May 7, 2007
April 29-May 6, 2007
While it's inconvenient to lose Anderson for a month or more (especially with Juan Rivera out for another ten weeks or so), this isn't the major setback it might seem to be for a lineup that's already struggling to escape the bottom of the league. That's because Anderson was part of the reason why, and in his absence, the Angels are going to have the opportunity to see if Reggie Willits' hot start is illusory or something to act on once Anderson and Rivera come back. Certainly, the decision to plug Willits into the leadoff slot has its merits, although the last few lineups also have Erick Aybar batting fifth, highlighting the team's desperate lack of consistent power. Getting first Howie Kendrick and later Rivera will help resolve that problem, giving them easy choices to plug into the fifth and sixth slots, but if Willits stakes a claim on a 400 PA role in the meantime, getting those power sources back will mean shrinking roles for several veterans, first for Shea Hillenbrand, and then later for Anderson and possibly Chone Figgins. Even Figgy, you might wonder, but yes, especially if the Angels decide Brandon Wood is ready for everyday play by July or August. That certainly strengthens GM Bill Stoneman's hand if he wanted to make a deal, but Figgins is probably too useful to trade in-season, and Hillenbrand's usefulness as a weak-hitting first baseman or an even worse-hitting DH might only appeal to the truly desperate (like the Yankees, perhaps?).
Optioned RHP Jim Johnson to Norfolk (Triple-A); activated RHP Jaret Wright from the 15-day DL. [4/29]
I can't really say losing Wright is a loss-what's the point of getting worked up over something you pretty much had to take for granted from the get-go? It's matter of a relentless inevitability, something you can almost set your watch to, something sort of like waiting for the griping to start at the company happy hour get-together (when the second round is ordered, but even the most notionally polite preliminaries can get skipped if you invited somebody from the mail room). More troubling is losing Loewen, because it's going to keep him from so much as picking up a baseball for eight weeks, and might represent a premonition of worse things to come. In their twin absences, the rotation's get quickly patched up with a pair of waiver claims-righty Jeremy Guthrie, snagged from the Indians this past January, and lefty Brian Burres, snagged from the Giants a little more than a year before. You can see this is a nice indication that the Orioles have been smart to keep an eye on the wires, because both Guthrie and Burres had made it up to the upper levels of the minors with some measure of success to their credit, but in each case, they're not high-upside guys, and having them both is as much a symptom of a busted farm system as it is an indication of front office cleverness. In each case, there's a chance that the Orioles will actually get something resembling value, in part because they're the people who pay Leo Mazzone the big bucks, but in part because both pitchers have some talent. Guthrie got lit up by his old team, the Indians, in a couple of relief outings, but he gave the team a decent start against the A's, and a number of decent long relief outings besides. Burres has managed to get his velocity up that extra tick, into the high 80s, which it's hard to survive without if you're a southpaw and you want to avoid the Blaise Ilsley career path. Losing Loewen is no laughing matter, but the silver lining is that the Birds might actually be able to convert Guthrie and/or Burres into something more than examples of their own needy grabbery.
Placed RHP Mike Timlin on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendonitis); recalled RHP Devern Hansack from Pawtucket (Triple-A). [5/3]
We'll see how long Timlin's out, but it remains to be seen whether or not this will hurt the Sox or not. Where I could see it making a difference is if they wound up trying to use either Joel Pineiro or Kyle Snyder in a meaningful situation; in general, the Sox have turned to a couple of recent additions, former Angel Brendan Donnelly and Japanese import Hideki Okajima, whenever it's mattered, with Timlin and J.C. Romero representing the second rank. With Timlin gone, there's the danger that Terry Francona might try to use Pineiro or Snyder in a higher-leverage situation, and wind up with a reminder as to why they were available in the first place. I wouldn't expect Hansack to provide a solution-as neat as it is to see a Nicaraguan import of relatively recent vintage popping up, his stuff's relatively hittable. So how might things play out? Well, although Julian Tavarez having just turned in his first quality start of the season, it would seem pretty obvious he's the guy headed back to the pen whenever the Sox decide that Jon Lester's return to come back to the majors. As a second-tier reliever brought into the sixth and seventh innings of tight games, he might be able to fulfill Timlin's role well enough.
