Signed OF Damon Mashore to a minor league contract with a spring
training NRI.

Mashore has outstanding plate discipline, reasonable range, and a strong,
accurate arm. His ability to contribute as a major league regular has
essentially been ruined by his annual knee injuries, but as a bench player,
platoon partner, and spare part, you can do a lot worse than having Mashore
around. He’s almost the perfect opposite to Garret Anderson, in that his
contributions to his team have everything to do with every stat other than
batting average.


Signed RHP Tommy Greene to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI. [1/23]

Signed RHP Dennis Martinez to a minor-league contract with a
spring training NRI. [1/29]

Both signings are defensible in terms of adding bodies to fill the roster until
Smoltz’ health is determined. Tommy Greene is recovering (again) from tearing
his rotator cuff, and is a long shot to contribute at Richmond. But if I was a
Braves fan, I’d be deeply troubled by John Schuerholz’ blithe dismissal of
questions about El Presidente’s ability to contribute. Schuerholz said he has
no concerns when a player comes with the recommendation of one of his scouts.
Because it wasn’t the same scout who said Terry Pendleton had something left in
’96, that means there are two guys in the organization who could seriously hurt
the team with their input, and neither of them have been tabbed for the
Galarraga signing.


Signed SS Ozzie Guillen to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI. [1/29]

Apparently Manny Trillo wasn’t returning Pat Gillick’s phonecalls. There’s a
sad bit of flawed circular logic at work here: Ozzie says he wants to be on the
Orioles because they’re building a winner, except if he’s on the team, he’ll
only hurt their chances to win. Guillen’s typically shameless claim that “this
isn’t about money” seems a far cry from last August’s “I won’t play for under a
million.” Ozzie’s career has been built around misperceptions or flat-out lies
he helped to promote: the mistaken impression that as a SS named Ozzie, he was
one of the great shortstops of his generation; the mistaken impression that
Ozzie was good with the fans, when he was usually trashing them; the mistaken
impression that he’s a solid pro, when he’s usually whining about how people
don’t acknowledge his greatness or that of Felix Fermin because they’re all
Ripken-loving racists, or routinely trashing rookies in the press. If these are
the people being foisted on us as fan favorites, give me more quality time with
Albert Belle.


Signed INF Mike Gallego to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI; agreed to terms with OF Julio Cesar Guerrero. [1/23]

Named Lee Thomas special assistant to the general manager. [1/26]

Signed LHP Butch Henry to a one-year contract, avoiding salary
arbitration. [1/27]

Signed INF John Valentin to a four-year contract with an option
for the 2002 season. [1/29]

Mike Gallego v. Mike Benjamin for the utility infield job. Boy, that should get
A’s and Giants fans thinking wistfully of years gone by… Duquette signs
Valentin after all, after the usual statements and media inventions about how
Duquette had driven him out, etc. That he got Val at less than it cost to buy
Jay Bell’s golden years, despite the media frenzy, Val’s stated preference to
go somewhere to play short, and the perceived “cost” of having to make it worth
his while to have to put up with the Duke, is nothing short of outstanding.
Julio Guerrero is Wilton’s little brother.


Invited RHPs Dave Stevens and Dave Swartzbaugh to spring
training as non-roster players. [1/26]

Neither should make it, but Stevens is an ex-Cub (traded with Matt Walbeck for
Willie Banks in what seems ages ago) and a MacPhail favorite, and Swartzbaugh
has been an organizational soldier.


Signed OF Geronimo Berroa to a one-year contract; designated
RHP Maximo De La Rosa for assignment. [1/29]

Although Hart’s denying it ’til he’s blue in the face, with Berroa locked in at
$1.1M less than the Orioles spent of Joe Carter’s carcass, the Tribe has the
freedom of action to peddle Brian Giles pretty readily in … the Knoblauch
deal-to-come, perhaps? De La Rosa throws hard, so expect him to get snagged on
waivers in the next few days.


Signed RHP Mark Thompson to a one-year contract, avoiding salary
arbitration. [1/27]

Purchased the contract of 1B Greg Colbrunn from Colorado Springs;
waived LHP Robbie Beckett. [1/26]

Beckett’s done his damnedest to be the new Brad Pennington, and with a bit more
work, he may just get there.


Signed C Brad Ausmus to a three-year contract, avoiding salary

Three years? In three years, Ausmus should be riding pine behind some
combination of Ramon Castro and Mitch Meluskey. Of course, locking him in now,
and seeing that the world is still a friendly place for people like Kirt
Manwaring or Scott Servais or John Flaherty, means he makes dandy trade bait
once Meluskey and then Castro are ready…


Signed RF Raul Mondesi to a four-year contract. [1/23]

Tip your hat to him: Raul Mondesi has turned out to be a much better player
than many analysts thought he’d be.


Signed RF Jeromy Burnitz to a four-year contract. [1/28]

Burnitz’ contract isn’t for huge money (except perhaps by Bud’s standards), but
keep in mind that he isn’t young: he’ll be 28 shortly after opening day, and
the contract is timed to let him walk after he’ll have given his best years at
a low wage.


Named LHP Denis Boucher to public affairs for the marketing and
communications department as well as video coordinator for the baseball
operations department.

Uncannily timed with the Expos’ drive to get a new stadium. If it is built,
here’s a vote for the three men who may best represent the history of baseball
in Montreal over the past fifty years: Jackie Robinson, Bill Stoneman, and
Denis Boucher.


Signed RHP Tyler Green to a one-year contract, avoiding salary
arbitration. [1/26]

The griping that the Phillies haven’t added anyone to their pitching
staff strikes me as basically petty. The team is looking at a rotation
of Curt Schilling, Garret Stephenson, Tyler Green, Matt Beech, and Mike
Grace. Green, Grace, and Beech aren’t bad prospects, Stephenson
surprised a lot of people, and this is without veteran options like Mark
Portugal or Mark Leiter. The farm has options like Cal Maduro, Rich
Hunter, and Carlton Loewer. Compared to recycling El Presidente (Braves)
or signing up Mike Maddux (Expos), that doesn’t sound all bad.


Signed C Keith Osik to a three-year contract. [1/23]

Its already been remarked upon that this off-season’s most remarkable
phenomenon was the two-year contract for bench players like Dale Sveum, Doug
Strange, or Turner Ward. But the new paradigm is now dated: accused ‘scab’ Osik
gets a three-year deal for a million dollars. And people want to keep
complaining about player movement?


Traded 1B/OF Dave McCarty to Seattle for OFs Jalal Leach
and Scott Smith. [1/29]

Dave McCarty could have given this team everything Glenallen Hill ever did, but
the Giants must feel compelled to stock Phoenix or something. Losing Leach and
Smith will not come back to haunt Tacoma.


Traded OFs Jalal Leach and Scott Smith to the Giants for
1B/OF Dave McCarty. [1/29]

My guess here is that Piniella thinks he can do something to help McCarty solve
his problems at the plate in a major league uniform, and this is a circumstance
where I’d give him a wide berth.


Signed INF Craig Shipley to a minor-league contract with a spring
training NRI.

Shipley is considered one of the game’s “good guys,” and its nice to see him
catch on as a utility man somewhere. The only question left is why here, when
LaRussa can’t get enough of Danny Sheaffer and has promised significant playing
time to David Howard.

Thank you for reading

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