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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Optioned RHP Matt Wise to Edmonton; optioned RHPs Elvin Nina
and Scot Shields and C Jason Dewey to Erie (Double-A);
optioned OF Elpidio Guzman to Lake Elsinore (A); assigned RHP
Steve Green and C Shawn Wooten to their minor-league camp.
[3/14]

Released LHP Greg Cadaret. [3/16]

Released IFs Archi Cianfrocco and Carlos Garcia. [3/17]

Assigned 2B Justin Baughman to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Announced the retirement of 2B Pat Kelly; released IF Jason
Bates
; optioned OF Norm Hutchins to Edmonton. [3/22]

No real surprises among the Angels’ cuts, as they sort through a lot of
journeymen bound for nowhere. The battle at second base looks done now that
Pat Kelly has retired. Scott Spiezio should get most of the playing time,
with Trent Durrington coming in for pinch-running, defensive substitutions,
and spot starts. (Ed. note: Thursday’s acquisition of Adam Kennedy
complicates this.)
Interestingly, Keith Luuloa is still in camp, and he
may yet be worth handing a couple hundred at-bats at either Spiezio’s or
Durrington’s expense. Even then, second base is a position the Angels could
upgrade with a waiver claim or two.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Signed 2B Craig Counsell to a minor-league contract; traded 2B
Jackie Rexrode to the White Sox for RHP Brian Scott. [3/17]

Optioned RHP Geraldo Guzman to Tucson; assigned C Ken Huckaby
to their minor-league camp. [3/19]

Dumping Rexrode for a run-of-the-mill minor-league pitcher is nothing short
of baffling. While Andy Fox’s injury can be used to explain the decision to
sign Counsell as a left-handed-hitting backup to Jay Bell, Counsell may now
have to be Tucson’s starting second baseman as well, since Rexrode was the
organization’s best player at the position above A ball.

What’s really disappointing is that in losing a good leadoff prospect like
Rexrode, the Snakes only get back a 24-year old pitcher with considerable
college experience (at San Diego State) who hasn’t gotten out of A ball
after three years. The best possible spin to put on this deal is that
somehow Jerry Colangelo is trying to buy a Reinsdorf vote to keep the
Snakes in the National League, but deals with the devil usually carry a
higher price tag than this.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Announced that RHP Everett Stull refused a minor-league assignment
and opted for free agency. [3/20]


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned RHP Richard Negrette to Rochester; optioned RHP Juan
Aracena
, 2B Carlos Casimiro, 3B Ivanon Coffie and OF
Luis Matos to Bowie (Double-A); optioned RHP Juan Guzman to
Frederick (A); assigned Cs Joe DePastino and Jayson Werth and
RHP Sean Maloney and LHP Matt Ryan to their minor-league
camp. [3/14]

Optioned SS Eddy Martinez to Rochester, and assigned OFs Wady
Almonte
and Billy Ashley to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

There’s something here that reflects the organization’s circumstances when
the only demotion of note is Billy "Son of Kittle" Ashley, signed
to back up the team’s backup DH, Jeff Conine. Hey, not every team has a
fallback fallback position at DH, do they?

The more important demotion to note is that of Jayson Werth, who’s moving
up the ladder fast and who might put Charles Johnson on the market by the
end of July.


BOSTON RED SOX

Optioned RHPs Jason Sekany and Tomokazu Ohka to Pawtucket;
optioned RHP Pax Crawford to Trenton (Double-A); assigned RHP
Dario Perez and IF Aaron Holbert to their minor-league camp.
[3/14]

Optioned 1B Dernell Stenson, 2B David Eckstein and LHP Tim
Young
to Pawtucket. [3/19]

The Sox demote some solid talent. Like every right-handed flavor of the
week, Ohka will be back as Boston’s fifth starter at some point, probably
even for consecutive turns in the rotation. Joe Kerrigan will teach him
something he never knew about pitching inside of a week, and the Duke won’t
wait to see if it works, because by the time Ohka has the pitch working,
someone like Scott Sanders will be available for a start or two. Then
Kerrigan will teach him something, he’ll look good for five innings,
and the Duke will find someone else on the waiver wire….

While it is amusing, an end to this cycle will come only when the Duke
decides to deal from strength. That will mean offering up someone like
Stenson or Michael Coleman for a good starting pitcher, but just one of
them probably wouldn’t be enough to fetch Brad Radke.


CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned LHP Brian McNichol to Iowa; returned CF Corey
Patterson
and C Angelo Encarnacion to their minor-league camp.
[3/17]

Optioned LHPs Micah Bowie, Scott Downs and Phil
Norton
, 2B/OF Chad Meyers and 1B Julio Zuleta to Iowa;
returned C/1B Alan Zinter to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Optioned 3B Cole Liniak and C Jose Molina to Iowa; assigned
RHPs Daniel Garibay, Mike Heathcott and Todd Van
Poppel
to their minor league camp. [3/22]

Buck up, Cubs fans! Okay, so Kerry Wood is still hurt. You knew that.
Ismael Valdes is damaged goods. Maybe he makes only 30 starts instead of
34. Sure, the rotation is down to Kevin Tapani, Jon Lieber, Kyle Farnsworth
and Andrew Lorraine. But remember how well things turned out last year,
when Ed Lynch craftily waited until the last moments of camp, then nabbed
heroes like Brad Woodall and Dan Serafini?

The initial expectation is that Scott Downs will get the call to be the
team’s fifth starter once the schedule actually demands one. Iowa’s
rotation (probably Van Poppel, Bowie, Downs, Norton and Ruben Quevedo) is
starting to look pretty good compared to the big-league outfit. In the
meantime, Don Baylor can weigh important choices like whether to carry Ray
King or Danny Young as a third left-hander in the pen.

Among the position players, demoting Zuleta despite the noise he’s made in
camp isn’t bad news. Glenallen Hill may yet go to the DL, which might make
room for Zuleta after all. Roosevelt Brown is hanging on in the hope that
Lynch doesn’t get that extra center fielder he says he’s shopping for.

In light of Chris Hatcher’s demotion Thursday, it looks like the Cubs are
going to carry Tarrik Brock as their sixth outfielder. While this ought to
defy description, it does bring to light how much the Cubs are handicapped
by the Japan trip, since they won’t be able to take advantage of
waiver-wire claims as easily as other teams. Otherwise, it means a bench
with only one right-handed pinch-hitter–Hill, if he’s healthy–and a bench
featuring players bad enough (especially Brock and Jeff Huson) to keep the
bad regulars regular (especially Damon Buford and Ricky Gutierrez).


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Optioned RHPs Lorenzo Barcelo and Jason Secoda to Charlotte;
outrighted RHP Joe Davenport to Charlotte; assigned RHP Matt
Ginter
, C Humberto Quintero, SS Esteban Beltre and OF
Aaron Rowand to their minor-league camp; optioned SS Jason
Dellaero
to Birmingham (Double-A). [3/14]

Acquired 2B Jackie Rexrode from the Diamondbacks for RHP Brian
Scott
. [3/17]

Assigned OFs Yamil Benitez and Steve Gibralter, LHP Mark
Buerhle
and RHP Jon Garland to their minor-league camp; optioned
3B Joe Crede, CF McKay Christensen and RHP Pat Daneker
to Charlotte. [3/22]

No real surprises among these demotions. The Sox have made it plain that
they don’t want to bring up Jon Garland until they feel he’s ready to come
up to stay. He’s had an impressive camp, and it doesn’t look like Cal
Eldred will last through July. It also probably doesn’t hurt that this puts
off starting Garland’s arbitration clock. Similarly, Joe Crede only needs
to prove he’s healthy at Charlotte. A couple of good months should be
enough to get him to Chicago.

The really fun pickup is nabbing Jackie Rexrode on the cheap. He’s an
outstanding leadoff hitter who got some time in the Sox organization last
year on loan from the Snakes. While he may not stick at second base, he’s
21, fast and extremely patient. He’s already shown he can hit at Double-A.
He’s young enough to improve at second, and good enough offensively to
consider converting to center field. For the sake of crosstown comparisons,
he’s a significantly better if similar player to Chad Meyers. That the Sox
managed to get him for an adequate college pitcher who was being shoved
aside by the great crop of pitchers they drafted in 1999 is nothing short
of a steal.

The over/under on how many games the Sox will finish ahead of the
Cubs–something that matters on the South Side–should start at 10, with a
solid shot at 15 or more.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Optioned RHP John Riedling to Louisville; assigned C Guillermo
Garcia
and UT Chris Sexton to Louisville. [3/18]

Assigned CB Pine Time Sanders and RHP Mark Wohlers to their
minor-league camp. [3/21]

Optioned RHP Eddie Gaillard to Louisville; announced that 3B/OF
Freddy Garcia cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to
Louisville. [3/22]

Slowly but surely, the Reds wind their way down to the roster we knew
they’d carry all along: Mark Lewis, Hal Morris and Alex Ochoa on the bench,
and Fonzie Bichette in right field. The only battle left is between Benito
Santiago and Jason LaRue for the right to caddy for Eddie Taubensee.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Optioned RHP Jamie Brown to Buffalo; optioned RHP Martin
Vargas
to Akron (Double-A). [3/14]

