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July 1, 1999

Transaction Analysis

June 26-29

by Christina Kahrl


Placed OF Matt Luke on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/25 (partially torn rib cage muscle); recalled LHP Mike Holtz from Edmonton. [6/27]

Placed RHP Tim Belcher on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/27 (fractured right pinky); recalled C Bret Hemphill from Edmonton; acquired OF Mike Stoner from the Diamondbacks for OF Jason Herrick. [6/28]

You could almost accuse the Angels of gratuitously piling on, loading up their DL with almost anyone they can find. The team won't miss a 25th man like Luke, and losing anyone as hittable as Belcher is a boon. The real fun is that with Hemphill up, the Halos have four guys on the roster who can catch--Hemphill, Matt Walbeck, Steve Decker and Todd Greene--and the worst hitter of the lot (Walbeck) will continue to get the most playing time.

But hey, as long as they've got those injuries to talk about ("We'd be winning if Jack McDowell would heal!"), they won't put the time into sweating details like putting a better lineup out there. Holtz's return may let the Angels bump Scott Schoeneweis into the rotation, because starting Mark Petkovsek would take their best middle reliever out of the pen. Holtz was pitching well in Edmonton, logging a 2.66 ERA while allowing only 20 hits and 9 walks in 23 2/3 innings and striking out 35.


Placed RHP Darren Holmes on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/24 (back); activated LHP Greg Swindell from the DL; optioned LHP Nick Bierbrodt to Tucson; recalled OF Dante Powell from Tucson; assigned RHP Dan Carlson and LHP Ed Vosberg outright to Tucson. [6/28]

All of this shuffling gives the D'backs a pen of Swindell, Gregg Olson, Dan Plesac and the three rookie right-handers (Byung-Hyun Kim, Vladimir Nunez and Vicente Padilla). For all of the shrieking about how they need something else, that isn't a bad group to work with. The panic should really be about what they're going to do if/when their lineup comes crashing down to earth. If Luis Gonzalez and Jay Bell and Matt Williams wear down, the D'backs will have bigger problems than blown saves. Buck Showalter has to start giving them a day off here and there if he wants to help keep that from happening.


Activated RHP John Hudek from the DL; optioned RHP Justin Speier to Richmond. [6/27]

Announced the resignation of Paul Snyder, director of scouting and player development. [6/28]

Snyder's departure is pretty interesting, since he's one of the two important men in the franchise's last ten or fifteen years, along with Bobby Cox. As for getting Hudek back, neither he nor Speier are critical parts of a good Braves pen. Who the last two men behind Rocker, Remlinger, Seanez and McGlinchy are really isn't the sort of chink in the team's armor that the Mets are going to exploit.


Designated C Chris Turner for assignment; purchased the contract of C Pat Borders from Buffalo. [6/27]

Signed RHP Tom Candiotti to a contract for the remainder of the season; designated INF Jeff Manto for assignment. [6/29]

Since Sandy Alomar's expected to be out for a while longer, the Tribe has elected to go back to last year's backup catcher dilemma: Einar Diaz versus Pat Borders. What's really curious about the decision to bring Borders back is that the Indians say they were frustrated with Turner's glovework. I can accept that, but Borders had problems catching almost anything with bend in it back in his glory days with the Blue Jays, and that hasn't gotten better as he creeps towards his fortieth birthday.

What's even more amazing is the decision to carry 13 pitchers. It's sort of interesting, in that it means the Indians have a three-man bench of one catcher (Borders), one infielder (Enrique Wilson) and one outfielder (Mark Whiten). Wilson can play second, shortstop and third, and Whiten can handle center field in a pinch and the catchers are the only hitters that Hargrove has to ever think about pinch-hitting for, so the Indians aren't really short-handed.

But the thirteen-man pitching staff is odd. Sure, the Indians need to use their middle relief a lot as long as Jaret Wright, Bartolo Colon and Doc Gooden have a hard time making it through six innings. Because of the specialized roles of Mike Jackson, Paul Assenmacher, Ricky Rincon, Paul Shuey and Steve Reed, that means the Indians have "only" two long relievers, Steve Karsay and Mark Langston. Maybe having Candiotti around makes sense if the Indians want to cut Gooden or Langston loose. But carrying all of them means there's not enough work to go around to keep them all sharp, and none of them are the answers to the Tribe's basic "who pitches in the playoffs?" problem. So why carry them all? What's the point in hoarding pitchers such as these? Is anything they do that's really worth going with a short bench for any length of time? I don't think so, because I believe having a guy like Jeff Manto on the bench can be handy, especially on a team that might need to sit a Jim Thome or a David Justice against left-handed pitching from time to time. That's guaranteed playing time, versus some fuzzy possibility that the Indians might need a third long reliever in case of a 14-inning game or something.


