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(Ed. note: Chris is on vacation this week. TA will resume, with a
twice-a-week schedule, on April 11.)


ANAHEIM ANGELS

Acquired RHP Kent Bottenfield and 2B Adam Kennedy from the
Cardinals in exchange for CF Jim Edmonds. [3/23]

Assigned RHPs Brett Hinchliffe, Greg Keagle, Steve
Mintz
and 2B Keith Luuloa to their minor-league camp; optioned C
Bret Hemphill to Edmonton. [3/25]

Optioned 1B Larry Barnes, 2B Trent Durrington and RHP
Brian Cooper to Edmonton; assigned C Steve Decker and RHP
Eric Weaver to their minor-league camp. [3/28]

Optioned LHP Mike Holtz to Edmonton; placed LHP Jarrod
Washburn
on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/25 (strained oblique);
acquired OF Edgard Clemente and a PTBNL from the Rockies for C
Jason Dewey and OF Norm Hutchins; released DH Todd
Greene
. [3/29]

There’s a certain sadness here, one even a Mouse-hater or a disinterested
party can appreciate. The Angels’ lone option for improving via trade was
dealing either Jim Edmonds or Garret Anderson, and Bill Stoneman managed to
screw it up. The long-rumored possibility of getting Adam Piatt or Mario
Encarnacion and a pitcher or two from the Athletics? Gone. Getting Brett
Tomko from the Mariners? Gone. It may not be fair to hold Stoneman up to
his own expectations from a couple of months ago. He was never going to get
a deal for as many prospects as he wanted, settling for one of baseball’s
better utility pitchers and a solid second-base prospect.

While that’s what a one-year rental for Edmonds would be worth in a league
filled with great GMs, Adam Kennedy is going to have to be awfully good to
live up to what was hoped for. There’s an impression that Kennedy wasn’t
very good last year, but it was only his second full season using wood
bats. While some people think he can play second base well enough, its far
from unanimous. The best news is that he’s a better player than Andy
Sheets. The bad news is that he’s a similar offensive player to Anderson,
which is great if you want singles and low OBPs. It makes for a good roto
team.

Other issues have come to a head: the team is stuck with the momentous
choice between Scott Schoenweis and Kent Mercker for the fifth starter’s
job. Mike Scioscia’s education as a manager in the American League is going
to involve a first rude lesson when he sorts out that a DH platoon of Scott
Spiezio and Edgard Clemente isn’t that much better than having Orel
Hershiser bat.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Released RHP Brad Clontz. [3/30]

Which only raises the issue of why they nabbed him in the first place, but
there’s nothing wrong with multiple redundancies. If Byung-Hyun Kim flopped
in camp and Mike Morgan had to start, maybe they would have used him. There
are still a thousand better apples that might fall from the tree, but if
you really have to have a sidearmer….


ATLANTA BRAVES

Optioned C Pascual Matos to Richmond. [3/25]

Signed RHP Greg McMichael to a minor-league contract. [3/26]

Signed RHP John Burkett; waived 1B Randall Simon and RHP
Rafael Medina. [3/29]

Released SS Ozzie Guillen. [3/31]

On the pitching side of things, the Braves seem to be trying to out-old the
Mets, not exactly a worthy goal. If they do wuss out and decide to keep
Bruce Chen out of the rotation, they might still give him a good
middle-relief learning experience, like Kevin McGlinchy last year. But
picking up Greg McMichael and talking about how excited they are to have
him isn’t a good sign for that scenario. They also seem to be going out of
their way to let Bobby Bonilla crack the squad.

It would be easy to blame all of this on John Schuerholz, given that this
is exactly the sort of veteran-happy artery clogging he pulled off in
Kansas City while running the Royals into the ground. This sort of
risk-averse roster management, where known mediocrities get first cut at
the roster, is only going to give Mets fans cause for hope.

Conspiracy theorists will note that the two teammates John Rocker trashed
have been dumped. While Randall Simon has some value as a pinch-hitter, the
Ozzeroo is about four years removed from a point when he might have been
useful. There’s something wrong with sportswriting today when Guillen’s
postseason gaffe of 1999 doesn’t get remembered like Merkle’s Boner. That
two-hopper in the ninth inning of NLCS Game 4 was only thing that kept the
Mets from being swept, and it was all Ozzie. So what should we call it?
Guillen’s Gaffe? Ozzie’s Oops?


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed RHP Brian Falkenborg on the 60-day DL (sprained ulnar
collateral ligament). [3/23]

Optioned LHP Matt Riley to Rochester. [3/25]

Purchased the contract of RHP Tim Worrell. [3/27]

Placed RHP Scott Erickson on the 15-day DL (elbow); optioned 1B
Calvin Pickering, Tall Guy Ryan Minor, CF Eugene
Kingsale
and RHPs Radhames Dykhoff, Gabe Molina and
Jason Johnson to Rochester; reassigned C Tommy Davis and RHPs
Rafael Pina and Javier De La Hoya to their minor-league camp.
[3/28]

Scott Erickson is hurt, Jason Johnson loses his rotation spot and the
organization decides to get bitchy as Matt Riley’s quirks become less
endearing. Once Boss Angelos discovers that his team is primed for an epic
collapse, expect fireworks. The idea that Jose Mercedes and Calvin Maduro
will be in the fourth and fifth slots of the rotation to open the season is
going to encourage lots of verbiage over "expansion pitching,"
instead of more appropriate remarks about Orioles player development and
bad taste in minor-league free agents.

