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ANAHEIM ANGELS Return to Top

Activated CF-L Steve Finley from the 15-day DL. [7/14]

Activated SS-R Orlando Cabrera from 15-day DL; optioned
OF-L Curtis Pride to Salt Lake. [7/16]

Nothing too spectacular here, just the lineup back at nearly full
strength. Chone Figgins will play a lot of third base now that Finley and
Cabrera are active, with Maicer Izturis, Juan
Rivera
and Jeff DaVanon dueling over who gets to
play on a day-to-day basis. Rivera’s arm and power potential will win out
more often than not, I suspect. Rivera is certainly in position
to make more of a name for himself, as divisional play will
create opportunities for him to hit against some of the notable lefties
featured in the rotations of the rivals of los angeles de Los Angeles.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES Return to Top

Activated RHP Jason Grimsley from the 60-day DL; designated
RHP Steve Reed for assignment. [7/14]

Designated RHP James Baldwin for assignment; activated LHP
Erik Bedard from the 15-day DL. [7/18]

This isn’t quite a case of “send out the clowns,” since they did just bring
Grimsley back in, and his value is dubious at best. Plus, although he was
generally pitching in a low-leverage mop-up role, Baldwin did do good work
that should, at the very least, get him a nice NRI deal this winter as a
free agent.

Reed looked awful as an Oriole, but keep in mind that Lee Mazzilli’s
propensity to leave him out there to fry as opposed to reserving him for a
ROOGY role didn’t help. Mazzilli was using an admittedly
overly-specialized specialist in ways he couldn’t help, which serves as a
very minor cautionary tale about the disadvantages of carrying too many
situational guys in a bullpen that has to do a lot of work to cover for a
rotation that doesn’t get into the seventh inning as often as you might
like. Jorge Julio‘s miserable June didn’t help matters any,
any more than rushing up Hayden Penn in Bedard’s place did.

I don’t harbor any great hopes for Grimsley, and I suspect that getting Bedard
back, coincident with Julio’s getting back on track and having Chris
Ray
up from here on out, will have a lot more to do with the pen’s
improvement than whatever moxie Grimsley’s World Series rings are supposed
to add to the mix.

BOSTON RED SOX Return to Top

Signed OF-R Gabe Kapler, and placed him on the 15-day DL.
[7/15]

Placed INF-B Mark Bellhorn on the 15-day DL (sprained
thumb); recalled 3B-R Kevin Youkilis from Pawtucket. [7/18]

Designated LHP Alan Embree for assignment; acquired OF-R
Adam Hyzdu from the Padres for RHP Scott
Cassidy
; acquired INF-R Tony Graffanino from the
Royals for OF-B Chip Ambres and LHP Juan
Cedeno
. [7/19]

Theo Epstein may not have achieved the big move just yet, but pending an
omnibus bullpen multi-dimensional super-swap, minor fixes will have to
do in the meantime. So Kapler is back from Japan, and will no doubt take over
for one of the Adams, Stern or Hyzdu. I definitely like picking up Graffy as
part of the patch for Bellhorn’s absence, because like Cora, he’s more than
just a fill-in, he’s a pretty handy utility infielder when he isn’t
covering for this sort of emergency. It beats pressing Hanley
Ramirez
into action, since he isn’t dominating Double-A at the
plate (.272/.334/.415, good for a 21-year-old, but not so good that you push
him up). The other system solution, Dustin Pedroia, is recovering from a wrist
injury suffered at Pawtucket after doing exactly that
(.324/.409/.508 at Portland). In the wake of those uncertainties, better to
pick up Graffanino for a standard-issue live lefty arm and a minor-league
free-agent outfielder, especially since Graffy plus Cora gives you a nice
pair of infield reserves for all three spots once Bellhorn comes
back and should anything bad happen to Bill Mueller or
Edgar Renteria.

What’s a little stranger is the decision to just give up on Embree. As bad
as he’s been, he’s been useful much more recently than John
Halama
has. Since Matt Mantei is out for the year and
Keith Foulke may not pitch until the end of August, cutting
Embree just exacerbates the Sox’s pen problems. Now they’re that much more
dependent on Curt Schilling panning out as a reliever, and
on Chad Bradford being in full operating order. Why keep
both Halama and Jeremi Gonzalez as long relievers? Just about nothing
that Halama does would be enough to get him onto your postseason roster,
while Embree still seems to be fooling some people at the plate some of the
time.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX Return to Top

Activated LHP Damaso Marte from the 15-day DL. [7/14]

Activated RHP Orlando Hernandez from the 15-day DL;
designated RHP Shingo Takatsu for assignment; activated
OF/1B Ross Gload from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to
Charlotte. [7/18]

I suspect I’m not alone when it comes to Chicagoans (or in my case, Chicago
ex-pats) who will miss Takatsu for his throwing motion. But Bobby
Jenks
‘ overpowering heat seems more intoxicating than a four-martini
lunch, while Takatsu’s virtues seem to have worn thin faster than…
well, a week’s worth of four-martini lunches. He wasn’t fooling
right-handers, and lefties had golfed twice as many home runs as singles off
of him this year. I can’t help but wonder if he’s someone like Doug
Jones
, and better off moving from league to league, so that he
keeps the number of people who have gotten a good look at him to a minimum.
Certainly, I’ll be interested to see what happens if he heads over to the National
League.

