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ANAHEIM ANGELS Return to Top

Placed 3B-L Dallas McPherson on the 15-day DL (hip
inflammation). [7/8]

Designated INF-R David Matranga for assignment;
purchased
the contract of UT-B Zach Sorensen from Salt Lake.
[7/9]

Optioned LHP Jake Woods to Salt Lake. [7/10]

Although it’s easy to feel sorry for McPherson, the Angels have the
sort of
depth that allows them to survive this sort of thing. Now it just means
that
Chone Figgins will play a bunch of third, and the
outfield
will instead have to make do with more playing time for both
Jeff
DaVanon
and Juan Rivera. Even with three
substitutes in the lineup, the Angels still field a functional offense,
and
since they expect center fielder Steve Finley and
shortstop
Orlando Cabrera back during this weekend, they won’t
even
be that short-handed for long. Heck, with Sorensen on the bench, they
even
have a reserve who, like Figgins, can play seven positions in a pinch.

What I find particularly interesting is whether or not Woods is going
down
to get a few starts under his belt, resuming the role that he’d been in
before this year’s big league breakthrough as a reliever. If he does
and he
thrives, he might become an alternative to Ervin
Santana
in
the rotation’s last slot. Santana has taken serious beatings in half of
his
six starts since his recall, and both manager Mike Scioscia and
pitching
coach Bud Black may be running out of patience.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES Return to Top

Activated OF-L B.J. Surhoff from the 15-day DL;
optioned
UT-L David Newhan to Ottawa. [7/7]

When you have to go someplace you don’t want to go, you usually
complain
about it. It’s a time-honored thing. I never wanted to go to the dump,
but
Dad usually dragged me along because somebody had to listen to his
godawful
puns or jokes so bad that even Carson couldn’t use them. Nor do I
consider
those trips something that gave me some sort of wisdom years later; I’d
heard the puns before, the jokes far too many times, and I have never
subsequently needed to know where the Sacramento municipal dump is. I
was
simply a better conversationalist than the dog, while getting just
about as
much value out of the trip as Zenobia would have.

So consider me sympathetic when Newhan bitterly complains about his
lot,
taking a trip to a place he’d rather not go. Would you want to wind
up
in Ottawa? Of course, firing on the fans and the city might make sense
if
you’re trying to talk your way into a release,
and who can blame the guy? This is his eleventh year as a pro, and
before
last season, he had 95 big-league plate appearances. He’s on his sixth
professional organization (not counting a Tim Pugh
period
where he got swapped back and forth between the Pads and the Royals
like a
one-too-many copy of a Larvell Blanks card you
couldn’t
stomach keeping. Since Newhan can play five or six positions well
enough in
a pinch, he’s a useful bench player, and he has enough pop to be
slightly
more valuable than that.

Now that Surhoff is back, I guess the pressure is really on for
Larry Bigbie to wake up and play. Sure enough, he has
started hitting, but Bigbie’s been in the organization long enough to
realize that Surhoff has become a bit of a local favorite, and given
Surhoff’s outspoken desire to remain an Oriole for whatever is left of
his
career, he’s got sympathy and popularity that Bigbie can’t claim for
himself. Either way, the winner in this minor struggle will be
platooning
with Eli Marrero.

BOSTON RED SOX Return to Top

Acquired 2B/SS-L Alex Cora from the Indians for INF-L
Ramon Vazquez; designated OF-R Jay
Payton

for assignment; optioned LHP Lenny DiNardo to
Pawtucket;
activated OF-L Adam Stern from the 60-day DL. [7/7]

Activated RHP Curt Schilling from the 15-day DL;
outrighted
RHP Scott Cassidy to Pawtucket; acquired RHP
Chad
Bradford
from the A’s in exchange for OF-R Jay
Payton
; optioned 3B-R Kevin Youkilis to
Pawtucket.
[7/13]

An interesting series of tweaks, but not bad stuff all in all. Cora
gives
them an infield reserve who can really pick it at either second or
short, so
he’s a nice alternative to Mark Bellhorn and
Edgar
Renteria
, plus he can fulfill pinch-running duties, hit lefty,
and
basically make himself useful in a little role that exploits his little
man’s skill set. Since Bellhorn can play third or short as well, and
Bill Mueller can even fill in at the keystone in a
pinch,
depth isn’t that much of a problem, which is why the underplayed
Youkilis
won’t be missed too badly. (Technically, Bradford will be activated
with the
resumption of play, but that’s what forced Youkilis off of the roster.)
There is the question of whether or not Youkilis is ready to step in as
an
everyday player, but dealing Mueller would be only slightly less
controversial than trading Nomar Garciaparra was. If
there’s a question about the roster’s setup, it’s whether or not the
Sox
will really stick with Stern as their fifth outfielder now that they’ve
discarded Payton, or if the plan to bring Gabe Kapler
back
will come to pass.

