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BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed 2B Delino DeShields on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/20 (strained
hamstring). [6/21]

DeShields is well on the way to earning a "fragile" label. Between
injuries he hasn’t exactly busted out to the kind of offensive season
(.274/.355/.374) people might have expected from a guy coming into Camden
Yards in what’s turning into a historic offensive season. In his absence,
the Orioles can solidify their choke hold on fourth place with Jeff Reboulet
manning second base, which isn’t going to hurt much. Richie Amaral will be
available for some spot duty as well. In a surprise,it looks like they’re
going to call up Jerry Hairston. Don’t get too excited: they called up
Calvin Pickering during Will Clark’s absence and refused to play him.


CHICAGO CUBS

Activated OF Robin Jennings from the DL; optioned LHP Doug Creek to Iowa.
[6/21]

As with many of their transactions, the Cubs are painting this one as
another misfortune of circumstance. Their explanation is that Jennings has
to come up because the Cubs must have a left-handed pinch-hitter on the
bench, and it’s unfortunate that Creek has to go down in his place.

This isn’t meant as an homage to Creek, who appears to be a useful middle
reliever at most. But the roster is saddled with three backup infielders
(the equally fragile Jeff Blauser and Manny Alexander, and toothless old
Gary Gaetti), all of whom bat right-handed, and a third catcher in Sandy
Martinez. The easy solution would be to admit they screwed up, and put
Gaetti out to pasture; but Andy MacPhail isn’t going to let that happen to
the man who helped get them both World Series rings back in 1987.

On a Riggleman-run team, going without a twelve-man pitching staff spells
trouble. His greatest weakness as a manager is that he obsesses over every
little situational advantage, without using any discretion over which
situations are important enough to change pitchers for. That usually means a
bullpen where appearances are short and plentiful, with no reliever allowed
to really get into a rhythm or do his team much good for more than an inning
at a time. It isn’t often that I argue on behalf of the twelve-man staff,
but when the manager has problems running his pen when he doesn’t have seven
relievers, the organization has two choices: find another manager (which
this team won’t do), or give him the team that he can handle. Riggleman
hasn’t run his bullpens well yet, so if making it easier on him is the price
this team has to pay, you may as well try it. That means inventing another
excuse to DL Jeff Blauser, or coming to terms with the idea that Gary Gaetti
is never going to get back those glorious seven weeks he gave the Cubs last
year.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Recalled LHP Scott Eyre from Charlotte; optioned RHP David Lundquist to
Charlotte. [6/20]

Lundquist had pitched his way into the black hole that very few rookies can
clamber out of: his manager was afraid to use him in any situation. Rather
than continue to waste the roster spot, the Sox can let Lundquist get his
confidence back in Charlotte while using Scott Eyre as a long reliever. Eyre
also gives the Sox a second left-hander in the pen, which can create a
"deterrent" to the opposing manager’s pinch-hitting moves. When
Bryan Ward was the only lefty, the Sox could use him, and opposing teams
wouldn’t have to worry about seeing another lefthanded reliever (and with
Ward, you could say they still didn’t).

As a starter at Charlotte, Eyre was pitching well: a 3.82 ERA, 75 hits and
23 walks in 68 1/3 innings, with 63 strikeouts. That’s a significant
improvement in his control. If he pitches well, and if Kevin Beirne
continues to dominate, the Sox should be in a great position to
simultaneously improve and make a salary dump by offering Jaime Navarro to
some suitably desperate contender, like the Rangers.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Announced that RHP Dave Stevens declined his assignment to Buffalo, and has
become a free agent; outrighted RHP Paul Wagner to Buffalo. [6/21]

Stevens should get snapped up. After all, some team just traded for Cookies
Pisciotta, despite an ERA over 6.00 at Triple-A.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed OF Cliff Floyd on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/20 (Achilles
tendon); activated RHP Archie Corbin from the DL. [6/21]

The Marlins’ season keeps on getting worse than it has to. In part, that’s a
result of your better players, people like Floyd or Alex Fernandez, being
really fragile. The good news is that at least the Marlins have been getting
good power out of Preston Wilson, and have an exceptional replacement for
Floyd in Bruce Aven. With Kevin Millar up and playing well, and Mark Kotsay
starting to come around, team offense should keep getting better overall,
even without Floyd.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Acquired OF Matt Mieske from the Mariners for RHP Kevin Hodges. [6/20]

Placed OF Alex Diaz on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder); transferred C
Mitch Meluskey from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/21]

An interesting move, in that Mieske may be redundant if Moises Alou really
is ready to go by September. Mieske’s skills are handy: he’s a good glove in
either corner, and he can mash a left-handed pitcher. But it isn’t like Carl
Everett or Derek Bell need to sit against lefties, and Richard Hidalgo’s
poor early performance isn’t enough to merit taking him out of the lineup
against them. Basically, Mieske’s role should be the same here as it was in
Seattle: pinch-hitter. The problem is that he’s a right-handed pinch-hitter
on an extremely right-handed team, so making playing time for him will be a
problem.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Placed RHP Orber Moreno on the 15-day DL (bicep tendinitis). [6/19]

