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ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Optioned RHP Chris Bootcheck to Salt Lake. [8/11]

Activated LHP Jarrod Washburn from the 15-day DL; placed
C-R Josh Paul on the 15-day DL (sprained thumb),
retroactive to 8/8; recalled C-R Jeff Mathis from Salt
Lake. [8/12]

Optioned C-R Jeff Mathis to Salt Lake. [8/15]

Bootcheck gave the Halos one good start in two while filling in for
Washburn, but his lack of a serious out pitch showed in his drubbing at the
hands of the Devil Rays. As a spot starter and fill-in, he was adequate for the
needs of the moment. Now that Anaheim’s team is in what looks like a fight
to the finish with Oakland, it’s best that they have their A team on the field.

The real question is whether or not Washburn is really ready. The Angels were
worried last week, and against a feeble Mariners squad in Safeco, he still
managed to allow four runs in six frames. Add in that the Angels will have
to see a lot of the AL East in the month to come, and life doesn’t get any
easier for him: the Orioles and Jays are particularly stronger offensively
against LHPs, and it isn’t like the Red Sox are ever an easy opponent.

The idiosyncrasies of roster design are one of my petty delights, so I’m
intrigued by the apparent decision to follow what appears to be
organizational rote and replace Josh Paul, generic skinbag and third
catcher, with the franchise’s presumed catcher of the future without
actually giving Mathis much of a look-see. No, instead, he appears to be
fulfilling Paul’s purpose as a witness, fully prepared to testify that big-league ballgames have been played in his presence. Admittedly, that does
give Mathis an initial experience without any of the pressure of actually
playing in the middle of a pennant race, and I would suggest
that however much he’s improved upon last year’s awful season at Double-A,
hitting .282/.343/.485 at Salt Lake isn’t something that by itself makes you
forget Todd Greene‘s hype. Happily, Mathis is just 22, and
he should continue to improve in the years to come, but I don’t think now is
the time to assume that he can step in and replace either half of Los Dos
Molinas behind the plate.

No, the real issue probably wasn’t a formulaic desire to bring in a third
catcher to replace the third catcher, it’s the shortage of healthy bodies on
the 40-man roster. With Paul, Dallas McPherson and
Robb Quinlan all taking spots on the 40-man while residing
on the 15-day DL, the Angels were down to just a few healthy hitters in the minors who wouldn’t need to
have their contracts purchased, triggering another move to get someone off
of the 40-man. Mathis, Curtis
Pride
, Kendry Morales and Alberto
Callaspo
were the options. Morales has just been introduced to Double-A, Callaspo to
Triple-A, and neither look ready for even this much of an audition, so the
choice was really between Pride and prejudice, since we know that manager
Mike Scioscia does like having a third catcher.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Activated RHP Russ Ortiz from the 15-day DL, and RHP
Brandon Lyon from the 60-day DL; optioned RHP Mike
Koplove
and C-B Koyie Hill to Tucson; transferred
LHP Shawn Estes from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/13]

O woe, is there anything more upsetting than to be three games out of first place,
but perhaps a worse team than almost everyone you have to play for the rest
of the month? If it wasn’t for the essential onanism of the exercise and the
expense, you’d almost feel sorry for the D’backs. The fact that they’ve
basically had to stoop to employing a press gang to go to the DL and roust
some unready help is an admission that these may be singular Snakes, halt
and lame.

Neither Ortiz nor Lyon seem ready, but the alternatives involved
relying on guys like Mike Gosling, and that wasn’t what
this team signed up for so noisily last winter. Ortiz was signed to be the
staff’s ace, but it’s been symbolic of the season’s problems that he hasn’t
even been the durable third starter that even the most optimistic cynic
might have expected. In Lyon’s case, the bullpen has been a season-long
problem, with only one reliever pitching well all season (Jose
Valverde
; Lance Cormier seems to have been used up
by the All-Star break). Lyon gives the pen a third veteran reinforcement,
along with the equally immortal Buddy Groom and Tim
Worrell
. As three amigos riding to the rescue go, I don’t think
even Martin Short could make them any less effectual.

