American League

National League

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Signed RHP Jeff Weaver to a one-year, $8.4 million
contract. [2/15]

There’s just about no way that I don’t like this deal. Right off the bat, it
saves the Angels the indignity of having to count on Hector
as a starter, and while he’s an expensive swingman,
better that they take their chances with 2005’s born-again career there than
every fifth day. Frankly, the pen could use the help, especially if
Brendan Donnelly keeps losing ground, because at this point
it looks more like K-Rod,
Scot Shields, and a Bunch of Guys than the all-around great
pens of the Angels’ recent past. So there’s an indirect but immediate

Then there’s the benefit of adding Weaver himself. He’s not merely a
replacement for Paul Byrd, he’s more likely to give this
team a starter as good as Byrd was last year than Byrd ever will be again.
PECOTA’s sunny on his
possible contribution
, and it isn’t implausible to see him as
potentially more valuable than Bartolo Colon. Other than
Weaver’s journey down to the Ed Whitson circle of
, he’s had a solidly useful career. Plus, maybe having Weaver takes that
much more pressure off of a comebacking Kelvim Escobar, and
more comfortably deposits Ervin Santana into the fifth
slot. It certainly gives the Angels the added advantage of not automatically
having to entrust Joe Saunders with a job in the rotation
in case something happened to any of the front five (if you counted Carrasco
among them).

Then there are the ways in which the financial and roster-minded outcomes
matter. The Angels got a quality starting pitcher for a one-year deal,
sparing themselves a considerable amount of risk. If Weaver thrives, they
can offer arbitration, keep him for just another year’s expense (not a bad
risk, given the danger with pitchers), or take the draft picks if he walks
instead of accepts. If, on the other hand, he sucks, it’s only one year’s
budget and one season that the franchise has to write off, the sort of loss
that a good GM can walk away from, and a potential predicament that Bill
Stoneman would be capable of resolving. That’s a much happier range of
roster and payroll-minded outcomes than deciding what to do once you’ve
spent an awful lot of money on Kris Benson or Russ

In short, it’s a division-winning sort of a move, one that makes Oakland’s
life more difficult right now, while doing nothing to endanger the ability
of los Angeles de Los Angeles from doing so for years to come.

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Announced the retirement of RHP/DH-L Brooks Kieschnick.

Invited RHP Andy Mitchell to spring training. [2/16]

Acquired 1B-L Andy Tracy from the Indians for a PTBNL.

Okay, what can I say, I’m very sad to see Kieschnick go. I’m not ashamed to
admit that he was my ideal 25th man, the sort of player that Doug
wasn’t ever going to be. Kieschnick could actually pitch
passably well now and again, and as a Three True Outcomes hitter, he was the
sort of bench bat that we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing driven off of
rosters and out of the game with the fascination with carrying six, seven,
and sometimes even eight relievers. Here’s hoping that the experimenting
doesn’t end with Kieschnick, because he got further than other possible
two-way projects, guys like Jeff Hamilton or Greg
. Let’s face it, at this rate John Van
isn’t doing his prospect status any favors these days,
maybe his best contributions could come as a pinch-hitter, spot starter, and
long reliever. Admittedly, it’s early to “reduce” Van Benschoten’s
horizons thus, but for those of us who loved having a real two-way bit
player around, it’s an area of hope. Let’s be fair here, after all: pitchers
like Dontrelle Willis, Livan Hernandez,
Jason Marquis, Carlos Zambrano or
Jason Jennings, those guys can hit well enough to be called
ballplayers and not just pitchers, while a player like Kieschnick is only
ever going to help you on the margins.

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Claimed LHP Rusty Tucker off of waivers from the Padres.

Consider this one of Kenny Williams’ nifty little moves. Not that I think
that Tucker’s going to pan out, but he is a hard-throwing lefty, and if last
year was a bit rough (49 walks and 11 wild pitches in 62.2 IP), he did still
strike people out (69 Ks) in a season where he was recuperating from Tommy
John surgery, and coping with some of the usual problems with command that
can come with that. Since Tucker’s command wasn’t too good to start off
with, I suppose you can cut him some slack. The White Sox had space on their
40-man after their various deals, and none of their NRIs looks like the sort
of player who might create any extra pressure on the roster. After how well
Bobby Jenks worked out, you can forgive Williams his
willingness to take his chances on another wild child who can bust beyond
the 90s with his heater.

