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ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Reassigned RHP Chris Bootcheck and OF-B Reggie
Willits
to their minor league camp. [3/29]

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Released C-R Geronimo Gil. [3/29]

Sometimes, clearing space on your roster is like getting rid of something
from the attic, a box of junk you’ve left crumbling because you didn’t want
to figure out what to do with it, even when it’s full of velcro-fly pants
and Members Only jackets that you know should never see the light of
day. It’s taken the Orioles more than four years to get to this point, to
boldly recognize that Gil isn’t somebody they needed to invest 40-man roster
space on. It’s a pity they didn’t recognize this sooner. We don’t have a
metric to calculate the opportunity cost of using a 40-man roster spot
across four years and (more critically) through four winter shopping
seasons, so we have to settle for saying that when your backup catcher is
and always was no better than your average minor league vet, you owe it to
yourself to not let him gather dust.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Signed OF-L Grady Sizemore to a six-year, $23.45 million
contract extension through 2011, with a club option for 2012. [3/29]

It’s all part of the program, as Mark Shapiro locks up another one of his
homegrown talents. Although some might blanch at the expense, PECOTA
seems pretty comfortable
with Sizemore’s value over the next five years,
positing a market value of more than $40 million for him if he were a free
agent. (For more on Nate’s methodology and homework on this, check out what he
had to say last October
in Lies, Damned Lies.) Sizemore’s years
away from being able to capitalize on his ability as a free agent, so the
money in the meantime is a nice compromise, providing Sizemore with
financial security he might have lacked if he gets seriously injured, while
sparing Shapiro and the rest of the Tribe’s management crew the eventual
headache of arbitration. And beyond the moneyspeak, locking up Sizemore
through his Age 29 season is simply good business practice, likely to give
the Indians the best years of his career at a price they’re happy to pay.

DETROIT TIGERS
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Optioned RHPs Roman Colon and Mark
Woodyard
, SS/3B-L Don Kelly, and OF-B Nook
Logan
to Toledo (Triple-A); reassigned LHP Hector
Mercado
, 1B/3B/OF-R Mike Hessman, and OF-L
Alexis Gomez to their minor league camp; claimed C-B
Rob Bowen off of waivers from the Twins. [3/29]

Colon and Logan might be modest surprises among the demotions. Colon’s
spring wasn’t quite as impressive as a 3.63 ERA might suggest–we could start
with the 28 baserunners allowed in 17.1 IP–and the Tigers would rather he
keep trying to be a starting pitcher, despite last season’s successes as a
reliever and his career-long failures as a starter. We’ll have to watch and
see if he stays a Mudhen rotation regular and makes progress, or if the
Tigers finally do grudgingly return him to the pen. If they do, I think
they’ll find themselves happy with the results, and able to call on him to
help, but in the meantime, I wouldn’t suggest we got all melodramatic and
consider this a repudiation of last summer’s Farnsworth deal.

As for Logan, perhaps manager Jim Leyland talked him up to make
Curtis Granderson earn the job in camp.
“Organizational Catspaw” might not look great on a resume, though,
and Logan’s useful enough that he might crop up someplace else as a fifth
outfielder. Finally, although I’ve never been as big a booster of Bowen as
some of the prospect mavens who thought he’d be something, he makes a
potentially adequate backup catcher. The Tigers already have a better option
behind Ivan Rodriguez in Vance Wilson, but
if something happened to either Pudge or Wilson, better to have a warm body
like Bowen around than have to rush Danilo Sanchez up when
he still has to adapt to making the jump to Double-A.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Optioned OF-L Aaron Guiel to Omaha (Triple-A) and RHP
Leo Nunez to Wichita (Double-A). [3/29]

