March 19, 2007
March 13-18, 2007
In each case, I don't think we've seen the last of either player. Even setting aside the general rule that guys who get traded for big leaguers (in this case, Brendan Donnelly) get called up at some point, the Angels' veteran lefty in the pen is Darren Oliver, and even with Oliver's solid contributions last year to the Mets' pen, he's not exactly a reliable commodity. There is the matter of last season's disappointments with J.C. Romero, and whether this might encourage Mike Scioscia to throttle back on situational chicanery in general, but if Oliver struggles while Seibel looks good in Utah, the Angels might actually add a second lefty at some point. As for Evans, he may have been traded out of the "show me"-state Cardinals, but I think we're all interested in seeing if he can repeat last year's breakout. If he does, the Angels might not have to fidget over Juan Rivera's broken leg, let alone have to live with the result of sweating out that all-important matter of picking from among Nick Gorneault, Reggie Willits, and Tommy Murphy for primary outfield reserves.
Signed 2B-B Brian Roberts to a two-year, $14.3 million contract extension. [3/14]
The money the Birds are paying Roberts is in anticipation that he's going to be the guy who put it all together in 2005, not the guy who went from getting on base in the first half to the guy who, try as he might, only delivered modest power in the second. PECOTA's extremely skeptical, and if Roberts does decline into a guy who provides merely adequate offense, he just became part of the problem, and not part of what's going to make the Orioles any better. They've made this mistake before, with Melvin Mora. Both players illustrate that it's not quite so simple as to throw good money at good performance, but bundle those two with a lineup relying on Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton on the downslopes of their careers, and you start to see why things really aren't getting better, no matter how much they spent on the bullpen. Spending plenty to stay ahead of the D-Rays isn't exactly the same thing as genuine ambition, but at least the O's have an achievable objective.
Optioned LHP Craig Breslow, C-L George Kottaras, and OF-L Brandon Moss to Pawtucket (Triple-A); reassigned RHPs Runelvys Hernandez and Travis Hughes and INF-R Ed Rogers to their minor league camp. [3/17]
Optioned LHPs Heath Phillips and Paulino Reynoso, 2B/SS-Rs Andy Gonzalez and Pedro Lopez, and 1B-L Casey Rogowski to Charlotte (Triple-A), and RHPs Dewon Day and Oneli Perez and LHP Carlos Vasquez to Birmingham (Double-A); reassigned RHP Lance Broadway, LHPs Corwin Malone and Wes Whisler, C-R Donny Lucy, C-L Cole Armstrong, and 2B-R Junior Spivey to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Optioned RHP Edward Mujica and LHP Rafael Perez to Buffalo (Triple-A), and 1B-L Michael Aubrey and RHP J.D. Martin to Akron (Double-A); reassigned SS-B Asdrubal Cabrera, C-R Max Ramirez, and LHP Jason Stanford to their minor league camp. [3/15]
Optioned RHP Yorman Bazardo to Toledo (Triple-A). [3/15]
Optioned LHP Neal Musser and OF-R Mitch Maier to Omaha (Triple-A), LHP Daniel Christensen and RHP Luke Hochevar to Wichita (Double-A), and RHP Carlos Rosa to Wilmington (High-A); reassigned RHPs Dewon Brazelton, Billy Buckner, Roberto Giron, and Matt Wright, LHPs Wayne Franklin and Tyler Lumsden, C-Rs Damaso Espino, Jared Price, and Max St. Pierre, 1B-L Graham Koonce, and 2B-R Richie Lewis their minor league camp. [3/15]
Optioned LHP Errol Simonitsch to Rochester (Triple-A) and LHP Jose Mijares to New Britain (Double-A). [3/13]
Reassigned RHPs Steven Jackson, Jeff Kennard, and Kevin Whelan, 1B-Ls Eric Duncan and Juan Miranda, SS-R Alberto Gonzalez, OF-L Brett Gardner, and OF-R Jose Tabata to their minor league camp. [3/13]
The same week that saw Homer Bailey get sent down saw his chief rival for the title of "best pitching prospect in baseball" get the same treatment. It's all just part of the plan, of course, but with both Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa having something less than entirely reassuring camps, the chances that Hughes comes back up sooner rather than later seem to be getting pretty good. The one guy who's actually making that sort of decision interesting right now if Jeff Karstens, who's struck nine and allowed nary a run in nine walk-free frames.
