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BOSTON RED SOX Return to Top

Activated LHP Lenny DiNardo from the
60-day DL. [9/16]

It’s nice to have DiNardo around, if only as a third
lefty to use in lost causes, desperate situations, or
because either Alan Embree or Mike Myers need a day
off. Not that he’s terrible, he just shouldn’t have a
shot at the postseason roster with either of them
around.

CLEVELAND INDIANS Return to Top

Placed RHP Kazuhito Tadano on the
60-day DL (lower back injury). [9/16]

Recalled OF-L Grady Sizemore from
Buffalo. [9/19]

Recalled SS/3B-R Jhonny Peralta, RHP
Fernando Cabrera, and 2B/SS-R
Brandon Phillips from Buffalo;
purchased the contracts of RHP Jake
Robbins
and OF-R Ernie Young
from Buffalo. [9/19]

All hail the conquering heroes, your 2004 Buffalo
Bisons, International League champeens. It’s mildly
interesting that some of the guys who came up big in
the series victory over Richmond aren’t here–Brent
Abernathy, Jason Tyner, Dusty Wathan, Evan Thomas–but
the names involved sort of explain why.

But as for the other happy few, it’s cool to see Ernie
Young up, but that’s partially because I always think
it’s cool to see Ernie Young up, and partially because
the injury to Jody Gerut left the Tribe slightly
short-handed. Young had another excellent year in
Triple-A (.299/.368/.551), and at 35, he has no real
future. While I would never have been wild about
having to play him all year in a corner in the big
leagues, if you were short-handed and needed a temp, a
lot of teams can and have done a lot worse.

Gerut’s injury also makes it easier to plug Grady
Sizemore back into the lineup, but that was going to
happen anyway. The real winner, temporarily, is
playing time bottom-feeder Coco Crisp, who’s had a
nifty season, the sort that makes fourth outfielders
wealthy men working well into their 30s. It worked for
Thomas Howard, certainly. Crisp’s versatility might be
considered an agglomeration of non-great skills, but
it’s exactly the sort of thing that’s going to keep
him in a big league uniform, and not have to worry
about enduring Young’s fate. So Crisp will be handy
into next year, and if Sizemore struggles into May and
Gerut comes back, the Tribe will have the flexibility
to consider a few alternatives.

Finally, those sorts of minor considerations aside,
the Tribe has both Peralta and Phillips to look at.
Although Phillips’ return to usefulness has been
widely hailed for hitting .303/.363/.430 (which boils
down to a Pokeyriffic .234 translated Equivalent
Average), it’s Peralta who really thumped at the
plate–.326/.384/.493, good for a .257 translated
EqA–en route to winning the IL MVP award. The two of
them shared the job at short, while alternating
between second base (in Phillips’ case) or third (in
Peralta’s). You’d think, with two guys who can play
short on the cusp of readiness, Omar Vizquel would be
expendable. He’s about to become a free agent, so
local icon or not, Mark Shapiro should be making some
cold-blooded evaluations about his available talent
and budget for 2005.

Is Vizquel worth re-signing? At 37, his defense has
clearly dropped a peg, and although he had his best
offensive season in the last four, he didn’t hit for
power, and it came at the age where you thank him for
it, not give him a raise. It would be a bit strange to
try to squeeze Vizquel, Phillips, Peralta, and Ronnie
Belliard into the middle infield next season. Third
base won’t be in play, not with Casey Blake and Aaron
Boone around, and with Belliard also eligible for free
agency, the Tribe really should choose one. In the
whole mess, the only guy with any job security might
be John McDonald, if only because his gig as the
utility infielder who’s really just a defensive
replacement will come in handy for Peralta or Phillips
at short.

Shapiro’s choice isn’t easy: Neither Peralta nor
Phillips look great at short, and below them
in-system, Ivan Ochoa didn’t do much to reward the
confidence that he’s the shortstop of the future. So
re-signing Vizquel would be defensible, with Phillips
playing a lot of second, and Peralta almost certainly
having to learn the position. Although politics might
enter into it, Shapiro might be able to let money sort
out who gets kept. If Vizquel or Belliard want
considerably more than an older player is worth, they
might have to become acquainted with the fates of
Mickey Morandini or Jody Reed the hard way, and learn
that the bird in hand is worth more than a glib
assurance from your agent that there are lot of other
birds.

