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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Acquired RHP Elvin Nina and OFs Jeff DaVanon and Nathan
Haynes
from the Athletics for RHP Omar Olivares and 2B Randy
Velarde
. [7/29]

It’s hard to say what’s more important about this deal from the Angels’
perspective. Is it the $3 million or so that they save in salary? Is it
creating rotation space for Tim Belcher, while moving a tiring Olivares
before he craters? Or is it the value of the prospects they’ve received?

Nina’s an arm, but like any pitcher who hasn’t survived Double-A, he
shouldn’t be called a prospect. DaVanon’s a switch-hitter playing well in
Midland (.342/.424/.567), but everyone hits at Midland, and he’ll be 26 in
December. He can handle center field. Best case scenario? He could have a
career like Turner Ward, which right now is good enough to start over
Orlando Palmeiro or Reggie Williams. Haynes is the "key player"
in the deal. He’s a good and potentially excellent glove in center field,
one of the fastest players in baseball today. He’s just 19, and with his
reasonable command of the strike zone for somebody so young, so he should
have a good future.

Overall, it’s not a bad deal for the Angels, for the money saved and the
talent received. If you want to give yourself a really warm fuzzy over the
trade, you can pretend that this means Bill Bavasi realizes there’s a
problem with this team.

In Velarde’s absence, Andy Sheets and Jeff Huson will probably end up with
the playing time at second base, which won’t help the team in the least.
They’d be better off taking a look at Keith Luuloa.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Placed C Javy Lopez on the 15-day DL (strained knee); acquired C
Greg Myers from the Padres for RHP Doug Dent. [7/26]

Losing Lopez is a critical blow for the Braves: if they don’t pick up a
good bat for the middle or top of the order by tonight, they blew it.
Carrying a middle-infield combo that doesn’t hit, plus two adequate-to-weak
platoons at first base and catcher means they’ll have serious problems
scoring runs.

Myers is the ideal temp, in that he’s semi-familiar with the team from his
brief stint with the Braves in 1997, and he’s a solid left-handed bat out
of the seventh or eighth spots. Unfortunately, if the Braves don’t add that
extra bat, they may rely on him for more than he can give.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Acquired RHP Mario Iglesias from the White Sox for SS Esteban
Beltre
. [7/29]

A move that helps both clubs. Bowie’s bullpen needs the help in their drive
to win the Eastern League (although Iglesias has struggled at Birmingham),
while Charlotte needs a utility infielder while Tilson Brito is off at the
Pan Am games, and they’re in the race in their division of the
International League. I suspect most of you don’t care.


BOSTON RED SOX

Acquired OF/1B Butch Huskey from the Mariners for LHP Robert
Ramsay
. [7/26]

Recalled 2B/SS Donnie Sadler from Pawtucket; optioned RHP Marino
Santana
to Pawtucket. [7/27]

Signed C Lenny Webster; optioned C Creighton Gubanich to
Pawtucket; outrighted RHP Kirk Bullinger to Pawtucket. [7/28]

Huskey is a handy addition, in that he can give you some time at either
outfield corner, first base and even third base if you’re really down on
your luck. He gives the Sox some needed power, and he’s even been
relatively patient this year. Adding him lets Jimy Williams give Mike
Stanley some rest, while giving him a right-handed bat to start against
left-handers for Trot Nixon in right field or Brian Daubach or Reggie
Jefferson at DH.

Could it come back to haunt them? Look, until the Mariners fire Piniella,
any pitcher you trade his way is probably going to fall flat on his face as
a Mariner.

The more mysterious move is the Sadler call-up. Williams has publicly
benched Jose Offerman, making Joe Torre’s selection of Offerman for the
All-Star team over Ray Durham look even more inane. This is hopefully his
way of trying to motivate Offerman down the stretch, because otherwise this
would be up there with re-signing Mike Greenwell to get some "veteran
presence".

Adding Webster is essentially an insurance move. With Scott Hatteberg
probably out for the season, if anything were to happen to Jason Varitek,
the Sox would have been down to Gubanich and Mandy Romero.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Outrighted LHP Bryan Ward to Charlotte; recalled RHP Carlos
Castillo
from Charlotte. [7/26]

Signed LHP Mike Sirotka to a multi-year contract. [7/28]

Acquired SS Esteban Beltre from the Orioles for RHP Mario
Iglesias
. [7/29]

Sox fans are happiest when somebody who causes them pain is finally made to
suffer, so you can imagine the joy once Bryan Ward was sent down. Jerry
Manuel gamely tried to see if Ward could handle any role: long relief,
one-out lefty-getter, eighth inning set-up duties. At the end of the day,
he just wasn’t getting anyone out, having coughed up 10 home runs
(including six to left-handed batters) and 63 hits in 39 1/3 innings.

