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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated CF Jim Edmonds from the DL; designated OF Reggie Williams for
assignment. [8/2]

Designated C Charlie O’Brien for assignment; purchased contract of C Ben
Molina
from Edmonton. [8/3]

Well, the cavalry’s riding in, just in time to find that the natives have
already wiped out the settlers, paved over the range and built a really
nice casino. Edmonds’ arrival is basically a warmup for his coming free
agency, and a few sentimental Angels fans who might remember life before
the team became a Mickey Mouse operation. (Speaking of which, anyone else
remember Virgo Rat? I didn’t think so.)

Ben Molina’s arrival has been accompanied with a few statements that he’s
going to get to play down the stretch. Unlike Matt Walbeck, he can be a
useful major league hitter (.286/.338/.440 at Edmonton this year), and he
isn’t bad behind the plate. The Angels are now almost where they should
have been in April. If they’d opened the year with Molina and/or Bret
Hemphill, and at least one of Steve Decker, Charlie O’Brien or Walbeck,
they’d have selected their best possible combination of talent, expense and
players with a future on a good Angels team. Instead, people had to pay
real money to watch Year Two of the Age of Walbeck.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Signed OF Luis Gonzalez to a three-year contract extension, with a club
option for 2003. [8/2]

Placed RHP Byung-Hyun Kim on the 15-day DL (sore neck); recalled RHP Erik
Sabel
from Tucson. [8/3]

Recalled CF Dante Powell from Tucson; optioned INF Edwin Diaz to Tucson. [8/4]

With David Dellucci’s future in doubt, and with the Diamondbacks’
organization not exactly bursting with outfielders with good-looking
futures, I guess you can make a case for Gonzalez’s multi-year deal. His
situation makes for an interesting comparison to that of J.T. Snow: they’re
basically the same age, but while Snow has that gaudy, alien-possession ’97
season making him look like someone who just needs to get back to where he
was to be an All-Star, Gonzalez has been the far more consistent player.

While Gonzo’s currently enjoying an extraterrestrial season himself, he
deserves credit over Snow for the things he does better: he’s a good glove
in the outfield, runs well and while he won’t be one of the league’s best
players, unlike Snow it’ll take awhile before he’s one of the worst. And
for that, plus his rep as one of baseball’s nicest guys, he gets a
multi-year deal worth about $2 million less per year than Snow. This is
more than just an accounting victory over a divisional rival: it enhances
the organization’s reputation as far as how players get treated. Jerry
Colangelo’s outfit doesn’t seem to tire of these sorts of PR wins, and in
the context of today’s market for veteran players (and while the farm
system is still gearing up), this wasn’t as bad an investment as the deals
for Matt Williams, Jay Bell or Steve Finley.

One of the ripple effects of Dellucci’s injury is that Powell had to come
up to give the team an adequate caddy for Finley. Unfortunately, they’re
still missing somebody who can actually play shortstop, while enduring Andy
Fox’s game attempt to be a bit more useful than a scarecrow out there.

Losing Kim hurts; part of the problem seems to have been Kim’s inability to
really communicate with his coaches. The real danger is that in his
absence, Buck Showalter will become even more reluctant to go to his pen,
and will burn out his rotation before Labor Day.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Added LHP Terry Mulholland and UT Jose Hernandez to the active roster;
placed PR Otis Nixon on the 15-day DL (sprained neck). [8/3]

Nixon’s convenient injury spares the Ozzeroo for another couple of weeks.
The danger for the Braves is the chance that they’ll carry either of them
on the postseason roster, bringing back ghastly memories of Terry Pendleton
DHing in the World Series. As has continued to be the problem under John
Schuerholz, they’re treating their last few roster spots as sinecures, and
it’s hurting them. There’s no longer a margin for error.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed 3B Cal Ripken on the 15-day DL (nerve irritation – lower back);
recalled 3B Ryan Minor from Rochester. [8/3]

Losing Ripken isn’t the end of the world, unless you’re in some sort of
pool involving when he’s going to reach 3,000 hits or something. In his
absence, the Orioles have been willing to explore letting B.J. Surhoff play
some third base, which makes perfect sense when Minor is the alternative.