So the Royals pick their fourth outfielder, and it’s Shane
Costa
, with Guiel’s triumph over his own vision problems going down
to play to the home crowds in Nebraska, and with Chip
Ambres
dangling on waivers. Of all of these guys, I’d agree with
the suggestion that Costa might be the one with a future, but is he really
the one you want up right now, watching Reggie Sanders and
Emil Brown, considering that he barely has 100 games of
experience above A-ball? When Allard Baird mechanically states “we’ve
got to push some of our younger guys,” I’m left boggled as to why
the Royals re-signed Matt Stairs, or why they don’t deal
him now. I mean, if this is the new new priority to getting the team
back on track, how about a little consistency? Right now, I’d rather have
Ambres and Guiel, pocket the million bucks’ difference between Guiel and
Stairs, and let Costa get his at-bats in Omaha so that he’s really prepped
to replace Sanders when he gets hurt or Brown if his glovework gets to be
too much. Instead, it looks like the Royals can’t even do this poor-mouthing
and rebuilding thing right.

Also, courtesy of reader Bruce Rothsrein, I’ve been reminded that the Royals
actually don’t have to offer Esteban German back to the
Rangers, having instead acquired him through a Rule 5-derived trade, where the
Royals picked and sent Fabio Castro to the Rangers to add
German. So now, the Royals really only have to decide whether or not they
actually want German, and this being the Royals, who knows? He’s fast, after
all, and that… really just matters in fantasy leagues. Unless Baird is
operating the Royals as a Hacking Mass entry, it’s unfortunate that they
might keep guys like German, who makes a nice bit player on a good PCL team.
Regardless, my thanks to Bruce for setting me straight.

MINNESOTA TWINS
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Reassigned INF-Rs Luis Maza and Glenn
Williams
, and C/1B-R Shawn Wooten to their minor
league camp; released LHP Dennis Reyes; returned Rule 5
pick OF-L Jason Pridie to the Devil Rays; placed LHP
Dave Gassner on the 15-day DL. [3/29]

Willie Eyre stuck, and Francisco Liriano
is headed for the pen, and I credit them for doing the right thing in both
cases. Eyre might not be the best pitching prospect in baseball like his
comrade in mitts, but they’re both ready. Given that the Twins carefully
managed the beginning of Johan Santana‘s career in the
bullpen (some, myself included, grumbling “too carefully”), this
could be a great way of taking the edge off of the anticipation of having
Liriano on the staff while giving him a solid workload and the prep work to
be ready to step into the rotation when someone from the front five breaks down or
falters. I’m also pleased because it’s a matter of picking talent over
experience, and not making the “safe” choice of keeping Reyes as
the token veteran lefty. Liriano’s stuff is golden, while Eyre was actually
pretty tough on left-handed hitters last season in Rochester. The challenge
for manager Ron Gardenhire will be to use pitchers to pitch innings, and
worry less about situations, with this pair sharing the middle innings
with Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain,
setting up Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan. But
as general manager Terry Ryan put it, “We’re going to go with our
eleven best.” This is the sort of crew that won’t lose many leads. Now,
if only they could field a decent lineup…

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Reassigned C Keith McDonald to their minor league camp.
[3/29]

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Optioned RHP Clint Nageotte and INF/OF-R Mike
Morse
to Tacoma (Triple-A); reassigned RHPs Kevin
Appier
, Scott Atchison, Francisco
Cruceta
, and Sean Green, 1B/OF-L Greg
Dobbs
, INF-Rs Jose Morban and Cody
Ransom
, CF-R Adam Jones, and C-R Corky
Miller
to their minor league camp; placed OF-L Chris
Snelling
on the 60-day DL. [3/29]

Wow! So Roberto Petagine and Joe Borchard
win the last two slots on the bench, with Jeremy Reed set
in center field now that his wrist isn’t quite so broken after all. Although
this leaves Morse out in the cold, I do like this setup. Morse keeps showing
you bits of a complete player, but never all at once, never showing
consistency afield to make himself a reliable option at short, and outside
of 2004, never showing the power you want if you’re going to move him to the
outfield. He might make a nice enough supersub, able to play any outfield or
infield position, but that’s notionally what Willie
Bloomquist
is for, and Morse is short the requisite ‘q’ in his name
to make himself the team’s warm fuzzy. (Besides, ‘Morqse’ sounds like an
Inuit insult, ‘Morseq’ is probably some nasty liqueur from the Pyrenees, and
‘Q’Morse’ sounds like an arcade game about regret.) Morse can use the plate
appearances he’ll need if he’s to avoid a disappointing utility destiny,
while Borchard makes a nice put-up-or-shut-up fourth outfielder for the time
being.

