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Released INF-R Edgardo Alfonzo; recalled RHP Jason
from Salt Lake (Triple-A). [5/20]

It’s always better to make use of a roster spot than carry dead weight, so
consider this one of the rare occasions that I’ll endorse going to a
twelve-man pitching staff. Alfonzo was thoroughly useless, and while I’m not
a huge Bulger fan, it’s better to carry someone you might use than somebody
you don’t want to. In some way, I see this as symptomatic of Mike Scioscia’s
uncertainty over what to do with his 25th slot now that he doesn’t have a
third catcher. Bulger was pitching well in the PCL (25 Ks in 17.2 IP), and
he does have Scioscia in his corner, but I don’t expect him to stick for
more than a couple of weeks. Somebody’s going to have to go back to Utah
once Bartolo Colon, Maicer Izturis, and
Darin Erstad come off of the DL, and Bulger’s probably at
the head of the list for being returned to sender.

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Signed 3B-R Melvin Mora to a three-year contract extension
through 2009. [5/19]

PECOTA’s valuation anticipates that Mora will be worth more than $12 million
during that three-year stretch, and Mora’s still hitting, so signing him to
an extension might make all sorts of sense… unless it’s for more than twice
as much money, and the deal is reported to have enriched Mora to the tune of
$25 million. As much self-pity as the Orioles like to indulge themselves in
over whether or not free agents won’t come to Baltimore unless they
overpay–a la Ramon Hernandez and Javy
–this seems more than a little excessive on the
self-flagellation scale.

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Placed LHP Mike Holtz on the 15-day DL (strained elbow),
retroactive to 5/17; recalled LHP Abe Alvarez from
Pawtucket (Triple-A). [5/19]

The big lefty has been having a good year for the PawSox, but Alvarez might
not get to stick around for long. The expectation is that somebody’s gotta
go for David Riske this week, and Lenny
should be bumped back into the pen once they reactivate
David Wells as well. Once Coco Crisp comes
off of the DL, the Sox might go back to twelve pitchers, but Alvarez rates
thirteenth. However, keep in mind, that’s the state of the competition:
DiNardo has been awful, and Wells is far from a safe bet to be reliable or
healthy. As a rotation regular in Triple-A, Alvarez has been relatively
fortunate, allowing only 30 hits in 41.1 IP, while only striking out 21
against a dozen walks. Given his modest stuff, the expectations for Alvarez
are that he’s never going to be more than a fifth starter or lefty reliever,
the same range for DiNardo, so if DiNardo doesn’t shine soon, Alvarez might
eventually stick.

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Activated RHP Jose Contreras from the 15-day DL; optioned
LHP Boone Logan to Charlotte (Triple-A). [5/21]

Pretty seamless, actually. Contreras slips back into the rotation,
Brandon McCarthy goes back into the pen, and Logan’s
A-ball-to-the-majors Cinderella story predictably goes pumpkin and comes to
a relatively quiet end. Matt Thornton seems to be getting
better with every outing, and Agustin Montero hasn’t
embarassed himself yet, so for the time being, there’s no need to get worked
up over when Dustin Hermanson will be ready to pitch–June
or July.

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Purchased the contract of C-R Tim Laker from Buffalo
(Triple-A); optioned C-R Kelly Shoppach to Buffalo;
transferred RHP Matt Miller from the 15- to the 60-day DL.

The Indians recognized that Shoppach wasn’t really adapting to life on the
bench as a full-time backup catcher, and although some are comparing the
scenario to what happened with Josh Bard, Bard’s not a
prospect, and Shoppach may still be. So the Indians are making a sensible
adjustment, flipping Shoppach to a place where he can play while bringing up
a veteran who knows how to manage the delicate balance of once-a-week starts
and avoiding those dangerous gluteal splinter injuries. It’s worth keeping
this sort of thing in mind: players are not static assets, and in the same
way that some hitters can adapt to a role in which many of their at-bats
come in pinch-hitting appearances, and some cannot, I don’t think anyone
should underrate a player’s ability to be an adequate bench player. However,
Laker wasn’t even that moderately useful in either 2003 or 2004 as the
club’s primary backup catcher, so this isn’t really a solution as much as a
move made out of concern for Shoppach.

