Purchased the contract of RHP Eric Weaver from Edmonton; designated
IF Keith Johnson for assignment. [5/2]

Having Eric Weaver around gives Mike Scioscia the option to use a
right-hander as the fifth starter instead of automatically going with Kent
Mercker, at least notionally. The expectation that Tim Belcher isn’t too
far from being activated means it’s hardly a major issue.


Placed 1B Will Clark on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled
3B Ryan Minor from Rochester; waived RHP Tim Worrell to give
him his unconditional release. [5/3]

Only the Orioles can stage-manage this kind of thing. They could use Calvin
Pickering for his left-handed sock, and Pickering really ought to be their
first baseman of the immediate future. Instead, they’re impressed with Ryan
Minor’s hot start, so they have a right-handed bat to back up
right-handed-hitting Jeff Conine at first base and right-handed-hitting Cal
Ripken at third base. Because they’re busy pretending they’re contending,
the Orioles refuse to help themselves by calling up the better player, and
instead call up one of Syd Thrift’s goofier projects.


Activated RHP Kerry Wood from the DL; optioned OF Roosevelt
to Iowa. [5/2]

I feel sort of bad, seeing that my November prediction that Kerry Wood
would be pitching for the Cubs by May Day was off by 24 hours. I’ll blame
the fact that Monday was an off day.

At any rate, it’s sad to see Rosie Brown go down, but he’s stymied by the
Cubs’ belief that they’re going to compete with Wood and Ismael Valdes
back. Once they notice that they’re still a bad offensive and defensive
club, they may get around to trading Henry Rodriguez (to the Yankees?) so
that Brown can play.

What’s really goofy about sending Brown down is that it means the Cubs are
temporarily carrying four left-handed relievers (Mark Guthrie, Felix
Heredia, Andrew Lorraine and Daniel Garibay), while shorting themselves of
left-handed pinch-hitters. They have Jeff Reed and Willie Greene, each of
whom are getting more and more playing time as Shane Andrews’s wrist and
Joe Girardi’s bat create opportunities for them, and let’s not forget the
immortal Jeff Huson.

Meanwhile, they still need a center fielder to play in front of Damon
Buford, and while the "Draft Corey Patterson" drive is on, the
Cubs are wisely anticipating that they might almost be in the run for
fourth place, and you wouldn’t want to rush the kid into that kind of


Activated C Scott Servais from the DL; optioned C Ben Petrick
to Colorado Springs. [5/3]

Darn kid pasted the ball far too well to keep him around. While Ben
Petrick’s glovework is still catching flak, the alternative is Scott
Servais, whose best days behind the plate are long gone, and defense is
supposed to have been his calling card, once upon a time.


Purchased the contract of 2B/OF Jose Macias from Toledo; optioned
RHP Dave Borkowski to Toledo. [5/3]

Jose Macias is a switch-hitter who can stand around all over the place, so
he’ll get to fill in here and there while the Tigers sort through their
various suspensions. Hey, just like Gregg Jefferies. At 26, he’s not a
prospect, and he doesn’t have any offensive skills of note.

Even without the suspensions, the Tigers could easily afford to go back to
11 pitchers after deciding that they’d rather let Rule 5 pick Mark Johnson
start than Dave Borkowski, not to mention Air Blair. Whatever happened to
Blair’s vaunted secret pitch that he was supposed to be developing over the
winter, anyway?


Activated C Henry Blanco from the DL; designated C Raul
for assignment. [5/2]

Recalled LHP Horacio Estrada from Indianapolis; optioned LHP Ray
to Indianapolis; returned LHP Matt Williams to the Yankees.

Horacio Estrada not only came up and got a start, but like Everett Stull
before him he bushwhacked his first opponent and put up a quality start. I
expect him to be a reasonably useful fifth starter, unlike Stull; he hasn’t
had major arm problems before (he lost most of 1998 to a broken hand) and
he has command of three pitches.

They should not have sent down Ray King; he’s a better situational
left-hander than Valerio De Los Santos, but Jim Bruske is being retained as
a spare mop-up man on Davey Lopes’s whim. As long as they were cutting bait
with Jaime Navarro, they could have bought themselves back some more roster
space by getting rid of Sean Berry as well.

Not that we should expect Henry Blanco to be mistaken for Mike Piazza, but
Papo Casanova’s return to the major leagues only left everyone convinced he
can’t outplay Tyler Houston, which is about as low as you can go and still
be in the major leagues.


Recalled RHP Jeremy Powell from Ottawa; optioned 1B Andy
to Ottawa. [5/1]

Recalled RHP Mike Johnson from Ottawa; purchased the contract of RHP
Felipe Lira from Ottawa; optioned RHPs Jeremy Powell and
Brad Rigby to Ottawa; transferred LHP Graeme Lloyd from the
15- to the 60-day DL. [5/3]

Because of happy scheduling, the Expos won’t need to use a fifth starter
again until the weekend of May 12, which means they can sort through who
they want to have around as their mop-up man for nearly ten days. Will it
be ex-Rule 5 tater-tosser Mike Johnson, famed for his nifty curveball? Will
it be grizzled ex-Tiger Felipe Lira, still spoiling for another shot in a
major-league rotation? Or will Brad Rigby earn a second chance in lovely
Ottawa? The answer won’t come for more than a week, but I’m sure we’ll all
be glued to our seats waiting to find out who wins. Keep in mind, there
will only be one winner: either Jeremy Powell or Mike Thurman will be
coming back up by the 12th.