There is a sunny side to all this: Maduro is one of the Orioles’ original
Aruba wunderkinder, so there is some justice that he’s getting a shot at a
job after being jerked around by the Phillies. But until this team realizes
Jeff Conine is waiver bait and makes time for Calvin Pickering, and until
they stop blathering about Ryan Minor as a prospect, they’re setting
themselves up for a breakdown every bit as dramatic as the late collapse in
1986 that heralded a new dark age. Only a suspension of Clan Angelos, like
Steinbrenner’s Howie Spira travail, would give somebody the chance to set
things straight.


BOSTON RED SOX

Signed manager Jimy Williams to a one-year contract extension
through 2001; placed RHP Rod Beck on the 15-day disabled list (nerve
irritation – neck); optioned RHP Chris Reitsma to Pawtucket. [3/28]

Placed RHP Jin Ho Cho on the 15-day DL (thoracic nerve irritation);
optioned LHP Sang-Hoon Lee to Pawtucket. [3/29]

Claimed RHP Nerio Rodriguez off of waivers from the Mets. [3/31]

No really shocking news, except for what you don’t see here. You know, the
part where Dan Duquette tells Gary Gaetti that he’d be more useful to
society if he gave it all up to be rendered into glue? Sadly, the Duke
didn’t make that choice when it needed to be made. Maybe John Valentin’s
steady decline has Duquette feeling needy at third base, but Gaetti’s
professional life is turning into a reprise of Graig Nettles’s role as the
third baseman who wouldn’t die.

While some people really would like to see the Sox make some noise, is it
fair to expect it of a team carrying ex-Cubs like Gaetti and Manny
Alexander? I’ve heard far too many apologies for Ramon Martinez at this
point, and I’m not buying into the idea that he’s somehow going to be
something special this year, even if he is healthy.


CHICAGO CUBS

Traded RHP Rodney Myers to the Padres for CF Gary Matthews
Jr.
; optioned Matthews to Iowa; outrighted RHP Steve Rain to
Iowa; assigned OF Chris Hatcher to their minor-league camp; released
RHP Greg McMichael. [3/23]

Placed 3B Willie Greene on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/23
(lacerated hand); recalled 3B Cole Liniak from Iowa. [3/24]

Placed OF Glenallen Hill on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/20
(strained hamstring); placed RHPs Kerry Wood on the 15-day DL and
Jeremi Gonzalez on the 60-day DL; recalled C Jose Molina from
Iowa; optioned LHP Ray King to Iowa; purchased the contracts of OF
Tarrik Brock and IF Jeff Huson from Iowa. [3/28]

The nightmare roster came to pass, as expected. Don Baylor picked bad
regulars and worse bench players, with the Cubs talking about how well
they’re going to advance the runner. Too bad there aren’t great OBP guys in
the lineup, or four outs in an inning.

There is some silver lining. Little Sarge should push the immortal Tarrik
Brock aside by May, assuming the Padres don’t reverse the deal now that
Myers has come up with a busted arm. Once Glenallen Hill and Willie Greene
heal up, the Cubs will have two good hitters on the bench, which they need.
But they’ve already been bitten in the butt by Baylor’s inane decision to
carry three left-handers in the pen, and while keeping Greg McMichael
probably wasn’t the solution, roster makeup has already cost the Cubs one
game. Another 90 or so and nobody will notice, right?


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Acquired SS Jose Olmedo from the Indians for future considerations.
[3/27]

Optioned SS Mike Caruso and RHP Carlos Castillo to Charlotte;
placed RHP Aaron Myette on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/25
(broken hand); assigned IF Liu Rodriguez to their minor-league camp.
[3/28]

Optioned RHP Kevin Beirne and LHP Jesus Pena to Charlotte;
waived RHP Carlos Castillo; assigned C Eric Christopherson to
their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Placed C Brook Fordyce on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 25;
placed IF Jeff Liefer on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 25;
recalled CF McKay Christensen from Charlotte. [3/30]

There are a couple of potential surprises as far as who’s making the roster
as a result of these moves. Chances are that Kelly Wunsch, the sidearming
left-hander and ex-Brewer first-round pick, is in, especially now that
Pena’s wildness has finally turned off Jerry Manuel. Chad Bradford has to
beat out Tanyon Sturtze. Chances are Sturtze gets the job, because adding
him to the 40-man roster cost the Sox Mario Valdez, who could/should/would
have made the team as well as making the project to move Paul Konerko to
third base a better idea. That’s too bad, since I’ve been hoping against
hope that the Sox would carry side-arming Bradford to complement Wunsch.