Basically, this was a great time for Joe Garagiola Jr. to get out of Dodge
and move into cushier and even less results-oriented surroundings.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Placed C-R Johnny Estrada on the 15-day DL (lower back),
retroactive to 8/7; recalled C-B Brayan Pena from Richmond.
[8/11]

Activated RHP John Thomson from the 60-day DL; optioned RHP
Kyle Davies to Richmond. [8/13]

Activated LHP Mike Hampton from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP
Macay McBride to Richmond. [8/14]

From one rookie patch to the next, the Braves’ season’s worth of quilting
keeps paying off. During Hampton’s latest absence, Davies gave the Braves
two starts they could win (and did), while McBride pitched creditably
outside of a particularly ugly outing against the Cardinals.

In Estrada’s
absence, Brian McCann seems more than ready to step in and
contribute from the bottom of the order on an everyday basis, much the way
the Cardinals boasted they’d get to do with Yadier Molina,
only to better effect. Although McCann has had a few rough moments behind the plate,
he’s expected to improve. He does seem to have helped deter the running
game, with opponents attempting steals less than half as often against him
than against Estrada (although they’ve been successful in eight of nine
attempts).

Meanwhile, the rotation is back to boasting its veteran cast, and while we
should all really like Davies’ future, I suppose the expectation is there
for the famous people to get the call come the postseason. On that level,
the Braves’ lead in the division offers some comfort, as they can afford to
let Thomson and Hampton ease back into their jobs, and ideally get tuned up
over the next six or seven weeks. Both did not look good in their initial
starts, however, and although the Braves won both games, I guess it’s
interesting to speculate how long either vet’s leash may be. Thomson hasn’t
had a good start since May 5, and Hampton since May 8, after all. Bobby Cox
made appropriately supportive noises after their initial outings, so it
might not be until rosters expand that either gets rested involuntarily
should they continue to struggle, because Davies will be back at that point.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Reinstated 1B-L Rafael Palmeiro to the active roster;
designated OF-L Midre Cummings for assignment. [8/11]

Optioned RHP Aaron Rakers to Ottawa; recalled RHP
John Maine from Ottawa. [8/12]

Remember (the) Maine? Not
that it’s going to re-stoke the boilers and fuel Baltimore’s bid for
contention, but it is nice to see them use Sidney Ponson‘s
absence to look at a homegrown farmhand who might actually be able to pitch
in the major leagues, instead of pitching an unready Hayden Penn into
the flames. No time
like the present to see if Maine, after spending most of the last two seasons at Triple-A, can be the next Josh
Towers
, or if he’s instead doomed to be the new Anthony
Telford
. When you’re a right-hander with four pitches you can throw
for strikes, but none of them are overwhelming, you don’t get called
“crafty,” you struggle to get taken seriously as a prospect, and you’re often
in danger of winding up as the staff workhorse in exotic locations like
Louisville or Pawtucket. In Ottawa this year, Maine had allowed 128 hits and
13 home runs in 128 1/3 innings, with 111 strikeouts and 38 walks. Less
impressive was his 4.56 ERA and 6-11 record. While scouts don’t expect Maine
to blow away big-league hitters the way he’s been able to dice up minor
leaguers, strikes are strikes, and it took Towers time to settle in.
Although I’d caution people about how seriously to take the comparables who
show up on Maine’s PECOTA card,
it does represent a testament to how well Maine has done in the minor
leagues with “just” command as opposed to great stuff. The Orioles
should afford themselves some patience with Maine. It isn’t like there
should be that much incentive to get Ponson back on the mound, after all.

I guess if I’m frustrated about anything, it’s that Rakers didn’t get a
legitimate shot, as the team instead keeps hoping that this time,
Eric DuBose will finally be helpful somehow. Better to
leave DuBose for September, when you might also finally work up the nerve to
cut bait on Jason Grimsley, seemingly that most deathless
of mop-up men. That’s the roster spot that Rakers should have his claim on,
and one which the Orioles should give him every opportunity to earn.