I guess I’m just concerned about the right-handed relief before you get
to Dustin Hermanson now that Takatsu’s gone.
Luis Vizcaino has had his moments, but he hasn’t been that
strong, Jenks hasn’t actually pitched well yet as much as he’s been
superficially impressive, and I keep expecting Cliff
Politte
to stop walking on water like he was Peter Sellers. Or maybe a skitterbug. They’ve got special powers,
donchaknow… sort of like your 2005 edition of Politte. Anyways, at least
the rotation is back at full strength.

CLEVELAND INDIANS Return to Top

Recalled RHP Fausto Carmona from Buffalo; optioned RHP
Kaz Tadano to Buffalo. [7/17]

Acquired OF-R Jason Dubois from the Cubs for OF-L
Jody Gerut; optioned RHP Fausto Carmona to
Buffalo. [7/18]

Okay, setting aside my frustration that the Indians didn’t take Ryan
Ludwick
more seriously, I love their picking up Dubois to be a
right-handed masher. Gerut is useful enough, but he isn’t a great player,
even now in his prime seasons. The Indians are trying to build a
lineup that can brutalize the improving rotations of the AL Central, and
they need a righty thumper to balance out lefty bats like Grady
Sizemore
and Travis Hafner. The deal is also
a nice bit of salary dumping, while costing the Tribe nothing in terms of
talent they can use to win now on their roster. They won’t catch the White
Sox the way things are going, so it makes sense to instead add the
incremental benefits of Dubois’ longer arbitration clock, options, and lower
cost for the next year or two, while sparing themselves more difficult and
expensive decisions involving Gerut’s arbitration eligibility this winter.
It’s a likely offensive gain with economic benefits, and in the Indians’
situation, that’s as win-win as it gets.

As far as near-term possibilities, Dubois could stick in an outfield corner,
or he could DH. In that case, Hafner would move to first base and push
Ben Broussard into the benching he’s earned. If Dubois goes
back to the outfield, that might also help the lineup by forcing the Indians
to pick between Casey Blake and Aaron
Boone
, since that’s at least one too many thirtysomething
apparatchiks in this lineup. Winner sticks at third base, at least until
Brandon Phillips earns a full-time job somewhere in the
infield.

DETROIT TIGERS Return to Top

Placed RHP Troy Percival on the 15-day DL (forearm),
retroactive to 7/10; purchased the contract of RHP Craig
Dingman
from Toledo. [7/14]

Will Carroll has already covered Percival’s probable fate, so let’s just
stick to the repercussions of having lost him. Assuming the
Tiggers have some form of contract insurance, I see this as a cloud with an
awful lot of silver lining. Not only might they recoup the expense of having
spent too much on a player who was never going to be as useful as he was
expensive, but losing him even presents Dave Dombrowski with a handy excuse
for why winning this year wasn’t in the cards. Yes, I guess that means I’m a
cynic, but Percival was a bad idea that might have only looked good relative
to the Magglio Ordonez signing. Besides, if Kyle
Farnsworth
thrives in the closer’s role that is now his, consider
that the karmic equivalent of air-mailing an omelette’s-worth of eggs for
deposit on Dusty Baker’s incredulous noggin. Add in that Fernando
Rodney
is healthy and is pumping liquid gas from the mound; he
seems to have finally started living up to a few years of hype. The Tigers’
pen will be fine, and if Percival’s experience helped Farnsworth forget his
past, perhaps more than fine.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS Return to Top

Activated RHP Kyle Snyder from the 15-day DL, and optioned
him to Omaha; activated RHP Ambiorix Burgos from the 15-day
DL; designated RHP Ryan Jensen for assignment. [7/14]

Activated OF-R Matt Diaz from the 15-day DL, and optioned
him to Omaha; announced that RHP Ryan Jensen cleared
waivers and accepted an assignment to Omaha. [7/18]

Acquired LHP Juan Cedeno and OF-B Chip
Ambres
from the Red Sox for INF-R Tony Graffanino,
and assigned Cedeno to Wichita (Double-A). [7/19]

As packages for dumps go, getting Cedeno and Ambres for Graffanino wasn’t all
bad. Yes, it does only leave the Royals with Super Joe
McEwing
as their utility infielder, but when you’re one of the
worst teams in baseball, that isn’t the sort of detail you should lose sleep
over.

Cedeno is 21 and Dominican and left-handed and in A ball, and pending
his making the jump to Double-A someday, that’s about as close to an
organizational dreamcatcher as you get.

Ambres might make people forget…
well, he might remind people of Emil Brown, another
journeyman who seems to have finally found a home. But where Brown is already
30, Ambres is a former first-round pick from the Marlins’ chain who didn’t
fit their mold after perhaps resembling Todd Dunwoody too
closely, in ways good and bad: moderate power, lots of strikeouts, some
speed, some defense. Unlike Dunwoody, Ambres has always shown some
ability to get on base. Signed by the Red Sox as a minor-league free
agent (pity that Allard Baird didn’t do that himself last December), Ambres
comes over after having hit .290/.396/.488 in Pawtucket. Still only 24, he’s
a better use of a lineup slot that Terrence Long is,
certainly, but whether or not he sticks will depend as much on how much hope
is invested in a guy like Shane Costa, and when
Billy Butler is due up, as it will on his own performance.