Elsewhere? The plan for Caruso is that he’ll spend five days a week playing
shortstop and two playing second base. If you’re concerned for his future,
you should be. Christensen’s back on the roster to be the fifth outfielder
now that Brian Simmons is out for the year.

The real surprise is that Jeff Abbott has made the team as the fourth
outfielder, after begging to be traded all winter. He may get a good chunk
of playing time at DH, or in left field if Carlos Lee plays DH. The
no-nonsense move was the decision to cut loose Carlos Castillo, who was
rightfully bitter about losing out on a rotation spot to Cal Eldred. The
problem is that Eldred is arguably the only guy in camp Castillo could beat
out. While he makes Bobby Munoz or Kent Bottenfield look svelte, chances
are he’s going to pop up as somebody’s tateriffic fifth starter.


CINCINNATI REDS

Optioned RHP Scott Winchester to Louisville. [3/23]

Assigned RHPs Osvaldo Fernandez and Bobby Munoz to
Louisville. [3/26]

Assigned DH Brooks Kieschnick to their minor-league camp. [3/27]

Sold RHP Eddie Galliard to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese
Leagues; optioned C Jason LaRue to Louisville and IF Travis
(Gookie) Dawkins
to Chattanooga (Double-A). [3/28]

Released RHP Mark Portugal; placed CB Deion Sanders on the
15-day DL (inflamed ankle); recalled RHP Rob Bell, LHP Hector
Mercado
and C Benito Santiago from Louisville. [3/29]

Outrighted CF Kimera Bartee to Louisville. [3/30]

I’m impressed, sort of. Sure, Jim Bowden never should have promised to make
Mark Portugal the fifth starter. But the Reds weren’t going to help
themselves by using Portugal, especially with Ron Villone looking like he
really needs to go back to giving the team quality long relief. I’m
impressed by the decision to acknowledge they’re a better team with Rob
Bell in the rotation right now. He’s young and his arm is still tender, but
Jack McKeon was willing to be careful with Steve Parris, and with the Reds’
deep pen and McKeon’s willingness to use it, this is one of the better
situations for a rookie starter.

I’m not overly bitter about Benito Santiago sneaking past Jason LaRue for
the job of caddying for Eddie Taubensee. He still has value as a platoon
partner, and he can still catch. LaRue didn’t build on his great 1998
season at Triple-A in 1999, and could use the regular playing time. If
something happens to Taubensee, LaRue can come up and split the job with
Santiago; if something happens to Santiago, LaRue will come up with the
benefit of having had regular playing time at Louisville. If Santiago
sucks, Bowden can cut him, and LaRue will still have had the advantage of
regular playing time.

The thing I don’t get (and won’t) is Bowden’s bizarre Freon Deion fetish.
Pine Time isn’t going to be any better than the bad player he was before.
Once healthy, he won’t be more useful than Michael Tucker or Alex Ochoa.
His only obvious talent will be as a media distraction from Ken Griffey Jr.
That might be worth keeping him around on the DL until rosters
expand in September.

The longshot of longshots is Hector Mercado making the team. I don’t know
if he’s still tossing the splitter, but there aren’t many left-handers who
rely on it. I’m looking forward to checking him out.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Assigned LHP Al Newman to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Placed RHP David Riske on the 15-day DL (bulging disc – lower back);
optioned RHPs Jim Brower and Justin Speier and CF Dave
Roberts
to Buffalo; assigned RHP Jamie Brewington and C Matt
Nokes
to their minor-league camp. [3/25]

Assigned LHP Chris Haney to their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Traded RHP Steve Falteisek to the Marlins for SS Victor
Rodriguez
; traded SS Jose Olmeda to the White Sox for future
considerations. [3/27]

Signed RHPs Clint Sodowsky and Joe Roa and LHP Brian
Looney
to minor-league contracts. [3/28]

Waived RHP Scott Sanders. [3/29]

Released CF Lance Johnson. [3/30]

The result of these moves really just bring two issues come to the fore:
center field and left-handed relief. Since Kenny Lofton is healthy enough
and Lance Johnson is bad, the only question is whether Charlie Manuel gave
Jim Riggleman the private pleasure of putting the note to see the manager
in Johnson’s locker. Dislocated shoulder or not, I can’t imagine Lofton
throws worse than the healthy Master of the Looping Rainbow Toss. Jacob
Cruz will undoubtedly get a bunch of playing time in center field in the
first month or two, an opportunity he earned years ago.