Finally, gosh golly, why are people booing Mr. Palmeiro? The president seems
to think he’s innocent. Perhaps our fearless leader is no more human than the rest
of us, identifying with a sports hero. After all, if you have something in
common, you may find yourself rooting for the guy; Derrek Lee went to the
same high school as I did, and has perhaps long since passed Larry
Linville
as El Camino High’s most famous graduate, and how can I not
root for a guy for that? In Bush’s case, I guess the common bond of telling
a few fibs to those mean-tempered grumps in Congress is just that extra bit
of cement.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Placed OF-L Scott Podsednik on the 15-day DL (strained
adductor), retroactive to 8/13; purchased the contract of OF-R Brian
Anderson
from Charlotte. [8/15]

As much panic as Podzilla’s departure for the DL is inspiring in fantasy
leagues around the country, the injury shouldn’t affect his availability
later on in the season, especially for October, and it shouldn’t put the Sox
at any risk for finishing anywhere other than first place. If anything, it
might give Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen reason to think about their
roster, who should be on it, and why. Guillen has been outspoken on the
subject of preserving the team’s chemistry as-is, but losing Podsednik does
serve as a necessary reminder that Timo Perez serves no
useful purpose. That Podsednik’s injury comes on the heels of losing
Frank Thomas for the year means the Sox really need to evaluate
what sort of hitting help they want to have on their bench.

Although Willie Harris would have made sense as a
replacement for Podsednik in left and as the team’s leadoff hitter, I don’t
think it’s such a bad idea to look at Anderson. The organization’s top
hitting prospect, he’s had a good first season at Triple-A this year,
posting triple crown rates of .295/.360/.470. His arrival isn’t a matter of considering him for really replacing Podsednik–Podzilla’s
job is his to have back as soon as he returns. Instead, I would think
Anderson’s blend of power and defensive ability represents an interesting
potential patch for Thomas. Carl Everett and
Jermaine Dye aren’t known for their durability, and neither
boasts a great rep in the field. If something happens to either of them,
somebody would have to step into the heart of the order. If Podsednik was
gone for an extended period, Harris would make a fine patch in the leadoff
slot, but if Dye or Everett break down, Harris wouldn’t be able to fix that,
Perez perhaps even less so. So I’m looking at Anderson’s call-up as a
low-key audition, a prospective evaluation that allows the Sox to see if
they should bother with a waiver deal for a veteran hitter.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Optioned LHP Rich Hill to Iowa; recalled LHP John
Koronka
from Iowa. [8/11]

Optioned LHP John Koronka to Iowa; recalled RHP
Todd Wellemeyer from Iowa. [8/14]

With the patience of a salmon gone a-spawning without eyes or a nose or a
compass or a liveried chauffeur, but who nevertheless still eventually finds
the right place to be at come the bitter end, the Cubs have once again
eventually bumped into the right group of pitchers in what appear to be the
right roles, and have to hope that it isn’t too late to get the party
started. Yes, it meant they first repeated the mistake of returning
Glendon Rusch to the pen, but now that Hill is in Iowa,
that’s done with, and Rusch is back in the rotation. And now that they have
two tender arms in the bullpen in the recently reactivated Kerry
Wood
and Scott Williamson, they do need an arm in
the pen who can give them multiple innings now and again. It could have been
Koronka easily enough, since he’s spent most of the season starting
ballgames down in Iowa. But so too has Wellemeyer, and Wellemeyer has a
great arm, which the Cubs remember now and again (at least up until Dusty
forgets, and starts seeing a new Kyle Farnsworth in every
corner). Put into a long reliever’s role, Wellemeyer should be able to show
off his 90+ heat, and perhaps finally stick. It’s certainly the right move
in terms of putting the best big-league-ready arms in the organization on
the spot while the Cubs try to keep their flickering wild-card hopes alive.
I may not perpetuate October ambitions, but it might help keep hope alive
that things will somehow get better next season.

CINCINNATI REDS
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Activated RHP Ben Weber from the 15-day DL, and optioned
him to Louisville. [8/13]

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Activated LHP Arthur Rhodes from the bereavement list;
optioned LHP Brian Tallet to Buffalo. [8/12]

Placed LHP Arthur Rhodes on the 15-day DL (knee
inflammation), retroactive to 8/12; recalled RHP Jeremy
Guthrie
from Buffalo. [8/13]

Optioned RHP Jeremy Guthrie to Buffalo; recalled OF-R
Jason Dubois from Buffalo. [8/14]

Looking for redemption from an earned reputation as a failed first-rounder,
Guthrie was here to help the pen compensate for the long-relief outings
thrown by Tallet and Fernando Cabrera in the days
previous, not as a reward for posting a 5.28 ERA in the Bisons’ rotation. It
made sense, what with a Scott Elarton start coming on the
13th, and sure enough, Guthrie got pressed into action, sparing the rest of
the pen from having to pitch in a loss.