MINNESOTA TWINS Return to Top

Optioned 2B-R Luis Rivas to Rochester. [7/16]

Activated 3B/2B-R Michael Cuddyer from the 15-day DL.
[7/17]

Whew, that’s overdue, as Cuddyer should slip immediately into the lineup at
third base. However, there’s still the “Juan Castro is a major-league
regular” bit of make-believe over at shortstop, which highlights that
the Twins are still relying on an infield that does not have an above-average
player at second, short or third, even with Cuddyer back and Bret
Boone
in the fold these days. The White Sox promise that they’ll
send flowers. Nice ones, as a thank you, or for consolation. YMMV.

NEW YORK YANKEES Return to Top

Placed RHP Chien-Ming Wang on the 15-day DL (shoulder
inflammation), retroactive to 7/9; purchased the contract of RHP Tim
Redding
from Columbus; designated 1B-L Eric
Crozier
for assignment. [7/14]

Acquired LHP Al Leiter and cash from the Marlins for a
PTBNL; designated RHP Tim Redding for assignment. [7/16]

Purchased the contract of RHP Aaron Small from Columbus;
optioned OF-B Melky Cabrera to Columbus; designated INF-R
Russ Johnson for assignment. [7/17]

Activated RHP Kevin Brown from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP
Jason Anderson to Columbus; recalled OF-L Bubba
Crosby
from Columbus. [7/18]

Activated RHP Felix Rodriguez from the 15-day DL (strained
hamstring); outrighted LHP Darrell May to Columbus; placed
DH-B Ruben Sierra on the 15-day DL; recalled INF-R
Andy Phillips from Columbus. [7/19]

Talk about the “Go Fish” rotation…as the Yankees just manage to slap
together a rotation as the schedule demanded, courtesy of two stalwarts of
the World Champs of 1997. Leiter is a reasonable enough solution for one of
the final slots, especially with Wang possibly out for the year. Certainly,
the irony of adding the man who once decried his team’s love for
Dave LaPoint back when he himself was a young Yankees prospect and
the Bombers were desperate is richer still now that it’s Leiter in the
LaPoint role. It’s still better than trusting games to Redding or May, and Small
should only be in the rotation for a turn, or at most two, before Carl
Pavano
comes off of the DL. Add in the improvement the pen can hope
for now that Rodriguez is back, and the Yankees’ pitching staff might
actually be in pretty good shape for the immediate future. I know, that
involves counting on Leiter and Kevin Brown, but there
isn’t a lot of choice in the matter.

The situation is better amongst the position players as well. Sierra is a
limited-use player, and the DH slot’s playing time ought to be going to
Bernie Williams and Jason Giambi, anyway.
Crosby has already gotten a start
in center field batting ninth, which I’ve wished would happen for a while now. It
almost all seems to work.

Was mid-July the nadir of the 2005 Yankees season?
Arguably, at least for the panic that came with it; the Yankees aren’t
dead yet, and thanks to some quick (and overdue) problem-solving, they’ve
almost got a full rotation again, they’re not playing Tony
Womack
any more, and they have an adequate solution to their center field problem. The bullpen could use an upgrade, but Rodriguez makes for a
nice start there. I’m not going to be surprised if we get something historic
out of the next couple of months.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS Return to Top

Optioned LHP Ron Flores to Sacramento; outrighted RHP
Ryan Glynn to Sacramento. [7/14]

Welcome to Transaction Detritus, which will not become a regularly scheduled
feature. Instead, TD is simply something that arises when a move breaks
across my submissions, instead of neatly all in one. So as part of the
aftermath of the decision to go out and get Joe Kennedy and Jay Witasick
from the Rockies, Mssrs. Flores and Glynn get to reacquaint themselves with
the subtle benefits of spending time in Sacramento. How many other stadia
have a Money Store ziggurat as a neighbor, after all?

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS Return to Top

Designated RHP Hideo Nomo for assignment; activated INF-R
Alex Gonzalez from the 15-day DL. [7/16]

If Nomo was a gambit, where the Rays intended to flip him at the deadline or
at the least get adequate work every fifth day, and perhaps generate some
faint echo of Nomomania among the shuffleboard set, it didn’t work on any
level. Nomo was as awful as he had been in 2004, when at least he’d had the
benefits of Chavez Ravine, and that’s without bringing up the time he’d lost
to rotator-cuff surgery that season. It does represent a failure, in that
the Rays’ attempts to bring in veterans to leaven the rotation has
completely flopped. Rob Bell was a similar risk as Nomo, a
retread worn so thin that you had to wonder where else he might wind up, and
he seems just as done, although his issue seems to be some variant of
Blassitis, as opposed to age and injury.