Optioned OF Edgard Clemente to Colorado Springs; recalled RHP David Lee from Colorado Springs. [6/27]

Optioned RHP Mark Brownson to Colorado Springs; transferred 2B Mike Lansing from the 15- to the 60-day DL; purchased the contract of OF Jeff Barry from Colorado Springs. [6/29]

Don Baylor, all's forgiven! Jim Leyland's frustrations with his pitching staff are playing themselves out in even worse fashion than anyone might have anticipated. He's already been hurting the team with a recent glut of ticky-tack situational maneuvering and over-managing with his pen, but his new master plan involves going to a four-man rotation. This isn't exactly going to kill the Hall of Fame chances of Bobby Jones, but if Leyland goes to the four-man rotation while continuing to whipsaw his bullpen in and out of games, he may not have anyone left standing by August.

What makes this even worse is that despite carrying three men to play second base and three more to play catcher, Leyland seems to skip making double-switches that would keep him from having to jerk his pitchers out of the ballgame too quickly. There are better ways to run this team, and despite some obvious gaffes (his playoff roster, for example), Don Baylor may deserve a lot more credit for the job he did compared to one popularly-anointed genius.


Acquired LHP Andrew Van Hekken as the first of two PTBNLs from the Mariners for OF Brian Hunter; optioned INF Jose Macias to Toledo. [6/27]

Recalled INF Jason Wood from Toledo. [6/29]

Hey, if I was willing to say Jose Macias was more useful than Gregg Jefferies, you can be sure that I think the same goes for Jason Wood.


Purchased the contract of LHP Alvin Morman from Omaha; optioned RHP Chris Fussell to Omaha. [6/27]

This means the Royals are going to put Mac Suzuki into the rotation while carrying three lefty situational guys (Morman, Tim Byrdak and Matt Whisenant) on a twelve-man staff. With Jose Santiago and Orber Moreno both out, that means the Royals are going to have to lean on Terry Mathews and Cookies Pisciotta more than you'd like. But as troublesome as their pen has been, the Royals can at least be glad that Scott Service is back on track.

Morman was pitching well in his brief stint in Omaha, allowing only nine baserunners in 14 1/3 innings, while punching out 15.


Activated LHP Eddie Guardado from the DL; optioned LHP Gary Rath to Salt Lake. [6/29]

Now that the Twins have both Guardado and Carrasco back, you might say that their bullpen is back at full "strength". Tom Kelly's been doing some strange things with his staff, in that no matter how bad LaTroy Hawkins or Dan Perkins or Mike Lincoln do, he still manages to find a way to avoid using two or three of his twelve pitchers (especially Rath, but Travis Miller too). Now that he has Carrasco and Guardado to team up with Mike Trombley and Bob Wells, it will be interesting to see if Benj Sampson falls into that black hole as well. Well, interesting if you follow the Twins.


Optioned 1B Brad Fullmer to Ottawa; placed C Darron Cox on the 15-day DL (strained knee); purchased the contract of C Robert Machado from Ottawa; transferred C Bob Henley from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/28]

Activated OF Rondell White from the DL. [6/29]

And with a snap of the fingers, Fullmer loses the title of Expos' First Baseman of the Future, leaving Fernando Seguignol as the man of the moment. With White's return the best-case scenario for the Expos is that he could play center field often enough that they could use a left-field platoon of Ryan McGuire and James Mouton to hold down the leadoff slot until Peter Bergeron comes up. Sadly, White can't really do it for any length of time, which keeps Manny Martinez in the lineup, and keeps the Expos from scoring as many runs as they could.

Machado's resurfacing, along with the resurrection of Mel Rojas, has me wondering if Jim Beattie just does retread projects because it's something the Expos are known for, or if he really doesn't know the difference between the kinds of guys you want to retread versus the ones you need to send to Akron to be melted down into usable rubber.


Placed C Mike Macfarlane on the 15-day DL (sprained thumbs); recalled C Ramon Hernandez from Vancouver. [6/27]

After hitting .263/.321/.452 with 12 home runs at Vancouver, you can believe that Hernandez is going to be given every opportunity to claim the job as starting catcher in Macfarlane's absence. The real question is what happens when the ex-Royal heals. Does Hinch go down and try to recover his batting stroke in Vancouver? Do they dump Mac on somebody like the Indians or the Braves for a bucket of balls? Hernandez has been touted as the catcher of the future for awhile, and his ability as a hitter could make people forget Hinch faster than you can say "Joel Skinner".