And Petagine? Every stathead’s heart is probably going pitter-pat as you’re
reading this. It’s certainly sort of cool that he’s back with the
organization that gave Ken Phelps his eventual opportunity,
and similarly, Petagine makes for a good bet to cadge a few at-bats away
from Carl Everett in the DH role, when he isn’t
pinch-hitting for the middle infielders or spot-starting for Richie
Sexson
. It isn’t often that I’m happy about something the Mariners
have done, but this is pretty good, considering the alternatives.

Among the pitchers, after these demotions the pen’s last two jobs are down
to lefties Jake Woods and Luis Gonzalez
and two righthanders, Jeff Harris and Emiliano
Fruto
. If anything, this was an even tougher set of choices,
because there are reasons to like all of the pitchers sent down. Still,
every demoted pitcher can be safely placed in the “Show Me in
Tacoma” category, whereas Gonzalez is an interesting Rule 5 pick, Harris
and Woods both belong in the majors, and Fruto… well, he just seems to
have tickled Mike Hargrove’s fancy somehow–I wouldn’t take him that
seriously, given how terribly he’s pitched. The tough call is Gonzalez over
either Woods or Harris, because he’s clearly out of his depth.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
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Signed RHP Brian Meadows to a one-year contract. [3/30]

An unfortunate move, to say the least, because Meadows is thereby locked
onto the roster (he’s out of options), and there’s no reason for the team to
commit a roster spot to someone who’s nothing more than a junk-time pitcher. I
suppose there is the possibility that, if they got hard up for starters and
they didn’t want to rush somebody, they could always plug in Meadows, but
that seems overly cruel to an already brutalized local fan base.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Optioned RHPs Juan Dominguez and Edison
Volquez
to Oklahoma (Triple-A); reassigned RHP Jose
Silva
to their minor league camp; released RHP John
Wasdin
. [3/30]

Each lost out to the immortal R.A. Dickey in the fight for
the fifth slot, but either might be redeemed by Adam
Eaton
‘s injury. I’m just struggling with the concept of a world in
which Wasdin isn’t a Ranger, but moving past that, Dickey apparently won out
by breaking out a knuckleball, and that’s sure to get every
flutterball-fancier worked up. There are some niches of fandom that simply
are and probably always will be: fans of backup catchers as a group,
fans of utility infielders, and
the fans of knuckleballers. If you’re like me, you like them all, they’re
the odd ducks that you like not just despite but sometimes because of their
shortcomings. Dickey has less than a year’s practical experience with the
pitch, though, so I’m a little leery about getting worked up about this
latest plot development in the always-interesting Dickey story. In the end,
he may not ever really help the Rangers win all that many games, but he does
always add some sort of entertainment value.

But now, with the Eaton thing hanging over the Ranger’s heads, Dickey’s not
a cute experiment and designated team Bildungsroman, he’s
the fourth starter behind Kevin Millwood, Vicente
Padilla
, and Kameron Loe, and that seriously
alters the prospects of what might happen this season. If Eaton is lost for
a considerable length of time, hopefully no one will get too bent out of
shape over a year in which finishing behind the Mariners suddenly seems very
possible. In the meantime, although one of Dominguez or Volquez will likely
replace Eaton, both were basically awful this spring. Dickey didn’t win
the job on the strength of his allowing 25 baserunners in 14 innings.
Anyway, I shouldn’t get too worked up about these things: Wasdin’s expected
to sign a minor league deal, returning to his assigned spot in Oklahoma, and
ready for the callup that will come after the rotation mayhem that will
happen. To quote Ian McDiarmid at
his least creepy, I have forseen it.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Optioned RHP Jeff Bajenaru to their minor league camp;
placed CF-R Luis Terrero on waivers for the purpose of
giving him his unconditional release. [3/29]