I do wonder about the pen as it’s shaping up, however. As much as we
might
want to laugh off having Schilling in the closer’s role (or co-closing
with
Mike Timlin), a pen with situational weapons like
Bradford
and Mike Myers and a mop-up guy like John
Halama
isn’t really fully stocked. The combination of
Schilling,
Timlin, and Embree will have to carry a significant load from the
seventh
inning on, and it remains to be seen if Embree’s going to snap out of
it or
whether Schilling will have any rust to shake off. But ponder that
group, as
opposed to the decision that the organization would have to face about
which
starter to bump if and when Schilling is ready to start again. Who comes
out?
Bronson Arroyo is the choice if service time is the
determining factor, but if the Sox refer to player performance, it
makes
more sense to bump David Wells or Wade
Miller
. But would either of them adapt to a relief role, or
would
they sulk? There’s no easy way to say, but this is where performance
analysis falls short, and you have to tip your cap to the professionals
on
matters of team chemistry.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX Return to Top

Optioned LHP Kevin Walker to Charlotte. [7/10]

CLEVELAND INDIANS Return to Top

Acquired INF-L Ramon Vazquez from the Red Sox for
2B/SS-L
Alex Cora; recalled LHP Brian Tallet
from
Buffalo. [7/7]

Optioned LHP Brian Tallet to Buffalo; recalled 2B/SS-R
Brandon Phillips from Buffalo. [7/9]

Substituting Phillips for Cora doesn’t exactly reflect a growing
readiness
to give the AL Central their best shot while relying on their own, it’s
more
of a case of compensating for Ron Belliard‘s hamstring
injury. Phillips has only recently gotten his bat re-started at
Buffalo,
shaking off a cold start that some ascribed to mopery induced by losing
out
to Jhonny Peralta in camp, and getting up to
.252/.312/.400
at Buffalo. I wouldn’t expect Phillips to stick around with the Tribe,
should he be dealt as rumored, or demoted now that Belliard’s hammy has
been
rested. If snagging Cora didn’t work out as well as they might have
liked,
if the Tribe can’t fashion a role that keeps Phillips, Jhonny
Peralta
, and Ron Belliard fresh, I’d suggest
that
it’s Aaron Boone who ought to be getting splinters. As
is,
although I don’t know if Casey Blake‘s struggles have
anything to do with his move to the outfield, given that he’s struggled
almost as badly as Boone has would make me think that the Indians need
to
start making some choices that are much more difficult than wondering
what to
do about Alex Cora. Besides, Blake should continue to lose time in
right
field to Jody Gerut, so the Indians’ infield soap
opera
hasn’t been entirely resolved, but simply reconfigured with some new cast
members. Wherever Phillips goes, whether it’s Buffalo or Cincinnati or
wherever, I wouldn’t be surprised if we then saw Vazquez up at some
point,
to fill in as an infielder reserve now that Eric Wedge might be tabbing
Jose Hernandez for more platoon playing time anywhere
on
the diamond against lefties.

DETROIT TIGERS Return to Top

Outrighted INF-L Jason Smith to Toledo. [7/7]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS Return to Top

Activated LHP Jeremy Affeldt from the 15-day DL;
optioned
RHP Jonah Bayliss to Omaha. [7/7]

MINNESOTA TWINS Return to Top

Acquired 2B-R Bret Boone and cash from the Mariners
for a
PTBNL. [7/11]

So what is it that has all the Boones hitting like dear old
dad
,
especially when they might have recently been mistaken for Ray?
Whatever
it is, a new breakfast of champions, beef no longer being what’s for
dinner,
or simple age, what Bret Boone remains is a better player than Luis
frickin’
Rivas
, even if he doesn’t slug .400 or get much further than a .300
OBP.
The peril here is that Terry Ryan might consider his second base
situation
fixed, when he ought to be trying to do more than settle for a Boone
whose
bat is pining for the fjords if he wants to catch the White Sox.
Relying on
Boone is only an improvement from execrably bad choices, and not
necessarily
a big step up from Nick Punto. There’s still the daily car
crash
in the lineup as far as who plays short.

