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ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed RHP Troy Percival on the 15-day DL (shoulder pain). [8/4]

Placed RHP Seth Etherton on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis); recalled
LHP Juan Alvarez and RHP Lou Pote from Edmonton. [8/5]

Despite Percival’s struggles, from the well-publicized nine blown saves or
the control problems or the taters or the ERA creeping towards 5.00, he was
still part of one of the American League’s better bullpens. But now that
they’ve lost Al Levine after a tremendous season in middle relief as well as
Percival, Mike Scioscia’s in the unfortunate position of turning Shiggy
Hasegawa into the closer just as he was starting to improve in the long
relief role. All things considered, I don’t think this will hurt the Angels
as much as losing Etherton does. The pen still has Mark Petkovsek pitching
well, Mike Holtz has been solid in the situational lefty role, and Mike
Fyhrie has been another one of Scioscia’s little success stories as a long
reliever. Lou Pote should come in handy, as he was having a reasonably good
run as Edmonton’s closer.

The bigger problem is how the Angels are going to fill their rotation for
the time being. Ken Hill’s going to be released, Etherton’s out, and even
with Jarrod Washburn due back and a strategically placed off-day that could
keep them from having to use a fifth starter until early next week, either
somebody’s going to be called up or somebody’s going to be asked to start a
game. Unless they finally shed their reluctance to use Derrick Turnbow, the
Angels have choices involving calling up Ramon Ortiz or plugging Matt Wise
into the rotation. But as long as they aren’t handing out starts to Bavasi’s
buzzards, they’re better.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Activated INF-R Mark Lewis from the DL; optioned 2B-R Carlos Casimiro to
Bowie (Double-A). [8/5]

Lewis went from being just another greybeard in the crowd to one of the
oldest position players on the roster. His future with the team is limited
at best. Indeed, if the Orioles wanted to get creative, they could share
short among lefty-hitting Ivanon Coffie, utility man Melvin Mora and the
slick-fielding Jesse Garcia. Lewis’ spot on the roster could be handed to
Jerry Hairston Jr., who would take over at second. That would allow the
Orioles to start an overdue project, which is to get Delino DeShields off of
second. DeShields would have considerably more value if he started logging a
few games at third and in left field.


BOSTON RED SOX

Claimed 1B-L Rico Brogna off of waivers from the Phillies. [8/3]

Optioned DH-B Morgan Burkhart to Pawtucket; added Brogna to the active
roster; designated DH-R Sean Berry for assignment. [8/4]

You know, the Red Sox could have used a great-fielding first baseman with
limited offensive skills about fourteen years ago. Wait a minute, they
already had Dave Stapleton in 1986, and Brogna may not hit any better than
Stapleton would right now. Brogna hasn’t been a better-than-league average
hitter (not just first baseman, hitter) since 1996. He’s a natural
replacement for Troy Neel in the Japanese Leagues saddled with a good-guy
reputation and that great glove. Some slick leather and little bit of charm
might make you a first-choice staffer for the Clinton Presidential Library,
but a regular on a contender?

This move is just the ultimate pickup in a sordid line of pickups.
Whether its been Gary Gaetti or Mike Stanley or Sean Berry or Ed Sprague or
Mike Lansing or Brogna, let alone holdovers like Darren Lewis and Troy
O’Leary, the Duke has had an unerring instinct to find players with next to
no offensive value. I don’t know if you could randomly select a worse
collection of players to man third, left and DH, but I’m willing to bet
there’s a growing crowd of Red Sox fans willing to find out.


CHICAGO CUBS

Placed RHP Kerry Wood on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/30 (strained
oblique); activated OF-R Rondell White from the DL. [8/6]

Hey, its okay, its "only" an injury caused by something other than
throwing a baseball. He got it while jogging, really! If he really hasn’t
reinjured his arm (keep in mind that this is the team that obfuscated,
denied, waggled and fibbed its way around Wood’s arm problems in August of
1998), then all this really hurts the Cubs’ all-important goal of seeing
whether or not the Reds can fall back as far as third, defaulting second
place to the Cubs.

