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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated RF Tim Salmon from the DL; designated UT Tim Unroe
for assignment. [7/17]

Activated RHP Ken Hill from the DL; optioned INF Andy Sheets
to Edmonton. [7/19]

Salmon’s back but restricted to DH for the near future, which means the
Halos will have to continue getting by with Orlando Palmeiro in right
field. That would be fine if the Angels would actually bat Palmeiro at the
top of the order, but they seem convinced that having Darin Erstad up top
is going to somehow help him shake out of his slump.

What’s really odd here is the decision to send Andy Sheets down to clear
space for Ken Hill. It isn’t that Sheets couldn’t use the regular work in
Edmonton, or hasn’t been a disappointment as an Angel. It’s that the
demotion leaves the Angels with a four-man bench of Jeff Huson, Reggie
Williams and the pair of catchers who should have Matt Walbeck’s job (Bret
Hemphill and Steve Decker).

Hill’s return won’t help all that much in the standings, but it will remove
one more excuse for why this club has disappointed its fans.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Returned RHP Darren Holmes to the 15-day DL (lower back pain);
recalled RHP Vincente Padilla from Tucson. [7/19]

Losing Holmes within a week of his reactivation isn’t a good thing, but it
also shouldn’t mean that much. The D’backs are stumbling back towards .500,
and although the bullpen helped make sure the Snakes didn’t have so far to
fall, there’s more wrong here than just the bullpen. Playing David Dellucci
daily would be a step in the right direction.


BOSTON RED SOX

Optioned RHP Jin Ho Cho to Pawtucket; recalled RHP Tomokazu
Ohka
from Pawtucket. [7/18]

Placed RHP John Wasdin on the 15-day DL (strained forearm); recalled
RHPs Jin Ho Cho and Marino Santana from Pawtucket; optioned
3B Wilton Veras to Trenton (Double-A). [7/19]

Cho’s down and up just like that, thanks to the declaration of soreness
reverberating throughout Beantown. He’ll get the start on Friday in Pedro’s
place. His problem seems pretty straightforward: he hasn’t adapted to
Fenway yet, Being a fine control pitcher, he’s firing strikes out over the
plate without wasting a few balls inside to right-handed batters to back
them off the plate, and they’re teeing off on him. Maybe the arrival of a
Japanese pitcher will get Cho cranky enough to start claiming the inside
the plate.

Ohka’s up after starting the year 11-0 in 17 starts at Trenton and
Pawtucket. In 95 innings between the two levels, he’d allowed 79 hits, and
29 walks, and struck out 78 hitters, putting together a 2.46 ERA.
Definitely not a case of getting Rapped around. Still, throwing a rookie
into the rotation entering what’s looking like a gory wild-card race seems
hasty, but until Juan Pena heals, the Red Sox need all the help they can
get in the rotation.

Santana should be useful in the pen. He was pitching well in middle relief
for the PawSox, allowing only 45 baserunners in 39 1/3 innings, punching
out 45 batters and compiling a 2.95 ERA. He looks like a potentially
outstanding late bloomer.


CHICAGO CUBS

Returned RHP Matt Karchner on the 15-day DL (re-strained groin);
optioned C Sandy Martinez to Iowa; recalled RHP Kyle
Farnsworth
from Iowa and RHP Steve Rain from West Tennessee
(Double-A). [7/17]

Tales of the Obvious: nobody claims Sandy Martinez on waivers. Matt
Karchner hurts himself. After these messages, we’ll bring you a story about
that pesky sun, still coming up in the east after all these years.

The hope is that Farnsworth is up to pitch some middle relief, but given
the length of his very successful outing against the Twins, Dan Serafini’s
struggles, and the general desire to move Terry Mulholland back into the
bullpen, his won’t be a long tenure in the pen.

