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ATLANTA BRAVES

Placed RHP Rudy Seanez on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/21 (stress
fracture/elbow); recalled RHP Dave Cortes from Richmond. [8/23]

Losing Seanez is an extremely hard blow to the Braves at this late date,
especially since he may not return. While his infamous back isn’t the source
of his troubles this time, "Traction Action" has been a
resurrection story that is a credit to the organization and, of course, Leo
Mazzone. This year, Seanez was one of the NL’s ten best right-handed
relievers (eighth according to
Mike Wolverton’s most recent RRE report).

In his absence, expect Mike Remlinger to step out of a situational role and
Kevin McGlinchy to take on a greater share of eighth-inning duties. That
will also mean more work for Russ Springer and Bruce Chen in middle relief.

Cortes could be handy, mostly because he’s shown outstanding control in his
four minor league seasons, and because the Braves understand what you can do
with no-names, retreads and castoffs in a major league bullpen.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Recalled RHP Doug Linton from Rochester; released RHP Ricky
Bones
. [8/20]

Placed 1B Will Clark on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/14 (elbow
inflammation); purchased the contract of PH Derrick May from
Rochester. [8/21]

Bones is still looking pretty done, with the only difference between him and
fellow Brew Crew ’92 rotation regular Jaime Navarro being a large,
multi-year, guaranteed contract.

On that subject, the Orioles have a mixed blessing with Will Clark’s latest
absence. He’s probably done for the year, and his elbow will require
surgery. The shocker here is that rather than hand the playing time to Cal
Pickering, the Orioles are content to let nepotista Derrick May ring up some
service time. After all, Jeff Conine’s doing a good job of impersonating a
regular first baseman, so who cares what tomorrow brings? This is even more
mystifying in that Rochester is stumbling to a grisly finish, so it isn’t
like Pickering’s presence is required to make people happy on the shores of
Lake Ontario.


BOSTON RED SOX

Placed RHP Bret Saberhagen on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/18
(sore shoulder); activated CF Damon Buford from the DL; recalled RHP
Tomokazu Ohka from Pawtucket; optioned RHP Brian Rose to
Pawtucket. [8/23]

The Red Sox lose two-fifths of their rotation, which leaves them with Pedro
and the Four Desperadoes (Rapp, Wakefield, Portugal and the just-acquired
Kent Mercker). Rose’s tremendous ineffectiveness since the All-Star break
has been widely commented upon, and Saberhagen was born to break down. Since
Jin Ho Cho didn’t break through this year, the Duke’s men will have to ride
veteran mediocrity as far as they can.

Ohka continued to build on his minor league success (his ERA at Pawtucket
still hasn’t risen over 2.00), and happily he seems bound for middle relief.
The challenge will be to see if he or John Wasdin can adequately replace
Derek Lowe in the tight-game, long-relief role, now that Lowe’s being
reserved for closer situations. At least the Sox can take comfort in Rich
Garces’ good work of late, because he seems to be the best available
candidate for setup work.


CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned RHP Kyle Farnsworth to Iowa; activated CF Lance
Johnson
from the DL. [8/21]

Farnsworth has been shipped back and forth and bumped from rotation to pen
often enough to serve as a classic illustration of how you don’t treat a
young starter. He has had some measure of succcess in the pen, while being
one of the most consistently awful starters in the league. The answer seems
obvious.

