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American League

National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Purchased the contracts of SS-B Erick Aybar, 2B-R
Howie Kendrick, C-R Mike Napoli, OF-R
Nick Gorneault, OF-Bs Tommy Murphy and
Reggie Willits and RHP Jose Arredondo;
outrighted RHP Dustin Moseley to Salt Lake; gave RHP
Matt Hensley his unconditional release. [11/18]

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Putrchased the contracts of RHPs Chris Britton,
Brian Finch, Jim Johnson, Ryan
Keefer
, Sendy Rleal, and Marino
Salas
, SS-L Brandon Fahey, and OF-L Nick
Markakis
. [11/18]

BOSTON RED SOX
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Released OF-R Gabe Kapler; purchased the contracts of LHP
Jon Lester, RHPs Jesus Delgado,
Harvey Garcia and David Pauley, and OF-Ls
Brandon Moss and David Murphy. [11/18]

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Re-signed INF-R Pablo Ozuna to a one-year contract;
purchased the contracts of OF-R Chris Young, OF-L
Jerry Owens, C-R Chris Stewart, LHP
Daniel Haigwood and RHP Charles Haeger.
[11/18]

Among the many lessons a conqueror and champion of no less merit than
Napoleon himself chose to ignore was that it doesn’t always pay to reward
everyone in your posse when you win big. Not that I’m suggesting that Kenny
Williams would make the mistake of making a particularly dim
brother-in-law the King of Naples
, but some people are fundamentally
important to your success, and some people, not so much. While many noted
the determination with which the Sox collectively turned up an
organizational nose at the suggestion of deadline deals to improve their
hand in-season as some sort of statement of character, I’m not quite so
sanguine on the subject of self-improvement. I’m certainly not sold on the
absolute necessity to have Pablo Ozuna as the team’s primary utility
infielder, but in his defense, he can run, make contact at the plate and
play the left side of the infield well, and all that has some value.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Purchased the contracts of OF-L Brad Snyder, 1B-L
Michael Aubrey, RHPs Brian Slocum and
Edward Mujica, and LHP Rafael Perez.
[11/18]

DETROIT TIGERS
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Purchased the contracts of INF-L Don Kelly, RHPs
Joel Zumaya, Humberto Sanchez,
Kyle Sleeth, Eulogio De La Cruz, and
Jordan Tata, 3B-R Kody Kirkland, and OF-R
Brent Clevlen; outrighted RHPs Adam
Peterson
and Colby Lewis to Toledo. [11/18]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Signed SS-R Wilson Valdez, OF-L Kerry
Robinson
, 1B-L Chris Richard, 3B-R Mike
Coolbaugh
, and RHPs Joe Nelson and Victor
Santos
to minor-league contracts; purchased the
contract of SS-R Angel Sanchez. [11/18]

Signed RHPs Adam Bernero and Seth Etherton
to minor league contracts. [11/22]

Wow, Mike Coolbaugh. Sort of like Scott McClain, he’s a guy
I always hoped would catch a break, but Coolbaugh’s going to be 34 in June,
and when you’re almost old enough to be a Ken Phelps All-Star for the SPBA, you’re not really a Ken Phelps All-Star any more.

I
guess it’s a sign of my wasted youth that I miss it, the true Senior
circuit, especially since the Arizona Fall League just seems to be extended
batting practice designed to get people revved up on the next James
Mouton
. Heck, it even gave me my favorite Peter Golenbock book, The Forever Boys. Still, I suspect
that Coolbaugh is right to rage against the dying of the light, and avoid
leagues where they let the fans play shuffleboard from home plate after the
game.

As for the rest, it’s slightly better than just a group of guys to pitch to
Omaha season-ticket holders. Santos will probably wind up in the Opening Day
rotation, which qualifies him as a bargain-bin find for a club that needs a
few, and Wilson Valdez might be just plausible enough to threaten
Angel Berroa with. Robinson and Richard both might make
adequate reserves, or at least slightly less loathsome ones than
Terrence Long. Richard will be 32 next year, so he’s not an
asset or anything close to the adequate regular he was in 2000-2001, but he
is finally back from his injuries, having hit .301/.379/.489 at Oklahoma in
’05.

