Signed SS Tony Womack to a four-year contract extension. [12/12]
Acquired RHP Brad Clontz from the Pirates for a PTBNL. [12/13]
Acquired SS Luis Ordaz from the Cardinals for CF Dante Powell. [12/15]
Talk about hedging your bets: the Snakes give Tony Womack a few hundred
times what he’s worth while planning on moving him to short, but
there’s just enough of a sense of unease about it that they pick up a
glove man from the Redbirds just in case. There are some amusing
similarities between Colangelo’s operations in the major leagues and in
the NBA: he pays top dollar for the coattail types, the guys who get
blamed for success because of their more talented teammates.
Giving Womack big money is bad on several counts. First, you may as well have
paid a hobo to put a five-dollar bill on every cactus in the state of
Arizona for all the good this is going to do a team that didn’t win
with Womack playing. Second, you have to play Tony Womack. Worst yet,
that spent money is going to make the Snakes that much more unlikely to
shell out top dollar to fix their leadoff problem or their shortstop
problem, let alone any other problem that crops up when their old team
comes crashing down. Now that Sal Bando’s gone, the most they can hope
for is to dump salary on the Devil Rays or Pat Gillick once they notice
how badly things are going.
Re-signed free agent 1B Brian Hunter to a minor-league contract with a
spring training NRI. [12/8]
Just a handy insurance policy in case the Big Cat doesn’t beat cancer
as well as we all hope he does.
Released RHP Doug Linton. [12/8]
Signed free agent DH Harold Baines to a one-year contract. [12/9]
Acquired LHP Chuck McElroy from the Mets for LHP Jesse Orosco. [12/10]
Traded INF Jeff Reboulet to the Royals for a PTBNL. [12/12]
Traded SS Augie Ojeda to the Cubs for RHP Richard Negrette. [12/13]
Acquired OF Stephen Larkin from the Reds for a PTBNL. [12/14]
Overall, you should give the GM-by-committee credit. Now, they haven’t
built a good team or anything like that, but they haven’t done anything
to endanger the Orioles’ shot at third place.
Signing Baines is a gimme
considering there isn’t anywhere else he’d sign, but picking up McElroy
for Jesse Orosco is a steal made all the more important by Arthur Lee
Rhodes’ expected departure. That’s assuming Mike Hargrove doesn’t make
the same mistake with McElroy that he made with Ricky Rincon in
Cleveland, by trying to turn a legitimately good lefty reliever into a
BOSTON RED SOX
Signed CF Damon Buford to a two-year contract extension. [12/9]
Acquired INF Manny Alexander from the Cubs for CF Damon Buford.
Acquired CF Carl Everett from the Astros for SS Adam Everett and LHP
Greg Miller. [12/15]
Picking up Carl for Adam in the Everett exchange is a great fit for the
Red Sox, giving them their first really good-hitting outfielder since
the Bush administration. The Duke has been smart enough to build a
lineup that has the positional advantages of having a great hitting
combo up the middle in Jose Offerman and Nomar. Because of them, the
Red Sox don’t have to get Ken Griffey Jr. to significantly improve
The only sad aspect of all of this is that this deal is
two years too late, after slowly learning not to accept Darren Lewis
or Damon Buford on their own terms. Two postseason appearances have
already been wasted, and the Yankees have a long way to fall if the Red
Sox are going to contend for the division title. The wild card is far
from a sure thing. So while this is a great move for the Red Sox,
there’s the bittersweet knowledge that it would have been a lot more
helpful to have made this sort of pickup a couple of years ago.
Not only does Manny lose his place as Sammy’s little buddy on the Cubs, but
he has to replace Nomar’s little buddy, Lou Merloni? Talk about
Signed C Yoon-Min Kweon. [12/10]
Acquired CF Damon Buford from the Red Sox for INF Manny Alexander.
