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ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Signed 2B/SS Danny Klassen and RHP Clint Sodowsky to one-year
contracts. [2/15]

Signed pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim. [2/19]

Anyone else having trouble keeping track of which Kim is which?


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Agreed to terms with 2B Ray Durham on a four-year contract, avoiding
salary arbitration. [2/15]

On a personal level, I’m glad the Sox and Durham worked this out
before going into arbitration. Durham is the league’s best second
baseman right now, and what he does over the next three years will
mean everything to the Sox in terms of their successfully unseating
the Indians in 2000 or beyond.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Signed RHP Jamey Wright and SS Neifi Perez to one-year contracts.
[2/19]


FLORIDA MARLINS

Signed LHP Armando Almanza, RHP Joe Fontenot,
1B Nate Rolison, and C Guillermo Garcia to one-year contracts.
[2/17]

Nothing to note here, although Garcia has a chance of winning a
platoon role with Jorge Fabregas behind the plate, and Almanza (part
of the booty from the Renteria deal with the Cardinals) should be
able to win a job in the Fish Pen.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Signed RHPs Tony McKnight, Brian Powell and Brian Sikorski, LHP Derek
Root
, SS Julio Lugo, 3Bs Chris Truby and Carlos Villalobos, and OF
Glen Barker to one-year contracts. [2/19]

With the sole possible exception of Sikorski, nobody here has a real
shot at cracking the roster for Opening Day without a number of golf
cart accidents. Sikorski’s shot at the rotation is heavily
dependent on Holt and Elarton both struggling, so even he’s a
longshot at best.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Signed RHP Jeff Austin, their 1998 first-round pick in the June
draft. [2/17]

The last first-rounder signs. One of Herk Robinson’s last official
acts?


MINNESOTA TWINS

Signed OF Bobby Kielty to a minor-league contract. [2/18]


NEW YORK METS

Signed RHP Armando Benitez to a one-year contract. [2/16]

Just a random thought: much has been made of the number of relievers
the Mets have picked up. But is this a case of too much of a good
thing? I’m not in a position to guess whether or not Bobby
Valentine burns out his relievers by warming them up in the pen early
and often, but with several alternatives to choose from, while he may
not have to overwork Turk Wendell again, he may not be able to spread
the work around. In terms of an under-studied subject, how well
managers get their relievers ready, and the pattern of the workload,
may be something beyond the realm of quantifying, and yet it’s
probably one of the most important elements of a manager’s job. We
all have anecdotes; I can tell you I believe Riggleman is really bad
at this, and that Terry Bevington was really bad at it. I can tell
you that I have my doubts about Dusty Baker. But we’d have to start
counting who gets up and when, and whether or not they get used, and
whether or not they’re just working out or really warming up.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Acquired RHP Roger Clemens for LHPs David Wells and
Graeme Lloyd, and 2B Homer Bush. [2/18]

Perhaps the time has come to shed tears for the state of the game,
because something involving the Yankees is making a mockery of the
concept of competitive balance. However, that something isn’t the
financial disparities between different organizations. It’s the
disparity between the good and the incompetent in major league front
offices. Brian Cashman isn’t just smarter than many of his peers,
he may as well be from the distant future, and competing against
trained apes. The Yankees have added Roger Clemens without
surrendering a single player who will have anything approaching equal
value during or beyond the life of the Rocket’s current contract.

The really interesting element to this, in my opinion, is that if
Cashman can rob his peers so easily, and thus upset competitive
balance in a way not seen since George Weiss built the Stengel
Yankees dynasty, that may end up doing more to create a consensus
among owners for revenue sharing than any studies, panels, or common
sense may dictate.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Signed 1B John Jaha to a minor-league contract with a NRI to spring
training. [2/17]

Signed RHPs Brad Rigby and Jay Witasick, LHP
Juan Perez, Cs Danny Ardoin and Ramon Hernandez,
SS Jorge Velandia, and OF Mario Encarnacion to one-year
contracts. [2/19]

I’m not a big fan of bringing in Jaha, but the A’s are heavily
left-handed, and he’ll get every opportunity to win the
right-handed DH job. The misfortune is that there’s more Kevin
Mitchell in this signing than Matt Stairs. Jaha basically can’t
pass a physical, and some folks are joking that he hurts himself in
workouts. They’ll have to be really stubborn and ignore all of that
to make room for him.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Signed UT Shawon Dunston and 1B/3B Eduardo Perez to one-year
contracts; invited C Erik Pappas to come out of retirement for spring
training. [2/16]

Ugh. What’s the point of bringing in either Dunston or Perez? Do
the Cardinals really believe they’re helping themselves with a
major league bench that will have Willie McGee and Dunston and David
Howard? It’s bad enough that they’ve saddled themselves with
Carlos Baerga’s dessicated remnants. With a supporting crew this
moldy, you can rest assured that even more than necessary, the
Cardinals will rise or fall on the strength of two things: what the
McGwire-Lankford-Drew combo does at the plate, and whether or not
LaRussa handles his staff better than he has in the past two seasons.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Signed C Julio Mosquera to a one-year contract. [2/17]

Signed RHP Ben McDonald to a minor-league contract. [2/18]

Signed DH Julio Franco to a minor-league contract. [2/19]

Ben McDonald? Julio Franco? Where’s Dave Kingman? This is the
Senior’s League, isn’t it?


TEXAS RANGERS

Signed LHP Matt Perisho and 3B Rob Sasser to one-year contracts.
[2/18]


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Announced the retirement of RHP Dave Stieb; signed RHP
Eric Ludwick and SS Tomas Perez to one-year contracts. [2/17]

Traded RHP Roger Clemens to the Yankees for LHPs
David Wells and Graeme Lloyd, and 2B Homer Bush. [2/18]

Gord Ash is a turnip. A beefy turnip, perhaps, but a turnip
nevertheless. Any GM who would take the best right-handed starter in
the history of the game (and arguably in the league right now), and
turns him into the major’s lone gout sufferer, a dime-a-dozen lefty
reliever, and a second baseman who isn’t significantly better than
(and who never will be better than) either Joey Cora or Craig
Grebeck, needs to be put out to pasture.

When I initially heard the news of the trade, I heard "Clemens for
Wells and two players." My first thought was, okay, the Jays
haven’t significantly altered competitive balance in the AL,
they’re still in the running for the wild card, and they just added
two prospects to help them two or three years down the line when the
Yankees are collapsing under their own high-salaried weight. Then I
heard who the two players were. In short, Gord Ash has done something
really remarkable: he hurt the Jays’ chances to compete this year,
while doing nothing to help them win two years from now, or five
years from now, or ever. Deals like this, that aren’t salary dumps
and where a team just gets entirely ripped off, don’t come along
very often. If I were Ash, I’d start blaming the Belgian brewers,
claiming his "hands were tied," or creating some kind of cover
story, because if he’s happy with this deal, he has no business
holding a job in professional baseball.

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