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ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Placed RHP Bartolo Colon on the 15-day DL (shoulder
inflammation), retroactive to 4/16; recalled RHP Kevin
Gregg
from Salt Lake (Triple-A). [4/19]

Colon is notionally going to only miss the requisite two weeks, but we’ll
see how that works out. WBC critic that I am, I can’t help but be amused by
the spin-doctoring that accompanied the announcement, in that Colon’s injury
is supposedly something that lingered from last fall, and thus has nothing
whatsoever to do with his pitching for the Dominican Republic. Maybe that’s
so, and maybe it isn’t; to be fair, I certainly can’t say one way or
another. I merely note how quickly the Angels made a point of saying that
this is an old problem, without bothering to note whether or not this makes
the decision to let him go pitch in the WBC at all defensible.

In the meantime, in his absence the ridiculously fortunate Hector
Carrasco
will step into the rotation for two or three turns. Gregg
steps back into his role as the club’s long reliever and emergency
starter–the job Carrasco got pushed into once the Angels made their late
winning bid on Jeff Weaver, after he’d been originally
inked to be the club’s fifth starter. It’s all good, in that this just
reflects the depth the Angels can boast as a result of that final tweak to
the rotation. Gregg outpitched Carrasco last night, which while it won’t
create a controversy over whether the Angels have the right guy ahead of the
other in that sixth starter/long reliever role–Carrasco’s contract
squelches that–does at least give Gregg a renewed case for his being kept.
Considering K-Rod’s struggles and Esteban Yan‘s continuing
ability to be Esteban Yan, there’s probably room for Gregg in this pen, even
after Colon comes back.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Placed UT-L David Newhan on the 15-day DL (fractured
fibula); recalled OF-L Val Majewski from Ottawa (Triple-A).
[4/18]

Placed LHP Tim Byrdak on the 60-day DL (elbow), and CF-R
Luis Matos on the 15-day DL (shoulder); transferred UT-L
David Newhan from the 15- to the 60-day DL; optioned OF-L Val
Majewski
back to Ottawa; purchased the contracts of RHP Eddy
Rodriguez
, C-R Raul Chavez, and OF-R Luis
Terrero
from Ottawa. [4/19]

Not that you wanted to see Newhan break down in such gruesome fashion to
make it so, but now is the opportunity for this team to simply plug
Corey Patterson into the lineup and let him play. An
outfield of Patterson, Nick Markakis, and Jay
Gibbons
is actually pretty tasty; balance that against the
righty-powered offense they get out of their infield, catcher, and
Javy Lopez, and that might actually make for the best
Orioles lineup in several years. Assuming Patterson hits, of course, but
with Matos broken down yet again, and Terrero not a real
challenger for the job, he’ll get every opportunity to show that he can
finally shake off his Cub rust. The last two days against an admittedly
banged-up Indians staff represent progress.

As for losing Byrdak after discarding Eric DuBose, the pen
still does have John Halama for its lefty relief needs, and
it wasn’t like Byrdak was ever going to be as special as they seemed to
pretend down the stretch last season or over this past winter. Elsewhere in
the pen, since Todd Williams seems to be taking forever to
come off of the DL, I’m glad to see them take a look at Rodriguez to see if
he might finally throw enough strikes to stick. Finally, while it remains
goofy that they want to have Chavez around in any capacity (since he might
not just be one of the worst backups in our era, but historically) with
Lopez doing everything but catch, I can see how having a third catcher makes
sense–I just don’t think they should have to settle for Chavez.

BOSTON RED SOX
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Optioned OF-L Adam Stern to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [4/19]

Purchased the contract of UT-L Willie Harris from
Pawtucket. [4/20]

