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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated RHP Tim Belcher from the DL; placed LHP Scott
Schoeneweis
on the 15-day DL (strained rib cage). [6/16]

Mike Scioscia has gotten a lot of credit for some things, like his
communication skills, his confidence in Ben Molina and how he’s handled his
young starting pitchers. With the lone exception of an injured Ramon Ortiz,
the Angels have managed to get pretty good work out of Scott Schoeneweis,
Jason Dickson, Jarrod Washburn, Brian Cooper and Seth Etherton. That group
should be your 2001 Angels rotation.

In the worn-out words of Howard Cosell, this could be the turning point of
the game. The Angels have done a great job of hanging around .500, and as
much as that’s to Scioscia’s credit, the absence of so many of Bill
Bavasi’s bad ideas has done nothing but help. Now Belcher is healthy and
Ken Hill is apparently not far behind, which means the Angels can look
forward to getting reacquainted with what went so wrong last year.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Activated RHP Todd Stottlemyre from the DL; optioned OF Turner
Ward
to Tucson. [6/15]

The Toad’s return couldn’t come soon enough. Omar Daal hasn’t struggled
this badly since 1997–when he meandered through four organizations–and
Armando Reynoso is pitching about as well as Keanu Reeves acts. If Todd
Stottlemyre can pitch at all effectively for any length of time, the Snakes
will be able to keep running with the Rockies and the regrouping Dodgers.
Without him, the overblown rhetoric about team personality and keen
citizenship awards will be only that much more wasted ink, bandwidth and air.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed UT Rich Amaral on the 15-day DL (strained calf); recalled OF
Luis Matos from Bowie (Double-A). [6/18]

Losing Amaral is one of the best things that could have happened to the
Orioles, under the circumstances. They desperately needed the roster spot,
and Luis Matos is a legitimate center fielder. Matos was hitting reasonably
well (.272/.347/.405) considering that he is a 21-year-old repeater at
Bowie. Like Eugene Kingsale, he’s a speed player (14 steals against seven
times caught) who can fly to the alleys. Unlike Kingsale, he has a
tremendous arm and enough of a hint of future power to like what he could
grow to be. If the Orioles decide to stop being a glorified temp service
and start playing guys who have futures, they could do worse than
considering Matos next spring.


CHICAGO CUBS

Purchased the contract of RHP Steve Rain from Iowa; optioned RHP
Matt Karchner to Iowa; transferred 3B Shane Andrews from the
15- to 60-day DL. [6/16]

Activated SS Jose Nieves; optioned 2B/OF Chad Meyers to Iowa.
[6/18]

This is one of those drums I’ve been banging for so long that it’s hard to
remember when I haven’t been arguing that the Cubs should give Steve
Rain a clean shot at a roster spot. He’s a better pitcher than Brian
Williams and his ilk, the kind of pitcher who shouldn’t have to cool his
heels while the team trades for a Matt Karchner or recycles Tim Worrell.
Rain still has the great forkball, and he was pitching about as well as he
can for Iowa (3.45 ERA, a 34-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 1/3
innings). The real key is that unlike a Kyle Farnsworth, Rain is already a
finished product and not somebody who would need coaching that he’ll never
get from Don Baylor or Oscar Acosta.

Jose Nieves’s return highlights a coming crunch on infield roster spots.
Once Ricky Gutierrez heals, somebody from among Nieves, Augie Ojeda or Jeff
Huson should be dumped. Despite being heavily touted by the organization,
Nieves isn’t really any more of a prospect than Ojeda. He’s only slightly
younger, while Ojeda is the better defensive player. Huson has no value
whatsoever; cutting him loose once Gutierrez returns would make the most
sense. In the meantime, Nieves and Ojeda will probably split the playing
time, with whoever doesn’t give Baylor reason to snipe at him publically
getting kept, and the target getting sent to Iowa.


CINCINNATI REDS

Activated OF Alex Ochoa from the DL; optioned 1B D.T. Cromer
to Louisville. [6/16]

It’s definitely a surprise that Alex Ochoa has come back in less than three
weeks from an emergency appendectomy, even to him. Because of the Reds’
recent struggles, it isn’t hard to sense a hint of desperation in the move.

The Reds should get desperate: if things keep going the way they’ve been
going, they aren’t going to beat the Cardinals. Barry Larkin looks like
he’s lost a half-dozen steps at short, and they’re still blowing a roster
spot on Hal Morris. When they decide to take on either of those issues,
then they’ll be desperate and doing something useful about it.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed RHP Jaime Navarro; signed LHP Mike Mohler to a
minor-league contract; optioned RHPs Kane Davis and Willie
Martinez
to Buffalo; designated LHP Mark Watson for assignment;
purchased the contract of RHP Brian Williams from Buffalo;
transferred RHP Jaret Wright from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/16]

In a tastefully decorated office, a phone rings.