As expected. The misfortune is that the time to spend on his first
opportunity is going to be wasted in his absence on Cookies Pisciotta.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Activated OF Todd Hollandsworth from the DL; designated RHP Doug Bochtler
for assignment. [6/19]

You’ve come a long way, baby. After starting the season with an extremely
weak bench, almost three months later the Dodgers have the bench they should
have started with: Dave Hansen for either corner infield slot and top
left-handed pinch-hitter; Todd Hollandsworth as the fourth outfielder; and
Trenidad Hubbard as the fifth outfielder and top right-handed pinch-hitter.
It’s no credit to either Kevin Malone or Davey Johnson that it took this
long to wind up with what were the best available choices coming out of
camp, but at least they finally got it right.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Activated C Terry Steinbach from the DL; optioned C A.J. Pierzynski to Salt
Lake. [6/20]

Javy Valentin got to strut his stuff over the past month or so, putting
together decent numbers (.263/.308/.381) and doing a decent job controlling
opposing basestealers. This should secure him a nice little future as a
card-carrying member of the MLB-experienced catcher’s union, which should be
good for at least a decade’s worth of playing time as a caddy.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed OF Rondell White on the 15-day DL (hamstring), retroactive to 6/14;
recalled 1B/LF Fernando Seguignol from Ottawa. [6/21]

Not much is going well for the Expos. Losing White to his persistent leg
problems damages their chances of trading him at the July 31 deadline, as
well as robbing the team of its second-best hitter. On the plus side,
Seguignol was hitting well in Ottawa (.284/.374/.547, with an improved 35 BB
+ HBP in 270 PA), and he’ll get every opportunity to earn playing time at
first base and in left field. If he’s successful over the next two weeks,
the guy who gets dealt then should be Shane Andrews.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Traded OF Matt Mieske to the Astros for RHP Kevin Hodges. [6/20]

Recalled UT Charles Gipson from Tacoma. [6/21]

What was the point of signing Mieske in the first place? He was essentially
backup Butch Huskey’s backup, and while Mieske has some value, why keep a
spare for a spare when all you can get in trade for him is a guy who spent
four years at Wilmington? Okay, to be fair, Hodges had injury problems
during his days in the Royals’ chain. But for that very reason, he has been
and will be a minor-league free agent, and he’s allowing more than five runs
per nine innings without giving much reason to suspect there’s lightning to
be caught in a bottle. Who trades for this kind of guy? At least you could
donate the price of a waiver claim (because the Mariners do need roster
space once Jay Buhner comes back) to charity.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed RHP Mickey Callaway on the 15-day DL (hamstring); recalled LHP Alan
Newman
from Durham. [6/19]

Placed RHP Esteban Yan on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation); activated
RHP Albie Lopez from the DL. [6/20]

Some of what’s happened in the retiree’s megalopolis by the bay is just
plain old bad luck. Tony Saunders’ broken arm, certainly. But you’ve got a
pitching- and tools-oriented GM, an anointed pitching guru for a manager,
and you still manage to wind up with four starting pitchers on the DL? Okay,
one of them, Triple-A immortal Dave Eiland, should be coming off of the DL
to take over the fifth spot Callaway’s abandoning, but this seems like more
than just bad luck. For the time being, this means a rotation of Wilson
Alvarez, Ryan Rupe, Bryan Rekar, Bobby Witt and probably Eiland.

Year Two of the master plan makes Year One look pretty good in retrospect.
At least Lopez should be able to improve on his 7.94 ERA, but Yan was
struggling along with a 5.03. Both men were critical members of last year’s
great D-Rays pen, along with out-for-the-year Jim Mecir (lost to an injury
of the freaky variety). That’s a lot of injured or struggling pitchers, and
at some point you’d think somebody’s going to be held responsible.


TEXAS RANGERS

Placed RHP Mark Clark on the 15-day DL (sore elbow); recalled RHP Danny Kolb
from Oklahoma. [6/20]

Happy day! What other team can boldly improve on being in first place by
DL’ing Mark Clark’s 8.60 ERA for John Burkett and his obviously better 7.85?
The issue remains the same: are the Rangers going to trade for a starter or
two to avoid another year of being somebody else’s postseason speed bump?


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed LHP David Wells to a two-year contract extension, through 2002.
[6/20]

Released DH Dave Hollins. [6/21]

There’s speculation that the Blue Jays won’t be the ones paying this
contract, but I’d be surprised if Gord Ash dumps the man he got for the
Rocket this soon.

As for Dave Hollins, the best you can say for what he gave the Blue Jays is
that by acquiring him for Tomas Perez at the end of spring training, the
Jays needed to go out and get a shortstop once Alex Gonzalez went down, and
Tony Batista’s better than Hollins or Perez or Gonzalez, so hey, this story
has a happy ending after all, right? If they don’t trade Perez for Hollins,
the Jays might have Tomas Perez out there right now. So here’s to Dave
Hollins, for helping this team in all sorts of ways that don’t involve what
he does on the field. Is that what gets called chemistry?

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mcquown
8/02
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