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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed SS Gary DiSarcina, 2B Justin Baughman, and RHPs Jack McDowell
and Pep Harris on the 15-day DL; placed RHP Mike James on the 60-day DL. [3/24]

Optioned LHPs Jarrod Washburn and Scott Schoeneweis to Edmonton. [3/25]

Acquired INF Andy Sheets and OF Gus Kennedy from the Padres for C Phil
Nevin
and LHP Keith Volkman; announced the retirement of SS Luis
Rivera
. [3/29]

Released RHP Rich DeLucia and 2B Andy Stankiewicz; acquired SS Tomas
Perez
from the Blue Jays for 3B Dave Hollins, and assigned Perez to
Vancouver. [3/30]

I’m pretty impressed by how quickly Bill Bavasi managed to replace Gary DiSarcina in the
wake of the acknowledgment that DiSarcina is out until July or August. Okay, so a bunch
of Hacking Mass
teams just bit the dust. Okay, Andy Sheets isn’t really a major
improvement, but he can play short well enough, and will add some extra sock from the
ninth slot. What impresses me is that teams could know what the Angels’ situation was,
how desperate they could have been, and Bavasi only had to cough up a bad catcher and a
dubious pitcher to get a thoroughly adequate replacement. I’m also impressed that they
didn’t decide to keep Dave Hollins around for the DH/1B/3B mix, since of all of the
alternatives on the team, he was the only one with a clear opportunity to be less useful
than Garret Anderson. Picking up a slick fielder like Tomas Perez, in case Sheets
struggles, again strikes me as a nice little move. Of course, the Angels might not
have had to depend on these sorts of things if they had any adequate shortstops of
their own coming up, but they didn’t give up much to bring them in, so it isn’t a
bad news/bad news situation.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Assigned SS Danny Klassen, INF Edwin Diaz, LHP Troy Brohawn,
RHPs Clint Sodowsky, Ben Ford, Fernando Hernandez and Nelson
Figueroa
, 1B Desi Wilson, and C Marcus Hanel to their minor-league
camp. [3/23]

Released RHP Frank Castillo. [3/27]

Acquired RHP Darren Holmes and cash from the Yankees for RHP Ben Ford
and C Izzy Molina; acquired RHP John Frascatore from the Cardinals for
RHP Clint Sodowsky; placed RHP Aaron Small on waivers; assigned LHP
Brian Shouse to Tucson, and RHP Byung-Hyun Kim to El Paso (AA). [3/30]

Assigned RHPs Bobby Chouinard, Rich Batchelor and Dan Carlson,
and DH Pete Incaviglia to Tucson. [4/1]

Not a bad job of damage-containment here either. Darren Holmes may end up closing
games for the D-backs now that it looks like Gregg Olson could head back to the
pumpkin patch, and Frascatore is handy as a middle reliever. The really good news
is that the organization didn’t take the battle between Danny Klassen and Tony
Batista at short nearly as seriously as some would have you believe. Bautista is a
great bet to build on a ’98 season where he surprised some people with his power
in a bandbox. Is it just me, or does Frank Castillo’s agent need a horsewhipping,
both for his presumption of his clients’ skills (which irked several teams over the
winter), and for putting Frank in Arizona, where he had only a slightly better
chance than a rag-arm like Huckabay of cracking the rotation?


ATLANTA BRAVES

Optioned LHP Bruce Chen to Richmond. [3/29]

Acquired 1B Mike Glavine from the Indians for future considerations. [3/30]

Unconditionally released 2B Tony Graffanino and OF Danny Bautista;
accepted CF Tyrone Pendergrass back from the White Sox. [3/31]

Acquired RHP Justin Speier from the Marlins for a PTBNL. [4/1]

So the Braves shock everyone by handing the fifth starter slot to Odalis Perez over
Bruce Chen. The Braves have enough pitching depth that they can afford to let things
like performance in camp dictate who wins a job. All the other teams can do is look
on with envy. This isn’t a situation like the Mets sending down Dotel; the Braves can
legitimately afford to see Chen lose the job, and still be stronger for it. Don’t be
surprised to see Mike Glavine in a major league uniform in September, and don’t be
surprised when it has absolutely nothing to do with how well he hit in the minors.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned LHP Terry Burrows and RHPs Rocky Coppinger and Gabe
Molina
to Rochester. [3/25]

