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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Traded third baseman Rob Sasser to the Texas Rangers to complete an
earlier trade; traded pitcher Matt Perisho to the Texas Rangers for
third baseman Mike Bell. [11/4]


I don’t see any reason the Angels should think they can just give away
starting pitchers. Getting Mike Bell – who is not a prospect by any
definition – in return for Perisho is inexcusable.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Announced the resignation of manager Davey Johnson. [11/5]


Johnson didn’t get his second World Series ring, but he did win the AL
Manager of the Year award and make himself quite the martyr in the
process. Meanwhile, the Steinbrennerization of the Orioles continues
unabated. O’s fans won’t complain while the team wins, but that will
change when this club shows its age.

Acquired pitcher Everett Stull from the Montreal Expos to complete an
earlier trade involving pitcher Mike Johnson. [10/31]


Stull’s a very hard thrower with absolutely no control who’s been
looking for 3 years in AA and AAA. At this point, Marilyn Manson is more
likely to find religion than Stull is to find the strike zone.

Announced they will not exercise the contract option on pitcher Shawn
Boskie
for the 1998 season, making him a free agent. [10/27]


I suppose they could have kept him around to throw batting practice, but
they realized even Ray Miller has better stuff. Looks like Boskie’s 1995
pronouncement that he was going to win a Cy Young award isn’t going to
come true, after all.


BOSTON RED SOX

Agreed to terms with pitcher Tom Gordon on a two-year, $8MM contract
with a $4.5MM club option for 2001. [11/6]


A large investment for the closer-of-the-future who is rather unproven
in that role. This probably means that a flop in the closer’s role for
Gordon means a return to the rotation, because he’d be one expensive
setup man.

Traded pitchers Aaron Sele and Mark Brandenburg and catcher Bill
Haselman
to the Texas Rangers for catcher Jim Leyritz and outfielder
Damon Buford. [11/6]


Horrible. As someone who has generally defended the Duke for his prior
moves, I have to say that I don’t see any logic in this trade. Leyritz
is not much better than a healthy Haselman, which means that Duquette
just traded a serviceable starter with a great curve (Sele) and a solid
right-handed short reliever (Brandenburg) for a 5th outfielder (Buford).
Rumor has it that John Valentin is next on the block, and that Troy
O’Leary is on the verge of signing a 3-year deal.

Re-signed pitcher Tim Wakefield to a three-year, $12MM contract with an
option for 2001. [11/5]


$12MM over three years is a lot of money for a pitcher who is barely
league average. Wakefield has his value; he eats innings like the Cookie
Monster eats … well, cookies. But the money would have been better
spent elsewhere.

Signed pitcher Brian Shouse. [10/28]


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Exercised the 1998 contract option on third baseman Robin Ventura;
declined to exercise 1998 contract options on shortstop Ozzie Guillen
and catcher Ron Karkovice. [10/31]


Even if they decide not to keep Ventura, he at least has significant
trade value. Guillen and Karko have none, and I wouldn’t be surprised if
neither receives a major-league contract offer. Guillen has some sort of
gentleman’s agreement with the Sox that they’ll take him back – in what
capacity, I don’t know – if he doesn’t find anything on the open market.
That would mark a good occasion for Schueler to learn how to weasel out
of something; after all, weaseling out of things is what separates us
humans from the animals. Except the weasel.

Moved their Triple-A affiliate to Calgary of the Pacific Coast League.
[10/30]


This isn’t the type of move we usually cover here, but this one is
important for two reasons. First, it puts the White Sox’ pitching
prospects in the Pacific Coast League, which has retarded the
development of many pitchers in the past because it is so
hitter-oriented. Second, it means that White Sox prospects won’t be able
to make it to Chicago on short notice, so the Sox will play some games
short-handed while they wait for help to arrive from the nether regions
of Alberta.


CINCINNATI REDS

Announced that outfielder Deion Sanders has rejected the $2.5 million
option on his contract for the 1998 season. [11/5]


John Bowden doesn’t see it this way, but Sanders’ departure makes the
Reds a much better team, while hopefully freeing up space for Willie
Greene somewhere on the diamond.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed pitcher Brian Anderson to a one-year contract with a club option
for 1999; declined to exercise the option on pitcher Jack McDowell.
[11/4]


Simply limiting the damage from arbitration, and acknowledging that the
McDowell signing was, to use the technical jargon, “dumb.”


COLORADO ROCKIES

Extended the contract of manager Don Baylor through the 1999 season.
[11/4]


Steven Carter will be pleased, as Baylor’s continuing employment ensures
a steady supply of comments betraying Baylor’s lack of understanding of
basic physics.