The one thing the Cubs have going for them is a well-balanced lineup.
Generally speaking, the worst offensive contributors are the people you’d
expect (Joe Girardi, Ricky Gutierrez and Damon Buford), except that none of
them are having bad seasons. When Willie Greene might be doing the least to
help a team offensively, that’s an offense where a lot of things are going
well. As much as Mark Grace is starting to slip, he’s still contributing,
and if Rondell White hits like he can, the Cubs might even be able to take
advantage of the best group of middle relievers they’ve had since guys like
Les Lancaster, Paul Assenmacher and Chuck McElroy were all on the same team.
That could mean continued flirting with .500, which will be heralded as a
major success.


CINCINNATI REDS

Placed C-L Eddie Taubensee on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/1 (bulging
disk – back). [8/3]

Purchased the contract of UT-R Chris Sexton from Louisville. [8/4]

Activated RHP Osvaldo Fernandez from the DL and optioned him to Louisville.
[8/5]

Acquired CF-R Brian Hunter from the Rockies for RHP Robert Averette. [8/6]

Few GMs have as much of a Jekyll-Hyde character as Jim Bowden when it comes
to trades, because for every really clever move, Bowden makes more boners
than you’d think. Brian Hunter is the hot potato that you just shouldn’t
even try to catch in the first place. He’s rarely worth a waiver claim,
unless you’re some team so desperate for a fourth outfielder that you’re the
Expos. Maybe Jim Bowden can take solace that if two other GMs made major
mistakes involving Hunter within the last nine months, then maybe someone
will take him off of his hands, but this move looks like another addition to
the Ruben Sierra Wing of Bowden’s bad deals. Never mind Hunter’s lousy
Equivalent Average (.199).
Never mind his years of ineptitude. The Reds gave
up one of the few starting pitcher prospects they have for a guy hitting
.195/.271/.207 away from Coors Field. If you wanted to find someone to make
people wish Freon Deion was tapping two-hoppers, Hunter’s your guy. While
Averette may not end up looking so hot pitching for the Rockies, he has
value, while Hunter is as valuable now as he was last year or the year
before that, and he’ll be about as valuable for years to come. Its slightly
more valuable than Herb Washington was, and a little less than Miguel Dilone
may still be.

The only good news here is that at least the Reds have called up an
outstanding replacement for Chris Stynes on the bench as the utilityman now
that Stynes is playing third every day. Sexton has enjoyed a great year at
Louisville, hitting .324/.416/.432. He can handle second and the outfield
corners well enough, and gives the Reds some options when they’ll want to
pinch-hit for Brian Hunter without using one of the pitchers.


CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated LHP Tom Martin from the DL; promoted 1B/OF-R Chan Perry from
Buffalo; optioned 3B/RF-L Russell Branyan and LHP Cameron Cairncross to
Buffalo. [8/4]

As much as Branyan is a victim of the organization’s desperate drive for the
wild-card, with the collection of withering dreck the Tribe has on the
roster, he’ll be back. While Branyan and Cordero might seem like a great
job-sharing arrangement in one outfield corner, especially with Manny
Ramirez’ chronically cranky hamstring, its just as well that Branyan not be
too closely associated with the team when it fails to make the playoffs.
That bonus should go to John Hart and the pricey veterans he gathered
’round. The really sad part of it is that the Tribe would have been better
off investing the few million dollars spent on Cordero and Segui and Bere
and Wickman and added it to the kitty for whatever signing bonus they should
be offering Manny Ramirez. Instead, there’s a very good chance that the
money wasted on the desperate attempt to keep the team’s playoff appearance
streak alive will cost the Indians a lot more than the talent given up or
the money spent to have Cordero around for the next two years. It could cost
them the best player on the team, and savvy winter shoppers know Ramirez is
worth considerably more than whatever Sammy Sosa or Juan Gonzalez are going
to do for the rest of their careers.

