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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Re-signed manager Terry Collins to a contract extension; activated SS Gary
Disarcina
from the DL; designated UT Tim Unroe for assignment. [6/22]

Disney rallies around its man, but it isn’t like they can’t afford to eat
the contract should they finally realize that Collins is part of the
problem. It’s been interesting to see how the local media has supported
Collins (running an expensive last-place team picked by some to win its
division), and ripped into Davey Johnson (running an expensive
almost-last-place team picked by some to win its division). The critical
ingredient in the coverage has been, as it always is, personalities, not
who’s done what or how well they’ve done it. The coverage is irrelevant,
except in how it can help create perceptions: if Disney thinks Collins is
an asset because the local beat writers think he’s swell, then they’re
using the wrong criteria to evaluate their manager.

As for DiSarcina’s return, there’s already speculation that he’s come back
too soon. If he’s 100%, he’ll give them a small situational advantage at
the bottom of the order, and he’ll give them more consistent play afield.
It won’t be enough to make the league’s worst offense noticeably better.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Recalled LHP Nick Bierbrodt from El Paso (Double-A) and RHP Vicente Padilla
from Tucson; designated LHP Ed Vosberg and RHP Dan Carlson for assignment.
[6/24]

A very interesting development, and a good sign that the D’backs have taken
their cue from their success with rookies Byung-Hyun Kim and Vladimir
Nunez: talent is important. Dan Carlson deserves a break, but Ed Vosberg is
Tony Fossas without the throwaway lines or highlight-reel home runs.
Bierbrodt was pitching pretty well as a starter in one of the toughest
minor-league ballparks, El Paso: a 4.62 ERA, 78 hits in 76 innings pitched,
only three home runs allowed. Unlike Vosberg, he can function as a long
reliever. Padilla is a control artist, having allowed only four walks in 25
2/3 innings at Tucson. Like Bierbrodt, he’ll give the team a long reliever
to potentially bridge games in which the starter gets knocked out early.
That’s only a notion, because Buck Showalter likes to leave his starters
out there, so Bierbrodt and Padilla can basically hope for the old cuppajoe
until Todd Stottlemyre and Flounder Swindell heal.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Placed C Javy Lopez on the 15-day DL (strained knee); recalled C Pascual
Matos
from Richmond. [6/23]

This is a loss the Braves cannot afford. Lopez has been having another
outstanding season (.321/.380/.560), while Eddie Perez has lapsed back to
his level of ability after last year’s fluke (currently at .217/.242/.261).
Matos is a non-entity, which reflects a major organizational problem. The
Braves are screwed if they lose almost any regular, because there’s no
position players currently above A-ball who are likely to contribute at the
major league level. Losing Lopez highlights this problem, but losing
Chipper Jones or Brian Jordan or Andruw Jones would be just as devastating.
Will John Schuerholz go out and find some patches, or will he stand by bad
investments like Otis Nixon and Ozzie Guillen?


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned RHP Rocky Coppinger to Rochester; recalled RHP Gabe Molina from
Rochester. [6/25]

You know Ray Miller is riding high when he gets to revel in his favorite
demotion, sending Rocky away. Unfortunately, the league has cancelled the
transaction, putting off Ray’s personal petty pleaures. As long as the team
sticks with Jason Johnson in the rotation, Coppinger would probably be
better off getting starts at Rochester. Molina could have helped, because
he was continuing to have a good year, posting a 1.75 ERA while punching
out 31 batters in 25 2/3 innings. Right-handed relief has been a problem
for the Orioles, and isn’t going to get better as long as they’re relying
on Ricky Bones.


BOSTON RED SOX

Activated RHP Bret Saberhagen from the DL; optioned RHP Kirk Bullinger to
Pawtucket; claimed LHP Travis Baptist off of waivers from the Twins and
optioned him to Pawtucket. [6/23]

Portugal’s been pitching well lately, so this means that at long last Pat
Rapp is getting bumped from the rotation, until Sabes either has another
post-party accident or hurts his fragile arm. This means they’re basically
set for the time being with their best-case rotation: Pedro Martinez,
Saberhagen, Portugal, Brian Rose and Jin Ho Cho. If everyone stays healthy
and pitching at about the same level, that creates an interesting dilemma
once Ramon Martinez is healthy. Portugal’s the obvious bump, but for the
money he’s making, do the Red Sox make that move?


