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ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Recalled SS-R Jerry Gil from Tennessee (Double-A) and
placed him on the 60-day DL; activated LHP Shawn Estes from
the 60-day DL. [9/9]

The Snakes are slowly curling up for winter, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone
that part of their endgame involves going to a six-man rotation intended
less to look at next year’s best bets than it is to give guys like
Russ Ortiz a chance to do something right, let Estes take a
derisive victory lap before wandering away, and take an initial peek at
Dustin Nippert. Claudio Vargas seems like
an odd choice to leave out there, but whether he starts or relieves, I think
we can count on his being a D’back in some sort of role next season. The
minor surprise is that, with the six-man rotation, they’re actually pitching
Estes, while shutting down Admiral
Halsey
. I guess it’s not a bad idea: Halsey may not have set a
single-season career high for innings pitched or for batters faced this
year, but pitching in the BOB’s cramped spaces with men on base probably
didn’t help take any of the pressure of his first full year in the majors
off.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Designated RHP Adam Bernero for assignment; activated C-R
Eddie Perez from the 60-day DL. [9/9]

Activated LHP Mike Hampton from the 15-day DL. [9/11]

The Braves’ rotation problems are lingering for longer than anyone would
like. A front three of John Smoltz, Tim
Hudson
, and Horacio Ramirez seem pretty cut and
dried. But who’s the fourth starter in a seven-game postseason series? It
does not look like Hampton can be relied upon. John
Thomson
‘s lone quality start in the five games since his return
from the DL involved giving up 10 baserunners in six innings against the
flailing Nats. Since replacing Hampton, Jorge Sosa has two
good starts in four, one against those same hapless Nats, the other against
the sun-bleached bones of the Cubs and their ambitions. On the other hand,
Sosa did torch the Cardinals in early August. Much as I think we should all
look forward to his future, and as outspokenly enthusiastic as I’ve been
about him all summer, Kyle Davies hasn’t had a good start
against a good team all year; he got experience and he was a helpful
fill-in, but expecting more than that would probably be a bit much.

Given those choices and those considerations, Sosa would seem to be the easy
obvious answer, but with Chris Reitsma‘s hammy giving him a
hard time, the pen is short-handed too. Without Reitsma, you’ve got a useful
threesome of Kyle Farnsworth, John Foster,
and Blaine Boyer. Oh, and Danny Kolb, a
gas can in sheep’s clothing. So that’s three, four if you have Reitsma, and
perhaps only Reitsma can handle two innings at a time, and he hasn’t done it
since mid-June. So we’re still left with the same decision tree we had a
month ago: if Sosa has to help shore up the pen, you have to choose between
Thomson or Hampton, and if you have to choose between Thomson or Hampton,
you’re gambling. Should help make October interesting, though, right?

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Re-signed INF-R Chris Gomez to a one-year contract for
2006. [9/13]

There’s considerable use for infielders who can play all four positions
pretty well, who also don’t need help running the bases, and who can handle
the bat well enough to fulfill any manager’s most involved small-ball
fantasies. Add in that Mr. Gomez has cranked out a lefty-wounding season
(.337/.404/.424), and that’s a heck of a bench player. It isn’t often you
can use your platoon first baseman as your utility infielder and vice versa,
but that’s what the Orioles should be able to do with Gomez and perhaps
Jay Gibbons next year.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Activated 3B-R Joe Crede from the 15-day DL. [9/10]

Crede hasn’t looked too rusty in his first couple of games back, and the Sox
are already saying they’re going to be careful with him so that he’s
ready for postseason play. The nicest thing you can say about Geoff
Blum
‘s three-week stint as a regular Sock is that he kept himself
ready to play; his average, OBP and slugging all dropped ten points each.
At this point, I wouldn’t automatically bet on Blum to get an October start
if a starter broke down, not with Pablo Ozuna and
Willie Harris around as alternatives. As a result, I’d
watch for what Ozuna, Harris and Blum do in the next three weeks, while not
worrying much about Crede. Crede will play, but it’s worth sorting out who’s
gaining favor with the Ozzeroo. Certainly, Harris could be this year’s
October hero for a moment, a la Dave Roberts.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Purchased the contract of 2B/SS-B Ryan Theriot from West
Tenn (Double-A); transferred RHP Kerry Wood from the 15- to
the 60-day DL. [9/12]