The more troubling predicament is the left-handed relief situation. Neither
Tom Martin nor Ricky Rincon have pitched well, and Haney was having trouble
breaking 80 mph. There are all sorts of reasons to expect a trade with a
team like the Reds, Twins or Cubs, who have southpaw relievers to spare.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Released RHP Billy Taylor. [3/23]

Announced that CF Chris Latham cleared waivers, and outrighted him
to Colorado Springs; optioned LHP Rigo Beltran to Colorado Springs;
released C Raul Casanova. [3/24]

Released IF David Howard; assigned LHP Ed Vosberg and OF
Bubba Carpenter to their minor-league camp; optioned C Ben
Petrick
to Colorado Springs. [3/27]

Acquired C Jason Dewey and OF Norm Hutchins from the Angels
in exchange for OF Edgard Clemente. [3/29]

Signed CF Brian Hunter; placed RHP Mike DeJean on the 15-day
DL. [3/30]

It gets lost in the shuffle, but the Rox pitching has gotten awfully deep
as a result of all of Dan O’Dowd’s moves. Rigo Beltran is clearly useful,
but there’s no room for him on the roster. Even with Billy Taylor’s release
and the injuries to Jerry DiPoto and Mike DeJean, the Rox pen has David
Lee, Skippy Belinda, Rich Croushore, Mike Myers, Manny Aybar, Jose Jimenez
and Julian Tavarez in it. For a team short two veteran relievers, that
isn’t the worst situation in the world. Nevertheless, it isn’t too unlikely
that they’ll swap one of Aybar or Jimenez to some team short of starting
pitching for a better reliever.

The rest is sort of a mess. It’s one thing to try an entirely new paradigm
for winning in Coors Field (contact and speed, figuring the altitude will
take care of the power), but a center field platoon of Tom Goodwin and
Brian McRae strains the limits of credulity. If they both get considerable
playing time, I could see them combining for 30 triples, and either of them
could be the first guy to pop 20 since Lance Johnson had 21 for the Mets in
1996.

Making space on the 40-man roster explains a lot as far as moving Taylor,
Chris Latham and Edgard Clemente, and losing Derrick Gibson on waivers. The
Rox needed to make space for Scott Servais, and seem to have pulled it off.
Picking up Dewey is a good move for an organization stocked with no-hit
organizational soldiers like Mark Strittmatter. With Petrick at Colorado
Springs and Dewey at New Haven, the Rox will get good catching at their top
two levels. Hutchins is no prospect, but neither was Clemente, so nabbing
some organizational depth at catcher in this exchange was a nice, if
unexciting, bit of improvement.


DETROIT TIGERS

Optioned RHP Masao Kida to Toledo; assigned IF Tilson Brito
to minor-league camp; placed LHP Sean Runyan on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

Optioned IF Gabe Alvarez to Toledo; assigned IF Jose Macias
to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Optioned RHP Jeff Weaver to Toledo; assigned RHP Nelson Cruz
and LHP Allen McDill to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Jeff Weaver’s "demotion" is only one to the fifth slot in the
rotation, courtesy of having an option. He’ll be back by the second week of
April. There might be some mild surprise that last year’s Japanese splash
Masao Kida lost out to this year’s project, Rule 5er Mark Johnson.

I’m disappointed that they demoted Tilson Brito, who could have been a
useful bat off of the bench, since Deivi Cruz and Damion Easley don’t
exactly need a defensive replacement. But Shane Halter is being kept
because he’s willing to do emergency catching, and Phil Garner wants to try
to get Robert Fick some at-bats. Compared to which utility infielder to
keep around, playing Fick is easily the more important consideration.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Claimed OF Derrick Gibson off of waivers from the Rockies. [3/24]

Optioned RHP Hector Almonte, 2B Amaury Garcia and CF Julio
Ramirez
to Calgary; optioned 2B/SS Pablo Ozuna to Portland
(Double-A); assigned UT Chris Clapinski, C Chris Tremie and
RHP Jason Grilli to their minor-league camp; acquired RHP Steve
Falteisek
from the Indians for SS Victor Rodriguez. [3/27]

Optioned C Ramon Castro to Calgary; assigned OF Mark Smith to
their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Sandy Martinez? What competent major league team would choose to play Sandy
Martinez in any capacity? While Ramon Castro did have a bad camp, the idea
that the Marlins left themselves with no alternative other than Sandy
Martinez to pair up with Mike Redmond if Castro wasn’t ready is simply
mind-boggling. That they had Chris Tremie (Sandy Martinez Lite) in camp
should be a hint.

Dave Dombrowski’s taste in players to pick up really has to be called into
question after a winter in which the Marlins have added Brant Brown, Danny
Bautista and now Derrick Gibson. All of these players are about as
marginally useful as fifth outfielders get. As a group, they’re only going
to encourage more guys in Calgary to issue Kevin Millar-style challenges
like, "call me up, because those guys suck."


HOUSTON ASTROS

Assigned RHPs Kip Gross and Joe Slusarski, LHP Erik
Plantenberg
, 3B Chris Truby, 1B Mike Robertson, OF
Marc Sagmoen and C Pedro Lopez to their minor-league camp.
[3/25]

Assigned SS Julio Lugo, IF Tripp Cromer and LF Lance
Berkman
to their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Acquired LHP Yorkis Perez from the Phillies for LHP Trever
Miller
; placed RHP Scott Elarton on the 15-day DL, retroactive
to 3/28 (stretched rotator cuff). [3/29]

Russ Johnson doesn’t have an option left, so even though Julio Lugo earned
a crack at Tim Bogar’s job at shortstop, the Astros couldn’t make a tough
choice. Their roster space for the last spot or two on the bench is already
constrained: they haven’t sorted out if the last spot on the roster is
going towards pinch-runner and outfield defensive sub Glenn Barker or
towards keeping Mitch Meluskey around as a third catcher. In a world where
Sandy Martinez is suddenly back and Tyler Houston is being asked to catch,
Paul Bako wouldn’t make it through waivers.

