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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed RHP Jason Dickson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/15
(tendinitis – hip); purchased the contract of RHP Brett Hinchliffe;
transferred RHP Tim Belcher from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/19]

It looks like the Angels rushed Jason Dickson back to no good end. Coming
on the heels of losing Ken Hill and Kent Mercker, on top of the demotion
and injury of Ramon Ortiz, the Angels are about to go from having an
adequate and better-than-expected rotation to one almost as bad as this
winter’s worst-case scenarios.

Brian Cooper will be called up to man one spot behind a front three of Kent
Bottenfield, Scott Schoeneweis and Jarrod Washburn, but after that, the
Angels are left wondering if Hill will be ready to be reactivated and
rocked again, or if Ortiz should take a few more drubbings. Brett
Hinchliffe is a notional temp, and for real gallows humor, keep in mind
that Shawn Boskie is still mucking around the organization.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Activated RHP Matt Mantei from the DL; optioned RHP Vicente
Padilla
to Tucson. [5/21]

Matt Mantei’s presence or absence hasn’t mattered a whit so far, and it
isn’t about to start mattering. Vincente Padilla pitched well during his
stint with the Snakes, well enough to deserve to stick. While some people
are speculating that conditioning or expansion are keeping baseball players
around for longer careers, career-saving surgeries and guaranteed money for
people like Russ Springer and Armando Reynoso deserve healthy shares of the
credit.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Activated SS Walt Weiss from the DL; optioned SS Mark DeRosa
to Richmond. [5/21]

In Walt Weiss’s absence, Rafael Furcal continued to flourish. While
Furcal’s on-base skills and speed get deserved attention, his defense is
still rough enough to make job-sharing with Weiss a temporary necessity.
It’s to the Braves’ continued credit that they can afford the luxury and
have the organizational courage to give Furcal the job part-time, all while
supposedly lagging behind the Mets and their over-touted veteran pickups.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Activated 1B Will Clark from the DL; optioned 3B Ryan Minor to
Rochester. [5/18]

Who really cares if Will the Thrill is back? Boss Angelos? The psychic who
in 1985 predicted Clark would break Pete Rose’s hits record? That sad-sack
rotohead who had to settle for getting Clark in his league? It isn’t as if
his playing will make the Orioles better or worse. Like too many players in
their lineup, he’s earned the distinction of being "mostly
harmless."

The only addition is by subtraction, as Syd Thrift’s toy project of Ryan
Minor gets sent away, and deservingly so. It hasn’t garnered much
attention, but Thrift has gone from an honored doyen of player development
to a craven toady of Clan Angelos with a slender grasp on the talent he has
in his own system. If you’re historically-minded and feel sorry for Thrift
and his current predicament despite the fact that he’s here by choice, then
feel free to draft an obituary that skims over his association with this
inept organization.

Bill James once noted that an unfortunate man lives to become a parody of
his own strengths, a reference to Chuck Tanner. That same observation would
be true of Thrift today; he’s far-removed from being the innovator of the
’60s and ’70s that he once was, and his eye for talent has dimmed to the
point that he sees no further than the roto mindset that guides Clan
Angelos in its thoughtless accumulation of players more than 30 years old.


BOSTON RED SOX

Activated 3B John Valentin from the DL; assigned IF Andy
Sheets
to Pawtucket. [5/19]

Even if John Valentin doesn’t bounce back from the multi-year slide he’s
endured, Red Sox fans should at least take heart that his return and Wilton
Veras’s retention should temporarily eliminate the indignity of watching
either Jeff Frye or Manny Alexander DH versus left-handed pitching.