Who do you think feels greater regret right now, Bajenaru because he didn’t
stick (again), even after a change of teams, or the White Sox, now that
they’re short-handed in the big league bullpen, particularly in
right-handers? This might be seen as particularly galling for Bajenaru,
since he’s been boxed out by Greg Aquino and Casey
Daigle
for the last spot in the pen. That’s not a bad thing, in
that Daigle’s improved his prospectus as a reliever: last season at Double-A
Tennessee, he posted a 50:18 K:BB ratio in 64 IP, and he’s struck out eight
and walked one in eight spring innings. Aquino, on the other hand, is
probably pitching for his professional life, because if he flounders as
badly as he did last year, he could wind up in Tucson or, worse yet, a Royal
or Rockie, and most people don’t survive that sort of ordeal easily.

What might seem shocking is the outright discarding of Terrero, but in a
world where Chris Young is the future and Eric
Byrnes
the present, Terrero’s best role as a Snake was as a
defensive replacement, and Bob Melvin and Josh Byrnes decided that wasn’t
what they wanted on the bench, especially now that it looks like they won’t
be carrying a fifth outfielder. If I were Terrero’s agent, I’d be ringing the
Marlins, and if the Fish have the sense to sign him, he’d be an upgrade on
Reggie Abercrombie or Eric Reed.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Reassigned OF-R Michael Restovich to their minor league
camp; optioned LHP Rich Hill to Iowa (Triple-A). [3/29]

Optioned RHP Roberto Novoa to Iowa (Triple-A). [3/30]

Restovich lost out to the wonderfully-named Angel Pagan,
but in terms of spring results, it wasn’t especially close: Restovich hit
only .184/.231/.327, while Pagan hit .405/.442/.919 (that’s what five bombs
in 37 Cactus League at-bats will do for you). Not that Pagan’s really a
slugger, but he is more useful than Restovich as a reserve: he can run,
bunt, play a solid center, and he’s a switch-hitter without massive platoon
issues. As offseason pickups go, he was actually a pretty sweet minor snag
by general manager Jim Hendry. You might feel that with John
Mabry
and Jerry Hairston Jr. around as the other
primary outfield reserves that the Cubs really could have spared a slot for
some right-handed power, but Restovich’s career hasn’t been of the sort of
quality that he can get a free pass on spring performance. Besides, sadly
enough, it doesn’t look like the Cubs have any intention of platooning
Jacque Jones. What was good enough to help the Twins come
up short is apparently good enough to do likewise in Wrigleyville.

CINCINNATI REDS
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Optioned LHP Brian Shackelford, 2B/SS-R William
Bergolla
, and INF-B Matt Kata to Louisville
(Triple-A). [3/29]

Sending down Bergolla and Kata, sure, that makes sense, the team’s not going
to move past the Womack Experience until the standard symptoms of nausea and
regret get to them. (Pity Louisville, though, because an infield with those
two and Ray Olmedo is the start of a lineup that
International League pitchers will be begging to face.) But Shackelford,
after a pretty good partial season in the majors last year? I suppose this
is the natural product of the decision to add Chris
Hammond
, since they already had Kent Mercker. I
suppose the positive spin to put on this is that general manager Wayne
Krivsky can afford to deal one of his veteran lefties later on this season.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Placed RHPs Scott Dohmann (infection) and
Byung-Hyun Kim (hamstring) on the 15-day DL; optioned
SS/2B-L Omar Quintanilla and OF-R Ryan
Spilborghs
to Colorado Springs (Triple-A). [3/29]

Placed SS-R Josh Wilson on the 60-day DL (broken toe).
[3/30]