At least Branyan’s absence isn’t merely for the sake of some used-up
veteran, as the Tribe made the relatively classy gesture of bringing up
organizational soldier Chan Perry. This is the sixth year in the
organization for Herbert’s younger brother, and this is a nice way of giving
him a reason to re-sign as a minor league free agent this winter.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Activated LHP Scott Karl from the DL; placed RHP Giovanni Carrara on the
15-day DL, retroactive to 8/3 (sore elbow). [8/5]

Acquired RHP Robert Averette from the Reds for CF-R Brian Hunter; purchased
the contract of RHP Craig House from Colorado Springs; optioned RHP David
Lee
to Colorado Springs. [8/6]

Hats off to Dan O’Dowd for doing the impossible, converting Brian Hunter
into somebody better than a Triple-A lifer. Averette’s not an obviously
talented pitcher. He doesn’t have the great fastball, but he was recently
listed as having the best breaking stuff in the Southern League, not that
Coors will allow him to use it to best advantage. He’s only 23, still young
for a pitcher despite being in his fourth pro season. For Chattanooga this
year, he walked only 28 batters in 136.1 IP, while allowing 126 hits (only
six homeruns) and getting 87 strikeouts. His ERA was low (2.44) courtesy of
several unearned runs; before going up to Louisville for two starts, he was
allowing 3.3 runs per nine. He’s a definite ground-ball pitcher, having
gotten almost twice as many groundball outs as flyball outs. He may not be
Bert Blyleven, but he can pitch.

As part of the continuing reshuffle of the pitching staff, Karl gets to go
crankily go to the bullpen. With Julian Tavarez doing well, and Brian Rose
pitching to prove the Red Sox trade was more than just addition by Lansing
subtraction, he’s basically around to activate Brian Bohanon’s sense of job
insecurity. More important for the pitching staff is the callup of House.
He’s already gotten a good amount of play in Baseball America and the
Denver papers for his novel delivery and his tremendous velocity. The
velocity is what I’d admit nears 100, even if make allowances for the
frequent use of the fast gun for scoreboard readings, and he mixes in a
pretty good splitter; he’s still working on a useful slider. The delivery
basically leaves him airborne as he delivers the ball, as he hops off of his
front foot while pushing off with the right. Attempts to get him to throw
normally have been failures. He says he’s been using it for six years
without any problems, so let’s enjoy it and see what happens before fretting
about how unnatural it looks. House could very easily end up being the
team’s closer before this time next year, or perhaps co-closer with Jose
Jimenez if Jimenez isn’t returned to the rotation. For all of those fantasy
GMs who were suckered by David Lee, this is a better pickup.

Trading Hunter also creates an opportunity for Juan Pierre, another speedy
center fielder. The Rox are short on great outfield prospects, although Jody
Gerut’s looks like he’ll deserve some playing time in spring training.


FLORIDA MARLINS

Announced that LHP Ron Mahay has cleared waivers and will report to Calgary.
[8/3]

Signed RHP Jack Armstrong to a minor-league contract; outrighted INF-R Mendy
Lopez
to Calgary. [8/4]


HOUSTON ASTROS

Activated RHP Jay Powell from the DL; optioned RHP Scott Linebrink to New
Orleans. [8/5]

Powell’s return is to his old role of setup man, except that now its for
Octavio Dotel instead of Billy Wagner. Beyond being a much-improved pen on
the outfit the Astros carried into the season, its also an interesting
group. Dotel and Jason Green, and to a lesser extent Wayne Franklin, all
have future roles with the club. Powell’s been a big disappointment since
coming over from the Marlins, and the other two relievers are two
journeymen, Joe Slusarski and Marc Valdes. The decision to discard Russ
Johnson just to get somebody like Valdes is still one of the stranger moves
the team has made all season, similar to the decision to trade for Yorkis
Perez. The failure to build a good bullpen, and try to shop for retreads
instead of swipe them, makes for a lesser disaster in the wake of all of the
larger stories, but it still sounds a troubling note for the future. After
all, the Astros will get used to life in their new ballpark. The magic of
the first three years under Larry Dierker are gone, and now the organization
is going to have prove that it can learn from its mistakes. That means
sorting out what to do with Jeff Bagwell long-term, and then Daryle Ward,
and then about the outfield logjam.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Suspended CF-B Carlos Beltran indefinitely for refusing to report to a
rehabilitation assignment. [8/3]

