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Amidst the chaos of a Prospectus autumn it came, destined
to be buried deep on a hard drive, next to the Excel 95 version
of a long-forgotten office pool. As with so much lost treasure
before it, a long and arduous search was undertaken, a search
by men strong of breath and wide of waist.

These men returned heroes, for when hope was nearly gone,
when these pearls of wisdom were to be lost to the spinning
magnetic surfaces of legend, they came upon the document.

And there was much rejoicing. The Lost TA was found.


Named Bill Stoneman vice president and general manager. [11/1]

Signed C Steve Decker to a minor-league contract. [11/4]

Named Mike Scioscia manager. [11/18]


Named Mike Hargrove manager. [11/3]

Signed RHP Mike Trombley to a three-year contract. [11/17]

While Trombley is a good reliever who came quite inexpensively
(under $10MM for the whole contract), it
continues to raise questions about what the hell the Orioles are doing.
Throwing more veteran relievers at the problem–sorry, the bullpen
problem–only exacerbates the internal rot, especially when guys
like Mike Timlin are still on board for three more years at bigger money.
Add to that the Orioles’ clear non-contender status in 2000 and you
have a lot of Angelosbucks poured down a very big hole.


Acquired CF Jermaine Allensworth from the Mets for OF
Jon Nunnally. [11/12]

The Sox gave up on the talented but
hard-luck Nunnally very quickly, in exchange for a player neither the
Pirates nor the Royals had any use for. Allensworth’s defense will
be wonderful backing up Darren Lewis and Damon Buford, who are also on
board for their defense.


Named Don Baylor manager. [11/1]

Announced that RHP Rick Aguilera exercised his option to return for 2000. [11/10]

Exercised their option on C Jeff Reed for 2000. [11/11]

Re-signed 3B Shane Andrews to a one-year contract. [11/16]

Re-signed RHP Jon Lieber to a three-year contract. [11/19]

A positive set of minor moves for the Cubs. Lieber is
the Cubs’ rotation anchor at this point, with Wood coming off major
surgery, Trachsel leaving town on a rail, and Tapani looking all but
finished, so locking him up for three years as he hits his prime is wise.
Aguilera’s return bodes well for the beleaguered bullpen, prevents
the team from getting all stupid and signing a semi-closer (Arthur Rhodes)
to a four-year megadeal, and gives Terry Adams more time to rediscover his
control. Andrews should beat Cole Liniak out for the third base job, giving
the Cubs their best 3b threat since … well, since a really long time
ago. And while Jeff Reed is hardly a valuable commodity, given the fact
that the Cubs are not the type of organization to sign Creighton Gubanich
and hand him 300 ABs, Cub fans should look at Reed and simply be glad he’s
not Sandy Martinez.

Baylor should make an interesting
addition to the bunch, but whether that addition will be a net positive is
unclear. His one year in Atlanta was a remarkable one, with the twin
Joneses both crediting him for their sizable offensive improvements, but
whether he can have the same impact as a manager as he had as a hitting
coach is questionable. The Cubs could desperately use someone in the
player-evaluation chain who understands plate discipline, and Baylor
appears to, given his work with Andruw and the generally improved walk
totals on the Braves. But Baylor was never an adept handler of pitchers on
Planet Coors, and while Wrigley is somewhat closer to earth, it is still a
horrible pitchers’ park, and Baylor could easily rip through the
Cubs’ weak pen.


Re-signed C Brook Fordyce to a two-year contract. [11/17]

If major-league
teams want to do something to slow salary escalation, they should stop
throwing multi-year guaranteed contracts at replacement-level players
coming off career years. Fordyce will now be an expensive albatross
blocking Mark Johnson, Josh Paul, and a dozen AAA veterans who could do the
same job for the major-league minimum.


Acquired DH Dante Bichette and cash from the Rockies for OF Jeffrey
and RHP Stan Belinda. [10/30]

Signed INFs Mike Bell and Chris Sexton and OF Pat Watkins to
minor-league contracts. [11/3]

Signed 1B/PH Hal Morris to a one-year contract. [11/4]

Re-signed INF Mark
to a one-year contract; signed RHPs Keith Glauber, Joe Borowski,
Bobby Munoz and Larry Luebbers, LHPs Neil Weber, Tom Fordham and Terrell
and DH Brooks Kieschnick to minor-league contracts. [11/16]

Acquiring Bichette undoes most of the good done by Bowden in the past year.
Sure, he gave up little in the exchange. However, Bichette is signed for
Colorado money for three more years, had one of the worst home/road splits
of any Rockie hitter, and hasn’t drawn a walk since the Carter
administration. And he’s overweight with cranky knees. And his
defense is poor for a DH. And the Reds already had too many outfielders, so
we could either see Michael Tucker traded or Dmitri Young screwed (again).
There is no positive way to spin this deal for Cincinnati, a team that
would have been hard-pressed to repeat its 96 wins with the same lineup.