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Activated OF-L Shane Costa from the 15-day DL; recalled
SS-B Andres Blanco from Omaha (Triple-A); optioned 1B-R
Justin Huber to Omaha; designated OF-L Kerry
for assignment. [5/19]

Pathetic is supposed to be a state that inspires pity, but this borders on
‘reinventing welfare’ in its callousness and its anti-meritocratic
inefficiency. Although getting Costa back is good news, Huber got all of
three starts in more than two weeks with the team. Blanco isn’t here because
he’s any good, although his hitting prowess is improving (.282/.324/.405 at
Omaha)–he’s up because he’s not Angel Berroa, roster
zombie, and what better way to punish Berroa for being inadequate than bench
him? While I’m not unsympathetic with a desire to create legitimate
competition and perhaps get better play, I’m also not unsympathetic about
how utterly demoralizing it can be if you’re young and a Royal.

The situation might be best summed up by Buddy Bell’s total lack of
self-consciousness with his observation that Robinson "is a legitimate
big leaguer for us" despite the team’s decision to release him. How
many flavors of wrong is that comment? This is the Royals we’re talking
about, and being legitimately good enough to be a Royals isn’t really the
same thing as beinig a legitimate big leaguer. Would Esteban
be poking singles for any other team?

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Placed OF-L Bubba Crosby on the 15-day DL (strained
hamstring); purchased the contract of 1B/OF-R Mitch Jones
from Columbus (Triple-A). [5/19]

Optioned 1B/OF-R Mitch Jones to Columbus; recalled RHP Colter
from Columbus. [5/20]

Placed RHP Shawn Chacon on the 15-day DL (hematoma – leg),
retroactive to 5/17; purchased the contract of OF-L Terrence
from Columbus. [5/21]

Lord help the Yank… wait a minute, this is the Yankees, so let’s ease up
on the feeling sorry thing where the Pinstriped Menace is concerned. Would
you rather have Long than Jones? Long can play a decent left, while Jones…
well, can’t. But that gives you what? A defensive replacement for
Melky Cabrera, versus somebody who can mash a bit against
lefties. For myself, I’d prefer the latter, and that’s without getting into
whether or not Long’s pathetic hitting in Louisville earlier this spring was
a case of his pouting his way out of an organization, or a suggestion that
he’s simply done. Keep in mind, the team already had Kevin
around, so simply having a lefty hitter in the outfield isn’t
necessary. They aren’t getting runs from their DHs or their outfield
corners, and Long isn’t going to change that, but Gary
might be back before next weekend, and that would.

As for the rotation in Chacon’s absence, Aaron Small got to
lose his first game as a Yankee starter, something that they should become
familiar with conceptually before watching it happen repeatedly becomes too
much of a habit. Unfortunately, Carl Pavano‘s latest
setback might keep him out until the end of July, and the alternatives until
Chacon comes back off of the DL in early June aren’t any happier: Ron
in what would be his first rotation work since 2004, or
Scott Erickson.

In all this, the silver lining is that Bean might get a real opportunity,
and like Scott Proctor, silence the shrieking on WFAN.
Neither are prospects, but both can help a big league bullpen, and 296
strikeouts in 251.1 Columbus innings over the last three-plus seasons
suggest that the side-armer might at least prove handy in a ROOGY role.
Heck, at 29, he might even be old enough to be a Yankee in Joe Torre’s

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Placed LHP Joe Kennedy on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder),
retroactive to 5/11; recalled RHP Santiago Casilla from
Sacramento (Triple-A). [5/21]

Casilla is the pitcher formerly known as Jairo
, although his new incarnation remains every bit as wild and
overpowering as his old self, if unfortunately two years and two months
older than the previous edition. Mr. Casilla was born on January 7, 1981,
while the briefly notable Mr. Garcia was celebrating his birthday on March
7 and claiming to be only 22 last year. Whichever person you want to
identify with, at Sacramento, the guy had struck out 17 in 18 IP, with six
walks. He still has the high-90s fastball and plus slider that keep scouts
happy, and there’s always the possibility that now that the mask is off, the
new guy will be able to stick.