Getting quality playing time at shortstop seems more important than a
defensive replacement on a team that already has good outfielders in
Richard Hidalgo, Roger Cedeno, Moises Alou and Matt Mieske. With that
group, getting Daryle Ward off the field late in the game shouldn’t be a
problem.

I frankly don’t see the rationale to want Yorkis Perez over Trever Miller,
so as far as reshuffles go, this one doesn’t seem to make much sense for
the Astros.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Optioned LHP Tim Byrdak and LF Dee Brown to Omaha; assigned
RHP Mike MacDougal to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Acquired 1B-OF David McCarty from the Athletics for cash. [3/24]

Released 1B Paul Sorrento. [3/25]

Released RHP Ken Ryan and LHP Billy Brewer; optioned RHP
Brett Laxton and LHP Jamie Walker to Omaha; assigned RHP
Doug Bochtler to their minor-league camp. [3/28]

Sold C Sal Fasano to the Athletics; released RHP Tyler Green.
[3/30]

Let me get this straight: in their deals over the last two months, the A’s
effectively get Jeremy Giambi, Sal Fasano and two helpings of cash in
exchange for Brett Laxton, David McCarty and some of that cash back? Is
this the Royals, or the Kansas City A’s?

The Royals might be trolling for a left-handed reliever, because by cutting
both Billy Brewer and Tim Byrdak, they don’t have one. But the general news
for the pitching staff seems pretty good. Despite losing Blake Stein until
May, Chad Durbin, Chris Fussell and Dan Reichert have all had good camps,
and it doesn’t look like much of the journeyman dross that got dragged into
camp is going to make the team. Now if only Herk learned to have his
secretary tell Billy Beane that Mr. Robinson is out for the day….


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Signed 3B Adrian Beltre to a three-year contract; purchased the
contracts of SS Kevin Elster and RHP Mike Fetters; optioned
LHP Jeff Williams to Albuquerque; assigned C Adam Melhuse to
their minor-league camp; designated 3B Kevin Orie and RHP Dan
Naulty
for assignment. [3/23]

Optioned SS Alex Cora and OF Tony Mota to Albuquerque. [3/24]

Purchased the contract of C Chad Kreuter from Albuquerque; placed
RHP Kris Foster on the 60-day DL. [3/28]

Optioned RHP Eric Gagne and C Paul LoDuca to Albuquerque. [3/29]

Assigned IF Jeff Branson to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Placed RHP Antonio Osuna on the 15-day DL (partially torn ligament –
elbow); outrighted SS Juan Castro to Albuquerque. [3/31]

Fox executives announced the signing of Primordial Slime. "We felt
that Slime brought a lot of needed experience that might help fine young
men like Mike Fetters, Kevin Elster and Chad Kreuter adjust to major-league
life. Plus, the La Brea Tar Pits were willing to let Slime sign on as part
of a work-release program. There are all sorts of synergies here. Slime has
his own sitcom, and the writers from The Simpsons are already
working him into a few plot lines. He even has a great shot at beating out
John Goodman and Luke Perry for the title role in the new Joe
Eszterhas screenplay on the life of Abe Lincoln."


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Signed C Raul Casanova to a minor-league contract; optioned RHP
Jeff D’Amico to Indianapolis. [3/24]

Optioned SSs Santiago Perez and Lou Collier to Indianapolis;
re-assigned RHPs Mike Busby, Hector Ramirez, Eric
Ludwick
and Bob Scanlan, LHP Ricardo Jordan, 3B Jose
Fernandez
and OF Damon Hollins to Indianapolis. [3/28]

Claimed RHP Jason Boyd off of waivers from the Pirates; released Cs
Bobby Hughes and Brian Banks and 1B Antone Williamson.
[3/29]

There’s only one bit of good news, indirectly reflected here: Ronnie
Belliard will be able to play Opening Day. Everything else is bad news.
Going with a catching tandem of Tyler Houston and Henry Blanco is a clear
case of trying to out-Girardi the Girardis. "After all, somebody has
to have the worst catching situation in the majors, so why not us?"
Organizationally, the catching is so weak they’re taking a spin with one of
the original catcher prospect flameouts of the 90s, ex-Padre and ex-Tiger
superstar-to-be Raul Casanova.