Pretty much as expected, Stern went down after fulfilling his Rule 5 major
league service time requirement, and will now take over in center on an
everyday basis for the PawSox. There, if he has a couple of good months in
his first real everyday play since 2004, he could end up pushing his way
back up into the fifth outfield job before playoff rosters are set. In the
meantime, I like the decision to bring up Harris. Admittedly, he’s probably
not more than an adequate center fielder, and Sox fans who remember (and
resent) the memory of Cesar Crespo might note that Harris is
a player with similar skills: he gets on base, runs a bit, and is really a
second baseman stretched out into a utility role. But since he shouldn’t
embarrass himself in center, if he’s allowed to play in the platoon role
that the Sox are saying he’ll get, he’ll give Terry Francona a nice
alternative to Dustan Mohr. That also makes it that much
easier to keep Wily Mo Pena in right field when he’s in the
lineup, since there’s always the possibility that Trot
Nixon
will take some time in center. The other nice thing about
having Harris around, especially after Coco Crisp comes
back off of the DL, is that he could always be the club’s primary reserve at
second if they get tired of Alex Gonzalez and start
usingAlex Cora at short with any regularity. If they get
really bold, and if Dustin Pedroia isn’t ready that
soon, they could also start Harris at second against RHPs, and play
Mark Loretta at short, but that’s probably only going to
happen if they get really disgusted with Gonzalez–I mean
Jackie Gutierrez-level disgusted, which doesn’t seem too
far off, when you think about it.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Placed RHP Matt Miller on the 15-day DL (strained elbow);
recalled LHP Rafael Perez from Akron (Double-A). [4/20]

Between Miller’s being deposited onto the DL, and the possibility that
Rafael Betancourt might have to follow, the Indians are
suddenly beyond the happy opportunity to get rid of Danny
Graves
someday soon, and into territory where they have to find out
if Jason Davis might be ready to handle a seventh-inning
lead. That isn’t the end of the world, but it’s certainly a more fluid and
uncertain situation than it was last week. Perez is here more to provide a
second lefty than to give the team a direct replacement for Miller. If they
decide that their problems with right-handed relief help are as bad as they
seem, they could turn to Brian Slocum, who’s on the 40-man
and doing well at Buffalo, but there is the danger that they’ll instead
double their pleasure where Graves is concerned, and try to simultaneously
resurrect Steve Karsay from extended spring training.
Between the two of them, this sort of demand for instant manpower seems like
a case of sowing
dragon’s teeth
, and not even getting the Tooth
Fairy
for their troubles.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Placed RHP Steve Stemle on the 15-day DL; recalled RHP
Joel Peralta from Omaha (Triple-A). [4/17]

The question that really needs to be asked is what Stemle was doing on the
big league roster in the first place. Seriously. He’s a washout from the
Cardinals system, an organizational soldier for them from a time when nobody
in their right minds should want him for themselves. After meandering all
the way up to Triple-A as an adequate rotation regular, he was converted to
the pen, where he was an adequate, and mostly non-dominant, reliever. In
either role, you’re talking about a guy who strikes out five per nine. There
is next to nothing about his career to recommend him, other than that he
must have drifted into this particular one-horse franchise wearing the
original Billy
the Marlin’s unused fish head
, and convinced the team that he was an
amphibious seahorse. Allard Baird and Buddy Bell were no doubt impressed.

By contrast, Peralta’s not a bad guy to have around. Instead of occasionally
getting people out in Omaha and Memphis well enough to stick in Omaha or
Memphis, Peralta did good work at the tail end of the Angels’ pen last
season, and if he’s yet another apprehended AgeGater–he’s 30, not 26–from
the Dominican Republic, he still has some decent velocity and an improving
splitter. If he really improves with the splitfingered fastball, he might
actually avoid ROOGY situational typecasting, and be a plain-old good
reliever, the sort of the thing the Royals don’t have so much of these days.
That should all be more to recommend a guy than a drifter to be named later.

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Outrighted C-R Guillermo Quiroz to Tacoma (Triple-A);
released C-R Corky Miller. [4/17]

Quiroz made it through, so chalk one up to Bill Bavasi’s credit. If I was
the Nats or Orioles, I’d sort of like to have the guy, let alone the
Cardinals or the Rockies, but he’s Mariners property for keeps now, safely
ensconced where he’ll get some regular playing time, and hopefully resurrect
his prospect status.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Placed INF-R Mark DeRosa on the 15-day DL (ankle);
purchased the contract of 2B/SS-L Drew Meyer from Oklahoma
(Triple-A); transferred RHP Adam Eaton from the 15- to the
60-day DL. [4/18]

Even with Meyer up, his star’s still fallen far enough on the horizon that
he won’t poach more than a spot start or two at D’Angelo
Jimenez
‘s expense. Maybe this is a case of Buck Showalter giving
some slack to a former Yankees farmhand from his own days in pinstripes, but
let’s face it, Jimenez is still under 30, and he can still get on base. This
team’s already stuck with getting little or no offense from its starting
catcher or its center field situation, and with both Brad
Wilkerson
and Kevin Mench off to slow starts, this
is already a dangerously short-stack sort of offense. So much the better to
have Jimenez on base, and while I’m happy to see him get this latest
opportunity, I’d still expect the Rangers to return to their commitment to
Ian Kinsler once he’s ready to come off of the DL.