NEW YORK YANKEES Return to Top

Recalled CF-B Melky Cabrera from Columbus; placed RHP
Carl Pavano on the 15-day DL (shoulder soreness),
retroactive to 6/28; transferred 2B/SS-R Rey Sanchez
from
the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/7]

Purchased the contract of LHP Darrell May from
Columbus;
optioned OF-L Bubba Crosby to Columbus. [7/8]

So, what else would you have them do? Trade for Tike
Redman
? Time to roll over and give it up to get
Preston
Wilson
? Calling on Cabrera with less than a half-season above
A-ball under his belt is bold, but it’s the sort of boldness that
reminds me
of similarly spazzy summonings like Jason Anderson.
It’s
the sort of promotion that makes you wonder if a half-season of Crosby
hitting .260/.300/.400 and buried in the ninth slot wouldn’t be so
terrible.
It’s unlikely Cabrera could match that. Not only is he not considered
an
adequate glove for center, but hitting .267/.310/.413 in Albany doesn’t
make
it likely he can do that in the big leagues, even if he is only 20. It
would
be easy to consider this as something similar to the decision to bring
up
Robinson Cano and call it good, especially in light of
Cano’s successful adaptation, but I don’t see Cabrera’s possibilities as
anywhere near as potentially positive as Cano’s were. I know the
organization is publicly spitting bile over this particular move, but I
can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t the time to try to get by with Crosby
instead of telegraphing their obvious desperation and making it that
much
more likely that they’ll have to give up real goodies to get a guy like
Wilson once Cabrera has consecutive ofer days.

As for Pavano, he’s actually expected to be back in the rotation this
weekend, so this was more about letting him rest as an ongoing
precaution,
and filling the roster space with noted mopster May in the meantime
(complete with complimentary shellacking in his first and perhaps last
Yankee start). He won’t even get to stick in a mop-up role, not when
it’s an
open question as to whether he’s definitely better for it than fellow
slop-worker Wayne Franklin. Since Felix
Rodriguez
and Kevin Brown both aren’t far
behind
Pavano, Yankees fans can keep hoping that this was just that darkest
dark
before daylight as far as the pitching staff is concerned. Brown and
Pavano
bump May and Tanyon Sturtze from the rotation, Sturtze
would then go into the pen to join Rodriguez, earning Franklin his
banishment, and perhaps the organization sticks with Anderson this time
around. I know, it sounds too good to be true, so I wouldn’t bet on it.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS Return to Top

Re-signed CF-L Mark Kotsay to a three-year contract
extension through 2008. [7/9]

Acquired OF-R Jay Payton and cash from the Red Sox for
RHP
Chad Bradford; acquired RHP Jay
Witasick

and LHP Joe Kennedy from the Rockies for OF-R
Eric
Byrnes
and SS-L Omar Quintanilla. [7/13]

And so, with Kotsay’s extension, we bear witness to the squandering of
thousands of acre-feet of ink wasted on the question of whether or not
Kotsay was about to become the centerfielder the Yankees haven’t had
since…
well, Bernie Williams may not be dead, but his career
as a
centerfielder is in the boneyard. Before
that, I
guess we have to start dickering about what you thought about
Henry
Cotto
, or whether Rickey Henderson‘s arm in
center
was the sort of thing you could overlook (I’d say it was, especially if
the
alternative was Henry Cotto). Or how fondly you might remember
Mickey Rivers; I mean as a player, not as a punch line
to a
Billy Martin anecdote.

I guess I didn’t really understand a lot of the fuss. Kotsay’s a
California
sort of guy, and seemed happy to stick around. He’s given the A’s what
Johnny Damon did not, and how many good everyday
centerfielders are there out there who were actually available? If you have
Kotsay no later than through 31 or 32, that’s the last of what ought to
be
the normally good portion of a career, and the no-trade provisions
aren’t
overly complicated (only eight teams are ruled out past 2006). In the
meantime, it isn’t like the A’s have a standard-issue flychaser like
Stan Javier at the ready these days, or any reason to
believe that Charles Thomas might do the job, and I
don’t
think anyone should be sold on the notion that Nick
Swisher

could manage the position on an everyday basis. So a commitment to
Kotsay
makes sense, for the defensive value and useful enough hitting he’ll
bring
to the table through 2006. It’s certainly not a move to be regretted,
like
Scott Hatteberg‘s or Terrence
Long
‘s.

I guess I’m less excited about the Kennedy trade than most A’s fans,
and
that’s even with the acceptance that Byrnes almost certainly needed
dealing
before next year’s arbitration case. The achievement here is swapping
out
Byrnes and Bradford for Witasick and Payton, with the rub really being
getting Kennedy’s near-term future for Quintanilla’s career. In those
terms,
it’s a reasonable series of risks. I don’t see Witasick as a major
addition;
he’s just a better guy to have around than Ryan Glynn,
but
he seems a reasonable bet to do as well as Bradford from here on out,
with
perhaps less of an injury risk and without the nagging platoon worries.
Consider that a minor gain. In the outfield, taking the step down from
Byrnes to Payton gives you a guy who might more properly be a reserve
center
fielder and someone who has his uses against lefties, but it’s less
about
the relative virtues of the two as it is about letting Swisher and
Bobby Kielty play every day; consider this a larger
loss
than swapping Bradford and Witasick is a gain.

