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Recalled RHP Jeff Stevens from Iowa. [9/7]
Recalled RHP Jeff Samardzija from Iowa. [9/8]

Since being shipped off to corn country, the wide receiver managed one quality start in five while getting crushed three times. If there’s progress being made, it isn’t readily apparent; his fastball’s still a carpenter’s dream, and his off-speed stuff doesn’t mix things up enough to keep it from being a target. You can admire the consistency in trying to make him a starter, as they’re going to keep trying him in the role later on as the season winds down, but three full seasons into the experiement, it would hard to see a lot to sustain the faith that he’ll go from a can’t-mix to a can’t-miss pitching prospect.

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Recalled RHP Carlos Fisher from Sarasota (High-A). [9/7]
LHP Matt Maloney from Carolina (Double-A). [9/8]

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Purchased the contracts of RHP Billy Sadler and 3B-R Chris Johnson from Round Rock (Triple-A); recalled SS-R Tommy Manzella from Round Rock; transferred LHP Mike Hampton from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/7]

The names to note in this mix are those of Johnson and Manzella. Not that either rates as a top-shelf prospect, but the Double Geoffardy platoon at third base really didn’t work out this season, and with Miguel Tejada‘s lost steps at short also weighing heavily on their future, deciding what to do about the left side of the infield can be considered one of Ed Wade’s many off-season projects. Tejada’s gamely admitted a willingness to move to the hot corner if it helps him get re-upped by the Astros; no fool he, to play the willing supplicant, considering he’s hit a lifeless .270/.307/.384 away from the comforts of Crawfordity at home.

Would they move Tejada (having re-signed him) to make space for Manzella? Maybe, as the organizational soldier managed to hit .289/.339/.417 for Round Rock in his first full year at Triple-A, which translated to .247/.295/.362 and a .230 EqA. Unfortunately, it was his age-26 season, leading to a projected big-league peak of a .231 EqA, so the flattering comparisons he gets to Adam Everett will have to do as far as what you might expect from him as a hitter, while getting something less than Everett afield.

Still, that could help the team if they found a better-hitting third baseman than Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger or Miguel Tejada to add punch to the lineup. Unfortunately, Johnson’s not that a great prospect; when your top comp is Tracy Woodson, that seems damning enough. However, he is younger than Manzella, having completed his age-24 season with the Express hitting .281/.323/.461. That works out to .251/.291/.421 translated and a .243 EqA (with a projected peak of .248), and when you add in that much of the damage got done against PCL southpaws (.324/.373/.528), and suddenly you’ve been stat-goggling long enough in the wrong places that maybe Miguel Tejada doesn’t look so bad. While it will be interesting if they give Manzella an opportunity, my suggestion is that the Astros should give thought to the fact that next year’s starting third baseman isn’t in the organization.

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Activated CF-S Carlos Beltran from the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Tobi Stoner from Buffalo (Triple-A); transferred RHP Fernando Nieve from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]

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Purchased the contract of RHP John Ennis from Lehigh Valley (Triple-A), and placed him on the 15-day DL (Tommy John surgery); designated 2B-R Brad Harman for assignment. [8/31]
Recalled LHP Jack Taschner from Lehigh Valley. [9/1]
Purchased the contract of C-R Paul Hoover from Lehigh Valley; designated RHP Steven Register and C-L Joel Naughton for assignment; activated LHP Antonio Bastardo from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to Reading (Double-A). [9/3]
Activated RHP Brett Myers from the 60-day DL; outrighted RHPs Steven Register and Joe Bisenius to Lehigh Valley; outrighted C-L Joel Naughton to Clearwater (High-A). [9/4]
Recalled RHP Kyle Kendrick and OF-R John Mayberry Jr. from Lehigh Valley. [9/6]
Released RHP Rodrigo Lopez; purchased the contract of 1BL Andy Tracy from Lehigh Valley; recalled LHP Sergio Escalona from Reading. [9/9]

One of the more rosterly delights of the late-August portion of playoff team programming is the rigmarole of setting up silly additions to the active or 40-man rosters to make sure that you can thus add effectively anybody drawing a check from you by August 31 to your postseason roster. Witness the otherwise pointless addition of the entirely inactive Ennis; he’s not going to pitch, and given his rehab effort, he really can’t. But you can just about guarantee that he’s going to be on the club’s post-season roster in a paper transaction that makes sure that the Phillies can pick and choose from their actual options without having to worry about having somebody already on the roster (say, Jamie Moyer, or the slowly healing Myers, or a third catcher) that they wouldn’t want to add to their 25-man set for October action unless they were absolutely sure they were going to carry and use that guy. You might feel that Brad Harman got screwed out of his place on the 40-man, but after hitting .201/.271/.310 for Reading, the Aussie’s got nobody to blame but himself in light of that kind of campaign.

Among the other odd bodies thrown into the mix, it’s sort of cool to see former Expos organizational player Andy Tracy get the call. The old man’s 34 now and far removed from the days when he was a 16th-round pick out of Bowling Green in the ’96 draft, and having hit 257 homers in the minor leagues, he’s got his own Crash Davis-level legendry to boast about. Having been a star on last year’s original edition of the Iron Pigs, he followed up a great 2008 with a less-happy 2009, still managing to hit 254/.361/.484 with a respectable TTO percentage of 38.9 percent (a bump up from last year’s 36.1). If he hangs around another year, he’ll reach 1000 RBI as a pro (he’s at 975), and 300 career homers between the majors and minors is only 30 more bombs away. Not that it helps with the pension plan or anything, but give the man his due. For the time being, he’ll chip in as a pinch-hitter, especially with Greg Dobbs still on the shelf.

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Activated LHP Donald Veal from the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Eric Hacker, C-R Robinzon Diaz, and MI-R Brian Bixler from Indianapolis (Triple-A). [9/8]
Activated RHP RHP Jeff Karstens from the 15-day DL. [9/9]

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Activated RHP Kyle Lohse from the 15-day DL. [9/7]

Lohse came back and threw an inning, but he’s being slotted into the rotation this weekend, bumping Mitchell Boggs even though Boggs spun a pair of quality starts in his latest spin through the fifth slot. That’s just as well, with John Smoltz‘s durability in question, and with a fourth starter to select for the post-season series to come.

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Where did the promised paragraph on the marlins go? :(
Sad to see the Mets' transaction this week mentioned without comment. This is the first time there's been a Stoner in the bullpen since Grant Roberts and Mark Corey left town.