Since a gambit involves a sacrifice, what was sacrificed? Roster space,
certainly. Jeremi Gonzalez was punted in the meantime, and
even if everything had gone badly for him, I think it would have been hard
for him to have given up more than seven runs per nine over 19 starts the
way Nomo had. Experience, possibly, although it’s not so easy to identify
who the Rays might have trusted from among their own. John
Webb
? Dewon Brazelton? Swapping Chad
Gaudin
for the execrable Kevin Cash certainly
didn’t help. There’s a reason why the Rays are down to a rotation of
Mark Hendrickson, Scott Kazmir,
Casey Fossum and Seth McClung, where only
McClung is homegrown: their home-baked goods seem to be the ones everyone
leaves on the table. Doug Waechter is expected to join
McClung in the rotation, presumably after he’s ready to come off of the DL
at some point after this weekend. But will he be jerked around, in the same
way that Brazelton has been? Or Jon Switzer? They’re guilty
of pushing Chris Seddon and Jason Hammel
as aggressively as all of these talented arms who came before them, and the
way things are going, I wouldn’t bet on any of them working out.

In light of that sort of persistent organizational failure, Nomo was a risk,
but perhaps one worth taking considering that these are the Devil Fishies,
bottom-dwellers factually as well as symbolically, with no place to go but
up. But it was also worth giving up on long before this point of the season.
The real problem isn’t that the Rays can’t patch up a rotation, it’s that
they can’t wait, and keep thinking they can fix things up real soon, as long
as some of those kids work out now that last winter’s crop of vets has
already washed out.

Meanwhile, A-Gonz (now the lesser of the two A-Gonzes; it’s a more flexible
thing than sorting out which Pitt was which) is back, but third base doesn’t
belong to him any more, as second, third and short belong to Nick
Green
, Jorge Cantu and Julio
Lugo
, respectively. A contender looking for a veteran infield
reserve might liberate Gonzalez, either as part of a package or in a minor
deal. Circumstances may change if it’s Lugo who’s dealt, but that would put
the Rays on the spot. Recently, they’ve reiterated their commitment to
B.J. Upton as a shortstop, but will they stick to that? At
least Upton has hit well at Durham (.287/.376/.428), but in Lugo’s absence,
they would have an opportunity, one that Alex Gonzalez certainly wouldn’t do
anything with. Hopefully, if Lugo’s dealt, they’ll have the sense of purpose
to put Upton at short and leave him there.

TEXAS RANGERS Return to Top

Recalled LHP Erasmo Ramirez from Oklahoma. [7/14]

Placed CF-L Laynce Nix on 15-day DL (shoulder soreness),
retroactive to 7/15; recalled OF-B Jason Botts from
Oklahoma. [7/17]

Optioned OF-B Jason Botts to Oklahoma; recalled LHP
C.J. Wilson from Frisco (Double-A). [7/19]

It’s been a season of setbacks for Nix, but the Rangers’ other problem is
that Gary Matthews Jr. hasn’t been earning his keep either.
In an outfield where Richard Hidalgo has been the biggest
disappointment, it’s easy to lose sight of the specific flops. It’s a
problem that can be fixed, and it’s one the Rangers should no longer accept.

Just
because the team gets lots of runs from their incomparable infield is no
reason to continue entrusting playing time to two of these three. Putting
David Dellucci in an outfield corner so that someone who
might hit (paging Adrian Gonzalez) can get at-bats is
something Buck Showalter should do if he wants to keep this team’s present
meaningful. Admittedly, Dellucci’s fragility is an issue, so he might not be
able to handle that much work. Even Botts would have been better to have around, after his
having hit .296/.387/.550 in the PCL. Even if the Rangers didn’t haul up
Gonzalez to play at first (moving Mark Teixeira to DH),
Botts has minor-league experience in right field, allowing them to leave
Teixeira alone while possibly adding a bat. Even with the unfortunate
decision to go to 13 pitchers, it isn’t like there isn’t more play in
this roster, and Botts had to go down to make room for an extra arm.
Marshall McDougall is rotting at the very bottom of the
bench, even less-used than often idle utility infielder Mark
DeRosa
.

As for Wilson’s call-up, it isn’t to step into the rotation. At the moment,
the Rangers have rediscovered that John Wasdin is the
insurance policy you don’t want to really have to rely on, not as a starter.
He still has his uses as a long reliever, of course, especially on a team
that only has two starters you can count on. That might become three if
Joaquin Benoit transmogrifies from the team’s most
effective reliever to an effective starter, but then there’s the problem of
Kenny Rogers‘ pending suspension, which might simply kill
off any hopes for the wild card right here and now. But now that the Rangers
have 13 pitchers, only a very few of them useful, and only one
outfielder who can hit, I suspect the breakdown was only a matter of time.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS Return to Top

Designated RHP Justin Miller for assignment; recalled RHP
Chad Gaudin from Syracuse. [7/15]

Outrighted RHP Justin Miller to Syracuse. [7/19]

I guess I’m easily surprised, because I’m a little surprised to see Miller
clear waivers so easily, especially when there are teams–in straits both
good and bad–that can use a utility pitcher. Miller’s had a great partial
season at Syracuse, and if people are still turning to Travis Smith or John
Wasdin, I would have thought Miller might have some value to somebody,
especially since he’s only 27. Besides, with the Jays probably being one of
the franchises you’ll find amongst the sellers at the deadline, clearing an
extra spot on the 40-man for possible prospect package pickups makes sense.