It might help Boston’s flexibility if the team were to explore returning
Valentin to shortstop or even second base for a couple of games during
Nomar Garciaparra’s absence. Veras can only play third base, and if
anything were to happen to Garciaparra or Jose Offerman down the stretch,
the Red Sox would be better off being able to play Veras and Valentin in
the same infield than wasting potentially critical at-bats on Donnie
Sadler, or worse yet Frye or Alexander.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed RHP Jaret Wright on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/12
(strained right shoulder); placed RHP Charles Nagy on the 15-day DL,
retroactive to 5/17 (elbow); placed LHP Ricardo Rincon on the 15-day
DL, retroactive to 5/17 (elbow); purchased the contract of RHP Scott
Sanders
from Buffalo; recalled RHP Jim Brower and LHP Mark
Watson
from Buffalo. [5/18]

Purchased the contract of RHP Paul Rigdon from Buffalo; designated
RHP Scott Sanders for assignment. [5/19]

While losing three pitchers at once sounds pretty dramatic, how much effect
will it really have? Things aren’t really that bad, especially since they
already have Bobby Witt out of their system. Jaret Wright should miss only
one start and be back around the end of the month. That means only one
rotation spot is up for grabs during the five or six weeks that Charles
Nagy is expected to miss, and Paul Rigdon looks like he has first dibs.
Rigdon is credited as a smart pitcher with a broad assortment. He’s already
a survivor of Tommy John surgery, and he’s exactly the sort of pitcher the
Indians should be evaluating instead of wasting time on the Bobby Witts of
the world.

I have to confess some curiosity about what Dick Pole might have been able
to do with Scott Sanders, but if Sanders couldn’t pitch against the Tigers
and hadn’t done anything to win their confidence working with Pole in the
spring, perhaps even I have to give up on him.

That leaves losing Ricky Rincon, possibly for the season. While the Tribe
still has to live with the indignity of trading Brian Giles to get him, in
practical terms, there’s no significant effect. Useful situational
left-handers can be scared up relatively easily, and Rincon wasn’t being
used for anything more than that. Mark Watson might not pitch significantly
worse in terms of getting left-handed hitters out, even though he’s
far-removed from his days of starring at Clemson. The Tribe may turn
somebody else up who’s effective, if they’re willing to beat the bushes to
find him instead of trading a good prospect.


DETROIT TIGERS

Recalled RHP Brandon Villafuerte from Toledo; activated RHP Brian
Moehler
from the DL; placed RHP Mark Johnson on the 15-day DL
(lower back strain); optioned RHP Masao Kida to Toledo. [5/19]

Scuffy Moehler’s return brings the rotation back to full strength: Scuffy,
Jeff Weaver, Hideo Nomo and C.J. Nitkowski. There’s nobody in that rotation
you wouldn’t mind having, as long as you don’t have to pitch more than two
or three of them behind a couple of really good starters.

Mark Johnson takes the time-honored place of all Rule 5 draft picks: the
disabled list. His stint will be stretched out as long as it is within the
realm of medical excusability, followed by a maximum-length rehab
assignment, which may keep him off the major-league roster until September
1, when rosters expand. While that’s been standard operating procedure for
years, don’t be surprised if the Yankees are smart enough to file a
grievance should the Tigers try this.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed RHP Alex Fernandez on the 15-day DL (sore rotator cuff
and a strained ulnar collateral ligament). [5/19]

Activated RHP Ricky Bones from the DL. [5/21]

Alex Fernandez will "rest" for two weeks, after which the
organization will have to start taking seriously the idea that he’s done
for the season. By all accounts he’s been pitching in pain all year, and
while the MRIs don’t show any damage, the Fish still have a couple of years
of contract to pay off, and they may as well try to protect that
investment. If he can’t pitch, this sad situation will start resembling
Dave Dombrowski’s earlier mistake with Bryan Harvey, where he held onto a
valued veteran pitcher for that instant too long that made all the
difference between having his employer pay off that contract and having
someone like Boss Angelos on the hook.