Bowden did do well to grab a few frequently-injured pitching
talents, including Glauber, Weber, Fordham, and Wade, in the hope that one
will pan out. Hardly a great bet, but the success of Steve Parris clearly
emboldened him, and these moves provide a positive return even if only one
out of ten pays off.


Named Charlie Manuel manager. [11/1]

Exercised their 2000 options on C Sandy Alomar and RF Manny Ramirez;
declined their 2000 option on RHP Dwight Gooden. [11/2]

Named Jim Riggleman third base coach, Ted Uhlaender baserunning
and outfield coach, and Clarence Jones hitting coach. [11/5]

Named Dick Pole pitching coach. [11/10]


Acquired OF Jeffrey Hammonds and RHP Stan Belinda from the Reds for LF
Dante Bichette. [10/30]

Re-signed RHP Jerry Dipoto to a two-year
contract with a club option for 2002. [11/2]

Acquired RHPs Manny
, Jose Jimenez and Rick Croushore, and INF Brent Butler from the
Cardinals for RHPs Darryl Kile, Dave Veres and Luther Hackman. [11/16]

Claimed RHP Julian Tavarez off of waivers from the Giants. [11/16]

Acquired LHP Mike Myers from the Brewers in exchange for RHP Curtis
. [11/17]

Perhaps new GM Dan O’Dowd is honest to
a fault, because he didn’t extract much value from Bichette, even
though he reportedly had drawn interest from richer teams like the Yankees.
Hammonds should poke 30+ homers in Colorado, but will miss 50 games due to
injuries and won’t help the Rockies’ basic offensive
impatience. Belinda will implode at that altitude, only to
resurface in 2001 with another team and be back to his old self. Much ado
about nothing.

Meanwhile, O’Dowd trades two of his three most
valuable pitchers and gets back a bunch of enigmatic young pitchers, one
of whom (Croushore) has a shredded shoulder, and a once-bright infield
prospect who lost the strike zone last year. Hard to see any of those
pitchers becoming stars in Denver, which means that the Rockies failed
again to help their club.

Finally, they gave away their most
competent remaining reliever for a lefty specialist–but when
you’re as bad as the Rockies, are lefty specialists the first thing
on your shopping list?


Acquired RF/DH
Juan Gonzalez, RHP Danny Patterson and C Greg Zaun from the Rangers for
LHPs Justin Thompson and Alan Webb, RHP Francisco Cordero, RF Gabe Kapler,
2B Frank Catalanotto, and C Bill Haselman. [11/2]

Re-signed OF Luis
to a one-year contract with a club option for 2001; claimed 3B
Carlos Villalobos on waivers from the Astros. [11/10]

You know
by now how poor this trade was for Detroit. If Gonzalez walks, they gave up
the farm and got nothing back. If he stays … well, is that a good thing?
He’ll soak up at least 20% of their payroll, and doesn’t
solve their basic offensive problem–getting men on base. In
exchange, the Tigers gave away their middle infield depth, an excellent
outfield prospect, their best young starter (albeit a hurt one), a
potential relief star, and a pretty good backup catcher. The Tigers will
now go into 2000 with one improvement in the lineup, a few more holes in
the lineup, and a loss of pitching depth. Might give the Twins nightmares.

Polonia’s sudden power and sudden size increase
notwithstanding, he was awful after a fast start, never walks, and makes
Brian Hunter look like a valuable player. Smith clearly has no idea what
he’s doing.


Acquired RHP Dan Miceli from the Padres for RHP Brian Meadows. [11/16]

Great pickup: a valuable, relatively underpriced middle reliever in exchange for
a starting pitcher who was only in the majors because the Marlins were so
awful in ’98.


Re-signed RHP Antonio Osuna to a one-year contract with club options for
2001 and 2002. Acquired RF Shawn Green and 2b Jorge Nunez from the
Blue Jays for OF Raul Mondesi and LHP Pedro Borbon Jr.. [11/2]

Signed PH Dave Hansen to a one-year contract. [11/11]

Acquired 3B Kevin Orie from the Marlins for a player to be named by
4/1/00. [11/12]

Green was immediately signed to an immense contract extension that will keep
him in Dodger Blue through 2005. Green is coming off a big season in Toronto,
but he’s probably at his peak right now and I wouldn’t be surprised if he never surpasses
what he did last year. That’s not what the Dodgers are paying him for. Nevertheless,
he should be a solid plus in right for a few years, and getting rid of Raul Mondesi
(and his considerable contract and baggage) was undoubtedly a good idea after
this year’s behavioral hijinks on Raul’s part. It’s Murdoch’s money, not mine.