Which leaves you with Quintanilla’s career for Kennedy’s possibilities,
and
I’ll take that swap. As mentioned in the Rockies’ portion of today’s
program, Quintanilla isn’t looking that special, and in an organization
that
has Bobby Crosby at short and that just snagged Texas
A&M
shortstop Cliff Pennington in the draft, Quintanilla had gone from
prized
asset to dealable commodity. Kennedy has always had people like
us
singing his praises, because he throws strikes, carries a good rep for
intelligence on the mound, and who can’t sympathize with a guy who’s
had to
grow up pitching for the D-Rays and the Rockies? But his positives
don’t
extend entirely across the board. There are concerns about his
shoulder, and
just because we’ve seen all sorts of pitchers do even better than
expected
once they escape Coors Field, consider the cumulative hitter profile
that
our own James Click dug up about Kennedy:


YEAR  TEAM  MLVR  AVG  OBP  SLG
2001  TBA   .003 .265 .333 .430
2002  TBA  -.004 .263 .331 .420
2003  TBA  -.018 .261 .329 .421
2004  COL  -.103 .260 .330 .420
2005  COL  -.146 .254 .315 .391

MLVR is park and league-adjusted, so even with a Coors effect, he
hasn’t
exactly been beating the best of the best; he’s being beaten by some of
the
worst of the worst. Now sure, we can chuck all that into the
statistical
woodchipper of liberty because he’s no longer a Rockie, but it’s not a
happy
thing to think about, even for a lefty who can strike out six guys per
nine
on average.

The real question is what is Kennedy for? Fifth starter, boxing out
Kirk Saarloos? Saarloos is probably a better utility
pitcher than rotation regular, but he has been effective as a starter
this
season. It’s just hard to invest a lot of faith in him when he’s so
very
dependent on his defense to shut down the opposition. If Kennedy
doesn’t get
that job, how about his being used as a long reliever and second lefty?
Not
a bad idea, and if Kennedy could handle working more often, he could be
a
Craig Lefferts type, cranking out 90 innings or more
in a
setup role. Or is he simply bait for the next big deal? That’s the fun
thing
about Billy Beane, youneverknow. But it’s definitely worth
Quintanilla’s
career to find out if Kennedy is somebody who can be rehabilitated into
a
significant pitcher.

SEATTLE MARINERS Return to Top

Acquired a PTBNL from the Twins for 2B-R Bret Boone.
[7/11]

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS Return to Top

Activated RHP Rob Bell from the 15-day DL and
designated
him for assignment. [7/9]

Signed RHP Joe Borowski. [7/11]

Announced that RHP Rob Bell cleared waivers and outrighted him
to
Durham. [7/13]

TEXAS RANGERS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Juan Dominguez to Oklahoma. [7/13]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS Return to Top

Purchased the contract of RHP Justin Miller from
Syracuse;
recalled RHP Brandon League from Syracuse; optioned
OF-L
Gabe Gross to Syracuse; placed RHP Roy
Halladay
on the 15-day DL (non-displaced fracture – leg).
[7/9]

Now that Halladay’s out for a month, and given that we’ve seen so much
leeway granted in the past few decades to hitters when it comes to body
armor, I think I have to agree with Will Carroll’s comment about
armoring
our pitchers in some fashion. Perhaps not to Jeff
Bagwell
-clankworthy status, but how about enough so that we
don’t
have to keep worrying about every liner through the box breaking noses,
faces, or the odd leg? This shouldn’t be a machismo thing; hurlers have
to
stand there and make split-second decisions about high-velocity
projectiles
coming at them, always have, and always will have to. But do they have
to
have their careers at risk? In the same way that I hate watching
pitchers
hit, I can’t say I’m a fan of seeing pitchers getting pelted out of
action.

So in Halladay’s absence, the Jays are in Temptation Island territory.
Will
they plug Miller into the rotation? Or will it be League? Or perhaps
Scott Downs? Wait, which one is the plumber? Or is a
David Bush comeback in the offing? Let’s just say the
answer is academic, since the outcome still involves the Jays not
having the
horses to mount much of a challenge in a situation where nobody is
running
away with the division. But I’d bet on Bush’s return before I’d try any
of
those other possibilities. League hasn’t been dominant down in
Triple-A, and
Downs hasn’t impressed anybody since his call-up. Miller is perceived
as a
utility pitcher at most, although he was thriving at Syracuse, striking
out
39 in 39.1 IP, with 31 hits and nine walks allowed. Still, this staff
is
already counting on turning career utility pitcher Pete
Walker
into a rotation regular, and this isn’t one of those
games
where two of a kind makes for a better hand.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Return to Top

Placed LHP Shawn Estes on the 15-day DL (stress
reaction –
ankle), retroactive to 7/6; recalled RHP Brandon
Medders

from Tucson. [7/7]