For the immediate future, it won’t matter much. The Fish won’t need a fifth
starter until Saturday at the earliest, and Ricky Bones may not get the
shot he lost after to his epic battle with the Barcalounger that put him on
the DL. Reid Cornelius is apparently being considered for a spot start, but
Carlos Castillo would be the better call-up, no matter what he’s weighing
in at these days.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Claimed LHP Trever Miller off of waivers from the Phillies;
transferred RHP Gregg Olson from the 15- to 60-day DL. [5/19]

Activated SS Kevin Elster from the DL; optioned SS Alex Cora
to Albuquerque. [5/21]

Alex Cora hit better than most of us expected in his brief gig as the
starting shortstop, which is food for thought considering he’s the Dodgers’
best defensive shortstop. Kevin Malone has tried to deal Jose Vizcaino in
the past, and shouldn’t stop trying. If they made Vizcaino disappear, Davey
Johnson could use both Kevin Elster and F.P. Santangelo as his utility
infielders while keeping Cora and Elster in a platoon of sorts at
shortstop. It wouldn’t be the first time Johnson has used an
offense/defense platoon in the middle infield.

Claiming Trever Miller gives the Dodgers a situational left-hander, at
least in theory; I still think they’re better off using Onan Masaoka.
They’re coming up against the limits of their roster space, which helps to
explain why Malone is desperately trying to unload Alan Mills to some
appropriately desperate team (the Cubs? Astros?).


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed C Tyler Houston on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/15
(contused right calf); recalled C Raul Casanova from Indianapolis.
[5/19]

Activated RHP John Snyder from the DL; optioned LHP Ray King
to Indianapolis. [5/20]

With the Brewers having already lost out with Jaime Navarro, John Snyder
gets to take his turn in the rotation. Like Navarro before him, Snyder
isn’t anything to keep Jamey Wright out of the rotation once he’s
ready to come off of the DL, which makes this winter’s trade with the White
Sox look even worse. And to think that nobody can blame the deal on Sal
Bando. Why, it’s enough to make any cheesehead weep.

At any rate, the ideal Brewers rotation is almost ready to take shape:
Steve Woodard, Jimmy Haynes, Jeff D’Amico, Wright and Jason Bere. It might
even be enough to give the Brewers an outside shot at fourth in the
division, which would be the kind of moral victory they could use before
moving into Miller Park.

As for losing Tyler Houston, "losing" seems misplaced in the
sentence. If they really wanted a catcher who could hit to job-share with
defensive whiz Henry Blanco, they should have inked George Williams when
they had the chance.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Placed 2B/SS Jason Maxwell on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/9
(strained quadricep); recalled OF Brian Buchanan from Salt Lake. [5/18]

Here he is, the last part of the swag from the Chuck Knoblauch deal, token
throw-in Brian Buchanan. What having him on the roster means is more
infield duty for Denny Hocking, now that he’s the team’s lone utility
infielder, and slightly more regular pinch-hitting assignments for Midre
Cummings.

Buchanan’s presence really just gives GM Terry Ryan the right to say, with
a straight face, that he got three major-league players for Knoblauch.
Semantics or qualitative assessments aside, it will be technically,
factually true.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Optioned 2B/3B Trace Coquillette to Ottawa; placed RHP Anthony
Telford
on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis); recalled RHP
Guillermo Mota from Ottawa; signed LHP Jim Poole; transferred
C Bob Henley from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/19]

What’s left in the Expos’ pen? For those of you keeping score, this means
that they’ve got Dustin Hermanson to close, left-hander Steve Kline and now
Guillermo Mota to set him up, and Felipe Lira, Mike Johnson and Matt Blank
to pitch the middle innings. Kline is the only one who’s supposed to be there.

A decimated bullpen is bad luck enough, but demoting Trace Coquilette after
already banishing Michael Barrett leaves the Expos with a very
light-hitting five-man bench: whoever isn’t playing from the third-base
platoon of Andy Tracy and Mike Mordecai, utility infielder Geoff Blum,
pinch-runner Terry Jones, big brother Wilton Guerrero and backup catcher
Lenny Webster.

So in addition to having a bullpen to fear putting into the game, Felipe
Alou doesn’t even have a group of adequate pinch-hitters to choose from to
put in for his starting pitcher at the plate, giving him another incentive
to avoid getting to his pen. This hurts an already weak offense, but Alou
is used to turning a blind eye to that sort of problem.


