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ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Optioned infielder Hanley Frias to Tucson of the Pacific Coast League
(AAA); recalled pitcher Bobby Chouinard from Tucson. [5/22]

Given the innings the D’backs normally get from their rotation, you wonder
if they have any real use for an extra pitcher, much less one of Chouinard’s
dubious qualifications. That said, they also ride their infielders hard,
and don’t really have anough extra ABs for Andy Fox, much less Frias.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Recalled pitcher Bruce Chen from Richmond of the International League
(AAA); placed pitcher John Hudek on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive
to May 15, with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. [5/21]

Smoltz’ injury hurts less than it might, thanks to the presence of Bruce
Chen. The Braves can now afford to audition Chen and Odalis Perez while
Smoltz recovers, assuming his injury isn’t serious. As for Hudek, the
blister story is probably transactionspeak for "oops, should’ve asked
for Dennys Reyes."


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned pitcher Gabe Molina to Rochester of the International League;
recalled pitcher Rocky Coppinger from Rochester. [5/21]

The Coppinger games appear to be a continuing tug-of-war between Ray
"I still work here" Miller and the front office, with the latter
holding the upper hand right now. It’s all quite comical when you consider
that they’re wasting their energy on the fifth starter slot when two of
their front four have ERAs over 5.50.


CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned pitcher Ray King to Iowa of the Pacific Coast League (AAA). [5/22]

Acquired pitchers Rick Aguilera and Scott Downs from the Minnesota Twins
for pitchers Jason Ryan and Kyle Lohse. [5/21]

Activated outfielder Glenallen Hill from the 15-day disabled list; optioned
outfielder Bo Porter to Iowa of the Pacific Coast League (AAA). [5/23]

A mixed bag. Aguilera’s certainly an adequate short reliever. While he’s
not clearly better than, say, Terry Adams, he’s probably a better health
risk and isn’t wildly expensive. The Cubs also didn’t give up anything
terrific in the deal. However, unless Aguilera has been taking those
irritating Nike commercials to heart, he doesn’t solve the Cubs’ main
problem: scoring runs. Acquiring a top closer where no internal candidate
exists might be worth a win or two over the course of a season, but when
that win is #81 instead of #91, it won’t stoke Wild Card Fever.

Hill’s return will only obscure the Cubs’ offensive woes. When he’s on,
he’s capable of convincing people he’s a real hitter; when he’s off, his
defensive ineptitude makes him one of the game’s biggest liabilities.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Signed pitchers Jason Stovall and Mark Buerhle and catcher Mark Cochrane.
[5/21]


CINCINNATI REDS

Placed pitcher Denny Neagle on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May
20, with tendinitis in his left shoulder. [5/24]

You would think Jim Bowden would have been smarter than this. If a guy’s
shoulder is sore in November, it was probably sore in September. Yet Bowden
persists in exonerating the Braves, at least in public, when it appears he
was sold at least one damaged good (Rob Bell also missed time this April
with shoulder soreness). The sad ramification here is that Jason Bere will
remain in the rotation until he implodes, unless Jack McKeon launches
another one of his public tirades–usually practiced on Brett Tomko–and
has him run out of town on a rail.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Placed infielder Kurt Abbott on the 15-day disabled list with a strained
left groin; designated pitcher David Wainhouse for assignment; purchased
the contract of infielders Chris Petersen and J.R. Phillips from Colorado
Springs of the Pacific Coast League (AAA); moved pitcher Kevin Ritz to the
60-day disabled list. [5/23]

Placed infielder Mike Lansing on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back
strain, retroactive to May 21. [5/24]

Lots of piddling around to little effect. Abbott was scuffling anyway, and
while he might be a better offensive option than Neifi Perez, calling up
Petersen (.260/.311/.358) only serves to illuminate how barren the Rockies’
minor leagues are at the plate. As for Phillips, he was predictably
smacking the ball a long way (14 home runs) in Colorado Springs. That is,
when he hit it at all (43 strikeouts, all in 153 at-bats).

Over at second base, Lenny Harris gets the call to fill in for Mike
Lansing, which ignores the fact that Harris was originally moved off second
due to poor defense.