RING! RING!
John: Hi, Cleveland Indians, the big guy speaking.
Ron: Howdy, John.
John: Oh, it’s you.
Ron: I wanted to give you a tip, just to keep things sporting. I
mean, we all know you don’t have a Brian Giles or a Sean Casey to throw
away nowadays, and that’s just proof of how hard it is to find pitching
when you’re not stealing it from the Giants.
John: You bore me. Really, you do.
Ron: There’s a starter with major-league experience available. He
throws hard, even throws from a bunch of angles. I understand he’d be
motivated to beat us. That makes for a good story if you wanted him to
start against us.
John: You haven’t won anything, absolutely nothing.
Ron: John, that sounds downright cranky. Still having the Mesa
nightmare? Anyways, I’m having this pitcher’s profile faxed over; I think
you’ll find him pretty handy.
John: I’ve got Brian Williams now. We’ll show you. You’ll rue the
day….
Ron: Hey, where do I send "Get Well Soon" cards to Clyde
Wright’s boy, anyway?


COLORADO ROCKIES

Acquired DH/C Adam Melhuse from the Dodgers for a PTBNL. [6/17]

Designated IF Aaron Ledesma for assignment; added DH/C Adam
Melhuse
to the active roster. [6/18]

The interesting development here is that Dan O’Dowd and Buddy Bell have
come to the conclusion that Terry Shumpert can handle starting a game now
and then at shortstop, a decision that immediately endangered Aaron
Ledesma’s roster spot. Rather than carry two utility infielders, the Rox
decided to bring in a professional hitter as an ace pinch-hitter, sort of
like they initially did when they carried Jeff Manto at the beginning of
the season. Adam Melhuse is a switch-hitter with power and patience who can
catch or play first base or the outfield, even third base in an emergency,
and that makes him extremely valuable as a 25th man. Why the Jays didn’t
find room to retain him in their organization in the first place, only to
employ someone like Todd Greene, is something only Gord Ash could explain.

Ledesma will catch on somewhere if he elects to be a free agency instead of
accepting a minor-league assignment. It will be interesting to see if he’d
rather take his chances on coming back to a team in contention, or if he’d
rather play for somebody else.


DETROIT TIGERS

Optioned LHP Allen McDill to Toledo. [6/18]

Allen McDill was shipped out after Sunday’s game, with the expectation that
the Tigers will reactivate Rule 5er Mark Johnson. With C.J. Nitkowski in
the bullpen full-time, McDill was no longer the token left-hander in the pen.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Released RHP Carlos Castillo from Calgary’s roster; signed RHP
Scott Sanders to a minor-league contract. [6/17]

¡Hasta la Jumbo! Whether you call him Baby Huey or The Whole Enchilada, he’s
now available for a song, and with the indignity of losing out to one of
the ultimate pre-owned pitchers of our day. At this point, Scott Sanders
has been cut loose and resurrected with so many different teams that he
really needs a cool nickname, and something a wee bit wittier than
"Colonel." Scotty "Suitcase" Sanders? The Pale Rider?
Help me out here, folks.


HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed 3B Ken Caminiti on the 15-day DL (ruptured tendon sheath –
wrist); recalled 3B Chris Truby from New Orleans. [6/16]

Ken Caminiti’s injury is a crying shame on all sorts of levels. For him, it
essentially kills off a season in which he’d earned an invitation to the
All-Star Game. He was outhitting every NL third baseman, with a .322
Equivalent Average.
Now he won’t be back until late August, so it isn’t
surprising that, in his disgust, he mentioned retirement. I’m selfish, in
that I hope it doesn’t happen, if only because Caminiti was one of my
favorite players at the start of the decade and one of the only players
whose defense I believed was worth the price of admission.