But having spared them for a day, he was expendable, and the organization
seems to have started noticing that Ben Broussard‘s value
to the lineup is just about done. So now they’re looking at Dubois again,
with Jeff Liefer and Casey Blake getting
playing time at first base. Perhaps predictably, all Dubois did in Buffalo
was hit (three home runs in six games), and with the lineup’s need for some
power, a solution to Broussard’s inadequacy seems to be suggesting itself.
Ideally, Dubois should get the most playing time, since he has the most
prospective value to the team as a power source now and into the future,
while guys like Blake, Broussard and Liefer scrabble for whatever at-bats
they can get prior to the Indians deciding which of them to let go as
non-tendered free agents.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Activated 1B-L Todd Helton from the 15-day DL; optioned
1B-R Ryan Shealy to Colorado Springs. [8/10]

Transferred RHP Dan Miceli from the 15- to the 60-day DL.
[8/15]

I’ve belabored the curse of Helton’s contract and how it will handicap the
franchise for years beyond the eventual end of the O’Dowd regime, but it was
sort of nice to see Shealy provide a small reminder that finding a hitter
for first base isn’t that tough. I doubt O’Dowd can afford to take on some
significant chunk of Helton’s salary in order to make Helton someone else’s
problem, especially after already having to afford paying Mike
Hampton
to pitch for other people. But who knows? Considering that
several teams are stocking first base with mediocrities at the moment
(Doug Mientkiewicz? Travis Lee?
Tino Martinez?), maybe O’Dowd can achieve some sort of
miracle, and dump some salary before the memory of Helton’s twenties fade.

DETROIT TIGERS
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Placed OF-R Rondell White on the 15-day DL; recalled CF-L
Curtis Granderson from Toledo. [8/15]

Well, shame on me, I missed Granderson’s demotion, and while I would have
wailed, I guess you, gentle reader, were spared that particular exercise.
And just as well, since it was eventually set aright. It’s just as well:
Craig Monroe has his virtues as a fourth outfielder, but
nobody thinks he makes a good everyday center fielder, and his bat isn’t
good enough for either corner in anything other than a situation like this,
when an actual valuable regular like White has to hit the DL. If the Tigers
are taking their ’06 season as seriously as they claim to be, they’re better
off getting a sense of whether or not Granderson will be that team’s center
fielder, or if Dave Dombrowski has to go shopping for someone better than
Monroe or Nook Logan. I’m convinced that Granderson will
earn his keep, and while that might kill his bid for Rookie of the Year next
season, it’s better for the Tigers to do what they can to pursue team trophies, not
individual ones.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Activated 1B-R Carlos Delgado from the 15-day DL;
designated LHP Valerio De Los Santos for assignment. [8/13]

With the Marlins among the four or five teams who can still seriously
consider the NL wild card a goal, obviously it’s a good thing to get
Delgado back. It matters that much more when you consider that essentially
everyone not named Miguel Cabrera hasn’t been helping put
many runs on the board of late. While the Fish’s moundsmen (the Mongers,
perhaps?) have been doing a great job keeping games low-scoring, it’s too
much to expect that A.J. Burnett is going to win every
game from here on out, or that Todd Jones will never blow a
save. Getting Delgado might at least give the lineup some semblance of
balance so that Cabrera doesn’t have to try to do his best impression of
George Brett on the ’86 Royals. Who knows, if two people in
the lineup are hitting, maybe we’ll see more of the teams twin waterbugs,
Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre, scoring
runs and stealing bases and all that stuff the Fourth Estate’s more
reactionary members like to claim is the source of the Marlins’ offensive success.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Optioned OF-R Mike Edwards to Las Vegas. [8/10]

Activated OF-R Jayson Werth from the 15-day DL; placed LHP
Wilson Alvarez on the 15-day DL (shoulder). [8/11]

