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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed RHP Kent Bottenfield on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis);
recalled RHP Lou Pote from Edmonton. [6/8]

Kent Bottenfield isn’t expected to miss more than two weeks. While he
hasn’t pitched like the "18-game winner" the Angels claimed
they’d gotten for Jim Edmonds, he also hasn’t pitched much differently from
how he pitched in 1999. Last year with the Cardinals his
Support-Neutral
Winning Percentage
was .531. This year with the Angels, it’s .489. That
isn’t dramatically different over barely more than two months.

Lou Pote’s callup simply gives the Angels a spare arm until they need a
fifth starter on Saturday. The bad news is that they expect to activate Tim
Belcher to be that starter. If Belcher gives them anything approaching
adequacy for a few starts, they need to trade him for something equally
valuable, like a utility infielder, a pinch-runner…maybe a collection of
Menudo CDs.

Jason Dickson will be activated by the middle of next week, which means
Seth Etherton or Brian Cooper will be bumped back to Edmonton at that time.
They’d be better off with Etherton and Cooper up and Belcher in parts
unknown, but they’ll probably have to wait until after the July 31 deadline
to start evaluating who’s useful for 2001.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Traded UT Andy Fox to the Marlins for OF Danny Bautista;
activated RF/1B Travis Lee from the DL; optioned IF Danny
Klassen
to Tucson. [6/9]

As Bernard Gilkey’s slump deepens, and with Erubiel Durazo still on the DL,
the Snakes needed an extra bat even with Travis Lee’s return. So what do
they do? They trade a very useful utility player for an outfielder who
hasn’t put up an OBP above .303 since 1996. Danny Bautista has his use as a
right-handed pinch-hitter of last resort against some of baseball’s worse
left-handers. But the Snakes don’t need a marginal player; they need a good
offensive player.

This is like dumping Tony Batista last year, although obviously on a much
lesser scale: the Snakes have discarded something useful for something with
little value. For all the brave talk about winning attitudes, charm and
clubhouse moxie have to go pretty far to make up for lousy talent judgment.

At least Lee is back. Given Bautista’s almost intangible offensive skills,
the lineup would be better off with Greg Colbrunn at first base and Lee
returning to right field.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned LHP B.J. Ryan to Rochester; recalled RHP Gabe Molina
to Rochester. [6/9]

B.J. Ryan was among the worst relievers in the league: a 7.91 ERA, 22 hits
and 21 walks allowed in 19 1/3 innings. According to Michael Wolverton’s
Relief Evaluation Tools,
he was the fifth-worst reliever in baseball. Ryan
has been the poster child for the AL’s worst bullpen, and the only pen in
baseball that’s in the same range of ineffectiveness as the Cubs. So if
anyone had earned a demotion, it was him.

Gabe Molina wasn’t that effective at Rochester: a 4.50 ERA with 35
baserunners in 22 innings. He won’t be up for long, as it’s expected that
Calvin Maduro will shortly be activated. It’s a waste of a roster spot
either way. The Orioles need to stop carrying 12 pitchers and finally find
somebody to play center field, even if only as a defensive replacement.


BOSTON RED SOX

Activated 2B Jose Offerman from the DL; optioned RHP Dan
Smith
to Pawtucket. [6/10]

Jose Offerman’s return has given the Red Sox some options. Mike Stanley has
not hit especially well against right-handed pitching and has no value
defensively. Offerman has his problems as a second baseman, while Jeff Frye
is at least adequate. So the solution suggested itself: Frye at second
base, Offerman at first base and Stanley losing playing time. If playing at
first base is what it takes to get Offerman back on track, then the Red Sox
will be the better for it. If not, then they right side of their infield
will be saddled with two of the Duke’s worse free-agent ideas, while third
base will continue to be a problem until the Sox go shopping.