In his absence, Chris Truby should get a shot at platooning with Bill
Spiers at third base. He was hitting a relatively meager .284/.318/.369 at
New Orleans, but at least he can boast that ten of his 16 extra-base hits
were against left-handers. Truby got a lot of attention for having a big
power season in 1998, but he’s already 26. He’s a good defensive player who
shouldn’t be asked to do more than platoon. Obviously, it would be nice to
still have Russ Johnson right around now.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Named Allard Baird GM; announced that Herk Robinson will
remain with the team as executive vice president and CEO. [6/17]

As I’m sure Brewers fans might advise Royals fans, sometimes, you need to
be careful what you wish for. While Herk Robinson’s aimless caretaker
regime has finally come to a close, and his anointed replacement finally
come to the fore, the Royals’ problems are as basic as ever. They need to
bring in some better pitching coaches at every level of the organization
and they need to sort out what they are going to do with Johnny Damon.
Having been groomed from within all along, I’m reluctant to believe Allard
Baird will considerably improve matters.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned RHP Al Reyes to Albuquerque; recalled DH/C Adam
Melhuse
from Albuquerque. [6/16]

Activated 3B Adrian Beltre from the DL; traded DH/C Adam
Melhuse
to the Rockies for a PTBNL. [6/17]

So now the daisy chain is complete, and what we got to see was a pretty
nifty job of generating a roster spot out of thin air. Kevin Malone managed
to make Alan Mills go away, get a reliever of roughly equivalent value who
was willing to spend time in the minors and create a roster spot for Adrian
Beltre’s activation.

One of the winners of this shuffle is Alex Cora, since he’ll probably get
to platoon with Kevin Elster at shortstop for the time being. In the near
future, the Dodgers should add an outfielder with some sock to the bench,
instead of carrying multiple utilitymen like Jose Vizcaino and Shawn
Gilbert and F.P. Santangelo. Once you get Davey Johnson to use Dave Hansen
off the bench, you’ve basically gotten him to fire his only bullet.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Activated OF Lyle Mouton from the DL; designated PH Sean
Berry
for assignment. [6/16]

If only Lyle Mouton could play first base and give the Brewers some kind of
alternative to being all Charlie Hayes, all the time. While Hayes has
clearly hit better than expected, he could do better still and the Brewers
would remain in the basement. Kevin Barker still deserves part of the job.

Cutting Sean Berry loose was only about 14 months too late, but better late
than never.


MINNESOTA TWINS

Recalled RHP Mike Lincoln from Salt Lake; optioned OF Brian
Buchanan
to Salt Lake. [6/15]

Optioned C Matt LeCroy to New Britain (Double-A); optioned RHP
Sean Bergman to Salt Lake; recalled C Chad Moeller and RHP
Jason Ryan from Salt Lake. [6/18]

At some point, the Twins have to come to terms with Tom Kelly’s baleful
role in player development in an organization whose future is going to be
overwhelmingly dependent on player development.

Was Matt LeCroy rushed? In retrospect, obviously. Even if you set aside his
offensive performance (worst among regular catchers with a .180 Equivalent
Average), he needs to play every day. Having seen him flop, why quit on him
now? If the Twins didn’t anticipate LeCroy’s struggles as one of the
possible outcomes, they were being irresponsible. The team had options at
catcher in camp: if they were at all concerned with LeCroy flopping, they
could have opened the year with Javy Valentin and allowed LeCroy to get
another hundred or two hundred at-bats at Salt Lake before calling him up.
All concerned would probably have been better off for it.

Instead, the organization is now bumping LeCroy down to Double-A, probably
so that he can avoid joining Tom Kelly’s Doghouse Puppies in Salt Lake.
These are the same guys so enthusiastically trumpeting Phil Roof’s
qualities as a manager. Interestingly, LeCroy seems to have distanced
himself from the sour grapes you’ll get from Todd Walker nowadays. He seems
to have accepted that he didn’t hit and therefore didn’t deserve to stick
around. While that’s a dandy attitude to take under the circumstances, he
has plenty of examples of how not to respond to TK’s punitive
reassignments, and appears to have learned from them.

Now the Twins are going to use Chad Moeller, when he was just about the
worst choice available in camp. He hardly hit a lick in Salt Lake
(.287/.322/.467), one of the PCL’s better hitters’ parks.

Brian Buchanan’s demotion only highlights how frivolous it was to call him
up in the first place. It won’t be long before Torii Hunter is back.

On the pitching side of things, Sean Bergman was due to go down, four wins
or no four wins. Nobody can turn a blind eye to 111 hits and 18 home runs
in just 68 innings. With Joe Mays also struggling, Kelly may elect to put
both callups into the rotation behind Brad Radke, Eric Milton and Marc Redman.

Both Jason Ryan and Mike Lincoln were pitching well in the Buzz rotation.
Lincoln had a 3.87 ERA, allowing 72 hits and 16 walks in 74 1/3 innings
with 37 strikeouts. More impressively, he had allowed only four home runs,
aided by a 2-to-1 groundball-to-flyball ratio. He’s never going to impress
on the radar gun, but he may yet turn into an adequate fifth starter
because of his exceptional control.