MINNESOTA TWINS
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Purchased the contracts of OF-L Alex Romero, RHPs
Adam Harben and Pat Neshek, and LHPs
Justin Jones, Jose Mijares and
Errol Simonitsch. [11/18]

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Purchased the contracts of OF-R Kevin Thompson, RHPs
T.J. Beam, Matt Desalvo, Jeffrey
Karstens
and LHP Matt Smith. [11/18]

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Signed RHP Matt Roney to a minor league contract; purchased
the contracts of OF-L Andre Ethier, OF-R Javier
Herrera
and RHP Shane Komine. [11/18]

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Signed C-R Kenji Johjima to a three-year, $16.5 million
contract; signed C-R Corky Miller to a minor league
contract. [11/21]

I’m impressed. Talk about breaking with the past, it’s as if the team wanted
to dispel memories of both Dan Wilson and
Pat Borders on a single day. Johjima may well be the prize
of the winter’s crop of catchers, not that there were many catches worth
making, but he’s hit for power, is reputed to be an outstanding defender,
and if he’s not exactly a patient hitter, he’s Varitek-like in his
willingness to take a pitch and help his OBP towards respectability. Maybe
it’ll work out. Working against the move is the fact that he’ll be 30 in his
“rookie” season, not a good age for a catcher or any hitter, and
the unknown extent to which language or culture might represent a particular
problem for a catcher who doesn’t speak either English or Spanish, and
whether or not that power he’s hit for in Japan will translate at all well
into Safeco. I wouldn’t consider the descriptions of his being a “gap” power
source as all that promising, so I’d ratchet down any expectations that the
Mariners have imported the next Mike Piazza. At least the
broken leg that ended his ’05 early isn’t supposed to be a problem this
spring.

That language consideration may well influence the club’s choice of backup
catcher. Unfortunately, I don’t know if Miller is bilingual, but since he
can catch, and he’s not a complete zero behind the plate, he wouldn’t be a
bad choice. The alternative is Yorvit Torrealba, who does
speak Spanish, and if his expiration date as interesting trade bait is
closer than you think, he’s a more solid reserve to rely upon in the big
leagues than Miller is. Basically, a Johjima and Torrealba combo in the majors,
plus Miller in Tacoma, is probably about as good as it could get as a
solution for the Mariners’ perpetually awful catching situation, so credit
Bill Bavasi and company for doing something about it instead of observing a
mourning period of unseemly length for Dan Wilson. I mean,
let’s face it, four years is a bit long to miss a guy’s bat, especially when
it was only Wilson’s.

(To pre-empt Wilson defenders, just keep in mind that when I compared him
unfavorably to Dave Valle, it was for good reason: adjusted for all time, Valle’s career Equivalent Average was .255,
Wilson’s .246, and both were good defenders in their day. Wilson might be
able to afford cloning a few Dave Valles, though, not that I’d consider that
a real bragging right.)

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
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Outrighted OF-L Josh Hamilton to Durham; designated C-L
Pete LaForest for assignment; purchased the contracts of
1B-R Wes Bankston, C-R Shawn Riggans and
RHP Jamie Shields. [11/18]

Signed RHP Chad Harville to a one-year contract; designated
LHP Joe Beimel for assignment. [11/22]

I suppose that I’ve long since gotten off of the admittedly Smart Car-sized Harville bandwagon, but Tampa is
as good a place as any to re-acquire an element of desirability, and where
better than in the organization where fellow Oakland discard Jesus
Colome
looked useful? Having pitched in Fruit Drink Ballpark West
over in Houston, Harville’s even used to getting drubbed in places where the
juice is a product of the box you’re in, so that aspect of the Tropicana
experience won’t be unfamiliar.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Purchased the contracts of 2B-R Ian Kinsler, SS-R
Joaquin Arias, and RHPs Omar Beltre and
Wes Littleton. [11/18]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Purchased the contracts of RHP Josh Banks and 2B-R
Ryan Roberts. [11/18]

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Purchased the contracts of SS-R Sergio Santos, C-L
Miguel Montero, RHP Michael Schultz and
LHP Doug Slaten; outrighted SS-R Jerry Gil to
Tucson. [11/18]

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Outrighted OF-R Bill McCarthy to Richmond; signed RHP
Brad Baker to a one-year contract. [11/17]

Purchased the contracts of RHP Jose Ascanio, 2B-R
Martin Prado, 1B/OF-R James Jurries, and
OF-R Josh Burrus. [11/18]

Signed OF-L Mike Ryan to a minor league contract. [11/21]

Okay, I know these aren’t the moves that in themselves win you a pennant,
but I definitely like the decisions to look at Baker and Ryan. Baker is not
your standard relief prospect (if you’re one to believe in such an animal),
relying heavily on a change-up, but he can still dial it up around 90 now and
again. I certainly think that if Doug Jones could throw 90
once in a while to complement his change, he’d still be pitching.