The failures of Ward, Scott Eyre and Todd Rizzo have encouraged the Sox to
almost do without left-handed relief, choosing instead to focus on getting
good innings from several right-handers. Keith Foulke and Sean Lowe have
been outstanding, Bobby Howry has a good handle on the closer’s role, but
unfortunately Bill Simas is still having problems recovering the movement
on his fastball.

Adding Castillo gives the Sox another righty for those weekly
pick-up-after-Baldwin long relief outings. The Sox tried to stretch him out
as a starter in Charlotte, and the results for Baby Huey were mixed: a 5.15
ERA, 9-6 record, 150 hits and 30 walks allowed in 136 1/3 innings, not to
mention 28 home runs allowed. He has finally lost some weight, and he will
be in the pen for now. After a pretty heavy workload at Triple-A–almost
seven innings and 30 batters faced per start–he needs to stay there for
the rest of the year.


CINCINNATI REDS

Placed LHP Steve Avery on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder);
purchased the contract of LHP B.J. Ryan from Indianapolis. [7/26]

Losing Avery as he continues to lose effectiveness isn’t a bad thing. Denny
Neagle came off of the DL to reclaim a rotation spot, giving the Reds a
rotation of Pete Harnisch, Brett Tomko, Ron Villone, Neagle and Steve
Parris down the stretch. If Neagle’s healthy (and he looked okay in rehab
and his first start back), that’s a good outfit to keep pushing the Astros
with.

Ryan is a 1998 pick on the fast track, having punched out 58 batters in 50
2/3 innings between Chattanooga and Indianapolis this year, while allowing
only 42 hits and 20 walks. He’s big, throws hard, and while he’s only up
for a cup of coffee, he’ll get a chance to make an impression to earn a
clean shot at next year’s pen in camp 2K.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated RHP Steve Karsay from the DL; designated RHP Tom
Candiotti
for assignment. [7/26]

A desperately-needed reinforcement for the Tribe, even moreso now that both
Doc Gooden and Mark Langston are in the rotation. At least until the trade
deadline, that is. Karsay didn’t hurt his arm this time around, so he
should be able to pick up where he left off.

As for Candiotti, he’s almost experienced enough to get a look from the Cubs.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Placed UT Kurt Abbott on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/23 (mild
concussion); recalled UT Chris Sexton from Colorado Springs. [7/28]

Abbott’s injury finally gets the manager’s pet out of the way of Terry
Shumpert, who should get almost all of the playing time at second base for
the rest of the season. Playing on Planet Coors, he’ll amaze family,
friends and 40,000 strangers as he slugs in the .500s and puts up an OBP
around .400, leaving a lot of folks talking about his potential to make the
All-Star team next year. At 33, he won’t owe anyone an apology, and his
success might just be the sort of boot to the head the organization needs
to start evaluating their players in the context of their environment.


DETROIT TIGERS

Activated RHP Masao Kida from the DL; optioned UT Jason Wood
to Toledo. [7/28]

Kida’s probably the second-best reliever the Tigers have behind team
captain/carpetbagger Doug Brocail, not that that means much.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Recalled RHP Hector Almonte from Portland (Double-A). [7/27]

Optioned LHP Vic Darensbourg to Calgary; recalled LHP Armando
Almanza
from Portland (Double-A). [7/29]

Almanza had some early problems in Calgary (10.90 ERA), but a hot couple of
weeks after a demotion to Portland (20 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings) were
enough to show he’s too big to play with the little kids. Almonte was
Portland’s closer, and has shown a live arm (3.16 ERA in 37 innings, 38 Ks,
34 hits and 24 walks allowed). For the Marlins, evaluating people like this
and Archie Corbin will be handy for next year.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Activated RHP Joe Slusarski from the DL, and designated him for
assignment.
[7/26]

Making space on the 40-man roster, in anticipation of a trade or the
eventual activation of Ken Caminiti from the 60-day DL.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Recalled LHP Glendon Rusch from Omaha; purchased the contract of INF
Ray Holbert from Omaha; optioned INF Steve Scarsone and LHP
Tim Byrdak to Omaha. [7/27]

The Royals are slowly but surely eradicating the fill-in guys, the guys who
have no shot of helping this team for any length of time, and replacing
them with people who should be Royals for a few years to come. Byrdak had
his chance to contribute as a left-hander out of the pen, but a 8.59 ERA is
a great way to hand an opportunity to someone else. Rusch didn’t exactly
dominate the PCL as a starter, having allowed 100 hits in 78 1/3 innings,
but his strikeout-to-walk ratio (65:23) is good enough to hint that he
could be a very handy middle man.