I guess this means that if you leave a snake in the desert heat, it
melts.
The team doesn’t seem known how long Estes is out, and with Russ
Ortiz
still on the DL, you could argue that the D-backs have
three
fifth-starter types in the rotation. However, even if I wouldn’t stock
up on
Mike Gosling futures if you’re a roto-minded shopper
(having a good day against the Reds isn’t the sort of thing you hang
your
hat on); Brad Halsey has been more than adequate, and
Claudio Vargas seems to be making little bits of
progress
each time out. It isn’t a great rotation, but it is one with which you
can
get by. That’s really sort of the team’s leitmotiv, despite its
desperate pretensions as a contender, but they’re slowly changing gears
and
pondering how swappable some of their big contracts might be.
Unfortunately,
with so many injuries, I doubt the Snakes will be able to consummate as
many
deals as they may want to. Although the Javier Vazquez
rumors are piling up, here I’m thinking of Jose Cruz
and
his nagging back pain, since it looks like he’s about to be
overrun by
callups from within the system.

ATLANTA BRAVES Return to Top

Released RHP Seth Greisinger outright from Richmond.
[7/6]

Optioned RHP Jorge Vasquez to Richmond; recalled 3B-R
Andy Marte from Richmond. [7/8]

Two weeks in the minors and back again might seem rough on Marte, but
Wilson Betemit has only one extra-base hit in the last
two
weeks, and when you’re an organization with the happy choice between
the
two, you can afford to be a little fickle. However, I don’t know
if
we should necessarily expect Marte to go back down as soon as
Chipper Jones is reactivated. If Marte looks good,
Jones
might simply push Jeff Francoeur, Kelly
Johnson
, and Ryan Langerhans into some sort
of
job-sharing arrangement in right field, with Marte and Betemit
continuing
their duel for the job at the hot corner. However, Marte didn’t do
anything
last weekend, and Betemit’s still cooling off, so we’ll have to see
whether
the Braves get creative or not.

CHICAGO CUBS Return to Top

Optioned CF-L Corey Patterson and OF-R Jason
Dubois
to Iowa; purchased the contracts of OF-L Adam
Greenberg
and OF-R Matt Murton from West Tenn
(Double-A). [7/7]

Although I’m sympathetic to Dubois, there isn’t much to be said in
defense
of Patterson. Guys who hit less than their tenth percentile PECOTA
projection are doing something very, very wrong. Pointing the finger at
Dusty Baker or Gene Clines might make for some sort of spiteful glee, but a failure
of
this proportion can’t be put on the manager or the hitting coach.
Patterson
seems to think he’s identified the problem, and while it’s troubling to
think that nobody noticed it beforehand, hopefully, he’ll get this
ironed
out, because counting on Jerry Hairston Jr.‘s
durability is
a stretch. Happily, Hairston is continuing to look good in center, so
he
does give the team a solid enough leadoff man for the time being.
Assuming
that Greenberg can dust himself off after his debut plunking, I’d
expect
he’ll be more than just the organizational soldier you might assume him
to
be. After a good career at the University of North Carolina, he’s shone
since being a 9th round pick in 2002. He has the speed and range for
center,
and he’s a relatively patient hitter, clocking in at .278/.386/.420 in
this,
his first full season at Double-A. If well short of being the next
Brett Butler, I like to think he might be a nice
mighty
mite in the John Cangelosi mold.

As for Dubois and his only hitting .239/.289/.472, the slugging was
spot-on,
and he just needs more consistent playing time to hit; since May 31,
he’d
only gotten back-to-back starts once, and making the jump to the majors
is
difficult enough without being shunted off into a platoon role. There
is the
larger question of whether or not Dubois can be a good enough hitter to
be
an everyday player, or if he’ll have to make those adjustments to stick
as a
platoonie and spare part. It’s the same challenge that Murton faces,
but
he’s a better offensive prospect than Dubois, however unfortunate
having
most-comparables like Darryl Motley and Al
Cowens
might be. He’s torn up Double-A (.342/.403/.498), runs
well,
and looks like he’s the regretted one who got away from the Red Sox in
the
Garciaparra trade. A weak arm should limit him to left, but given that
the
Cubs don’t have a legitimate regular for left field, it would be nice
to see
him get a larger role, just as it would have been for Dubois.

COLORADO ROCKIES Return to Top

Optioned RHP David Cortes to Colorado Springs; signed
RHP
Mike DeJean to a one-year contract. [7/7]

Acquired OF-R Eric Byrnes and SS-L Omar
Quintanilla
from the Athletics for LHP Joe
Kennedy

and RHP Jay Witasick; acquired RHP Zach
Day
, OF-R J.J. Davis, and a PTBNL from the
Nationals for OF-R Preston Wilson and cash. [7/13]

As far as the evolution of a better Blake Street ballclub was
concerned,
this was only a matter of time, especially when you’re starting off
with a
roster as destined for collective good things as the trilobites.
Sometimes
when you’re a seller the best offers come at the break instead of at
the
deadline, and given Dan O’Dowd’s reputation for being difficult to deal
with, you can forgive him for pulling the trigger on a pair of
decent-seeming deals. This certainly clears the rotation of conflict,
so Rox
fans can count on seeing both Byung-Hyun Kim and
Shawn Chacon every fifth day. That’s a source of
relief.
Isn’t it?