DETROIT TIGERS

Recalled pitcher Wil Brunson from Toledo of the International League (AAA);
optioned infielder Jose Macias to Toledo. [5/21]


FLORIDA MARLINS

Purchased the contract of outfielder Kevin Millar from Calgary of the
Pacific Coast League (AAA); optioned outfielder Todd Dunwoody to Calgary.
[5/21]

Assigned catcher Jeff Bailey to Kane County of the Midwest League (A);
transferred catcher Matt Frick and infielder Terrance Smalls to Brevard
County of the Florida State League (A). [5/23]

Giving Dunwoody a chance to reacquaint himself with the strike zone at
Triple-A is probably the best course of action, and Derrek Lee should
follow him down to Calgary this week. Millar has been ready for the majors
offensively for about two years now, and will surprise people if he gets
regular playing time at first base or in left field.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed third baseman Ken Caminiti on the 15-day disabled list with a
strained right calf; recalled infielder Daryle Ward from New Orleans of the
Pacific Coast League (AAA). [5/22]

A bizarre choice, in that Ward can’t play third base. Perhaps this is a
prelude to a trade. The Astros might let Ward pinch-hit a bit and start a
game or two at first base over the next few weeks, hope he gets hot, and
then move him. The Astros had already brought up half their Triple-A
infield, so Ward isn’t necessarily a bad callup, just an odd one unless
they’re going to play him.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

First baseman Jeff King announced his retirement. [5/23]

Recalled pitcher Orber Moreno from Omaha of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
[5/24]

A gracious departure for someone who could easily have hung on to collect
his last million and a half, and a wonderful present to Royals’ fans giddy
with their early-season success. The main question now is who gets the open
hitting spot long-term. Ideally, it’s Jeremy Giambi, who could DH with Mike
Sweeney at first base. In the meantime, the Royals have recalled
closer-of-the-future Orber Moreno, a fireballer who should give shudders to
rotogeeks who bid themselves silly over Jose Santiago.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Claimed pitcher Jim Pittsley off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. [5/21]

Optioned pitcher Steve Falteisek to Louisville of the International League
(AAA). [5/24]

I suppose if there is one team in the majors that Pittsley could help, it’s
the Brewers, who seem to lose a starting pitcher every 22 minutes. That
said, there is little reason to expect Pittsley’s scarred arm will ever
produce any major-league quality performances.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Sent outfielder Chris Latham outright to Salt Lake of the Pacific Coast
League (AAA); recalled pitcher Travis Miller from Salt Lake; purchased the
contract of pitcher Gary Rath from Salt Lake. [5/21]

Placed pitcher Eddie Guardado on the 15-day disabled list; announced they
will purchase the contract of pitcher Rob Radlosky from Salt Lake City of
the Pacific Coast League (AAA) on Tuesday.

Latham probably blew his last shot at major-league playing time by simply
not hitting at all this season, although that’s really no loss for the
Twins. The name to watch here is Rath: although he was never considered a
top prospect, he has pitched well in the PCL for more than two years, and
could be an Omar Daal-type surprise if the Twins are patient and give him
time in the rotation.

The Aguilera trade is bringing some criticism for the scant bounty the
Twins got in return, but bear in mind that they weren’t dealing from
strength: Aggy could veto any deal and he isn’t among the game’s elite
relievers. This could work out beautifully for the Twins if they work Mike
Trombley into the closer role for the next 10 weeks and swap him out at the
deadline for more prospects. Guardado would have been in line for a few
saves with Aggy gone, but that’s just arbitration leverage down the toilet
now that he’s on the DL.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Traded catcher John Pachot to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be
named; signed catcher Robert Machado to a contract with Ottawa of the
International League (AAA); activated second baseman Trace Coquillette off
the disabled list at Ottawa. [5/21]

Released pitcher Jose Bautista from Ottawa of the International League
(AAA). [5/23]


NEW YORK METS

Activated outfielder Rickey Henderson off the 15-day disabled list and
optioned infielder Mike Kinkade to Norfolk of the International League
(AAA); signed pitcher Matt Ruebel to a minor-league contract and assigned
him to Binghamton of the Eastern League (AA). [5/22]

Recalled pitcher Jason Isringhausen from Norfolk of the International
League (AAA); placed pitcher Bobby Jones on the 15-day disabled list,
retroactive to Sunday, with a right shoulder strain. [5/23]

With Henderson back, the Mets have their best outfield playing
now–Henderson, McRae, Cedeno–unless you want to put Pratt in left field
and suffer the defensive lapses. If the Mets really keep
Henderson/Cedeno/Olerud/Piazza at the top of their lineup, Piazza could set
some serious RBI marks down the stretch, and the Mets will score a ton of
runs.

Jones’ injury was actually somewhat minor, but the Mets had to clear a
roster spot for Isringhausen in the rotation shuffle predicated by Leiter’s
knee soreness and Jones’ shoulder strain. So they DLed Jones, skipping two
of his starts. Given his propensity to break down around 190 innings, this
could be the best thing for him come September.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Activated pitcher Roger Clemens from the 15-day disabled list; optioned
pitcher Todd Erdos to Columbus of the International League (AAA). [5/21]

Clemens looked strong in his first start back; the Yanks hope that his
hamstring healed, but the rest might also have helped his heavily-used arm.
Erdos was just a victim of numbers; all the Yanks’ right-handed relievers
are either pitching well (Grimsley, Naulty) or aren’t going anywhere
(Mendoza, Nelson).