Acquired RHP Jason Johnson from the Devil Rays for OF Danny Clyburn
and a PTBNL. [3/29]

Assigned 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

The question here is whether Jason Johnson gets a crack at the fifth starter slot,
since Scott Kamieniecki is hurt (as always), and because the alternative is Doug
"the Ignitor" Linton. Johnson isn’t really a great prospect, but once upon
a time, Ray Miller had a good reputation as a pitching coach, and maybe he can do
something with Johnson. Linton’s tailor-made for some serious souvenir action in
Camden Yards, so in a season where the Orioles aren’t likely to accomplish much,
doing something with Johnson might be one of the nicest things that can happen.
As for Jerry Hairston Jr., he may not get his chance on this team or until September,
but he will make you forget Jesse Garcia faster than you can say "Chris
Pittaro."


BOSTON RED SOX

Acquired CF Jon Nunnally from the Reds for RHP Pat Flury. [3/25]

Assigned RHP Brad Clontz to their minor-league camp; waived
PH Midre Cummings. [3/30]

Arrrrgh. I hate to see outfielder for whom I harbor hopes wind up with the Red
Sox. As always, Dan Duquette is smart enough to see the potential that Jon
Nunnally represents: a centerfielder with power and patience, possibly better off
in one of the corners, where he’d still hit enough to hold a job… if you just
let him play. That’s the rub. The Duke runs his team as if he runs 1,000
simulations with Player X on the team, likes what the numbers might say, gets the
guy, and loses interest after back-to-back ofers. Nunnally could easily end up
being more important to this team than "tools drool"-splattered teammate
Trot Nixon, if they just let him play. The chance that Nunnally will end up being
the best source of power picked up on the cheap by any team, anywhere, is there.


CHICAGO CUBS

Assigned LHP Andrew Lorraine to their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Claimed CF Curtis Goodwin off of waivers from the Rockies. [3/29]

Unconditionally released RHP Marc Pisciotta. [3/30]

Placed RHP Kerry Wood on the 60-day DL (elbow); bought LHP Dan Serafini
from the Twins; claimed LHP Brad Woodall off of waivers from the Brewers;
assigned LHP Doug Creek, RHP Steve Gajkowski, C/1B Alan Zinter,
1B Scott Stahoviak, and OF Derrick White to their minor-league camp;
optioned LHP Ray King and SS Jose Nieves to Iowa. [3/31]

Signed RHP Hideo Nomo to a minor-league contract; placed RHP Jeremi
Gonzalez
on the 15-day DL (offseason elbow surgery); placed OF Robin
Jennings
on the 15-day DL (sprained hand). [4/1]

In the wake of Kerrygate, Ed Lynch may deserve some credit for grabbing a few guys
capable of giving him innings for 1999. Serafini has talent, and he wasn’t the first
pitching prospect to struggle with the Twins lately. Brad Woodall is your average
lefty junkballer. Add the two of them to Kurt Miller and Scott Sanders in the bottom
of the rotation or in middle relief, and you might get enough useful innings to mount
a charge on third place in the NL Central. Wait, you wanted more? Well, Hideo Nomo
ought to be worth a few laughs. My wild guess is that he would have been better off
pulling a Doug Jones and switching leagues, to see if his stunts will help him any
with a group of hitters mostly unfamiliar with him. Put him in Wrigley, and I’m more
pessimistic. Because of Chicago’s small and basically sorry collection of Japanese
restaurants, again, my uneducated guess is that he isn’t going to do much for ticket
sales. What I think is the bitter pill in this lot is the decision to add Curtis
Goodwin. The Rox had this figured out: if your starting CF is a lefty hitter with
speed, you don’t need a worse lefty hitter with speed as his backup. The Cubs have
Lance Johnson, a… lefty hitter with speed. If they had wanted a stronger bench,
they could have chosen to do what the Rockies did, and get Pat Watkins. The last
outfield spot basically had to go to someone who could handle center, but that doesn’t
make the idea of seeing lots of Curtis Goodwin any more acceptable. So what’s bitter
about this? Picking him up cut off the opportunity for minor league vets like Derrick
White or Alan Zinter to actually stick around; they’ve done more for longer than
Goodwin, but they don’t match the team’s needs. In theory, Robin Jennings will get
a roster spot when he comes back, but I’ll believe that when I see it; Goodwin is
going to have to be bad fast (something he can do in a pinch) in order to get the
team to lose interest.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Assigned 1B Mario Valdez and RHP Carlos Castillo to their minor-league
camp; returned RHP Walker Chapman to the Twins. [3/24]