The Rockies have an interesting problem, as all sorts of options for the
Opening Day roster seem to be about to get to the DL, if they didn’t already
just get placed there. Beyond Spilborghs’ demotion, Jorge
Piedra
and Ryan Shealy both seem bound for the DL.
All of which means that Choo Freeman is going to stick as
an outfield reserve, and also Eli Marrero as Brad
Hawpe
‘s defensive replacement and probable platoon partner. What’s
ugly is the proposed crew of infield reserves: Jamey
Carroll
and Jason Smith? This on top of the
execrable Luis Gonzalez adds up to a completely unpromising
collection of possible second basemen, or reason to ponder Quintanilla’s
virtues before Troy Tulowitzki pushes Clint
Barmes
to second and makes the whole debate academic. If there’s
something for Rockies fans to look forward to, it’s that infield, with
Ian Stewart flanking them at third. Besides, Quintanilla
didn’t help himself any, posting a pretty poor camp performance.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Optioned LHP Scott Olsen to Albuquerque (Triple-A);
released RHP Kerry Ligtenberg and PH-L Lenny
Harris
outright; reassigned OF-L Matt Cepicky and
UT-R Mike Kinkade to their minor league camp. [3/29]

Steven Goldman’s appropriate concerns aside, I keep finding reasons to
actually get more and more interested in the Marlins this spring. Maybe it’s
my natural sympathies for the underdog, or that I was the kind of kid who
brought home strays. My interest in seeing what sort
of manager Joe Girardi will be
is part of it, too. And then the Fish,
Girardi and general manager Larry Beinfest both, go and make some pretty
hard choices, the kinds of cuts that might generate criticism from people
already worried about asking “who are these guys?”, and I simply
find myself that much more impressed.

First, the decisions to cut loose Harris and Ligtenberg, “name”
players, but also guys with no chance of helping this team do any better on
the field, save through some sort of mentoring role in the clubhouse. It’s
pretty bold for a rookie manager to have made this choice, when it would
have been defensible to keep both or either for veteran presence or
whatever. Instead, it looks like they’ll feature a bullpen with only
Joe Borowski around to provide the age thing, although none
of the kids should get too comfortable. Olsen will apparently be back around
Tax Day, once the Marlins need a fifth starter, so for pitchers like
Chris Resop or Randy Messenger, there’s
more at stake than whether or not a bad two weeks would mean they’ve had a
bad two weeks.

If there’s an area of concern, it’s not that they’ve cut loose Harris, it’s
the people they still have on the big league bench. Thirteen position
players isn’t too much of a handicap in the National League, but it becomes
one if you carry people like Matt Treanor for infrequent
third catcher duties, plus three no-hit outfielders like Reggie
Abercrombie
, Chris Aguila, and Eric
Reed
. (Carrying Alfredo Amezaga and Wes
Helms
as your infield reserves isn’t all bad, though.) Keeping
Kinkade might have made sense, in that he can play the four corners and
catch. Hopefully, Beinfest is keeping an eye on the waiver wire, not just
for outfielders, but also for a second baseman.

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Released RHP Steve Sparks. [3/29]

Acquired UT-R Joe McEwing from the Royals for cash or a
PTBNL; acquired SS-R Cody Ransom from the Mariners for cash
or a PTBNL. [3/30]

Neither McEwing nor Ransom is headed for the major league roster, but you
can’t really blame Tim Purpura for adding them both. Would you want to be
that dependent on Eric Bruntlett if something happened to
Adam Everett? Not that Ransom or McEwing are guys you want
to rely on, but if you have to have somebody rotting on a big league bench,
you could do worse than either of these two.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Signed 2B-R Jeff Kent to a $11.5 million contract extension
through 2007, with a club option for 2008; announced that RHP Brian
Meadows
rejected an assignment to Las Vegas (Triple-A), and instead
elected to become a free agent; placed SS-B Cesar Izturis
on the 15-day DL (elbow). [3/29]

What better posterboy for a ballclub in America’s most attention
deficit-driven city than the man who doesn’t even follow his own profession?
Cattiness aside, Kent’s aging well, so I can see why they’d want to keep
him. However, saying this is an $11.5 million deal undersells how much it
might cost the team: it’s two years at $9 million apiece ($500K
buyout of the second season), a $2 million signing bonus, plus another
$2.35 million in incentives. So, it’s potentially a $22.35 million deal, and
not for this next season, but for Kent’s Age 39 and 40 seasons. That gets a
bit steep at the stage of a player’s career where certainty becomes
wishcasting.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Released RHP Kane Davis. [3/29]

