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ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Signed 1B-B Tony Clark to a two-year contract
extension.
[8/5]

Activated C-R Kelly Stinnett from the 15-day DL;
optioned
LHP Mike Gosling to Tucson. [8/9]

Clark’s deal includes a no-trade clause that’s good through 2006, which
seems sensible enough for the Snakes to have offered, since that’s
about the
period through which they’ll really need to determine whether or not
Conor Jackson is the regular first baseman of the
present
as well as the future. Clark seems happy to have the situation settled,
and
also seems to be sensible enough to have recognized that there aren’t a
lot
of places where he was going to slug better than .660.

The decision to option Gosling has less to do with how he’s pitched
than it
does with the Snakes’ unshakeable conviction that somehow, Russ
Ortiz
is going to be ready to return to the rotation this
weekend.
Gosling wasn’t a disaster as a temp, more of a perceived disaster in
waiting
while giving up almost two baserunners per inning, but to be fair, he
had
given the D-Backs four adequate outings out of five from a runs allowed
perspective, and I wouldn’t be so sure that Ortiz will be any more
reliable
than that after his getting shellacked in what was supposed to be his
final
tune-up in Tucson this week.

What might seem less explicable is Arizona’s decision to carry three
catchers now that Stinnett’s healthy. But Koyie Hill
hit in
Stinnett’s absence, the Snakes can’t really afford to let their one
actual
veteran catcher go when they see themselves in a pennant race (no
matter how
pathetic it may be), and apparently Chris Snyder’s more loveable than
Ray
Romano, no matter how badly he hits. Optioning Hill or Snyder would
make
sense, but let’s face it, when the bench is weak enough to need a
Quinton McCracken, you’ve got a weak bench. Guys in
Tucson
you might want to bring up, like Andy Green (hitting
.344/.424/.599) aren’t on the 40-man roster, and usual suspects like
Alan Zinter or Scott Hairston are out
for
the season. There’s a point at which some of the prospects at the back
end
of the 40-man might get designated for assignment, should Arizona close
the
gap with the Padres. Putting Hairston on the 60-day DL might work, but
Marland Williams has seen his prospect status take a
dive
by hitting .230/.290/.344 in Double-A this year, and there isn’t a
whole lot
of space on the 40-man after that.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Placed RHP Sidney Ponson on the 15-day DL (strained
calf),
retroactive to 8/8; placed OF-L B.J. Surhoff on the
15-day
DL (strained groin), retroactive to 8/8; optioned RHP Chris
Ray
to Bowie (Double-A); recalled RHP Aaron
Rakers

from Ottawa; recalled LHP Eric DuBose from Bowie
(Double-A); purchased the contract of 1B-R Alejandro
Freire

from Ottawa. [8/9]

Although you might take this sort of mass swap as some sort of
punctuation
in the Orioles’ fall from grace, let’s not get too overwrought on the
subject. As a rotation regular, Ponson has single-handedly put a big
dent in
the team’s place in the standings as well as hitting it hard in the
pocket
book. In terms of VORP, he’s among the worst five IP-qualifying pitchers in baseball, in a
group
that includes Jamey Wright, Mark
Hendrickson
, Eric Milton, and Jose
Lima
. As long as he’s going to continue to be a problem of
this
magnitude, it’s just as well that he’s not pitching. DuBose titillated
the
Orioles with another nice bit of pitching in the minors since his
demotion,
striking out 114 and walking 29 in 122.0 IP. Still, that was in
Double-A,
and DuBose is 29. Since he is still on the 40-man, I guess there’s
virtue in
seeing if he can do any worse than Ponson to determine if he’s worth
keeping. Since two-fifths of the rotation is made up of successful
retreads
(Bruce Chen and Rodrigo Lopez), it
makes
sense for the Orioles not to give up, especially when DuBose is a
relatively
modest investment, and while so much of their money’s tied up in
Ponson.
There’s a chance he’ll start, but John Maine is also
being
mentioned as a plug for the rotation’s Ponson-sized hole.