Optioned RHP Fausto Carmona to Buffalo (Triple-A); recalled OF-R Ben Francisco from Buffalo. [5/1]
Carmona gave the Indians three quality starts in four during Cliff Lee's absence, which seems like a bum rap as far as demotions go, but he's the club's sixth starter, and as the shenanigans involving Gutierrez's shuffling and reshuffling reveal, Buffalo's only a phonecall and a quick run down Highway 90 away. So, Carmona stays on turn down in the International League, and if somebody breaks down, or Paul Byrd implodes, they plug him back in again, armed with the knowledge that he's up to it, and with his reaping the benefit of a nice month that takes the edge off of last season's disappointments.
To go back to Gutierrez, this seems like a sensible solution to the problem created by no longer having Casey Blake available to play in either outfield corner, not while he's starting at third base. He gives manager Eric Wedge a right-handed outfield reserve beyond Jason Michaels that he can spot for either David Dellucci or Trot Nixon, as well as someone who can play center in case Grady Sizemore needs a day off. Like Choo and Carmona, he represents a nice bit of insurance in case anything happens to a name player, and assuming Wedge can keep him sharp, he'll have some more recent big league success to his credit come that moment of need.
As for the Tribe getting Woolner, what, we didn't even get a promising grad student to be named later? No cash considerations? Not even a set of team logo coasters? We wuz robbed! Seriously, happy travels to Keith, and here's wishing he, Kathy, and Sagan all the best as they move on to life in the greater Cleveland area. (Maybe we'll have to look into whether or not we control Sagan's rights.) If there's a true silver lining for Baseball Prospectus, it's that we're not also losing Kathy, who does an incomparable job handling our Customer Service. Honor is due, and congratulations to the Woolners, and to the Indians. I was already picking them to win, and then they add the smartest guy in the room?
Optioned RHP Aquilino Lopez to Toledo (Triple-A). [5/2]
From Zumaya to Mesa, everything's just swell, right? Not really-while the Royals and Devil Rays are getting all the headlines for bullpen meltdowns, the Tigers aren't far removed from their company, with the second-highest number of blown saves in baseball. Todd Jones is basically doing his thing, same as before, and while it's frustrating that Fernando Rodney has had a few hiccups, I don't think it's an indication of some sort of irreparable problem. The real problem is that they just don't have the depth to afford not having Zumaya (or Rodney), because guys like Mesa and Jason Grilli won't be much better than mediocre, even if they do get ironed out. Add in watching Chad Durbin get lit up every fifth day, and you've got a front-runner with nagging issues they need to address.
As a practical consideration, the only real problem with having Reggie Sanders on the DL is that he isn't available to do some tremendous feat of strength and impress other potential employers. Still, getting dealt off of the DL isn't an impossibility, merely an inconvenience, as any prospective trading partner will simply be making a dispassionate "I'm getting Reggie Sanders" sort of decision, as opposed to, "Do you remember how good Reggie Sanders was! When I saw him, he looked like he hadn't aged a day from 1995! We're going to Disneyland!"*
In the meantime, the cool thing is that it might not even matter. In Sanders' absence, Buddy Bell seems to have brought himself to a double platoon of sorts, splitting the at-bats between Ross Gload and Emil Brown, with Mike Sweeney actually playing some first base (against lefties), which puts Billy Butler at DH. It's a nice, flexible solution, but it reflects Brown's drop from bright spot during a dark season or two to marginalized bench player, which is fine-unless you're Brown, perhaps. It also means that Costa's only up to ride pine, so this won't be like his previous call-ups. Again, that's progress-the team's making the right calls on Butler and Alex Gordon, and making the right call to stick with Mark Teahen in right field. It adds up to a stronger lineup, and if someone of yesterday's heroes and hopefuls wind up becoming bystanders, well, that's life as baseball's answer to the weavers of Manchester, I guess.
* Not all contestants are created equally; teams named after corporeal things that fly under their own power (birds, squirrels) or branded with aquatic logos need not apply in 2007; teams trading Reggie Sanders do not automatically become eligible.
What's mortally dangerous here isn't what losing Mauer means behind the plate-strictly speaking, Mike Redmond's an outstanding backup catcher, and not the sort of player who kills you when he's in the lineup. No, the real problem is that the Twins don't have all that many cylinders to drive this offense in the first place, relying on Mauer, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer, and with Hunter unlikely to keep up his blistering hot start and with Cuddyer nursing a bad back, the vaunted "little piranhas" might go from being the amusing sidelight to the baseball version of the Twins going into the AL Central's bruising slugfests armed only with fancy footwork. The Twins have been able to get by with weak work from guys like Nick Punto and Luis Castillo so far because of what they're getting out of the lineup's marquee talents, but if the Twins lose Mauer for any length of time and struggle to score runs, and you balance that against how much longer we can expect Carlos Silva and Ramon Ortiz to deliver winnable ballgames in their starts, and things start to look very grim. Jason Kubel couldn't pick a better time to go off on another one of his red-hot streaks, certainly.