Johnson’s return might be nice for him, in that he can get a crack at doing
something to help his impending free agency, but it’s bad news for the Cubs.
Between One Dog and Mickey Morandini, the Cubs are stuck with two .320 OBP
stiffs of dubious defensive value at the top of the order. Letting Chad
Meyers play every day at either second base or center field is the best
thing they can do under the circumstances, but the inadequacy of both
veterans is reinforcing their indecisiveness over where Meyers will
eventually wind up. With an eye towards next year, I’d leave Meyers at
second.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Announced the resignation of GM Bob Gebhard. [8/20]

Received RHP Pat Lynch from the Blue Jays to complete the Brian
McRae
trade. [8/23]

Gebhard’s reign comes crashing down, and for good reason. Colorado’s player
development hasn’t been the worst around, but this is the organization that
for years has been banking on Derrick Gibson’s future while shelling out top
dollar for people like Dante Bichette. If Gebhard never figured out the
ballpark, he deserved the axe. If he did, and couldn’t bring himself to make
someone like Bichette go away, then he deserved it even more. As a GM, he’s
required to exercise some leadership, and if he couldn’t cut the thin-air
fat at the expense of some popularity, he was never going to help this club.

One of the more disappointing notes in the organization’s history has been
its claims to work on developing pitching. It hasn’t matched up with the
disappointing results, ones made to look even worse by Coors. John Thomson
gave them a tremendous year last season, and he still managed to get dumped
on by his new manager.

Part of the problem has been that the Colorado Springs-to-Coors conduit
doesn’t work. Getting pitchers used to mile-high shellackings hasn’t
produced the Coors-proof pitcher. It will be interesting to see if Gary
Hughes or whoever else fills Gebhard’s shoes will try to shuffle
affiliations, as well as finally accounting for the overwhelming park
effects when evaluating players.

Nevertheless, the organization still has a pretty good eye for young arms,
Snagging Lynch (a Canadian) from Toronto after they’ve been developing him
for the past four years has to hurt the Jays.


DETROIT TIGERS

Activated DH Gregg Jefferies from the DL; optioned DH Gabe
Alvarez
to Toledo. [8/20]

Well, I’ve kicked Gregg Jefferies often enough in this space, so let’s talk
about what he hasn’t done. He hasn’t been seen cat juggling. To my
knowledge, he’s never handed out hand grenades on Halloween. He’s never gone
after his pool boy with a bat, and he probably calls his mother more often
than I do. Hell, he’s so swell, give that boy a multi-million multi-year
contract! America needs its model citizens! Maybe he can double as a poster
child for corporate welfare: "We signed him. Feel our pain. Finance our
stadium."


FLORIDA MARLINS

Recalled LHP Vic Darensbourg from Calgary; optioned LHP Jesus
Sanchez
to Calgary. [8/21]

Darensbourg had a nice multiple-outing flirtation with success in the PCL in
which he punched out 12 batters in 11 2/3 innings while walking no one.
Still, Sanchez has been better in relief this year (after an ugly two months
in the rotation), though they both should have decent futures. Perhaps if
John Boles gets away from shoe-horning either of them into the lefty
situational role, he’ll get better work out of them.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Recalled RHP Matt Herges from Albuquerque; optioned RHP Jamie
Arnold
to Albuquerque. [8/22]

This is what frustrated teams do. They flip-flop on who gets to be their
mop-up guy to remind everyone else that the axe can fall on anyone. Not that
Raul Mondesi’s going to suddenly get better. Perhaps a threat to make him a
Devil Ray would work….


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Activated RF Jeromy Burnitz and C Bobby Hughes from the DL;
outrighted RHP Reggie Harris and UT Brian Banks to Louisville;
received RHP Carl Dale from the Athletics as the PTBNL in the Rich
Becker trade. [8/20]

Burnitz’s absence was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back in
creating the circumstances that led to the firing of the Bando/Garner
management duo. If Jose Rosado doesn’t break Burnitz’ wrist with a pitch,
maybe the Brewers don’t go into the tank in August, continue to play .500
ball (which is progress) and have the same old situation to look forward to
next year. Okay, so the interdependencies of these events are a stretch, but
Burnitz’s injury is probably the third-most important event in franchise
history in recent years, behind securing Miller Park and acquiring Burnitz
in the first place.

Demoting Banks seems a bit odd, in that he can play baseball, while Charlie
Greene can only catch. Bobby Hughes promptly re-injured himself, leaving
Greene as Dave Nilsson’s only caddy, and that isn’t happiness.