CHICAGO CUBS

Placed RHP Terry Adams on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/19 (groin
strain); activated RHP Matt Karchner from the DL. [6/24]

Adams is re-injured. Jeremi Gonzalez gets re-injured, after complaining
that the club mishandled his initial surgery last summer, only to get
fricaseed for his honesty by Jim Riggleman and a collection of Chicago
Tribune lackeys. Add this to Rod Beck’s complaint that the Cubs screwed
around with his back and elbow problems this spring, and the Kerry Wood
blowout, and you’ve got what looks like a major problem. While you probably
can’t make a claim that everything is clearly the fault of Riggleman or Ed
Lynch or Andy MacPhail, the Cubs clearly have a recent history of trying to
rush people back too soon or mishandling their rehabilitation. How much of
this is the product of the unrealistic expectations of contention this year?


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated OF Mark Whiten from the DL; optioned OF Alex Ramirez to Buffalo.
[6/24]

Activated 3B Travis Fryman from the DL; optioned OF Jacob Cruz to Buffalo.
[6/25]

A case in which money equals inertia. Cruz whacked three home runs in ten
games, and would be a solid regular in an outfield corner on many teams.
But Mark Whiten’s making guaranteed money, so whatever Cruz did was only
enough to demonstrate he’s going to be a critical part of another good
Bisons lineup. Hopefully Cruz did enough to prick up somebody else’s
interest, should the Indians make that long-anticipated stretch-drive trade
for a pitcher.


DETROIT TIGERS

Placed Pool King Gregg Jefferies on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/21
(elbow, bat sprain, something); recalled INF Jose Macias from Toledo. [6/24]

It isn’t just any DH who can make the claim that he could raise his batting
average as much as 100 points, and nevertheless remain the worst DH in the
league. And given that Randy Smith named just about everyone else he picked
up over the winter a team captain, we hope Jefferies is granted at least a
lieutenantcy. Maybe Team Corporal. Hall Monitor?

As completely useless as Jefferies has been, adding Macias automatically
improves Larry Parrish’s roster. Macias isn’t much of a hitter, but having
him around lets Parrish pinch-hit for Deivi Cruz without subsequently
having to ask an unwilling Damion Easley to play shortstop.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Activated PH Jack Howell from the DL; recalled RHP Jose Cabrera from New
Orleans; optioned 1B/LF Daryle Ward and RHP Jeff McCurry to New Orleans.
[6/24]

The Astros took advantage of interleague play to get Ward some major league
at-bats, but now that they’re back into divisional play, they let Ward go
back to regular playing time at New Orleans, while Howell will pinch-hit
for the big league club. I’d be happier for if they kept Ward around to
play some left field, because there isn’t much left for him to prove in the
minors. They’ll probably settle for making him eligible for the postseason
roster by bringing him up at the end of August.

Adding Cabrera for McCurry is an upgrade. Cabrera was having a good year as
a spot starter and middle reliever, posting a 2.98 ERA while stiking out 30
in 39 1/3 innings, allowing 29 hits, 11 walks, and just three home runs. He
throws pretty hard, and should be a useful long reliever and 11th man on
the staff.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Claimed RHP Mac Suzuki off of waivers from the Mets. [6/22]

Optioned LHP Tim Byrdak to Omaha. [6/23]

Placed RHP Jose Santiago on the 15-day DL (sore trapezius); optioned INF
Steve Scarsone to Omaha; recalled INF Jed Hansen and LHP Tim Byrdak from
Omaha. [6/25]

Herk Robinson has earned flak for years of missteps, but this year he has
availed himself of the free talent he can snag on the waiver wire. I’m not
a big Suzuki booster, but chances are anyone who’s escaped Lou Piniella’s
clutches is going to get better. Suzuki does throw hard, and the patience
(or as Rany puts it, stubbornness) that Tony Muser has shown with Jay
Witasick, with whom the Royals went through two rough months before he
began pitching well, could be a road map for how Suzuki would start
adjusting to the majors. At least initially, Suzuki will be in the pen,
after which the Royals will decide whether he’ll replace Witasick or Chris
Fussell in the rotation.