That isn’t to say I can’t see why the Jays didn’t bump him out of the way.
Gaudin a promising project still shaking off the horrors of being young and
a Devil Ray, and someone you could find use for in the pen or at the bottom
of the rotation. As a regular starter down at Syracuse, he’s been
dominating, allowing only 87 hits and 21 walks in 101 1/3 IP, and by allowing just five
home runs, dispelling concerns that he’s gopher-prone. The real question is
whether he’ll stick, or get bounced back to Syracuse when David
Bush
gets called up to rejoin the rotation as the actual fifth
starter. It might not be Gaudin who goes down; Brandon
League
has barely pitched since his recall before the All-Star
Break, mopping up in one game, while Scott Downs has failed
twice over, as a situational lefty and as a long reliever.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Return to Top

Placed C-R Kelly Stinnett on the 15-day DL (strained
wrist); recalled C-B Koyie Hill from Tucson. [7/19]

Between Stinnett’s injury and Chris Snyder‘s
gastrointestinal miseries, the Snakes needed somebody to catch, so they
resurrected Hill. He’s still not a prospect, and having managed to hit just
.265/.363/.444 in Tucson’s cozy confines, he didn’t exactly re-establish his
credentials as one. As a part-timer, however, he has his uses: he’s a
switch-hitting catcher, after all, and everyone likes those, plus he has a
solid defensive rep. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes advantage of this situation to reclaim some
portion of the job in Arizona, especially
considering how much Snyder has struggled this season.

Snyder shouldn’t feel
too put out; Andy Allanson got his big opportunity at 24,
too, and he couldn’t hit well enough to keep a regular job. The Diamondbacks might
even take heart: after Allanson flopped, the Tribe went out and traded for
Sandy Alomar Jr., which worked, sort of, as far as Alomar
giving the Indians two good full seasons in a decade’s worth of play.

ATLANTA BRAVES Return to Top

Optioned RHP Adam Bernero to Richmond, purchased the
contract of RHP Jay Powell from Mississippi (Double-A);
transferred RHP John Thomson from the 15- to the 60-day DL.
[7/14]

Activated RHP Tim Hudson from the 15-day DL; optioned 3B-R
Andy Marte to Richmond. [7/16]

Activated LHP Mike Hampton from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP
Kyle Davies to Richmond. [7/17]

Activated 3B-B Chipper Jones from the 15-day DL; optioned
RHP Roman Colon to Richmond. [7/18]

The Braves’
rotation gets almost back to full strength, and they get Chipper back, on
top of an offense that may finally be ready to keep up with the Joneses.
Jay Powell is a year removed from Tommy John surgery on his elbow, and
seems ready to help. All of this, and The Nats’ fade seems to have started, too.

If there’s one thing to grump about, it’s Davies’
demotion, but Jorge Sosa has more than earned his keep in
the rotation, and somebody had to go. If Davies is prepped for a return
engagement, and gets regular work in Richmond in the meantime, well, that’s the
cost of doing business when you suddenly appear to have starting pitching
coming out of your ears. Davies is their best young starter, and he’s gotten
a serious trial during a season the Braves are contending, somewhat like
Andruw Jones did in ’96. How many perennially winning franchises keep
finding ways to do that sort of thing with their best prospects?

Okay, there is also the question of who to play where. Chipper is
resuming his duties at third base, and that puts Wilson Betemit
on the bench. There’s still the question of whether the
Braves have a corner outfielder on whom they can rely. Kelly
Johnson
is cooling off, Ryan Langerhans just
doesn’t look like he’s going to be more than the new Pat
Sheridan
, and why is Jeff Francoeur up if he’s
here to watch those two play? I like all three of them, so perhaps the
Braves will make do with them (plus Brian Jordan when he’s
healed up). Like Davies, Francoeur
and Johnson are getting work on a contender but in relatively low-pressure
roles. It’s a way to win and keep winning, even allowing for normal
turnover.

Certainly now that Adam LaRoche has gotten
his slugging percentage up towards .500, the lineup seems prepped to score
regardless of what happens in the outfield. I simply hope that they don’t
settle for struggling outfielders, lest they wind up where the Rangers are,
costing themselves runs. Nothing, not even the Braves winning the NL
East, is guaranteed.

CHICAGO CUBS Return to Top

Placed OF-L Adam Greenberg on the 15-day DL (concussion),
retroactive to 7/10; recalled OF-L Ben Grieve from Iowa.
[7/15]

Acquired OF-L Jody Gerut from the Indians in exchange for
OF-R Jason Dubois. [7/18]

Optioned OF-L Ben Grieve to Iowa. [7/19]

It’s not a huge deal, but I really like what it does for both teams. First,
this wasn’t a prospect-for-veteran deal, not when Gerut is 27 and Dubois is
26. More properly, it was an exchange that gave the Cubs a possible
solution for their outfield needs, an everyday player with patience enough
to spot in the leadoff slot and who can play the field well enough to be left
alone out there. Gerut is not a decisively better player than Jerry
Hairston, Jr.
and Todd Hollandsworth are, but he does
help, while Dubois wasn’t going to get the chance to. Gerut is more likely to
retain Baker’s trust than Dubois was (or to regain it, in Corey
Patterson
‘s case).

If Patterson does get back into favor, Baker can
have Gerut and Jeromy Burnitz flanking him, while getting
Hollandsworth and Hairston back into reserve roles. Yes, everyone besides Hairston bats left-handed, but
other than Hollandsworth, none of them really need a platoon partner that
badly, and maybe spot-starting against lefties is the niche that
Matt Murton will get to fill for the time being.