A name like Alejandro Freire just rolls off the tongue in a fun, fun
way,
like Barbaro Garbey… say it slowly, and enjoy the R’s, free of
charge.
Like Garbey, Freire’s position is most basically “hitter,”
having
always shown a good power stroke in his minor league career (.466
career SLG
through ’03). Originally signed by the Astros after he’d turned 16, the
Venezuelan wound up in the Tigers chain at a time when that was a bad
career
move, and basically had to spend four years (1998-2001) with their
Double-A
affiliates. In Ottawa this year, he’s been a thumper, hitting
.299/.376/.512
for the Lynx. Considering that he’s 30, there’s no reason to feel he’s
going
to be anything more than an interesting reserve and prospective platoon
partner for guys like Rafael Palmeiro or Jay
Gibbons
, but as we all know, it’s hard to find roster space
for the
short halves of platoons while managers are fixated on carrying twelfth
pitchers and running their bullpens with overly quick hooks. That
Freire
also really only plays first doesn’t help, so his chances of even
having a
career as good as Garbey’s seems limited at best. Still, with
Olmedo
Saenz
demonstrating the value of a right-handed bat who can
make
contact with power at any age, maybe Freire will be taken more
seriously
than as just a temp covering for a substance-suspension.

I’m pretty enthusiastic about seeing Rakers finally get an opportunity.
He
was excellent in Ottawa last year (80 Ks and 25 BBs in 78.2 IP), and
simply
followed that up with another outstanding season (80 Ks and 20 BBs in
65.1
IP). He’s less scoutily overpowering in terms of velocity than he is
simply
dominating with a great forkball, and as long as the Orioles are
willing to
give him an extended trial, they shouldn’t be disappointed. As for
Ray’s
fall from light, he’ll be back, and I’d put this on Lee Mazzilli more
than
anyone. Ray was having a nifty introduction to the majors before he was
asked to pitch in five games over six days, after which he’s flailed a
bit.
Put back into a situation where he’s handled appropriately, he should
join
Rakers in next year’s pen. Assuming they can wean themselves of their
fascination with the Jason Grimsleys of the world, of
course.

BOSTON RED SOX
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Signed LHP Matt Perisho to a minor league contract,
and
assigned him to Pawtucket. [8/6]

Recalled 3B-R Kevin Youkilis from Pawtucket;
designated
OF-B Jose Cruz Jr. for assignment. [8/8]

Acquired LHP Mike Remlinger and cash from the Cubs for
RHP
Olivo Astacio; placed RHP Wade Miller
on
the 15-day DL (sore shoulder); traded OF-B Jose Cruz
Jr.
to
the Dodgers for a PTBNL; signed RHP Ricky Bottalico to
a
minor league contract, and assigned him to Pawtucket. [8/9]

The Red Sox have three immediate problems, none of which involved
finding a
way that Cruz was useful. First, there’s the perpetual problem of how
healthy Bill Mueller may be for any length of time,
between
problems with his knee and his back and just being 34. With
Mark
Bellhorn
still on the DL, the on-roster alternative is playing
Alex Cora, and from an offensive standpoint, that’s a
bit
on the sub side of sub-optimal. So the Greek God of Walks gets to come
back, for
however long that lasts this time around. In his wisdom, Terry Francona
elected not to use Youkilis, preferring Cora’s “hot” bat–if
you
missed it, he’s hit some singles in the past week. So Cruz was casually
discarded to no obvious point to cover for a temporary need that
wasn’t
needed, and considering that Cruz cost two semi-interesting farmhands
to
get, some people are speculating that there might have been more
involved.
Regardless of whether there’s any fire, let alone much smoke, I’m not a
big
believer in Cruz at this point anyways, so as long as the Sox get
something
useful for the system as the PTBNL, no serious harm done. None of this
is as
important as getting Trot Nixon back, and that’s
beginning
to look like it will happen sooner instead of later.

The larger problems involve the pitching staff now that Miller has
broken
down. Maybe this would be the time to push Curt
Schilling

back into the rotation, but can he handle the workload? It’s a pity
this
happened right after the Sox started trying out Jon
Papelbon
as a reliever in Pawtucket, but it hasn’t been that
long,
and they could always plug him back in, while leaving Schilling still
on the
“once Keith Foulke returns” timetable. Even
without Foulke back, I’d suggest that they have the arms to resolve the
problem. They could always turn back to Jeremi
Gonzalez
in
a pinch, but that never seems to work out well, and time is short. If
Papelbon get brought into the rotation, that might delay that
particular
option.

Part of pulling Schilling out of the rotation is what gets stuck into
the
pen after his departure, particularly in a Foulke-less pen.
Mike
Timlin
‘s fine, and I guess the situational twins of
Chad
Bradford
and Mike Myers give you further
space in
your late inning endgame. It’s too soon to say whether they’ll give
Manny Delcarmen the experience he needs to
subsequently
lean on him down the stretch, something that doesn’t bode well if they
subsequently claim that they’ll use Papelbon in the pen this year. As a
bit
of Myers insurance, I do like picking up Perisho at this point.