How predictable, another Boras-bashfest. I’m just going to be another voice
in the choir wondering that if Tony Muser is supposed to be such a great
inculcator of discipline and decency and hard work and all of that good
stuff, why is it that the Royals get caught picking more nasty little fights
with their players than any other team in baseball? Maybe Allard Baird and
Muser have watched one Les Steckel motivational video too many. Maybe the
Royals need to start focusing on baseball and talent instead of boo-sh….
bushido. Beltran got to work out with the team on Monday, which means
somebody in a suit has egg on his face and the team picked a fight to no
good end beyond some deserved embarassment. After the stunts pulled with Dee
Brown and Mark Quinn this year, the least you say is turnabout is fair play.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Acquired OF-R Bruce Aven from the Pirates for a PTBNL or cash; optioned Aven
to Albuquerque. [8/6]

A good pickup for the Dodgers. While Aven’s had an absolutely awful season
as a pinch-hitter this year (4 for 35), he’s got a good track record as a
hitter on his career, and should be capable of much better than the
.250/.275/.426 he was hitting with the Pirates. He needs more frequent
playing time than he was getting from Gene Lamont, or is likely to get in an
outfield with Gary Sheffield and Shawn Green in the corners, but I’m willing
to bet he’s on the roster before the last day of August so that he’s eligible
for the playoff roster.


MONTREAL EXPOS

Activated PR Terry Jones from the DL. [8/4]

While I won’t disagree with the proposition that maybe Milton Bradley needs
some more work in the minors, there’s something very wrong with a team
that’s letting Wilton Guerrero play regularly in one outfield corner, and
offers up Jones as an alternative. Bad wheels or no, the Expos need to spend
as much time evaluating Fernando Seguignol as possible, to see if he has any
future with the organization whatsoever. They should already know what
Wilton’s good for (siblinghood), and they’ve had too much time to see that
Jones has no more value than Brian Hunter. Major league teams really should
be in the business of either developing or playing major league players.


NEW YORK YANKEES

Signed OF-L Luis Polonia for the remainder of 2000; designated INF-B Wilson
Delgado
for assignment. [8/3]

Placed RHP Ramiro Mendoza on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis); activated
LHP Allen Watson from the DL. [8/4]

Activated RHP Orlando Hernandez from the DL; optioned LHP Randy Choate to
Columbus. [8/6]

What has to be frustrating for Red Sox fans is that as much as the Red Sox
attempts to help themselves have been uniformly lousy, it isn’t like the
Yankees are doing that much better. Polonia might end up being the worst
outfielder on a postseason roster since Jumpy Fox. Okay, Otis Nixon last
year was pretty terrible. While Polonia does have value as a
"ball-in-play" desperation pinch-hitter for the Jose Vizcainos or
Clay Bellingers of the world, he’s still the waterbug voted most likely to
get himself squashed on the bases for going one too far, and his defensive
value is nil. But with a bunch of baserunners well-regarded for their smarts
if not their speed, the Yankees may be the right kind of team to derive some
sort of value from an otherwise worthless player. Polonia and Glenallen Hill
give the Yankees two pinch-hitters on the bench, neither of whom should play
the field, and neither of whom can DH regularly.

Meanwhile, the pitching staff is still closer to being a shambles than it is
to getting straightened out. With Mendoza hurt and Grimsley slagged, the
Yankees aren’t going to get any desperately needed middle relief to support
either David Cone’s or Doc Gooden’s generally short outings. You always have
to worry about Jeff Nelson’s arm. It may not be enough for the Red Sox or
the Blue Jays to capitalize on, but there are reasons to believe this
Yankees team will be ripe for an early exit in the playoffs. Their best way
to avoid it is going to be Roger Clemens and El Duque going strong into
October.