Replacing Scarsone with Holbert finally gives the Royals a backup infielder
who can play shortstop, and Holbert can also do som pinch-running. That
should let Tony Muser pinch-hit for Rey Sanchez more often, which won’t hurt.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned LHP Carlos Perez to Albuquerque; recalled RHP Robinson
Checo
from Albuquerque. [7/27]

Placed 2B Eric Young on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/24 (sprained
ankle); recalled LHP Jeff Kubenka from Albuquerque. [7/28]

Addition by subtraction for the Dodgers. Carlos Perez is damaged goods, and
they would have been better off taking him out of the rotation two months
ago, to let him rest his arm. Anyone they use in his place (even Checo, the
ultimate riddle) will be an improvement.

In Young’s absence, Davey Johnson is going to use a platoon of Craig
Counsell and Jose Vizcaino, which won’t help or hurt the team in any way.
They would be better off taking another look at Adam Riggs, or possibly
even taking a gander at Hiram Bocachica. Either have a better chance of
contributing to a good Dodgers team than Young or Counsell or Vizcaino. Of
course, if the Dodgers do manage to trade for a major league shortstop,
they might move Mark Grudzielanek to second base, which wouldn’t be such a
bad idea.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Activated OF/1B Orlando Merced from the DL; optioned OF/1B Ryan
McGuire
to Ottawa. [7/28]

For the second straight year, Merced has gone out of his way to offend his
employer as the trade deadline nears. Last year, Merced bitched and moaned
his way out of Minnesota, which paid off in that he wound up playing for
the Red Sox and Cubs in meaningful games down the stretch. This year,
rather than accept a rehab assignment, he insisted on being activated,
probably hoping to either showcase himself or so offend as to get himself
cut loose so that he can have more late-season fun. Either way, it’s no way
to win friends and influence people.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed C Ramon Hernandez on the 15-day DL (sprained knee), and 3B
Olmedo Saenz on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled 2B/3B
Scott Spiezio and C A.J. Hinch from Vancouver. [7/26]

Acquired RHP Omar Olivares and 2B Randy Velarde from the
Angels for RHP Elvin Nina and OFs Jeff DaVanon and Nathan
Haynes. [7/29]

Losing Hernandez is yet another bad break in what’s been a career of bad
breaks and setbacks. Fortunately, he should only miss a couple of weeks; it
was initially feared that his injury was much worse. Overall, the A’s need
to be concerned, in that he seems to have an uncanny knack for attracting
injuries, and as they mount up year after year, his offensive potential
will eventually be affected.

Saenz’ hammy should only keep him out two weeks. Spiezio and Hinch were
both hitting the ball hard in Vancouver in their drive to regain their
roster spots. Spiezio’s not going to get to stick as a utility infielder
(his knees are bad enough that he’ll never play second regularly again)
unless the A’s end up trading Tony Phillips, while Hinch has no chance of
getting his job back from Hernandez.

But losing both Hernandez and Saenz was reason enough for Billy Beane to
stay active in his quest to mount a semi-respectable run at the Rangers,
picking up two free agents-to-be in Olivares and Velarde. Velarde is
basically another signal that Phillips’ days as the regular leadoff man are
done; Randy should be playing second base daily. Olivares gives the A’s
that starting pitcher they lost when they traded Kenny Rogers, which also
should mean that Blake Stein is heading back to Vancouver. Olivares has
been good for the Angels this year, but he was good for them last year for
the first three months, and wore down in the second half, and it looks like
Terry Collins has burnt him out again this time around. If he struggles as
much as he did last year down the stretch, he might not be an improvement
on Mike Oquist, let alone Rogers.