While the temporary answer for who the fourth and fifth starters are is
currently Jason Bere and Horacio Estrada, neither of them may make it to
May 1. The really noxious idea? That this team might somehow end up with
both Sean Berry and Charlie Hayes on the roster. While the miseries of the
Bando Era were bad, the Brewers seem determined to learn by example, and in
this case, some of the worst ones.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned RHPs Scott Randall and Jason Ryan to Salt Lake;
assigned LHP Todd Rizzo to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Optioned OF Brian Buchanan and C Javier Valentin to Salt
Lake. [3/24]

Released RHP Bobby Ayala; optioned OF Chad Allen to Salt
Lake; assigned OF Robin Jennings and C Jeff Smith to
minor-league camp. [3/27]

Optioned RHP Mike Lincoln to Salt Lake; placed LHP J.C.
Romero
on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

The good news is old: they’ve sacked Doug Mientkiewicz, Javier Valentin and
Chad Allen, and replaced them with David Ortiz, Matt LeCroy and…Butch
Huskey? Torii Hunter? Midre Cummings? While they’ve clearly upgraded the
team at first base and catcher, lordy, those aren’t good solutions for left
field. The better news is that there’s clearly no commitment to Allen,
which should only make it easier for Mike Restovich to scale the ladder and
take the job by 2001. Other roster fun is that Jason Maxwell looks like
he’s made it, and he’s potentially an outstanding platoon mate for Todd
Walker.

Four left-handers in the pen? Four? Eddie Guardado is as good a situational
lefty as there is, and Travis Miller a genuinely good one to boot. Rule 5er
Johan Santana pitched well enough to stick, and Mark Redman has always had
my sympathy during too many years at Salt Lake, so it’s nice to see him
make the team as a middle reliever.

But think about what that means for right-handed relief: Bob Wells and
Hector Carrasco. Is that really what you want to count on? This is the
Twins, and expectations are low, so they can afford to keep talent with an
eye to the future rather than try to put their tactically-best pen
together, but it’s still an odd situation, one that could get stranger once
Romero is healthy.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed RHP Mike Thurman on the 15-day DL. [3/23]

Optioned CF Milton Bradley and OF/1B Fernando Seguignol to
Ottawa; assigned RHP Shayne Bennett to their minor-league camp. [3/27]

Released OF Manny Martinez. [3/29]

Two things seem clear: Peter Bergeron has won the starting job in center,
which hopefully end the silly game of "which white center fielder does
this player most closely resemble?" The other thing is that since
Thurman wasn’t going to heal, the fifth spot in the rotation is going to go
to Jeremy Powell, behind a front four of Dustin Hermanson, Hideki Irabu,
Javier Vazquez and Carl Pavano. Miguel Batista will resume his
garbage/utility role in the pen, backing up Ugueth Urbina, the two
left-handers (Steve Kline and David Wainhouse, until Graeme Lloyd gets
healthy), Scott Strickland and Anthony Telford. That’s one of the best
top-to-bottom staffs around, at a time when all sorts of people seem to be
sneaking onto rosters, and despite an injury and the demotion of Guillermo
Mota.


NEW YORK METS

Claimed RHP Nerio Rodriguez from the Toronto Blue Jays, only to lose him
three days later on waivers to the Red Sox. [3/28]


NEW YORK YANKEES

Announced the retirement of HoF OF Tim Raines; traded SS Juan
Melo
to the Giants for SS Wilson Delgado; optioned SS/3B
Alfonso Soriano to Columbus. [3/23]

Signed IF Carlos Garcia to a minor-league contract. [3/24]

Released IF Rafael Bournigal; assigned OF Ryan Thompson to
their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Optioned LHP Eddie Yarnall to Columbus; released C Tom
Pagnozzi
, who retired. [3/28]

Assigned C Julio Mosquera to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Signed CF Lance Johnson to a minor-leage camp. [3/31]

There is something sort of fun in the Yankees’ decision to cut past people
like Rafael Bournigal and keep Wilson Delgado around as their utility man,
but most of these cuts reflect a lack of organizational depth. If Bernie
Williams gets hit by a bus, who plays center field? Lance Johnson? Ryan
Thompson? If Derek Jeter gets kidnapped by Whitney Houston cultists, who
plays short? Delgado? Alfonso Soriano? Ugh.

The Yankees have reason to feel good about their pitching depth, to the
point that they can afford to send Ed Yarnall back, so that they can kep
Todd Erdos, because Yarnall hadn’t earned the fifth spot ahead of Ramiro
Mendoza. But the upper-level depth in the organization is too shallow for
comfort at several positions.

Others have already said their goodbyes to Tim Raines on the site, and I
said mine in the book. I’ll miss him, I’ll stump for him, and here’s hoping
he has a happy, healthy and long life ahead of him.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Assigned LHP Terry Burrows, RHP Jon Ratliff and C Cody
McKay
to their minor-league camp. [3/28]

Optioned C Danny Ardoin to Sacramento; assigned LHPs Doug
Johns
and Mark Mulder to minor-league camp; acquired C Sal
Fasano
from the Royals for cash. [3/30]

What is it they say about the criminal mind? About how it’s dumb, because
it’ll lead to decisions like trying to rob the same convenience store a
couple of times in a week, each time without a mask? What if the guy
running the mini-mart is a samaritan who feels good for having his store
knocked over because he’s helping someone less fortunate than himself? No,
it doesn’t make much sense to me either, because I seem to recall that
working in a mini-mart is one of the levels of Hell, but there’s no
explaining some people.