Acquired RHP Ismael Valdes and 2B Eric Young from the Dodgers for RHPs
Terry Adams and Chad Ricketts and a PTBNL. [12/12]
Traded RHP Richard Negrette to the Orioles for SS Augie Ojeda. [12/13]
Signed free agent C Joe Girardi to a three-year contract. [12/15]
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Andy MacPhail brings in fresh
face. Moves get made, every makes happy noises, and the Cubs don’t
actually get better. While the Dodgers’ heist gives the Cubs an
improved rotation and their best leadoff hitter since Ivan DeJesus, did
they really help themselves that much? Buford and Girardi are going to
play regularly, and neither one of them are good offensive players. Put
them into the a lineup already featuring Jose Nieves, Shane Andrews,
and the NL Central’s fifth-best-hitting first baseman. The problem
isn’t that Andrews or Buford or Girardi can’t play (okay, maybe not
Joe), its that they’re all decent #8 hitters on good teams, and on the
Cubs they’ll be miscast into more important offensive roles. Using
them, the Cubs have a very reasonable shot at finishing even closer to
last in scoring in the NL than they did in 1999, when they were 13th.
In Wrigley Field, that’s a formula for losing baseball, and betrays a
fundamental misunderstanding of the kind of teams that win in their
ballpark or in the current offensive environment.
There are other
things to make you wonder: Valdes is a good pitcher, but coming over
from Chavez Ravine to the Wrigley bandbox, his ERA will probably jump
by a full run, and it isn’t like he’s going to get good run support.
Even Girardi’s defensive reputation is severely overstated. He’s one of
the only catchers over the last twenty years to show any indication one
way or another that he’s not a good gamecaller, and that’s
without remembering that Greg Maddux, the same guy who picks Eddie
Perez over Javy Lopez for defensive reasons, preferred ol’ Hector
Villanueva over Joe. Adding Buford and Girardi is frightening because
it gives you a good sense of what the Cubs think they’ll need to fill
in at center and catcher until Corey Patterson and Jeff Goldbach are
ready. These are the guys that the new master plan says will keep the
team competitive until good baseball players arrive.
Three years of Joe
Girardi is more mean-spirited than most minimum sentencing laws.
Re-signed UT Chris Stynes to a one-year contract. [12/9]
Released INF Juan Melo. [12/10]
Acquired OF Kimera Bartee from the Tigers for a PTBNL or cash; released
C Guillermo Garcia. [12/11]
Signed free agent RHP Elmer Dessens to a one-year contract; designated
CB Deion Sanders for assignment. [12/13]
Traded OF Stephen Larkin to the Orioles for a PTBNL.
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Re-signed LHP Mark Langston to a minor-league contract, with a spring
training NRI. [12/8]
Now that Paul Assenmacher’s probably bound for Tampa Bay to get to 1000
games or some equally important "record," John Hart just couldn’t bring
himself to let go of two left-handed senior citizens in a month.
Traded RHP Scott Randall to the Twins for CF Chris Latham. [12/7]
Signed free agent CF Tom Goodwin to a three-year contract. [12/8]
Signed free agent C Brent Mayne to a two-year contract, with a club
option for 2002. [12/9]
Acquired 3B Jeff Cirillo, LHP Scott Karl and cash from the Brewers, and
RHP Rolando Arrojo and INF Aaron Ledesma from the Devil Rays in
exchange for 3B Vinny Castilla, C Henry Blanco, RHP Jamey Wright and
RHP Justin Miller in the four-team trade. [12/13]
Re-signed UT Terry Shumpert to a one-year contract, with a club option
for 2001. [12/15]
Dan O’Dowd owes Jim Leyland big. Who else could have brought the Rox so
low that Jerry McMorris was willing to brave angry season ticket
holders by busting up the Blake Street Bombers?
The question now is
whether or not O’Dowd is building a good team. Jeff Cirillo is a better
player than Vinny Castilla, and should be the odds-on favorite to win
the batting title. Aaron Ledesma and Tom Goodwin and Brent Mayne
aren’t great players or even especially good ones, but like Cirillo
they get the ball in play, and on Planet Coors balls in play are more
likely to be extra base hits. Goodwin has a nice shot at leading the
league in triples. But Mayne isn’t a better player than Ben Petrick,
and if this was anywhere but Denver, would anyone think these were the
moves to build a good team?