For real right-now drama, the more interesting dilemma is at first base, where Doug Mientkiewicz is looking about as done as you can get without being a player-manager putting yourself in the lineup ahead of better ballplayers. Andy Phillips has been out of camp looking after his mother after her injury in a car accident, but was already slipping behind Rule 5 pick Josh Phelps. If the Yankees work up the nerve to dispense with Minky's services, the irony of the big-budget production nevertheless doing a clever little thing as far as finding a starter through an old-fashioned talent redistribution vehicle like the Rule 5 Draft is delicious. It would also stand as a credit to the team not skipping the details, although keep in mind, they're the same guys who made the mistake in signing Mientkiewicz.
What, you want even more pinstriped excitement? I guess we can get worked up over Raul Chavez's lead in the battle for the backup backstop job. Todd Pratt, meet your doom! Okay, that's not really that exciting, even if I've got something short of a bar bet with Jay Jaffe, where I've got Chavez, and he's got Pratt. (Steven Goldman put his chips on Schnickelfritz, and I still wonder if he hasn't made the best choice.) I guess there's also the news that Kevin Thompson's having a great camp and making the Yankees feel reasonably secure in their decision to not give Bernie Williams the live-action season-long Viking funeral.
Optioned RHP Shane Komine and OF-R Javier Herrera to Sacramento (Triple-A); reassigned LHP Derek Thompson and C-L John Baker to their minor league camp. [3/12]
Optioned LHPs Travis Blackley and Ryan Rowland-Smith to Tacoma (Triple-A); reassigned LHP Jim Parque, RHPs Carlos Alvarado, Jesse Foppert, and Juan Sandoval, C-R Luis Oliveros, and 3B-R Matt Tuiasosopo to their minor league camp; released LHP Matt Perisho. [3/13]
Optioned RHPs Jeff Niemann and Mitch Talbot to Durham (Triple-A); reassigned RHPs Andy Sonnanstine, Steve Andrade, and Tony Peguero, C-R Josh Arhart, 3B-R Evan Longoria, SS-L Reid Brignac, OF-L Jason Grabowski, and OF-R Fernando Perez to their minor league camp. [3/13]
Optioned RHPs Armando Galarraga and Edinson Volquez and LHP Daniel Haigwood to Oklahoma City (Triple-A); reassigned LHP Scott Rice and RHPs Thomas Diamond, Eric Hurley, and Jose Vargas to their minor league camp. [3/13]
Optioned C-R Robinzon Diaz to New Hampshire (Double-A). [3/12]
The only move I guess I consider genuinely surprising in this group was seeing both McGowan and Taubenheim going down already (I know, Goldstein's laughing), but there's really only one rotation slot up for grabs, and between John Thomson, Shaun Marcum, and a surprising spring performance out of former oft-beaten bete noir Josh Towers, it looks like the Jays have some worthwhile choices for it. For McGowan, the plan of the moment involves his sticking in a starting role anyway, and at least notionally, the skippable fifth slot at the major league level isn't the best place for him to settle in. That's why I'd initially favor Marcum other Thomson and Towers, in that he's flip-flopped between roles at the major league level already, but in point of fact, the Jays only have two off days in the first 35, which doesn't make for a lot of opportunities to skip anybody; Marcum would only really be in the pen for the first couple of days of the season. We'll see how it pans out, but Thomson's only real advantage at this point is his guaranteed money, and if that's the determining factor for the Jays, that's not the move of a team that recognizes the risks it needs to take to avoid a return to their usual third-place roost in the AL East.