Acquired C Brook Fordyce from the Reds for RHP Jake Meyer. [3/25]

Optioned 3B Carlos Lee, LHP Scott Eyre, and RHPs Jason Olsen
and Chad Bradford to Charlotte; optioned C Josh Paul to Birmingham
(AA); released OF John Cangelosi; assigned SS Gabby Martinez and
RHP Mike Heathcott to their minor-league camp; placed RHP Darren Hall
on the 15-day DL (rotator cuff); returned Rule 5 pick CF Tyrone Pendergrass
to the Braves. [3/31]

No shockers here. Paul sported a swing that would have a hard time bruising a tomato,
and Carlos Lee essentially lost out because he, like almost every Sox regular, bats
right-handed (which is why lefty DH Jeff Liefer will make the team). That doesn’t
explain why Mario Valdez didn’t get a better opportunity; sure Frank Thomas and Paul
Konerko may have 1B and DH nailed down, but they could have put Konerko in left,
moved Jeff Abbott back to center now that Brian Simmons is out for a month, and
let Valdez play first and Frank DH. Given that the alternative seems to be that
Darrin Jackson may be the team’s Opening Day centerfielder, it seems all the more
unfortunate. There were some surprises as far as who lost out in the fight for spots
on the pitching staff; Scott Eyre can use the regular starts in Charlotte, and
Carlos Castillo is still a work in progress. I was surprised Chad Bradford got sent
down, making room for both Sean Lowe and Dave Lundquist, but Lundquist and Lowe both
have their merits in the bullpen. The real shocker is that Jaime Navarro is still a
Sock, and will be the fifth starter. Picking up Brook Fordyce will make for a nice
platoon between him and Mark Johnson. It won’t be a strict platoon, and I could see
the playing time split 55-45 in Fordyce’s favor. Fordyce will be adequate, although
there’s already rumblings about what a good hitter he’ll be, which is overstated.
Overall, things have worked out well in Jerry Manuel’s second camp, with the worst
thing being Darrin Jackson’s presence on the roster, not to mention the lineup.


CINCINNATI REDS

Signed Tubbo Carlos Baerga to a minor-league contract. [3/23]

Placed RHPs Scott Winchester and Stan Belinda, and LHP Denny
Neagle
on the 15-day DL (all with "weak shoulders"), assigned
RHPs Manuel Barrios and Mark Thompson to their minor-league camp.
[3/24]

Acquired RHP Pat Flury from the Red Sox for CF Jon Nunnally;
acquired RHP Jake Meyer from the Sox for C Brook Fordyce. [3/25]

Assigned C Jayhawk Owens to their minor-league camp; optioned RHP
Steve Parris to Indianapolis. [3/30]

Placed 2B Ralph Milliard on the 15-day DL (back). [3/31]

Why am I not surprised that Jim Bowden just couldn’t resist signing one more old man?
Toss the Baerga signing onto the scrap heap with the Sierra trade; it’s Bowden being
Bowden, not being discrete when he can’t resist a "bargain." Married men
undoubtedly understand this phenomenon, especially after your wife has discovered Sam’s
Club. At any rate, the Reds didn’t even really get value for Jon Nunnally; indeed,
they may have gotten a better prospect for Fordyce. As we’ve pointed out in the past,
in the case of Jim Bowden, energy and action are often mistaken for progress.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Optioned RHP Jason Rakers and LHP Mike Matthews, and SS John
McDonald
to Buffalo. [3/24]