BOSTON RED SOX

Activated RHP Pedro Martinez from the DL; optioned INF Lou Merloni to
Pawtucket. [8/3]

Martinez is back, and not a moment too soon. Having him back, in
conjunction with the upcoming sets against the Angels, Royals and Mariners,
should give the Sox a little lift over the next week and a half. In the
meantime, the Blue Jays play the Rangers, an improved Twins team and the
A’s. The margin of error for the team is so slim that every scheduling
advantage has to be taken advantage of right now.

With Merloni hitting especially poorly, not even his good bud Nomar can
trouble himself to complain too much about this.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Placed OF Darrin Jackson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/27 (back
strain); purchased the contract of RHP Kip Wells from Birmingham(Double-A).
[8/2]

Optioned RHP Kip Wells to Birmingham (Double-A). [8/3]

Last year’s first-rounder out of Baylor, Wells came up for a spot start
when Jim Parque’s bruised thumb forced him to miss a turn, but Wells
quickly built on his hot streak at Birmingham by winning his major league
debut handily. He’d run off six straight wins since moving up to the
Southern League, posting a 1.58 ERA while allowing only 39 baserunners and
one home run in 40 innings pitched. He’s got good heat and a tight,
jaw-dropping curve. He’ll be back, so you can believe that Jaime Navarro
and James Baldwin both need to consider what other cities they might like
pitching in.


CINCINNATI REDS

Added RHP Juan Guzman to the active roster; optioned C Jason LaRue to
Indianapolis. [8/3]

Activated RHP Jason Bere from the 15-day DL, and released him. [8/4]

Guzman had a nice first start in the National League, but it should be
pointed out that Eric Gregg was working the plate, which never hurts.

Bere, released? "Look Ma, I’m still finished! No, really, I mean it
this time! Nothing left, honest!" Everyone who mistook Bere for some
sort of clay that wondercoach Don Gullett could mold into a useful pitcher,
off to the back of the classroom.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed RHP Dwight Gooden on the 15-day DL (shoulder stiffness); activated
RHP Jaret Wright from the 15-day DL. [8/3]

Swapping one guy with control problems and an ERA pushing six with another
guy with control problems and an ERA pushing six may sound like bad news
for a team, but this is the Indians, so it qualifies as
"reinforcements". As long as they keep Colon going, they don’t
have world-ending problems, because Charles Nagy and Dave Burba have their
good nights. But with this team’s bullpen problems pestering them as well,
if they draw a first-round matchup with the Rangers, they’re going to lose
because of the Zimmerman Factor.


DETROIT TIGERS

Recalled RHP Francisco Cordero from Jacksonville (Double-A). [8/2]

Placed $$ Gregg Jefferies on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled
OF Kimera Bartee from Toledo. [8/3]

Cordero’s call-up should be a good two-month test. His recovery from last
year’s elbow and shoulder problems has demonstrated that he didn’t lose his
fastball on the surgeon’s table, punching out 58 batters in 52 1/3 innings.
Racking up 27 saves doesn’t describe his talent, but it does impress
management. Since they’re already tied into a couple more years of Todd
Jones, Cordero can look forward to a few months doing set-up work.

How badly are things getting for the Tigers? Time to shovel Gregg Jefferies
and his paychecks into Lake Huron, and call up the pizza baron’s favorite,
Mr. Bartee. On the plus side, Bartee can actually play center field, which
gives the Tigers a needed defensive replacement for the statuesque Gabe
Kapler.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Recalled 3B Kevin Orie from Calgary; outrighted RHP Archie Corbin to
Calgary. [8/5]

With Orie back up, he can resume his death-struggle with Mike Lowell for
the third-base job. So far, Orie’s hitting .266/.325/.427 versus Lowell’s
.247/.333/.367. If either one of them heats up, it won’t be enough for the
Fish to put distance between them and les Expos. Having Eddie Yarnall out
there every five days might have, not to mention it wouldn’t be such a bad
thing to have Todd Noel and Mark Johnson (the pitcher, not the catcher or
the first baseman) hanging out in the minors. But you knew that.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Acquired C George Williams from the Twins for C Josh Dimmick. [8/3]

Activated CF Carl Everett from the DL; optioned LF Lance Berkman to New
Orleans. [8/5]

Both moves reflect an organizational approach: get deep and stay deep.
Everett’s return coincides with a pretty lengthy slump out by Richard
Hidalgo, and while Derek Bell’s almost had enough of a hot streak to hide
his season-long miseries, Larry Dierker’s crew is almost certainly better
off with Berkman from this point forward.

