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BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned 3B Ryan Minor to Rochester. [7/20]

Acquired RHP Al Reyes from the Brewers to complete the
Coppinger trade. [7/21]

Activated 2B Delino DeShields from the DL; optioned 2B
Jerry Hairston to Rochester. [7/22]

If you’re a veteran second baseman, you more than most should be
singing the praises of a Combined Bargaining Agreement that
effectively makes all contracts guaranteed. There are very few
teams in baseball that don’t have a talented young second baseman
either up and playing, or already past A-ball.

The Orioles have made plenty of mistakes, but in the wake of
mistaking last year as something to build on, the decision to
sign DeShields to a multi-year deal stands out as one of the
turkeys. Now admittedly, it made sense for the Orioles to make
a veteran pickup to run out there until they could be sure
Hairston was ready, and again, maybe I shouldn’t kvetch about
how Pete Angelos chooses to waste his money. But DeShields has
been slipping defensively for several seasons, to the point
that he’s going to have to start doing the Tony Phillips Shuffle
(or Lenny Harris, if you prefer) to third or the outfield
corners. That’s the best case for the O’s: they convert DeShields
into a multi-positional utility regular. The worst case is that
they lug his contract around while letting Hairston continue to
entertain the good people up in Syracuse.

Reyes is a nice pickup, and could be the answer to the Orioles’
needs for a right-handed reliever. Of course, when the
alternatives are unreliable (Mike Timlin), or realiably awful
(Ricky Bones or Scott Kamieniecki), it’s good to take a dive
into the unknown. Reyes frustrated Phil Garner to no end with
his tendency to walk the first batter he faced, but he’s good
movement on his fastball, and if ex-pitching coach
extraordinaire Ray Miller can do anything with him, it’ll be
one of the few good things to happen in Baltimore this year.


BOSTON RED SOX

Acquired RHP Julio Santana from the Devil Rays for a
PTBNL; designated LHP Travis Baptist for assignment. [7/21]

Santana’s coughed up 98 baserunners in 55.1 innings, and cranked
out a 7.32 ERA. He has about as much opportunity to contribute to
the Red Sox as someone like Bob Wolcott. On the basis of a nice
second half in ’98, Santana might turn into something useful a
couple of years down the line, but he’ll have to fight past about
a dozen other candidates for the back of the rotation or the
middle relief jobs.


CHICAGO CUBS

Activated RHP Rod Beck from the DL; optioned RHP Steve
Rain
to Iowa.
[7/21]

If you missed Steve Rain, shame on you. In the meantime, Beck’s
back. How he’ll be used, and whether he’ll be useful, are open
questions. He gutted through his back problems, squabbled with
management over his elbow surgery. Terry Adams is the best
reliever the Cubs have, but reserving him for save situations
may only guarantee those few potential wins which get past Beck
and Aguilera first.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Purchased the contract of RHP Joe Davenport from Birmingham
(Double-A); optioned RHP Pat Daneker to Birmingham. [7/20]

Davenport may get to stick around, while Daneker has no guarantees
of coming back up for Saturday’s start against the Blue Jays.
Davenport has good movement on his stuff, throws hard, and
impressed management in camp with his willingness to workside
(or in English, start a brawl with the Rockies). So who takes a
dive for Saturday’s call-up, and who will that call-up be? It’s
looking very likely that John Snyder will come back, although
there’s some hope that either Kip Wells or Aaron Myette could
get the call to audition for a spot in the rotation.

Using all of them while peddling James Baldwin and hopefully
Jaime "Senor Smoke and Mirrors" Navarro would be in
the Sox’ best interests. Baldwin’s "good starts"
keep coming against some of the league’s worst lineups.


CINCINNATI REDS

Acquired OF Kerry Robinson from the Mariners for RHP
Todd Williams.
[7/22]

Williams wasn’t helping Indy anyways (he’s pitching in the Pan Am
games), so adding Robinson isn’t such a bad thing. Robinson was
having a nice season as Tacoma’s leadoff man: .322/.348/.424,
with 30 steals. Although he’s never really going to be a prospect,
Robinson could turn into a good fifth outfielder, and his skill
set (hit for a good average, play all three outfield spots, good
speed) can be handy for a defensive replacement, pinch-hitter,
and pinch-runner. In other words, the things a team can use from
a fifth outfielder when it has Dmitri Young and Greg Vaughn
thundering around in the corners.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed RHP Jaret Wright on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/19
(strained shoulder); purchased the contract of LHP Chris Haney
from Buffalo; designated LHP Mike Matthews for assignment.
[7/22]