CHICAGO CUBS

Acquired OF/1B Brant Brown from the Rangers for OF Dave
Martinez
. [6/9]

There’s one good side to this and one really depressing side. The good? Now
that he has both Brant Brown and Jon Lieber after trading them for each
other after 1998, Ed Lynch can treat Cam Bonifay to the same sort of
embarrassment that Lynch has to deal with whenever he sees the Phillies
using both Doug Glanville and Mickey Morandini. The depressing thing (for
Cubs fans, that is, and not Pittsburghers mulling over how nice it would be
to have Lieber now that their rotation is beginning to break down.) is that
Lynch took a potentially valuable commodity in Mark Guthrie, a veteran
left-handed reliever with playoff experience, and prematurely converted him
into a pinch-hitter and fourth outfielder that only two GMs ever considered
a prospect: Bonifay and Lynch.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Purchased the contract of RHP Kane Davis from Buffalo; optioned LHP
Mark Watson to Buffalo; designated RHP Jared Camp for
assignment. [6/8]

Signed LHP Jim Poole to a minor-league contract and assigned him to
Buffalo. [6/9]

What does John Hart do, stand in a mosh pit with a printout and a cell
phone, randomly calling out names to add to this year’s Tribe? Mark Watson
flopped in his brief exposure to the situational left-hander role, but he
wasn’t exactly given a lot of opportunity. If the alternative is dragging
in Jim Poole, they should have kept Watson on the idea that at least he
might improve.

Kane Davis is basically the latest in a cycle of fill-ins on the roster. He
was drafted out of a West Virginia high school in 1993 by the Pirates. He
throws relatively hard and is still young enough to have a career. Between
Akron and Buffalo, he had an ERA of 3.00 in 39 innings. For the time being,
he’s an arm for mop-up duties, while the back end of the rotation is
entrusted to Paul Rigdon and Jim Brower.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Activated RF Larry Walker from the DL; optioned OF Bubba
Carpenter
to Colorado Springs. [6/9]

In Larry Walker’s absence, the Rox mounted a sustained drive into second
place. While the Snakes get the press clippings, it’s Dan O’Dowd’s crew
that’s beginning to look like it’s the really good team in the division.
Now that they have Walker to go with Todd Helton and Jeff Cirillo in the
middle of the order, they should start scoring runs by the bushel, park
effects or no park effects.

What’s sort of a shame is demoting Bubba Carpenter. He at least provided a
measure of power off the bench, something neither Darren Bragg nor Brian
Hunter is good for.


DETROIT TIGERS

Sold RHP Masao Kida to the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese Leagues.
[6/8]

Leave it to Randy Smith to go shopping for a Japanese import and wind up
with baseball’s answer to the Geo Storm.

Maybe Smith is just getting rid of every reminder of what he’s done with
the franchise in recent years. After doing everything in his power to erase
the history he’s had with the franchise, he can walk into the Pizza Baron’s
office and politely announce that daddy Tal Smith gave him a
"do-over" card that prohibits his being fired on the basis of job
performance.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Acquired UT Andy Fox from the Diamondbacks for OF Danny
Bautista
; traded OF/1B Brant Brown to the Rangers for RHP
Chuck Smith. [6/9]

This is an amazing turnaround. Dave Dombrowski managed to go from carrying
two of the worst fourth outfielders in the league to dumping both and
getting something of value for each. Not a lot of value, mind you, but more
than either Danny Bautista or Brant Brown were worth. Andy Fox is an
exceptional utility man, capable of manning all seven spots other than
pitcher and catcher. Setting aside this year’s cold start, he’s a good
offensive player for a benchie, with some power, some speed and some patience.

Considering his Northern League pedigree and his age (30), Chuck Smith
isn’t a prospect. Nevertheless, he could be handy as a potential fill-in
fifth starter. For Oklahoma this year, he had a 3.78 ERA and had allowed 73
hits and 38 walks in 66 2/3 innings, striking out 73. His main skill on the
mound has been keeping the ball in the infield: it isn’t surprising that
he’s allowed only three home runs when he records more than three times as
many outs by strikeouts and groundballs than he does by flyouts. Aided by
thick Miami air and a good infield, he could end up as a solidly mediocre
major leaguer. After being cut loose by the Rockies, Astros and White Sox,
it’s amazing that he’s come even this far.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Placed RHP Chris Fussell on the 15-day DL (strained elbow); optioned
RHP Jason Rakers to Omaha; recalled RHPs Dan Murray and
Brett Laxton from Omaha. [6/9]

Four Royals pitchers, and all four of them are guys Herk Robinson has
picked up in the last couple of years on waivers or through trades that
cumulatively saw the Royals giving up more talent than these four represent.