Signed RHP Bartolo Colon to a four-year contract, with a club option for
2003. [3/25]

Traded 1B Mike Glavine to the Braves for future considerations; released RHP
John Burke. [3/30]

Placed OFs Mark Whiten (stress fracture – foot) and Jacob Cruz
(strained oblique) on the 15-day DL; accepted back OF David Miller from
the Phillies. [3/31]

Perhaps no news item was more strident in tone that the denials that Colon elected
to sign his multi-year deal in the wake of the announcements concerning Kerry Wood
and Matt Morris. The issue of whether or not he’s at risk has already drawn plenty
of commentary for us and others, so in light of so much public commentary, it’s
interesting that his decision to sign had to be accompanied by denials that concerns
for his health had anything to do with it. What really has me wondering is why an
organization would hand out a multi-year contract to a pitcher whose future they
control. Let’s say I’m playing Pastaman’s advocate here: knowing that it’s a rare
pitcher who will ever say "stop using me," what’s to keep an evil
organization from trying to find a perfect balance between getting the most possible
use out of the kid before free agency over the six years in question, without any
concern for whether that prevents him from ever cashing in on free agency? There’s
nothing to stop a team from doing this, of course. I guess the payoff for the
multi-year deal is the hedge it represents: if Colon stays healthy and pitches over
the length of the contract, then the Indians undoubtedly believe they’ll have paid
him less than they would have if they fought Colon in salary arbitration year after
year. It’s almost high-minded.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Optioned RHP Jim Stoops and OF Derrick Gibson to Colorado Springs;
assigned INF Terry Shumpert to their minor-league camp; acquired OF Pat
Watkins
from the Marlins for a PTBNL. [3/29]

Waived RHP Dave Wainhouse. [3/31]

As mentioned in the Cubs comment, kudos to the Rockies for figuring out that a
right-handed caddy for a left-handed regular in center makes a wee bit of sense.
One of the fun things about expansion teams is that Pat Watkins could easily turn
out to be the best fourth outfielder in franchise history. What, are you still
waiting for Derrick Gibson to learn to play baseball?


DETROIT TIGERS

Claimed 2B/SS Jason Maxwell on waivers from the Cubs. [3/24]

Placed INF Jason Wood on the 15-day DL (fractured forearm). [3/29]

Optioned RHP Robinson Checo and CF Kimera Bartee to Toledo;
assigned RHP Nelson Cruz and 1B Dave McCarty to their
minor-league camp. [3/30]

Placed C Raul Casanova (back strain) and C Robert Fick
(strained shoulder) on the 15-day DL; assigned LF Luis Polonia,
RHP Brandon Reed, LHP Albert Blanco, C Joe Siddall,
and 2B/SS Jason Maxwell to their minor-league camp. [4/1]

Okay, it may seem silly to mention here, but the Cubs screwed up here as
well, by allowing Jason Maxwell to enter waivers. They (or more precisely,
Ed Lynch himself) lost count of Maxwell’s options, and the NL office had
to inform the team that they’d have to pass Maxwell through waivers. Of
everyone on this group of cuts (or among the Cubs), Maxwell may well be
the one most deserving of a major league job, despite being almost totally
unheralded. Utility infielder jobs, however, seem to be heavily influenced
by considerations of patronage, so Maxwell has to wait until people like
Manny Alexander and Raffy Bournigal fade away.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Assigned RHPs Justin Speier and Joe Fontenot and SS Pablo
Ozuna
to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Optioned RHP Rafael Medina and LHP Armando Almanza to Calgary;
assigned SS Benji Gil and INF Chris Clapinski to their
minor-league camp. [3/26]

Traded OF Pat Watkins to the Rockies for a PTBNL. [3/29]

Placed LF Cliff Floyd on the 15-day DL (sprained left knee). [3/30]

Optioned LHP Brent Billingsley to Calgary; optioned RHP A.J. Burnett
to Portland (AA); assigned DH John Roskos to their minor-league
camp. [3/31]