First, the move with the A’s. It’s almost a good deal. Let’s
face it,
Kennedy isn’t the new John Tudor, and Witasick is your
basic bit of a scrap-heaper, good to have when he’s going good, and
easy to
release when he isn’t. Witasick’s recent two good months are nice, but
they
don’t erase that his career has one good full season in it (2002). He’s
filler. So really, the question is whether or not O’Dowd got value for
the
Legend of Joe Kennedy. Byrnes is the sort of guy who could have been a
superstar if he’d come up in Coors a couple of years ago, but
goldilocks
charisma aside, he’s only a year and a half younger than the recently
departed Wilson. Wilson, however, had a nice career with the Marlins
before
getting elevated to superstardom on the basis of his one full season in
Coors in 2003, a guy who made a nice regular in center if you had him.
In
contrast, Byrnes will be useful enough as a regular wherever he starts,
but
being the best regular in an outfield that will also boast guys like
Matt Holliday isn’t enough to build on, and at 29,
Byrnes
isn’t a player you’ll have on your next good Rockies team. Still, he
has a
good shot at being the token Rockie in the 2006 All-Star game, and that
might be the sort of thing to help keep the GM employed.

I guess I’m slightly more interested in the decision to get Quintanilla in
the
deal, since he’s at a point where he still has some promise. However,
he’s
also a guy who played at the University of Texas, so he’s supposed to
be a
prospect, and when you hit .296/.350/.398 in the Texas League, you’re not really living up to
blue-chip billing. As our own Clay Davenport noted after the
deal,
Quintanilla has a “total projected future DT line is on the order
of
.275/.320/.400, for a .250 Equivalent Average. His projected line for
this
year is about the same, .247. He’ll hit for a decent average, but he
looks
to be below average at drawing walks, below average in power, and he
hasn’t
demonstrated any base-stealing aptitude. As a shortstop, he racked up
-10
fielding runs in 163 games.” Speculation that Quintanilla would
need to
move off of short started as soon as he was drafted, so perhaps if he
really
learns to pick it at second, you’re looking at the new Jim
Gantner
. Now, that isn’t without value. Heck, it’s better than
getting worked up about Aaron Miles. But is getting
that
and an adequate outfield regular enough for the Kennedy and a scrapheap
reliever? I’m inclined to say that it is, it just isn’t the sort of
deal
that fixes a broken franchise.

The Wilson deal is similarly “okay, but…” as deals go, and
there
was a wee bit more at stake than seamlessly clearing out a slot in the
outfield for Byrnes. Once he recovers, Day will be an eventual
alternative
for the rotation, a necessity for a rotation relying on the
aforementioned
Kim and Chacon, let alone the immortal Jamey Wright.
But
he’s essentially an aspiring fourth starter going to a place where at
best
you endure, and if you’re lucky (like Kennedy), they make you leave.
Add in
that he’s not someone who fools a lot of people at the plate, and you
can
reasonably worry about his coughing up ERAs in the Boeing range (seven
and
up).

The better half of the deal might be Davis; although you might consider
him
waiver bait after he was dumped on the Nats for roster space by the
Bucs
this past winter. That’s not to say that Davis can’t play; on a roster
relying on someone like Holliday, lots of people become good enough to
play.
Davis was hitting .282/.356/.546 at New Orleans. Good, but not great,
so
what gives? I guess here I’ll nod to Rany Jazayerli’s point from a few
years
ago, that guys who strike out a lot tend to enjoy an outsized benefit
from
playing at altitude, where breaking pitches flatten out, and Davis, an
unfinished product at the plate, has been striking out about a third of
the
time. Call it a hunch, or simply overthinking the fact that Davis is a
hitter going to Denver. Either way, if it doesn’t seem like a lot of
value
for Preston Wilson, take that as a sign that the world had woken up and
noticed that 2003 was a while ago, Wilson’s not the player he was then,
and
park factors aren’t mistaken for ground rules in ultimate frisbee in
the
game these days.

FLORIDA MARLINS Return to Top

Placed RHP Josh Beckett on the 15-day DL (strained
oblique), retroactive to 7/6; recalled RHP Randy
Messenger

from Albuquerque. [7/8]

What’s the joke about engineers, chefs, policemen, the Italians, the
Germans, and the British? I never quite understood it, since both the
engineering traditions of all three as expressed in motor vehicles as
varied
as passenger cars or main battle tanks seemed collectively burdened
with
quirky idiosyncrasies and unpredictable performance far more than they
were
with high-end reliability. At any rate, I have to figure that the same
stork
that gave us Lamborghinis gave us Josh Beckett, where an otherwise
inspired
design seems undone by a notable design flaw and a perpetual shortage
of
spare parts that seem to doom his masters to frequent trips to your
friendly
neighborhood chop shop. This time around, Beckett’s broken for at least
two
turns, but in the show as in life, the dealership’s good for a loaner.
The
real problem is that when you’re spending a wee bit too much time
tooling
around the Show in a Hyundai, it takes more than a bumper sticker
announcing
that your other car is an Alfa Romeo to tell people you’re a contender.