Finally, on the pitching side of the ledger, Cabrera
and Robbins might get an inning here or there, but I
wouldn’t bet on their getting more than that sort of
token consideration. Cabrera’s the genuine prospect,
at least as much as a future big league reliever can
be called such. Striking out 92 hitters in 75 IP is
promising enough as is, but toss in allowing only 57
hits (but 40 unintentional walks), and you’ve got the
statistical profile of a guy who cooks with gas.
Robbins is 28 and more of a swing-man. Having moved
from the Braves to the Rockies to the Tribe after
washing out of the Yankees organization, while it’s
cool to see him up after helping the Bisons win, it
shouldn’t be interpreted as a portent of a better
future.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS Return to Top

Recalled RHPs Joe Blanton and
Justin Lehr, and 1B-L Dan
Johnson
from Sacramento; designated C-R
Mike Rivera for assignment. [9/18]

Johnson and Blanton are both here to witness this
team’s race for a tri-pennant, and have that under
their belt going into camp next year. Johnson’s season
at Sacramento looks great (.299/.403/.534, with 29
home runs and 87 unintentional walks), but you have to
keep in mind that it came in the PCL; it only
translates to a big league .254 Equivalent Average,
and during a year when Scott Hatteberg justified the
organization’s investment in him, that’s not good
enough to have been pushed up in-season. This winter
might be a bit more interesting, since Billy Beane
could let Erubiel Durazo slip away as a free agent if
they decide to non-tender him. (Could even Ahab tire
of his white whale? I suppose so, if, after a while,
he found out that it was useful, but not that much
more special than other cetaceans.)

Blanton had a nice enough season as a rotation regular
for the RiverCats, with the sort of performance that
reflects the organization’s faith in command of stuff
as opposed to pure stuff. He allowed 5.2 runs per
nine, striking out 7.3, walking only 1.6, and allowing
only 13 homers in 176.1 IP. It might not be Mulder he
makes expendable, as we speculated in this year’s book,
but he’ll be in consideration for the rotation as
Beane sorts out what to do about the long-term
allegiances of the Big Three.

SEATTLE MARINERS Return to Top

Activated RHP Julio Mateo from the
15-day DL. [9/16]

There’s something a bit sad about the Mariners having
to feel extra-good about getting Mateo back from his
sore elbow, but when your other marquee relievers are
J.J. Putz and Shiggy Hasegawa, you’re not exactly in a
happy place. As is, I’m sort of expecting somebody in
the AL West to complain about the other guys drawing
Cha Seung Baek as the opposing starter more often.
Considering how poorly Baek is pitching, perhaps the
most sportsmanlike decision might be to paste Ron
Villone back into the rotation until it doesn’t matter
anymore, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to
happen.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS Return to Top

Designated RHP Aquilino Lopez for
assignment. [9/19]

There’s speculation that Lopez wore himself out
pitching winter ball, and doesn’t seem inclined to
give that up, which cut into whatever patience the
Jays might have had with a guy who’s basically a
one-pitch pitcher. Relievers can be treated a bit
interchangeably, but I’m not sold that Lopez can’t be
useful for somebody somewhere next season.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Return to Top

Activated 1B-R Greg Colbrunn from the
60-day DL. [9/17]

I suppose the question here is what the point might be
of having Colbrunn around. Spot-starting him at first
might get Chad Tracy–a sort of Scott
Cooper
for the aughts–onto the bench against
tough or merely semi-tough lefties (.232/.280/.323 in
the BOB is pretty useless), while letting Shea
Hillenbrand retain some of his chops as a third
baseman in that situation. But they’re already doing
that with Andy Green, sensibly enough, although that’s
a straight platoon with Tracy, with no cross-diamond
flip-flops; Hillenbrand’s rooted at first. Whether
they keep playing Green, or let Tracy show if he can
improve against lefties, they’re making the right
call. If they’re letting Colbrunn appear in a game
before calling it quits, that’s nice and all, but like
Carlos Baerga and Quinton McCracken, these last two
weeks should really be an opportunity to say good-bye.

HOUSTON ASTROS Return to Top

Recalled C-R Chris Tremie from New
Orleans; designated RHP Kirk
Bullinger
for assignment. [9/19]

The Astros seem to be turning their backstop follies
into the same sort of fetishized weakness that Dick
Williams would cultivate with his second basemen. Pick
a scab long enough, and it’ll scar up for sure. I know
everyone’s in a rush to congratulate Phil Garner at
the moment; I guess this is one of those lighter notes
that remind us how quickly he got into the spirit of
the thing when it comes to managing the Astros.

Anyway, Tremie shares with Raul Chavez that apparently
critical qualification for being a spare catcher on
the Astros, which is that he’ll never hit well enough
to make anyone wonder why Brad Ausmus is still a
regular. Do you think it’s easy to find those guys?

