Traded minor-league infielder Mike Bell to the New York Mets for
minor-league pitcher Joe Lisio. [2/10]

Since Mike Bell was blocked at third by Matt Williams until forever and
doesn’t hit enough to play third in the majors anyway, the D-backs
essentially gave up nothing to get a minor-league closer with perhaps a
2% chance of having an impact at the major-league level someday. Not a
bad day’s work, yes, but it’s also a sure sign that someone in Arizona’s
front office needs some busywork.


Agreed to terms on a four-year contract and an option for 2002 with
outfielder Troy O’Leary. [2/6]

True, it wasn’t for a lot of money. But just as Duquette found O’Leary
on the waiver wire three years ago, he could go back to the waiver wire
now and find a comparable ballplayer for $150K/year plus meal money.
Signing players like O’Leary to long-term deals defeats the entire
purpose of plucking replaceable talent off waivers in the first place,
and does nothing to solve Boston’s outfield problem.


Invited pitcher Courtney Duncan to spring training as a non-roster
player. [2/12]

For a bad team, the Cubs have churned out a handful of good pitching
prospects recently, and Duncan is next in that line. Although he doesn’t
throw a blistering fastball, he has good command, throws four plus
pitches, and really just needs to work his way up the system and stay
healthy. If he makes the big club, he’ll get hammered.


Agreed to terms with pitcher Robbie Beckett on a minor-league contract.

Guys who throw as hard as Beckett have nine lives to try to find some
control, and most of them die trying.


Acquired pitchers Jesus Sanchez and A.J. Burnett and outfielder Robert
from the New York Mets for pitcher Al Leiter and infielder
Ralph Milliard. [2/6]

In the end, I’d rather have Esteban Yan and get to keep Ralph Milliard,
but Milliard wasn’t going to get a chance in Florida, and Sanchez isn’t
a bad prospect. Sanchez hasn’t been worked to death like most Met
pitching prospects, throws hard, has good control, and looks fully
recovered from 1995 elbow surgery. He could see time in the Marlins’
rotation this year, although an ideal ETA for him would be 1999.
Stratton’s a former #1 pick (’96) who controls the strike zone about as
well as Bill Clinton controls his … er, nevermind. Stratton’s a complete
project at this point, but the Fish have had pretty good success in
building major leaguers with plate discipline, so he may be headed to
the right organization. Burnett’s a thrower who needs to learn how to
pitch: in 44 IP in the New York-Penn League last year, he gave up just
28 hits and struck out 48, but walked 35. He’s only 21, and is obviously
at least three years away.


Signed pitcher Chris Howard to a minor-league contract and invited him
to spring training. [2/10]


Acquired pitchers Eric Milton and Danny Mota, outfielder Brian Buchanan
and shortstop Cristian Guzman and cash considerations from the New York
Yankees for second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. [2/6]

Oops. The Twins traded their franchise player and got very little in
return. Thoughts of Enrique Wilson, Chad Ogea, Denny Neagle, or Ricky
Ledee have all gone up in smoke, and the Twins missed a golden
opportunity to restock the system and build for another title run.
Milton’s a year away, but there’s a good chance none of the other three
will pan out. They tried to control the trade negotiations and play the
various bidders off each other, and they blew it.


Acquired pitcher Al Leiter and infielder Ralph Milliard from the Florida
Marlins for pitchers Jesus Sanchez and A.J. Burnett and outfielder
Robert Stratton; signed pitchers Turk Wendell, Derek Wallace and Jason
to one-year contracts. [2/6]

Traded minor-league pitcher Joe Lisio to the Arizona Diamondbacks for
minor-league infielder Mike Bell. [2/10]

The Mets didn’t give up the farm for Leiter, although whether Leiter
solves any of their problems is a good question. Leiter’s been
consistently inconsistent and brittle throughout his career, and gave
back all of the ground he’d gained in ’96 plus some last year. Milliard
could play a role for the Mets this year once they realize that giving
Carlos Baerga at bats is like giving money and power to government –
they’ll either waste them or use them against you. The Mets’ first
solution to the Baerga problem might be to put Huskey at third and
Alfonzo at second, but my money says they’re done screwing around with
Alfonzo and would rather not move him again. As for Mike Bell, I guess
Norfolk has to have a third baseman, too.


Acquired second baseman Chuck Knoblauch from the Minnesota Twins for
pitchers Eric Milton and Danny Mota, outfielder Brian Buchanan and
shortstop Cristian Guzman and cash considerations. [2/6]

As a Yankee fan, I’m pretty pleased. We only gave up one of our top 5
prospects (Milton), and only 20-year-old Guzman looks to have a high
ceiling of the three lower-tier prospects – if he ever stops swinging at
everything (17 BB/105 K last year). At this point, he’s not a good bet
for future success. Buchanan’s a future bench player/tweener type who
had approximately no future with the Yanks, and Mota’s an A-ball closer
who still hasn’t mastered his control yet. For this, plus some
Steinbrenner pocket change, the Yanks get a second baseman not named
Luis Sojo who is also a solid leadoff hitter (.406 OBA out of that slot
in the last 5 years, .390 last year). This move pushes the Yanks back
ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East preseason favorites race, which
means squat come October but helps us pass the time until Opening Day.


Sold the contract of pitcher Ryan Hancock to Fukuoka of Japan’s Pacific
League. [2/10]

Picture the 6’2″ Hancock in Tokyo. Yeah, he’ll blend.


Designated pitcher Ken Robinson for assignment. [2/10]

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