HOUSTON ASTROS Return to Top

Optioned LHP Wandy Rodriguez to Corpus Christi
(Double-A).
[7/8]

Purchased the contract of RHP Travis Driskill from
Round
Rock. [7/9]

This is a temporary exchange, not a case of surrendering your destiny
to
being Driskilled every fifth day. Rodriguez is simply being kept on
rotation, after which he’ll be back to resume his place in the
rotation. I
won’t say that’s all good, considering how Rodriguez has performed (a
7.25
ERA and a homerun allowed every five innings), but he has gotten to the
sixth inning five of his last six games, and that sort of thing matters
to
Phil Garner. That said, Rodriguez has not been abused, and since
starters in working order are in short supply and he hasn’t been as bad
as
either Brandon Duckworth or Ezequiel
Astacio
, you can understand there being some enthusiasm for a
man
named Wandy.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS Return to Top

Placed SS-B Cesar Izturis on the 15-day DL (strained
hamstring), retroactive to 6/30; activated LHP Odalis
Perez
from the 15-day DL. [7/5]

Placed LHP Kelly Wunsch on the 15-day DL (sprained
ankle);
activated OF-L Ricky Ledee from the 15-day DL. [7/8]

So now Wunsch has joined the roster’s ghost battalion, another player
lost
for the season, and leaving what? Wilson Alvarez
should be
ready to be activated by sometime next week, so at least the pen will
have
its token lefty. With Izturis on the DL, shortstop belongs to Mexican
import
Oscar Robles, and while he’s pasting singles at a
furious
pace, he’s also been pasting them in Denver and Houston as opposed to
Chavez
Ravine. However enthusiastic rotoheads might be about his batting
average,
I’d suggest that given his lack of patience or power, don’t get too
excited
just yet.

Over in the rotation, Perez didn’t look good in either of his first two
starts back, although the first one was in Coors, and he was cruising
through five in the second start against the Mashstros in the cozy
confines of
Spicy V-8 Jumbodome, at which point he ran out of gas and got hammered
in the
sixth inning. Perhaps he’ll work his way more fully back into
form,
but it’ll take a lot more than that or having Ledee around to spice up
the
outfield to make the Dodgers relevant.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES Return to Top

Activated 1B/OF-R Craig Wilson from the 15-day DL;
optioned
C-R David Ross to Indianapolis. [7/9]

How are the Bucs fun? Because now that Wilson’s back, they have this
insane,
jumbled-up combination of overlapping platoons, where lefty hitters
Rob Mackowiak, Tike Redman and, to a
lesser extent Daryle Ward get playing time in center
field
and the infield corners, splitting time with Wilson (first and left),
Jason Bay (in left when Wilson isn’t, and in center
when
Redman or Mackowiak aren’t), and Freddy Sanchez (at
third
when Mackowiak is in center). It’s a platoon that covers center, left,
first, and third, involves six players with very different sets of
skills,
and would do even Casey Stengel proud. It doesn’t make the Pirates a
good
team, but they’re almost certainly one of the most entertaining teams
to
watch while keeping score. Add in Lloyd McClendon’s perhaps
understandable
willingness to tolerate (some would say his identification with)
catchers
who aren’t great catchers, and keep Ryan Doumit and
Wilson
as his backup backstops, and Doumit’s part-time play in right field
(when
Mike Restovich isn’t getting the platoon at-bats
against
lefties in Matt Lawton‘s place), and I think we have to
start talking about whether a manager doesn’t do more good in creating
roles
in which players can be useful, as opposed to assessing him only on the
basis of whether or not he’s overly infatuated with the intentional
walk.

Oh, yeah, the roster move… well, Ross isn’t chopped liver, but all he
does
is catch, and in a roster where everyone’s supposed to be some sort of
transformer who turns into something else as needed, a plain old
catcher
seems awfully prosaic. On this bench, you’ve got to be a Hong Kong
Cavalier
. I mean, can the guy even dance?