Assigned RHP Tim Drew to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Announced the retirement of LHP Mark Langston; optioned OF Scott
Morgan
to Buffalo; assigned UT Bill Selby and C Mandy
Romero
to their minor-league camp; released DH Ruben Sierra. [3/19]

Optioned LHP Al Newman to Buffalo. [3/21]

The end of the line for Langston, who despite the fun I’ve had at his
expense, I’ll seriously miss. How many pitchers could pitch for as many bad
Mariners and Angels teams as Langston did, and still wind up with a winning
record for his career? Plenty of media types gave him flak for somehow
falling short of greatness, but over the course of his career, he was
always one of the league’s best left-handers. I’m not stumping for a Hall
of Fame campaign here, just trying to give the guy his due. Like Dave
Stieb, he’s far short of the Hall, but deserves to be remembered as one of
the best of his day.

Otherwise, there are no real surprises here. Sierra is as done as he has
been throughout the Clinton era, and there isn’t any roster space for the
Indians to give Morgan more than a cursory glance.


DETROIT TIGERS

Optioned RHPs Erik Hiljus and Brandon Villafuerte to Toledo.
[3/14]

Released LHP Ramon Tatis. [3/15]

Optioned C Javier Cardona to Toledo. [3/17]

Optioned RHP Dave Borkowski to Toledo; reassigned RHPs David
Darwin
and Bart Evans, IFs Jesus Azuaje, Giomar
Guevera
, Marty Malloy, Kevin Polcovich and Carlos
Mendez
and OF Billy McMillon to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

If there’s any doubt about whether the Tigers need to be taken seriously,
the epic pickup of Shane Halter should lay it to rest. Rather than evaluate
whether or not Halter’s better than any of their other utility-infield
options, guys they’ve been able to watch all the way through camp, they’ve
effectively handed Halter the job. Picking the stiff you don’t know over
the ones you do, on the mistaken impression that Halter’s major-league
experience somehow makes him better, reflects a lack of thought typical of
a Randy Smith outfit.

Similarly, Billy McMillon is still a better player than Luis Polonia or
Gregg Jefferies, but the circular logic loop that traps talented hitters in
the minors because they’re the mythic "minor-league hitter" has
him doomed to Mudhendom.

Among the other talent the Tigers demoted, Cardona is a top-notch prospect
who should be a target for any team with a major-league hitter or
outfielder to spare. Do the Tigers have the talent on hand to improve? Yes.
Will they play it? As much as the choice to put Robert Fick on the roster
inspires hope, generally speaking, things still don’t look so hot.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Optioned RHP Joe Fontenot to Calgary; optioned RHP Nelson
Lara
to Portland (Double-A); optioned RHP Josh Beckett to Kane
County (A); assigned C Ryan Robertson and RHP Claudio Vargas
to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Optioned 1B Nate Rolison to Calgary; re-assigned LHP Scott
Comer
, Cs Brandon Harper and Matt Treanor, IFs Joe
Funaro
and Mendy Lopez, 3B Sean McNally and CF Abraham
Nunez
to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Not a surprising demotion in the bunch, although the Tigers should be so
lucky as to have a utility infielder as good as Funaro. Unfortunately for
Funaro, the Marlins are well-stocked with utilitymen, from Dave Berg to
Chris Clapinski to Amaury Garcia (assuming he doesn’t get a crack at Luis
Castillo’s job at second base).

The significant bad news is the injury to A.J. Burnett, which looks like it
may force Jesus Sanchez back into the rotation in the fifth spot. In
itself, it isn’t going to keep the Fish out of the World Series, but
Sanchez is still trying to recover from the workload Jim Leyland subjected
him to in 1998.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Assigned RHPs Jason Green, Eric Ireland, Tony
McKnight
, Brian Powell, Travis Driskill , Rick
Huisman
, Brad Kaufman, Rusty Meacham, Don Wengert
and Bryan Wolff, LHPs Wayne Franklin and Wilfredo
Rodriguez
and 1B Aaron McNeal to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Assigned RHP Wade Miller and Cs Scott Chapman and Frank
Charles
to their minor-league camp. [3/18]

Acquired C Carlos Maldonado from the Mariners for 2B/SS Carlos
Hernandez
; assigned SS Adam Everett to their minor-league camp.
[3/21]

With so many retread projects to choose from, not even the Astros could
look past Doc Gooden. Wade Miller will have to wait for his opportunity
while hopefully building on last year’s experience at New Orleans. It looks
like Jose Cabrera has a spot in middle relief locked down, where he’ll be
needed if neither Doug Henry nor Jay Powell iron out their problems.