Recalled OF-L Ben Grieve from Iowa. [9/13]

Theriot’s call-up has less to do with a return of the former LSU star to the
organization’s good graces than it does with Ronny Cedeno‘s
broken hand. However, Theriot did hit well enough to regain some measure of
status: .304/.365/.391, plus 24 steals in 34 attempts. Although a bit of a
disappointment for a third-round pick from the ’01 draft, he is a
switch-hitter, has generally gotten high marks from scouts for his defense,
and he can run. I can imagine that he could still stick for some time
somewhere as a utility infielder. He is already 26, but it was clear he
wasn’t on a track for stardom when he moved up the chain as slowly as he
has.

As for Grieve, he’s up to give Dusty some reassuring offense, which means a
hitter with gray in his stubble. Dusty’ll be damned before he’ll do anything
so simple as just playing Matt Murton already. It’s all
somebody else’s fault, see.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Recalled RHPs Jason Davis and Fausto
Carmona
from Buffalo. [9/12]

Announced that LHP Arthur Rhodes has left the team for the
remainder of the season for personal reasons. [9/13]

Rhodes is going to be tending to an illness in his family for the remainder
of the regular season, as well as whatever postseason games the Indians make
it to. I think I speak for us all that this could not have been an easy
decision for him as a professional, but it was clearly a necessary one, and
it’s to Cleveland’s credit that they were willing to accept this. It does
put them on the spot, however, since they now only have Scott
Sauerbeck
to turn to for lefty situational work. Although he’s been
a nifty retreading project, he’s an extreme situational reliever, and he can
still get beaten by a good lefty power hitter. Having him on a postseason
roster basically forces you to use him early, lest your opponent pinch-hit
just about any right-hander to get you to take him right back out of the
game. I suppose he’ll come in handy against lefty-heavy lineups like the A’s
or Angels, but I just don’t see him having all that many applications
against either of the offensive monster teams out of the East, and there
isn’t really anyone in the White Sox lineup you need a lefty situational
artist to wipe out. We’ll see if it matters.

As for the Bisons who’ve come to town, it was definitely not a great season
for Davis. The demotion to Buffalo didn’t see him regain his prospect-y
sheen, not when he was allowing more than six runs per nine. He did strike
out 77 in 95 2/3 IP, so maybe a return to the bullpen is really where he’s
going to add value. I suspect that if the many injured arms in the
organization heal well, and Mark Shapiro enjoys his winter shopping, Davis
will be reduced to a chip for trade. Everyone loves mid-90s heat, after all.

In contrast, Carmona is a prospect of a different stripe, a lanky Dominican
string bean and strike-thrower. Only 21, he whipped through Double-A before
helping pitch Buffalo into the International League’s postseason. Relying on
a fast sinker, he still needs to figure out how to use his offspeed stuff to
get people to miss pitches, but a 106-35 strikeout-walk ratio in 173.2 IP is
an interesting starting point for someone so young. I wouldn’t suggest he’s
ready, but amidst the gaggle of good arms the Indians have in their system,
he’s the one who’s still healthy, very young, and who might just be a big-league starter when all is said and done.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Activated RHP Blaine Neal from the 60-day DL and outrighted
him to Colorado Springs. [9/8]

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Designated C-R Ryan Jorgensen for assignment; signed RHP
Paul Quantrill. [9/9]

Recalled RHP Chris Resop from Carolina (Double-A). [9/10]

Signed INF-R Mike Mordecai; transferred RHP John
Riedling
from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/12]

Quantrill’s a good claim, not simply because the Marlins are once again needy when it comes to finding adequate major-league relief
help
, but because he actually did some modestly good work with the Padres once he’d gotten the Big Apple out of his hair. Just on the basis of his Padres work,
Quantrill would be the fifth-most effective reliever the Fish have. Their
problem is finding a way to snooker MLB’s offices into letting them slip him
onto their postseason roster, which begs the question of why they didn’t
claim him off of waivers on August 31, when their need was equally obvious.
If they’d claimed him then, they wouldn’t have this problem, but happily,
there is the K-Rod precedent of lax postseason-roster rule application, and
maybe they’ll just luck out.