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Activated C-R Ramon Hernandez from the 15-day DL;
optioned
C-R Miguel Ojeda to Portland. [7/7]

Optioned RHP Brian Falkenborg to Portland; recalled
RHP
Pedro Astacio from Portland. [7/10]

Wow! Not only is Hernandez back, but Rob Fick showed
enough
in his catching work to be handed the backup spot, and since he can
actually
still menace people at the plate and play a bit of first or an outfield
corner, this is a much better way to use a roster spot than carrying
Ojeda
around. Admittedly, he can’t stop the running game, but Hernandez is a
regular catcher, and Fick’s particularly ugly shortcoming (catching
only two
of 18 attempts) won’t show up very often when it isn’t starting on a
daily
basis.

Now that Eric Young is back and seems to be taking on
most
of the playing time at second, the bench seems pretty well-equipped
with
useful reserves. Damian Jackson is doing a poor man’s
Chone Figgins impersonation, flitting between positions and
pinch-running. Mark Sweeney is doing good stuff
splitting
first base with Xavier Nady in Phil
Nevin
‘s absence, and with both getting time in the outfield.
Ben Johnson probably isn’t playing enough to justify
his
being around, but I suspect he isn’t complaining. I guess Geoff
Blum
gets to tut-tut about how poorly that young Mr.
Burroughs
is turning out, although that’s just not going to be
enough to
cost Burroughs his job to someone like Blum, not when it will probably
be
Mark Loretta who gets it as soon as he’s back. And
then you
have Fick, a spare lefty bat with pop.

Also, shame on me, I got Astacio wrong, as he had not stuck around to
pitch
in the Rangers’ farm system, but instead signed up with the Padres on
the
30th, making himself available to slip into the fifth slot on an
emergency
basis. Considering that Astacio’s work with Texas wasn’t completely
awful, I
guess I wouldn’t bet against his sticking around somewhere. Since
Adam Eaton may not be back for the rest of the month,
the
pitcher-friendly sun-dappled sward of Petco makes as good a place as
any.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS Return to Top

Optioned UT-R Brian Dallimore to Fresno; recalled RHP
Brad
Hennessey
from Fresno. [7/9]

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Return to Top

Recalled C-R Mike Mahoney from Memphis; optioned UT-R
Hector Luna to Memphis. [7/8]

Optioned LHP Carmen Cali to Memphis; activated LHP
Randy Flores from the 15-day DL. [7/9]

Nothing too major as the Cards continue to cruise. Yadier
Molina
is handicapped by a minor break in one of his hands, so
to
be on the safe side, they hauled up minor league vet Mahoney. Down at
Memphis, Mahoney had hit .255/.309/.412, or about as completely
non-descript
as a guy you might consider a non-descript aspiring backup catcher
might
hit, just enough to prove he has a pulse and put the fear of some god
to be
named later in the always pitiable Einar Diaz, but not
so
well enough as to make the Cardinals ponder whether or not Mahoney
might be
good enough to claim a chunk of playing time from Molina at the outset
of
his career.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS Return to Top

Activated OF-L Ryan Church from the 15-day DL; signed
LHP
Mike Stanton; placed 2B-R Junior
Spivey
on
the 15-day DL (fractured radius), retroactive to 7/9; placed 1B/OF-R
Tony Blanco on the 15-day DL (vertigo, sinus
infection,
“I was picked Rule 5” disease), retroactive to 7/11;
transferred
2B-B Henry Mateo from the 15- to the 60-day DL; acquired OF-R
Preston Wilson and cash from the Rockies for RHP
Zach Day, OF-R J.J. Davis, and a
PTBNL.
[7/13]

So, the Nats are primed for their big move, the shift to contention,
the
opportunity to cement for themselves a place in local sports history
that
Dan Snyder or Michael Jordan or Ted Leonsis could not, the opportunity
to
get Jim Bowden some honest-to-goodness job security, and… well, I
suppose
it was too good to last. Wilson comes over after having hit
.224/.280/.411
this season in baseball stadia not named Planet Coors. Even supposing
the
purported Mile High hangover effect will reinflate those numbers in the
fetid air of RFK, this is what you want to bench Church for?
Admittedly,
that benching won’t come until Nick Johnson comes off
of
the DL, and with Johnson, he could be back later on this month, or he
could
disappear into a huge swaddle of bandages and show up in the next Mummy
movie before he ever gets back on a diamond. I guess I’m just not that
excited about getting Wilson, even if it didn’t cost all that much to
get
him (Day and Davis aren’t the sorts of guys it’s difficult to replace).
Flags may fly forever, but I don’t see Wilson as one of the guys who
will
help you run
it up
the flagpole
.

So in the meantime, Church and Marlon Byrd will play a
lot
of left, Brad Wilkerson a lot of first, and Wilson can
be a
hero or goat, joining either Jose Guillen or
Cristian Guzman, respectively, in local legend. Since
Jose Vidro‘s back in action at second, it’s still a
full
lineup, but it’s one that shouldn’t make the Braves frightened, not
with the
rotation about to rejoin the land of the active, and not when the Nats
have
to hope that Stanton can join Hector Carrasco as one
of the
season’s best comebacks.

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