Unfortunately, the other two don’t have options to play with, and Berkman
would be wasted on the bench for the next two weeks or so of New Orleans’
season. So he’ll get to stay sharp, while the Astros wrestle with how and
when they can make Bell disappear, not to mention make room for Moises
Alou’s return on September 1st. Assuming Alou comes back at full speed,
burying Bell behind Matt Mieske on the bench is probably the best thing
they can do, while letting Everett, Hidalgo, Alou and Berkman split the
playing time.

Meanwhile, behind the plate, they’re figuring out that they may not be able
to count on Tony Eusebio and are quickly getting disenchanted with Randy
Knorr. Snagging PCL All-Star and Triple-A vet Williams during a very good
season for him (.303/.424/.461) makes for an excellent insurance policy
down the stretch.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Recalled C Charlie Greene from Louisville; outrighted INF Eddie Zosky to
Louisville. [8/4]

Greene is finally available, not that his arrival should be heralded as
much more than a necessity. At bat, he makes Mike Matheny look like Babe
Ruth, so if Dave Nilsson’s back keeps him in the "catch and
throw" role, so much the better.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Placed LHP Mark Redman on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder); recalled RHP Dan
Perkins
from Salt Lake. [8/2]

It’s unfortunate that Redman’s best pitching was at Salt Lake this year,
and that it wore him out. The Twins’ rotation has just started to roll, as
Joe Mays takes his "average Joe" shtick and command of four
pitches to set the league on its ear, while Eric Milton grows up and LaTroy
Hawkins finally gets on track, and Brad Radke continues to be Brad Radke.
Dan Perkins probably didn’t get enough time to sort himself out at Salt
Lake, making only three appearances. The Twins will try to avoid the fifth
spot for another swing through the rotation, and then toss Perkins or Benj
Sampson out for another shellacking.


NEW YORK METS

Added UT Shawon Dunston to the active roster; optioned UT Melvin Mora to
Norfolk. [8/3]


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Added RHPs Kevin Appier and Jason Isringhausen to the active roster;
optioned RHPs Carl Dale and Brett Laxton to Vancouver. [8/2]

Added RHP Greg McMichael to the active roster; optioned LHP Tim Kubinski to
Vancouver. [8/3]


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed OF Darren Bragg on the 15-day DL (torn ACL); recalled UT Craig
Paquette
from Memphis. [8/3]

This isn’t good news for the Cardinals, given that Eric Davis is probably
done for the year; now, so is Bragg. The danger is that they’re so
indifferent to the future that they’ll simply run broken-down old Willie
McGee out there game after game. Taking a long look at Nate Dishington to
see if he’s ever going to turn into something, or Chris Haas, or even
Stubby Clapp for the amusement he’d bring, has to be better than turning
the last two months into a rerun.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Placed 2B Jeff Kent on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/3 (foot); recalled
RHP Joe Nathan from Fresno. [8/4]

This is a loss-loss situation for the Giants. Nathan’s getting tossed into
the flames of the pennant race because Dusty has overworked some starters
and seen others–notably Mark Gardner–flop. They’re basically desperate,
and losing Kent only makes them more so. Replacing him in the lineup with
Ramon Martinez isn’t going to be the answer, and if the Giants feel tempted
to move Bill Mueller back to second base to get Charlie Hayes into the
lineup, that isn’t helpful either. Your basic bad situation in which a team
loses an irreplaceable ballplayer.


TEXAS RANGERS

Placed CF Ruben Mateo on the 15-day DL (broken bone – wrist). [8/5]

Mateo’s done for the year with his rookie status intact, and replacing him
with Goodwin isn’t going to send them tumbling past Oakland. It leaves
their bench weak–paging Roberto Kelly–which makes for a big contrast with
last year’s crew, and as long as they don’t take Scott Sheldon seriously,
there isn’t much to drag up from the minors that they can use.

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