Placed RHP Jeff Karstens on the 15-day DL (fractured fibula); recalled RHP Colter Bean from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A). [4/29]
The gnashing of teeth you hear in the background is coming from Boston; the whining is the recognition coming out of Texas that Houston has a problem, as their season just went from being meaningful to a sort of colonial Williamsburg-style re-enactment of a baseball season. Don't tell Craig Biggio, he's doing so well keeping in character while gunning for that career achievement. Method actors, donchaknow.
As far as the Yankees themselves, Joe beat me to the punch on sketching out the math, but I expect I'll invest some time to try and come up with my own rough sketch on how much difference this might make in the standings in Unfiltered on Tuesday. In the meantime, I think we can officially describe this as a Good Thing. So, is Carl Pavano high-fiving anybody? And would he hurt himself if he did?
Placed DH-R Mike Piazza on the 15-day DL (sprained shoulder), retroactive to 5/3; purchased the contract of DH-L Jack Cust from Sacramento (Triple-A); transferred RHP Esteban Loaiza from the 15- to the 60-day DL; traded OF-L Charles Thomas to the Brewers for C-S J.D. Closser, and assigned Closser to Sacramento. [5/4]
Optioned RHP Julio Mateo to Tacoma (Triple-A). [5/5]
The Mariners are saying this isn't about the accusation that Mateo beat up and bit his wife, but I suspect that's really what they have to say in this sort of situation. If they said it was because he'd beaten up and bitten his wife, they'd be undermining his case before he's tried, and while this might seem a semi-weaselly way of doing things, real life isn't all about easy plot points and tidy condemnations. They made a point of making a move while not shivving the guy for possibly doing something really despicable. If you're going to beat up on Bill Bavasi or Mike Hargrove, there are much better grounds than this, and their actions in this matter speak louder than their saying whatever it is they have to on the record.
Optioned RHP Ruddy Lugo to Durham (Triple-A). [5/6]
Placed RHP Kevin Millwood on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring), retroactive to 4/29; recalled RHP Wes Littleton from Oklahoma (Triple-A). [5/5]
Millwood's on the DL against his expressed wishes, and in expectation that he'll be back in time for next Monday's start against the Angels. Since Brandon McCarthy, Kameron Loe, and even emergency fill-in Mike Wood have all made quality starts their last times out, this is turning out to be a move that hasn't hurt the Rangers any, and if Millwood comes back with some channeled anger and ready to resume some semblance of acedom, it could all work out for the best. If Wood looks good again in his second spot-start, that might even create an unusual problem for the Rangers, in that they might be able to make a choice about who's their fifth man without anyone having first pitched his way out of consideration.
Placed LHP Gustavo Chacin on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder). [4/30]
Not to go all Troy McClure on y'all, but you may remember these roster moves from such memorable seasons as 2006, when the Jays called themselves contenders and congratulated themselves on finishing second, courtesy of a Red Sox pratfall. Chacin's latest breakdown seems to be more of the same, as the Jays' core talent continues to absent itself through one infirmity or another, and a semi-reputable prospect tries yet again to establish himself, only to get belted around. The really frustrating thing is that McGowan was once again doing good work in the minors, allowing only 25 baserunners in 22 innings while striking out 29. The rotation beyond Roy Halladay is really something of a mess- Tomo Ohka's only given the club two quality starts in six, and one of those was blown in the seventh, and Victor Zambrano's a bit of a shot in the dark; A.J. Burnett has been predictably unpredictable. Josh Towers went kablooey, but then that really wasn't unexpected. I'd like to see them sit still and just play it out with McGowan over trusting a guy like Zambrano, because failing that, they're in danger of just going out next winter and digging up the next Victor Zambrano, and again crying poor. I'd also like to see them give Casey Janssen another shot, for much the same reasons. Last year's sneaked-in second-place finish wasn't a guarantee for future success, and this spring's cold start should be a wake-up call that they're closer to being a fifth-place team than a contender. The Orioles and D-Rays aren't sitting still, and for all of their noisy posturing, the Jays still aren't really on the same level as the Yankees and Red Sox.