Anyway, A.J. Hinch has to feel pretty unlucky, since Sal Fasano should have
his job within 48 hours. A great catch-and-throw guy with good power,
Fasano is exactly what the A’s needed from a caddy for Ramon Hernandez.

On other fronts, the A’s are going with only one left-handed reliever, Mike
Magnante, and Mark Mulder lost the fifth starting slot to Ron Mahay. It’ll
be interesting to see what happens in a month or two, since chances are
that one of Mulder or Barry Zito will be ready to push into the rotation by
then. Will Gil Heredia have broken down? Will Mahay go to the pen? Having
pitching depth hasn’t been something the A’s have gotten to enjoy much in
the last decade or so, so this will be an interesting predicament once it
comes up in a few months.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Assigned 1B/LF Pat Burrell to their minor-league camp. [3/25]

Acquired 2B Mickey Morandini from the Expos for cash; assigned SS
Felix Martinez, IF David Doster, LHP Bryan Ward and
RHP Steve Schrenk to their minor-league camp; purchased the contract
of LHP Yorkis Perez. [3/28]

Traded LHP Yorkis Perez to the Astros for LHP Trever Miller;
assigned LHP Bryan Ward to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Placed RHP Carlos Reyes on the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Steve
Schrenk
from their minor-league camp; assigned 1B Chris
Pritchett
to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

There’s just something broken in somebody’s head in this organization.
While the Phillies do get to snicker at the Cubs’ expense by having both
Doug Glanville and Mickey Morandini on the team only two years after
trading one for the other, portraying the pickup of Morandini as an
improvement is just silly. He spent last year struggling to outhit Marlon
Anderson, and most projections say that he’ll have a hard time doing it
this year as well.

This isn’t like picking up an old Joe Morgan, in the hope that he can give
you some sock. Morandini was an adequate player at his best, and now he
isn’t even that. There might be a slight improvement on defense, but not
enough to help overcome this team’s several weaknesses. Until the
organization puts Pat Burrell in front of either Ron Gant or Rico Brogna,
they’re going to struggle to hold onto third place in the NL East.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Released RHP Mark Leiter. [3/23]

Released IF Dale Sveum; assigned CF Emil Brown, UT Jason
Wood
, C Tim Laker, RHPs Jose Parra, Josias
Manzanillo
and Jason Boyd to their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Released LHP Pete Schourek; optioned RHP Mike Garcia to
Nashville; assigned 1B Ivan Cruz and C Randy Knorr to their
minor-league camp. [3/29]

Optioned SS Abraham Nunez and LHP Jeff Wallace to Nashville.
[3/30]

Cutting loose Schourek to keep Jimmy Anderson as the fifth starter isn’t a
choice I’d like to have to make. Considering that Todd Ritchie seems to
have turned back into a toadstool, the rotation is starting to look
exceptionally shallow for a team that some people think will contend.

There are several open-ended injury situations, with the health of both
Jason Christiansen and Chris Peters in question. The right-handed relief is
no better. It would be nice to see Jose Silva’s snakebitten career finally
get on track, but they’re also counting on Marc Wilkins and Mike Williams.
There’s a good amount of talent here, considering they think they can
afford to demote both Garcia and Wallace. But if they stick too long with
some of last year’s surprises, they’ll be out of the race quickly. Keeping
this staff in working order may be the biggest challenge for Gene Lamont
and Pete Vuckovich yet.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Acquired CF Jim Edmonds from the Angels for RHP Kent
Bottenfield
and 2B Adam Kennedy. [3/23]

Assigned C Rick Wilkins to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Released OF Brian McRae. [3/30]

Hats off to Walt Jocketty for making a great deal to fill an obvious need.
Sure, between Ray Lankford and Jim Edmonds and Eric Davis, you have about
the equivalent of two regular outfielders, but the Cardinals desperately
need this kind of depth to avoid a repeat of what happened last year. Kent
Bottenfield was never going to be any more valuable than he is now, and
Garrett Stephenson is an excellent example of someone who could easily give
you 150 quality innings or so as a fourth or fifth starter just as
Bottenfield was last spring.

Considering they still have Mark Thompson handy, and that both Alan Benes
and Matt Morris could be available by June, they’ve got more pitching depth
than last year as well. They could use a better backup catcher than Mike
Matheny, which is why the Carlos Hernandez rumors aren’t going away, but
Jocketty is finally putting together the kind of depth that this team
needed last year. They’re well-positioned to push for the Central title
and/or the wild card.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Acquired RHP Rodney Myers from the Cubs for CF Gary Matthews
Jr.
[3/23]

Optioned RHPs Buddy Carlyle, Stan Spencer and Matt
Whiteside
and 2B Ralph Milliard to Las Vegas. [3/27]

Placed LHP Randy Myers on the 15-day DL and RHP Carlton
Loewer
on the 60-day DL. [3/28]

Optioned C Ben Davis to Las Vegas. [3/29]

Optioned OF Mike Darr and 2B/OF David Newhan to Las Vegas.
[3/30]

No sooner do they pick up another pitcher named Myers than the Pads
discover he’s as broken down as the first one. It might be worth
considering on the list of things for them to avoid in the future.