Losing Santiago may look like it’s going to hurt, since he has the best ERA
of any Royals reliever, but he’s been Dwayne Henryesque in his ability to
plate inherited runners. Definitely not the best way to make friends in the
clubhouse.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned RHP Rob Radlosky to Salt Lake. [6/24]

Activated RHP Hector Carrasco from the DL. [6/25]

As the Pioneer Press figured out, Radlosky was giving up a home run
about every twenty pitches. Calling him up seemed like a strange decision
in the first place, but Tom Kelly isn’t helping by not doing a good job of
using all twelve of his pitchers. Gary Rath’s been on the roster for almost
a month, and hasn’t gotten to ten innings yet.

Carrasco’s return may let him claim the setup job, allowing Kelly to
reserve Bob Wells for a role in which he comes in with runners aboard,
where he’s had some success. Yes, even though it doesn’t matter, the Twins
are splicing roles just as if it did, with guys you wouldn’t normally think
of using in these ways.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed 3B Michael Barrett on the 15-day DL (sprained shoulder); recalled 1B
Brad Fullmer and purchased the contract of RHP Mel Rojas from from Ottawa;
optioned RHP J.D. Smart to Ottawa. [6/25]

Barrett was bottoming out in a terrible slump, perhaps caused by Alou’s
constant flip-flopping of him between third base and catcher. Now that he’s
down after a collision at home plate, Shane Andrews should get most of the
playing time at the hot corner. Fullmer should get some playing time at
first base after having a nice .286/.356/.597 stint at Ottawa, but sadly
enough, the Expos need Ryan McGuire’s OBP more than what Fullmer has to
offer. The team’s offensive needs are so broad that they’ll also get to see
what Fernando Seguignol is going to do with regular playing time in left.

Basically, the Expos need to sort through their alternatives now, while
Rondell White is down and before Peter Bergeron comes up, to figure out
who’s going to be the team’s regular first baseman by season’s end:
Seguignol or Fullmer?

Mel Rojas is back? Ick. As much as he’s an old Alou favorite, and as many
recoveries have happened in Montreal, this is one I’m really skeptical
about. Rojas was pitching badly at Ottawa (5.14 ERA, 37 baserunners in 21
innings), and he’s been tateriffic and wild long enough that he can’t
simply say "it’s a weight problem" any more.


NEW YORK METS

Recalled INF Melvin Mora from Norfolk; optioned RHP Jason Isringhausen to
Norfolk; recalled RHP Octavio Dotel from Norfolk; placed (and lost to the
Royals) RHP Mac Suzuki on waivers. [6/22]

At long last, Dotel is up. It’s easy to say he’s going to have a better
career than any of the Young Guns; a dozen quality starts would top the
whole Dallas-ruined group. At Norfolk, he had a relatively high ERA (4.00)
despite allowing only 49 hits in 65 1/3 innings, while striking out 84 and
walking 32. He’s stepping right into the rotation in Izzy’s spot, and he
could be the team’s best starter in short order. Add that to the
possibility that Al Leiter and Rick Reed get back to where they were last
year, and you can see why the Mets think they’ve still got a chance to snag
at least the wild-card spot. That isn’t to say I think it’s going to
happen, but I can see Steve Phillips’ thinking.