If the Blue Man Group really believes that Orie
will be any sort of replacement for Adrian Beltre, they’re drinking
too much of their own blue Kool-Aid. Losing Beltre would be the worst blow
for a franchise that has lost Mike Piazza, Paul Konerko, and Roger Cedeno
in the last twenty-four months, and that has failed to develop any of its
considerable pitching prospects into major-league pitchers since Ismael
Valdes’ emergence in 1995. Fox’s likely solution will be to
throw tons of money at a 34-year-old free agent third baseman next winter,
which will only exacerbate the internal rot that is undermining what was
once among the game’s top farm systems. Regardless of who’s
right and wrong in the Beltre claim, the Dodgers should be making every
effort to sign Beltre and get him to drop his complaint, because
they’ve let a few too many phenoms get away this decade.


Named Davey Lopes manager, signing him to a three-year contract. [11/4]

Named Bob Apodaca pitching coach, Chris Speier third base coach,
Jerry Royster bench coach and Bill Castro bullpen coach. [11/12]

Acquired RHP Curtis Leskanic from the Rockies for LHP Mike Myers. [11/17]

Re-signed RHP Jason Bere to a one-year contract. [11/19]

Leskanic’s addition strengthens an
Achilles’ heel: the bullpen. With Wickman hot, some of these woes
were masked last year, but when he inevitably hits another rough patch,
they’ll be glad to have someone like Leskanic to keep Dave Weathers
off the field.


Announced the retirement of C Terry Steinbach. [11/16]

Two years too late, but
the Twins didn’t have anyone else ready in the meantime. With a bevy
of catching prospects in the system, they didn’t need him anymore,
and he wisely chose to hang ’em up.


Claimed LHP Brent Billingsley off of waivers from the Marlins. [11/19]


Reinstated C Vance Wilson from the 60-day DL. [11/2]

Acquired OF Jon Nunnally from the Red Sox for
CF Jermaine Allensworth. [11/12]

Re-signed C Todd Pratt to a two-year contract. [11/18]

Nunnally is a great pickup, but his playing
time outlook is quite bleak at the outset unless Darryl Hamilton’s
trade request is granted. If the Mets learned anything from Roger Cedeno,
it should be that price does not equal quality. Re-signing Pratt
demonstrates that lesson, and could prove valuable if Piazza moves to first
immediately, or if his knees force him there midyear.


Exercised their 2000 options on RF
Paul O’Neill and DH Darryl Strawberry; reinstated C Vidal Candelaria
from the 60-day DL, and waived him. [11/2]

Sentiment reigns in the
Big Apple, but who can blame them? O’Neill has clearly lost a step
and a few tenths of a second in his swing, and he probably belongs on the
heavy side of a platoon, but that won’t happen. If the Yanks get
serious about overhauling their infield to bring Johnson, Soriano, and
Jimenez in, they’ll be able to carry one or two old fogies in the

With Chili Davis retired, Strawberry will split DH
duties with Jim Leyritz. Strawberry’s power is intact and he can
still draw his share of walks, so at his salary, the option was attractive.


Exercised their 2000 option on RHP
Kevin Appier. [11/1]

If Appier has anything left, this would be
the year he’d show it, after using 1999 as a sort of rehab
assignment. If he can just improve on his ’99 season, he’ll
be a huge part of the team’s playoff push.


Signed RHP Carlos Reyes to a one-year contract. [11/5]

Acquired RHP Andy Ashby from the Padres for RHPs Carlton Loewer, Steve
and Adam Eaton. [11/10]

Claimed RHP Mark Brownson off of waivers from the Rockies. [11/16]

The Phils have finally found
religion around their pitching staff: After Schilling and Byrd, it was all
downhill. Ashby didn’t come cheap–Eaton was the top
minor-league pitcher in the system, and Loewer looks like he’ ll
develop into a good #3/4 starter–but he’s one of the
majors’ top ten RH starters, has been reasonably durable (by
today’s diminished standards), and should allow Terry Francona to
pull back on his overuse of Curt Schilling by further reducing the overall
load on the bullpen.