I guess Clay Bellinger gets to stick around instead of Wilson Delgado
because he’s more likely to pull a Bucky Dent.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Signed DH-R Mike Stanley; optioned INF-R Jose Ortiz to Sacramento. [8/4]

Even smart teams make mistakes. Unlike Ortiz or Frankie Menechino, Stanley
can’t play a position, and he’s hardly been pounding lefties this season.
His best years are long gone. As far as pickups go, this is more reminiscent
of Brook Jacoby or Kevin Seitzer than Matt Stairs or Jeremy Giambi.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Placed 1B-L Rico Brogna on waivers, losing him to the Red Sox; purchased the
contract of SS-B Tomas Perez from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [8/3]

Activated C-R Mike Lieberthal from the DL; announced SS-B Desi Relaford was
claimed on waivers by the Padres, and traded him to them for a PTBNL. [8/4]

Recalled 2B-L Marlon Anderson from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; traded 2B-L Mickey
Morandini
to the Blue Jays for a PTBNL. [8/6]

Lordy lordy, its starting to resemble a baseball team hereabouts. What’s
next? Terry Francona dispatched to coach the Washington Wizards? Four months
of lumps are worth taking if its what has to be done to get Ron Gant and
Rico Brogna out of town. Now the Phillies have Pat Burrell and Travis Lee in
place, and they’ll be the better for it next year. The only cautionary note
is that Ed Wade couldn’t help firing a few parting shots after Desi Relaford
after cutting him loose, and that’s brave talk coming from the man who felt
trading for Mickey Morandini was such a good idea only a few months ago.

So now the Phillies will have Scranton’s combo on the deuce. Perez is still
a slick-fielding shortstop, his early errors aside. Maybe it just seems like
he’s been around forever, because he’s only 26. He was hitting for good
power in Scranton (.294/.334/.473), but 16 walks in 77 games isn’t anything
to be proud of. He’s going to have to make up on defense what the Phillies
gave away in terms of Relaford’s ability to get on base. As for Marlon
Anderson, he almost managed to draw a walk for every ten at-bats this year,
not bad for someone who only a year ago was bragging about his ability to
create runs without taking them. Don’t mistake him for a prospect: he’s as
old as Perez, and no more likely to have a long and successful career.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated RHP Rich Loiselle from the DL; designated INF-R Luis Sojo for
assignment. [8/3]

Purchased the contract of LHP Dan Serafini from Nashville; optioned RHP
Steve Sparks to Nashville. [8/5]

Traded OF-R Bruce Aven to the Dodgers for a PTBNL or cash. [8/6]

Cutting loose Sojo instead of Mike Benjamin is just one of those things that
doesn’t need to make sense. Maybe we need to just start responding to moves
like these with "It’s a Bonifay thing, we can’t understand." Some
utility infielders get multi-year contracts, and some get dumped. Some
fourth outfielders get acquired, some get played, some get multi-year
contracts. Performance is not used to evaluate who gets what, although we
can only speculate what does. One reasonable theory is that its all tied to
whoever is furthest removed from knowing Kevin Bacon, although favorite
colors and prominent nose hair undoubtedly play important parts as well.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

Claimed SS-B Desi Relaford from the Phillies, acquiring him for a PTBNL.
[8/4]
Optioned SS-B Kevin Nicholson to Las Vegas. [8/5]

Anyone else remember the Pads’ Timry Flanster second base platoon from the
mid-80s as fondly as I do? Gance Mulliniorg gets a bunch of the "The
Platoon in History" headlines, and I suppose Dike Slavalliere gets a
few kudos now and again. Well, what might the Pads give us at short next
year? Desian Jackford? Davin Jackolson? Kesi Nichoford? Use all three to
give us Damesivan Nichafockson?

Okay, enough fun. I’ve written in the past that some teams might want to
experiment with platoons with players not only on the basis of platoon
splits, but also in terms of offensive profiles. Jackson and Relaford are
similar players: not very good shortstops, useful at getting on base.
Relaford’s better at it (an OBP in the .360s instead of the .330s), while
Jackson’s good for a few more steals. They both wish they could grow up to
be Steve Jeltz if they set the bar low, and Eddie Joost if they set it high.
Nicholson might have a little more pop than either of them (but not enough
to deserve the term ‘power’), plus he’s probably a better shortstop than
either. If everything breaks his way, maybe he turns into a better version
of David Howard. So what do you do when none of your choices are going to
grow up to be good players, let alone great ones? Chances are that the Pads
will let all three take their shots at the job next spring. Its usually the
sign of a good team if they take everything into consideration long before
they get to camp, and just pick a winner instead of pussyfooting around with
all of them, but there’s no reason to envy the Pads for what they have to
pick from. What you hope for is that Kevin Towers doesn’t listen when Cam
Bonifay comes a-callin’ with a spare Pat Meares this winter.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Recalled RHP Cory Lidle from Durham; optioned RHP Travis Harper to Durham.
[8/6]

