It looks like the D-Backs may be dropping out of the
Bernie Williams race by trading for Powell, who has a full
toolbox but hasn’t put it together with the bat. Embree
is a useful lefty, and trading him for the underwhelming
Powell wasn’t a particularly good move.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Exercised their option on outfielder Gerald Williams
for 1999. [10/23]

Named Don Baylor hitting coach and Glenn Hubbard
first base coach. [11/2]

Traded LHP Denny Neagle, RHP Rob Bell, and
outfielder Michael Tucker to the Cincinnati Reds
for RHP Mike Remlinger and second baseman Bret
Boone
. [11/10]


Schuerholz strikes again, dealing his number one bargaining chip for
a guy who has been one of the worst second basemen in the
league two out of the previous three years. Boone had
something of a revival in 1998, but he should be regarded
as guilty-until-proven-innocent property at this point,
due to his absolutely terrible play in 1996 and 1997.
Instead, the Braves move one of the best lefties in the
league for him. Granted, they don’t actually need Neagle
all that much–and could they be clearing space out for
Kevin Brown? Talk about overkill–but this doesn’t look
like effective maximization of return for dealing him.


Remlinger still has lots of potential, but while he strikes
people out, he has yet to be really effective. What do
the Reds need Michael Tucker for? Expect Reggie Sanders
to be playing somewhere else in 1999, and Jon Nunnally to
not be very happy with this deal. The minor-leaguer is
Rob Bell, who struck out 197 in A ball this season.


Don Baylor replaces Clarence Jones, Braves hitting coach
since 1990, who was the sacrificial lamb for this year’s
punchless LCS against the Padres.


BOSTON RED SOX

Exercised their option on RHP Jim Corsi for 1999. [10/22]

Resigned outfielder Darren Lewis to a three-year $7M
contract. [11/6]


Jim Corsi was part of the surprisingly strong Red Sox
bullpen this season. He’s 36, but he’s a ground ball
pitcher, which is nice in Fenway Park. He should get
plenty of work next year.


Good heavens. That’s a lot of kesh to pay a defensive
sub. Darren Lewis played his best baseball in 1998, and his
timing is impeccable. It looks like the Sox aren’t saving
their money to break the bank for Mo Vaughn.


CHICAGO CUBS

Resigned RHP Rod Beck to a two-year $9.5M contract with
club option for 2001. [11/2]

Traded RHP Scott Downs to the Minnesota Twins as the PTBNL
in the Mike Morgan trade. Named Ryne Sandberg roving
instructor. [11/3]

Extended the contract of manager Jim Riggleman through
2000. [11/4]

Resigned LHP Terry Mulholland to a two-year $5.9M
contract. [11/5]


The bountiful returns for this year’s feel-good playoff run
begin. Mulholland was a nice pickup; once pitching for his
career, he turned in an excellent season in 1998, pitching
well all year both from the pen and as an emergency starter.
Meanwhile, Rod Beck saved 48 and finished strong. He’ll
anchor the bullpen again in 1999. Jim Riggleman gets his
share of the booty; hopefully he’ll forgive Brant Brown by
the start of spring training.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract
of first baseman Wil Cordero. [11/3]


This time, it wasn’t because he hits his wife; it was because
he sucked. It wasn’t all that long ago that Cordero was one
of the hottest prospects in baseball, but his not being able
to handle a middle infield spot has really limited his
usefulness.


CINCINNATI REDS

Extended the contract of general manager Jim Bowden through 2003.
[10/8]

Offered arbitration to RHP Jason Bere. Announced the team
will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of outfielder Melvin
Nieves
. [11/5]

Traded RHP Mike Remlinger and second baseman Bret
Boone
to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Denny Neagle,
RHP Rob Bell, and outfielder Michael Tucker. [11/10]


Bowden has a great track record overall. He gets the best of
the trade in almost every move he makes, though he doesn’t
seem to have a defining agenda for the team, so he winds up
with about eight DH/1B prospects and nobody to play third.
Hopefully, the length of the contract will give him some wiggle
as far as targeting his rebuilding goes.