Calling up Rain is almost inspired: he’s been outstanding as a closer at
Double-A, racking up 24 saves while punching out 55 batters in 45 1/3
innings. He also allowed only 32 hits. He seems to have regained control of
his outstanding slider. If you’ve never seen him pitch, try to. He’s
6’6" and probably around 250 pounds; somebody that big can’t help but
make you think of Fred Gwynne. He won’t get many save opportunities, and
he’ll almost certainly go down for Rod Beck when Shooter comes back, but at
least the Cubs will have the physical comedy aspect of things under control
in Beck’s absence.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Recalled RHP Pat Daneker from Charlotte; optioned LHP Todd
Rizzo
to Charlotte. [7/19]

No shocker as the Sox recall their current fifth-starter designate. Rizzo
flubbed his opportunity to push past Bryan Ward and Scott Eyre, although
not on the strength of anything either of them did. There’s been some
controversy locally over Manuel’s repeated use of Ward in key
situations–and the disasters that followed–over the weekend. But the Sox
aren’t going to win this year, and need to sort out whether they want to
have any of these guys around. The answer, built incrementally but
bloodily, game after game, is going to be a resounding "no," but
at least it won’t be for lack of trying.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Optioned UT Chris Sexton to Colorado Springs; recalled LHP
Roberto Ramirez from Colorado Springs. [7/18]

So the four-man rotation passes away, unmourned. Why is Ramirez joining
into the rotation? Because Jim Leyland likes left-handed starters, that’s
why. To be fair to Ramirez, he’s pitched well as a starter on Planet Coors’
moon, Colorado Springs: a 3.50 ERA, 64 hits and 17 walks in 61 2/3 innings,
55 strikeouts, and only six home runs allowed. That said, given Leyland’s
disgust for John Thomson and preference for Bobby Jones, it seems he still
hasn’t gotten a handle on the Coors experience.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Transferred OF Cliff Floyd from the 15- to the 60-day DL; purchased
the contract of INF Chris Clapinski from Calgary; optioned INF
Amaury Garcia to Calgary. [7/17]

This makes sense: Garcia needs to play every day to help Dave Dombrowski
decide whether he’s a prospect or not, or to encourage other GMs to covet
him as a throw-in in deals. Clapinski’s your run of the mill good bench
player. He can switch-hit, play anywhere other than pitcher and catcher,
was hitting well (.322/.393/.536), and since he’s about to turn 28, is
undoubtedly happy for the opportunity. He’ll be a useful part of a strong
bench.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Activated RHP Doug Henry off of the DL; optioned RHP Wade
Miller
to New Orleans. [7/15]

Designated C Randy Knorr for assignment; recalled INF Carlos
Hernandez
from New Orleans. [7/18]

Another reinforcement, and an interesting twist, for the Astros. If he’s
100% healthy and anything close to where he was in the first half of last
year, Henry will do a lot to replace Scott Elarton in the bullpen. That
will make it much easier for them to leave Elarton in the rotation. Of
course, Jose Cabrera’s also looking good during his second chance, so the
Astros may not have to shop out of need come the trade deadline.

Calling up Hernandez is very interesting. Hernandez was hitting well
(.298/.365/.337), and he’s a very good glove at shortstop or second base.
Much of that OBP comes from his willingness to take a pitch (plunked ten
times so far), and he can run a bit (17/8 SB/CS). What his callup really
signals is that the team doesn’t think Bill Spiers or Russ Johnson can play
much shortstop, which means Johnson’s probably out of luck when the team
activates Ken Caminiti. For several teams who could use a guy who can play
second or third and get on base, like the Cubs or Rockies or A’s or
Indians, Johnson could be an extremely nifty waiver pickup.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed RF Jeromy Burnitz on the 15-day DL (broken bone – hand). [7/18]

Designated RHP Jim Pittsley for assignment; recalled RHP Kyle
Peterson
from Louisville. [7/19]

Losing Burnitz is obviously a critical blow to the Brewers’ wild-card
chances, and considering the alternative is Alex Ochoa, probably mortal.
Although they still have Dave Nilsson and Geoff Jenkins to menace pitchers
from the left side, and even though Burnitz is theoretically only going to
be gone for three weeks, and just as theoretically, he’d only be worth X
number of runs over Ochoa anyway, I can’t shake the idea that this brings
any delusions of grandeur to an end. That isn’t the end of the world: if
the Brewers want to have an "exit strategy" out of the last
campaign in County Stadium, they can always blame the injury to Burnitz.

The Brewers are hoping Pittsley accepts the assignment, because while Sal
Bando’s been happily scooping up people like him and Rocky Coppinger, he
ran out of roster room when it came time to call up Peterson. Of course,
what they really want is for Jim Abbott to retire or Cal Eldred to learn
how to pitch without the fastball he left on the surgeon’s table.

