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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Exercised the option on RHP Ken Hill, who declined and is now a free agent.
[11/7]


The Angels are supposed to be livid about this, because they claim they would
not have traded Matt Perisho to the Rangers had they known this was going to
happen. Since the Perisho-Mike Bell deal wasn’t a good move in the first place,
that’s a pretty lame plea to cop. Nevertheless, the bridge isn’t burnt, and the
Angels may re-sign him.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Acquired RHP Felix Rodriguez from Cincinnati for a PTBNL. [11/11]


Rodriguez is a converted catcher with the cachet of once being mentioned on the
Dodgers’ top ten prospect lists. While the Reds used him in relief, he has
started in the past. He’s still mastering pitching, but he’s extremely hard to
beat when he isn’t killing himself with his wildness.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Named Ray Miller manager. [11/11]


Miller’s acumen as a pitching coach is highly regarded, but there’s a very real
question about how well he’ll design a roster: he is, after all, the man who
gave us Steve Lombardozzi. However, he did not lose hitting coach Rick Down,
the loser in the choice for who would replace Davey Johnson, and Down’s input
may steer him through those kinds of decisions. Nevertheless, Davey Johnson may
not have bailed out too soon: the Orioles are an old team with a weak farm
system, and a disappointment in ’98 already seemed likely.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Acquired LHP Doug Creek from San Francisco for cash. [11/7]


Creek is the last part of the bounty from the “white flag” trade of July 31,
contingent on the Giants making the playoffs. Pitching as a starter in the PCL,
Creek whiffed 137 men in 129.2 innings while giving up 140 hits and 66 walks.
He was, in turn, one of the players traded to the Giants from the Cardinals for
Royce Clayton. In terms of his competition among Sox LH starters, he’s unlikely
to press pass Mike Sirotka or Scott Eyre, is probably even with Tom Fordham if
Fordham has continuing problems with tendinitis, and is well ahead of Mike
Bertotti. If he’s still a Sock after the expansion and Rule V drafts, he’ll
make a dandy starter for Calgary.


CINCINNATI REDS

Traded RHP Jeff Brantley to the Cardinals for 1B Dmitri Young. [11/10]

Traded RHP Donne Wall and C Paul Bako to Detroit for OF Mel Nieves; traded RHP
Felix Rodriguez to Arizona and CF Mike Kelly to Tampa Bay for PsTBNL. [11/11]


Taking a credo of “do more with less” to heart, Jim Bowden has made an
outstanding group of pickups, without even knowing ahead of time what he’s
gotten from the expansion teams in exchange for party favors. That he managed
to turn a waiver-wire pitcher and a fourth catcher into a corner OF with pop
was outstanding, while the salary dump of Brantley yielded a potential All-Star
in Young, while not damaging a Reds pen already fortified by Shaw, Sullivan,
and Belinda.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Exercised their option on RHP Chuck Nagy for 1998. [11/7]

Signed LHP Paul Assenmacher to a two-year contract. [11/12]


John Hart seems to have basically told Assenmacher that they’d make it worth
his while to wait after refusing to pick up their initial option for ’98. Now
he doesn’t have to be protected, because he’s exempt from the draft.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Announced that SS Walt Weiss has declined to exercise his option for ’98,
making him a free agent. [11/10]


Weiss has already come out and said that he’ll most likely come back to Rox to
play second, but he was interested in what offers could come his way through
free agency.


DETROIT TIGERS

Acquired C Paul Bako and RHP Donne Wall from Cincinnati for OF Mel Nieves.
[11/11]


I can understand losing patience with Nieves: undisciplined swinger, and
frequently accused of bad defensive work. But Bako and a guy you could have
claimed off of waivers yourself a month ago? And I like Donne Wall, as much as
somebody should…


FLORIDA MARLINS

Traded OF Moises Alou to Houston for RHPs Oscar Henriquez and Manuel Barrios
and a PTBNL. [11/11]


A brilliant salary dump by the Marlins, while acquiring two pitchers who will
make it that much easier for them to turn around and trade Robb Nen. Henriquez
is still probably a long-term risk, because myasthenia gravis doesn’t
disappear, and the medication is supposed to be debilitating after extensive
use, but his fastball is one of the best in the game, both in terms of velocity
and movement. Barrios is simply a very good reliever.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Acquired OF Moises Alou from Florida for RHPs Oscar Henriquez and Manuel
Barrios
and a PTBNL. [11/11]