Baker did
have a rough intro to the PCL this year, so after allowing nine home runs, a hit
per inning, and a walk every other in his 65 1/3 innings, there probably wasn’t a
lot of demand for him. I guess I consider his 74 strikeouts and his coming
over to Atlanta as reasons to think that, at the least, he could be as
temporarily handy as Wil Cunnane was in ’03. That’s at the
least; with or without Leo Mazzone, I like the possibility that the Braves
might make him into something.

Besides, the former Red Sock first rounder
(’99) had the good sense to be born on November 6, like me, so that’s
reason enough for a rooting interest (except in Chad
Curtis
, but the rest of us in the Walter Johnson
Club try to forget about him).

As for Ryan, he’s no prospect, but a lefty bat with a little bit of pop and
reasonably solid skill at staying on top of fastballs might have its uses in
a pinch-hitting role. Better than a Darren Bragg
resurrection, certainly.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Purchased the contracts of CF-L Felix Pie, 1B-R
Brian Dopirak, 3B-L Scott Moore, C-B Jose
Reyes
, LHP Sean Marshall and RHPs Carlos
Marmol
, Ricky Nolasco and Jae Kuk
Ryu
; designated OF-L Adam Greenberg for
assignment; outrighted LHP Russ Rohlicek, 2B-L Mike
Fontenot
, and 2B-R Richard Lewis to Iowa. [11/18]

While I’m pleased to see last week’s odd trio come back off of the 40-man, I
don’t think I’m contradicting myself when I also comment that all three
might make nifty pickups in the Rule 5 draft. Not great players, not the
next George Bell certainly, but if you need a lefty
reliever or a second baseman better than what you have (paging the Mets,
Rockies and Twins), Fontenot or Lewis would be worth taking a look at.
While both Lewis and Fontenot serve as reminders that “second base prospect”
is usually an oxymoron, and Lewis should remind everyone that people named
Richard Lewis aren’t funny, each has his virtues. Lewis is a year removed
from being the MVP of the Southern League, so while much of this year seemed
lost to recovering from a broken leg and flailing at the plate, he has some
promise. Fontenot continued to get on base at a steady clip, posting a .377
OBP in his first year in the Cubs organization, but his defense has never
gotten especially high marks, so it’s going to take a team that knows what
it wants and knows what Fontenot can deliver for him to get any real
opportunity.

CINCINNATI REDS
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Activated RHP Paul Wilson and LHP Jung
Bong
from the 60-day DL; designated LHP Ben
Kozlowski
for assignment; purchased the contracts of RHP
Travis Chick and 1B-L Joey Votto. [11/18]

Outrighted LHP Ben Kozlowski to Louisville. [11/21]

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Purchased the contract of RHP Manuel Corpas; designated LHP
Randy Williams for assignment. [11/18]

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Purchased the contracts of LHP Adam Bostick, and RHPs
Jose Garcia, Carlos Martinez, and
Allen Baxter. [11/18]

Signed 2B/SS-R Alfredo Amezaga to a minor-league contract.
[11/22]

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Outrighted RHP Jared Gothreaux to Round Rock. [11/18]

Purchased the contracts of RHPs Matt Albers, James
Barthmaier
, Felipe Paulino Del Guidice, and
Jason Hirsh and OF-L Josh Anderson.
[11/22]

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Claimed UT-B Zach Sorensen off of waivers from the Angels;
re-signed RHP Rick Helling to a one-year, $850,000
contract; purchased the contracts of LHP Manny Parra, RHP
Carlos Villanueva, 2B-L Hernan Iribarren
and CF-L Anthony Gwynn. [11/18]

Re-signed 1B/3B-R Jeff Cirillo to a one-year, $850,000
contract. [11/21]

Signed UT-R Brian Dallimore, 2B-R Brent
Abernathy
, C-L Mark Johnson, C-R Mike
Rivera
, and RHPs Jerome Gamble and Jared
Fernandez
to minor league contracts with spring training NRIs;
released RHP Gary Glover after he cleared waivers. [11/22]

Most of these are nice moves, equally defensible and sensible, so let’s get
the bad idea out of the way up front. There’s no way, particularly at this
time of year, that Sorensen is worth a spot on the 40-man, so hopefully,
he’ll get designated for assignment, pass through waivers, and create a spot
for adding another potentially useful arm to the organization via Rule 5. If
someone’s still thinking of Sorensen as the guy who was briefly touted in
A ball, they need to shelve that memory.

But on to the good stuff. Helling is an easy favorite for the fifth slot in
the rotation. Jose Capellan may get left in the pen, and
after a front four of Ben Sheets, Doug
Davis
, Chris Capuano and Tomo
Ohka
, the final slot is wide open. The notional contenders are
Wes Obermueller and perhaps Ben
Hendrickson
, should he conquer his reputation for stage fright in
the big leagues. Against that, Helling is a very nice hedge, someone who
could be an asset as a temp in the rotation, or an effective set-up man in
the pen, and finally trade bait at the end of July. As long as they don’t
skip over that last service he might provide, and as long as he earns that
final consideration, it’s a win-win situation for player and organization.