The Neagle trade netted the Reds an instant ace; if there’s a
downside, it’s that Pokey Reese is almost assured of a starting
spot in the infield next year, either at second or third, due
to Jack McKeon’s proclivity for playing him at all costs.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Resigned RHP Jaret Wright to a four-year contract with
a club option for 2003. [10/15]

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 options on
the contracts of RHP Doug Jones and second baseman Joey
Cora
. Exercised their options on RHP Steve Reed for 1999
and shortstop Omar Vizquel for 2002. [10/20]

Named Phil Regan pitching coach. [10/27]

Extended the contact of RHP Dave Burba through 2001. [11/6]


Despite his troubles this year, Jaret Wright is one of the best
young starters in baseball, and it was a fine move by the Indians
to lock him up now. Dave Burba will be back as well; for some
reason, he was relegated to the bullpen in the playoffs, but
he’s really one of their better starters and his new contract
should ensure that he stays in the rotation next season. Keeping
Reed was never really a question, despite his less than stellar
numbers with the Indians. He remains one of the best relievers
in the game, and a whole lot better than Jose Mesa.


Picking up Vizquel’s 2002 option seems just a bit excessive,
but the Cleveland organization has always liked Omar better
than I have, and he did have another fine season.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the
contract of catcher Kirt Manwaring. [10/26]

Acquired outfielder Kevin Burford from the San Diego Padres
as the PTBNL in the John VanderWal trade. [10/29]

Purchased the contract of LHP Roberto Ramirez from the
San Diego Padres. [10/29]

Resigned infielder Kurt Abbott to a one-year $800K contract. [11/5]

Signed infielder-outfielder Lenny Harris to a two-year
contract. Resigned outfielder Darryl Hamilton to a three-year
$10.5M contact. [11/6]

Signed LHP Brian Bohanon to a three-year $9M contract. [11/8]


The Rockies have been quick to assemble some guys for Jim Leyland
to work with, and the results have been inconsistent. It was a
no-brainer to ditch Manwaring, but of course it was a mistake to
sign the guy in the first place. Kurt Abbott and Lenny Harris
are pickups that a team preoccupied with utility players would
make, so of course it doesn’t make sense for a team that plays
on Planet Coors. Hamilton had nice trial run after being
acquired from the Giants towards the end of the season, batting
.335/.406/.469 in 194 AB. He’s probably a better fit for the
team than Ellis Burks, since he’s a fine flycatcher; if he can
keep getting on base like he did this year, he’ll be everything
Mike Lansing was supposed to be.


Bohanon had a fine season in Los Angeles and New York, successfully
making the transition to regular starter. Unfortunately, he’s 29
and moving from a great pitcher’s park to a great hitter’s park.
With luck, he’ll be Jeff Fassero, but the Rockies haven’t had a
whole lot of luck with free agent pitcher pickups.


In less important news, the set-to the Padres and Rockies had
over Roberto Ramirez last season was completely ridiculous.
Being a star in the Mexican League isn’t a good causal relationship
with success in the bigs, as the Padres found when Ramirez was hit
hard as their new lefty out of the pen this season. Some teams
just have way too much time on their hands.


DETROIT TIGERS

Named Larry Parrish manager and signed him to a two-year
contract with club option for 2001. [10/15]

Signed third baseman Dean Palmer to a five-year, $35M
contract. [11/11]


Parrish beats the odds and removes the "interim" from
his title. He’ll have a third baseman next year, though Palmer
is horribly expensive for his skill set. Sure, he’s bested a .500
SLG three times in his career, but a guy who gets on base like
Palmer does isn’t worth near seven million a year unless he’s
Ozzie Smith defensively–which Palmer isn’t. This isn’t the
kind of signing Randy Smith needs to make to turn the Tigers into
a reliable contender.