It’s unfortunate for Davis that Kevin Towers couldn’t find the right deal
for Carlos Hernandez. If Towers pulls it off and gets a prospect of value,
it will have justified the decision to give Hernandez the multi-year
contract he otherwise hardly deserved. Davis will just have to take out his
frustrations in Vegas.

Carlyle nearly made the team, and may yet get to come back if the other
rumor (Sterling Hitchcock to anybody) comes true. Meanwhile, the rotation
will be Hitchcock, Woody Williams, Matt Clement, Brian Meadows for a month
or two and Brian Boehringer. Between Meadows’s combustibility and
Boehringer’s wonky shoulder, there’s a pretty good chance that by July the
only survivors will be Clement and Williams.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Traded SS Wilson Delgado to the Yankees for SS Juan Melo. [3/23]

Optioned RHP Miguel del Toro to Fresno. [3/26]

Optioned RHP Ryan Jensen to Fresno; assigned SS Juan Melo to
their minor-league camp. [3/28]

Designated 2B Jay Canizaro for assignment. [3/29]

No real shockers, although the interesting news is that del Toro is going
to work out as a starter at Fresno. Given the obvious health concerns
surrounding Russ Ortiz, Livan Hernandez and Shawn Estes, and since Mark
Gardner is going to be himself, that’s a reasonable precaution, one forced
by the multiple trades Brian Sabean has made that have emptied the
organization’s upper levels of pitching prospects. Even then, don’t think
for a moment that they miss Chris Brock.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Outrighted RHP Brian Fuentes and LF Shane Monahan to Tacoma.
[3/24]

Assigned 2B Willie Bloomquist and SS Antonio Perez to their
minor-league camp. [3/26]

Released CF Brian Hunter. [3/27]

Assigned C Julio Machado to their minor-league camp. [3/28]

Claimed CF Anthony Sanders off of waivers from the Blue Jays. [3/31]

The same organization that gave you multi-million cost overruns for
concrete now kisses six hundred thousand smackers goodbye for making the
mistake of offering Brian Hunter salary arbitration. Hunter’s value should
have been determined by the waiver wire, not by an arbitrator, and Pat
Gillick deserves the credit for blowing this decision. Even the
"savings" they get for cutting him now hardly makes up for the
fact that it should have been done in October.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Optioned CF Randy Winn to Durham; assigned DH Dave Hollins to
their minor-league camp; released C Mike Figga and RHPs John
Burkett
and Chad Ogea; signed IF Rafael Bournigal to a
minor-league contract. [3/29]

Sent Rule 5 pick RHP Chris Reitsma back to the Red Sox. [3/28]

Released LHP Norm Charlton. [3/31]

Not a bad group of moves for the D-Rays. The one I like is the decision to
bring in Rafael Bournigal to play short at Durham, only to come up if/when
Kevin Stocker gets hurt (again). That means they’ll be keeping Bobby Smith
and Tony Graffanino as their utilitymen. I tend to lean towards keeping
better hitters on the bench, and since the D-Rays will need to pinch-hit
for Stocker, their catchers and Miguel Cairo as often as possible, carrying
a pair of backup infielders who can hit more than Bournigal seems like one
of the better ideas the Rays have had since their inception.

Charlton will be signed. It isn’t whether or not he still has anything
left, or whether or not he’ll be adequate. He’s left-handed, and as you’ve
probably noticed, several teams could use someone like that. Whichever ones
have space to play with on their 40-man rosters, or who aren’t constrained
by player options, will win the booby prize.


TEXAS RANGERS

Assigned RHPs Brian Sikorski and Chuck Smith to Oklahoma. [3/26]

Optioned 3B Mike Lamb to Oklahoma. [3/29]

Tom Evans wins the third base job, and with Frank Catalanotto getting some
time there as well, the Rangers might have a platoon in place that could
stir up memories of the great Blue Jays platoon of Rance Mulliniks and
Garth Iorg. The fun thing about the Rangers’ bench and roster right now is
that Luis Alicea could disappear and they could replace him with a potent
Catalanotto/Scott Sheldon platoon. I’m beating a dead horse, but this is a
fun and flexible roster. Whether or not Johnny Oates will put it to work is
an open question. With either the Rangers or the Orioles, he hasn’t been
inclined to use his bench much. It will be interesting to see if he breaks
that pattern this year.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed OF Marty Cordova to a one-year contract; assigned OF Jacob
Brumfield
to their minor-league camp. [3/27]

Between picking up Brad Fullmer for David Segui and Marty Cordova for cash,
I’m impressed that Gord Ash is giving Jim Fregosi enough offensive weapons
to surprise people this year. The Jays’ chances are still heavily dependent
on whether or not the young rotation comes around, but if it stays healthy
while the Yankees or the Red Sox have to worry about their lack of depth,
there’s a potential for a serious push in the AL East.