All of this said, I’m not that down on Meyer, because as utility infielders
go, he has his uses. He can handle second or short, he hits lefty, can run,
makes decent contact, and if he doesn’t have much power, as long as you
don’t expect him to live up to his former first-round billing for what seems
like another overhyped ballplayer out of the University of South Carolina,
he’s handy enough as a big league reserve. DeRosa’s the better option when
healthy, but this isn’t such a terrible fallback position to be in.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Activated RHP Brandon Medders from the 15-day DL; optioned
RHP Casey Daigle to Tucson (Triple-A). [4/19]

This is as it should be. Medders proved his mettle in the majors last fall,
so he deserved to join Juan Cruz and Luis
Vizcaino
in what is becoming a particularly charming Snake pen.
Daigle continued to work his way back into the organization’s good graces as
a relief prospect, striking out four in 4.2 IP. All of this talent being
here and pitching well, combined with Jason Grimsley‘s
predictably awful work, might actually convince the Diamondbacks’ brass to
do what’s necessary and dump the veteran once Terry Mulholland
comes back off of the DL. Mulholland would resume his role as the token
lefty, while everyone else beyond Grimsley in the pen is just as
right-handed, not to mention younger and more effective.

CINCINNATI REDS
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Placed CF-L Ken Griffey Jr. on the 15-day DL, retroactive
to 4/13. [4/17]

Activated C-R Jason LaRue from the 15-day DL. [4/18]

Recalled LHP Mike Gosling from Louisville (Triple-A);
optioned RHP Mike Burns to Louisville. [4/19]

Recalled LHP Brian Shackelford from Louisville; optioned
LHP Mike Gosling to Louisville. [4/20]

The Griffey meltdown was another super slo-mo bit of misery for the Reds,
but as long as they’re comfortable playing Ryan Freel in
center–and devil take those balls hit to the left-center gap between Freel
and Adam Dunn–they shouldn’t be totally killed by
Griffey’s absence. As I’ve complained about already, they don’t have an
adequate reserve on the big-league roster, but Chris
Denorfia
probably should be getting at-bats every day, and this team
has yet to get Scott Hatteberg out of its system. Putting
Denorfia in center, and bumping Freel to left would mean that the
Adam Dunn at first” scenario would come back
into operation, not a bad idea at all, but if Griffey really does come back
in another week or so, it isn’t unreasonable to leave Denorfia where he is.
That leaves us with kibbitzing over the relative merits of Quinton
McCracken
, Terrence Long, or Alex
Sanchez
as your fourth outfielder of last resort, but choices like
that really do bring new meaning to the phrase “pick your poison.”

The Burns-to-Gosling-to-Shackelford exchange is only missing one name to
paint a complete picture of what the Reds have been able to do to manage
their pen’s needs over the last several days: Kent
Mercker
. Mercker’s been suffering from a strained back, and it has
kept him off of the mound for the last six days. Considering that the Reds’
rotation isn’t built around a group of iron men, this created a bit of a
roster crunch, so after having to use three middle relievers–including
Burns–in Tuesday’s loss, they took advantage of geography, swapped Gosling
for Burns just in case they needed someone else for middle inning work on
Wednesday (which they did), and then swapped Gosling out to bring in the
lefty relief specialist they’ve been lacking since Mercker went MIA. That’s
roster micro-management at its finest, no injuries involved, just basically
expanding the 25-man roster to a nightly exercise in who they want available
for a game, with the only in-season penalty being that they can’t bring
Gosling or Burns back within ten days unless they put someone on the
DL–which, if Mercker isn’t back soon, they could do while back-dating the
injury. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but the logistics of
having a nearby upper-level affiliate seem pretty clear.