Speaking of Smith, ouch–Ken Caminiti spurns Los Tigres’ three
year, $21M contract offer, saying he’d play for less than half
as much in Houston? Good grief,that had to hurt.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Extended the contracts of general manager Gerry Hunsicker
and manager Larry Dierker through 2000. [10/15]

Restructured the contract of outfielder Moises Alou. [11/5]


The Astros will hold on to Alou, who had a legitimately great
season after a good 1997. He’s another signing from the Marlins
big spending spree who, improbably, has actually been worth the
money thus far.


Hunsicker and Dierker are rewarded for the team’s memorable
1998 with some additional job security. Now, if Hunsicker can
just land Randy Johnson…


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Named Mark Wiley pitching coach and Lamar Johnson
hitting coach. [11/3]


Now the team is all set to go out and build on last year’s
encouraging finish. Or something.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Named Davey Johnson manager. [10/23]

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 options on the
contracts of RHP Ramon Martinez and outfielder
Jim Eisenreich. [10/26]

Announced the resignation of chairman of the board Peter
O’Malley
. [10/29]

Named Mike Scioscia manager of the team’s Triple-A Albuquerque
affiliate. [11/2]

Restructured the contract of Jeff Shaw, adding a club
option for 2002. Signed infielder Tripp Cromer to a
one-year contract. [11/4]

Signed outfielder Devon White to a three-year $12.4M
contract. [11/6]


General manager Kevin Malone didn’t get his man with Felipe
Alou re-upped with Montreal, so he settles for the booby
prize–one of the best managers in major league history.
Johnson can manage a major-league team effectively in his
sleep. At his last stop in Baltimore, he took a good but
not great squad to the LCS both years he was in charge.
The first guy out of town after this will likely be Bobby
Bonilla, who didn’t get along with Johnson when the two were
on the Orioles. That brings up the only real question about
Johnson: can he manage somewhere for more than a few seasons
being run out of town? He hasn’t done that in a while, so
the Dodgers are grooming former catcher Mike Scioscia to
take over in case something happens.


Shaw basically had the Dodgers over a barrel. His contract,
signed when he was with Cincinnati, was to pay him $2.8M a year
from 1999-2001. Unfortunately, Pastaman Lasorda didn’t check
baseball’s collective bargaining agreement before trading
prospect Paul Konerko for Shaw during the season; Shaw’s seniority
would have allowed him to demand a trade after the season. The
result? The Dodgers are now paying him nearly double his previous
contract over the duration of the contract, with a $7M club option
added for 2002. Shaw’s a good pitcher, but he’s not nearly as
attractive a player at that salary.


The Dodgers will likely be batting Young, White, Mondesi, and
Karros all in the top five lineup spots next season. Man,
is that going to be ugly. Obviously, the White signing trashes
promising Roger Cedeno’s career with the Dodgers, so expect him to
get traded and outplay White every year for the rest of their
respective careers.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Signed RHP David Weathers to a one-year contract. [10/30]


The Brew Crew didn’t waste time–they beat the rush and locked up
the back corner of their bullpen for next year. That’s a relief.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 options on the
contracts of catcher Terry Steinbach and outfielder
Otis Nixon. [10/23]

Resigned RHP Hector Carrasco and infielder Jon Shave. [10/29]

Named John Gibbons manager of the team’s Triple-A Norfolk
affiliate. [11/2]

Acquired RHP Scott Downs from the Chicago Cubs as the PTBNL
in the Mike Morgan trade. [11/3]


The deadwood is slowing flaking away from this team. Nixon
and Steinbach are about the two players this team needs least;
local boy Steinbach was a disappointment coming off his 35 HR
season in Oakland in 1996, but he’s certainly still a useful
player and may be resigned for a lower price. Every time I
think Nixon’s down, he experiences something of a rebound.
He was OK this year, and didn’t show any signs of slowing down,
so he’ll be useful to someone, but the Twins certainly don’t
need him.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Resigned manager Felipe Alou to a three-year contract. [10/11]


Alou resigns with the Expos, so apparently he’s decided he
can put up with developing players and then seeing them
bolt once they achieve free agency.