Optioned RHP Mike Adams to Nashville (Triple-A); placed RHP
Ben Sheets on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/24. [3/30]

The suggestion is that Sheets will be back to start on April 16th, but the
back-dating of his assignment to the DL leaves the club’s options open to
bring him back sooner if he’s ready. So that isn’t really a source of
heartbreak, whereas the decision to demote Adams is a little frustrating.
His cause wasn’t helped by back problems early on, but he did pitch well in
his limited work. Even so, the pen was fairly well stuffed now that both
Jose Capellan and Justin Lehr have pitched
their way onto the club. There is explaining away Dan Kolb,
who’s been predictably awful, and there’s still the question of whether,
how, and for how long Jared Fernandez might stick as a
twelfth pitcher. Certainly, once Sheets comes back off, somebody’s got to
go, and as much as it might make sense to keep Fernandez over Kolb, I doubt
that it’ll play out that way.

NEW YORK METS
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Released OF-L Tike Redman. [3/29]

If you’re Tike Redman, this might be a low point of sorts, having to hear
Endy Chavez do his best Gubernator impression, and talk
about the best things in life: To crush your enemies, see them driven before
you, and to hear the lamentations of der vimmen. I guess the other way to
look at it is that it isn’t often that Chavez gets to exult so, but as the
club’s fifth outfielder, he might have better job security than the notional
fourth outfielder, who would be whichever guy loses the fight for the job in
right. Xavier Nady has gone stone cold, and not in that
happy anti-hero pro wrestling sort of way, but more along the lines of the
godawful laugh-out-loud bad Brian Bosworth vehicle,
Stone Cold. It would
actually be a pretty happy result if Victor Diaz won the
job away from Xavier Nady anyway: Diaz would get 400-500
plate appearances, Nady could be freed up for spot duty in the infield
corners, spot starts against lefties, and pinch-hitting, and Chavez could
stick to pinch-running and defensive substitution work. I don’t mean to put
Nady down, but Diaz could end up being the sort of hitter who helps the Mets
as a regular for the next five years, and that should be cultivated. If
Willie Randolph is flexible enough to do all of that this year, we should
all be impressed.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Optioned RHP Robinson Tejeda and LHP Eude
Brito
to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); optioned SS-B
Danny Sandoval to their minor league camp; placed RHP
Chris Booker on the 15-day DL (knee inflammation); released
RHP Ricardo Rodriguez outright. [3/29]

We touched on most of this last time around, because these demotions were in
the cards. The one thing I didn’t cover was Rodriguez, but then I didn’t
anticipate that general manager Pat Gillick would simply cut bait like this.
He has been rather frank about how much he’s happy not to have
Vicente Padilla around, if you look at this
winter’s exchange as one of Padilla at $4.41 million (his pre-arbitration
settlement with the Rangers) for Ryan Franklin at $2.6
million, which adds up to a savings of nearly $2 million, plus a Rodriguez flyer on your
windshield for your troubles. There’s still the snaggy-nasty question of how
ugly Franklin’s performance will be this year, not to mention the fact that
he’s been beaten out for the fifth spot in the rotation by Gavin
Floyd
, making this exchange perhaps $2.6 million more expensive
than it needed to be. In the meantime, I don’t know if $1.8 million dollars
and the familiarity of having an ancient Mariner around are compensation
enough. Was it worth that much to make sure you didn’t have to worry about
Padilla’s charm? Statistical analysis is always going to be mum, and while I
don’t have much use for Franklin, the way the Phillies feel about Padilla
seems to border on Rolen-esque. We’ll see if their antipathy was similarly
ill-placed.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Reassigned RHPs Scott Strickland and Britt
Reames
and 3B/OF-R Mike Edwards to minor league
camp; optioned C-R Ronny Paulino and 3B-R Jose
Bautista
to Indianapolis (Triple-A). [3/29]