If the Astros get stuck with Alou for the life of his deal (through 2001),
they’ll regret it. Although the team still wants to move Derek Bell, if they
don’t, they’ll have to stick with Alou in left and Bell in right for the next
two years. At that point, their ’97 first rounder, Lance Berkman, should be
ready to take over left. That still leaves them with Alou, but the Astros’
entire system is thin on outfielders, so they may have to play him beyond ’99.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Traded LHP Kenny Rogers to Oakland for a PTBNL. [11/7]

Traded 3B Charlie Hayes and cash to San Francisco to for OF Chris Singleton and
LHP Alberto Castillo. [11/11]


The Yankees are doing a fine job of removing potential targets of the expansion
draft off of their roster, although to be fair, the Rogers trade buys them a
protection spot (for Mike Lowell if you’re positive, or Hideki Irabu if you’re
cranky). Losing Charlie Hayes will hurt them even less than it did the first
time, but that’s just because Hayes is the ultimate replaceable commodity: no
team has ever lost him and suffered for it.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Acquired LHP Kenny Rogers from the Yankees for a PTBNL. [11/7]

Signed 1B/3B Dave Magadan to a one-year contract. [11/12]


It may say something about my shell-shocked state as an A’s fan that I’m very
happy that the team has picked up the Gamblin’ Man for Scott Brosius (the
PTBNL), because the potential up-side is that Rogers will be Ed Whitson II,
thriving far from an explosive owner or a hostile manager. The downside is that
the deal consumes two protection slots on the roster for the purposes of the
expansion draft, and for a team with a farm system as bountiful as theirs, that
could hurt. The A’s like the idea of having Magadan around as the established
clubhouse pro, and there are worse alternatives to have as a spot starter at
either infield corner or for pinch-hitting duty.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Signed RHP Francisco Cordova to a three-year contract with a club option for
2001. [11/7]


After bad ideas like the Fernando Vina multi-year contract, its good to see
that the quintessential “small market” team is signing the right type of player
to the multi-year deal. When the time comes to exercise the option, Cordova
will have never had to go through arbitration, and will be about to turn 29. If
he’s still healthy then, the Pirates can pat themselves on the back for reaping
the reward of a intelligent and justifiable expense.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Traded 1B Dmitri Young to Cincinnati for RHP Jeff Brantley. [11/10]


If it weren’t for all of the pitching they have in the system, comparisons to
the A’s after ’92 might be appropriate. Jeff Brantley is damaged goods, and any
kind of move made to acquire “closer mystique” is usually a bad expense, but to
top it off, the Cardinals have no one to adequately fill in for any one of the
injury-prone McGwire, Jordan, or Gant. As things stood, they were already an
old team, but if one of their vets go down, they can now look forward to what?
Scarborough nee Bert Green? Kerry Robinson?


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Signed OFs Derrek Lee and Charlie Poe, C Creighton Gubanich, RHPs Carlos Reyes,
Mike Rossiter, Archie Corbin, Bryan Wolff, Kevin Lomon, and Scott Davison.
[11/7]

Signed C Carlos Hernandez to a one-year contract. [11/12]


A good crop of minor league free agent signings, which seems to be Kevin
Towers’ modus operandi. Gubanich should probably be the Pads’ starting catcher
right now, with Hernandez as his caddy. You probably remember Charlie Poe as
the man Michael Jordan forced to stay in A-ball for another year while he sold
tickets in Birmingham.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Acquired 3B Charlie Hayes from the Yankees for LHP Alberto Castillo and OF
Chris Singleton. [11/11]


O woe. Hayes has long passed into that fuzzy area of near uselessness (for his
salary), and Brian Sabean is ecstatic about the possibility of having an
underpowered and dubious defender share time at the hot corner with Bill
Mueller. Take heed: the hangover of the Giants’ ’97 season will be long and
grisly, sort of like waking up with Dennis Rodman or Sally Kellerman. Or both.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Named Larry Rothschild manager. [11/7]

Acquired CF Mike Kelly from Cincinnati for a PTBNL. [11/11]


Selecting Rothschild is another example of the increasing importance
organizations place on a manager’s ability to handle pitching, although most
people are giving Rothschild plenty of credit for his knowledge of how offenses
work. We’ll have to wait and see. Chuck LaMar probably couldn’t resist the
opportunity to grab someone he’d helped to develop in the Braves’ organization,
and Kelly has his strengths… as a fourth or fifth OF that can pound a lefty,
pinch-run, or play the field.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed RHP Luis Andujar to a minor league contract, and invited him to spring
training. [11/11]


The Jays took Andujar off of the 40-man roster after the season. He’s been hurt
three of the last four years, so his star has fallen pretty far from his banner
year in Birmingham in ’95.

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