But I’m a lot less enthusiastic about getting Remlinger. He isn’t
insurance,
he’s supposed to be part of the immediate patch job at the major league
level right now, and he hasn’t been especially effective, consistently
healthy, or even reliable since leaving the Braves three years ago.
It’s
easy to blame all of it on the cascading effect of Dusty Baker’s
overmanagement of his bullpens, but Remlinger’s 39 and not a
situational
lefty given his reliance on a splitter. Situational bass-ackwards
lefties
who aren’t durable might come in handy once in a while in a Strat
league,
but in real life, asking a big league manager to recognize his
strengths and
try to hide his weaknesses just isn’t going to happen. This will not
work
out well, and similar to the decision to borrow Cruz for a couple of
weeks,
should leave people wondering whether the front office is spending its
time
entirely profitably when it comes to its shopping trips. One of the
most
fundamental lessons any shopper learns is not to buy just to buy.
Deciding
to add some bit of roster clutter to show that you did do something can
be
wasteful (in Cruz’s case), or downright dangerous in Remlinger’s.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Activated SS-R Nomar Garciaparra and RHP Scott
Williamson
from the 60-day DL; activated RHP Kerry
Wood
from the 15-day DL; placed 2B/CF-B Jerry Hairston
Jr.
on the 15-day DL (elbow); optioned RHP Sergio
Mitre
to Iowa; designated LHP Mike Remlinger
for
assignment. [8/5]

Recalled CF-L Corey Patterson from Iowa; optioned SS-R
Ronny Cedeno to Iowa; traded Remlinger and cash
to
the Red Sox for a PTBNL. [8/9]

So here it is, the last best hope for the Cubs’ drive on the wild card.
By
themselves, the names are impressive, involving all sorts of famous
people.
Nomar, Woody, even Williamson and Patterson have thrilled folks in the
not
so distant past. But Wood is being put into the pen in the hope that he
can
help in that role, and with some admitting that he’ll just be shut down
if
Labor Day rolls around and the Cubs have fallen out of it. Williamson
is
only ten months removed from his Tommy John surgery. Indeed,
Williamson’s
being pressed into action is reminiscent of last year’s rush to get
Ryan Dempster onto the active roster, which didn’t
really
work all that well down the stretch. Williamson’s gotten all of seven
innings under his belt at Iowa before getting activated, and this just
seems
to be more of a case of wishcasting him into a solution for the club’s
mostly self-inflicted bullpen problems.

But if the Cubs are serious about making a run, why is Glendon
Rusch
back in the pen? Because Remlinger is done? Please. The
rotation, and the bid at contention, is handicapped by its current
reliance
on both Rich Hill and Jerome
Williams
, and
while I’d be happy to leave Williams in the fifth slot, better to use
Rusch
to best advantage as a starter, while satisfying Dusty Baker’s
situational
worries by giving him Cliff Bartosh if you must, while
making it clear that your real expectation is that he’ll give Wood and
Williamson and Michael Wuertz complete innings in
which to
pitch, and reminding him that he does already have Will
Ohman
.

As for the lineup, although it’s not good news to have lost Hairston,
his
departure does come after the happy acquisition of Matt
Lawton
, so it isn’t like the Cubs are without a leadoff man in
the
meantime. The real hope is that Garciaparra’s finally going to be
himself,
healthy enough to play short as well as he did for the Cubs last year
(or
better), healthy enough to give the lineup a third right-handed slugger
to
score Lawton early and often, and healthy enough to keep Neifi frickin’
Perez on the bench. Patterson’s hitting funk stayed with him in Iowa,
although he showed some sign of life this past week. That isn’t why
he’s up;
his recall is a function of defensive necessity in particular, and
simple
hope that Patterson will snap out of it and give the club a center
fielder
it doesn’t have now that Hairston’s seriously injured again. But sort
of
like the decisions to put Wood and Williamson in the pen, I think it’s
a
matter of the Cubs simply hoping that the talent generates results,
without
as much hope as the names themselves might inspire.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Placed LHP Arthur Rhodes on the bereavement list;
recalled
RHP Fernando Cabrera from Buffalo. [8/5]