Placed RHP Mike Williams on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/24 (tendinitis - biceps); recalled RHP Marc Wilkins from Nashville. [6/28]

"Mom, I'm hurt, but it's okay, because the team gave me a million dollars first!" The rags-to-riches-to-DL story of Mike Williams should give every mediocre Triple-A righty a reason to hope that he could be next. What's interesting is whether teams will pick up on the fact that the Pirates have taken just about anybody (Williams, Rich Loiselle, John Ericks) and made them a closer, while teams like the Cubs have spent lots of money to bring in people like Mel Rojas or Rod Beck, or even blow their top pick on a future closer like Ben Christensen. Will teams will figure out that closers really do grow on trees, as opposed to sifting around and paying top dollar for "moxie" instead of results?


Placed OF Eric Davis on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder); activated LHP Lance Painter from the DL. [6/29]

Davis on the DL? Well, you'd like to believe that the Cardinals expected it, and at any rate he hasn't been the power source the team had hoped for. The real horror here is the possibility of an outfield featuring Willie McGee and Darren Bragg at the same time, but the Cardinals will recall J.D. Drew to prevent that from happening. Painter should return to the pen, because Kent Mercker's done well enough in his absence, and because it's what he's best-suited for.


Purchased the contract of INF Carlos Baerga from Las Vegas; optioned 2B/OF David Newhan to Las Vegas. [6/29]

Who in their right mind picks Baerga over Newhan? Neither plays a position particularly well, and Newhan's been a better hitter for a couple of years now. No matter how frustrated the team is with George Arias, this is a step down from the Magadan/Arias platoon in every way you can name.


Sent LHP Josh Santos to the Indians. [6/27]

Activated OF Ellis Burks; optioned OF Calvin Murray to Fresno. [6/26]

Burks' return moves Stan Javier to a fourth outfielder role, except that it's sort of a fifth outfielder role because of the Benard/Santangelo platoon in center field. That's not really a big deal: between Burks' knees and back, and Bonds' elbow, there should be plenty of spot starts and playing time to go around.


Released LHP Allen Watson; recalled LHP Jordan Zimmerman from Tacoma. [6/28]

So the Mariners take a roster spot, blow two people through it in less than two weeks and lose both of them to make room for somebody they had all along. Someone they're probably going to demote in another few days anyway because of the expected callups of Damaso Marte and Gil Meche. The Mariners are already in the midst of one public relations disaster over stadium financing, so firing Piniella to make most of these problems go away probably isn't an option. But if they want to help themselves right now, giving Woody Woodward a spine transplant so that he can either straighten Mt. Piniella out or fire him on the spot is probably the biggest single move that would improve the Mariners' shot at catching Texas.


Activated CF Tom Goodwin from the DL; optioned CF Scarborough Green to Oklahoma. [6/27]

Returned CF Tom Goodwin to the 15-day DL (hip flexor); recalled CF Scarborough Green from Oklahoma. [6/28]

The Rangers jumped the gun in their haste to replace Ruben Mateo, as Goodwin managed to reinjure himself. So Roberto Kelly will continue to play center field and Green will be a defensive sub, with the race on to see who heals first, Mateo or Goodwin.


Activated RHP Chris Carpenter from the DL; optioned RHP Tom Davey to Syracuse. [6/28]

The only reason Davey was sent down was because he had an option and somebody like John Frascatore did not. Roy Halladay will get to stick around to toss long relief when needed, or replace whoever flops in the rotation. With Pat Hentgen limping along, and Kelvim Escobar and Joey Hamilton struggling to find any consistency, he'll be needed. The real concern is that Jim Fregosi takes it easy on Carpenter now that he's back. The Jays have done a lot to flub their shot at the AL wild card this year, but hurting Carpenter would do even more to wreck future chances.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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1999-07-14 - Transaction Analysis: July 6-11, 1999
1999-07-13 - NL Central Notebook
1999-07-07 - Transaction Analysis: June 30-July 5, 1999
1999-07-01 - Transaction Analysis: June 26-29
1999-06-29 - AL Central Notebook
1999-06-27 - Transaction Analysis: June 22-25
1999-06-24 - Transaction Analysis: June 20-22

1999-07-17 - Transaction Analysis: July 12-16, 1999
1999-07-14 - Transaction Analysis: July 6-11, 1999
1999-07-07 - Transaction Analysis: June 30-July 5, 1999
1999-07-01 - Transaction Analysis: June 26-29
1999-06-27 - Transaction Analysis: June 22-25
1999-06-24 - Transaction Analysis: June 20-22
1999-06-19 - Transaction Analysis: June 16-18