The whole rigmarole just makes me ponder again Jim Riggleman’s suggestion
about how teams should name their 25-man rosters on a day-of-game basis in
September, no matter how many people they’ve called up with the end of the
minor league season. It still makes sense: teams should be asked to compete
with the same number of players within single games, and even if that
creates the game-y oddity of “deactivating” the rest of the rotation for a
single night, it would at least force teams to play with the same absolute
number of players within that game. Riggs was always a smarter guy than he
got credit for during his days of managing the Cubs, and this is sort of
thoughtful suggestion from someone on the inside that should be taken
seriously someday.

At any rate, Shackelford really never deserved to go down in the first
place, unless you really are the sort of person who rates a brief bit of
spring wildness as something more significant than his performance in real
game action last summer. It does give the Reds the nice problem of having
too many lefties in the pen: beyond Mercker and Shackelford, there’s also middleman Chris Hammond. Carrying all three isn’t really a good idea, but it’s a bit
early in the season to hope that they might get something for Mercker or
Hammond if they shopped either. Between this sort of depth and the fact that
the Reds have a now-supernumerary but serviceable backup catcher in
Dave Ross, if GM Wayne Krivsky wants to work the phones, he
does have the sort of reserve goodies to spice up a deal or help an aspiring
contender shore up these areas. Heck, throw in Rich
Aurilia
, and maybe the Reds could even get something they could use
beyond this season.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Placed RHP Sun-Woo Kim on the 15-day DL (shin contusion);
activated RHP Scott Dohmann from the 15-day DL. [4/18]

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Placed LHP Trever Miller on the 15-day DL (sprained elbow).
[4/19]

Purchased the contract of RHP Dave Borkowski from Round
Rock (Triple-A). [4/20]

Although it might seem like he’s been around forever, Borkowski is still
under thirty, and was doing pretty well closing for Round Rock. More than
eight years in the Tigers’ system was probably more than enough to
prematurely age a guy, but he did have a nice bit of work to his credit with
the Orioles in 2004, and he was subsequently thoroughly adequate pitching
for Ottawa for the entire 2005 season. Expect no great deeds, but as a
sinker-slider guy who can still throw strikes, maybe he finally
sticks as a middle reliever; stranger things have happened. Meanwhile,
losing Miller hurts, because even if he wasn’t pitching all that
effectively, losing him leaves the ‘Stros pen with only Mike
Gallo
for lefty relief help, which, as the Astros know from bitter
experience, is the same thing as not having a lefty reliever at all.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Optioned RHP Jared Fernandez and 4C-R Corey
Hart
to Nashville (Triple-A); recalled RHPs Mike
Adams
and Chris Demaria from Nashville. [4/18]

Although I’m bummed for Hart, let’s face it, this is the team that already
doesn’t have room for Nelson Cruz, and Gabe
Gross
has clearly settled in as a quality fourth outfielder. Hart
doesn’t do the organization any good sitting on the bench and not playing,
not when he can tantalize other organization’s scouts playing every day
somewhere, and at least keeping his stroke fresh for shoppers who could be
contending or rebuilding, and who simply need power.

As for getting an extra pitcher on the roster, dialing things all the way up
to 13 in April (!), keep in mind that Dan Kolb hasn’t been
able to pitch through a sore elbow, and that made Fernandez’s predictable
marginality a knuckle-minded luxury they could no longer afford. So they
brought the hard-throwing Adams back to take another shot at sticking (he’d
struck out five in five Nashville innings), and decided to take a look at
Royal refugee Demaria as well. I wouldn’t expect Demaria to survive Kolb’s
return to full function, since being at thirteen is always silly, and
particularly silly now that Ben Sheets is off of the DL. I
suppose there’s always the chance that Demaria does a Doug
Jones
on us as a slow-developing changeup fiend. If that happens
and he outpitches Adams, he might get the shot to last until Helling comes
back from the DL in May.

The problem is that if they’re going to get back down to a dozen pitchers,
they’re going to have to either call up an outfielder from among the group
of Hart, Cruz, Tony Gwynn Jr., Dave
Krynzel
, or Brad Nelson, or designate Demaria or
Fernandez or one of the minor league pitchers on the 40-man for assignment,
so that they can then add a warm body like Brent Abernathy.
My money’s on Fernandez, but this is penny-bet territory.