Optioned 2B-B Emilio Bonifacio, 2B-L Danny Richar, OF-Ls Carlos Gonzalez and Alex Romero, LHP Evan MacLane, and RHP Jailen Peguero to their minor league camp; reassigned RHP Adam Bass, OF-R Justin Upton, and C-B Wilkin Castillo to their minor league camp. [3/13]
Optioned OF-L Gregor Blanco and RHPs Jose Ascanio and Anthony Lerew to Richmond (Triple-A); reassigned C-R Jose Mendez to Richmond, and C-B Jarrod Saltalamacchia and SS-R Brent Lillibridge to Mississipi (Double-A). [3/12]
The only real surprise here is Devine's demotion with a couple of weeks to go. He didn't look bad in his few appearances, and he arrived in camp in better shape than last season. I think we can credit John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox for being appropriately cautious, though. Devine can spend a month or two in Richmond demonstrating some consistency and durability, and come up as a solution to whatever problems arise in-season. The list of relievers that Cox is trying to pick from is already eight names long, and that's setting aside Aussies Peter Moylan and Phil Stockman; things might get simpler if Lance Cormier wins a job in the rotation. That leaves a pretty straightforward seven-Bob Wickman, the pair that Schuerholz traded for (Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano), situational lefty Macay McBride, Oscar Villarreal, and last year's pair of scrapheap discoveries, Chad Paronto and Tyler Yates. The Braves seem excited about Paronto's improved offspeed stuff, and he's had an excellent camp, but overall, you have to think there's a larger-than-zero chance that Wickman gets hurt, or Villarreal or one of the two retreads falters, and that's where Devine-presumably with the benefit of some reliable work at Richmond-will enter the picture.
Optioned 3B-L Scott Moore and LHP Clay Rapada to Iowa (Triple-A), 1B-R Brian Dopirak to Tennessee (Double-A), and RHP Jeff Samardzija to Daytona (High-A); reassigned RHPs Jason Anderson, Sean Gallagher, Adam Harben, Ben Howard, John Webb, Randy Wells, UT-R Mike Kinkade, 2B-L Eric Patterson, OF-L Tyler Colvin, and OF-R Chris Walker to their minor league camp. [3/12]
Cubs fans have all sorts of reasons to feel good this spring, but should be particularly happy because of the fine camp performances they got out of Samardzija, Patterson, and Colvin, none of whom looked especially intimidated playing against more advanced competition. Less happy was Moore's injury-stunted spring, but he was bound back to Iowa anyway, and at this point, he's more a tasty bargaining chip than a Cub of the future. Less happy still were Dopirak's continued struggles; I'd half-hoped that Lou Piniella and his staff might have been able to find something easily fixable to get him back on track. That 2004 season at Lansing (.307/.363/.593) is getting further and further in his rearview mirror (that object is definitely not closer than it appears) after a bad year in the Florida State League and an injury-marred Double-A debut. The Cubs can afford to be patient-it isn't like they need Dopirak if something happens to Derrek Lee; that's what Daryle Ward is for-and he's still only 23. I'm not hugely optimistic about him, but let's see if he's fixable, and if they're the organization that can fix him.
Signed SS-R Enrique Cruz to a minor league contract. [3/14]
Don't blame Wayne Krivsky for defusing any particular drama-the odds of Votto and Bailey being this year's in-season cavalry remain every bit as good with them first having to ride to Louisville. I'm no more optimistic that the Scott Hatteberg-Jeff Conine combo at the cool corner, or Kirk Saarloos or Matt Belisle in the fifth slot, are elements of a contending ballclub, but the deals have been made, and letting the veterans survive or fail of their own accord is as old-school as it gets. It's certainly unfair to expect either Votto or Bailey to be instantly great, but the pair's talent is the sort of thing that makes them both worth using to supplant the Hattebergs and the Saarlooses of the world. It beats making deadline deals at first base or for a starter, and should give the Reds the sort of ability that helps them stay in the NL Central race all the way down the stretch.