It’s not a bad move for the Astros to nab a 21-year old catcher with some
offensive talent in exchange for their middle-infield organizational depth.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Announced David Glass has been selected to purchase the team. [3/14]

Optioned RHPs Lance Carter and Jeff D’Amico and OF Geofrey
Tomlinson
to Omaha; optioned LHP Justin Lamber to Wichita
(Double-A); assigned to Cs Izzy Molina and Paul Phillips, IF
Alejandro Prieto and RHP Bill Risley to their minor-league
camp; released RHP Clint Sodowsky. [3/15]

Optioned RHP Derek Wallace to Omaha. [3/17]

Assigned OF Jeremy Dodson to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Between the farce of the make-believe sale of the A’s and the non-shocking
non-decision that with Ewing Kaufmann dead and gone for seven years, his
chosen successor David Glass will finally buy the team, we can lay to rest
the idea that either franchise was ever really on the market. That ought to
make most of us reevaluate cherished notions about how unprofitable these
teams are supposed to be, but the "big-market, small-market"
paradigm is dug in pretty deep these days, and it’s going to take one hell
of a pair of forceps to pry it out.

Meanwhile, some of the more frightening journeymen brought in to shore up
the bullpen have been sent away. It still won’t be easy for both Jose
Santiago and Orber Moreno to win jobs from the various losers in the
fifth-starter fight and someone like Doug Bochtler, but at least
Wengert-style pickups like Risley and Sodowsky won’t be holding them back.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned RHP Chad Ricketts and 2B Jorge Nunez to Albuquerque;
assigned RHPs Jim Bullinger and Maximo Nunez, 2B Adam
Riggs
and UT Shawn Gilbert to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Optioned RHP Jamie Arnold, OF Kevin Gibbs and C Angel
Pena
to Albuquerque; assigned LHP Rick DeHart and OF Brent
Cookson
to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

The Dodgers are currently pretending that Todd Hollandsworth can play
center field on an everyday basis, and are still saddled with Devon White’s
turkey contract. Still, if Gibbs has a couple of good months in the PCL, he
might yet be able to force his way into the picture.

It looks like Angel Pena is going to have to have the facts of life
explained to him, since wrangling over his conditioning and his
relationship with Davey Johnson has seriously undermined his shot at
putting together a career.

Chad Ricketts may end up coming back by June, considering that the Dodgers
are wasting their time with bad-bet retreads like Mike Fetters.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Optioned RHP Allen Levrault and CF Chad Green to
Indianapolis; optioned RHPs Jose Garcia and Paul Stewart to
Huntsville (Double-A); assigned LHP Greg McCarthy, RHPs Greg
Mix
, Mike Rossiter and Ben Sheets, Cs Alex
Andreopoulos
and Obispo Bristo, UT Kurt Bierek, 2B
Mickey Lopez, IF Norberto Martin and OFs Matt Luke and
Brad Tyler to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Assigned RHPs Rod Bolton and Joe Crawford and C Creighton
Gubanich
to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Released LHP David West. [3/21]

Signed 3B/1B Charile Hayes to a minor-league contract. [3/22]

Certain situations get a wee bit clearer, and one gets somewhat murkier.
The rotation is basically turning into SoxFest, as it’s beginning to look
like three guys from the White Sox rotation in September of 1998 will be in
the Brewers’ rotation: Jaime Navarro, Jason Bere and John Snyder. With
Levrault demoted, and Kyle Peterson, Jamey Wright and Rocky Coppinger all
hurt, there are only seven contenders for the five spots, with only Steve
Woodard really deserving to be a lock. Rafael Roque or Juan Acevedo might
yet earn spots with a good outing or two, especially considering how badly
Jimmy Haynes has looked in camp. All in all, this is shaping up into a
rotation as likely to turn over four slots between Opening Day and June 1
as last year’s outfit was.

The catching situation has cleared up considerably, in that the Brewers
have tossed aside the one catcher they had who could hit (Gubanich) and
have lost Robinson Cancel to injury. The trio of Bobby Hughes, Tyler
Houston and Henry Blanco couldn’t fend off Charlie Moore if he decided to
show up in shin guards. The murky situation? Maybe, just maybe Charlie
Hayes will get a crack at beating out Sean Berry for the job of caddying
and platooning with Kevin Barker.