The Mordecai thing, if it’s just about making sure he qualifies for a
certain level of pension, that’s a good deed. If I remember correctly,
something similar happened to Steve Ontiveros‘s benefit at
the very end. But more basically, with Alex Gonzalez still
hurting, it isn’t like they couldn’t use a spare infielder. Damion
Easley
‘s hitting well enough in his absence, but Easley’s fielding
numbers aren’t good
, and at this late date, every play is under a
microscope. I’d still rather see them play Josh Wilson, but
let’s face it, does anybody really want the Lorians to win?

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Activated 1B-R Jeff Bagwell from the 15-day DL. [9/9]

The man, the myth, the legend… well, wait a minute, he hasn’t been dead
for all that long, so I guess it’s well and good to have him around to
pinch-hit during the Astros’ rush on the wild-card spot. It beats having to
ask Mike Lamb or Jose Vizcaino to rise to
any particular occasion. I mean, sure, it is fun when an Eric
Bruntlett
home run wins you a game
in extra innings
; there are some Giants fans who will never forget
John Patterson‘s game-winning September 1 blast against the
Braves back in ’93, and the Giants still blew it that year. I’m just
wondering if, as a pinch-hitter, Bagwell will also have to be pinch-run for,
rather than risk injury to the bum shoulder.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Signed 1B/OF-L Matt Stairs to a one-year, $1.35 million
contract extension. [9/9]

If anyone’s looking for a Kruk high that doesn’t involve tripping out by
drinking whatever Kool-Aid he’s dishing out on the boob tube, and prefers to
remember how much fun it is to watch a stubby white guy play, there’s always
Matt Stairs. I love watching Matt Stairs hit, love watching the man play the
field, basically, I love watching Stairs play baseball. But I’m frankly
baffled by his decision to stay in Kansas City. How many times can you take
the kids to the Negro League Baseball
Museum
? How much local barbecue can one man
eat
? I prefer the North
Carolina variant
, but either way, I’d get tired of it. And why wouldn’t
he want to go someplace where, I don’t know, the games matter, perhaps? It’s
an adult choice, I guess, and there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of
certainty. But to choose Royalty, that’s gotta be some form of madness.

NEW YORK METS
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Activated C-R Mike Piazza from the 15-day DL; recalled 2B-R
Jeff Keppinger from Norfolk and placed him on the 60-day
DL; claimed 1B/OF-L Todd Self off of waivers from the
Astros. [9/10]

Recalled LHP Dae-Sung Koo from Norfolk. [9/13]

So Piazza’s back, except he’s not now that he’s had his bean creased in his
first game, and the Mets are effectively dead anyway, and it’s all just a
matter of marking off the days until his free agency arrives, and whether or
not the Mets will offer arbitration first, and whether he’ll take it, and so
on in the usual big market dance between an expensive star player and his
diffident general manager. Between the happy things that have happened with Ramon Castro in the lineup, and the recent results of putting
Mike Jacobs at first, the Mets seem to have filled
out their lineup nicely enough without Piazza. Free agency awaits.

I really have no idea what the Mets are thinking in claiming Self. He’ll be
27 in November, he hit .298/.407/.460 in Round Rock’s bandbox of rocks, so
not for very much power, so he’s no prospect. If they don’t keep him on
their 40-man, as 2000 draftee, he’ll be eligible for minor league free
agency. Although the Mets have all sorts of major league bottom feeders
cluttering up their 40-man who won’t be missed this winter, is Self worth
keeping? Also keep in mind that they’re going to have to add Mike
Cameron
and perhaps Tyler Yates back onto it, not
to mention the cream of their 2003 draft class (or players signed as teens
before then) to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. I guess there’s some
satisfaction to be taken that it wasn’t a great draft class beyond
Lastings Milledge, but I’m just not convinced that Self’s a
good choice. He certainly fulfill their crying need for a real first
baseman.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Recalled LHP Ron Flores from Sacramento. [9/9]

Recalled RHP Jairo Garcia from Sacramento; purchased the
contract of OF-R Hiram Bocachica from Sacramento;
designated RHP Seth Etherton for assignment. [9/12]