Ryan was off to a hot start, running up a 7-0 record to go with a 4.18 ERA.
He’d also managed to allow less than a hit per inning in Salt Lake (74 in
75 1/3 innings, with 26 walks and 52 strikeouts). He throws harder than
Lincoln and has four pitches he can rely on, but he’s not a top prospect as
much as somebody who should turn out better than Willie Banks. Both are
still too young to really make it right now, at least with this kind of
team, and as rotation regulars.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Optioned RHP Guillermo Mota to Ottawa; outrighted LHP David
Moraga
to Ottawa; recalled RHP Brad Rigby from Ottawa; purchased
the contract of LHP Scott Forster from Ottawa. [6/17]

Designated RHP Mark Skrmetta for assignment; signed RHP Julio
Santana
. [6/18]

One of the nice things about having a crappy bullpen is that you can
discard half of it at one swoop and not be any worse off. Mota still
doesn’t have the kind of movement on his fastball that will make him more
like Felix Rodriguez and less like Greg Pirkl among the position
player-to-pitcher projects.

There are nice things to be said for your new Expos. Brad Rigby can still
flash a nice sinker once in awhile, and should make an adequate mop-up man
if given the opportunity. Julio Santana was a steal from the Red Sox, pure
and simple. Pitching in Pawtucket’s rotation, he was blowing away
right-handed hitters and his peripheral numbers are pretty solid: 61 hits,
23 walks and 55 strikeouts in 65 innings. Scott Forster has been an organizational soldier, and
in contrast to Davis Moraga has been wild throughout his career. He was off
to a good start in Ottawa’s bullpen, with a 2.32 ERA and rarely allowing
any ball to get hit hard.

Felipe Alou being Felipe Alou, he promptly pressed all three into service
on Sunday, and that shouldn’t change. Steve Kline and Anthony Telford are
still the only reliably known quantities, which gives all three of the new
guys and Felipe Lira plenty of opportunities to do more than just mop up.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Placed RHP Roger Clemens on the 15-day DL (strained groin); recalled
RHP Darrell Einertson from Columbus. [6/15]

Recalled RHP Jake Westbrook from Columbus; optioned RHP Darrell
Einertson
to Columbus. [6/17]

Watching the Rocket slowly fall from orbit is one of those things that’s
been sort of lost amidst David Cone’s self-immolation and the evaporation
of this spring’s perceived pitching depth. Because Ed Yarnall is only just
coming off of the DL, Jake Westbrook got the callup. This seems strange
considering that Ted Lilly is more advanced, and he’s even healthy now.

All of this is enough to make cutting Jeff Juden not look like such a great
idea. With the offense already imploding, the Yankees could ill afford to
watch their rotation start to splinter as well.

While the common perception is that the Yankees and Red Sox can look
forward to the division title and the wild card, I don’t see it happening
as these teams get older and more beat up. The Red Sox aren’t playing that
well, and neither they nor the Yankees have put the Blue Jays away. The war
of words, as each team tries to gull the other into giving up too much for
Sammy Sosa, is a reflection of how much each team is trying to seriously
harm the long-term future of the opposing organization. That’s more to the
benefit of the Yankees: they can afford to wait until they’re ready to buy
Manny Ramirez and work Nick Johnson and D’Angelo Jimenez into the lineup.
The Red Sox have the pressure of being the Red Sox, and knowing that Carl
Everett will turn, if not into a pumpkin, into a mere mortal shortly after
the clock strikes midnight. The Red Sox may get a division championship to
brag about, but they won’t get much more than that out of this season.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed RHP Omar Olivares on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder);
recalled RHP Luis Vizcaino from Sacramento. [6/17]

Omar Olivares should miss two turns in the rotation, no more than that. The
early rumor is that Barry Zito will get called up for the starts, with Luis
Vizcaino returning to Sacramento. Chalk this up as more proof that Billy
Beane shouldn’t have invested as much as he did in the prestige politics of
retaining everyone who helped the A’s contend last year. Olivares and John
Jaha have, predictably, been bad as well as hurt, and Randy Velarde has
reverted to his normally fragile state after a career year in 1999.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Placed RHP Jason Boyd on the 15-day DL (broken hand); recalled RHP
Steve Schrenk from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/15]

Placed RHP Andy Ashby on the 15-day DL (infected finger); recalled
RHP Paul Byrd from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/18]

Two out-of-the-ordinary injuries. Jason Boyd ends up the latest victim of
inanimate objects that know how to take a punch, while Andy Ashby’s middle
finger has gotten horribly infected in what perhaps needs to be the cover
photo for next year’s Phillies media guide.