Neither is settling for Carl Dale from the A’s. Maybe the Brewers have
gotten so used to trolling for other people’s castoff pitchers of late that
they’ve forgotten this team has other needs. Dale’s got a nice sinking
fastball, and has finally had some measure of success as a reliever this
year (3.48 ERA for Vancouver, no home runs allowed), but how unique are
26-year-old minor league vets with one good pitch?


MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned LHP Benj Sampson to Salt Lake; recalled RHP Jason
Ryan
from Salt Lake. [8/20]

Demoting anyone with an ERA over 8.00 seems like a pretty good operating
philosophy, even in today’s offense-oriented game, so Sampson (8.11 ERA)
earned his trip to Mormon country. Recalling Ryan seems dubious at best.
Yes, he’s one of the guys they got for Rick Aguilera, but it’s a bit of a
stretch to call him a good prospect. After a hot start at West Tennessee for
the Cubs (1.41 ERA, 5-0) in his third stint at Double-A, he got smacked
around in New Britain (4.80 ERA), and smacked around in Salt Lake City (5.14
ERA). Is that really progress?

Since coming to the Twins’ organization, Ryan’s numbers aren’t inspiring: a
4.97 ERA, 105 hits and 14 home runs allowed in 105 innings, and 48 walks to
go with 76 strikeouts. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball. He is still
young at 23, and he might turn out to be useful someday, but he’s hardly
earned a shot at the fifth spot ahead of Mark Redman, whose demotion after
one start looks even stranger now than it did at the time.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed 3B Eric Chavez on the 15-day DL (torn plantar fascia/foot);
recalled OF Jason McDonald from Midland (Double-A). [8/21]

Chavez is saying he’ll be healed up in two weeks’ time, which is good news
for the A’s. He’s been one of their hottest hitters since the All-Star
break, and while they’re heavy on left-handed power and have a good
replacement in Olmedo Saenz, they can’t afford to be without Chavez for long
in their bid for the wild-card.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Activated RHP Steve Montgomery from the DL; designated LHP Jim
Poole
for assignment; signed C Mike Lieberthal to a multi-year
contract extension.
[8/20]

Purchased contract of RHP Joe Grahe from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre;
optioned LHP Anthony Shumaker to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [8/23]

I’m getting to the point where I really enjoy some of the shenanigans in the
Phillies’ pen. They’ve lost Yorkis Perez and they’re cutting loose Jim
Poole, so they’ve lost both of the lefties they opened the season with. Is
that trouble? Hardly, because they snagged Scott Aldred and have a healthy
Billy Brewer aboard. Okay, that doesn’t sound inspiring, but the Phillies
seem to have a handle on the idea that they don’t have to go out and get
somebody like John Hudek or Tony Fossas to get useful relief work.

The returns of Grahe and Montgomery give them a seven-man pen until the
roster expansion on September 1. They won’t need their fifth man until the
last day of the month, and if Schilling isn’t healthy by then, they can
always toss Steve Schrenk into the fray. I like what they’re doing, even if
the no-name nature of the pen has made Terry Francona reluctant to trust it
in tight spots, leading to blown leads by tired starters, or the
less-than-ideal situation of relievers coming in with two or three men
aboard.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed LHP Pete Schourek on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation);
placed RHP Todd Ritchie on the 15-day DL (tendinitis/rotator cuff);
activated LHPs Chris Peters and Jason Christiansen from the
DL. [8/21]

Losing Ritchie is a setback, while losing Schourek is a godsend. Their
simultaneous trips to the DL highlight an interesting dilemma for the
organization: their taste in free agents is crap, while their ability to do
something with young or unknown pitchers like Ritchie, Peters, Jason
Schmidt, Kris Benson and Jimmy Anderson deserves a lot of credit. The Gene
Lamont/Pete Vuckovich combo has been exceptional at pitcher development.