NEW YORK METS

Resigned catcher Mike Piazza to a seven-year $91M
contact. [10/26]

Resigned LHP Al Leiter to a four-year $32M
contract. [10/28]

Announced general manager Steve Phillips is taking
a leave of absence, and named Frank Cashen interim
general manager. [11/8]


Big moves in the Big Apple. Piazza becomes the highest
paid player in baseball, and elicits all kinds of weird
quotes from Mets owner Fred Wilpon in the process
("The guy’s a handsome guy", “He’s an extremely
attractive man."). Piazza is unquestionably one of
the top three players in baseball, and was excellent down
the stretch for the Mets. Whether it was a good idea to
sign him for seven years is an open question, but it’s
also kind of irrelevant, since he was going to get that
deal somewhere. Hopefully his knees hold up for most of
the deal; obviously, he’s much less useful at first base.
A year after being the toast of New York, Todd Hundley is
on his way out of town.


Al Leiter had a great year in New York, and was a nice
signing. Meanwhile, the Steve Phillips brouhaha is just
another situation in which it probably would have been
smart to keep grabass out of the workplace. The Mets
want to have the situation resolved one way or another
by spring training, so Cashen might be the guy by then.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Exercised their option on catcher Joe Girardi for
1999. [10/31]

Resigned third baseman/playoff hero Scott Brosius
to a three-year $17.5M contract. [11/6]


What’s with this fascination with Joey G.? First you trade
for the guy, and then you give him too large of a contract,
and then you pick up his option after a year in which the
younger, cheaper, vastly more talented Jorge Posada outperformed
him in every way. Must be a New York thing. Needless to
say, if Girardi gets any appreciable playing time next
year, the front office isn’t doing its job–and if he
doesn’t, the front office still isn’t doing its job,
since they’re paying him starting catcher salary.


That Brosius deal looks pretty wacky, but if Palmer’s
worth $35M… Mike Lowell is going to have to find somewhere
else to play. He’s a good prospect, and if the Yanks get
something useful for him they may be ahead in the game for
this signing.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Resigned manager Art Howe to a one-year contract with
a club option for 2000. [10/7]

Extended the contract of general manager Billy Beane
through 2002. [11/3]


Beane gets an early reward for the Athletics having one
of the most exciting young teams in baseball. Now that he’s
obligated to trade Kenny Rogers, he needs to find some
pitching somewhere to compliment all the young bats.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Resigned infielder Alex Arias to a two-year
contract. [10/19]

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the
contract of RHP Mark Portugal. Excercised their
option on RHP Mark Leiter for 1999. [10/26]

Resigned outfielder Doug Glanville to a three-year
$5.57M contract. [10/28]

Signed LHP Billy Brewer, RHP Joel Bennett,
Steve Schrenk, Steve Montgomery, Chad
Williams
, catcher Alberto Castillo, infielder
Torey Louvillo, and outfielder Lou Frazier to
minor league contracts. Announced the retirement of
outfielder Lenny Dykstra. [11/5]

Traded RHP Mark Leiter to the Seattle Mariners
for LHP Paul Spoljaric. [11/9]


A busy month for the Phillies. They "locked up"
their leadoff hitting centerfielder by resigning Glanville,
another player whose press is far more impressive than anything
he does on the field. He’s a far cry from the glory days of
"Nails" Dykstra, who finally decided to officially
retire, now that he’s sucked all the money he can out of his
last contract.


Trading Leiter for Spoljaric was a nice deal. Spoljaric is
a useful lefty who should prosper now that he’s out of the
clutches of Lou Piniella, and turning someone who was as
ineffective as Mark Leiter was through most of
his innings with the team into anything is a huge win.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Exercised their option on catcher-first baseman Jim Leyritz for
1999. [10/28]

Traded outfielder Kevin Burford to the Colorado Rockies
as the PTBNL in the John VanderWal trade. Resigned first baseman
Wally Joyner to a two-year $6.7M contract
with option for 2001. [10/29]


Joyner "taking a pay cut" to resign with the Padres
was a no-brainer, seeing as how the market for 36 year old
slap hitting first basemen isn’t exactly hopping. He’s hit
well his last two seasons after slumping through his years
in Kansas City, and if the Padres would platoon him with
someone who can hit lefties they’d be set at first base.