As for the talent they gave up, Haynes might haunt them five or six years
down the line (he’s already the best center field prospect the Angels
have), but here he was stuck behind Mario Encarnacion. Neither DaVanon nor
Nina had great futures in the organization.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed LHP Scott Radinsky on the 15-day DL (strained elbow);
recalled LHP Mike Mohler from Memphis. [7/27]

This doesn’t hurt the Cardinals. As expected, Radinsky’s been an expensive
disappointment, and hasn’t pitched any better than Mohler to this point. As
the last flickers of hope die for the Cards, they won’t get to use this as
an excuse.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated and traded C Greg Myers to the Braves for RHP Doug
Dent
, and assigned Dent to Fort Wayne (A-ball). [7/26]

Dent’s an absolutely huge kid (6’8") with a live arm, which means he’s
the sort of guy Kevin Towers (or old pal Randy Smith) covets. The Padres
get something out of last winter’s drive to corner the market on
useful-but-not-threatening-to-Ben-Davis’-future catchers (Myers, Carlos
Hernandez, Jim Leyritz and Phil Nevin).


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Placed RHP Chris Brock on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/24 (torn
ACL). [7/26]

Brock’s injury effectively ends his season, with Livan Hernandez stepping
into his slot. In terms of performance, it isn’t an upgrade.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Acquired LHP Robert Ramsay from the Red Sox for OF/1B Butch
Huskey
; assigned Ramsay to Tacoma. [7/26]

Activated OF Brian Hunter from the DL. [7/27]

Acquired RHP Tom Davey and LHP Steve Sinclair from the Blue
Jays for 1B David Segui; assigned Davey to Tacoma. [7/28]

Optioned RHP Ryan Franklin to Tacoma; recalled UT Shane
Monahan
from Tacoma; added LHP Steve Sinclair to the
major-league roster. [7/29]

The Mariners have a pretty rotten farm system and veterans with value. So
they’re being sensible in trading guys like Segui and Huskey, veterans on
the corners who are only adequate for their positions anyway, for pitchers
who could turn out well. Sinclair is a good left-handed reliever (2.06 ERA,
40 baserunners in 39 1/3 innings, 31 Ks), and while he should be good in a
situational role, he’s done well enough in the past that he could be better
than that. Davey throws hard, was adequate in middle relief for the Jays
early on (4.70 ERA, 42 Ks in 44 innings), and has put together six decent
starts at Syracuse since his demotion (3.48 ERA). Ramsay is a Washington
State grad with good velocity for a left-hander, but he’s taken a few lumps
at Pawtucket: 5.35 ERA, 21 home runs and 81 runs allowed in 114 1/3 innings).

A good manager with a track record of bringing young pitchers along could
use these guys. Unfortunately, Lou Piniella isn’t that manager. If the
Mariners want any of these guys, or Gil Meche, or Ken Cloude, or Freddy
Garcia, or Ryan Anderson to ever turn into good major league pitchers, they
need to find a random Lachemann, and stop sacrificing live virgin arms to
the always-rumbling Mt. Piniella.

As far as the major league lineup for the rest of the way, the Mariners
will probably run John Mabry out to first base far too often, which means
that with Brian Hunter’s activation, the lineup has been reduced to three
good players (Griffey, Rodriguez and Martinez), nice contributions from Jay
Buhner and David Bell, and four weak bats in Mabry, Hunter, Dan Wilson and
Russ Davis. So on top of losing games because the manager doesn’t know how
to use his pitching staff, they’ll be less able to cover his mistakes
because they won’t be scoring as often. It doesn’t have to be this way, of
course; they could just come to their senses and give Raul Ibanez a clean
shot at first base.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Recalled RHP Mickey Callaway from Durham; optioned LHP Alan
Newman
to Durham. [7/27]

Callaway’s still not really a good prospect, but the D-Rays are so sour on
Bryan Rekar that he won’t get to start in front of Callaway or Dave Eiland.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Acquired 1B David Segui from the Mariners for RHP Tom Davey
and LHP Steve Sinclair. [7/28]

Not a bad move for the Blue Jays. First off, trading pitchers to the
Mariners is the next best thing to sending them to Coors Field: they will
never come back to make you look bad. Second, getting Segui eliminates the
chance that Jim Fregosi will continue to diddle around with his various bad
choices at DH, even though it does mean Willie Greene is getting the shaft.
Segui will play first base every day and Carlos Delgado will DH. If
Fregosi’s comfortable with that, it’s almost certainly better than letting
Jacob Brumfield or Craig Grebeck get more playing time in the DH slot.

Heck, if the Jays let Grebeck and Homer Bush duke it out in a caged midget
match for the right to start at second base, they’ll be even better off
after the Little Hurt wins.

Finally, while he isn’t up there with the Bagwells or the McGwires, Segui
isn’t such a bad player to have around, and is certainly a step up from the
cumulative offensive production the Jays have gotten from their DHs, while
also being a defensive improvement on Delgado. All in all, a good stretch
drive move by Gord Ash.

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