In Kennedy’s absence, the pen does still have lefties who throw left-handed
and everything: Randy Keisler and Ron
. The best thing you can say under the circumstances is that
at least all of the injuries have created an opportunity to show that
Chad Gaudiin can pitch, and neither Brad
nor Kirk Saarloos have been bad news in the
rotation. Nevertheless, I think everyone would rather have Kennedy,
Rich Harden, and Justin Duchscherer
healthy and back in the fold.

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Designated OF-L Matt Lawton for assignment; recalled
INF/OF-R Mike Morse from Tacoma (Triple-A); optioned RHP
Emiliano Fruto to Tacoma; activated RHP Julio
from the 15-day DL. [5/20]

Not that this is going to cripple up Seattle’s shot at the pennant, but it
does seem a bit haphazard that they’ve had to discard first Joe
and now Lawton because they don’t really know what to do
with their own roster. Lawton was grousing from the start over his lack of
playing time, but he really only has himself to blame–the Mariners had
already signed Carl Everett a couple of weeks before they’d
inked Lawton, and Lawton (or his agent) should have been able to count

The real problem is that they’re effectively carrying three DHs: Everett,
Roberto Petagine, and Raul Ibanez, plus
one super-utility scrub in Willie Bloomquist, and no real
reserve outfielder. I’d rather they’d kept Borchard and perhaps never signed
Lawton (or Everett), but now they’re down to stocking their bench with
Morse, which doesn’t seem the most effective solution considering he’s not
really seen as an effective outfielder. Worse yet, Morse is up
despite his performance at Tacoma (.230/.277/.422), so this isn’t
even a matter of bringing up a hot bat. But like I said, none of this is
going to make the Mariners significantly better or worse, it’s just a little
perplexing and spendthrift.

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Recalled RHP Robinson Tejeda from Oklahoma (Triple-A);
placed RHP Antonio Alfonseca on the 15-day DL (sore elbow),
retroactive to 5/10. [5/19]

Tejeda gets another shot at the fifth slot in the rotation, which is all
well and good, and he did do something with it on Friday, contributing five
decent innings against the Astros. The Rangers would probably rather that he
keep them from having to consider checking in on John
‘s performance, but all in all, it’s small beer considering
that we’re only talking about their fifth starter slot, and the team seems
to actually have four functioning starters ahead of whoever’s in it. That’s
a pretty rare turn of events for the Rangers, so you can bet that they’re
enjoying it.

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Optioned RHP Shaun Marcum to Syracuse (Triple-A); purchased
the contract of RHP Ty Taubenheim. [5/19]

Taubenheim was the Brewer throw-in on the Overbay trade, and has done
nothing since his arrival to make people see him as anything more than a
solid strike-thrower. At Syracuse, he’d allowed 41 baserunners in 39.2 IP,
with 24 strikeouts. He’s already come further than anyone expected, so he’s
a bit of an underdog, but with Gustavo Chacin expected back
in time for his next start, it’s unlikely that the Jays will need to take a
longer look at Taubenheim.

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Purchased the contract of RHP Kevin Jarvis from Tucson
(Triple-A); optioned RHP Greg Aquino to Tucson; designated
RHP Brian Bruney for assignment. [5/20]

My Jarvis flashback takes me all the way back to… last December, when to
the incredulity of at least one colleague, I said we had to do a Kevin
Jarvis player comment in the book. But now here we are, in late May, and the
Snakes have reasons to wonder how much Juan Cruz or
Claudio Vargas or Orlando Hernandez can be
relied upon in the rotation, and the old guy’s up in a middle relief role.
Cruz has given the Snakes three winnable starts in five turns, while
Hernandez seems to be dealing with his perpetual aches and pains, so if
there’s a guy on the spot, I have to think it might be Vargas. I just wonder
why you’d want Jarvis as well as Jason Grimsley to do this
sort of thing, but maybe this is also an opportunity to let Aquino pitch in
some more high-leverage situations in Tucson to prep him for replacing one
of the more important pitchers in the pen.

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Purchased the contract of RHP Travis Smith from Richmond
(Triple-A); optioned RHP Peter Moylan to Richmond;
transfered RHP Kyle Davies from the 15- to the 60-day DL.