Optioned SS-B Jonathan Herrera, 2B-R Jayson Nix, and OF-L Jeff Salazar to the minors; reassigned 1B-L Joseph Koshansky, 3B-L Ian Stewart, OF-L Seth Smith, and OF-Rs Sean Barkerand Matthew Miller to their minor league camp. [3/12]
Most of this was pretty straightforward, even with the talent guys like Koshansky, Smith, and Stewart have going for them. However, there were two notable numbers-game losers among these demotions. First, there's Salazar, who did nothing to embarrass himself in his cup of coffee last fall, but whose problems in getting a look for the club's centerfield job number at least three-Willy Taveras, Steve Finley, and Cory Sullivan. Add in that Jeff Baker and organizational favorite Ryan Spilborghs are in the picture for reserve outfielder jobs, and it's a third season as a Sky Sock for Salazar. Similarly, Quintanilla has a decent argument for why he should be able to stick around, having put in the time down on the farm and after a good camp, but that's not the point-with Clint Barmes healthy and Troy Tulowitzki ready, the middle infield's crowded. Add in the organization's strange fascination with Kazuo Matsui, and Quintanilla was similarly doomed to pack his bags. As for Denny Bautista, I'm more than satisfied by the suggestion that he shouldn't be on the Opening Day roster, and that the Rockies are instead better off seeing first that Josh Fogg and Rodrigo Lopez aren't going to be part of a better ballclub's rotation. Bautista's control problems still need to be mastered, and if that can actually happen, they should be ready to plug him in by June.
Optioned CF-L Reggie Abercrombie to Albuquerque (Triple-A); reassigned RHP Gabriel Hernandez and C-R Brett Hayes to their minor league camp. [3/14] Optioned RHPs Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, and Scott Tyler to Carolina (Double-A); outrighted 1B-R Jason Stokes to Albuquerque; reassigned LHP Chris George, RHP Eddie Rodriguez, 1B/3B-R Scott Seabol to their minor league camp. [3/16]
Credit Fredi Gonzalez for cutting bait on Abercrombie much more quickly than Joe Girardi did, but this year, there are a few more alternatives: Eric Reed and Alejandro De Aza are slapping and scampering as fast as their legs can carry them, and Joe Borchard's having a solid camp. Nobody involved is a future All-Star we should be launching any liberation campaigns for (no, we don't need to fire up "Alejandro liberdad!"). As a result, Gonzalez can let performance dictate his choice, something I'm even more comfortable with since the menace of giving the job to Alex Sanchez seems to have already revealed its limitations. Reed has the defensive chops to represent the probable best solution, at least as far as the pitching staff is concerned, but there are rumors that the Fish are kicking the tires on a few other team's outfielders.
Optioned LHP Mark McLemore and OF-Ls Mike Rodriguez and Josh Anderson to Round Rock (Triple-A); reassigned C-R Kevin Davidson to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Brought LHP Joe Thatcher up to their major league camp; optioned LHP Manny Parra to Huntsville (Double-A); reassigned RHPs Tim Dillard, Chris Oxspring, Alec Zumwalt, and C-R Lou Palmisano to their minor league camp. [3/15]
Hendrickson made it through waivers? You might think that between the Nationals and the Royals, somebody would have taken a gander and claimed him, but the fact that he slipped through highlights how far his prospect status has fallen. He still spins a pretty curve, and assuming that his problems throwing it for strikes in the majors aren't some sort of case of the personal pitching yips, he may yet get his career back, but right now, he's obviously at something of a low point.
Wow! Released? What was Soler, not just another Cuban disappointment, but a third-world pirated copy of a Cuban disappointment? While the fact that Soler stood to make $620,000 at New Orleans, and that may have had something to do with it, making space on the 40-man doesn't seem to have been that much of a factor, not unless the Mets really want to carry Sandy Alomar as a third catcher or let Ruben Sierra keep Julio Franco company and trade notes about the alternatives once you can't get around on the field so well. I know, $620K may not sound like much when we're talking about a team like he Mets, but still, cutting Soler seems amazing. His weight seemed to become a bit of an issue, but we shouldn't be surprised when he turns up in some pitching-starved organization.