Perhaps its just as well to bring Lidle up and have him in the rotation for
the time being. He’s had a good nine starts at Durham, posting a 2.52 ERA
with six wins, with neat ratios like a 3:1 groundball to flyball ratio or a
5:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Of course, it is only nine starts. But with
Ryan Rupe and Tanyon Sturtze lucky to get out of the fifth inning every
fifth day, the Devil Fishies will need to take what they can get. They can
evaluate their pitching prospects later on, because its worth seeing if they
can have as much success with a retread like Lidle as they have with Bryan
Rekar. If Lidle does succeed, he’ll be another minor asset that Chuck LaMar
might use in trade. That’s important, because Steve Cox and Aubrey Huff and
Rupe are probably the only players on the roster with a chance of playing on
a good Tampa Bay team.


TEXAS RANGERS

Traded OF-L Dave Martinez to the Blue Jays for a PTBNL; purchased the
contract of OF-L Pedro Valdes from Oklahoma. [8/4]

Is this a shell game where somebody is supposed to win? The Devil Rays
turned Martinez into Mark Guthrie into part of the package that became a
useful prospect in Brent Abernathy. We’ll have to see what the Cubs and
Rangers get, but it looks like Chuck LaMar’s the only guy who came out
ahead, because he got rid of Martinez and got something useful. What
the Rangers really get is their participation in what’s turned into a great
week or so for some of the best hitters who have usually had to be stranded
in the minors, year after year. Now, in one week, guys like Valdes (hitting
.331/.408/.570 in Oklahoma City) and Billy McMillon have finally gotten
long-deserved callups. That’s progress, even if they’re getting their
chances with teams that are out of the running. But with everything that’s
going on in the AL East, there are obviously teams that could have used
them, and at least they aren’t rotting in Triple-A.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Optioned RHP Roy Halladay to Syracuse; added RHP Steve Trachsel to the
active roster; acquired OF-L Dave Martinez from the Rangers for a PTBNL;
designated OF-L Rob Ducey for assignment. [8/4]

Acquired 2B-L Mickey Morandini from the Phillies for a PTBNL; optioned SS-R
Chris Woodward to Syracuse; designated RHP Peter Munro for assignment. [8/6]

Dave Martinez was once a useful player, but at this point, he may be a step
down from Rob Ducey, a man so valuable that for a few days of his time, Gord
Ash handed the Phillies John Sneed. Martinez may still have some limited
value as a defensive replacement, but we’re talking about a corner
outfielder pushing 36 with no power. If he’s supposed to get on base, he’ll
have to top his current struggle to post a .340 OBP. I’d rather have Pedro
Valdes, and it wouldn’t have cost me Sneed plus Ducey plus Munro to get him.

But wait, that’s the good news! The bad news? Ash dragged in one of the
worst players in baseball at a position the Jays desperately need filled,
and they gave up yet another player to get him. The amazing thing about this
is that it did what I didn’t think possible, which is make the decisions to
trade Mike Young and Brent Abernathy look even worse. Morandini’s range at
second is a foggy memory, and that’s his strong suit. He was hitting
.252/.324/.315, with a .220 Equivalent Average, which after last year’s
disaster should get him out of the majors instead of the fringes of a
divisional race. While he might be better than an injured Homer Bush,
getting him isn’t anything that’s going to help the Jays score runs or
prevent them. About the nicest thing you can say is that he might not be so
much worse than Mike Lansing, but in the AL East’s race to collect as much
bad talent as quickly as possible, who’s to say getting better is even an
objective anymore? If the regular season went beyond September, the Devil
Rays could end up finishing second.

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