Near-term
usage patterns aside, does this help get the Cubs closer to winning
the wild card? I’d say “yes,” and while I like Dubois, barring Jim Hendry
working up the nerve to fire Dusty, it’s the GM’s job to do what he can to
win. This is a win-now roster under a win-now manager; breaking in Dubois just
wasn’t going to be part of the program, and until Patterson made it
back, the Cubs needed an outfielder that their manager was comfortable using.
Mission accomplished, at least for the time being. Dusty’s pretty fickle,
after all.

CINCINNATI REDS Return to Top

Outrighted OF-R Jason Romano to Louisville. [7/14]

Activated OF-R Kenny Kelly from the 15-day DL; placed RHP
Ryan Wagner on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation),
retroactive to 7/8; activated LHP Randy Keisler from the
15-day DL. [7/15]

COLORADO ROCKIES Return to Top

Purchased the contracts of RHP David Cortes and OF-R
Ryan Spilborghs from Colorado Springs. [7/15]

Outrighted LHP Bobby Seay to Colorado Springs. [7/17]

Activated RHP Jose Acevedo from the 15-day DL. [7/18]

Activated OF-R Matt Holliday from the 15-day DL; optioned
OF-R Ryan Spilborghs to Colorado Springs. [7/19]

I’m trying to suppress my excitement for what having Holliday means for the
Rox. Ugh. As it now stands, Holliday’s back in left field, Cory
Sullivan
is temping in center with all of
the value you might expect from such, and Eric Byrnes is in
right field. How much longer is Brad Hawpe on the DL?

Should the Rockies not be able to flip Byrnes for something that will help
them well into the future, I wonder if they can even move either
Dustan Mohr or Jorge Piedra. Mohr has hit so
poorly that he’s simply releasable, or at most waiver-deal bait for teams that
don’t get outfield help at the deadline. Piedra is probably still tarred by
the performance-enhancing substance brush, and seeing as most people have
overlooked his prospectdom, including his parent organization, I’m not
hopeful there either.

FLORIDA MARLINS Return to Top

Purchased the contract of LHP Jason Vargas from Carolina
(Double-A); designated LHP Al Leiter for assignment. [7/14]

Traded LHP Al Leiter and cash to the Yankees for a PTBNL.
[7/16]

Recalled RHP John Riedling from Albuquerque; optioned RHP
Chris Resop to Carolina (Double-A). [7/17]

Recalled RHP Travis Smith from Albuquerque; placed RHP
Nate Bump on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation),
retroactive to 7/17. [7/19]

I can’t say I’m heartbroken over the decision to make Leiter go away.
Despite his having been a member of the ’97 world champs, he’s left town
before, so it isn’t like the Fish have lost another Mr. Marlin, not like
Jeff Conine at any rate. He was easily the worst starter
the rotation had at its disposal, and when you’ve been outpitched by Scuffy
Moehler, you’ve earned your way out of town.

HOUSTON ASTROS Return to Top

Recalled RHP Ezequiel Astacio from Round Rock; optioned RHP
Travis Driskill to Round Rock. [7/14]

Activated C-R Humberto Quintero from the 15-day DL;
outrighted C-R Raul Chavez to Round Rock. [7/16]

Optioned RHP Ezequiel Astacio to Round Rock; recalled LHP
Wandy Rodriguez from Corpus Christi (Double-A). [7/19]

This might seem terribly unfair, since Astacio did well in the first game of
Tuesday’s doubleheader, but Rodriguez was slotted to start the second game regardless.
It’s Wandy who’s expected to be the fifth starter, and he did pretty
well on Tuesday. Since the Astros can’t be too sure of their status as a contender,
nor can they have any certainty about whether they could get value for
Andy Pettitte as long as his elbow’s soundness is as dubious
as their contention status, the time when Astacio and Rodriguez will both be looked
at as possibilities for your 2006 Astros rotation will have to be put off
until Houston gets some clarity on both scores.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS Return to Top

Activated SS-B Cesar Izturis from the 15-day DL; optioned
RHP Franquelis Osoria to Las Vegas. [7/15]

Outrighted OF-L Jason Grabowski to Las Vegas. [7/17]

Activated LHP Wilson Alvarez from the 15-day DL. [7/18]

Izturis’ return highlights the Dodgers’ newfound depth concerns, as they
have to sort out who to play in the infield as well as the outfield, at
least in the absence of the obvious stars. Mexican import Oscar
Robles
, utility infielder Antonio Perez and minor-
league veteran Mike Edwards all have their uses, but they
can’t all play third base at once, which is why the Dodgers are pondering adding
Perez to the outfield jumble.

Happily, at least the outfield will be less
jumbled if Milton Bradley is reactivated this weekend,
leaving a crowd of Jayson Werth, Ricky
Ledee
, Perez, Edwards, Jason Repko and
Chin-Feng Chen squabbling over playing time in the corners.
I’m guessing that Chen is the one who goes down when Bradley returns, but
given that we’re talking about a random jumble of limbs and abilities, I
don’t envy Jim Tracy’s job of sorting them out. Werth has been inconsistent,
although the best of the lot, so he’ll probably remain a regular for the
time being. I’m disappointed that Grabowski didn’t take advantage of the
situation, but it looks like he survived any waiver claiming, so he’ll no
doubt be back when some of the rest become equally exasperating.

