Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP John Wasdin, avoiding
arbitration; extended the player development contracts of Pawtucket
(Triple-A) and Lowell (A) through 2002. [2/11]

Wasdin seems to have got caught up in the rush to avoid salary
arbitration after the owners’ early winning streak. He’ll
continue in the role the Sox need him for – spot starter and long
relief. With the rotation saddled with injury-prone starters like
Portugal and Saberhagen, and pitchers of dubious value like Portugal
and Rapp, Wasdin will almost certainly get a few starts.


Signed C/UT Danny Sheaffer to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI. [2/9]

Great, the Cubs now have two catchers who can boot the ball around at
third if asked. They could even platoon Sheaffer and Tyler Houston in
a Jamie Quirk, "don’t do much well, but do it all over" unique
sort of role. Sandy Martinez may have reason to be afraid for his
major league future.


Traded RHP John Ambrose to the Cardinals for RHP Sean Lowe. [2/9]

A steal for the Sox, in that Lowe may actually have some value at the
major league level as a middle reliever, while Ambrose has none.


Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with OF Michael Tucker,
avoiding arbitration. [2/9]

Now that Greg Vaughn’s aboard, Tucker may get asked to do things
that aren’t in his long-term interest: play a good amount of center
field if Mike Cameron doesn’t get straightened out, or sit on the
bench if the Reds prefer playing Dmitri Young or Jeffrey Hammonds in
right. Don’t be surprised if the Reds work out a trade by the end
of spring training. Any team that’s listening to the Pirates offer
Al Martin around could do themselves a better turn by asking after


Signed RHP Mike DeJean to a three-year contract. [2/9]

There’s a sort of "same old, same old" quality to mentioning
that if there’s something the Rox have done well so far, it’s
finding, developing, and using quality relievers. Whether or not that
changes under Leyland remains to be seen.


Agreed to terms with SS Ricky Gutierrez on a one-year contract,
avoiding arbitration. [2/9]

We tend to sing the Astros’ praises early and often in these parts,
so I’ll point out that Gutierrez ought to be the sort of player you
don’t offer arbitration to, assuming you want to take league-wide
poor-mouthing seriously (my advice: don’t). He isn’t a brilliant
defensive player, and there are a healthy number of people with
better offensive skills stranded in other organizations, Triple-A
rosters, or even New Orleans if you’re Russ Johnson. For all
intents and purposes, he’s just holding the job for the next year
or two pending the arrival of Julio Lugo, and in the meantime,
Gutierrez won’t be either a major asset or a problem.


Hired Paul Molitor as a color man for games on the Midwest Sports
Channel. [2/11]

Nothing against Molitor, but I’m not a big fan of the continuing
expansion of the jockocracy in the booth. It isn’t like Molly is
going to come clean and say "Ron Coomer probably shouldn’t play
every day" or "It’s a good thing we got Otis Nixon out of


Signed RHP Jose Bautista to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI; invited RHP Christian Parker, LHP Matt Blank and INF
Geoff Blum to spring training. [2/12]

Blank is the closest thing to a prospect on this list, having led the
Expos’ minors in wins (and, unfortunately, IP), but he’s a lefty
soft-tosser. Bautista is a great candidate to resurrect his career
with the benefit of working with Felipe Alou. Parker got knocked
around at Harrisburg more than his ERA indicates (17 unearned runs),
so I don’t expect much from him. Blum is… an organizational
soldier, and possibly better than Mike Mordecai.


Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP Turk Wendell,
avoiding arbitration. [2/10]

I’ve always had a soft spot in my head/heart for Turk; the only
thing I have to note here is that I’d watch really closely to see
that Bobby Valentine doesn’t keep using him every day entering this
year as he did finishing last year. Between what Valentine did to
Turk in September, and with Jim Riggleman yakking away about how he
thinks Terry Mulholland could pitch every day if asked, I’m
beginning to wonder if some managers have learned anything over the
course of their careers regarding pitchers, arms, and injuries.


Named J.P. Ricciardi director of player personnel; promoted Dave
to assistant GM. [2/10]


Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with PH Kevin Jordan, avoiding
arbitration. [2/8]

The man who should have had Mark Lewis’ job last year gets a nifty
little reward and potentially a shot at some platoon work at second
with Marlon Anderson.


Traded RHP Sean Lowe to the White Sox for RHP John Ambrose. [2/9]

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with SS Edgar Renteria,
avoiding arbitration. [2/12]

Ambrose probably fulfills LaRussa’s tall-tosser goofball Mark Acre
fetish, since the original article is in Japan. Who doesn’t need a
power forward for those off-field pickup basketball games? Cutting to
the point: the Cardinals pick up a non-prospect for no obviously good


Gave Singer Garth Brooks a NRI to spring training. [2/12]

Wasting time on a celebrity roster spot? Wow, we haven’t seen this
since Michael Jordan (okay, maybe Joe Carter). A classic move in the
great tradition of the franchise that gave us Roseanne Barr singing
the national anthem. Coming up next: letting the San Diego Chicken


Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with DH Butch Huskey, avoiding
arbitration. [2/11]

Another signing in the wake of the owner’s arbitration victories.
Now that Jay Buhner is making noises about trying to play left before
he heals up, Huskey will move to right, and probably fight for
playing time with John Mabry. Both of them are even worse at third
than Russ Davis, but I think it’s safe to guess that Piniella will
let them both kick around a few balls there as part of his program to
demonize Davis.


Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with OF Quinton McCracken,
avoiding arbitration. [2/8]

QMcC is part of a team-wide offensive problem, not the solution.
What’s more interesting is what the whole episode of negotiations
leading up to this signing says about Devil Rays’ management.
McCracken’s agent stated he was more than happy to meet the Rays
halfway between the two arbitration offers, and the Rays spent a few
weeks stonewalling and sabre-rattling before agreeing to exactly
those terms. I don’t know what boardroom warrior ethic motivated
them to snub McCracken first before giving in, but I don’t see this
as a good example of a new and improved sensibility in
player-management relations.


Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP Aaron Sele, avoiding
arbitration. [2/8]


Signed DH Cecil Fielder to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI. [2/8]

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with 1B Carlos Delgado,
avoiding arbitration; released OF Patrick Lennon. [2/12]

My first instinct about any signing involving Cecil-san is to be
really savage, since baseball’s latter-day Tub of Goo is a waste of
a roster spot. On the good side, neither the money or a roster spot
is guaranteed. Unfortunately, we’re talking about the organization
that wasted a few years’ worth of roster time on Juan Samuel, and
Fielder would give the team yet another excuse to avoid keeping Tom
Evans around (as if his injury travails weren’t already enough of a
problem), which would let Willie Greene concentrate on playing third
while Fielder chews up outs in the DH slot.

As for Pat Lennon, I guess I’m tuckered out on writing "Poor Pat
Lennon" bits in this space. Once upon a time, the man earned the
opportunity to play, and never got it as teams wasted service and
playing time on the Fielders or Samuels or Ruben Sierras of the
world. There are few better demonstrations that getting a shot at the
majors isn’t just about merit.

Thank you for reading

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