If the Pirates want their small market blues song to be taken seriously,
they’ll need to retain their ability to develop pitchers while ditching Cam
Bonifay’s freedom of choice when it comes to bringing in veteran
mediocrities.

In the absence of Schourek and Ritchie, Peters and Anderson will enter the
rotation behind Francisco Cordova, Schmidt and Benson. Christiansen hurt
himself again almost immediately, so he won’t be reclaiming his spot in the
pen again any time soon.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Recalled 2B/SS/LF Adam Kennedy from Memphis; optioned 2B/SS
Placido Polanco to Memphis. [8/20]

Purchased the contract of LHP Rick Ankiel from Memphis; optioned RHP
Rick Heiserman to Memphis. [8/23]

Here it is, the penultimate moment, a moment as fraught with horror and
possibility as any you could imagine since the last time a Byzantine emperor
handed over one of his daughters to some barbarian warlord. Ankiel’s future
should not have to depend on whether Tony LaRussa has learned anything from
experience, but it will have to.

I’d agree with the proposition that Ankiel doesn’t have much left to learn
in the minors: a 2.35 ERA between Arkansas and Memphis, a mere 98 hits
allowed in 137 2/3 innings and 194 strikeouts all look pretty good to me.
The curve and change are dandy, and his fastball has movement and life. The
Cardinals are making the right happy noises about how they’ll take care of
him, how they know little can be gained from working him hard now. They may
even follow up on it…this year. The fear should be whether LaRussa takes
the kid gloves off next year, thinking Ankiel’s been broken in and is ready
for some rougher handling. If so, look forward to the sorry spectacle of
adding Ankiel’s arm to those of Matt Morris and Alan Benes in the gruesome
"Limb Lane" exhibit that will be shuttling between Busch Stadium
and the Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago in a few years.

Kennedy’s callup isn’t fraught with as many dangers. At Memphis, he hit well
enough (.327/.378/.490, with ten home runs and 20 stolen bases) for a middle
infielder. The problem is that he may not be a middle infielder. While Joe
McEwing is only adequate with the glove at second, Kennedy apparently isn’t
much better.

The Cardinals have already experimented with moving Kennedy to left field. I
suppose that makes sense when the alternatives are Willie McGee or Thomas
Howard, but that isn’t the point. Neither McEwing or Kennedy do a good job
of taking a free pass, and while both of them are useful players with solid
futures, the lineup that has both of them as regulars is going to have to
make up a lot of ground offensively to compensate for their low OBPs.

The Cards aren’t quite in the same boat as the Cubs as far as settling for
adequacy from their non-superstars; Fernando Tatis’ development has been
phenomenal, while Ray Lankford and J.D. Drew give them the right pair of
lefties to go with Mark McGwire and Tatis. But they desperately need
improvement at the top of the order, and while Edgar Renteria can improve,
they’re also going to have to count on either McEwing or Kennedy up top, and
Super Joe has slid back to being Average Joe.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated 2B Quilvio Veras from the DL; optioned UT David
Newhan
to Las Vegas. [8/23]

Quilvio’s return is probably going to end up corresponding to a return to
.500 baseball for the Pads. Their problems in the leadoff spot (more
appropriately, "hole") have been thoroughly documented, and Veras’
always dandy .371 OBP should paper over them.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Activated 2B Jeff Kent off the DL; placed INF Ramon E.
Martinez
on the 15-day DL (strained groin). [8/21]

This would have been a lot nicer if it had never had to happen in the first
place, but it does help the Giants with their "injuries" excuse
for why they flopped as badly as they have.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Activated DH Jose Canseco from the DL; placed INF David Lamb
on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/14 (strained back).

Canseco is back in time to fend off Fred McGriff’s challenge for the
franchise single-season home-run record. That’s about all that matters
for the Recordball-obsessed organization. If there was a team that was going
to let Minnie Minoso add another decade to his list of decades-played-in,
it’s the D-Rays.

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