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Traded 1B-L Andy Tracy to the Orioles for a PTBNL. [2/18]

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Signed OF-R Chad Allen to a minor league contract. [2/16]

Signed INF-R Benji Gil to a minor league contract with a
spring training NRI. [2/17]

Oog. It looks like Gil will be spending his time in the infield corners in
Omaha, while Allen will be similarly haunting the outfield corners. All in
all, these seem like pretty rotten things to do to Omaha, but I guess it
would eliminate any danger of the Royals being relegated to make space in
the majors for the major league affiliate. Allen’s shot at a roster spot
isn’t all that bad, actually, not when the organization doesn’t seem to know
what to do with Chip Ambres, and only has Aaron
, Shane Costa, and Kerry
as alternatives. He’s got all the makings of what this
winter seems to encourage us to believe is a Royal hitter: little power, a
modest amount of plate coverage, some bat control skills, and just enough
experience to make you think it means something.

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Signed RHP Scott Erickson to a minor league contract with a
spring training NRI. [2/16]

Announced the retirement of RHP Kevin Brown.

As much as Brown’s decision to call it quits might elicit all sorts of
raspberries from now-frequently disappointed Yankee fans, let’s consider
their receipt of Erickson as a punishment for any ill will they may still
bear, as well as a caution as to what the alternatives can be.

I guess I think of Brown the way some people think of David
or Curt Schilling, or the way I think all
sentient life on this planet felt about Mike Scott in 1986,
which is that he was not somebody you wanted to face in October. I know,
some will point to his losing three of four World Series starts, and Yankees
fans probably can’t see past his getting torched twice by the Red Sox in
2004, but that’s hardly fair. Brown was damaged goods at the point that the
desperate Bombers threw him out there against Boston, and if he doesn’t
pitch as well as he did for the Marlins and Padres in the Divisional and Championship
Series of 1997 and 1998, those clubs almost certainly don’t make it to the
World Series in the first place.

But my warm feelings for Brown’s performances aside, I know a lot of people
will be looking at his as a career that ended on a note as
characteristically sour as the rest of it. A good amount of that seems to be
the product of Brown’s personality, or more properly, the way media
interlocutors have portrayed him to the public. I don’t know if Brown eats
kittens or feeds them cream-fattened mice in his moments of kindness, and I
don’t especially care, because it was the quality of his work on the mound
that matters, and the quality of that work that made several teams winners.
I’ll look forward to what Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system has to say about Brown,
but I don’t think any of us expects him to be a Hall of Famer.

For grins, let’s compare Brown to the other 211-game winners in history, as
well as the four contemporaries closest to him in terms of career wins:

Pitcher          W-L    IP    Starts DERA
David Wells    227-143 3206.1  447   4.13
Mike Mussina   224-127 3013.0  443   3.62
Kevin Brown    211-144 3256.1  476   3.74
Bob Welch      211-146 3092.0  462   4.26
Billy Pierce   211-169 3306.2  432   4.02
Bobo Newsom    211-222 3759.1  483   4.22
Jamie Moyer    205-152 3139.2  485   4.31
Pedro Martinez 197-84  2513.0  352   2.90

For Defense-Adjusted ERA, I’m going with Clay Davenport’s All-Time figures.
I think it’s safe to toss Pedro out of this group; it’s interesting to see
an all-time great among a few peers, and get a sense of what he’s done, but
he’s only passing through this territory, not taking up residency.
Similarly, I think we can expect Mussina to far outstrip Brown. What does
that leave us with? Whatever glee we might take from seeing a historical
rascal like Newsom show up, I suppose if we had to squint and mistake one
guy for another, it would probably be Welch and Brown. Both pitched for
pennant winners and for champions, both were key starters on those teams,
and if Welch won a Cy Young where Brown did not, Welch didn’t have to spend
his career contending for it in a world that had Clemens and Maddux
and Pedro in it. Neither are what you’d call all-time greats, but you
don’t just beat people with all-time greats, you beat them with guys like
these, or George Earnshaw, or Jose Rijo. I
suspect that’s good enough for them.

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Signed RHP Carlos Almanzar to a minor league contract with
a spring training NRI; because of a pre-existing elbow injury, announced the
voiding of their contract with RHP Jeff Bennett. [2/16]

Almanzar’s still coping with Tommy John surgery, so he seems only slightly
more likely than Bennett to help. Still, he was moderately useful with the
Rangers in 2004, and even if Atlanta’s a Mazzone-free zone, stranger sorts
are having flyers taken out on them this early in camp. I mean, c’mon,
people at the Braves’ camp are talking up Chad Paronto, and
if that isn’t a symptom of “it’s February, people,” I don’t know
what is. Other guys gunning for the “Give Me My 15 Minutes”
Will Cunnane roster spot at the back of the pen include
Wes Obermueller, Mike Remlinger, and
Travis Smith. While talking about these guys might strike
you as unlikely, keep in mind that this team is hoping that Joey
is ready and Oscar Villarreal will stay
healthy. Out of this mess, if there’s a stealth pick for a genuine “out
of nowhere” contribution, I think the best choice will be Brad

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Signed 1B-L Scott Hatteberg to a one-year contract. [2/12]