In the end, the Snakes skipped the dramatics-Owings is their fifth starter, and Edgar Gonzalez isn't. Still, there's no reason to move Gonzalez out of reach, not while Livan Hernandez is walking six guys per nine, not while Doug Davis is doing his own high-wire act by putting up a WHIP of 1.7, and not while Randy Johnson is still getting in gear. It's an interesting reversal of sorts to see the youngster provided long relief help to a collection of graybeards, but there should be innings enough for Gonzalez to avoid going stale.
Designated RHP Bobby Keppel for assignment; optioned RHP Ryan Speier to Colorado Springs (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Alberto Arias from Colorado Springs; recalled RHP Denny Bautista from Colorado Springs. [4/29]
The bullpen shakeup actually adds a good amount of talent, something that's never a bad thing. Arias is the non-famous one, but he's a Dominican import the Rockies signed in 2001, short for a right-hander (under six feet), and something of a rubber-armed swingman and organizational soldier, with decent groundball rates and a good slider. In short, someone who might be handy, or who might spend most of his adult life in cities like Colorado Springs, Portland, or Albuquerque. Bautista's the name you know, and he seems to finally be making a comeback of sorts by dropping his arm slot, which in turn seems to have allowed him to return his old knuckle-curve to his aresenal. which in addition to the decision to move him into a relief role might add up to a nice bit of retreading by Dan O'Dowd's staff. Bautista's still throwing hard, and having that come at hitters from a lower angle while making them worry about a breaking pitch he can now throw for strikes without hurting himself could make him nasty in any environment. I wouldn't necessarily bet against his still being the most valuable player involved in last summer's Royals-Rockies trade, the deal that put Bautista and Affeldt in Denver, and Ryan Shealy and Scott Dohmann to the Royals.
In contrast, flipping from Barmes to Quintanilla might seem like a matter of six to one, half-dozen to the other, but sort of like my preference for venison or buffalo over beef, the Rockies no doubt have their reasons. The most obvious is that Quintanilla gives them a lefty-hitting alternative to either Jamey Carroll or Troy Tulowitzki, with the added virtue of being a worthwhile pinch-runner. Tulo's early struggles have given prospect mavens a gray hair or two, but Carroll's been just flat-out awful, so no harm in having a reserve who might give them a chance to do something different now and again as far as the lineup's balance. In terms of lefty pinch-hitters, the Rox are theoretically covered, with both Steve Finley and John Mabry, but both veterans are looking pretty done. If Cory Sullivan wasn't in such a funk down in Colorado Springs (.210/.289/.272, and getting caught three times in five attempts through Saturday), you might even consider either them in some sort of danger.
Designated RHP Nate Field for assignment; activated RHP Ricky Nolasco from the 15-day DL. [5/1]
When I think about no-hitters, I can't help but think about Mike Warren. That's the A's fan in me always will, because Warren's no-hitter in 1983 was pretty much the highlight of an otherwise ghastly season. Admittedly, he did it against a White Sox team that was coasting into its "Winning Ugly" division title only days before the end of the regular season, but Warren did get to face most of Chicago's regulars, and he threw a no-hitter, fair and square-there were no home-scored errors or any mischief. Just on that one day, the young flyballer had a great game. He was only 22, but not a power pitcher-instead, was a guy who relied on mixing curves, sliders, and a change; his fastball came and went. Perhaps even more incredible was that the no-hitter was Warren's third consecutive complete game, and came five days after ten-inning complete game win over the Blue Jays. No doubt PAP would have blown a gasket, but frankly I don't know if Warren subsequently blew out his arm or what; memory fails me. The next season, he started off well, but manager Steve Boros got disenchanted with Warren by the end of May. One of the wave of well-intentioned gray men at the helm between the original iteration of Billyball and the miraculously fortuitous availability of Tony La Russa in 1986, Boros reflected the team's fanciful vision of itself as a contender, and for the '84 season, the club had imported veteran immortals like Ray Burris and Larry Sorensen. Warren got crowded out of the picture, doomed to fade from the pages of big league history after 1985.