The Brewers’ top pick in the ’97 draft, Peterson doesn’t throw hard but he
does have command of four pitches thrown out of a deceptive delivery. He’s
already drawn comparisons to Steve Woodard. At Louisville this year, he’d
put up a 3.55 ERA in 109 innings, allowing 90 hits and 42 walks to go with
95 strikeouts and 13 home runs. The Brewers would probably be better off
breaking him in as a middle reliever, and putting a vet like David Weathers
out there for a couple of turns through the rotation. But Peterson’s dealt
well with a lot of expectations so far, and Phil Garner’s outfit has a
definite need right now.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Activated RF Matt Lawton from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Dan
Perkins
to Salt Lake. [7/18]

Lawton’s return should put an end to Marty Cordova’s career as a Twins’
outfielder, while also cutting into Torii Hunter’s playing time. That’s
fine, since Hunter’s already gotten all the ABs he needed to convince
people he’s going to be a very good defensive replacement for years to
come. Now the Twins need Lawton to get back to where he was last year, so
that they can put Randy Smith’s Tigers into the basement once and for all.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled RHP Javier Vazquez from Ottawa; activated OF Rondell
White
from the DL; optioned OF Chris Stowers to Ottawa. [7/17]

White’s return is critical for this team. Without him, they have to
struggle with the hopeless choice between Terry Jones and anybody not named
Terry Jones. With White, they can reduce Jones to a part-time role with
James Mouton.

Vazquez returns to inherit Carl Pavano’s rotation spot. After losing his
slot earlier this year, he’d pitched at Triple-A about like you would
expect a guy with almost no experience above A-ball before ’98 to: a 4.85
ERA, 45 hits (seven home runs) and 16 walks allowed in 42 2/3 innings, with
46 strikeouts. He’s still a work in progress, and calling him up now is
probably ill-considered.


NEW YORK METS

Optioned DH Mike Kinkade to Norfolk; recalled RHP Octavio
Dotel
from Norfolk. [7/19]

As expected, Dotel returns after the break. He’s definitely
Johnny-on-the-spot, in that if he pitches to his potential, he could be the
pitcher who puts the Mets comfortably into the wild-card spot. His start
Monday was a good sign.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Optioned RHP Garrett Stephenson to Memphis; recalled RHP Rick
Heiserman
from Memphis. [7/18]

At this point, Walt Jocketty and Tony LaRussa are treating the Cardinals’
bullpen like Bill Shatner treated the infamous "red shirt guys"
in the original Star Trek series: dispensable bodies to find out what the
villains were up to.

Sadly, this is baseball, not a cheesy set, so those explosions are real
runs scoring, not a neat way to make some giant pizza-puff space monster
wear itself out. Heiserman’s pitched badly in Memphis. Stephenson’s pitched
badly in St. Louis. With the clock ticking and the games counting, the
Cardinals are just about ready to sign off on this season if they don’t get
their acts together within the next ten days and do something.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated RF Tony Gwynn from the DL; optioned LHP Heath
Murray
to Las Vegas. [7/19]

Boggs was starting to look like he’d get to 3,000 first, so can you blame
Gwynn for wanting to come back? Since the Pads have a good group of
outfielders to carry Gwynn through a few extra days off now and then, they
can afford to let him hang around and play when he can.

Meanwhile, Murray gets to go down and start regularly. Now that Brian
Boehringer’s got the fifth spot locked up, and with the rest of the
rotation rolling along, Murray’s a commodity Kevin Towers can afford to
shop next winter.


TEXAS RANGERS

Recalled RHP Ryan Glynn from Oklahoma; optioned CF Scarborough
Green
to Oklahoma. [7/19]

Recalling Glynn to drop him into the rotation is basically indefensible if
the organization has any serious interest in his future. He’s been awful
from the get-go, and the Rangers can’t always count on their ability to
outscore the opposition. Why did they go out and get Esteban Loaiza in the
first place, if not to start? What’s Glynn going to learn getting hammered
every fifth night out? As pathetic as it sounds, maybe they should do the
Red Sox a favor and inquire after Pat Rapp.

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