Elected not to exercise their options on LHP Donovan Osborne
and OF Darren Bragg. [11/3]

Acquired RHP Pat Hentgen and LHP Paul Spoljaric from the Blue
Jays for LHP Lance Painter, RHP Matt DeWitt and C Alberto Castillo. [11/11]

Acquired RHPs Darryl Kile, Dave Veres and Luther Hackman from the
Rockies for RHPs Manny Aybar, Jose Jimenez and Rick Croushore and INF Brent
. [11/16]

Agreed to exercise a mutual contract option for 2001
with 1B Mark McGwire. [11/18]

Playing to LaRussa/Duncan’s
collective strength, veteran pitchers, the Cards grabbed a few worthwhile
arms for some currently worthless ones with potential. The best arms of the
group, Aybar and Jiminez, went to Colorado, where they’re unlikely
to come back to haunt GM Walt Jocketty or LaRussa or Duncan, so that move
was ideal from a PR standpoint. Veres steps in as the closer, a role for
which he’s been qualified since ’95 or so, and pushes Ricky
Bottalico and Juan Acevedo into setup roles with Scott Radinsky. Kile is a
project, but isn’t hurt and has enough raw talent to give Duncan a
good chance of success here.

The wild card here is Hentgen. If
he’s hurt, as most suspect, the gamble won’t pay off, and the
Cards can simply point out that they gave nothing up in the bargain but
Hentgen’s salary. If he’s not too hurt to post a
league-average ERA, the Cards come out ahead. If he manages an
above-average season and Kile does the same, the Cards suddenly have a good
core to their rotation, one that will keep the back of the bullpen out of
games, which is a Good Thing.


Acquired RHPs Carlton Loewer, Steve Montgomery and Adam Eaton from the
Phillies for RHP Andy Ashby. [11/10]

Acquired RHP Brian Meadows from
the Marlins for RHP Danny Miceli. [11/16]

Hard to believe the
Padres couldn’t get more for either Ashby or Miceli. When trading a
top-flight starter like Ashby, teams would do well to get at least one good
hitting prospect in the bargain, because pitching prospects can so easily
blow out or simply not perform up to standards, leaving the team with
nothing from the deal but egg on its face.

That quibble aside,
the Padres did get themselves a good, if not great, pitching prospect in
Adam Eaton, and an advanced semi-prospect who should step right into their
rotation in Carlton Loewer. Montgomery is a useful replacement for the
now-departed Miceli, which, with Trevor Hoffman manning the closer role, is

Trading Miceli for a never-will-be like Brian Meadows
seems inexcusable. Demand for quality middle relievers peaks in July, just
before the trading deadline, and trading those pitchers in November amounts
to leaving value on the table. Miceli has pitched well since arriving in
San Diego, throws hard, and keeps the ball in the park better than he did
in Pittsburgh. Contenders with weak bullpens (like Cleveland) should
have been GM Kevin Towers’ main targets.


Named Bryan Price pitching coach, Gerald Perry hitting coach,
John Moses first base-outfield coach and Larry Bowa third base-infield
coach for 2000; announced the retention of bench coach John McLaren and
bullpen coach Matt Sinatro. [11/19]


Rejected the opportunity to exercise their option on DH Paul Sorrento,
making him a free agent. [11/1]

Announced the retirement of 3B Wade
, and named him special assistant to GM Chuck LaMar. [11/11]


Acquired LHPs Justin Thompson and Alan Webb,
RHP Francisco Cordero, RF Gabe Kapler, C Bill Haselman and 2B Frank
from the Tigers for RF/DH Juan Gonzalez, RHP Danny Patterson
and C Greg Zaun. [11/2]

Claimed RHP Brian Sikorski on waivers from the
Astros. [11/9]

A tremendous masterstroke for the Rangers, who
rid themselves of an overpriced, overvalued headache in Gonzalez, and made
significant headway in rebuilding the team without compromising its
short-term competitiveness. True, the offense may suffer slightly with
Kapler/Catalanotto replacing Gonzalez/McLemore, but by 2001, the former duo
will outperform the latter, especially once you consider defense. The
Rangers also obtained the Wetteland insurance they lacked last year and now
can take a flyer on fragile Justin Thompson’s arm.


Acquired OF Raul Mondesi and LHP Pedro Borbon Jr. from the
Dodgers for RF Shawn Green and 2B Jorge Nunez. [11/2]

Acquired LHP Lance Painter, RHP Matt DeWitt, and C Alberto Castillo
from the Cardinals for RHP Pat Hentgen and LHP Paul Spoljaric. [11/11]

Released C Mike Matheny. [11/17]

This looks a lot like a front office telling itself that if it can’t resign
a player, it needs to get something for him and it needs to get something for him
now, without reminding itself that the returns for a competent team letting a
Type A free agent walk are considerable. True, Mondesi’s contract isn’t quite as
exorbitant as it was when he put his chop on it, but he’s still a very expensive
player–quite a bit more expensive, even, than the signing bonuses for those
compensatory draft picks would have been.

Of course, the Jays were thisclose to winning it all last year, and still
have the nucleus in place, so they had to get a power hitter to replace Green.
Or something.

Thank you for reading

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