That platoon partner should probably be The King himself.
Leyritz will be back in 1999, and he’ll again see time at
first and behind the plate, as well as being the club’s
top pinch hitter.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on
the contract of pitcher Orel Hershiser. Exercised
their options on RHP Julian Tavarez and third
baseman Charlie Hayes for 1999. [10/21]

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on
the contract of pitcher Osvaldo Fernandez. Excercised
their option on first baseman J.T. Snow for 1999. [10/26]

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on
the contract of shortstop Rey Sanchez. [11/3]

Resigned "ace" RHP Mark Gardner to a
two-year $5M contract. [11/9]

Traded outfielder Dante Powell to the Arizona
Diamondbacks for LHP Alan Embree. [11/10]


The Giants chose to let the ancient Orel Hershiser walk,
though they might try to resign him at a lower price.
Meanwhile, it must hurt to be calling a pitcher like Mark
Gardner your ace, but he was given a new deal and might be
the opening day starter in 1999, depending on what the Giants
do from now on. J.T. Snow
gets the nod despite his terrible season, so he’ll be back
at first base. Sanchez is gone, and that’s a pretty good
idea–he hit way over his head most of the season, and Rich
Aurilia is ready for the job full-time.


Embree should compliment fellow lefty Rich Rodriguez nicely
in the Giant pen and give Dusty more arms to work with,
while Powell wasn’t the answer the Giants needed in center.
This was an uncharacteristically nice move by the Brain Sabean.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Traded LHP Paul Spoljaric to the Philadelphia
Phillies for RHP Mark Leiter. [11/9]


Ugh. What’s worse is that Seattle is planning on starting
Leiter next year. Now, I can see Piniella’s perspective on
this, seeing as he can’t deal with players under 30, but
if a rotation with Leiter, Jamie Moyer, and Jeff Fassero in
it isn’t a ticking time bomb, I don’t know what is. Like the
rest of the Seattle pen, Spoljaric wilted this season, but
he’s young, not too expensive, and left handed, which are
all qualities that Mark Leiter lacks. Did anyone check and
see if Don Robinson was available before this trade was made?


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Exercised their option on third baseman Wade Boggs for
1999 and extended the option through 2000. [10/30]


Boggs can’t hit anymore, but Bobby Smith probably isn’t
ready to take the third base job outright, the fans
reportedly love Boggs, and it’s not like the Devil Rays are
going anywhere anyway, so this isn’t bad as far as your
what-the-heck moves go.


TEXAS RANGERS

Signed outfielder Milt Cuyler to a minor-league
contract. [10/23]

Exercised their option on outfielder Juan Gonzalez
for 1999. [10/27]

Extended the contracts of manager Johnny Oates and
general manager Doug Melvin through 2001. [11/6]


Word is the Rangers are about to spend some serious
money this offseason, and both Oates and Melvin got a
long-term vote of confidence from the team with their
extensions. Melvin did an excellent job picking up
players near the deadline for the Rangers; hopefully,
he works the offseason market as deftly.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the
contract of catcher Benito Santiago. Excercised their
option on infielder Tony Fernandez for 1999. [10/22]

Resigned infielder Craig Grebeck to a two-year
contract. [10/27]

Named Dave Stewart assistant general manager. [11/3]


So Stewart goes from assistant GM at San Diego to
pitching coach with the Padres to assistant GM with
Toronto. Huh. I guess the Padres didn’t want to let
him have his old job back.


Grebeck is several years removed from the player who
should have had Ozzie Guillen’s job in Chicago. Now
he’s a punchless but reliable infielder (which could also
be used to describe Alex Gonzalez). Tony Fernandez got the
bulk of the playing time at second this year, and
responded with an excellent season. He’s a worthy
gamble for 1999.