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Claimed RHP Sun-Woo Kim off of waivers from the
Nationals.
[8/5]

Placed RHP Dan Miceli on the 15-day DL (bruised foot),
retroactive to 8/5; recalled RHP Ryan Speier from
Colorado
Springs; optioned INF-B Eddy Garabito to Colorado
Springs.
[8/8]

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Placed 1B-L Carlos Delgado on the 15-day DL (hand),
retroactive to 7/28; recalled RHP Randy Messenger from
Albuquerque. [8/5]

Optioned RHP Randy Messenger to Albuquerque; recalled
C-R
Ryan Jorgensen from Albuquerque; transferred RHP
Logan Kensing from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/7]

Placed RHP Jim Mecir on the 15-day DL (shoulder
tendinitis); recalled RHP Randy Messenger from
Albuquerque.
[8/8]

Paul Lo Duca is out with a strained hammy, and with
Delgado
out as well, it’s worth wondering if this isn’t what’s going to kill
off the
Marlins’ ambitions. However, the Braves are mockingly within reach,
which
can only heighten the frustration for the Fish from the lowliest Lorian
to
the Collector himself. Happily, there’s always the wild-card, and if
the
Nationals might be fading from that race as well, there’s still the
Mets and
Phillies and Astros to wonder about. The real dilemma isn’t how to fix
the
lineup in the meantime, because they can’t. They can hope that
Jeff
Conine
does something, but it’s crazy to hope for much more
than
what he’s done already, and there’s nothing to be expected from
Jorgensen or
Matt Treanor in LoDuca’s place, any more than it’s
likely
that Chris Aguila can fill Juan
Encarnacion
‘s suddenly large shoes. This is extra bad luck
that
comes on top of having Josh Willingham out for another
couple of weeks, and with Jason Stokes missing most of
the
season. Either would have been handy right around now, and neither are
available.

No, what the Marlins can do about a weakened offense is take their
other
problems seriously. If you can’t score runs as well as you were
earlier, you
can at least address the runs you’re giving up these days a lot more
pro-actively than they have. This isn’t grade school, where everyone
should
get to take turns: Scuffy
Moehler

isn’t earning his keep, and Ismael Valdez isn’t
earning
himself a chance. Relying on both while giving an occasional nod to
young
lefty Jason Vargas isn’t going to make your rotation
better, it simply reflects an inability to make a choice when you need
to
sort this out, and perhaps also address whether any of them can help
shore
up a bullpen short one Mecir no sooner than they had supposedly patched
it
with Ron Villone.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Released C-R Alberto Castillo; purchased the contract
of
C-R Paul Phillips from Omaha. [8/5]

Purchased the contract of UT-B Denny Hocking and
recalled
RHP Mike Wood from Omaha; recalled RHP Jonah
Bayliss
from Wichita (Double-A); optioned RHPs Kyle
Snyder
and Leo Nunez and 2B-B Ruben
Gotay
to Omaha. [8/5]

Primal scream therapy’s all well and good, but what happens when
everyone’s
gone hoarse? Some of this resembles progress, and some of it doesn’t,
although I do think the good outweighs the bad. As much as Hocking’s a
utility spud you hope to use minimally at most, Gotay has lost the job
at
second to Donald Murphy for the moment, so the most
fair
thing to do under the circumstances is give both their chances to play
everyday, Murphy in the majors, and Gotay in Omaha, trying to remind
people
that he’s a prospect on some level. As for swapping out Castillo and
Phillips, that’s just progress. Castillo’s almost the definition of the
useless backup catcher: he cannot hit and never has, and as
catch-and-throws
go, he’s infamously bad at plate-blocking, which leaves you with hoping
he
has good game-calling skills, and since no one on the Royals is
throwing
well, even that needs to be called into question. Phillips isn’t
particularly special, but as a former prospect, he might at least
challenge
John Buck for playing time after having hit
.267/.316/.399
in Omaha. Look at those numbers again, and that tells you how little
progress Buck has made in his second year with the Royals.