Spare right-handed hitting outfielder, spare lefty reliever, fine, fine, but
I think we’re all more interested in Garcia, ever since last season’s rush
job. Who isn’t tantalized by the idea of giving Huston
Street
a co-closer or a set-up man who can dial up triple-digit
heat? His combined stats between Midland and Sacramento might seem nice
enough: 65 IP and 103 strikeouts have a way of impressing even the most
jaded prospect maven. It’s the 29 walks, 54 hits, seven home runs, and the
run allowed every other inning that makes it clear he’s not quite ready to
make the jump that Bobby Jenks did this season, becoming
more than a volcano and something more closely resembling a pitcher. But
that vision, of a Street and Garcia tag-team, that’s still worth holding
onto in the meantime.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Activated RHP Cory Lidle from the 15-day DL. [9/9]

However dire are the straights in this part of Pennsylvania–and where Rick
Santorum’s concerned, that’s dire dialed up all the way to 11–I
suppose the Phillies still seem to be able to desperately patch up a
rotation. Although Vicente Padilla‘s missing a start,
Gavin Floyd was there to take his place last night.
Robinson Tejeda‘s shoulder is sore, and he may only be able
to relieve when he does come back, but Lidle’s back just in time to perhaps
dish out some adequacy once in a while. The standards in play are pretty
feeble: as long as you’re giving up less than a run per inning, you’re
probably helping by their standards. When they’re really cornered, they can
always go back to Eude Brito, who seems determined to win
the Mason
prize
for important and necessary contributions at moments of team-wide
terror. (There’s something appropriate about trusting Masons in the cradle of the Revolution, no?) If everyone was healthy,
I wonder if Charlie Manuel would pick his spots with them down the stretch,
but with only five home games left and a big road trip to Florida and
Atlanta to look forward to, asking for a master plan is probably a bit too
much.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Recalled RHP Ian Snell from Indianapolis. [9/12]

Recalled SS-R J.J. Furmaniak from Indianapolis. [9/13]

Well, it’s a mixed bag, but it’s more of the good stuff that the farm system
is ready to offer up to the parent Pirates. Furmaniak’s just a utility
infielder in the making, one with a little more pop than your standard
issue, but your otherwise normal, presumably scrappy European-American. The
guy to see how they’ll squeeze him in going forward is Snell. He’s still
short for a right-hander, but he showed good velocity in Indy, striking out
104 in 112 IP, while walking only 23 and allowing 90 hits. It’s the 14
homeruns that aren’t quite so happy, but the team has the good sense to
finally bump Josh Fogg from the rotation and apparently let
Snell take the last few turns, not that a first turn back against the
Cardinals is a major favor. But he’ll be in the fringes of the rotation
picture this winter, as the club first sorts out what to do with Fogg,
Kip Wells, Oliver Perez, and Mark
Redman
. It seems clear that Zach Duke and
Paul Maholm will get two slots, David
Williams
has done well enough, so if David Littlefield keeps only
two of the veterans, that would put Snell back in Indy or in the pen, and
hoping to keep ahead of guys like Bryan Bullington and
Tom Gorzelanny. I guess I’m not going to get tired of
saying the Pirates are a team to watch, not only for their own sake, but
also because if your team’s looking for a veteran hurler, you might end up
with an ex-Pirate.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Activated RHP Pedro Astacio from the 15-day DL. [9/13]

Will he go back into the rotation for what might become a desperate stretch
drive? That’s the Padres’ problem: they’re desperate, but there are no easy
solutions. Astacio’s coming back from injury, and I doubt they’re willing to
just push him back into the rotation. Chan Ho Park is the
obvious, easy subtraction, but it’ll still take some nerves to do it, and it
isn’t like everything else is ducky, not with Jake Peavy‘s
shoulder giving him trouble. Adam Eaton has cranked out two
useful starts in four since he’s been able to throw his full repertoire
again, enough to tantalize you but also keep you worried, since it’s
involved facing three bad lineups (including the Rockies twice).