Now, that's a bittersweet note to start off on when talking about Sanchez's demotion, but then Sanchez's loss of command and dispatch to New Mexico is a bittersweet thing. Like Warren, he was a 22-year-old rookie when he threw his no-no, but Sanchez seems to have a lot more promise now than Warren did then, and his loss of command is definitely the sort of thing you want to address proactively. We'll see how it works out, but in the meantime, with the Nolasco Kid and the Bishop off of the DL and back in the rotation, the Fish aren't really short of starters. Wes Obermueller's the fifth starter du jour, and he's had some decent moments already, enough to perhaps stick around and more successfully fulfill the token thirtysomething old guy role that Scuffy Moehler couldn't really hold down. Some significant portion of whatever future the Fish have in the tough NL East in the next few seasons will rest on whether or not Sanchez is right or not, and this is one of those situations where I just hope he doesn't wind up a footnote and we get to see more of that kid who had his own day in the sun. Well, metaphorically speaking-it was a night game. (That Sean Forman, never misses a trick, does he?)
Here's as good example as any that the Dodgers can turn just about any randomly harvested pig's ear and turn it into a silk purse. Wilson Betemit's not earning his keep as the team's third baseman, and while he's still a valuable commodity and someone they should keep, they can respond to losing a bit part like LaRoche by potentially making Betemit the bit part, and giving a top prospect a crack at the third base job. So not only do they wind up with a better player than Anderson in a bench role, they have a chance to see if LaRoche is ready to stick. I have my doubts that he's fully ready-LaRoche was only hitting .235/.309/.367 at Vegas-but I admire the club's brio. If LaRoche earns a share of the job at third, Betemit can be either an import reserve ready to step in for either Jeff Kent or Rafael Furcal if either go down, or he can be a great bargaining chip running up to the trading deadlines. I prefer the former option, but if the Dodgers get into July still not getting good work from Jason Schmidt, you could understand if they decided to go shopping.
Acquired OF-L Charles Thomas from the Athletics for C-S J.D. Closser, and assigned Thomas to Nashville (Triple-A). [5/4]
Optioned RHP Chan Ho Park to New Orleans (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Lino Urdaneta from New Orleans. [5/3]
While I'm a Burgos believer, this exchange has no real downside. As I touched on last week, Sosa's the better choice to fill out the rotation, and as a few of you Mets fans took the care to point out (for which I'm grateful), he wasn't available to pitch when El Duque's turn came up. Park did his performance art rendition of mound combustion, the Mets held up Sosa to have him ready for Saturday's start, and all was right in the world. Now, they have the basic benefit of letting Sosa compete directly with Mike Pelfrey for the fifth slot, in anticipation of Hernandez's return from the DL. Burgos' demotion isn't a condemnation of the work he's done so far as much as an admission that there isn't a lot of live for the last man in a pen, especially when the rotation's generally doing pretty well. The Mets noted they wanted Burgos pitching multiple innings in relief, and with those opportunities arising so infrequently at the highest level, it made sense to put him in New Orleans and into a more developmental scenario where he'll get his arm stretched out and perhaps be squared away to perhaps give the team a reliable right-handed middle man in a few weeks. The Mets' pen has seen all of the situational guys earn their keep in the early going- Joe Smith has been a revelation-with really only Aaron Heilman struggling to get on track. Timing's going to be everything, but if the Mets can get Burgos ready for them going into the second half, Willie Randolph might have a dominating blend of matchup kings and pure power to attack opposing lineups with.
Placed RHP Tom Gordon on the 15-day DL (rotator cuff inflammation), retroactive to 5/2; purchased the contract of RHP Yoel Hernandez from Ottawa (Triple-A). [5/4]
My dog has this habit of following me around the house as I do the vacuuming-the noisy thing gives him the willies, but for some reason, he just can't help but follow around from room to room, or up one step and then then other, witnessing every bit of it even though he's mortally afraid of what it might do next, perhaps almost desperately concerned that something's going to happen that he just really doesn't want to miss. That's sort of how I feel about the Phillies this season. Before the season, in a number of venues, publicly or in private conversation, I picked them to win the NL East this year, and now I can't help but think that the noisy necessity of seeing the thing played out is an exercise in the mounting fear that things are instead going very, very wrong. The fact that they've got the second-worst pen in the league isn't going to be fixed by Brett Myers, not by his lonesome, and with both Gordon and Madson on the shelf, things do seem dire. Guys like Hernandez and Condrey might be useful, but there's an odd blend of guys with plus stuff (Fabio Castro, or Francisco Rosario), guys with plus command (Hernandez, Geoff Geary), but not so many with both. It's possible that they can be assembled into a productive pen, but Charlie Manuel's under a lot of pressure, and I'm not sure the whole thing might just go bad soufflé on us. I probably should have learned from being over-enthusiastic about the Phillies heading into 1987-they'd added Lance Parrish! Bruce Ruffin was the real deal!-but then I guess that's life without a Philadelphian's native anger.