Talk about a case of changing times. Raffy Medina loses the rotation spot he
won a year ago, and Joe Fontenot gets to work on his career in the minors.
Okay, so it’s only to get the great Dennis Springer into the rotation, but
thats a case of a move a year to late. If the Fish had it to do over again,
youd have to hope theyve realized that they would have been better off with
guys like Springer in last year’s rotation, so that guys like Medina or
Fontenot could have been ready about now. Instead, everyone got jerked
around, and the few remaining Dombrowski loyalists (counting John Boles)
will have to see if they can straighten things out this year. Beyond the
pitching situation, the really exciting opportunity comes in the wake of
Floyd’s injury. Will Preston Wilson get the chance to sink or swim? Regardless
of whether or not you believe he’s been pre-fitted with cement galoshes or not,
it’s something we’ll get to see in April. Does that mean Bruce Aven will get
an opportunity to weasel his way into 300 at-bats? Maybe, and that wouldn’t
hurt.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Acquired OF Jim Betzold from the Indians for a PTBNL. [3/23]

Unconditionally released RHP Xavier Hernandez and PH Dave Clark. [3/29]

Assigned Cs Paul Bako and Randy Knorr and OF Ryan
Thompson
to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Optioned 1B/LF Daryle Ward to New Orleans. [4/1]

Maybe it’s just me, but there seemed to be an unusually high number of people
rooting for Bako to beat out Mitch Meluskey. I don’t know if that’s
anti-statheadism, or just bias against young players who "haven’t paid their
dues," or a general belief that the Astros are just doing things the wrong
way by trading a known commodity like Brad Ausmus, just to play this whippersnapper.
I salute the Astros for having the intelligence to stick to their guns. On the other
hand, I’m disappointed that they didn’t give Daryle Ward a shot to make the club,
especially in light of the dubious decision to retain minor league veteran Glen
Barker as a backup outfielder, or even more indefensible, the immortally bad Alex
Diaz. Perhaps that weakness in upper-level outfielders helps to explain the
decision to acquire an organizational soldier like Betzold. Even then, it appears
that although long-suffering and long-deserving infielder Russ Johnson has made
the team, that’s only for as long as Ken Caminiti is on the DL. Thinking about
that, maybe he does have job security after all.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Released RHP Pete Smith. [3/24]

Optioned LHP Alvin Morman to Omaha; assigned RHP Dan Reichert
and C Henry Mercedes to their minor-league camp; released RHPs Tim
Scott
and Dario Veras. [3/26]

Acquired RHP Jay Witasick from the Athletics for cash and a PTBNL. [3/30]

Released RHPs Erik Hanson and A.J. Sager; optioned LHP Glendon
Rusch
to Omaha. [3/31]

Assigned RHP Terry Mathews and OFs Scott Pose and Les Norman
to their minor-league camp. [4/1]

So the Royals will have a rotation of Kevin Appier, Jose Rosado, Jeff Suppan,
Brian Barber, and probably Hipolito Pichardo or Jim Pittsley. I guess improvement
is relative, but they got Suppan and Barber cheaply, which almost makes up for
the ongoing bad investment in Pichardo. The good news is they aren’t going to goof
off with A.J. Sager. The bad news is that they can’t make up their minds about Don
Wengert. Snagging Witasick from the A’s before he had to enter waivers may be a
nifty move, but Witasick’s major league record has been awful in several brief
trials. It looks like he’s bound for the pen, where he could turn into a nifty
reclamation project.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Traded C Tim Laker to the Pirates for a PTBNL. [3/26]

Optioned SS Juan Castro and C Angel Pena to Albuquerque;
assigned LHP Chris Haney and PH Scott Livingstone to their
minor-league camp; placed RHP Antonio Osuna and 2B/SS Alex
Cora
on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/25; announced that RHP
Doug Bochtler has become a free agent. [3/29]

Outrighted C Marcus Jensen and OF Thomas Howard to their
minor-league camp. [3/30]

With Pena’s demotion, the Dodgers really are stating that they think Hundley’s
ready to catch. I still cant shake the idea that were going to see a whole lot
more of Rick Wilkins and Paul LoDuca than you’d like. Osuna’s injury isn’t
considered long-term or serious, and he should be back with the team by mid-April.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Assigned RHPs Kyle Peterson and Steve Falteisek to the
inor-league camp. [3/22]