Recalled C-B Brayan Pena from Richmond; designated RHP
Travis Smith for assignment. [5/21]

Credit John Schuerholz for providing a nifty solution to the problem of who
takes the fifth starter slot for a day while Horacio
nears his return from the DL. Smith’s a
just-short-of-adequate journeyman, and somebody who might have given you a
five-inning outing you might be able to win. He didn’t rise to that on
Saturday, but that’s okay, because the other thing someone of Smith’s ilk
gives you is an eminently outrightable commodity, so that the Braves could
subsequently bring up Pena to serve as a temporary backup while
Brian McCann is out with an ankle injury. So, even short a
catcher and a fifth starter, the Braves have made some necessary
compensations, and they’re good to go on a night-to-night basis. Eventually,
Ramirez will be back and either McCann will be on the DL or Pena back in
Richmond, and that’s okay too. There’s now an extra spot on the 40-man freed
up for other use, and Moylan wasn’t really getting much work.

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Claimed OF-L Miguel Negron off of waivers from the Blue
Jays. [5/19]

Optioned LHP Rich Hill to Iowa (Triple-A); recalled RHP
Michael Wuertz from Iowa. [5/21]

Hill didn’t do anything to win friends and influence people, so even with
Kerry Wood‘s health back to questionable after only one
start, you can understand why the Cubs decided to go in a different
direction. Apparently, the quick fix under consideration is plugging
Glendon Rusch back in, which might do for the time being,
allowing the Cubs to potentially push Wood’s next start back to sometime
next week if need be, courtesy of Thursday’s off-day.

At least you can consider this a case of things looking up in the pen.
Wuertz did everything he needed to in Iowa to provide a reminder that he’s
still capable of giving this team a quality reliever, striking out 19 in 15
IP while allowing only 12 hits and six walks. If he can do anything like
that or his performance last season, he should move past Roberto
and above Dusty Baker’s caprices quickly enough.

As waiver claims go, I like Negron well enough. He’s toolsy and young, and
if he flopped in last year’s introduction to Double-A and has done worse
still in his repeat engagement this year (.208/.259/.292), he’s young enough
to get his act together. I know, Jays outfielders have been the source of
heartbreak for prospect mongers for decades, always favored by scouts, and
rarely performing to expectations, but the Cubs’ system is not blessed with
lots of outfield talent. Consider that the downside of their focus on
finding amateur pitching–they’re good at it, and not quite so good at
finding quality outfielders. All the more reason to keep an eye on the
waiver wire and see if somebody else’s former outfield prospect might do
something in a new organization, especially if you can afford the 40-man
roster space. I’d liken this move to the winter pickup of Angel
, in that it’s worthwhile, and might get you something more
than a spare part.

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Optioned INF-B Ray Olmedo to Louisville (Triple-A). [5/18]

Activated INF-R Rich Aurilia from 15-day DL; signed RHP
Joe Mays to a minor league contract. [5/19]

Activated LHP Eric Milton from 15-day DL; designated LHP
Dave Williams for assignment. [5/20]

I’m a little surprised that the Reds decided to cut bait on Williams
already, but let’s face it, the major achievement in making Sean
go away was finding somebody else to pay for him, and
suckering Dave Littlefield on that score permits the unfurling of an
organization-wide "Mission Accomplished" banner. (My suggestion is
that they string it up in the GABP’s gap, to blot out Mr. Lindner’s view.)
If Williams couldn’t outpitch Elizardo Ramirez, he isn’t
going to be missed. His up-side was a moderately useful fifth
starter, and for better or for worse, the team’s stuck with its multi-year
commitment to Milton for the time being, so they may as well pitch the guy
and hope that he doesn’t simply repeat his VORP performance in his next four
starts–although even then, he’d only be equally
worthless as Williams was

As for Aurilia’s arrival, he goes straight back into the role he had before,
basically platooning with Scott Hatteberg at first while
spot-starting around the rest of the infield for the Reds’ trio of
"kids" at the other three positions. Given that Felipe
, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brandon
make for a nifty group of guys right now entering their
primes, it’s not a bad situation, and it’s one which affords the Reds the
opportunity skip carrying another infield reserve, instead employing
David Ross as a third catcher. The only thing I’d like to
see is a better outfield reserve than Quinton McCracken,
but if we get to the end of August, they can always just put Chris
on their playoff roster instead of QMcC. That’s not as
unlikely as you might think: keep in mind that GM Wayne Krivsky was part of
the brain trust that took a nice risk in Minnesota in 2004, and placed
Jason Kubel on its postseason roster.