Of a sudden, the Dodgers almost have a fully-stocked outfield again, with
Werth in left and Milton Bradley in center. Although
Jose Cruz Jr. hasn’t done anything to help, they may not
need him to. Instead, Jim Tracy can always turn to some combination of
Ricky Ledee and Jose Valentin, and perhaps
Jason Repko in some spot platoon duty. As feeble as it may
seem, considering they’re more than ten games under .500, they are still
just five games out of first place, and the rotation is finally healthy, and the
lineup is getting good work out of supporting players like Oscar
Robles
and Dioner Navarro. The bullpen’s still a
disaster, but there’s little to be done for that, and when you’re a
contender in the NL West, you come with a few warts.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Recalled OF-R Corey Hart from Nashville; optioned UT-R
Trent Durrington to Nashville. [8/13]

Placed RHP Matt Wise on the 15-day DL (strained intercostal
muscle), retroactive to 8/9; placed RHP Julio Santana on
the 15-day DL (elbow tendinitis), retroactive to 8/10; recalled RHP
Jose Capellan from Nashville; purchased the contract of RHP
Kane Davis from Nashville; transferred 1B/3B-R Jeff
Cirillo
from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/14]

A mea culpa is overdue, because I wasn’t fair to the Brewers on the
subject of what they should be doing with their bullpen. As some readers
sensibly pointed out, both Mike Adams and Jeff
Bennett
have been on the DL down in Nashville, so the resurrections
of Rick Helling and now Davis are more matters of necessity
than of taste.

More happily, Capellan’s a different kettle of fish,
as one of the farmhands swiped from the Braves in the Danny
Kolb
heist. Although I remain hopeful that Capellan’s eventual fate
is to be a rotation regular, he struggled as a starter in Nashville, posting
an ERA over five, which in turn led the Brewers to convert the 24 year-old
to the bullpen in June. There, his high-90s velocity served him well,
bringing his overall numbers down to a 3.87 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 90 2/3
innings, although those numbers are blighted by 42 walks. Given his age, letting
him pitch out of the pen makes sense as an arm-saving move, but eventually,
you have to have to hope that Capellan masters his off-speed and breaking
pitches and resumes starting, since that’s the more valuable commodity. The
rotation isn’t a problem, though, so Capellan may well wind up being a
reliever for more than just the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to see Hart get called up, even though for the time
being, it isn’t expected to last longer than Brady Clark‘s
need to rest his ribs. Chris Magruder is nice as fifth
outfielders go, but that’s his ceiling, so the Brewers are taking the
opportunity to see what Hart will do in a few games. Considering Hart’s
going to get to start the three games the Brewers will play in Coors Field
this week, it gets a little more fun still. Hart’s progression from first
base to third to right field to center makes him about as interesting as a
prospect can be. How many guys keep moving to more and more difficult
defensive positions as their careers progress? Although an athletic 23-year-old, the real question is whether or not he can make it as a center
fielder. At 6’6″, he’s a virtual lamppost planted between the power alleys
since Dale Murphy was patrolling the sward in Fulton County
Stadium. Like Murphy, he can run, and as a hitter, Hart is going to stick,
having always shown power while shining in the three years he’s already been
above A-ball. This year, he’s pounded the PCL to the tune of .304/.375/.530,
enough to make him a potential challenger for a job in the outfield corners,
but if he can make it in center, the Brewers might be that much more willing
and able to pick up Carlos Lee‘s option for 2006.

MINNESOTA TWINS
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Placed INF-R Juan Castro on the 15-day DL (strained knee),
retroactive to 8/11; recalled INF-R Brent Abernathy from
Rochester. [8/13]

And so a shadow passed from the land of lakes, freeing its beefy residents
from the odium of observing daily perhaps the most egregious of errors
committed by their well-loved general manager. I guess the misfortune is
that the infield bogeyman will be back, as the name of “Castro” becomes a
bete noir for Boltons and the “ya hey dere” set alike. Besides,
Nick Punto is so now, so in the moment, so… blech. This
wasn’t going to be the Twins’ year for all sorts of reasons, but as long as
they continue to screw around with players who might not start for even the
Royals, they’re going to throw away a lot of great seasons from their
pitching staff.