As for losing Suzuki, why did they bother trading for him in the first
place? They needed the cash from the waiver claim? Like the Mariners
didn’t, after Safecostoverrungate.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Recalled OF Ricky Ledee from Columbus; optioned OF Tony Tarasco to
Columbus. [6/24]

Ledee didn’t hit that well in Columbus (.252/.346/.435). Shane Spencer
hasn’t hit well in yet another week-long audition for the left field job.
Tony Tarasco didn’t show much in his few starts. All of these guys have
something to offer, but none of them are going to look good if you only
give them a half-dozen starts to "win" the job. The constant
state of weekly panics isn’t helping; it never does. Brian Cashman needs to
act responsibly and give somebody the job for a month or two, not just for
a few games, before deciding whether a reshuffle is necessary.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Purchased the contract of RHP Chad Harville from Vancouver; optioned RHP
Brett Laxton to Vancouver. [6/22]

Activated OF Eric Stuckenschneider from the DL, and outrighted him to
Midland (Double-A). [6/24]

Harville is a pint-sized flamethrower, pure and simple. He throws
consistently in the high 90s, and punched out 52 batters in 35 1/3 innings
between the Texas League and the PCL. He should be the man who eventually
swipes the closer’s job from Billy Taylor, but for the time being, he’ll
get the opportunity to win the setup role, which will push T.J. Mathews
into the middle-relief role that Tim Worrell has flubbed so badly.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Placed SS Desi Relaford on the 15-day DL (torn ligament – wrist); recalled
RHP Cliff Politte from Reading (Double-A). [6/23]

Announced RHP Tyler Green has cleared waivers, and been outrighted to
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/24]

Calling up Politte should be a signal that the Phillies are finally tiring
of giving Robert Person his wish and letting him start. Person’s been
lousy, and Politte has been adequate in the Eastern League: 3-6 with a 3.87
ERA, 75 hits and 24 walks in 74 1/3 innings pitched, while striking out 72.
He was rushed by the Cardinals last year, and needed his first extended
trial at Double-A, which he seems to have profited from.

In Relaford’s absence, Alex Arias will get the lion’s share of playing time
at shortstop, which won’t hurt them too much offensively. The question is
who will caddy for Arias. Will Kevin Sefcik finally get back to playing
some infield? Or will David Doster get a spot start or two?


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Optioned RF Jose Guillen to Nashville; purchased the contract of 1B Ivan
Cruz
from Nashville; transferred INF Doug Strange from the 15- to the
60-day DL. [6/24]

Jose Guillen may be symbolic of the organization’s almost total rejection
of the products of its farm system. His failure to develop, or even
noticeably improve in any aspect of the game, hasn’t done him or his
coaches any credit. Calling up Cruz is a great day for minor league
veterans everywhere. He was killing minor league pitching again, pounding
23 home runs while hitting .338/.375/.704. It might be fun if they put Cruz
in at first, to move Kevin Young to right field. Of course, that would be a
tacit acknowledgement that Brant Brown’s not very useful, which they should
have know before they traded for him.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed UT Shawon Dunston on the 15-day DL (strained ribcage); placed RHP
Curtis King on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/21 (strained shoulder);
activated INF David Howard from the DL; recalled RHP Garrett Stephenson
from Memphis. [6/23]

Losing Dunston is particularly rough for LaRussa’s lineup because he’d been
the team’s patch at every position on the field and in the lineup. He was
hitting an incredible .361/.378/.557, with a passel of clutch pinch-hits,
and had generally been an outstanding utility man. Replacing him with
free-agent signee David Howard is even more unfortunate. It only gets worse
when you consider that this really reduced the team to even more playing
time for the collection of beef jerky and baling wire wearing Willie
McGee’s uniform.

Stephenson’s back from his rehab work; it will be interesting to see if
he’s going to overcome the reputation for abrasiveness that he earned with
the Phillies last year, because we all know how patient and understanding
Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan can be. Given the mess the entire pitching
staff has become, Stephenson might get to start, might get to relieve, and
will probably end up doing both. In the rotation, neither Juan Acevedo or
Kent Mercker have done much to inspire confidence, while Jose Jimenez has
saved himself some grief with last night’s no-hitter.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Placed C/1B Jim Leyritz on the 15-day DL (broken hand); recalled C Ben
Davis
from Las Vegas. [6/23]

Placed RF Tony Gwynn on the 15-day DL (strained calf); activated RHP Andy
Ashby
from the DL. [6/24]

Activated 1B Wally Joyner from the DL; optioned RHP Carlos Almanzar to Las
Vegas. [6/25]

The Pads are on a hot streak of sorts, so losing Gwynn is at least slightly
compensated for by Joyner’s return. The lineup desperately needs anyone
capable of getting on base, and Joyner’s nothing if not patient.

