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Activated LHP Billy Wagner; released RHP Brad Penny; assigned RHP Fernando Cabrera outright to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [8/27]

You can take this less as a comment on Penny’s limited virtues-haven’t we been looking to do away with him forever anyway?-than an endorsement of Clay Buchholz and Junichi Tazawa in the fourth and fifth slots. With Tim Wakefield already getting reactivated (and shining), they’ve got a solid front three again, and making this sort of commitment to the kids they’ve taken so much time to dig up and/or retain, it makes sense for them to let those two duke it out for an opportunity to make the playoff roster and leave Penny adrift for having contributed an entirely replaceable .427 SNWP. There comes a point at which we have to say that the shiny Penny of so many years ago is now the sort of thing you can drop without bothering to pick him back up. For all the talk of who might want to trade for him, let’s face it, nobody did, and that was because nobody should.

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Optioned RHP Armando Galarraga to Toledo (Triple-A). [8/26]
Activated LHP Nate Robertson from the 15-day DL. [8/28]

Demoting Galarraga prefigures his losing his rotation slot to Nate Robertson the next time an open turn comes up, which will be this weekend. Yes, as improbable comebacks go, this ranks with Justinian II of the Byzantine Empire, but presumably Robertson returns without having to marry a Khazar to help get him here.

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Designated RHP Jason Jennings for assignment; purchased the contract of RHP Pedro Strop from Oklahoma City (Triple-A). [8/27]
Signed UT-R Ryan Freel, and assigned him to Oklahoma City. [8/28]

Can there be any stronger indictment of a team’s collection of alternatives on the bench that inking what’s left of Ryan Freel to get him into the organization in time for a possible tacking on to the post-season roster? Bat-less, glove-less, and regularly disabled sort of redefines utilityman into oxmoronics territory.

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Activated RF-S Justin Upton from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Daniel Schlereth to Reno (Triple-A). [8/26]

Getting Upton back was the easy choice for the Snakes to make; he’s an important part of their present and future, someone they know they want in their lineup. The more interesting quandary is what they’ll do with Eric Byrnes (now more than 10 days into his rehab at Reno, and still not hitting) and Chris Young (slugging .640 in his 12 games), since that’s two of their four Opening Day outfield regulars. While Young’s combination of defensive value, relative youth, and (ideally) breakable bad habits at the plate should put him back in the picture, the question is whether they’ll take Byrnes’ implosion as a lesson learned or what. Whatever happens with Conor Jackson‘s comeback from Valley Fever, they can always kick him over to first base; if Byrnes doesn’t hit, they’re stuck with $11 million left to pay the man next season. Even if the extent to which we knew that much of the money was wasted from the moment they gave Byrnes his three-year extension, it remains to be seen if they’ll carry him over the winter instead of freeing up the spot on the 40-man, let alone whether they’ll ship out Gerardo Parra to make sure there’s space on the active roster come Opening Day 2010. Byrnes has no-trade protection, but that sort of thing can be negotiated away; the question at this point is whether anyone would want to pay some fraction above the minimum for the right to take Byrnes off of their hands. Given how the market shook out last year for corner outfielders, and Byrnes’ vestigial utility afield anywhere but in the corners, the answer’s a very likely ‘no.’

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Optioned RHP Manny Acosta to Gwinnett (Triple-A); recalled RHP Buddy Caryle from Gwinnett. [8/27]

Well, how do you think Manny Acosta feels about this? In one of the tunes on his incomparable Going Back to New Orleans album, Doctor John sings a Louis Armstrong classic, “Do You Call That a Buddy?”, in which he suggests that the best thing to do with said Buddy is to terminate and exterminate him, call the chief of police, and a few other things besides. The difference between that scenario and this one? Well, in that one there was a woman involved, plus some breaking of bread and wasted hospitality, whereas here we’re talking about a roster spot and the relevant perquisites. However, in both matters there’s an element of performance, while in the Braves‘ case is worth discussing since they don’t have to be nearly so bloody-minded in achieving some form of resolution. Avenging themselves on their Wednesday night bullpen massacre after the unit coughed up eight runs perhaps had to take some form or another, but in this case, it involved making an example of one poor performer in a low-leverage role to swap in another. Presumably, the survivors will feel appropriately chastened and motivated.

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Activated RHP Juan Rincon from the 15-day DL; designated OF-R Matt Murton for assignment. [8/26]
Optioned OF-R Matt Murton to Colorado Springs (Triple-A). [8/28]

There’s no real reason to celebrate this, even though I’ve been among those who poor-mouth Murton’s utility. Favoring Rincon strikes me as reliably kooky, but the Rockies already have their obvious preferences in Jason Giambi and Eric Young Jr. for the back end of their menu of post-season roster options among position players, and Murton’s a corner outfielder without a ton of power and already stuck counting his age-27 campaign as something of a second consecutive stalled season. Could he be the sort of guy who gets dredged up by, say, the Marlins, and redeems himself? Absolutely. Could he wind up having to star on foreign fields? Possibly. Is he a premium asset? I haven’t bought that suggestion for a while now, so count me out of the mob moving to take up Ken Phelps All-Star banners along with their pitchforks and torches. “Free talent” finds its level in terms of becoming freely available for cause; there’s nothing contradictory in recognizing that Murton’s thoroughly fungible and potentially useful.

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Optioned INF-S Tony Abreu to Albuquerque (Triple-A); recalled RHP Vicente Padilla from Albuquerque; transferred RHP Jason Schmidt from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/27]

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Activated RHP Jeff Suppan from the 15-day DL; optioned 2B/OF-L Hernan Iribarren to Nashville (Triple-A). [8/25]
Outrighted LHP Chase Wright to Nashville. [8/26]
Activated RHP David Bush from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Mike Burns to Nashville. [8/27]

I’ve spent a good chunk of the season noting that Suppan and Bush weren’t being very productive starting pitchers before the went on the DL, and Suppan’s track record of repeated, expensive failure goes back into last season. So, if this is supposed to be the cavalry, you might have to envision the charge being mounted by munchkins on midget ponies instead of a full-blown Sergei Bondarchuk exercise with real horsemen in their thousands.

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Hey JASON!!!!!! don't let the door hit ya where the sun don't shine!

God am I glad that he's gone...... even happier than when they dumped Padilla.....
Boy Wonder's second refugee starter sent packing. Hopefully he won't become yet another player to be paid by the Red Sox (Smoltz 0.82 ERA and Lugo .846 OPS)to perform for others.

Throw in all those other sunk costs, and ya know, they really couldn't afford that extra 10 mil for Tex.

Good thing Theo had the pitiful Indians bail him out with VMart to end a long line of poor decisions.
Let's face it, Smoltz and Penny were low level gambles and they both came up snake eyes. It happens more often than not. It was worth a shot. It's not like there were tons of options last off season. You had Sabathia and Burnett and then ultimately a bunch of guys who got 1 year deals. There wasn't much in between. Would you really rather have Ryan Dempster instead at 4/$52M in the American League? Not me.
No you got Matsusaka at 5 years and $105 mil ... so much a better deal