NEW YORK METS

Activated RHP Bobby Jones from the DL; optioned LHP Bill
Pulsipher
to Norfolk. [5/18]

Jones isn’t really healed, but the Mets are desperate to live up to their
billing. Assuming it really is just a leg problem, working as slowly as he
did in his first start might be an adequate way to compensate until it
heals, if it heals. Even if he pitches badly, he’s a step up from Bill
Pulsipher, who still looks finished. It doesn’t help matters any that the
bloom is off Glendon Rusch.

The Mets are supposed to be shopping for a pitcher as well as some
left-handed pop, and Steve Phillips may end up being desperate enough to
make a deal he’ll regret to get either or both.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Placed SS Derek Jeter on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/12
(abdominal strain); recalled SS/3B Alfonso Soriano from Columbus.
[5/19]

The Yankees are putting the best possible spin on this, which is that Derek
Jeter will be back as soon as the two weeks are up. In the midst of the
Yankees’ offensive problems, losing Jeter for any length of time might be
the wakeup call they need to motivate them to make a deal.

In the meantime, this means more playing time for Clay Bellinger; Alfonso
Soriano may not be able to handle shortstop any better than he did third
base. They ought to simply stick with Soriano, because there is no payoff
or benefit for gifting Bellinger or Wilson Delgado with any more playing
time than is absolutely necessary.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Recalled RHP Steve Schrenk from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; placed (and
lost) LHP Trever Miller on waivers. [5/19]

It’s a curious thing indeed. Losing Trever Miller is hardly a major
setback, but this is the second pitcher the Phillies have had to send
through waivers to keep Steve Schrenk around, the first being Amaury
Telemaco. While only one of them got snagged off of waivers, the Phillies
need to keep in mind that if they outrighted Schrenk to Scranton, nobody
would claim him. I say that despite really enjoying the fact that Schrenk
has finally made the majors after years of minor-league ignominy, but
there’s a difference between being happy for a guy and valuing him for more
than he’s worth.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Signed OF Brian Giles to a four-year contract extension; activated
RHP Francisco Cordova from the DL; optioned CFs Chad
Hermansen
and Emil Brown to Nashville; recalled 1B Ivan
Cruz
from Nashville. [5/19]

Activated RHP Rich Loiselle from the DL; optioned RHP Mike
Garcia
to Nashville. [5/21]

Coming as it does on the heels of the Jim Edmonds contract, the Brian Giles
contract is supposed to be another salvo in Cam Bonifay’s cannonade
announcing the Pirates’ aspiring to middle marketdom, whatever that’s
supposed to be. It’s too bad that it comes at the same time as a move that
symbolizes the organization’s continued impatience with its own future.

The pattern of the Bucs setting up their prospects to fail continues, as
now Chad Hermansen goes down. Like Aramis Ramirez before him, he’s been a
victim of bad instruction at Nashville, where making contact is emphasized
at the expense of taking pitches or learning to select which ones you can
drive). The impatience exhibited by giving up in less than 100 at-bats is
made worse by the irregular playing time granted Hermansen.

While taking him out of the lineup will help the Pirates in the very near
term, with more playing time going to Bruce Aven and John VanderWal, the
offensive gain isn’t going to be enough to elevate the Bucs over the
Cardinals or the Reds this year, and it comes at the expense of Hermansen’s
future.

The question isn’t whether the goal is worthwhile: posting a winning record
this year would be a big step up, and the NL wild-card race looks like it
will be a dogfight. The question is whether the Pirates are even helping
themselves accomplish the goal, or if they aren’t hobbling their chances of
taking their best shot because they’re afraid to try to contend with young
players, like the Rangers or Athletics (or with less success, the Astros)
have done this year.