As for the pitching side of the add-ons,
Scott Karl’s been treading water for three years. The nicest thing you
can say for his chances in thin air is that at least he knows how to
pitch from the stretch. The interesting aspect of bringing him in is
that unlike most lefty junkballers, he doesn’t throw a good curve, so
he might not be punished by Coors as much as you think. That means an
ERA under six for us optimists. Bringing in Arrojo is the best move in
the bunch, but it shouldn’t be enough to get anyone excited.
Traded OF Kimera Bartee to the Reds for a PTBNL or cash. [12/11]
It’s a cold, hard day indeed when even Kimera’s biggest fan, pizza
baron Mike Ilitch himself, can finally cut the cord.
Acquired RHP Jared Camp from the Twins for RHP Johan Santana and cash;
acquired CF Abraham Nunez from the Diamondbacks as the PTBNL in the
Mantei trade; traded OF Bruce Aven to the Pirates for OF Brant Brown.
Acquired 3B/1B Sean McNally from the Royals for CF Todd Dunwoody.
Nunez is the final part of the Mantei swag in which the Marlins did a
great job of turning an injury-prone arb-eligible Rule Ver into three
good prospects. Nunez is sort of a newfangled version of Julio Ramirez.
Like anybody, he hit well at High Desert, but he’s 19 with high A-ball
experience, speed, power, and a good glove.
Having Nunez and Ramirez
around made Dunwoody expendable, and McNally is exactly the kind of guy
the Marlins can use. While he’s old for a prospect, McNally has lefty
power, can play either infield corner, and he’ll take a walk. When the
only alternative at third is Mike Lowell, McNally will be a lot more
helpful than Dunwoody was ever going to be.
Bringing in Brant Brown
doesn’t do the Marlins any good, but there is a good chance that
between Cliff Floyd’s injury problems and the holes in Derrek Lee’s
swing, he’ll get another 300 PA.
Signed 2B Craig Biggio to a three-year contract extension through
Acquired SS Adam Everett and LHP Greg Miller from the Red Sox for CF
Carl Everett. [12/15]
Gerry Hunsicker and Tim Purpurra were in a bind with Moises Alou and
Derek Bell still around, and nobody wanted to take either of them off
their hands. So they did the best the could, turning Carl Everett into
the one thing the organization doesn’t have, a premiere shortstop
prospect. Adam Everett won’t win the job outright in camp, but he will
fight Julio Lugo for a future, and between the two of them, the Astros
will have somebody to push past Tim Bogar by the All-Star break.
Now that Carl’s gone, they can look forward to leaving Ricky Hidalgo in
center, with Bell and Alou in the corners, and with Daryle Ward or
Lance Berkman winning the fourth outfielder’s job and getting a good
number of plate appearances. Right now, I’m guessing Berkman’s going to
be stuck in New Orleans on Opening Day, until the Astros find someone
to take Bell off of their hands.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Re-signed SS Rey Sanchez to a two-year contract. [12/7]
Acquired INF Jeff Reboulet from the Orioles for a PTBNL. [12/12]
Acquired RHP Jerry Spradlin from the Giants for a PTBNL. [12/13]
Signed free agent C Brian Johnson to a one-year contract, with a club
option for 2001. [12/14]
Acquired CF Todd Dunwoody from the Marlins for 3B/1B Sean McNally.
Re-signing Rey Sanchez pretty much describes what the Royals represent:
a timid rebuilding effort, with no attempt to trade for the shortstop
prospect they so desperately need. Jerry Spradlin may get two dozen
saves, or he may run into more problems because of his outspoken
religiosity. As hard up as the Royals have been for quality relief, I’m
guessing they’ll be more patient with him than the Phillies, Indians,
or Giants have been in the last twelve months.
The worst case scenario
for the Royals for the time being is that picking up Dunwoody is a
preparatory step to dealing Johnny Damon, because they really could
have used Sean McNally. It isn’t like Joe Randa is going to have
another career year. The good news is that Brian Johnson and Sal Fasano
make a nice pair of catchers.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Acquired RHPs Terry Adams and Chad Ricketts and a PTBNL from the Cubs
for RHP Ismael Valdes and 2B Eric Young. [12/12]
Acquired RHP Dan Naulty from the Yankees for 1B Nick Leach. [12/14]
Signed RHP Mike Fetters to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI. [12/15]
Having spent plenty of Fox Reichsmarks already, it seems amazing that
Kevin Malone would so readily dump salary while getting so little in
return. This isn’t a case of the rich getting richer, it’s more like
auto-garnishing the club’s revenue stream because they’ve noticed
they’re dumb with money.