At least, Paul Byrd enjoyed his assignment to the Barons, cranking out
three decent starts and posting a 1.73 ERA. He’ll resume his place in the
Phillies rotation behind Curt Schilling, Robert Person, Randy Wolf and
Cliff Politte. If you have to bet on one of these five not getting hurt,
put your money on Byrd.

Meanwhile, losing Ashby clearly doesn’t help the Phillies’ bid to trade him
in the next six weeks. However, while Ed Wade has managed to get both Doug
Glanville and Bob Abreu for nothing, I have some reservations about what
Wade would end up getting back for Ashby. Sadly, Phillies drafts, while
improving, are still considered among the worst, so it isn’t like he can
even count on the draft picks he’d get for Ashby to make that big of a
difference.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed LHP Scott Sauerbeck on the 15-day DL (strained elbow);
recalled LHP Chris Peters from Nashville; optioned LHP Jimmy
Anderson
to Nashville. [6/15]

Recalled RHP Marc Wilkins from Nashville. [6/16]

Scott Sauerbeck is expected back after the minimum two weeks, which is just
as well. Neither Chris Peters nor Marc Wilkins were pitching even remotely
adequately in Nashville. Peters was giving up almost two baserunners per
inning while posting a 5.92 ERA, and replacing Jimmy Anderson after
Anderson endured some poor run support in a generally mediocre first 11
weeks is premature. It also leaves the rotation short a man behind Peters,
Francisco Cordova, Kris Benson and Todd Ritchie; Wilkins is not a starting
pitcher.

In Sauerbeck’s absence, the bullpen is reduced to three somewhat reliable
relievers: Jason Christiansen (and his bad arm), Mike Williams and Jose Silva.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed LF Greg Vaughn on the 15-day DL (sore hamstring); recalled CF
Quinton McCracken from Durham. [6/17]

Who’s left from among that fearsome foursome some people were claiming were
going to fuel a Devil Rays’ run at respectability? Jose Canseco and Vinny
Castilla were both already hurt. At least Fred McGriff only hurts those
lineups that have his name in them. So instead of the four 30-home-run men,
The Team Mike Veeck Forgot is reduced to Randy Winn re-runs.


TEXAS RANGERS

Claimed RHP Jared Camp on waivers from the Indians, and optioned him
to Tulsa (Double-A); transferred CF Ruben Mateo from the 15- to the
60-day DL. [6/16]

Another nice little snag off of the waiver wire by Doug Melvin. Jared Camp
nearly made the majors to stay with the Marlins as a Rule 5 pick this
spring, and still has the good velocity that attracted attention in the
first place. The Rangers can afford to make these sorts of claims courtesy
of their miserable luck with injuries, since they can stock the 60-day DL
with players like Ruben Mateo and Justin Thompson and, next up, Tom Evans.
After the season, Melvin can make some informed choices about who he’ll
keep on the 40-man roster, after which he can start making some tougher
calls about who to outright when somebody makes the team out of camp as a
minor-league free agent.

Of course, as Jamey Newberg has pointed out on his outstanding
Newberg Minor League Report,
the root of this could well be that Melvin would
rather not devote too much thought to the big-league squad’s collapse.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Placed C Darrin Fletcher on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/11
(strained shoulder); purchased the contract of C Charlie Greene from
Syracuse; transferred CF DeWayne Wise from the 15- to the 60-day DL.
[6/16]

With both the Red Sox and the Yankees struggling mightily, now is the time
for the Jays to start mounting their big push. But just when they needed to
play their best, they’ve lost Darrin Fletcher, possibly for the season. He
was off to a great start (.335/.364/.563, a .275 EqA), and losing him
deposits the Jays into dreaded "three bad bat" territory in the
lineup. Now that Craig Grebeck has cooled off, the Jays aren’t getting much
offense from second base on top of carrying Alex Gonzalez’s light hitting.
Even if, for the sake of argument, you accept that Jose Cruz Jr. isn’t as
bad as his poor OBP indicates, the Jays will now have to alternate between
the light hitting of Alberto Castillo and Charlie Greene. Greene makes
Castillo look like Babe Ruth.

In today’s high-offense environment, there aren’t many teams that can carry
three outs in the lineup. Those you might think could usually have enough
starting pitching to survive their offensive limitations, but the Jays
don’t really have that.

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

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