Is anyone else upset that it looks like David West will never get a shot to
add to his World Series fame? Maybe George Frazier is happy, in a Brian
Kingman sort of way.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned RHPs Dan Perkins and Brent Stentz and C A.J.
Pierzynski
to Salt Lake; optioned RHP Matt Kinney, LHP Mike
Kusiewicz
, 2B Cleatus Davidson and SS Luis Rivas to New
Britain (Double-A); assigned RHPs Rich Batchelor, Gus
Gandarillas
and Ricky Greene, C Jon Schaeffer, 2B Dan
Cey
, 3B Michael Cuddyer and OFs Bobby Kielty and
Michael Restovich to their minor-league camp. [3/16]

Optioned RHP Jack Cressend, LHP Benj Sampson, 1B Doug
Mientkiewicz
and C Chad Moeller to Salt Lake; assigned 3B
Brian Richardson to their minor-league camp. [3/19]

Call me a ludicrously interested party, but things are getting interesting
in the Twins’ camp. The catching situation has come down to Matt LeCroy,
Javy Valentin and journeyman Marcus Jensen, so even conservative old Tom
Kelly has sorted out the wheat from the chaff in dispensing with Chad
Moeller. They’ve bumped Minky out of the first-base picture, leaving a
three-sided fight among Mario Valdez, David Ortiz and Butch Huskey for
first base and DH playing time. Again, they’ve worked their way through to
the right candidates. I’m sad to see Luis Rivas not get a more serious
crack at Cristian Guzman’s job, but that will come with time.

With Corey Koskie and Matt Lawton playing every day, if LeCroy, Ortiz,
Huskey and/or Valdez play, the Twins could literally end up hitting nearly
twice as many home runs as they did last year. They might even push for 70
wins. Okay, that’s a baby step, but until the
Cuddyer/Restovich/Garbe/Kielty crop comes in, the Twins can take whatever
progress they can get.

Meanwhile, Kelly still has to sort through one of the deepest collections
of useful left-handed relievers in baseball, with Eddie Guardado, Travis
Miller, J.C. Romero and Rule 5er Johan Santana all looking good enough to
keep.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Optioned LHPs Brent Billingsley and Trey Moore, SS Tomas
De La Rosa
and 1B/LF Talmadge Nunnari to Ottawa; optioned LHP
Matt Blank to Harrisburg (Double-A); assigned C Yohanny
Valera
, 2B Jamey Carroll and OF Scott Hunter to their
minor-league camp. [3/14]

Acquired 1B Lee Stevens from the Rangers in a three-way trade with
the Blue Jays for 1B Brad Fullmer. [3/16]

Optioned RHP Guillermo Mota to Ottawa; assigned RHP Matt
Skrmetta
to their minor-league camp. [3/22]

Did the Expos need a left-handed thumper to bat behind Vlad Guerrero? Sure,
I think so. Did Felipe Alou make it plain he just wasn’t going to take a
shine to Fullmer, especially after last year’s infighting over punitive
demotions and potential grievances? Definitely. Is Lee Stevens the answer?
Hell, no.

Trading Fullmer now, when his value is low, is exactly the kind of mistake
the Expos can’t afford, no matter how wealthy Jeff Loria feels he is right
now. The Expos cannot afford to toss talent aside as carelessly as this,
and Stevens isn’t going to add squat to the team’s offense relative to
Fullmer. This deal smacks of the same short-sightedness that cost the team
Ted Lilly and Jake Westbrook, when the value of either and possibly both
could exceed Hideki Irabu’s within a few short years.

As much as the Expos need to make happy headlines to help them in their
quest to get local financing and local corporate support for
LaBatt/Molson/Jarry II/Loria Park in the next couple of months, the value
of this kind of PR is only going to last until around Opening Day. After
that, they’re going to have to generate a lot of spin to make a barely
mediocre team look good enough to rally around. And in the meantime,
they’ll have shed a lot of good talent.

If the Expos don’t get their publicly-financed stadium in the next few
months, then the gamble reflected in the money Loria is blowing on these
people will have failed, and we may get a repeat of the original "bad
news" in Quebec situation.


NEW YORK METS

Acquired 2B/OF Joe McEwing from the Cardinals for LHP Jesse
Orosco
. [3/18]

Optioned C Vance Wilson to Norfolk; assigned IFs David Lamb
and Domingo Cedeno, OFs Mike Kelly and Jason Tyner, UT
Mike Kinkade and 1B/OF Ryan McGuire to their minor-league
complex; granted Celebrity Garth Brooks his unconditional release.
[3/19]

Released 3B Charlie Hayes. [3/20]

Optioned LHPs Bobby M. Jones and Glendon Rusch and 1B/OF
Jorge Toca to Norfolk; assigned OF Curtis Pride and RHP
Dennis Springer to their minor-league camp; traded SS Jersen
Perez
to the Blue Jays to keep the rights to Rule 5 RHP Jim
Mann
. [3/22]

Steve Phillips begins to reap the bitter fruits of some of his dopier
off-season pickups. The Mets are fretting over who their fifth starter is
going to be, with Bad Bobby Jones out of the running and Bill Pusipher
never in it. Masato Yoshii would be pretty handy right around now, but
apparently Glendon Rusch has won the job, barring further organizational
infighting between Phillips and Bobby Valentine. Given the competition,
Rusch is the best choice for the job, but a Mets rotation built around
injury risks like Al Leiter, Bobby Jones and Rick Reed isn’t a source of
confidence, before even touching on a weakened offense.