Maybe Adams and Ricketts both end up being
handy major league relievers; the chances of it are pretty good. But
the chances are also good that Dan Naulty’s going to be a good reliever
in Chavez Ravine. Pitching in LA is easy, and considering how much
money they’ve sunk into Jeff Shaw and Alan Mills, it seems strange that
they’re blowing talent to pick up more relief pitching when this team
needs a centerfielder, a second baseman, a catcher, and possibly a
But nobody weeps Dodger blue, and nobody should. Fox
management needs a visit from the ghost of Christmas Past, as
represented by CBS when it ran the Yankees into the ground during the
mid-60s an early 70s. Corporate ownership might be a trend, but its
track record in baseball is worse than you imagine.
Signed free agent RHPs Mike Busby, Mike Iglesias, Greg Mix, Mike
Rossiter, Travis Smith and Eric Ludwick, LHPs Greg McCarthy, David West
and Joe Crawford, and C Kade Johnson to minor-league contracts. [12/7]
Acquired RHP Jamey Wright and C Henry Blanco from the Rockies, and RHP
Jimmy Haynes from the Athletics in exchange for 3B Jeff Cirillo, LHP
Scott Karl and cash in the four-team trade; signed OF James Mouton to a
minor-league contract. [12/13]
Dean Taylor and Dave Wilder wanted to shake things up, and they have.
Both Jamey Wright and Jimmy Haynes are excellent "risks," Wright
because he’s young and coming down from Planet Coors, and Haynes
because he managed to throw quality starts in more than half of his
starts despite a superficially grisly season. It’s too bad it comes on
the heels of blowing almost a cool million on Jason Bere or with Cal
Eldred under contract for one last season, but this is definitely an
improvement over dragging in Bill Pulsipher or signing Jim Abbott. If
you can’t afford to buy successful pitching, you may as well go out and
make it yourself.
The misfortune for the Brewers is that they’re so
convinced that the Nilsson catching experiment was such a terrible
mistake that they fixated on finding a strong-armed catcher. Blanco can
throw, but he’s 28 and he won’t hit a lick. The organization should
have kept the memory of Mike Matheny’s incompetence in mind before
going off the deep end for a defensive specialist. They still need a
Among the minor league signings, Ludwick and Mouton should
both have very good shots to make the team, Mouton as a pinch-runner
and pinch-hitter, and Ludwick as the staff’s 11th man. Don’t laugh,
it’s a role that just made Dave Weathers a wealthy man.
Acquired RHP Scott Randall from the Rockies for CF Chris Latham; signed
RHP Hector Carrasco and DH Midre Cummings to one-year contracts.
Agreed to terms with RHP Sean Bergman on a one-year contract, with a
club option for 2001. [12/8]
Bergman is pretty likely to win a spot in the rotation after being
claimed off of waivers from the Braves during the postseason. Behind
Eric Milton, Brad Radke, and Joe Mays, that leaves LaTroy Hawkins’ spot
up for grabs, with Hawkins having to fight off Mark Redman, Randall,
and Jason Ryan to start off with.
Released 3B Jose Fernandez. [12/13]
Although the Expos haven’t succeeded in their desperate pursuit of
third basemen this winter, do not interpret Fernandez’ release as proof
that they’re going to leave Michael Barrett at third.
NEW YORK METS
Acquired LHP Jesse Orosco from the Orioles for LHP Chuck McElroy.
Signed free agent 1B/3B Todd Zeile to a three-year contract. [12/11]
Signed free agent 1B Ryan McGuire; re-signed RHP Johann Lopez and OF
Juan Moreno. [12/13]
Signing Zeile for only a little less than what John Olerud signed for
with the Mariners seems like a criminal waste. We’re talking about a 34
year old past his peak and top dollar being paid for him out of some
misguided desperate need to spend close to what had been budgeted for
Olerud. It isn’t like the Mets’ rotation is stocked, and Zeile won’t be
noticeably better than Jorge Toca, let alone Roberto Petagine. Panicky
moves like this aren’t going to trouble the Braves.