Alvarez is in the pen to stay, and perhaps only for
situational or late-inning work, since there’s lingering concern about his
durability. That replaces the recent loss of Kelly Wunsch,
but still leaves the team hoping that it can get by with Giovanni
Cabrera
, let alone Scott Erickson‘s recent
shockingly useful month or so.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS Return to Top

Purchased the contract of LHP Dana Eveland from Huntsville
(Double-A); outrighted LHP Tommy Phelps to Nashville.
[7/15]

Eveland’s been propelled into a relief role after a tremendous little season
as a starter, winning 10 games, posting a 2.81 ERA, and striking out 98
hitters in 109 innings to go with his 96 hits and 38 walks allowed. Add in that
he only gave up four home runs, and this looks like a case of the Brewers
protecting an interesting arm by lessening his workload, while also giving
him a taste of the majors to see where he fits in for 2006. A 2003 draft pick, he
was going to have to be added to the 40-man after the season regardless, and
since he’s 21, why let him labor for the greater glory of Huntsville?
Hopefully, life in the big leagues will help him keep focused on his
conditioning, since that’s been a sore spot already. I know, Wisconsin is not
known for being a place where people treat their bodies as temples, but
there’s nothing wrong with hoping, right?

NEW YORK METS Return to Top

Purchased the contract of Lino Urdaneta from Cancun of the
Mexican League, and assigned him to Norfolk; transferred RHP
Bartolome Fortunato from 15- to 60-day DL. [7/14]

Optioned LHP Royce Ring to Norfolk; designated 1B/OF-L
Brian Daubach for assignment; activated 1B-L Doug
Mientkiewicz
from the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP
Juan Padilla from Norfolk. [7/15]

My thoughts on Minky’s value are pretty thoroughly on record, but I
don’t care how many times people conjure up the Keith
Hernandez
comparisons, I keep thinking in terms of Mike
Squires
and the at-bats the Mets are giving away. It does sort of fit
with the team’s infield theme, since it boils down to David
Wright
and three guys who shouldn’t be starting.

The cooler move is the decision to call up Padilla. Generally ignored during
his six years in the Twins’ system due to his lack of velocity, he never really
struggled during his career as a minor-league reliever. Admittedly, relief
work is easier to find, and easier still to get good help for it, but Padilla’s been
consistently good. Bounced from a crowded Twins organization–and then having made
the mistake of going to the Yankees last year–Padilla may finally get a
chance here. It isn’t like Danny Graves has been any more
successful than so many other fixer-upper projects the Mets have taken on in
the last year or two.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES Return to Top

Placed RHP Geoff Geary on the 15-day DL (eye), retroactive
to 7/9; purchased the contract of infielder Danny Sandoval
from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/16]

I’m happy to see Sandoval up, since he’s the sort of player who any
Bill Almon fan could warm up to: a shortstop who can play
all over the diamond, a minor-league veteran in his ninth year as a pro, and
a guy who can hit well enough and run well enough to make it as an infield reserve.
But he’s also up because somebody had to be, since Tomas
Perez
is more of a pinch-hitter than an infielder and
Ramon Martinez is an infielder who can’t really play
short. As a result, having Sandoval up as Jimmy Rollins
caddy might make sense on a bench already cluttered with those two guys plus
Endy Chavez.

A little more significant is losing Geary, because the pen is beginning to
go to pieces. Beyond the daily drag of the Billy Wagner
watch, grinding through the constant speculation that has become a death
watch for all of Ed Wade’s hopes and dreams, the other relievers haven’t
been all that special lately. Sinc his reactivation, Tim
Worrell
has been awful; Ugueth Urbina is
challenging people, but only to see how far they can hit the ball; Rheal
Cormier
only seems to be himself on the road; and Ryan
Madson
hasn’t been as sharp in the last month. Situational beasty
Aaron Fultz is having a great year, but that’s only
slightly better than sending your punter to the Pro Bowl in football.
Ideally, Geary’s bruised and battered orb will heal up and he’ll be back,
but when he does return, it might be to replace a departing Wagner, and not
one of the bench scrubeenies.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES Return to Top

Returned OF/1B-R Craig Wilson to the 15-day DL; recalled
OF-L Chris Duffy from Indianapolis. [7/17]

As bad a break as this is for Wilson, it isn’t all bad news for the Bucs,
even if it becomes close to impossible to deal Wilson barring a waiver
miracle next month. (There’s always the winter meetings.) But with Wilson
out of the fold, beyond creating some momentary job security for
Daryle Ward at first, the Pirates have moved Jason
Bay
to left field for the time being so that Duffy can take over
in center. That in turn buries Tike Redman on the
bench. (Redman can take pleasure in the knowledge that even if you can’t make
it in Pittsburgh, there’s always the Bronx. What is it again that gets said
about if you can make it in New York?) That makes sense: Redman is 28, and
he’s never going to turn into a good everyday player, while Duffy’s already
25, and whatever future he has is right now. Better to find out now if Duffy
can handle the job, or if he’s just the next Tike Redman.