Why the cycle of Rigo Beltran to Chuck McElroy to Jesse Orosco to a nice
piece of waiver bait like McEwing? McEwing’s major asset is that he’s an
arguably better utilityman than Kurt Abbott, and with space on the 40-man
roster tight, the Mets might not be able to add Abbott. The good news is
that they got rid of the right aging left-hander from among Orosco, John
Franco and Dennis Cook, even if it ended up offending Orosco.

The problem is that the acquisition of McEwing may lead to Benny Agbayani’s
demotion (and Jay Payton’s retention). While hardly tragic, it’s another
offensive downgrade on a team that’s already cut itself down in the
outfield and at first base, and carries Rey Ordonez’s toothpick in the
eighth spot.

If there’s really good news, it’s that Jon Nunnally should be a lock to
make the teams, and will hopefully chase Derek Bell to the bench during the
course of the season. The other good news is that no more PAs will be
wasted on Garth Brooks.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Optioned CF Donzell McDonald and RHP Ben Ford to Columbus;
assigned 3B/OF Mike Coolbaugh and RHP Mike Jerzembeck to
their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Acquired LHP Ted Lilly from the Expos as one of two PsTBNL in the
Irabu trade. [3/17]

Optioned RHP Jake Westbrook to Columbus. [3/19]

Optioned RHPs Ryan Bradley and Craig Dingman to Columbus;
assigned OF Luke Wilcox and C Tom Wilson to their
minor-league camp. [3/20]

Acquired RHP Christian Parker from the Expos to complete the Irabu
trade. [3/22]

The rich get richer, as the Yankees get another outstanding pitching
prospect from the Expos. Lilly is still recovering from a relatively minor
surgery, and should be pitching in May. If he has a good couple of months
in Columbus and if Ed Yarnall is struggling, he might get Yarnall’s job,
and he’s good enough to keep the spot. At least Parker isn’t a top
prospect, but getting Westbrook and Lilly after getting two solid years
from Irabu from the Padres in exchange for Ruben Rivera and a barrel of pig
snouts is looking like pretty neat trick.

On a more sorrowful note, it looks like the Yankees will be granting Joe
Torre a roster dispensation, as Tom Pagnozzi will be handed the backup
catcher job over minor-league veteran Tom Wilson on the basis of Pagnozzi’s
time with Torre on the Cardinals. While there might be some sort of
argument that it’s good to have a veteran caddy for a young catcher, Jorge
Posada is going to be 29 in August and has caught in two World Series. How
much more handholding would anyone need at that point? The answer is none,
and the issue ought to be considered a red herring. Pagnozzi’s inheritance
of Joe Girardi’s roster spot is an ugly little bit of cronyism. That after
years of proving that he can play in the minors, Tom Wilson won’t get
service time or union benefits because this sort of thing is simply
reprehensible.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Optioned LHP Eric DuBose, RHPs Chris Enochs, Kevin
Gregg
and Justin Miller, 2B/SS Josue Espada and 3B
Adam Piatt to Sacramento. [3/14]

Optioned RHPs Chad Harville and Ariel Prieto, LHP Leo
Vasquez
, 2B/SS Jose Ortiz and OF Mario Encarnacion to
Sacramento; assigned LHPs Tim Kubinski, Rich Sauveur and
Barry Zito, C Javier Flores and OF Greg Martinez to
their minor-league camp. [3/19]

No real shockers among the list of cuts, although you have to hope Chad
Harville will earn a shot in the near future. With the center-field battle
garnering the most attention, it would have been nice to see Josue Espada
or Jose Ortiz get more serious opportunities to push into the fight for the
utility-infield spot over Jorge Velandia and along with Frankie Menechino.
Both of them probably have more value in trade playing every day in
Sacramento than they would in rare sub opportunities for Miguel Tejada, or
more frequent time for the always-fragile Randy Velarde. Meanwhile, the
Sacramento River Cats (named in honor of the many tossed in?) are shaping
up to be a better team than the Marlins.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Assigned OF Jalal Leach to their minor-league camp. [3/17]