On some level, that's not the Mets, even if some of their rotation options should still give everyone pause. The good news is that John Maine and Oliver Perez have both looked pretty good, and assuming that El Duque is in operating order by Opening Day, that's a trio of somewhat knowable commodities behind Tom Glavine. Mike Pelfrey seems to be the leader in the race for the fifth slot, while Chan Ho Park and Aaron Sele have both struggled. There's still an awful lot of 'if' involved, but it's not quite as scary as things looked a couple of weeks ago.
Signed INF-R Luis Ordaz to a minor league contract. [3/14]
Optioned LHP Ryan Ketchner, INF-R Luis Cruz and 2B-R Craig Stansberry to Portland (Triple-A); reassigned RHP Steve Watkins and 1B-L Brian Myrow to their minor league camp; released RHP Mike Adams unconditionally. [3/15]
I do like a no-BS decision or two, which is why I'm impressed that Bud Black hasn't hemmed and hawed over his left field choices, but has instead effectively tabbed Terrmel Sledge as the guy slated to get the most regular playing time there, with Jose Cruz Jr. in the fourth slot, and Russell Branyan providing some depth. Paul McAnulty's had an excellent camp, which certainly serves to remind Sledge that the club's favor could evaporate if he starts the season on a slow note. So, while I'm sad to see Cust again not get a shot, he's on waivers, and there are teams that ought to give some thought to making a deal to put him in their camp, like Oakland, or even Washington. I'm also sad to see Rakers get sent down already, since he'd had a pretty solid camp, but he's still trying to get over a potentially career-ending association with the Orioles' serial cluelessness, and the fact that he's finally free of them is what really matters most.
Optioned LHP Erick Threets, 2B/SS-B Eugenio Velez, OF-B Dan Ortmeier, and OF-L Nate Schierholtz to Fresno (Triple-A); reassigned RHPs Dan Giese and Matt Palmer, 2B/SS-R William Bergolla, 1B/3B-R Scott McClain, and SS-B Ivan Ochoa to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Optioned LHP Troy Cate, SS-R Brendan Ryan, and 3B-L Travis Hanson to Memphis (Triple-A), and OF-L Cody Haerther to Springfield (Double-A); reassigned RHP Mike Smith and OF-L Colby Rasmus to their minor league camp. [3/12]
Optioned RHPs Emiliano Fruto, Beltran Perez, and Chris Schroder to Columbus (Triple-A); reassigned RHPs Winston Abreu and Colby Lewis, LHP Arnie Munoz, C-Rs Danny Ardoin and Brandon Harper, and UT-B Jose Macias to their minor league camp. [3/16]
I was mightily outraged on Dmitri's behalf when Jim Leyland made an example out of him last September, so I'm sort of happy to see that he's get an opportunity to land the first base job with the Nats in Nick Johnson's absence. I know, I usually favor the new or the young, but I'm not convinced that Broadway has any real upside, while Travis Lee is pretty much the symbolic guarantor of all-time suckitude, both as a hitter and as a Devil Rays discard. If, for the sake of argument, Young rehabilitates his reputation and swings a solid bat, that's good news for him, but it also gives Jim Bowden one more flippable commodity at the deadline, because let's face it, consenting adults don't deal for Travis Lee.
As for the pitchers who've been shipped out, their hopes of joining what stands to be the worst staff in the majors dashed, only Abreu and Munoz might have legitimate beefs. Abreu was a longshot even in this camp, while Munoz was behind Micah Bowie and Billy Traber for lefty jobs in the pen. Filling out the rotation has been the central casting question all along, and the Nats are understandably focused on seeing if there really isn't anything worth seeing with Tim Redding and Joel Hanrahan. Both have been awful, opening the door for guys like a retreaded Jason Simontacchi and an up-and-comer like Matt Chico. Those two behind a resurrected John Patterson, Jerome Williams, and Shawn Hill? That actually doesn't sound quite so spectacularly terrible as the scenarios we had to kick around a month ago, and if that means my scientific curiosity about what thirty starts from Hanrahan would look like-Matt Keough '82-level bad? Rick Behenna bad?-goes unsatisfied, I think we'll all be happier in the long run.