Interesting to note that Felipe Alou appreciated having slugger Andy Tracy
around. Considering Alou has a roster with three utility infielders and no
worthwhile fourth outfielder, he ought to be able to make space to keep Tracy.


Optioned C Vance Wilson to Norfolk; recalled LHP Bill
from Norfolk. [5/1]

No shockers here, from Vance Wilson’s return once Mike Piazza turned out to
be OK to Bill Pulsipher’s bad outing. Dennis Springer might be a decent
fifth starter for only a few teams, but that’s still a step up from Pulsipher.


Reclaimed Rule 5 pick Matt Williams on waivers from the Brewers. [5/3]


Activated RHP Jason Schmidt from the DL; optioned RHP Brad
to Nashville. [5/2]

Jason Schmidt’s return isn’t going to mean all that much for the Bucs’ push
for respectability. The offense is badly broken, and the attempted
"repairs" are only making it worse. The danger is that if Gene
Lamont was desperate enough to leave Schmidt out too long earlier in the
season, he may be even more so from here on out.

Brad Clontz loses out after being uncharacteristically wild, with Jose
Parra getting his spot in the bullpen.


Placed 3B Fernando Tatis on the 15-day DL (pulled groin); recalled
1B/OF Larry Sutton from Memphis. [5/2]

Signed 2B Fernando Vina to a three-year contract with a club option
for 2004. [5/3]

Losing Fernando Tatis hurts the Cardinals about as badly as any injury
could. Cult-hero status aside, Craig Paquette is not a good offensive
regular. With just about everyone on the team not named Ray Lankford due
for some cooling off, it isn’t hard to envision the next month being one in
which the Cards lose a chunk of their early lead.

Congratulations to Fernando Vina. Next winter, when the Cardinals claim
they lost money and will continue to lose money, hopefully someone will ask
them why they gave a multi-year contract to an injury-prone 31-year-old
with one good offensive season to his credit. At least by Tony Womack
standards, it’s a good deal for the Cards. Vina has a good glove, and he’s
had a good five weeks at the plate. The question about his ability to
recreate his great 1998 is whether he can stay healthy.


Recalled RHP Buddy Carlyle from Las Vegas; optioned RHP Wil
to Las Vegas. [5/1]

Buddy Carlyle is coming up to take Woody Williams’s place in the rotation.
Caryle will have to be monitored closely after being overworked in 1999: as
a 21-year-old, he started 32 games and pitched almost 200 innings.

What’s silly about this is that Wil Cunnane didn’t deserve to go down this
time any more than he has in years past. For whatever reason, Kevin Towers
is convinced that he has to have Vicente Palacios around, as if the
graybearded Mexican League veteran wouldn’t make it through waivers after
his recent shellackings. The next few weeks may be the bad stretch that
breaks up the logjam that has held up so many rumored Padre deals


Signed DH Ruben Sierra and LHP Tony Mounce to minor-league
contracts. [5/1]

If you’re desperate for switch-hitting power, there’s rarely a more gutless
or dim-witted move than trying to resurrect the Bad Bald One, Ruben Sierra.
There hasn’t been a point during the last five years at which signing
Sierra made any sense. But the Latin fraternity buzzes about a nice day he
had over the winter, or how it’s neat that he had a good start in the
Mexican Leagues, and another GM gets gulled into wasting his time.

The silliness has even more elements to it: Sierra will have to be added to
the 40-man roster if he’s called up, which potentially costs the Rangers a
baseball player. Considering they could just as easily add Pedro Valdes to
the roster, and in doing so add a better hitter as well as someone who can
play an outfield corner, you’d hope they’d be smart about this. So the
mistake is made, and nothing more than willful stupidity will get Sierra
onto the 40-man roster, because nothing he does in Oklahoma is going to get
him on the roster on the basis of merit.

At least signing Tony Mounce is a decent move. After flopping as a starter
in the Astros’ chain, Mounce is exactly the kind of curveballing
left-hander who might end up being a pretty handy specialist.


Placed LF Shannon Stewart on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/29
(pulled hamstring), recalled OF Andy Thompson from Syracuse. [5/1]

Shannon Stewart really hasn’t been playing for the last couple of weeks, so
it was about time the Jays finally put him on the DL. In his absence, Jose
Cruz Jr. has gotten first dibs on the leadoff job, but hasn’t really done
much with it.

Andy Thompson will get to platoon with Brad Fullmer as well as spot-start
in left field for Marty Cordova. Given Cordova’s limitations as a hitter
and fielder, this is a great opportunity for Thompson to impress Jim Fregosi.

Thank you for reading

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