The only good thing to come out of this is that at least Ivan Cruz will get
some at-bats as the Pirates’ left-handed pinch-hitter, making it that much
easier to get VanderWal into the lineup.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Recalled RHP Will Cunnane from Las Vegas; optioned RHP Brandon
Kolb
to Las Vegas. [5/20]

Will Cunnane is the fifth starter, at least temporarily, in a rotation that
already has Stan Spencer filling in. Assuming Brian Boehringer skates
through his rehab assignment, Cunnane probably won’t get another start and
will be optioned back to Vegas.


SEATTLE MARINERS

Optioned RHP Kevin Hodges to Tacoma; added LF Rickey
Henderson
to the active roster. [5/19]


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Purchased the contract of RHP Billy Taylor from Durham; optioned RHP
Jeff Sparks to Durham; announced that 2B/3B Tony Graffanino
cleared waivers and accepted assignment to Durham. [5/19]

Jeff Sparks apparently got into some sort of high-stakes canasta spat with
Mike DiFelice, so no matter that he was pitching effectively, he had to
make way for someone who can appreciate the AARP code of honor.

As Vince Naimoli would undoubtedly note, "what sort of example are we
setting for our fans? Civilization is that thin line that separates a game
of shuffleboard from being just an angry old mob armed with sticks. We
don’t need people getting people out if they can’t get along with
others."


TEXAS RANGERS

Recalled RHP Dan Kolb from Oklahoma City; optioned LHP Doug
Davis
to Oklahoma City. [5/18]

With Justin Thompson out for the year–and misidentified as the key player
in the Juan Gonzalez deal for it–it looks like Mark Clark is the fifth
starter for the indefinite future at the back end of the rotation of Rick
Helling, Kenny Rogers, Esteban Loaiza and Darren Oliver. While I’ve been
more than happy to credit the Rangers for a number of things they’ve done
well to build a competitive team for this season while working in a couple
of younger hitters, that’s an expensive, mediocre rotation behind Helling.

There’s still a very good chance that a good month or two by Doug Davis,
combined with Clark’s continued scuffling, would get Davis the fifth spot
for the remainder of the season, although Ryan Glynn might work his way
into the picture. Matt Perisho deserves some consideration, but that grisly
middle-relief outing that has fragged his season stats may keep Johnny
Oates from keeping him in mind.

Because the Rangers are basically sold on keeping a dozen pitchers all year,
Dan Kolb could be up for keeps, which means Perisho may end up having to go
through waivers at some point in the next couple of months after all.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Purchased the contracts of RHP Darwin Cubillan and DH Todd
Greene
from Syracuse; optioned SS Chris Woodward to Syracuse;
designated LHP Eric Gunderson for assignment; designated 3B Casey
Blake
for assignment. [5/19]

Who…I say who?…is Darwin Cubillan? You’ve got me. I can tell you that
he’s supposed to be skinny, and that he was signed out of the Yankees’
organization as a minor-league free agent. I can tell you that he was
pitching in Tampa last year, and that as a 24-year-old, it wasn’t that
surprising that he was pretty good against the younger competition. But I
really have no idea who he is, what he throws and what to expect from him.
By the time I’d sorted this much out, it was too late to buzz the Yankees
and see if there’s something more to know.

In the Jays’ ongoing bullpen reshuffle, they’ve now got Billy Koch, John
Frascatore, Bloody Paul Quantrill and Cubillan from the right side, and
Pedro Borbon and Lance Painter from the left. That’s beginning to resemble
an organized pen, and with Frank Castillo starting to pitch adequately, the
Jays’ staff might be a bit more organized.

On the other hand, there seems to be no good reason to have Todd Greene
around. If he’s going to DH versus left-handed pitching instead of Marty
Cordova, why keep Cordova? Why promote Greene over Andy Thompson in the
first place, especially since Thompson’s a better hitter than Cordova as
well? Why not go with the best if you’re going to carry three DHs and only
one utility infielder? Jacob Brumfield might be gone, but the mindset that
had him playing last year is still here.

Chris Kahrl can be reached at ckahrl@baseballprospectus.com.