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Assigned RHPs Dave Stevens, Bronson Arroyo, Blas Minor
and Jason Phillips, LHP Clint Johnston, IF Eddie Zosky
and OFs Darryl Brinkley and Tike Redman to their minor-league
camp. [3/14]

Assigned LHP Brian O’Connor to their minor-league camp. [3/19]

Assigned RHPs Dave Pavlas and Cory Bailey and C Lee
Evans
to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Not a surprise demotion in the bunch. The non-story in Pirates camp is
still the notion that Aramis Ramirez has "won" the job at third,
as if there was any alternative. Along with breaking in Chad Hermansen, I
think we can all be glad that at long last Cam Bonifay has finally decided
to get on with the future.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Assigned RHPs John Ambrose, Jim Dougherty, Rick
Heiserman
, John Hudek and Chad Hutchinson, LHP Justin
Brunette
, C Steve Bieser, UT Casey Candaele, IFs Luis
Garcia
and Lou Lucca, 1B/3B Chris Haas, 1B Chris
Richard
, SS Jason Woolf and OFs Luis Saturria, Glenn
Murray
and Ernie Young to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Acquired LHP Jesse Orosco from the Mets for 2B/OF Joe
McEwing
. [3/18]

Optioned 2B/LF Adam Kennedy and RHP Luther Hackman to
Memphis; outrighted CF Dante Powell to Memphis. [3/20]

At long last, Tony LaRussa has his replacement for Rick Honeycutt. The
cover story for this pickup is that with mistake signee Scott Radinsky
hurting, the Cardinals needed a third left-hander for their pen (Mike
Mohler and Paul Spoljaric are already around). But you just knew TLR
couldn’t resist picking up someone who’s been around since the Carter
Administration. Even now, he’s probably scanning the waiver wire in the
hope that maybe the Snakes will cut loose Mike Morgan.

As for the rest of the cuts, once again, we see the bane of post-expansion
roster willies, as favored geezers like Brian McRae get preferential
treatment over better players like Ernie Young. Hell, you can extend that
argument to Shawon Dunston over Joe McEwing. While McEwing’s 15 minutes are
probably up, he would have made a good platoon partner with Fernando Vina
at second, a position Dunston still can’t play. While the Cardinals have
finally gotten serious about backing up the McGwire/Lankford duo with some
starting pitching, it looks like they’re going to be carrying a
Geritol-guzzling bench for the ages.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Optioned RHP Brandon Kolb to Las Vegas; assigned C George
Williams
, 1Bs Dusty Allen and Joe Vitiello, 3B Sean
Burroughs
and OF Ryan Radmanovich to their minor-league camp.
[3/20]

There are some pretty good players among these cuts. George Williams was an
All-Star last year, and should be starting for teams like the Cubs or
Brewers or Marlins. Heck, as a Wisconsin native, he’d be a great add for
the Brewers. Radmanovich and Vitiello could both have their uses on the
right teams, and Sean Burroughs should be the best player in a Padres
uniform in the new decade.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned RHP Kevin Joseph, C Guillermo Rodriguez, SS
Nelson Castro and 3B Pedro Feliz to Fresno; assigned RHPs
Kurt Ainsworth, Mike McMullen and Ryan Vogelsong, LHP
Erasmo Ramirez, C Sammy Serrano, SSs Raul Marval and
Carlos Mendoza and OFs Mike Glendenning and Pedro Mota
to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Optioned LHP Mike Riley, C Giuseppe Chiaramonte, 1B Damon
Minor
, and OFs Michael Byas, Doug Clark and Chris
Magruder
to their minor-league camp.
[3/20]

The Giants didn’t cut anybody who shouldn’t have expected it. There are
still some fun potential backups clinging to spots: Felipe Crespo and
Terrell Lowery are a couple of my favorite long-suffering minor-league
vets,and Jay Canizaro is still hanging on. There’s also the potential
wisdom of letting Aaron Fultz break in as the left-handed middle reliever.
That might put him in a great position to claim a rotation slot after the
All-Star break, once Livan Hernandez and Russ Ortiz burn out and/or after
Mark Gardner stages one Pearl Harbor reenactment too many in the Bay beyond
right field in Pac Bell Park.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Optioned LHP Rob Ramsay and RHP Ivan Montane to Tacoma;
optioned RHP Chris Mears to Lancaster (A). [3/14]

Optioned LHPs Steve Sinclair and Jordan Zimmerman to Tacoma;
assigned OF Brian Lesher, IF Ricky Magdaleno and C Dusty
Wathan
to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Acquired 2B/SS Carlos Hernandez from the Astros in exchange for C
Carlos Maldonado. [3/21]

In the confusion due to the transition from Woody Woodward to Pat Gillick,
some pretty solid pitching prospects that Woodward brought in last year are
losing out to the wave of free-agent pickups that Gillick has added.
Several teams would love to have left-handed relievers as good as Sinclair
or Zimmerman in camp.