The Tribe is claiming Wright will only miss two starts, and that he
simply needs to rest. If so, and if the damage isn’t more serious,
bully for John Hart for being conservative enough to rest Wright. In
the meantime, the Indians can sort out why they really have both
Tom Candiotti and Doc Gooden on the roster, while helping out all
sorts of opposing batters’ numbers.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed PH Jack Howell on the 15-day DL (ruptured tendon sheath
– wrist); recalled 1B/LF Daryle Ward from New Orleans. [7/20]

Ward has absolutely nothing left to learn at Triple-A. He’s poked 28
homeruns in 61 games for New Orleans, while hitting .353/.416/.772.
If Randy Smith hadn’t made the mistake of trading him, Tony Clark
would be a memory. As long as Derek Bell’s bitching and moaning about
hitting sixth (or more appropriately, batting sixth, or really
appropriately, making outs someplace other than behind Craig Biggio),
and with the Astros’ offense scuffling, it’s time to shake things up.
Bell has little defensive value, so go for the elephant lineup, with
Berkman in left and Ward in right. And have someone carry Ricky
Hidalgo’s luggage on the road, because he’s already going to carrying
two big packages playing center field between these two.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Released LHP Jim Abbott; purchased the contract of RHP
Reggie Harris from Louisville. [7/22]

There isn’t much left to say about Jim Abbott. It was great to see him
get his major league hit (against the Cubs, naturally), but after
allowing 71 runs in 82 innings pitched, it’s time to say there’s
nothing left. Watching Jim Abbott pitch a shutout against the White
Sox in old Comiskey is among my favorites of the games I’ve seen live,
and for that I’m always going to have a soft spot in my heart or head
for him. But here’s hoping he hangs it up, because he isn’t really
helping anyone these days.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned RHP Mike Lincoln to Salt Lake; recalled LHP Mark
Redman
from Salt Lake. [7/21]

It’s an interesting contrast for the Twins. Entering this season,
most people would have thought that between Lincoln and Joe Mays,
Lincoln was easily the better prospect. So Lincoln went right
into the rotation, got rocked, saw his ERA finally wind up around
seven, and earned a demotion. Meanwhile, Joe Mays went to the pen,
mopped up, finally entered the rotation for Dan Perkins (another
rookie ahead of Mays, and like Lincoln, someone rocked early and
often), and now he’s been red-hot as a starter. There’s a lesson
there, the oft-repeated and still-true dictate of Earl Weaver:
break rookie starters in as middle relievers.

Mark Redman won’t get that luxury, but after a few years of Salt
Lake to take the lustre off of his prospect status as a top pick
in ’95, anything looks better than the PCL. Redman doesn’t throw
that hard, but he has good command of his assortment, and he’s
been hot this year: 9-6 (including a 9-2 run since May 1 with an
ERA under three), a 4.18 ERA, 106 hits, only 7 homeruns, and 41
walks allowed in 107.2 IP, with 98 strikeouts. He could end up
being a solid workhorse in a young and talented rotation, behind
Brad Radke, Eric Milton, and Mays, leaving LaTroy Hawkins in the
fifth slot to get sorted out. That’s a big step up from the
Opening Day outfit.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed RHP Miguel Batista on the 15-day DL, retroactive to
7/16 (strained oblique); recalled RHP J.D. Smart from
Ottawa. [7/20]

Smart merely inherits Batista’s middle relief role. Since the Expos
already have two solid right-handed middle relievers in Bobby Ayala
and Anthony Telford, that won’t translate into a lot of work for
Smart, other than the obligatory blowout and mop-up duty.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed OF Tim Raines on the 15-day DL (kidney inflammation);
recalled RHP Blake Stein from Vancouver. [7/20]

In the wake of trading Kenny Rogers (more on that Monday), it looks
like Blake Stein will be going straight into the rotation. He’s been
effective this year, despite only recording six decisions (4-2):
only 94 hits allowed in 109.2 IP, with 43 walks and 111 strikeouts,
posting a 4.10 ERA.