On the pitching side of the ledger, I’m also cautiously optimistic.
Dropping
Wood back into the rotation isn’t sexy, but it does give them another
quick
worker who throws strikes, and better that than any exercises in
finding
more people who can pitch as badly as Jose Lima. It
makes
for a rotation with four people who should all be useful going forward,
and
the circus act doing his thing in the last slot. I wouldn’t give up on
Leo
Nunez, but despite showing good heat, he has not pitched all that well
in
the Royals’ pen, and it needs to be remembered that he was in A-ball
last
year. So was Bayliss, for that matter, which sort of says something
about
the Royals’ predicament, but at least everyone involved has a good arm.
I’m
not a huge fan of the ‘throw’em at the wall and see what sticks’
approach,
but you can’t really blame them for trying.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Acquired OF-B Jose Cruz Jr. from the Red Sox for a
PTBNL.
[8/9]

This makes a wee bit more sense for the Dodgers than getting Cruz did
for
the Sox, but only because the Dodgers are completely desperate, while
the
Sox aren’t, not in the way that the Dodgers can answer affirmatively
that
they’re better off with Cruz than Chin-Feng Chen or
Jason Repko. With one outfield slot manned by
Milton Bradley, and the other two by Repko,
Ricky
Ledee
, Jose Valentin, and Mike
Edwards
, every spare part helps. Between Cruz and the likely
return
of Jayson Werth in the next week, it seems likely that
the
Dodgers might at least get back up to Bradley plus a pair of adequate
platoons. In itself, it won’t be enough to help them gain ground, but
at
least it might not cost them more space in the standings.

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Gave LHP Alex Graman his outright release. [8/5]

Recalled INF-R Felix Escalona from Columbus; optioned
INF-R
Andy Phillips to Columbus. [8/8]

What is that about a New York minute? Hell, at this point, who’s cut
more to
the quick by the Yankees’ decision that they needed a utility infielder
who
could play in the infield: Phillips, whose limited mobility appears to
have
condemned him to first base, or Tony Womack, who used
to be
a shortstop and second baseman, what the Yankees wish they had on their
bench. As utility infielders go, Escalona can hit with enough sock and
patience to be above the Enrique Wilson Threshold of
Fan
Fear, while also plausibly wearing a glove at second or short. Whatever
combination of roster events might make Phillips valuable or keep
Womack
employable as anything more than the Damian Jackson
priced
with a New York mark-up, they haven’t happened, and the Yankees are
instead
making use of the spot they’d hoped that Rey Sanchez
might
have filled in the way he would have filled it.

NEW YORK METS
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Optioned RHP Kaz Ishii to Norfolk; recalled RHP
Jae
Seo
from Norfolk. [8/5]

Ishii’s been shipped out to work on his mechanics, and while I’m sure
that
has everything to do with trying to get him to do it in games that
don’t
count in the NL East, isn’t this another one of those things that Rick
Peterson was supposed to be able to address? Although to be fair to
Peterson, this isn’t a case of bad judgment where he might deserve some
criticism, a la Victor Zambrano, let’s face it, Ishii
was
broken before he got here. The fact that they’ve finally gone back to
Seo,
however overdue, is a good thing, as much as getting excited about
plugging
in an adequate fifth starter can be a source of joy. Seo’s strikeout
rate
has been improving down at Norfolk, going from last year’s weak 4.1 K’s
per
nine as a Met to this year’s 8.2 as a Tideling. It won’t matter to Seo
for
that long, in that he’s almost certainly going to be swapped out of the
rotation for a mending Steve Trachsel, but a few more
good
outings will be enough to make him a nice bartering chip for Omar
Minaya
this winter.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Recalled LHP Eude Brito from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre;
optioned INF-B Matt Kata to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
[8/5]

I guess the chaotic way in which memory works, or at least the way in
which
my memory works, is that the fragments of memory that clamor for
attention
when I see a name like Eude’s come across the wires include the Black
Sea,
or the Euxinus Pontus, as it was once known, and Frank
Eufemia
who was not known as a blackguard or a black anything
beyond his being a Twins farmhand who briefly appeared in the majors in
1985, just long enough to scar prospect maven and Twins fan John
Sickels
somehow. Regardless, neither have anything to do with Brito, since he’s
a
lefty with mid-90s heat and the talent to stick. It might be cynical to
note
that trusting your farmhands must be the last refuge for scoundrels,
but in
this case, I think it’s simply a matter of getting a kid who can throw
hard
in middle relief onto the big league ballclub. Brito was on the 40-man,
and
although his 13 homeruns allowed or 4.85 ERA in 98.1 IP are nothing to
get
excited about, a 76-39 strikeout-to-walk ratio is to some extent, as is
his
ability to start or relieve. Considering that Kata wasn’t seeing much
use as
the last hitter on the bench, I guess this makes life easier should the
Phillies need to get a starting pitcher out early, without subsequently
having to overtax the more regular usage patterns for the bullpen’s
more
famous inhabitants.