Signed OF/1B-L Adam Dunn to a two-year contract, with a
club option for 2008. [2/13]

Signed OF-B Quinton McCracken and Legend-L Tuffy
to minor league contracts with spring training NRIs;
designated LHP Jung Bong for assignment. [2/14]

Signed RHP Luke Hudson to a one-year contract, and then
outrighted him to Louisville. [2/16]

Released RHP Josh Hancock, a spring training NRI. [2/18]

I guess I’m in the minority, but I don’t see the decision to sign up Dunn to
an extension as any particular brand of genius. If anything, such a choice
seemed like a necessity. What I’m impressed with is how it’s part of a
pattern of decisive and immediate action by new GM Wayne Krivsky, and
getting this done was part of a number of actions that indicate that there’s
a professional in charge, and one who isn’t afriad to make a few decisions
about how he’s going to run this organization and what is now his 40-man

Bong? Maybe useful, but he’s also coming off of injury, and not rehabbed all
the way just yet. So why not outright him, considering that at this time of
year, people’s 40-mans are generally packed to the gunnels, and rarely have
space for other people’s incomplete retreading projects? Hancock showed up
to camp seriously overweight, and the Reds took that as an opportunity to
bleed the roster early on. Pour encourager les autres, as the man once

Similarly, there’s a defensible logic to signing Hatteberg. Not as a
regular, of course–that’s somebody else’s mistake to have made. But if
Dunn’s locked in as your regular first baseman, and you’re counting on your
outfield to be Ken Griffey
, Wily Mo Pena, and Austin Kearns,
wouldn’t it be nice to have a reserve first baseman who might make it worth
your while to move Dunn back to the outfield if Griffey or Kearns breaks
down for two or three games, or a week? I know this makes for a bad spot for
Chris Denorfia, in that it almost certainly condemns him to
a return engagement in always-exciting Louisville, but what would you rather
do if you had Denorfia, stick him in a reserve role where he might not play
much at all, or keep him playing every day until Griffey breaks down
completely? Not that Hatteberg is all that good, he has his merits afield,
and he can probably handle a role that will involve a lot of pinch-hitting.
Better Hatteberg than a Lenny Harris-type, although I
admit, by that logic, why not a Roberto Petagine,
Mitch Jones, Joe Dillon, or Brian

Now, would I like to see Denorfia get a chance? Of course, but it should
involve his getting 300 PAs, which seems no more likely for him with this
group of players in front of him than it did for Brady
here a few years back. That’s the mistake I think we all hope
Krivsky will avoid, but he has other old business to take care of first,
like making Tony Womack somebody else’s problem. And while
the decisions to haul in McCracken can be taken badly (for good reason),
between Dunn and super-utility man Ryan Freel, manager
Jerry Narron has plenty of options on the roster as far as outfield reserves
without having a “classic” fourth outfielder.

Even if Denorfia is doomed or might only get an early season shot the way
that Gabe Gross did with the Blue Jays last year, Narron
will still have to sift through Jacob Cruz, Andy
, and the always-interesting saga of Tuffy Rhodes in auditions
for player usage patterns that might more closely resemble fifth outfielder
jobs. Also, if Freel serves as a primary outfield reserve, that might create
the playing time the team might want to invest in looking at William
and Ray Olmedo, at least to the point
that they choose to keep only one of them, and try to peddle the other,
since they’re relatively interchangeable.

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Signed INF-R Jesse Garcia to a minor league contract with a
spring training NRI. [2/18]

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Signed RHP Jose Lima to a minor league contract with a
spring training NRI. [2/14]

Which movie is it where Jason goes to outer
space? Why didn’t he go to New York first? Why is it that psychotic forces
for destruction and terror go straight from the flyover states to the
international space station? See, that’s where my suspension of
disbelief goes right out the window. I mean, I can see where we’d all
understand that a maniac bent on random acts of violence had to leave Kansas bleeding after only one
season, but why does he have to skip straight to terrorizing cosmonauts? Why
not someplace a little more logistically manageable, where you won’t stick
out (as long as you don’t smoke), and where you can get good dim sum? Okay,
so rationalizing the decision tree of someone with a machete probably isn’t
my strong suit.

Actually, come to think of it, as terror-inducing as Lima was last year, he
wasn’t too terrible in Los Angeles the year before, nor was he likely to
commit an atrocity every fifth day in K.C. in 2003, at least not before he
broke down. While I don’t believe it’s all that likely to work out any less
gorily than last year, it isn’t inconceivable, not if you’re willing to
believe that Rick Peterson is a pitching coach who can fix some people, and
not when the competition for the last spot in the rotation counts
Victor Zambrano, Alay Soler, John
, Darren Oliver, and, for all we know, Dieter
(he’s mysterious, imported, and a proven winner, and that adds up
to something, right?). And if Aaron Heilman has to go back
to the pen because Willie Randolph feels naked without him there or
whatever, that’s two spots in the rotation, open for your Limas and your axe
murderers alike.