It appears that Bautista is being groomed for the Mackowiak role, moving
around from third to second, short, and the outfield. Nevertheless, Dave
Littlefield has his priorities in the right place, preferring to put
Bautista someplace where he can get everyday playing time. Paulino’s been
squeezed out as the third man behind Humberto Cota and
Ryan Doumit, but having Cota and two promising young
catchers will give Littlefield freedom of action if a prospective trading
partner wants Cota as a throw-in. Or, if the Pirates are angling to get
somebody with a serious future–a potentially great center fielder, for
instance–they can add Paulino to the pot. As long as Littlefield is willing
to explore these alternatives while remaining focused on improving the
ballclub over the long-term, it all works. No, if there’s a surprise
demotion, it’s probably Edwards. Dodger fans might be asking why manager Jim
Tracy was willing to demote Edwards now, but not last summer, but Dodger
fans are probably still burdened with all sorts of questions about what
happened last summer.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Released RHP Andy Ashby. [3/30]

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Purchased the contract of RHP Jamey Wright from Fresno
(Triple-A); designated LHP Jon Coutlangus for assignment.
[3/29]

Wright’s winning the fifth slot in the rotation wasn’t really that much of a
matter of suspense, but you might find it indicative of the Giants’ fortunes
that a man whose career has mostly been spent toiling for consistently
hopeless Rockie and Brewer squads is now one of their front five. You can
get away with that sort of thing when your starters are the beneficiaries of
the kind of run support that a Barry Bonds-driven lineup
has generated in past seasons, but this year’s outfit might not be so lucky.
If nothing else, Wright should like pitching in Telecommunications MegaCorp
Park much more than in either Miller or Coors… hmmm, while I’m thinking of
it, as long as the Giants seem to shop around for stadium names, why not
Anchor Steam?

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Optioned 1B/OF-R John Gall and 1B/OF-L Chris
Duncan
to Memphis (Triple-A); released INF-R Deivi
Cruz
outright. [3/30]

If there’s a man here who should be depressed, it’s Cruz, because what one
might infer from his release is that he couldn’t beat out Aaron
Miles
or an undead Scott Spiezio, which is pretty
damning if you’re a reserve infielder. Miles or Spiezio might not both make
it, since Skip Schumaker is still being taken seriously,
but I think that sort of sums things up, that Miles, Spiezio, and Schumaker
are in such high regard. To be fair, Miles has had a solid camp, but Spiezio
hasn’t been any better than Cruz, and Hector Luna hasn’t
helped things by also having a bad camp. You’d think that Luna should be set
because he’s the one guy left in the infield reserve picture who can play
short now that Cruz has been cut, but he also has the misfortune of having
an option, which could make him the easy choice to send down to Memphis. All
in all, it’s just not a tasty series of combinations. If you gave me a
choice between Spiezio or Schumaker or Cruz for one spot, I’d pick
Brian Daubach, just to have the spare left-handed bat on
the bench, especially while Larry Bigbie is on the DL at
the start of the season. Between Bigbie’s health and the question about
whether or not Junior Spivey has anything left in the tank,
the Cardinals really have bigger fish to fry than worrying about Luna’s
option or whether or not Spiezio would accept starting off at Triple-A.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Released OF-L Michael Tucker; reassigned C-R
Alberto Castillo and RHP Kevin Gryboski to
their minor league camp; purchased the contract of C-R Wiki
Gonzalez
from New Orleans (Triple-A); outrighted Travis
Hughes
to New Orleans. [3/30]

There isn’t much to say about choosing between crummy backup catchers; with
Matt LeCroy around, either Castillo or Gonzalez may only
get garbage innings behind the plate, while ideally not logging a lot of starts
or plate appearances. Neither got Gary Bennett‘s build-up,
which is fine; like Bennett, neither is really all that useful. The
interesting choice was that the Nats have gone with six relievers, and that
Hughes, Gryboski, and Jason Bergmann weren’t among them.
Instead, the club has chosen Jon Rauch for the last righty
relief spot. I’d be a little more upset about the Hughes move if the Nats
had lost him on waivers, but the other 29 took a pass, allowing Jim Bowden
to dodge another bullet. Gryboski actually pitched well enough to stick, so
I wonder if he won’t be the first man up once Rauch hurts himself again, or
if Felix Rodriguez or Mike Stanton
implode.

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