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Activated RHP Jeff Nelson from the bereavement list;
recalled OF-L Chris Snelling from Tacoma; optioned RHP
Masao Kida and OF-R Jamal Strong to
Tacoma. [8/5]

Released C-R Pat Borders. [8/8]

So now, here it is, the opportunity that Mariners fans have been
waiting for
over the last three years, the answer to the question about what
they’ve
actually got in Snelling. Despite his having been touted five years
ago, the
Aussie import is still only 23, so it’s hard to say what we might
expect
from him. If you go simply on his track record as a hitter, you’ve got
corner outfielder without a lot of power, since he’s generally putting
up
Isolated Power rates of around .160-.170, not shabby, but less than you
might expect from a hitter with a minor league career SLG of .498. What
generates that nice number is an average of .328. That’s not a bad
thing to
have, but keep in mind, that’s basically his skill set: contact with
modest
power. Is that what you want in a corner outfielder? He can’t run much
after
repeated injuries to his knee, so he won’t be a center fielder. If he
can
keep hitting better than .300, he’ll add enough pop to be an
improvement on
Randy Winn, certainly, but whether the Mariners as a
team
can afford a lineup where none of their outfielders can really get the
ball
out of the yard doesn’t sound like the kind of significant improvement
the
M’s need to make on a lineup that’s neck
and
neck with the Royals and Rockies
for baseball’s worst. But to be fair
to
Snelling, he might still be more than that. He’s lost so much
development
time to injuries in the last four years that he might yet develop well
enough to be… well, maybe the new Mike
Greenwell
.
That’s not a bad ballplayer, but it’s a lot less than the overly
optimistic
expectations generated by a nice year hitting in the hitter’s paradise
that
is the Cal League back in 2001.

As nice as it is to see Snelling finally getting an opportunity, it
remains
nevertheless frustrating that Strong isn’t being kept around as a
fourth
outfielder. He’s done his bit at Tacoma to prove that he’s ready
(.288/.367/.392), and he’d make a dandy fourth outfielder as the
right-handed guy behind the three lefty-hitting starters. But the
problem is
that Bill Bavasi’s still working up the nerve to get rid of
Scott
Spiezio
and/or Dave Hansen. I mean, look how
quickly Bret Boone got snapped up. It could be such a
major
setback should the organization release another punchless old infielder.
Admittedly, his ‘performance-enhancing illicit substance’ suspension
probably doesn’t help, but Strong’s been almost as fragile as Snelling,
and
whatever he used never helped him hit for power at any level. Strong’s
already 27, he has a reputation as a primo defensive outfielder, so
between
his limited ceiling and his readiness right now, he really should be
up.

So where do you assign Pat Borders once you’ve designated him? Tacoma?
Out
of thine sight? Perhaps take a page from Zeus, and put him in Tartarus?
Assuming that Kronos can pitch, I suppose he might like the variety of
having someone besides Rhea to play catch with. (Yes, I’m indulging in
Dan
Simmons’ latest
. We all have a sweet tooth for something, and not
everything can be Carl Schorske, right?) At
rate,
the proper answer is not to think in terms of vengeance, and shipping
him COD to Pat Gillick. It really is more adult to just let go.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Placed LHP Kirk Rueter on the 15-day DL (gout – toe),
retroactive to 7/30; purchased the contract of RHP Brian
Cooper
from Fresno. [8/7]

Activated OF-L Alex Sanchez from the 15-day DL, and
designated him for assignment. [8/9]

Yes, so Kirk Rueter suffers from the royal
disease
,
a thing he now has in common with Henry VIII, Louis
XVIII
, and the somewhat less regal Jumbo Wells. It’s not fun, since it involves uric acids building
up as
crystals in joints (the toe’s a usual spot), causing swelling and
“exquisite pain.” Since the Giants weren’t about to invest in
a
palanquin, they instead decided to leave an immobilized Rueter behind
before
heading out on the road, abandoning the final slot in the rotation to
Cooper, a journeyman aspiring to do well enough this time around to not
be
rewarded with wage-slavery in Korea, the way he was in last season’s
brief
call-up. He was having a nice enough year at Fresno by his own lights
(123
hits allowed in 120.2 IP, a 4.40 ERA), but 19 homeruns allowed and only
five
strikeouts per nine bode for more bad days at the office than good.
Meanwhile, Rueter can see if he gets any of the other benefits of
enduring a
disease of kings. Does anyone in San Francisco have scrofula?