Add that to the increasing frequency with which they’re starting
Ryan Doumit behind the plate, and this is a team doing a
great job of auditioning next year’s Pirates. Even with Wilson hurt,
Ward isn’t safe, not with Brad Eldred on the way up on the
strength of his slugging .869 in Double-A and now .553 in Indianapolis this
year. Next up, though, is probably a Nate McLouth call-up
after the Bucs move Matt Lawton. Could the Pirates really
run out of places to start supersub Rob Mackowiak? I
certainly hope not.

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Activated INF-R Mark Loretta from the 60-day DL and 1B-R
Phil Nevin from the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of
RHP Clay Hensley from Portland; placed RHP Rudy
Seanez
on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder), retroactive to 7/8;
optioned OF-R Ben Johnson to Portland; released LHP
Dennys Reyes and RHP Miguel Asencio
outright. [7/18]

Acquired RHP Scott Cassidy from the Red Sox for OF-R
Adam Hyzdu. [7/19]

This looks like the point from which the Pads put the division away, and not
just because all of their rivals seem to be coming apart at the seams. Nevin
slides back into his role as the everyday first baseman, which is simple
enough, although the Pads have gotten considerable benefit from playing
Mark Sweeney, something they can continue to exploit by
spotting Sweeney with starts at first or in an outfield corner.

Loretta’s
return makes for a more interesting dilemma, especially with Sean
Burroughs
continuing to do so very little to help at the plate.
However, it isn’t like Eric Young has done all that much
since his reactivation at second base, and Damian Jackson
is a utilityman who also has to fulfill some outfield responsibilities. A
jumbled platoon might work, where Loretta plays second against right-handers,
third against lefties, and Burroughs and Young platoon offensively while
playing their respective positions. Or they could just platoon Jackson with
Burroughs outright, and leave Young on the bench; Young’s request to avoid
playing in the outfield again sort of handicaps the Pads’ range of options
with him. As long as subsequent formulas don’t involve Geoff
Blum
in your regularly scheduled lineup, it’s a step up.

Equally interesting is the decision to shake up the pen. Not that Reyes had
been earning his keep, because it isn’t like he’s ever going to have enough
command to make a manager comfortable in anything other than a long relief
and spot-starting role. And anybody who has Rudy Seanez knows he’s what you
get when you fix the Six Million
Dollar Man
using balsa wood. So instead, the Pads skipped past the
reliability issues of both, and instead brought up Hensley in a more
traditional young starter in long relief set-up. Hopefully, no hall monitors
are quacking over his positive substance test and suspension this spring,
since he’s subsequently pitched even better in the PCL this year than he did
in Double-A in 2004: 63 hits and 22 walks allowed in 90 1/3 IP stretched over
15 games, with 71 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA. Hensley can both handle the
long relief tasks as they arise, and potentially step into the rotation if
Pedro Astacio doesn’t get his act together before
Adam Eaton is able to come off of the DL, whether that’s in
early August or later. With Paul Quantrill thriving since
his arrival in San Diego, the Pads might have their pen patched and set for
a nice stretch run, with the added benefit that they might already be
auditioning an alternative to Astacio for the fifth slot.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS Return to Top

Recalled OF-L Adam Shabala from Fresno; transferred the
option of RHP Jeremy Accardo from San Jose (A-ball) to
Fresno. [7/14]

Optioned LHP Jack Taschner to Fresno. [7/17]

Recalled RHP Kevin Correia from San Jose. [7/18]

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Return to Top

Placed OF-R Reggie Sanders on the 15-day DL (fractured
fibula); purchased the contract of OF-L John Rodriguez from
Memphis. [7/18]

Not that Reggie Sanders is chopped liver, but losing him until some time
close to Labor Day should have almost no effect on the Cardinals’ divisonal
dominance. In his absence, John Mabry, So
Taguchi
, and even Rodriguez will fill in for him effectively
enough.

The sleeper here is Rodriguez, an organizational soldier in the
Yankees system for most of his career. Rodriguez seemed to have a promising
future ahead of him in 2001, when he slugged .537 in Double-A. As with a few
too many Yankees farmhands, something went wrong on his way up the ladder,
as his previous solid plate judgment deteriorated that year, and
then he struggled while repeating Double-A in ’02, struggled again in
Columbus in ’03, and then had a great year in ’04, hitting .294/.382/.542.
At that point he got out of Dodge, because as we all know, the Yankees
don’t need a guy who can play center field, let alone one who might hit a
little. At 27, he’s not just a survivor, and given that he could help the
Cardinals right now as a spare part, it’s sort of amusing to think whether
or not the Yankees flubbed a shot at having a kid from the Bronx (where
Rodriguez played his high-school ball before being signed as a free agent in
1996) in center in 2005. Would keeping Melky Cabrera out of The Baseball
Encyclopedia
have been too high a price to pay?

Also, as far as what’s broken, that was Sanders’ fibula, not fibia, folks.
There’s only one important fibia in anatomy, it’s not a
bone
, and Bud Selig reports that his is still in full
working order
.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS Return to Top

Outrighted OF-L Matt Cepicky to New Orleans. [7/14]

… thereby making room for the recently acquired Mr. Wilson.
And no, the Nats aren’t quickly cranking out any ticket promos featuring
Preston in the mean old man role, and Jim Bowden as the cowlicked
kid
and all-around transaction menace.

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