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Optioned LHP Wayne Franklin to Columbus; activated RHP
Jaret Wright from the 60-day DL. [8/15]

Well, whether you consider him their third starter or co-fifth starter (tied
for that ignominy with Al Leiter), the Yankees broke Wright
back in the right way, letting him pitch on the road against the Devil Rays,
about as similar an experience as a rehab outing in Tampa as the major
leagues have to offer. Wright obligingly cranked out a quality start, and
now Red Sox fans can start freaking out about whether or not the Yankees
actually have a rotation for the rest of the year. Shawn
Chacon
has exceeded even my expectations for him, and I was one of
the few people who liked that particular acquisition, and if Leiter has
struggled, he’s at least tossing five innings every fifth day. At this rate,
the Yankees may not need Jason Giambi to hit 14 home runs a
month to be able to catch Boston.

NEW YORK METS
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Placed 1B-L Doug Mientkiewicz on the 15-day DL (bruised
lower back), retroactive to 8/4; activated 2B/SS-B Kazuo
Matsui
from the 15-day DL. [8/9]

Placed OF-R Mike Cameron on the 15-day DL (broken
cheekbones and nose); recalled OF-R Victor Diaz from
Norfolk. [8/11]

Signed RHP Shingo Takatsu to a minor league contract.
[8/12]

If you’ve been a fan for any length of time, some outfield collisions stick
with you. For me, it was when Dwayne Murphy and
Mike Davis ran into each other; Murphy never seemed the
same. I can only share the hope of Mets fans that Cameron’s recovery is
complete.

In the meantime, now that there’s a real possibility that Cameron
is out for the season, at least one of my colleagues has speculated that
this season’s great lost opportunity was dealing Cameron with a year to go
on his contract, but I’m not so sure. First, I don’t think the idea ever
really presented itself to Omar Minaya, since he built the ’05 Mets to win
now. More importantly, to who, and for what? A franchise first baseman would
be great, but who’s peddling those? It isn’t like the Brewers are just
itching to get rid of Prince Fielder, and I’d rather have
Cameron than Lyle Overbay. Michael Aubrey?
Injured, and perhaps nevertheless untouchable. Brad Eldred?
Eldred’s blend of skills and limitations are almost exactly the ones that
Minaya doesn’t seem to like, as if the Pirates would want to deal him.
Ryan Howard? Again, I’d rather have Cameron and make sure
that moving Victor Diaz‘s move to first was made posthaste.

So if not a first baseman, what? A second baseman would be nice, but again,
the young ones you want aren’t the ones you can get, and I wouldn’t trade
Cameron for a Josh Barfield or a Chris
Burke
. How about something win-now oriented, then, like
Alfonso Soriano? The rumor that the Mets might have gotten
Soriano and Adrian Gonzalez from the Rangers in a deal for
Cameron was one of the trading deadline’s most tantalizing, except when you
get to the part about the Mets having to throw in Yusmeiro
Petit
and Lastings Milledge, at which point it’s
completely nuts, even before you bring up that Soriano is an awful second
baseman and is prepped to make a killing in arbitration this winter. In
this particularly bright scenario, you wind up sabotaging your future,
spending extra to do it, and creating a defensive problem. I like Adrian
Gonzalez a lot, but not that much.

So instead Omar let it ride, and I don’t exactly blame him. I’m far more
frustrated with the little moves and the little-mindedness they represent,
like the failure to move Diaz to first base earlier in the season, or
assembling a seriously godawful bench. It’s in these sorts of margins that
the Mets have managed to help themselves keep the postseason so barely just
out of their reach.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Placed OF-B Nick Swisher on the bereavement list; recalled
OF-L Matt Watson from Sacramento. [8/14]

If Watson is going to make a case for himself to be on a postseason roster
beyond his nifty season at Sacramento (.313/.403/.524), now would be a good
time. Now that it’s known that Erubiel Durazo is out for
the season, it’s
Watson’s opportunity to make himself the obvious candidate if the A’s are going to carry an extra bat in October. Although
Charles Thomas hasn’t gotten better since his demotion to
the PCL, there are other potential rivals for Watson to worry about.
Jack Cust is having a useful enough season (.255/.402/.443)
in his increasingly Laga-like career (although to be fair, perhaps Phil Stephenson is a
better comp), and Freddie Bynum might be in the picture as
a utilityman and pinch-runner. I suppose that there’s also the specter of
Daric Barton getting an audition a la Jason
Kubel
last year, although that would start his service time clock a
little early.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Placed OF-L Jody Gerut on the 15-day DL (knee); recalled
OF-L Nate McLouth from Indianapolis. [8/11]