Optioned RHP Al Reyes to Louisville; outrighted RHP Joe Borowski
and C Charlie Greene to Louisville; released RHP William
VanLandingham
; lost LHP Brad Woodall on waivers to the Cubs. [3/31]

Gosh, a week ago, the Brewers were thinking the Copperhead (VanLandingham)
could end up in their rotation if he could only beat out Raffy Roque, and
this week, Roque is their Opening Day starter, WVL is unemployed, and the
Brewers still look like a team that may have to replace four-fifths of its
rotation by the All-Star break. Al Reyes didn’t do much to get himself cut,
not on the basis of last year’s performance, but the fascination with David
Weathers is taking up the fourth right-handed relief spot on the team behind
Bob Wickman, Chad Fox, and Eric Plunk. Given how unsettled the pitching
situation is going to be this summer, don’t be surprised if Reyes comes up
when the first Brewers’ starter implodes (my money is on Pulsipher), with
Weathers entering the rotation.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Assigned C A.J. Pierzynski to their minor-league camp. [3/25]

Assigned RHP Frank Rodriguez, 1B David Ortiz, and 1B Eddie
Williams
to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Sold LHP Dan Serafini to the Cubs. [3/31]

This is interesting stuff. We know Rodriguez can’t dig his way out of Tom Kelly’s
doghouse, and Dan Serafini offended folks this spring with a brief absence from camp.
But sending away David Ortiz seems very strange indeed, especially in light of the
team’s lukewarm commitment to Corey Koskie at third. Ron Coomer can’t play everywhere,
but in the meantime, the good news is that the team seems very interested in Doug
Mientkiewicz, who will get every opportunity to do his Mark Grace Lite impression,
sort of like Scott Stahoviak three years ago.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Assigned UT Trace Coquilette and 1B/OF Ryan McGuire to their
minor-league camp. [3/26]

Signed RHP Pete Smith to a minor-league contract. [3/29]

So McGuire hasn’t panned out, and the team is still wrestling with who to start
in the one free outfield slot. As long as Rondell White’s body still aches, I’m betting
that Pete Bergeron is in centerfield long before June 1. You know, it was almost ten
years ago that I read that some young pitcher in the Braves rotation was going to win
the Cy Young Award, soon. Pete Smith still hasn’t quite gotten there, but if Pascual
Perez and Dennis Martinez can start anew with Felipe’s fountain of youth, who’s to say
Pete Smith can’t?


NEW YORK METS

Assigned Cs Vance Wilson and Pedro Grifol and 2B Todd Haney
to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Optioned RHP Hideo Nomo to Norfolk. [3/24]

Signed RHP Orel Hershiser to a one-year contract. [3/25]

Unconditionally released RHP Hideo Nomo. [3/26]

Unconditionally released UT Mariano Duncan. [3/27]

Placed RHPs Greg McMichael and Jeff Tam and OF Jay Payton
on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

Assigned OF Andy Tomberlin to their minor-league camp. [3/31]

It’s almost sad to see camp come to an end, just to see which ex-ballplayer the
Mets would release next. Bobby Bonilla? The only nice thing I can say about the
Hershiser signing is that he’ll probably pitch better than Hideo Nomo this year,
which may be setting the bar just high enough for Mickey Rooney to step over it.
As always, New York’s gutters are awash with spilled ink and vented spleen, and
for what? This team has gotten almost as much attention as the Buddy Harrelson
Mets that never amounted to anything. Coincidence?


NEW YORK YANKEES

Signed LHP Tony Fossas to a minor-league contract. [3/25]

Traded RHP Darren Holmes (with cash) to the Diamondbacks for RHP
Ben Ford and C Izzy Molina; assigned RHP Jeff Juden
to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

"Jeff Juden, meet Kat Maeda." "Soulbrother!"