For as bad as Chris Fussell has been–and with 16 home runs allowed in 53
innings, he’s been bad–he was the third-best starter the Royals had left
behind Jeff Suppan and Mac Suzuki. So what now? Dan Murray is basically
only up to show somebody somewhere that they got something for Glendon
Rusch, while Brett Laxton will enter the rotation behind Suppan, Suzuki,
Miguel Batista and Jay Witasick.

Murray and Laxton have superficially similar records: Murray had a 5.32 ERA
with a 5-3 record and a hit allowed per inning at Omaha, while Laxton had a
5.10 ERA with a 3-4 record and a hit allowed per inning. Even so, Laxton
has the better chance for success. He’s a groundball pitcher who has
allowed only two home runs, while Murray is a flyball pitcher without great
stuff.

The Royals’ constant dependence on everyone else’s pitching discards is
theoretically just a part-time thing. Eventually, they’re supposed to start
cranking out pitching prospects, as the organization is supposed to be one
of the most talent-laden when it comes to young arms. With Jose Rosado
looking like he’s out for the year, that’s a sobering thought.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Received RHP Kenny Kutz from the Reds as the PTBNL to complete the
4/1 trade of SS Juan Castro. [6/8]

Kenny Kutz isn’t a prospect at this point, but Juan Castro was simply
another light-hitting shortstop in an organization already flooded with
them. No real gain or loss for the Sheriff.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Activated C Chris Widger from the DL. [6/9]

Purchased the contract of LHP David Moraga from Harrisburg
(Double-A); transferred LHP Matt Blank from the 15- to the 60-day
DL; placed RHP T.J. Tucker on the 15-day DL (strained forearm). [6/11]

The Expos pitching staff continues to founder with yet another injury.
David Moraga isn’t a prospect. Signed in 1994 as an undrafted free agent
out of high school, he’s been an soft-tossing organizational soldier. He
has been struggling against right-handed batters as a starter in the
Eastern League, and he’s really only up for situational use. He might turn
into a useful spot lefty if he’s given at least a month in the job.

Now that T.J. Tucker has joined Hideki Irabu on the DL, the fifth spot in
the rotation is being handed to Mike Johnson. He’s still spinning an
occasionally nifty curve. That still leaves the Expos where they’ve been
since Antonio Armas came up: four good starting pitchers.

The problem isn’t the rotation. With only Steve Kline and Anthony Telford
left from the Opening Day bullpen, the Expos are running with the Blue Jays
in a special tier of relief lousiness only slightly better than the Cubs
and Orioles.


NEW YORK METS

Sold OF Jon Nunnally to the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese Leagues.
[6/8]

Jon Nunnally managed only to draw walks and field well during the
infrequent stints in the lineup he was stingily given. Leave it to the Mets
to get frustrated and discard him, leaving Robin Ventura as the lone
left-handed bat in the lineup.

One of the great New York stories about those storied Brooklyn teams Vin
Scully loves to reminisce about was how the Dodgers would have Duke Snider
as the lone left-handed batter in the lineup. Theories about lineup
protection were simpler back then, as authors like Roger Kahn would claim
that Snider’s handedness required protection from no less than seven
right-handed bats to scare opposing managers from stacking their rotations
with left-handers. This isn’t the case here. Ventura doesn’t have extreme
platoon problems, and the problem with the Mets lineup isn’t one of
handedness, it’s one of ability. The issue isn’t opposing managers stacking
right-handed starters against the Mets because of their handedness, it’s
opposing managers taking comfort that they’ll be facing a lineup stacked
with mediocrities like Todd Zeile and Derek Bell.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Signed RHP Dwight Gooden to a minor-league contract. [6/11]

With Ramiro Mendoza aching, Ed Yarnall on the DL and David Cone looking
like he’s reaching the end of the line, the Yankees’ springtime wealth of
starting pitching is suddenly narrowed down to what’s in New York and the
bounty they got from the Expos in the Irabu heist.