There’s no good
reason for swapping Orosco and McElroy. What’s next, Billy Taylor for
NEW YORK YANKEES
Re-signed free agent LHP Allen Watson to a two-year contract. [12/7]
Traded OF Chad Curtis to the Rangers for Ps Sam Marsonek and Brandon
Traded RHP Dan Naulty to the Dodgers for 1B Nick Leach. [12/14]
Pity the Yankees, the poor bastards have to keep making room on the
40-man roster because the organization is packed to bursting with
prospects. What do you tell a kid like Nick Leach after picking him up?
"Welcome to an organization proud to call Nick Johnson one of its own.
Have you given thought to retiring to lovely Norwich?"
Acquired RHP Justin Miller and cash from the Rockies for RHP Jimmy
Haynes in the four-team trade. [12/13]
Billy Beane lets his disgust get the better of him. While the A’s
desperately wanted to get rid of Haynes for his perceived bad attitude,
this was little better than giving him away. A rotation counting on a
rebuilt Appier, Gil Heredia, and Tim Hudson is not so deep that the
organization can just throw away someone with Haynes’ talent.
Re-signed RHP Jeff Brantley to a one-year contract; designated INF
David Doster for assignment. [12/7]
Acquired RHP Chris Brock from the Giants for C Bobby Estalella.
Extended the contract of GM Ed Wade through 2002; announced that INF
Dave Doster cleared waivers and was assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Speaking of throwing away talent, Chris Brock? Having already blown it
with Chad Ogea, what’s the point of trading the Giants the catcher
who will be starting for them for a bad fifth starter? Some savvy
shopping among the minor
league free agents could have prevented this, and plenty of teams are
shopping for catching of any sort, let alone someone who can hit as
well as Estalella. And for this sort of largesse, Ed Wade gets a few
Signed INF Jason Wood to a minor-league contract; sold the contract of
RHP Greg Hansell to the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Leagues. [12/7]
Signed INF Dale Sveum to a minor-league contract. [12/10]
Acquired OF Bruce Aven from the Marlins in exchange for OF/1B Brant
Brown; traded RHP Brad Clontz to the Diamondbacks for a PTBNL. [12/13]
Signed DH Wil Cordero to a three-year contract. [12/14]
Acquired P Roberto Manzueta from the Diamondbacks to complete the
Clontz trade. [12/15]
Speaking of throwing away talent–sheesh. Who but Cam Bonifay can turn
Jon Lieber into Brant Brown into Bruce Aven, someone he could have
picked up on waivers about the time he was trading for Brant Brown?
Everyone loves to say Bonifay is a nice guy and all, but this crosses
over from nice to downright easy, sleazy, and looking to please. Who
signs both Jason Wood and Dale Sveum, two punchless utility men? Who
brings in a light-hitting DH like Cordero for three guaranteed years,
while having the gall to talk about small market constraints? On top of
the money thrown at Pat Meares, or turning Jon Lieber into waiver bait,
it doesn’t look like Kevin McClatchy is ever going to get his money’s
worth out of Bonifay.
Don’t take this as a criticism of Aven: he can
hit, and he’s a better player than Brant Brown will ever turn into. But
when a GM doesn’t know the difference between talent you keep and
talent you can replace with minimum salary waiver claims like Aven,
then you’ve got a guy who doesn’t know talent or how to spend the money
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Signed free agent 1B-OF Larry Sutton to a one-year contract. [12/8]
Acquired CF Dante Powell from the Diamondbacks for SS Luis Ordaz.
Hey, these guys are all better than Willie McGee or John Mabry! Who
knew there were so many of them?
Powell should make a decent caddy for
J.D. Drew, but the danger is that he’ll instead platoon with Thomas
Howard while LaRussa spitefully ships Drew off to Memphis.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Acquired C Bobby Estalella from the Phillies for RHP Chris Brock.