The downside of that Minnesota heritage shows up in other ways, however,
what with the attempt to retread Mays. Still, it’s little ventured, and if
there is perhaps even less to be gained, it’s a no-risk move, and if the
Reds fix him up into a decent fifth starter, that’s something.

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Activated 2B/OF-R Chris Burke from the 15-day DL; optioned
UT-R Joe McEwing to Round Rock (Triple-A). [5/21]

The challenge here is to see if the Astros will actually create a role for
Burke to actually get some playing time. Although Jason
is under fire for his slow start, it’s Preston
who has been the huge disappointment in the early
going, so you might hope to see Burke get in a few starts as a left fielder.

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Recalled RHP Lance Carter from Las Vegas (Triple-A);
optioned RHP Franquelis Osoria to Las Vegas. [5/19]

Flip-flopping Carter and Osoria might seem like a roster irrelevancy, but to
some extent both are the victims of the decision to push Odalis
into the pen, start Aaron Sele, and
keep two other lefties in the pen (Tim Hamulack and
Joe Beimel). So, if you’re either Carter or Osoria, a bad
week at the office can mean ten days or more in Las Vegas. Happily, Sele’s
pitching well in the rotation, but unless the Dodgers do something about
their multitude of lefties in the pen, or until they coax Perez into a
Russ Ortiz-like trip to the DL for a hyperextended sulk
muscle, the team’s in an awkward position.

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Recalled RHP Chris Mabeus from Nashville (Triple-A);
optioned RHP Ben Hendrickson to Nashville. [5/21]

Mabeus was only with Nashville long enough to strike out a pair of hitters
in a single inning, but with an off-day this week, there’s no need to keep
Hendrickson around as a reminder that they really hope Ben
comes back soon. Hendrickson is now obviously behind
Dana Eveland in the Brewer scheme of things, but there’s
hope that Rick Helling will join the rotation in a couple
of weeks. In the meantime, rather than bring Hendrickson back, I’d be
curious to see what might happen if they gave Jose Capellan
a start or two.

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Designated RHP Jose Lima for assignment; recalled RHP
Anderson Garcia from Norfolk (Triple-A). [5/19]

Released RHP Bartolome Fortunato. [5/20]

You might hope that Garcia might get more of an opportunity than
Heath Bell did, but let’s face it, scratching Lima still
leaves a team that’s relying on Jeremi Gonzalez and
Darren Oliver. Garcia’s proven relatively rubber-armed this
spring, already tossing 31.1 IP between Double- and Triple-A, and he has the
merit of decent velocity and a 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Regardless, he’s
only another name to add to the "maybe this guy will get Aaron
into the rotation" sweepstakes, and like so many other
individual lotto picks, unlikely to be a winner as long as Willie Randolph’s
mind is made up on the subject.

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Announced the retirement of INF-R Alex Gonzalez;
recalled 1B/3B/C-R Chris Coste from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

It’s been a long,
long, long road for Coste to the big leagues
, but he’s always hit, he’s
not embarrassingly bad at either infield corner or behind the plate, and how
can you not root for a guy whose big break was four years as a star on the
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, contending against the evil empire St. Paul Saints
in the Northern League? The guy played with Darryl Motley
of the ’85 Royals, human fire hydrant Brian Traxler, the
ageless Jeff Bittiger, famous sibling Ozzie
, and the always-wandering Blaise Ilsley.
Anybody else remember the too-large Mike Busch playing
third for the Dodgers? He washed up in Fargo too.

Anyway, Coste has been through a lot, but he was being scouted, getting a
first shot courtesy of the Pirates, and then finally sticking with the
Indians’ organization. He’s basically someone to root for, proof positive
that the Indy leagues have done more than give us the occasional pitching
find, they’ve also given us guys good enough to stick in the upper levels of
affiliated farm systems, and even crack The Show.