MONTREAL EXPOS Return to Top

Acquired a PTBNL and cash from the Padres for SS-R Alex
Gonzalez
. [9/16]

Recalled SS-R Josh Labandeira from
Harrisburg (Double-A). [9/17]

The Expos might just be a glorified storage rack and
holding tank, but dumping A-Gonz the Other on one of
their needy patrons gives the organization a nice
opportunity to take a longer look at Maicer Izturis at
shortstop–though granted, he should have been playing
there all along. The frustration is that Brendan
Harris has to ride pine so that Tony Batista can keep
his hollow
legionnaire
act going, and this is a team that
ought to be looking at both Harris and Izturis for
next year’s infield. Vidro and Nick Johnson should
give the right side veteran-ness or whatnot, and
letting the kids handle the left side would be cheap
and promising, the note this team has to strike if
Omar Minaya’s going to have some small bit of freedom
to spend on something he could really use.

That problem is writ small with the decision to bring
up Labandeira. I suppose the Expos can be grateful
that they were granted this additional token of
consideration from their liege lords, and notionally,
Labandeira could slide into a utility infield role.
Unfortunately, that’s where Jamey Carroll seems rooted
in place, complete with his own scrappy rep. Will
Minaya have the nerve to non-tender Carroll? He didn’t
have the nerve with Joey Eischen, so I don’t see why
we can’t expect the Expos to wind up paying too much
for their utility infielder. Not that this is a knock
against Carroll; he’s useful enough, especially with
his excellent .390 OBP this season. But Labandeira’s
hitting credentials are of the similarly modest/useful
variety (.270/.357/.381, and everybody loves somebody
who’s had to dust himself off after 16 HBPs), he plays
an adequate (if error-prone) short and should probably
be athletic enough to handle the other infield
positions, he’ll make the minimum next year, and one
has to wonder if Carroll’s ’04 performance is an
aberration of sorts. The bigger question: As long as
the Expos have to live hand-to-mouth, why overpay on
the little stuff?

NEW YORK METS Return to Top

Acquired 2B-L Josh Hoffpauir (A-ball)
to complete the Scott Erickson deal.
[9/18]

Nothing for nothing seems appropriate enough. A
27-year-old who was in A-ball…well, as much as it
was only Scott Erickson that they gave up, I guess a
fruit basket would have been a slightly more
diplomatic touch. I suppose Mayor Bloomberg has some
regulation in place, blocking shipments from
out-of-state florists or somesuch, so Hoffpauir it is.

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Acquired SS-R Alex
Gonzalez
from the Expos for a PTBNL and cash.
[9/16]

Activated RHP Jay Witasick from the
15-day DL. [9/18]

It’s always nice, when you’re one of 29 co-owners of
another team, to be able to exploit that situation in
a moment of need. Consider this another exercise
demonstrating the Expos’ reduction to the game’s Kwik-E-Mart,
catering to the short-handed, and stocked with other
people’s extra inventory.

Still, with both Sean Burroughs and Khalil Greene
breaking down, something understandably had to be
done. It’s a particularly bitter denouement when you
note how Greene seemed to be blossoming down the
stretch, pasting nine home runs in the last six weeks.
In their absences, the Pads have to try to win the
wild card with a platoon of Ramon Vazquez and A-Gonz
at short, while winging it at third with a bit too
much Rich Aurilia. As ad hoc arrangements, it’s pretty
good. An Alexmon Gonzquez platoon provides a nice
balance of offense and defense. Ideally, you could
argue that they should let Dave Hansen get another
couple of starts at the hot corner, because they’re
better off hoping to score a few extra runs than
worrying about one tough defensive play potentially
ending their season, but Hansen hasn’t so much as bruised
a vole on the mouse organ
since joining the Pads.

For those who really sweat the small stuff, you might
wonder why they didn’t call up J.J. Furmaniak, since
he had a decent enough year at Portland:
.294/.348/.489, good for a .237 Equivalent
Average–not great, but not the sort of thing you
lightly cast aside considering A-Gonz’s .211 awful EqA
this year. Although Furmaniak isn’t on the 40-man
roster, neither was A-Gonz the Lesser. I suspect that
Gonzalez’s defensive rep, plus Vazquez’s spotty,
injury-marred season and lightly regarded glove, plus
those always-open Expos, made this solution simply too
conveniently convenient.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS Return to Top

Activated RHP Jerome Williams from
the 15-day DL. [9/16]

It’s a reflection of how dicey the Giants’ situation
is that Williams might get pressed into action while
still recuperating from last month’s knee surgery.
They’re more sure about his working out in Arizona
after the season, but with Dave Burba down with a
separated shoulder, the Giants might need every
hurling hominid they can press into action if they’re
to reach the postseason.