Placed RHP John Wasdin on the 15-day DL (sprained thumb); recalled RHP Marty McCleary from Indianapolis (Triple-A). [5/3]
Optioned LHP Justin Hampson to Portland (Triple-A); recalled LHP Royce Ring from Portland. [4/30]
It looks like Hensley's only expected to miss the required two weeks and a day, as Justin Germano will come up, make starts tomorrow night and probably next Sunday, at which point some off days might allow the Pads to get Hensley a minor league tune-up before returning him to the rotation for the home stand against the Cubs and Brewers that starts on the 22nd. Heck, that would even afford them the roster spot to carry an extra bat for their DH-required series in Seattle just beforehand, which probably means they could add Paul McAnulty in one week, taking Germano's place after he makes his second start. Of course, if Kevin Kouzmanoff continues to struggle, they might do something more dramatic in the meantime. It's bad enough he got the nearly-always fatal vote of confidence before the weekend, and now that Branyan's back, it wouldn't surprise me if they see about getting Kouzmanoff's bat back in working order by playing him every day in Portland while Branyan and Geoff Blum split time at the hot corner.
Placed RHP Russ Ortiz on the 15-day DL (elbow neuritis), retroactive to 5/2; recalled 2B-R Kevin Frandsen from Fresno (Triple-A). [5/3]
The Seabiscuit storyline didn't exactly get off to a clean start, but then neither did that of the original quadruped. Last night's struggles are a reminder that major league hitters are really good, and if Lincecum was nervous, can you blame him? He's got less than a year as a pro under his belt, and the Phillies aren't patsies-they hurt mistakes, and Lincecum made a few. Those few Russ Ortiz groupies might ask what Bruce Bochy was thinking learning so heavily on their guy in his Friday the 13th start against the Bucs, and while the whole Ortiz comeback probably seemed a pretty outlandish scenario from the start, he did give the Giants four winnable starts out of five, and when you're talking fifth starters, that's good work. If Lincecum struggles some more, I'm not sure I'd bet on a move to the pen over a return to Fresno. Ortiz' elbow problem isn't seen as serious, and if he's ready to come back in two weeks or so, we might have to chalk this up as a learning exercise for Lincecum that preps him for a later return to The Show.
Recalled RHP Dennis Dove from Memphis (Triple-A). [4/30]
In the wake of Josh Hancock's tragic death and Wilson's knee problem, the Cards have had to reshuffle things a bit. Ludwick's a guy who, sort of like Ernie Young before him, I really felt could make it, but who has instead wound up a minor league journeyman. He broke out for a big year in Toledo last season, hitting .266/.342/.506, which translates to a pretty damn useful .266/.333/.505, and getting him as a minor league free agent was a pretty slick move. He was off to a good start with Memphis, hitting .340/.380/.642, but whatever window of opportunity he has is more of the 'just a crack' variety than wide-open- even with a reasonably cautious rehab schedule, Juan Encarnacion should be back off of the DL in relatively short order. However, given that Wilson was clambering down another step in what has been a steeply declining career, and that guys like Skip Schumaker and So Taguchi aren't world-beaters, there's a chance that Ludwick might at least remind people that he used to be athletic enough to play center, and his kind of legitimate power doesn't grow on trees.
Falkenborg's a veteran strike-thrower, but whether or not he helps in the back end of the pen is more minor than their having to change gears in the rotation. They're slotting in Brad Thompson after Randy Keisler failed to impress. It's a good move, but sort of in between the decisions to move Adam Wainwright to the rotation than Braden Looper, in that like Wainwright, Thompson was a minor league starter, but it's a pretty slender resumé. His last truly regular gig lasted only a few months in 2004, when he rattled off his famous scoreless innings streak before getting shut down with shoulder trouble; that's still more recent than Looper's last regular rotation work, back in 1997, in the Carolina League. Thompson has exceptional command of a sinker-slider mix, keeps the ball low... heck, why not take the chance and see if it works?