As for Gonzalez, while he’s certainly the not-so-secret beneficiary of the
Bartman incident, and although he was always seen as somewhat disappointing,
he did turn out to be a pretty useful ballplayer. If he wasn’t one of the
American League’s trinity at shortstop, he was a good glove, a hitter with
modest pop and modest patience. He could bunt, and that’s the sort of thing
that might get Buster Olney lathered up and tingly. Because A-Gonz arrived
young yet ready, a lot of us were quick to expect that he’d blossom into
something more, but that’s our fault, not his.

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Placed 3B/OF-R Jose Bautista on the Bereavement List.

Recalled INF-R Yurendell De Caster from Indianapolis
(Triple-A). [5/21]

De Caster might not be as much of a story as the Phillies’ Coste is, but
he’s had his own long road to the majors, having had to spend a good stretch
in the bottom rungs of the D-Rays organization, followed by two season spent
in the Carolina League. Finally boosted up to the upper levels the last two
years, he’s hit for power, and he can play first, second, third, or the
outfield corners. If Mike Edwards wasn’t already a favorite
son of sorts for manager Jim Tracy, he might make for an even better bench
weapon. However, they’re both behind Jose Hernandez for
this sort of work, which ought to make you wonder if they really wouldn’t be
better off finding a lefty-hitting reserve for either the infield or

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Activated RHP Brian Wilson from the 15-day DL, and optioned
him to Fresno (Triple-A); placed 1B-R Lance Niekro on the
15-day DL (bursitis – shoulder), retroactive to 5/15; recalled 2B-R
Kevin Frandsen from Fresno. [5/21]

Ray Durham‘s fine, and the team already isn’t playing
Dan Ortmeier, so I wouldn’t hold out much hope that
Frandsen’s going to get to do much more than pinch-hit. Losing Niekro
for an extended stretch might cement the team’s platoon at first base, as
Mark Sweeney does enough slugging to earn his share of the
job; since Niekro isn’t really a prospect, that should be fine.

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Recalled RHP Anthony Reyes from Memphis (Triple-A);
optioned RHP Brian Falkenborg to Memphis. [5/20]

Recalled 1B/OF-L Chris Duncan from Memphis; optioned RHP
Anthony Reyes to Memphis. [5/21]

Tasty interleague amusements gave Reyes his shot at a spot start and Duncan
some DH time against the Royals. Of course, both made great cases for why
they’re worth having around against "major league" competition,
with Duncan bopping a bomb on Sunday after Reyes shut out a big league
lineup into the sixth inning. Reyes’ opportunity wasn’t going to last
considering that Sidney Ponson‘s injury isn’t very serious,
but Duncan might get more of a shot, especially if Juan
and Larry Bigbie continue to struggle.
Plus, he is Dave Duncan‘s kid, and this is the team that
gave first base coach Dave McKay‘s son Cody his best
big league opportunity. He’s not a top prospect, but the Cardinals can’t
afford to punt offense from a corner outfield slot, and Bigbie shows little
sign of ever living up to scouty expectations of greatness.

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Transferred RHP Pedro Astacio from the 15- to the 60-day
DL; optioned OF-L Ryan Church to Harrisburg (Double-A);
purchased the contract of OF-R Alex Escobar from
Harrisburg. [5/19]

Inexcusable, and made more egregious still since Church is being shipped out
for another one of Jim Bowden’s strokes of genius, having wasted 40-man
roster space on Escobar when he traded Jerry Owens to the
White Sox to get him before last season. Happily, Escobar was hitting in
Double-A (.306/.456/.510), but considering that he’s 27, and years removed
from his fame as a prospect, this really seems more of an exercise in front
office self-justification than anything else. The accusation is that Church
is "confused" at the plate, but the only confusion should be over
why he keeps getting jerked around by the organization, or why Bowden and
manager Frank Robinson seem blind to his value as a hitter. Overreacting to
every minor slump is the sort of micromanagement that will keep a club from
ever developing anybody beyond the no-brainer prospects, like Ryan
. The Nationals really shouldn’t afford themselves the
privilege of being this invasively dim.

Thank you for reading

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