As for Sanchez, there never was a reasonable explanation for why he was
acquired in the first place. At this point, his dilemma is increasingly
going to be one of finding a team willing to employ him that isn’t in
the
Mexican League. At least, I hope so, for your team’s sake.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Recalled RHP Anthony Reyes from Memphis; optioned
1B/OF-R
John Gall to Memphis; claimed LHP Chris
Narveson
off of waivers from the Red Sox. [8/9]

Officially, Reyes is up to give the five starters in the rotation an
extra
day of rest, but I guess I look at the Cardinals’ rotation, and I’d
begin to
worry. Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis
have
not really been all that effective, and I guess I’m inclined to fret
over
Mark Mulder‘s flagging strikeout rate. Is this a
rotation
you should be afraid of in a short series, or one that grinds out a
good
year for you over 162 games? I’m inclined to believe that it’s more the
latter, although having Chris Carpenter healthy for
the
postseason should make a major difference this year.

But to bring it back to Reyes, with neither Suppan nor Marquis looking
like
world-beaters of late, I guess I’d start wondering about who you might
want
to start that fourth game in a postseason series. Reyes has been
dominant
down in Memphis, striking out 106 in 104.2 IP while walking only 28 and
posting a 3.35 ERA. With excellent velocity and a slider
with
bite, he might make some people remember John Tudor in
a
place where that carries mostly good memories. Ordinarily, I might
argue
that Tony LaRussa would never take a kid seriously, but Reyes is that
good,
and LaRussa has made space for rookie Brad Thompson in
this
year’s pen. Add in that Reyes was outstanding in last night’s spot
start
against the Brewers, and it gets you to thinking… okay, so I still
don’t
think LaRussa will do it, but it is an option.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
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Optioned RHP Dewon Brazelton to Durham; recalled RHP
Tim Corcoran from Durham. [8/9]

It’s been a season’s worth of setbacks for Brazelton, but I guess I
keep
coming back to wondering why he’s in the pen. He’s done reasonably well
in
the long relief and mop-up situations he’s been given, and although he
hasn’t pitched in a D-Rays win since late June, did he really earn
this?
It’s easy to say ‘yes’ because of the 27 walks and 20 runs he’s allowed
in
24 IP since July 1. But has it really been that bad? Take a look at
what
he’s done in that time, game-by-game:

7/1: he comes into the bottom of the 7th against the Twins, one out,
runners
on first and third, holding a 4-3 Rays lead; he gets a double-play,
then
blows it in the bottom of the 8th, giving up four runs on five walks.
7/4: he starts off the sixth with the Rays trailing the Sox 10-7,
pitches
three shutout innings, but Tampa never gets closer than 10-8.
7/8: starts off the fourth with the Rays down 5-0 to the Tigers, throws
three shutout innings, gives up a pair on a two-run shot by Craig
Monroe,
and pitches a fifth scoreless inning, leaving the game down 7-1. That’s
two
runs in five innings.
7/15: his first game since the All-Star Break, he enters the third down
7-3,
and makes it 10-3 before he leaves at the end of the fourth.
7/20: enters the game with nobody out in the first after Mark
Hendrickson
spots the Red Sox four runs, sees the two remaining baserunners score
on a
passed ball and an infield groundout, and in what’s effectively an
emergency
start, he pitches into the sixth, giving up three runs of his own, and
leaving down 9-1.
7/26: Hendrickson’s turn again, and Boston again, so Brazelton enters a
tied
game, 5-5, to lead off the fourth. He holds Boston scoreless into the
seventh with a 6-5 lead, but he walks two, and Trever Miller gives up
the
tying run coming in for relief.
8/4: comes in to pitch the 8th down 7-5 on the road; he gives up six
runs in
his first appearance in over a week to cinch the loss.
8/7: enters the game in the bottom of the third with the Rays already
down
6-0, tosses 3.1 IP and allows a run, and leaves with Tampa down 7-2.