Traded RHP Jerry Spradlin to the Royals for a PTBNL. [12/13]
Having cut loose Scott Servais and Brent Mayne, the Giants needed
somebody to catch, and managed to steal Estalella on the cheap. Instead
of a true platoon, they can let Estalella and Doug Mirabelli share the
job, which will give them better production at a bargain price over the
people paying oodles of cash to Joe Girardi or Mayne. Hell, they cost
less combined than Brian Johnson is going to cost the Royals, and each
are better than he is.
Signed free agent 1B John Olerud to a multi-year contract. [12/7]
Olerud’s portraying this as a "I took less money to come home" story,
which considering the different tax rates between New York and
Washington state is a white lie. The Mariners didn’t get any extra
benefits or a discount, they simply got a great player.
If the Mariners
sit still right now, and hold onto both Griffey and A-Rod, they could
be good enough to contend, and subsequently hope to entice one or both
of them back into the fold for 2001 and beyond. Whether or not Mt.
Piniella blows his top or slags his rotation or mismanages his bullpen
(again) are still the major stumbling blocks.
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Acquired 3B Vinny Castilla from the Rockies for RHP Rolando Arrojo and
INF Aaron Ledesma; signed LF Greg Vaughn to a multi-year contract.
Buying over-30 offensive talent at top dollar is generally a bad idea,
especially when you aren’t going to win anything more than a shot at
third place in the AL East. The Devil Rays are playing this up as proof
that they want to be taken seriously, and that if the fans don’t
return, then maybe the area doesn’t deserve baseball.
The problem is
that fans from the Tampa-Saint Pete area aren’t any different from fans
anywhere else. They aren’t going to turn up to watch a bad team, and
with a crummy rotation and a lineup saddled with stiffs like Miguel
Cairo or Kevin Stocker or Randy Winn, they aren’t going to be a good
team. Building a softball lineup featuring Jose Canseco and Fred
McGriff and Vaughn and a deflated Coors-less Castilla is sort of like
those lame early 80s Mariners teams that brought in Richie Zisk and Tom
Paciorek and Bruce Bochte, and talked about how much the fans would
simply have to show up to watch these guys score runs.
Naimoli’s golden domer braintrust figures out that fans support winning
teams and attempts to build winning teams, and not runs or homeruns or
the pathetic drives of worn-out old men adding milestones to cap
used-up careers or promotional gimmicks, then the question is not
whether or not Tampa-St. Pete deserves the Devil Rays, but whether or
not Tampa-St. Pete deserves something more major league-flavored.
Signed INF Luis Alicea to a one-year contract, avoiding salary
arbitration; re-signed LHP Mike Munoz to a one-year contract, with a
club option for 2001. [12/7]
Signed RHP Koichi Taniguchi to a minor-league contract. [12/11]
Acquired OF Chad Curtis from the Yankees for Ps Sam Marconek and
Brandon Knight. [12/13]
Doug Melvin continues to produce nice little incremental moves to help
the Rangers shift over from the team that couldn’t to–well, a cheaper
team that won’t, but could still win the AL West. Alicea can look
forward to sharing playing time with Frank Catalanotto at second,
unless Catalanotto’s playing a lot of third (very possible).
outfield now has a nice foursome of Rusty Greer, Gabe Kapler, Ruben
Mateo, and Curtis. All of them can play the field and hit a little, and
both Kapler and Mateo could have breakout seasons.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Signed 3B Willis Otanez and OF Jacob Brumfield to one-year contracts.
Re-signed 1B Carlos Delgado to a three-year contract. [12/10]
Delgado’s decision to stay is sort of sad when you think about it.
Would you take extra money to ride the roller coaster when you know
they forgot to finish building it about halfway through? The Blue Jays
wasted the last two years and their opportunities to contend. Now
they’re throwing talent away hand over fist and will have a hard time
staving off the Orioles and D-Rays. Who would want to stick around to
watch? Okay, the same people who watch NASCAR for the crashes.
thing about all of this is that they already went down this road with
Cito Gaston once before, and now Gord Ash is giving it up for Jim
Fregosi without even accomplishing anything first. The question isn’t
whether or not the Jays won’t contend, but whether they’ll win more
games than the Expos.
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