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Optioned C Ramon Hernandez to Vancouver; assigned RHP Mike Oquist
to their minor-league camp. [3/28]

Claimed LHP Ron Mahay off of waivers from the Red Sox; sent RHP Jay
Witasick
to the Royals for cash and a PTBNL; assigned LF Marc Newfield
to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Released LHP Mark Holzemer. [4/1]

Picking up Mahay was a nice little snag, since he’ll almost certainly be a better
second lefty in the pen than Holzemer. Too bad he can’t toss 200 innings with an
ERA under 5, since that’s what the A’s really need.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Placed RHP Tyler Green on the 15-day DL. [3/27]

Assigned LHP Billy Brewer, RHP Steve Montgomery, and OFs
Billy McMillon and Jon Zuber to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Returned Rule 5 pick OF David Miller back to the Indians. [3/31]

Tyler Green is still damaged goods, but he may still toss more innings over the
rest of his career than his old college rival, Alan Benes. Billy Brewer might
almost have value in trade, now that the Phillies have two good lefties in the
major league pen, and Brewer had a good camp. Stranger things have happened.
What’s really nice to note here is that returning David Miller to the Indians
apparently means that organizational soldier David Doster will get the last
spot on the bench. In terms of turning this into a shot at a career, it may
be too little too late; he really should have been the Phillies second baseman
last year, instead of goofing off with Mark Lewis, but that’s spilled milk.
Caddying for Scott Rolen and Marlon Anderson won’t lead to too much playing
time, but I’m glad he’s getting a chance.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Acquired C Tim Laker from the Dodgers for a PTBNL; placed RHP
Jose Silva and LHP Jeff Tabaka on the 15-day DL. [3/26]

Assigned LHP Rich Sauveur, RHP Todd Ritchie, C Chris
Tremie
, and 1B Ivan Cruz to their minor-league camp;
unconditionally released 2B/SS Rafael Bournigal; placed RHP
Marc Wilkins on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

Placed RHP Jeff Wallace on the 15-day DL. [3/30]

Silva’s latest injury, plus Peters’ return to the pen, means Kris Benson
is a lock for the rotation. That and the decision to let Warren Morris play
in the major leagues constitutes all of the good news coming out of the
Pirates’ camp. Keeping with established precedent from network news, rather
than delve yet again into all of the bad news, we’ll devote the rest of our
Pirates segment to pictures of puppies and clowns.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Acquired RHP Clint Sodowsky from the Diamondbacks for RHP John
Frascatore
, and assigned Sodowsky to Memphis. [3/30]

The interesting development here is that the Cardinals claim they’re going
to carry twelve pitchers, and we’re supposed to believe Frascatore wasn’t
one of them. But Curtis King and Mike Mohler are. Let’s just say I’m still
reluctant to get all excited about the Cardinals’ supposed big push this year.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Acquired C Phil Nevin and LHP Keith Volkman from the Angels for
INF Andy Sheets and OF Gus Kennedy; placed C Carlos Hernandez
on the 15-day DL (ruptured Achilles tendon); optioned LHP Heath Murray,
C Ben Davis, CF Gary Matthews Jr., INF Ed Giovanola, and
SS Juan Melo to their minor-league camp; assigned OF Shane Mack
to minor league camp; released C Mark Parent and PH Chris Jones;
announced the retirement of LHP Mark Langston. [3/29]

Optioned OF Mike Darr to Las Vegas. [3/31]

Adios to Mark Langston, another one of my favorites from the ’80s, and a guy
who was a real pleasure to watch when he still had his heat. One of the really
interesting things about Langston on his career is that he wound up with an
above-.500 career record (178-156), despite pitching for some awful Mariners
and Angels teams. That probably makes him the exact opposite of… well, who
exactly? Jose DeLeon? Vida Blue? Mike Morgan? I’m willing to listen to other
people’s guesses. Langston was one of the best pitchers of his generation, but
will probably end up in the Ken Holtzman class of pitchers ("oh yeah, he
was good too."). As for the Padres, this team is going to be much more
fun to watch in July than it will be right now, while they’re struggling to
admit Woody Williams is broken, and while they’re getting carried away with
John VanderWal.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned RHPs Joe Nathan and Steve Soderstrom to Fresno; designated
RHP Corey Bailey for assignment. [3/29]