Well, here it is in a nutshell: the dilemma as well as the possibilities of
the Pirates outfield for the rest of this year, and no doubt the next one as
well. In addition to Chris Duffy and Ryan
Doumit
, McLouth is very nearly done with showing what he can do in
the minor leagues, and the question for the Pirates will be how to play all
of them. I’m a little less excited about McLouth than some people. His glove
might not cut it in center where Duffy’s clearly seems to, which means that
what you’ve got is a corner outfielder without a lot of power
(.297/.364/.401 at Indianapolis), and not a tremendous amount of patience
(one walk for every 11 plate appearances of so this year, an improvement
on ’04). But he does have speed (32 steals in 40 attempts), he is only 23,
and he’s already garnered a “gamer” tag that might help him stick as a sort
of faster edition of Darren Bragg. That might make him only
a prospective fourth-outfielder/tweener type, and that would no doubt
disappoint a lot of people, but it does make him an asset in a mix that might
have Doumit or Craig Wilson lumbering around in the
corners. If he doesn’t make it, I guess hope springs anew for the likes of
Tike Redman, although against that sort of failure, Gerut
can be the veteran insurance policy. Ideally, his knees will be up for it.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Activated LHP Chris Hammond from the 15-day DL; placed RHP
Adam Eaton on the 15-day DL (strained tendon – finger).
[8/9]

Activated RHP Rudy Seanez from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP
Craig Breslow to Portland. [8/12]

Placed SS-R Khalil Greene on the 15-day DL; purchased the
contract of SS-R Wilson Valdez from Portland. [8/15]

Desperation comes in all sorts of flavors, but it takes on a particularly
sad taste when it’s combined with limited goals and narrow margins. No,
activating Eaton didn’t work, and he lost potential rehab time waiting
around for the right circumstances for his being used in games to transpire.
No, losing Greene and having to rely on Damian Jackson at
short for the rest of the month shouldn’t kill you. No, having to count on
Seanez and Hammond to help stock your bullpen so that you might instead use
Clay Hensley to get Chan Ho Park shouldn’t
be that big a deal. But at this point of the season, whatever the indignity
of often looking up at .500 while leading baseball’s weakest division, it’s
there to be won, and every incremental improvement and setback looms that
much larger. Will Jackson or Valdez commit an error that some Fourth Estate
angryman calls the “turning point of the year”? Sure, it’s
possible. Will Seanez give up a mighty clout in the BOB that puts the Snakes
implausibly in first place? It might happen. But at this point, as
handicapped as the Padres are, they’re the still the tallest midget in this
particular circus, and their in-house solutions should not be so enfeebling
or dubious as to change that. Seanez and Hammond should prove useful, and
Valdez can play an adequate shortstop if Jackson isn’t up to it.

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Placed OF-L Chris Snelling on the 15-day DL (sprained
knee); reinstated RHP Ryan Franklin from the suspended
list. [8/12]

Optioned RHP Jeff Harris to Tacoma. [8/14]

Optioned C-R Wiki Gonzalez to Tacoma; recalled OF-R
Jamal Strong and C-R Miguel Ojeda from
Tacoma. [8/15]

In the realm of mythical creatures, somewhere between sahuagins and sylphs, I suspect we may
someday find the Snelling, a beastie of unlimited potential, rarely spotted,
often missing, and totally pervious to anything more dangerous than a
ladybug. That may not sound too fabulous, but let’s face it, it’s more
exotic than a pill-fed slugless slugger like Strong. At least Strong’s going
to get an opportunity, though, one he’s due, and one he should use to
demonstrate that he’s a useful outfield reserve in the making, offering OBP,
outfield defense, and the odd stolen base now and again. It’s certainly
better than summoning up a Spiezio, a
vortex of suck with the special power of making wood lifeless. Leave it to
the Mariners to want to see the Spiezio in action, and making absolutely sure
of that, but keep in mind, they’re busy playing with their interchangeably
mediocre catchers now that they don’t have Pat Borders to
kick around any more.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Gave OF-R Marquis Grissom his outright release. [8/10]