It’s early on, so let’s not try to take too much too seriously, especially
where Jose Lima’s concerned.

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Unconditionally released spring training NRI RHP Joe Roa.

Roa showed up to camp forty pounds underweight, which sounds dangerous,
although I’m not one of my XXL-wearing colleagues, so maybe I shouldn’t
talk. But assuming Roa is perfectly healthy, skip baseball, maybe he needs
to be making appearances on The
, and trading tips with Star Jones on how to disappear.

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Claimed RHP Jason Anderson off of waivers from the Yankees;
designated RHP Kenny Baugh for assignment. [2/16]

Not a bad snag for the Pads, and if they probably should have pushed Baugh
out before Tucker (see the White Sox comment), I’d choose Anderson over
Tucker if it were me making out a 40-man, so no harm done. Baugh cleared
waivers and will be in camp as an NRI anyway, so no harm done there either;
the Pads are the team that wants to really take a look at the former
Rice star
, and no need to punish yourself too much for indulging their
curiosity. In the two years after being finally made into a full-time
reliever, Anderson has struck out 7.6 batters per nine in 128.2 IP in the
International League, walked 2.1, and given up 3.5 runs per nine IP. That’s
not stardom, but it might possibly make for a good guy to have around as
your eleventh pitcher in a park like Petco.

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Signed INF-B Scott Spiezio to a minor league contract with
a spring training NRI. [2/17]

Tony LaRussa likes his former Oakland cronies, which you might think spares
you someone like Spiezio, who didn’t stick until after TLR was gone. But
Spiezio finally made it up in 1997, just barely missing the bitter ending
when LaRussa and Sandy Alderson tried to win a last… something for owner
Walter Haas, a three-year morning-after that nobody would put out of
anyone’s misery from 1993-95. Spiezio was drafted by and came up through
Walt Jocketty’s Athletics farm system back then, though; Jocketty didn’t
leave for the St. Louis job until after the 1994 season. Spiezio probably
did play some spring training for LaRussa in 1995, but memory fails. You
might hope that he’s in no position to challenge for a job, but when the
competition for the bottom-of-the-bench infield job involves Hector
, Deivi Cruz, and Aaron
, do you want to bet that none of them has a bad camp, and
spare Cards fans from Spiezio? Hopefully, this is nothing more than an act
of kindness for the kid they once knew, and nothing more.

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Signed LHP Joe Horgan, RHP Saul Rivera,
and OF-R Ruben Mateo to minor league contracts with spring
training NRIs. [2/15]

One of Jim Bowden’s generally endearing but more usually frustrating habits
is his commitment to the concept of second chances. He likes having gotten
one, of course, but even before his surprising reincarnation as the GM of
the Nationals, he had a big-time hangup on being the dispenser of possible
redemption. If you were a former star or scrub, former prospect or
faux-prospect, and looking for a shot at recovering some small element of
your former fame, or someday having a shot at a better payday, odds were you’d
cycle through the Reds organization at some point. Now, perhaps all of
this sort of offseason mayhem was given its full range not as a matter of
taste, but because the Reds were an organization in which prospects did not
show up very often. You do have to stock your upper-level affiliates with
somebody, after all. Maybe that was all entirely Marge Schott’s fault, the
end result of being the GM of an organization that short-changed its
scouting and player-development staffs. Maybe not. Maybe that makes a man
qualified to run a similarly denuded Nationals organization, but it doesn’t
necessarily make him the guy to actually fix it. That’s where Nats fans have
to hope that scouting director Dana Brown delivers where Bowden and his crew
in Cincy did not, and there at least, there’s reason to believe.

But in the meantime, a worthy question about whether or not Mateo will ever
work out, and taking the time to find out, is no different than the team’s
similar fascination with Alex Escobar or Ty
. Yes, Mateo could be a nifty fourth or fifth outfielder, but
more likely, he’ll rot in Triple-A, the way that guys like Doug
, Mark Johnson,
or Roberto Petagine did playing for Bowden in days long
since past. There comes a point where minor league free agents need to
realize not all opportunities are created equally, because they are not
created by the same men in charge. You might remember Rivera from his days
in the Twins’ organization, when he was a short right-handed reliever with
promise. He’s still a short right-handed reliever, a little more nicked up,
and he’s drifted through a couple of organizations before posting a decent
season in Harrisburg last year (70 Ks and 20 BBs in 76.2 IP). Maybe Hector
Carrasco’s a source of hope for everyone, and you certainly can’t help but
pull for the guy, but the odds are long now that he’s 28 and still not past
Double-A. It would help if he were a lefty, but lacking Horgan’s good fortune
on that score, Rivera’s more likely to be left hoping.

Thank you for reading

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