Ashby’s return highlights the fact that the team’s rotation is becoming a
strength. Brian Boehringer earned the right to keep starting, which means
that Heath Murray got bumped to the bullpen despite putting together a
credible performance as the fifth starter. Ben Davis coming up now is
probably slightly ahead of schedule, but he was beginning to hit well at
Las Vegas (.308/.384/.512). His glovework remains outstanding. The
"problem"? Does he get to play? The Padres have a relative wealth
of catchers, even with King Leyritz on the DL. Greg Myers has value in
trade, and Phil Nevin is a handy utility man. If Davis is ready right now,
they’re all out of jobs, and Kevin Towers will have catchers that some
contenders–Indians, Braves–could really use down the stretch. It should
be fun to see how this plays out.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Placed OF Armando Rios on the 15-day DL (torn rotator cuff); recalled OF
Calvin Murray from Fresno. [6/22]

First and second opinions concurred: Rios has a tear in his rotator cuff,
and it should be a while before we see him back. Highly-touted draft flop
Calvin Murray is up by accident, since he’ll almost certainly go back down
once Ellis Burks gets activated.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Activated RHP Paul Abbott from the DL; optioned RHP Aaron Scheffer to
Tacoma. [6/25]

"Thanks kid, and get the hell out of here." Scheffer’s saviordom
ends up lasting even less time than Steve Gajkowski’s did last year. What
kind of organization gets itself all worked up about how a minor-league
veteran mediocrity like Paul Abbott is going to help turn things around?
Since we know such a team exists, and won’t contend with that kind of
taste, the really important question is: Will that team trade for the Jaime
Navarros or Mike Oquists of the world? Woody Woodward’s phone ought to be
jumping…


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Activated RHP Dave Eiland from the DL; optioned LHP Alan Newman to Durham.
[6/23]

Eiland will reclaim his spot in the rotation, and should stick around until
at least the All-Star break, when Rolando Arrojo is supposed to be healthy.


TEXAS RANGERS

Placed CF Ruben Mateo on the 15-day DL (pulled groin); recalled CF
Scarborough Green from Oklahoma. [6/23]

That big sigh of relief was Tom Goodwin. Mateo’s injury prevents him
from getting an extended audition for Goodwin’s job, which means that Mateo
will go through the inevitable rehab assignment, and probably won’t have a
shot at putting on a major league uniform for at least a month. Goodwin
should be back and playing every day long before then, at which point the
Rangers will have to decide if they want to make the change down the
stretch, or if they’re afraid of putting Mateo into that kind of situation.
The chance is still there for Mateo to be the Rangers’ version of Andruw
Jones ’96 in the postseason. In the meantime, Scarborough Green’s up as a
defensive replacement for Roberto Kelly until Goodwin’s ready.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Placed CF Jose Cruz on the 15-day DL (fractured finger); purchased the
contract of OF Rob Butler from Knoxville (Double-A); transferred SS Alex
Gonzalez
from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/24]

How dangerous is little ball? Well, Cruz got injured while trying to bunt,
and now the Blue Jays wish they were so lucky as to have somebody like
Scarborough Green around. It’s bad enough that the payoffs for a successful
bunt are ludicrously puny, but when it carries a penalty like this….

In Cruz’ absence, they’re going to miss his bat (.225/.352/.421, with 47
walks), but who would have thought they were going to miss his glove? The
guy the Blue Jays are playing in his absence is old Cito Gaston fave Jacob
Brumfield, who is not a top notch glove and doesn’t hit well enough to
deserve a crack as the lefty-mashing half of a corner platoon. Rob Butler
was mauling people at Double-A, but 19 walks in 282 plate appearances isn’t
very productive, and he isn’t fast or a power hitter. His chief strength is
that he’s probably better than Jacob Brumfield, but not so good as to give
the Jays a legitimate center fielder. We may see Shannon Stewart get some
playing time in center, rag arm or no rag arm.

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