Placed OF-R Moises Alou on the 15-day DL (strained
hamstring), retroactive to 8/3; placed RHP Scott Munter on
the 15-day DL (elbow inflammation); recalled OF-B Todd
Linden
and RHP Jeremy Accardo from Fresno. [8/12]

Activated LHP Kirk Rueter from the 15-day DL, and
designated him for assignment. [8/14]

Activated RHP Armando Benitez from the 60-day DL;
outrighted RHP Brian Cooper to Fresno. [8/15]

There’s no time like the present for Linden, so if he’s going to play at any
point, it may as well be now, when the alternatives are Jason
Ellison
, Randy Winn and Michael
Tucker
, or Pedro Feliz on the days he isn’t
playing third. But however defensive or sniffly they want to get about its
being mentioned, this remains a lousy team, gifted with what might be the
worst lineup in the league. It’s better that they spend what’s left of their
year without Barry Bonds looking at who has some reason to be here once he’s
back. I may not be a Linden believer, but with him having slugged .682 in his third
full season at Fresno, there’s not a lot of point to leaving him on a
Grizzlies team that is no more likely to play postseason games than the
parent Giants are.

Gosh, Tyler Walker has 20 saves, so now that
Benitez is back
, this must mean the Giants’ bullpen is going to be
really, really good. Well, perhaps, but not so much for that reason.
Right-handed relief help has been the pen’s particularly sore spot all
season, and losing Benitez isn’t the only reason why. Acquiring
LaTroy Hawkins didn’t improve things, Walker’s just another
demonstration that saving 20 games isn’t an indication of skill, just
usage pattern, and now losing Munter doesn’t help. Still, with Benitez
able to pitch much sooner than originally expected, Hawkins getting further
removed from his Wrigley nightmare, Walker easing back into middle relief,
and with Accardo looking like a comer after blowing through Double- and
Triple-A this season, maybe Giants fans can at least enjoy some strong
bullpen work over the last seven weeks. And now that Rueter’s a memory and
Kevin Correia has taken his place in the rotation, it isn’t
inconceivable that the Giants might have good pitching from top to bottom
from here on out.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Optioned RHP Anthony Reyes to Memphis; recalled OF-L
Skip Schumaker from Memphis. [8/10]

Reyes made his spot start, did quite nicely, and left his card. He’ll be
back, and it’s nice to think that his debut has him nicely prepped should
any of the rotation regulars need to take time off in September.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Optioned LHP Erasmo Ramirez to Oklahoma; recalled RHP
Juan Dominguez for assignment. [8/13]

Dominguez has been pasted into the rotation to replace Ricardo
Rodriguez
, but it’s hard to know what to expect from him. He
spotted the Yankees a quick four runs before cruising to a seven-inning, 10-strikeout start, allowing five before his day was done. Promising, yes, but
his pitching in the pen earlier this year was promising, allowing one run in
8 2/3 innings. Then he allowed five runs without retiring a batter in the ninth
inning blowout he was brought into on July 9, “helping” make a
12-3 laugher into a more traditionally uncomfortable Rangers 12-10 win. He
was demoted immediately afterwards, his previous good deeds apparently
forgotten. Dominguez sulked and skulked on his way back to Oklahoma, earned
a suspension for his troubles, and then had to talk his way into
reactivation. It may not be a double helping of Pascual
Perez
-brand daffy taffy, but it isn’t just general cluelessness
either.

So now, is he going to stick? The Rangers claim they want solid citizenship,
and not something ugly like recidivism if he’s going to
get to stick around in the big-league rotation, however much they may need
the help. I guess there’s comfort in being noisily principled while seeing
the season slip into free-fall, but it’s just as well. Dominguez may or may
not be part of fixing what seem to be the annual problems with the rotation,
but you have to think that it’s going to be better to find out than take
another ride with John Wasdin, or take an even larger leap
of faith with James Baldwin. Dominguez may not have a third
pitch yet, but between his plus fastball and an occasionally excellent
change, that’s two more good pitches than some of the people the Rangers
have had to rely on in recent years.