The trade with the Astros nets the Mariners a nice utility infielder and
defensive replacement at second base, but they seem to have failed to
notice that the organization isn’t deep in catching. Dan Wilson is 31 and
hasn’t hit well for a couple of years. Maldonado might have been the
closest thing to a catching prospect the organization had. While last
year’s top pick, Ryan Christianson, is a catcher and had a nice debut,
high-school catchers are about as infamously high-risk prospects as you can
get.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Optioned LHP Mike Duvall and RHP Cory Lidle to Durham;
assigned RHPs Mickey Callaway, Terry Mathews and Marc
Valdes
, LHPs Doug Creek and Chris Michalak, OFs Josh
Hamilton
and Ozzie Timmons, C Paul Hoover and 1B/OF
Ryan Jackson to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Optioned LHP Jim Morris and RHP Jeff Sparks to Durham;
assigned RHP Matt White and LHP Bobby Seay to their
minor-league camp. [3/21]

There’s not much to say about this group. Duvall deserved a clean shot at
Norm Charlton’s job, but there was no way he was going to get it. On a
smaller scale, Creek and Michalak both have their uses. Lidle and Valdes
aren’t bad retread/rehab projects, but they need regular work in the minors
first. Paul Hoover is too old to be called a prospect, but has his uses.

To see Vince Naimoli’s money in action, don’t be afraid to motor over to
either Orlando and St. Pete, where you can watch White and Seay continue to
struggle.


TEXAS RANGERS

Acquired 1B David Segui and cash from the Blue Jays in a three-way
trade with the Expos for 1B Lee Stevens. [3/16]

Optioned C Cesar King, SS Kelly Dransfeldt, RHP Danny
Kolb
and LHP Doug Davis to Oklahoma City; optioned RHP
Joaquin Benoit to Tulsa (Double-A); assigned OF David Hulse
to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

Not a bad move for the Rangers to nab Segui. Given last year’s experiences,
they’re probably better off having Rafael Palmeiro DH as often as possible.
Lee Stevens gave them the best year he’s ever going to have, so cashing him
in now makes sense. Segui’s primary value is defensive, and he’ll probably
give the Rangers an OBP boost (over Stevens) that they could use. Letting
him walk after this year will be painless, and should help the team play in
next winter’s high-stakes free-agent market.

The aspect of the demotions I like best is that sending Dransfeldt to
Triple-A means Scott Sheldon really does have a shot. I’m bullish on what a
second-base platoon of Catalanotto-Sheldon could do (hell, bat it sixth).
The Rangers could end up putting together a very interesting team, with a
fun blend of last year’s stars, the guys they nabbed from the Tigers, and
Ken Phelps All-Stars like Sheldon, Tom Evans and maybe even Jason McDonald.
While it wasn’t all by design, it’s the kind of team that will be a much
tougher outfit for the A’s or Mariners to pass in the AL West.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Optioned RHP Matt DeWitt, LHP John Bale and 3B Casey
Blake
to Syracuse; assigned SS Felipe Lopez to their minor-league camp.
[3/15]

Acquired 1B Brad Fullmer from the Expos in a three-way trade with
the Rangers for 1B David Segui and cash. [3/16]

Optioned OF Andy Thompson and 1B/OF Kevin Witt to Syracuse;
assigned C Mark Dalesandro to their minor-league camp. [3/17]

Placed RHP Joey Hamilton on the 15-day DL (shoulder). [3/21]

Assigned Cs Charlie Greene and Kevin Brown and 3B Willis
Otanez
to their minor-league camp; optioned CF Vernon Wells to
Syracuse; acquired SS Jersen Perez from the Mets in exchange for
waiving a claim on Rule 5 RHP Jim Mann. [3/22]

It was good for Gord Ash to move beyond his mistaken retention of David
Segui. Brad Fullmer was born to DH, which means Carlos Delgado will get to
enjoy himself afield after all. While I would have targeted something other
than a DH who may not be any better than Kevin Witt and Andy Thompson,
there’s every reason to believe Fullmer will outhit Segui this year. Add
that to the salary savings, and the Jays might have some wiggle room to add
a much-needed starting pitcher. That’s the price of carrying Jim Fregosi
around as your manager, but the Jays finally did something to help
themselves win this year.

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