NEW YORK METS
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Activated 2B-R Kazuo Matsui from the 15-day DL; placed 2B-B
Anderson Hernandez on the 15-day DL (bulging disk – lower
back); designated RHP Yusaku Iriki for assignment. [4/19]

Matsui’s back? As Doc Leary (the wild radical, not
the wild
Dodger
) might have noted, swap in, swap out, and turn off. Not that
Hernandez did all that much to stake a claim on the keystone once the games
began to count, but you can pretty much take it for granted that Matsui is
baseball’s answer to the Suzuki
Samurai
: sure, using him might get you from here to there, but it might
also leave you belly-up in a ditch before the summer’s out.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Optioned OF-L Terrmel Sledge to Portland (Triple-A);
purchased the contract of RHP Jon Adkins from Portland.
[4/18]

Adkins is replacing Clay Hensley in the bullpen, because
Hensley’s moving on into a rotation that’s now Brazelton-free. That’s
something you can be even more impressed with the more you look it.
Hensley’s particularly good at keeping the ball in the infield, and with the
Pads’ current alignment of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh
Barfield
, Khalil Greene, and Vinny
Castilla
around the horn, he should be in hog heaven where infield
defense is concerned, without even bringing up his getting to pitch in
PETCO. It’s also pretty cool to note that the Pads have yet again thumbed
their collective noses at scouting bias against short pitchers by taking the
5’11” Hensley seriously.

If you feel for Sledge (as I do), that’s understandable, but if he couldn’t
push past Eric Young and Ben Johnson in
Mike Cameron‘s absence, he’s probably better off mounting a
later challenge to either on the strength of whatever he does in the PCL. As
for Adkins, he’s really only filler, qualified to work as a long reliever,
which is fine if that’s all you need, but not really any better than
Brazelton when it comes to replacing Hensley in the pen. Happily, if the
rotation is now stabilized, they won’t need either all that often for
extended work.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Placed 1B-R Lance Niekro on the bereavement list; recalled
1B-L Travis Ishikawa from Connecticut (Double-A). [4/17]

Optioned LHP Jack Taschner to Fresno (Triple-A); optioned
1B-L Travis Ishikawa back to Connecticut in anticipation of 1B-R
Lance Niekro‘s return from the bereavement list; activated RHP
Armando Benitez from the 15-day DL. [4/19]

The Giants seem to be happy to let Benitez work his way up to speed as far
as eventually resuming his closing duties, all the more understandable with
Tim Worrell looking perfectly serviceable in the role in
the early going. Nevertheless, if the Giants’ pen is going to be of much use
at all, it’s going to need Benitez at some fraction of his former self,
because Worrell’s a dodgy proposition, the blush is so off Tyler
Walker
‘s rose that the dried petals are glued into the diary of
some old lady in Haight-Ashbury, and Jeff Fassero is
reminding people that some reclamation projects get repossessed. If the
Giants can’t at least get by with Worrell, Benitez, and Steve
Kline
, it’s going to be a summer well-stocked with late leads lost.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Purchased the contract of LHP Billy Traber from New Orleans
(Triple-A); optioned RHP Saul Rivera to New Orleans. [4/19]

This should be another in-season change for the better, in that Traber was
once a top-shelf pitching prospect, and will hopefully join the ranks of
post-TJ pitchers who didn’t leave something on the surgeon’s table. If
nothing else, Traber should be an upgrade on Drese: he’s always been able to
get people to swing and miss a low-mph fastball that has good movement, plus
some solid breaking stuff. If he throws strikes and fools some of the people
some of the time, and you put that sort of pitcher in RFK, he could wind up
being a nice little surprise success story, and the sort of dumpster-dive
find that might do something as far as giving GM Jim Bowden something to
crow about. After a cold start, things are actually shaping up pretty
nicely. If the Nats still have to live with the misfortune of employing
Ramon Ortiz, they can at least take some satisfaction in
Tony Armas Jr. doing some good work in the early going. The
pen might lack a reliable lefty, but Jon Rauch has joined
Gary Majewski to provide the team with a pair of quality
right-handed relievers in front of closer Chad Cordero.
Between “losing” Drese and already fixing the Opening Day mistake
in center, it’s beginning to look like the doubters who thought this team
might not finish ahead of the Fish were far too pessimistic.

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