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Purchased the contract of OF-L Jaime Bubela from San
Antonio (Double-A); placed OF-R Jamal Strong on the 60-day
DL (broken finger). [9/13]

Having lost Strong as well as Chris Snelling in what should
have been ideal opportunities to look at each of them, the Mariners’ paucity
of plausibly useful organizational soldiers now gets to be shown off for
everyone’s benefit. Bubela is worth bupkus, a 27 year-old with no power,
modest contact hitting skills (.292/.340/.402), and enough speed to be
useful as a pinch-runner (40 steals in 46 attempts). He’s
outrightable when the time comes, whereas someone might think of
Gary Harris or Jon Nelson as a prospect.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Activated OF-R Reggie Sanders from the 15-day DL. [9/12]

As strange as it might seem, I’m going to suggest that losing Sanders and
Larry Walker has been a very good thing for the Cardinals.
Not only did it shake them out of their willingness to just rely on
John Mabry for most of their outfield reserve needs, it
forced them to take a look at John Rodriguez, and it put
So Taguchi on the spot. Now, instead of all Mabry all the
time, and perhaps a willingness to give Roger Cedeno the
benefit of the doubt, instead the Cardinals have an outstanding collection
of choices to turn to for postseason usage. Assuming Tony LaRussa learned
anything from his screwing up and putting Jose Canseco on
the field in the World Series in ’90 (or, worse yet, not being willing to
accept responsibility for the consequences of his decision), should the
Cardinals be put on the spot with either Walker or Sanders breaking down or
needing to come out, they have players on the bench worth turning to.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Recalled OF-B Jason Botts and RHPs Josh
Rupe
and R.A. Dickey from Oklahoma; purchased the
contract of 2B-R Esteban German from Oklahoma; transferred
RHP Nick Regilio from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/12]

Although Botts was behind Adrian Gonzalez on my list of the
young and aggrieved in Texas, even moreso than Gonzalez, it would have taken
a bit to get him into the lineup. Even with Richard Hidalgo
out of the picture, there was the team’s decision to get Phil
Nevin
for a chance to show he’s baked twice-over in the Texas sun,
proving to any doubters that he’s really done. And beyond that,
there’s also their reluctance to put David Dellucci in the
field. So Botts got to put the hurt on the PCL, bashing it at a
.286/.375/.522 clip, and although it isn’t exactly clear what opportunities
he’ll have next season, he shouldn’t have too much more to learn in
Triple-A.

A little more troubling is the decision to push Rupe up onto the big league
roster. Rupe is one of the prizes snagged from the White Sox in the
Carl Everett deal (the initial 2003 deal, not his
subsequent re-acquisition by the White Sox in 2004). And at least in the
first half, at Double-A, it looked like Rupe was finally establishing
himself as a prospect, using his decent four-pitch assortment to do well
enough at Frisco: four runs allowed per nine, a 55/26 K/BB in
65 IP. Then came his promotion to Triple-A, where he’s been awful, allowing
a little more than seven runs allowed per nine, although a glimmer of hope
can be found in his 62 Ks in 93 2/3 IP. Hopefully this is just a taste test
for him, and not a last look before making a determination on his status on
the 40-man, the way it should be with Dickey.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Activated OF-L Ryan Church from the 15-day DL. [9/9]

Sometimes, when it comes to youth, it’s better to have faith, instead of
searching out what’s comfortable and easy, like spending money on an
indulgence like Preston Wilson. Anyone want to join me in
nailing up a copy of this season’s TAs on the doors of the Nats front
offices? Okay, so that’s a bad idea, not to mention a wee bit
self-important, but the team has gone 21-35 since acquiring the squirrelly
Rockie, and they were 52-36 when they were going to Church on time.
Admittedly, that’s gotten more difficult to do these days, because Church
has been on the DL twice since July, and my rough estimate is that he’s only
made 18 starts since the All-Star Break, and they won only six of those
games. But I would have rather taken my chances with Church (and
Marlon Byrd) than ever think that a deflated Coors creation
was going to lead you somewhere other than down in the standings. Hell, I
would have rather brought J.J. Davis back. If you take the
opportunity to noodle through the links and look at the defensive
performances of Byrd, Wilson, Church, and Brad Wilkerson,
you’ll find that where the other three have been useful afield, Wilson’s
been as awful on the stat page as he’s appeared on the diamond. At least
Wilson’s a rental, unlike the despair-inducing pickup of Ryan
Drese
.