Now, that’s a litany of pitching in lousy games for a lousy team
relatively
lousily, but in all of that, you’ve got five good outings in long
relief and
three really bad games. That looks more like a guy who might at least
be
useful in straight long relief situations, but more possibly might
still be
the guy who was useful in last year’s rotation. Is he simply in a very
frustrating situation, with a bitter graybeard running the club, while
Mark Hendrickson has given you two quality starts in
eight
over that same stretch, and while Hideo Nomo got
several
pardons before finally earning his release. Who’s the problem?
Brazelton?
Maybe, but it’s someone like Brazelton who should be pitching for the
Rays,
as a starter, so that they can decide if that just isn’t going to work
or
not, instead of this passive-aggressive nonsense where he’s put into
awful
situations and blamed for not wearing a cape.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Placed OF-R Richard Hidalgo on the 15-day DL (wrist);
recalled INF-R Marshall McDougall from Oklahoma;
signed RHP
Aaron Sele to a minor league contract, and assigned
him to
Oklahoma. [8/5]

Placed LHP Ron Mahay on waivers. [8/8]

Placed RHP Ricardo Rodriguez on the 15-day DL
(shoulder);
recalled LHP Erasmo Ramirez from Oklahoma. [8/9]

The best thing you can hope for if you’re Hidalgo is that the wrist
helps to
explain his awful ’05 season. Any year your right fielder hits
.221/.289/.416 is a disaster, and after a season and a half away from
Houston’s short left field porch, it’s worth wondering if he should
ever be
taken seriously as a starter again. Among all right fielders with 250
or
more plate appearances, Hidalgo ranks last among the 30 in VORP. When the Rangers say they’re looking forward to getting
him
back from the DL, they’re doing little more than reading off the form
letter, the same way that they’re just grateful to Mom, some deity to
be
named later, and the US of A that they even managed to get out of bed
this
morning.

But how to plug this “hole?” Not that he’s getting to show it
in
the bigs, but McDougall’s having a nifty season, hitting .341/.416/.578
for
Oklahoma. He might make a nifty platoon mate for David
Dellucci
, although some might wonder whether the time is
just about nigh to call back up Jason Botts to man an
outfield corner after he’s hit .296/.387/.560 in Triple-A, especially
with
Dellucci limping along. However, they aren’t even using McDougall, so I
suppose it doesn’t really matter. The at-bats at DH are being invested
in
Phil Nevin regardless, so there’s not much thought
being
given to playing Botts or McDougall or bringing back Adrian
Gonzalez
(.323/.384/.505 at Oklahoma) at the moment.

In a season where we’ve seen so many teams turn to their farm systems
to
help man their bids at convention, I guess we can leave it to John Hart
to
remain a man apart and do things differently. In that context, the
decision
to launch the Aaron Sele comeback tour to help patch the rotation makes
sense, because it isn’t like C.J. Wilson or Rodriguez
have
been all that helpful. With the suspension of Kenny
Rogers

ending a week ahead of schedule, it looks like the Rangers might be
able to
get back up to four vets in their rotation to go with Chris
Young
down the stretch, although whether the fourth is Sele or
John Wasdin depends on how Sele pitches in a couple of
Okie
gigs. Considering that it’s the Rangers, if he gets more outs than runs
allowed, I expect he’ll be up soon.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Activated 1B/OF-R Tony Blanco from the 15-day DL;
activated
2B-B Henry Mateo from the 15-day DL and outrighted him
to
Harrisburg (Double-A); signed LHP John Halama to a
minor
league contract, and assigned him to New Orleans. [8/5]

Designated OF-L Matt Cepicky for assignment; recalled
OF-L
Brandon Watson from New Orleans. [8/8]

No, this doesn’t really fix the outfield, although I guess somebody’s
going
to notice that Watson steals bases and hit .354 in a couple of months’
worth
of play in the PCL. Unfortunately, Watson’s the sort of prospect the
Nats
have a few too many of: negligible power, little patience, and a
willingness
to run that you have to curb when it produces 17 times caught for the
33
successes he’s had this year (hey, it’s improvement, he was 18-for-35
in
2003). I guess we can now see the madness behind the steely willpower
that
made the end of Endy Chavez. At 23, Watson might pan
out,
but it’s more likely that he’ll make people remember Jason
Tyner
in his better moments.

As for Halama, I guess I can understand the necessity, although why him
or
Ryan Drese over Sunny Kim is angels
on
pinheads territory. Since somebody had to come off of active roster to
make
room for Blanco, a Rule 5 pick, it was Kim’s turn to visit and
disappear on
waivers, but the wire yielded up Halama, which is helpful as the Nats
try to
retain enough experienced depth in the organization to limp through the
rest
of the schedule.

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