I’m also pleased to see Johnson and Rivera turn up here. This is the
organization that made the mistake of giving Damian Miller
a multi-year deal that cost them cash and a Jack Zduriencik draft pick. It
doesn’t help that they’re also stuck with Chad Moeller as
their backup backstop, when he’s yet to hit outside of the BOB’s confines.
So from the perspective of Johnson or Rivera, it’s a great place to be, and
happily for the Brewers, they shouldn’t be in a situation where they need a
Pat Borders pickup again.

Finally, I also like the decision to re-ink Cirillo. It’s only a year, and
for however many times he’s been burnt in effigy in Seattle or Denver, he
mashed lefties and may yet make a nifty platoon partner for Russell
Branyan
at third base. If that scenario doesn’t pan out, or if
the Brewers just decide that Bill Hall has to be their
everyday third baseman unless or until Corey Hart‘s latest
spin at the hot corner works out, Cirillo might still have value as a spot
starter at first for either Lyle Overbay or Prince
Fielder
, both of whom hit lefty.

NEW YORK METS
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Outrighted 1B/OF-L Todd Self to Norfolk; purchased the
contracts of RHPs Yusmeiro Petit, Brian
Bannister
, Anderson Garcia, and Henry
Owens
, and LHP Juan Perez; acquired 1B/OF-R
Xavier Nady from the Padres for CF-R Mike
Cameron
. [11/18]

So, young guy for veteran, and the Mets look pretty bright, right? Well, not
exactly. While I can understand the desire to move Cameron to a team that
wants him for center field, and the risk that Cameron might be less than a
reliable quanitity, I’m not sure that Nady really fills any particular bill.
He’s already 27, wasn’t particularly handicapped by Petco in ’05, and he
covers the outfield sward with all of the supple grace of a three-legged
wildebeest. He’s certainly not enough of a hitter to really resolve the
Mets’ continuing lack of a first baseman.

If anything, this is a deal about making room for salary, because it looks
like the Pads didn’t get any of Cameron’s cost absorbed by the big-market
ballclub. However, if this, plus letting go of Mike Piazza, all
gets thrown at the quest to bring Billy Wagner to town, I
guess I don’t see it adding up. Even if Ramon Castro and
Mike Jacobs cover nicely for Piazza, and if Nady hits well
enough, and if Willie Randolph finally just plugs Victor
Diaz
into the lineup, I don’t see this as a lineup that’s getting
better as much as one that’s struggling to remain adequate. The Mets were middle of the pack in 2005, and that wasn’t good enough. I think
they’re still at least one quality bat short, no different than last year.
We’ll have to see if Omar Minaya feels the same way, or thinks whatever he
does on the pitching side of the ledger more than makes up for it.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Purchased the contracts of OF-L Michael Bourn and RHP
Scott Mathieson. [11/18]

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Activated 2B-R Jose Castillo, LHP Sean
Burnett
, RHP John Van Benschoten, and OF-L
Chris Duffy from the 60-day DL; purchased the contracts of
SS-R Javier Guzman, UT-R Yurendell De
Caster
, RHP Josh Sharpless and 2B-R Craig
Stansberry
; signed RHPs Britt Reames and
Terry Adams to minor league contracts; designated 2B/3B-B
Bobby Hill, RHP Jeff Miller, OF-R
Michael Restovich, and CF-L Tike Redman
for assignment. [11/18]

Traded 2B/3B-B Bobby Hill to the Padres for a PTBNL.
[11/21]

Signed RHP Scott Strickland to a minor league contract with
a spring training NRI. [11/22]

Color me unenthused about the signing of Strickland. He’s
Chad Fox, only more so in the wrong ways, and less so in
the right ones. His last full season in the majors was 2002, so as signing
go, this may not even be a cut above trolling the Arizona Penal League. At
least the Bucs only gave him a split contract, worth $850,000 if he makes
the team. Nevertheless, I suppose it’s a better gamble than signing either
Adams (who retired after pitching badly everywhere, major or minor, that
would have him) or Reames (the early leader in polling over which pitcher is
least likely to need a nomme de guerre to describe his contributions).