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Recalled outfielder Ryan Christenson from Vancouver of the Pacific Coast
League (AAA); optioned outfielder Jason McDonald to Vancouver. [5/22]

Christenson had been scorching the ball at Edmonton, hitting .344 with a
.440 OBP, so the A’s might get more men on base for Ben Grieve to strand.
Seriously, Christenson’s the center fielder you want to develop if you’re
the A’s, so this is the right move all around.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Promoted outfielder Aaron Royster and pitcher Blas Cedeno to Reading of the
Eastern League (AA); placed pitcher Jeff Brantley on the 15-day disabled
list with a torn Labrum in his right shoulder; recalled pitcher Steve
Montgomery
from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League (AAA).

Brantley finally had to admit his season was over; his first comeback with
Cincinnati was a great one, but this time around the shoulder may be too
damaged to allow a return. He’ll try again next spring, natch.

In his absence, Gomes will get the first stab at the closer’s job, with
Poole getting some lefty-specialist saves here and there. Montgomery is the
hottest pitcher in the bullpen by virtue of a few scoreless innings in his
two cups of coffee, but his minor-league numbers suggest nothing more than
cannon fodder.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Optioned pitcher Clint Sodowsky to Memphis of the Pacific Coast League
(AAA); recalled pitcher Rick Heiserman from Memphis. [5/23]

Heiserman’s 6.14 ERA at Triple-A belies adequate peripherals: six walks and
22 strikeouts in 22 innings, but with 26 hits allowed. Bryan Eversgerd
would have been a better choice, but few are those permitted to question
Tony LaRussa, Genius.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Placed outfielder Tony Gwynn on the 15-day disabled list with a strained
left calf; recalled outfielder Mike Darr from Las Vegas of the Pacific
Coast League (AAA). [5/22]

A few commentators have pointed out that all three 3000-hit chasers have
hit the DL this year and joked (I hope they were joking) that it’s some
sort of curse. Should we be surprised? These guys are old: one has bad
knees, one a bad back and one a gut the size of Tijuana. Only Gwynn is any
sort of productive hitter now, so you can at least excuse his presence, but
at some point the chase for a magical and yet meaningless individual
threshold has to take a back seat to winning the game.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Activated third baseman Wade Boggs from the 15-day disabled list; optioned
outfielder Randy Winn to Durham of the International League (AAA). [5/21]

Activated pitcher Julio Santana from the 15-day disabled list; optioned
pitcher Alan Newman to Durham of the International League (AAA); loaned
outfielder Brooks Kieschnick to the Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast
League (AAA). [5/24]

The slow march to 3000 — which resembles the annual AARP 0.5K race —
resumes, although you wonder if Boggs is really a better choice than
Herbert Perry at this point. Winn certainly had his chance, and while his
power was up (.388 SLG), his on-base skills remained nonexistent (.315 OBP).


TEXAS RANGERS

Activated shortstop Royce Clayton from the 15-day disabled list; optioned
shortstop Kelly Dransfeldt to Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League
(AAA). [5/21]

Remarkably quick recovery, although Clayton’s shaky showing in the field
since his return makes it seem like he rushed back.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Activated designated hitter Dave Hollins from the 15-day disabled list;
optioned infielder-outfielder Kevin Witt to Syracuse of the International
League (AAA); purchased the contract of outfielder Patrick Lennon from
Syracuse; announced outfielder Willie Greene has cleared waivers and been
sent outright to Syracuse. [5/21]

Placed shortstop Alex Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to
May 17, with a sore right shoulder; activated pitcher Joey Hamilton from
the 15-day disabled list. [5/24]

Twenty-nine teams passed on Greene? Astounding, given the poor left-field
and third-base solutions around baseball today. Perhaps he can obliterate
Triple-A pitching enough to remind people of the breakthrough season he had
in 1997. As for Lennon, he’ll likely remain a right-handed pinch-hitter and
occasional DH, and will mash the ball when given the opportunity. Why you
need him and Geronimo Berroa is something only Gord Ash understands.

Gonzalez is out for at least a month, assuming he doesn’t have the surgery,
which means more Homer Bush out-making fun for Blue Jay fans, as well as
horrid defense. Hamilton’s return could push Kelvim Escobar into the closer
role should he want it, with Roy Halladay the best bet to return to the pen
if Escobar declines to leave the rotation. This could all be irrelevant if
Hamilton, who pitched horribly on rehab (12.1 IP, 5.11 ERA, 22 baserunners
allowed), winds up back on the shelf in the next few weeks, or if Billy
Koch continues to pitch well.

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