DETROIT TIGERS

Re-signed second baseman Damion Easley to a three-year, $9MM contract.
[10/31]


Generally, you never want to sign a player right after he has a career
year; unless he gets better – unlikely for a player who’s already 28 and
never had a season even close to his career year before – you’re paying
him for a level of production he won’t achieve again. Easley had 17 homers with a slugging percentage of .340 in 1166 AB before 1997, and hit 22 homers with a .471 SLG this year… but Randy Smith would choose to
believe that this year is the correct indicator of Easley’s talent and
ignore all the prior evidence. Do that in business, and you get fired;
do it in baseball, and people tout you as the Executive of the Year.
Incidentally, this probably means Frank Catalanotto will be exposed in
the expansion draft, and that Richard Almanzar isn’t expected to be
ready in the next two seasons.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Declined to pick up the 1998 contract options on first basemen Darren
Daulton
and Jeff Conine. [10/31]


Dutch called it a career now that he has his ring. As for Conine, he’s a
lot older than most people think (32 next year) and coming off a
dreadful season at the plate. With all the young players fighting for
space in Wayne’s World, he’s an extravagance they can’t and shouldn’t
afford.

Reinstated pitcher Matt Mantei from the 60-day emergency disabled list.
[10/29]


HOUSTON ASTROS

Declined to pick up the contract option on outfielder Thomas Howard,
making him a free agent. [10/28]


Guys like Howard are a dime a dozen, or $0.0083 apiece. His contract
option apparently called for more than that.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Exercised the contract option for 1998 on pitcher Jeff Montgomery.
[10/29]


With Bluma still a question mark and erstwhile closer Hipolito Pichardo
a free agent, keeping Monty was the logical choice. He pitched extremely
well down the stretch this year once his arm strength returned.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Reached a one-year contract agreement with first baseman John Jaha.
[11/5]


Now that they’re in the NL, the Brewers have Jaha, Nilsson, Newfield,
and Burnitz for the 1b/lf/rf spots. Newfield’s clearly the odd man out.

Reinstated pitchers Ben McDonald and Steve Woodard, infielder John Jaha
and outfielder Marc Newfield from the 60-day disabled list and placed
them on the 40-man roster. [10/30]


NEW YORK YANKEES

Declined to pick up the 1998 contract option of second baseman Pat
Kelly
. [11/2]

Announced they will not pick up the 1998 contract options on third
baseman Wade Boggs and pitcher Dwight Gooden. [11/1]


No huge surprises here, as they try to clear up cash to pay either
Bernie Williams or to sign an overpaid free-agent centerfielder
(Anderson, Lofton). ne wonders who they’ll get to play third next year.
If it’s still Hayes, who has reportedly worn out his welcome in da
Bronx, the Yanks are DOA. As for Gooden, he’d be a great signging for
someone as a 3rd or 4th starter; his stamina improved markedly over ’96.

Picked up the 1998 option on the contract of outfielder Chad Curtis.
[10/27]


Now that is something worth noting: the Yanks made a move that made
sense. Curtis whacked the hell out of the ball when given playing time,
and with Ricky Ledee coming off a major injury, Paul O’Neill’s health
always a concern, and the DH spot open, he’s got plenty of places to
play.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Exercised the club option for 1998 on the contracts of pitcher Todd
Stottlemyre
and second baseman Delino DeShields; announced that pitcher
Andy Benes has declined his player option; named Dave Parker
hitting/bench coach for 1998. [10/29]


Benes will be one of the most sought-after free agent pitchers this
winter, along with Darryl Kile. Both are talented pitchers who have
struggled with consistency from game-to-game and from season-to-season,
and thus are more risky than the free agent pitchers of prior seasons
(Clemens, Fernandez, etc.) or than the less-discussed Wilson Alvarez.
The Cards are now saddled with salary commitments to McGwire,
Stottlemyre, DeShields, Lankford, Jordan, Gant, Clayton, and Osborne for
1998, and they want to bring Eck back, so there may not be much left in
the till.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Picked up the 1998 option on the contract of pitcher Mark Gardner.
[10/27]


Rescued off the scrap heap, Gardner formed the third cog in the
relatively unheralded trio of starters that pitched the Giants to the
pennant. Picking his option up was a no-brainer, as long as they don’t
start to talk long-term with the 35-year-old.


TEXAS RANGERS

Acquired pitchers Aaron Sele and Mark Brandenburg and catcher Bill
Haselman
from the Boston Red Sox for catcher Jim Leyritz and outfielder
Damon Buford. [11/6]

Acquired infielder Rob Sasser from the Anaheim Angels to complete the
Ken Hill-Jim Leyritz trade from July 29th; acquired pitcher Matt Perisho
from Anaheim for infielder Mike Bell. [11/3]


The Rangers gave up several things they didn’t need in exchange for
about 27% of a pitching staff. Sele and Perisho should round out the
rotation after Burkett, Oliver, and Helling, while Brandenburg will be
another strong short reliever in the Rangers’ pen. Haselman can be
Pudge’s caddy, which is all Leyritz was going to do anyway, while
earning less money.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed pitcher Dane Johnson to a minor-league contract with Syracuse of
the International League (AAA) and invited him to major-league spring
training. [10/29]


There are better arms available, but Toronto just hated losing Johnson
on waivers to Oakland last spring. I guess they sure showed the A’s.

Exercised the contract option for 1998 on pitcher Dan Plesac. [10/28]


If they let Plesac go, they would have ended up with nothing to show for
the deal with Pittsburgh. Plesac’s an adequate lefty setup man to get
the Jays to Escobar.