Ditching Redman might seem harsh, but I have to think that he’ll wind up
somewhere. Guys with a modicum of power who can play center have value, and
if Redman is something short of a major-league regular, he’s not the worst
choice for a fifth outfielder if you have three solid, healthy regulars.
Or a bad case of the Corey Patterson blues.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Acquired CF-R Mike Cameron from the Mets for OF-R
Xavier Nady. [11/18]

Acquired 2B/3B-B Bobby Hill from the Pirates for a PTBNL;
signed 2B/OF-R Eric Young to a one-year, $700,000 contract.
[11/21]

I’m impressed that the Pads have done something about their long desire for
a center fielder, and in Cameron, they’ve certainly acquired a player who
should give them their best since the departure of Steve
Finley
. I’m not especially worried about his ability to play
center, even if he never did seem to adapt to playing right all that well
during his time spent flanking Carlos Beltran. The more
basic question is what sort of hitter the Padres will be getting, and there,
they’ve clearly accepted a big hunk of risk. If you look at Cameron’s ’05
PECOTA card, you’ll see that his best comps were Eric
Davis
, Reggie Sanders, Greg
Vaughn
and Ellis Burks. And while Harry Caray
might remind us that Ellis Burks backwards spells “silly scrub,” beyond the
unhappy propensity for injury, all were very good to great hitters who
retained value relatively late.

Can Cameron do likewise at 33, and be more durable? I’ll defer to our own
Will Carroll on the injuries and to the question of whether or not Cameron is
going to have any problems from last season’s collision or whether the
vision problems that started cropping up in ’02 are gone, but I’m an
optimist, and think that if Cameron passed his physical, the Pads are in the
clear. (For the curious, it was because the deal had not yet been
consummated, pending the outcome of a physical, that I didn’t comment on it
last week; same approach covers why I’m not commenting on the
Beckett-to-Boston move, without even bringing up last summer’s Larry Bigbie
imbroglio.)

Which takes us to where his career arc as a hitter was taking him. Consider
this spread, covering the last six years:


Year Age EqA
2000 27 .288
2001 28 .301
2002 29 .286
2003 30 .278
2004 31 .271
2005 32 .285

Now sure, the injury-shortened ’05 blurs an otherwise pretty
standard-looking decline, even with the wrist injury that hampered him in
’04, and even with corrected vision, he never does seem to have gotten
anything back. So if I had to hazard a guess, I’m thinking the Pads are
probably only going to get something like the hitter who the Mariners let go
after ’03, and perhaps something less. Will the defense make up for it? I’m
inclined to believe that it will, but in a lineup that’s going to be
handicapped with the arrival of Vinny Castilla, and still
short a corner outfielder and a first baseman, there’s a lot of work to be
done, and Cameron isn’t going to fix those shortcomings by himself.

As far as squeaking runs out of the margins and how that may become that
much more necessary in 2006, the Padres have paid attention to how they
stock their bench in the past, usually making a point to have handy
pinch-hitting weapons from both sides of the plate, and sometimes going out
of their way to find a particular platoon mate for a hitter like
Ryan Klesko. But I’m not so sure about the wisdom of adding
Hill and Young on top of a bench already manned by Geoff
Blum
. That’s three infielder reserves who can’t really play either
middle-infield position, and while Hill has a good rep as a pinch-hitter and
Young has done some damage against lefties and offers speed, I’m not sure
this is really the bunch for the bench that I’d make a point of going out
and getting at this early stage of the shopping season.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Purchased the contracts of SS-R Brendan Ryan and 3B-L
Travis Hanson. [11/22]

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Signed 2B/OF-L Marlon Anderson to a two-year contract.
[11/18]

If Jim Bowden goes to Boston, shouldn’t he be obligated to take some of his
current bad ideas with him? Anderson? He’s a step up from Carlos
Baerga
, I suppose, if that’s a metric of taste or talent anyone
should be using, but to blow a 40-man roster spot on him or someone like
Tyrell Godwin, when you could make a Rule 5 pick or two,
just strikes me as a complete disconnect from this team’s needs. He’s not
the worst guy from the Lenny Harris class of professional
pinch-hitters, but he’s not a defensive asset, and is someone who slugged
.391 really who you want to consider your thunder on the bench? Hitting .321
as a pinch-hitter this year certainly zotzed up his resume, but hitting
three home runs in the season’s final week off of equally dead Phillies and
Rockies squads are what got him up to that whopping .391 SLG. And to give
him a two-year deal? Sure, having people around to pinch-hit for
Cristian Guzman is a three-year job for this organization,
but Anderson’s not the guy I’d pay nearly $2 million over two years to do
it. Certainly, if you’re going to poor-mouth, you really shouldn’t be
spending your money this way. If you’re Nats fan, you should ask that
Anderson be handcuffed to the man who signed him.

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