Tim Raines’ bizarre kidney ailment may not be renal failure, but
it’s frightening nevertheless. Our hopes and prayers are with Rock
that this isn’t anything really awful.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Recalled C Bobby Estalella from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre;
optioned RHP Joe Grahe to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/21]

Because of today’s double-header and Mike Lieberthal’s wonky (but
supposedly not wrecked) elbow, the Phillies had to have someone else
around to catch. Coming back from his own share of injury and woe,
Estalella’s struggled this year, hitting only .232/.333/.397 for
Scranton. Nevertheless, a nice showing over this weekend, followed
by a quick, complete recovery by Lieberthal might make this a good
period in which to peddle Estalella for some help if the Phillies
want to make their big push this year.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed C Keith Osik on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring);
recalled C Yamid Haad from Altoona (Double-A). [7/22]

Haad was sent back down after last night’s game, and with Nashville
needing to keep Tim Laker after having already lost Chris Tremie to
the big league roster, Cam Bonifay will probably be pulling the
trigger on a deal for an available veteran catcher sometime today.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Purchased the contract of RHP Larry Luebbers from Memphis;
optioned RHP Rick Heiserman to Memphis; transferred LHP
Donovan Osborne from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/20]

Larry Luebbers, you ask? Luebbers is one of those guys who’s managed
to hang on forever, while never suffering a major injury to keep him
from hanging around. He’s huge (6’6″), but doesn’t throw hard, so
he’s another one of those minor league Mike Smithson types that at
least looks big enough to pitch. He’s slowly turned into a finesse
guy, and he has been enjoying the best season he’s had in almost
eight spent bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A. This year, he’s
been Memphis’ Kent Bottenfield clone: 11-4 with a 3.91 ERA, allowing
114 hits and 29 walks in 112.2 IP, while striking out 74. He isn’t
going to be anything special, but he can be an adequate fill-in at
the back of a major league rotation, and the Cardinals desperately
needed anyone to be that instead of Juan Acevedo or Kent Mercker.
Nevertheless, this isn’t the sort of move that’s going to kick-start
the Cardinals into contention.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Activated 3B Charlie Hayes from the DL; optioned INF Ramon
Martinez
to Fresno. [7/21]

Brian Sabean almost certainly isn’t going to settle for this as his
stretch drive addition.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Recalled RHP Ryan Franklin from Tacoma; optioned LHP Damaso
Marte
to Tacoma. [7/21]

Acquired RHP Todd Williams from the Reds for OF Kerry
Robinson
. [7/22]

In case you were wondering if the Mariners knew what they were doing,
the answer is still no. Todd Williams has 24 saves, he throws strikes,
and he’s a borderline major leaguer. Emphasis on the word
"borderline." He’s also touting a 5.10 ERA, and he’s
currently occupied pitching in the Pan Am games. He isn’t really an
improvement on any of the Mariners’ options in the bullpen, but he’s
old, so maybe he’ll be the sort of sacrifice that appeases Mt.
Piniella. Piniella’s capricious misuse of young blood has been a
problem all season long, and maybe it will take an old hand to tell
him that he should stop trying to upstage or humiliate pitchers, and
start trying to run his team in a responsible manner. Well,
it could happen. More likely, Ryan Franklin will get to
be another notch in Lou’s bullwhip, as he flogs some new unfortunate
for not being a Nasty Boy.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Acquired RHP Marty Barnett from the Philadelphia Phillies for
a PTBNL. [7/20]

Placed SS Kevin Stocker on the 15-day DL (knee inflammation);
placed 1B/3B Herbert Perry on the 15-day DL (strained oblique);
recalled INF Bobby Smith and OF Rich Butler from Durham.
[7/22]

Injuries aren’t anything new to Herb Perry, and it’s nice to see he
can still whistle line drives when he can walk.

Stocker shouldn’t be too upset with his injury, in that it keeps his
numbers from continuing to drop, which will only help him come
contract time. In practical terms, this means next to nothing on the
field. Bobby Smith needs to be given every opportunity to win a
regular job. He was having an outstanding season for the Bulls after
earning an early demotion from Tampa Bay (.333/.409/.613).

After hitting reasonably well in Durham (.292/.377/.496), Butler may
get some platoon work with Terrell Lowery in center field, because
the outfield which has Davey Martinez in center flanked by Bubba
Trammell and Paul Sorrento is a travelling double-dome roadshow.


TEXAS RANGERS

Optioned RHP Ryan Glynn to Oklahomna; recalled RHP Danny
Kolb
from Oklahoma. [7/20]

Some things are now as they should be: Esteban Loaiza gets to be the
fifth starter, while sending Glynn down for a couple of starts to
let him regain his confidence won’t hurt. Kolb hasn’t been especially
effective at Okie, so the Rangers may even get to set things aright
by brining Glynn back to pitch in middle relief down the stretch.
Of course, picking up a good starter would help a lot more. The A’s
and the Mariners are both going to put heat on the Rangers in their
own radically different ways, and the Rangers need to think about
adding pitching help not just to avoid using Mike Morgan as their
#3 starter in the playoffs, but to actually win the division in the
first place.