Yee-ha! Chris Brock wins the fifth starter’s slot. Call it a hunch, but the
Giants will probably be trading for a starter, any starter, by May. The only
alternative is rushing Grilli, which is pretty tempting…


SEATTLE MARINERS

Released Living Fossil Bill Swift. [3/29]

Optioned RHPs Rafael Carmona and Ken Cloude and LHP Greg
McCarthy
to Tacoma; assigned C Raul Chavez to their minor-league
camp. [3/31]

Not that I like to make cross-sports comparisons, but the Mariners cutting Bill
Swift is like the charade the Raiders would play with third-string quarterback
David Humm every camp. Humm would get cut, go to Vegas to party for a month or
two, and sure enough, he was available as soon as the Raiders needed a backup
quarterback again. Similarly, nobody else is going to pay Bill Swift to do
anything with all of his free time, and after Piniella either betrays or overuses
Freddy Garcia or Ken Cloude or John Halama, Bill Swift will still be waiting to
work.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Assigned RHP Ryan Rupe to their minor-league camp; sent DH Julio
Franco
to the Mexico City Tigers. [3/27]

Placed RHP Cory Lidle on the 60-day DL. [3/28]

Acquired OF Danny Clyburn and a PTBNL from the Orioles for RHP Jason
Johnson
. [3/29]

Assigned 3B Scott McClain and Cs Jesse Levis and Julio
Mosquera
to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Released OF Mike Kelly; assigned LHPs Steve Cooke and Larry
Casian
, RHPs Mark Hutton, Steve Ontiveros and Mark
Sievert
, and DH Billy Ashley from their minor-league camp. [3/31]

For those of you keeping score at home, this means that Bobby Witt is the
fifth starter for the St. Petersburg Pelicans… er, I mean the major league
Devil Rays. What’s really amazing about this team is that in acquiring Clyburn,
they’ve picked up another DH on a team that already has Jose Canseco and Paul
Sorrento, and that won’t make time for Bubba Trammell. I don’t care how many
Mike Veeck promotions you come up with, this team is going to be even more
boring than last year’s bad and boring inaugural edition.


TEXAS RANGERS

Assigned SS Kelly Dransfeldt to their minor-league camp; signed
2B/SS Rafael Bournigal. [3/30]

Released RHP Al Levine; optioned RHP Jonathan Johnson to Oklahoma;
assigned RHP Brandon Knight outright to Oklahoma after he cleared
waivers. [3/31]

Bournigal steps right into the fight for the utility infield spot, battling far
more deserving candidates (minor league veterans Jon Shave and Scott Sheldon).
Why does a team carrrying a great defensive shortstop like Royce Clayton need a
light-hitting defensive replacement for a caddy?


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Assigned DH Kevin Witt, OF Anthony Sanders, and C Kevin L.
Brown
to their minor-league camp. [3/25]

Placed RHPs Bill Risley and Paul Quantrill on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

Assigned OF Jimmy Hurst to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Acquired 3B Dave Hollins from the Angels for SS Tomas Perez. [3/30]

Released Undertall Person Cecil Fielder; assigned OF Wayne Kirby to
their minor-league camp; optioned RHPs Tom Davey and Nerio Rodriguez
to Syracuse; re-assigned third base coach Sal Butera; named Terry
Bevington
third base coach. [3/31]

The Blue Jays didn’t help themselves out. First off, Kevin Brown would have
been better to keep around as a caddy for Mike Matheny. But that pales in
comparison to the decision to acquire Dave Hollins, who maybe, just maybe,
is the fourth-best third baseman on the team, behind Tony Fernandez, Willie
Greene, and Tom Evans. I don’t know if Hollins has more use than Craig
Grebeck at this point. Hollins is being reunited with Jim Fregosi, of course,
and every manager likes to have a familiar face in the clubhouse, but Hollins
has basically nothing to offer a team on the field. Well, maybe the Devil Rays.
They could play him for the next fifteen years, to give him a shot at Reggie’s
strikeout record. Mike Veeck could even call it "madcap, wacky fun!"