Given a choice between Doc Gooden and Ted Lilly, you’d have to hope that
the Yankees would choose talent over the old man so washed up that the
Devil Rays cut him even before spinning a souvenir day around him. Perhaps
Mel Stottlemyre feels guilty for having helped burn Gooden out in the
mid-1980s. It was Stottlemyre’s theory that Gooden needed to become a
groundball pitcher, on the unfounded notion that it was groundballers who
lasted forever. It was a lazy alternative to counting pitches or trying to
watch his workload, and it didn’t help Gooden in the least.

That isn’t to say Gooden’s downfall wasn’t just as much due to his
extracurricular activities, but we can’t know how much that directly
affected his career or his arm. What we do know is that Stottlemyre and
manager Davey Johnson didn’t ease off on a good thing when they had
baseball’s best pitcher in 1984 and 1985, and by the time Gooden turned 24,
he would never be the same pitcher he had been.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Activated 3B Scott Rolen from the DL; optioned RHP Steve
Schrenk
to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/9]

Now that they have Scott Rolen, Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu all together,
the Phillies may make a run to get out of the NL’s offensive basement. The
amount of good a little bit of offense could do will have to be seen.
Perhaps Terry Francona will start using his pitching staff better if he has
a few more leads to work with. Unfortunately, better offensive performances
might only end up encouraging him to leave his starters out there even
longer, precipitating an even more sudden collapse than what I’ve been
anticipating.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Activated LHP Jesse Orosco from the DL; optioned LHP Jose
Rodriguez
to Memphis. [6/9]

Scott Radinsky’s out for the year and heading for Tommy John
surgery; you have to wonder how confident Jesse Orosco (or anybody else for
that matter) should be about whether or not the organization is going to
put his health ahead of their panicky in-season shuffling.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Transferred LHP Sterling Hitchcock from the 15- to the 60-day DL;
purchased the contract of RHP Carlos Reyes from Las Vegas; optioned
RHP Domingo Guzman to Las Vegas. [6/10]

Now that they’ve decided to waste roster space and time on another
short-time mercenary instead of somebody who might be a Padre two years
from now, it occurs to me that the Padres are going about this whole
employment thing the wrong way. Their season is in the dumper, and
major-league roster spots bring their beneficiaries benefits as well as
compensation. Since they’re already not using merit or the future to guide
their choices for who’s a Pad Person and who isn’t, why not start making
mercenaries bid for roster spots?

Getting major-league service time is more valuable to someone like Carlos
Reyes than the roster spot is to the Padres. If it’s important enough for
Reyes to be on a major-league roster, maybe it would be worth something to
him to make it. I’m not sold on which way to go: either journeymen could
bid for how little they’d work for, or they could just offer cash up front
to Kevin Towers for the job.


TEXAS RANGERS

Acquired OF/1B Brant Brown from the Marlins for RHP Chuck
Smith
; traded Brown to the Cubs for OF Dave Martinez; activated
RF Gabe Kapler from the DL; optioned RHP Jonathan Johnson to
Oklahoma. [6/9]

Designated OF Jason McDonald for assignment. [6/10]

While the Rangers needed outfield help now that Ruben Mateo is out, was
Dave Martinez the answer? He can’t play center field on a regular basis any
more than Chad Curtis can, which is why Scarborough Green has been retained
instead of a better all-around player like Jason McDonald. Martinez hasn’t
had a good offensive season since 1997. The consolation is that at least he
didn’t cost much. From an organizational point of view, it’s to Doug
Melvin’s credit that he converted a Northern Leaguer into an adequate
fourth outfielder.

Far more important is Gabe Kapler’s return. If he hits anything like he can
(or like we projected), he’ll certainly help the Rangers’ offense continue
to run with the A’s and Mariners. If he doesn’t, the Rangers will not be
able to continue putting more runs on the board than their struggling
rotation.

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