Comings and Goings (5/13-5/16)

Montreal Expos- Signed second basemen Jose Vidro to a four-year, $30M contract extension.

Wow, raise your hand if you saw this coming. Everyone had just assumed the Yankees were going to acquire Vidro this July, but Omar Minaya pulled a fast one on Steinbrenner and got Vidro to stay with his original team.

Everyone likes to think this assures the team will have a home next season, and I sure hope so. Count me in the group that assumes Washington to be the best spot, but I will concede that Las Vegas might work as well. But, only Washington can have a stadium ready by next year, as the AAA stadium in Vegas wouldn’t really do the job.

Vidro has been one of the league’s best second basemen for years, and is a very complete player. The Expos use him in the middle of the order, although a great team would stick him in the two-hole and see how many runs he can score. People are saying that Vidro turned down a lot less money to sign this deal, although I can’t see many teams paying $8M per year for a 30-year-old second basemen.

Philadelphia Phillies- Placed pitcher Billy Wagner on the 15-day DL with a strained left groin; recalled Brian Powell from Scranton Wilkes-Barre of the International League (AAA).

Wagner’s injury was retroactive to May 7, so he can come off as early as this Saturday. He throws so hard and is so short, that every part of his leg is essential. The Phillies gave up a lot for Billy, so his health this season is key. The Phillies are slowly getting back in this race, and the difference between Wagner and Tim Worrell is large. We’re talking about a K/9 of 12.60 from Wagner as opposed to a 3.20 from Worrell.

In my opinion, Powell is simply up to join the L-L crew. The club called up southpaw Jim Crowell not long ago, and Tim Worrell is already with the team. Powell will throw only low leverage innings with the team, so I think Ed Wade just wanted as many L-L relievers as possible. In all seriousness, the 30-year-old Powell earned his spot with a 1.83 ERA in AAA, and he’ll be in long relief with the Phillies. All I got to say is, if Ed Yarnall gets called up soon, get suspicious.

New York Mets- Activated OF Cliff Floyd from the 15-day DL; designated infielder Ricky Gutierrez for assignment.

Well, this idea didn’t quite work out. Jim Duquette wanted to acquire a veteran second basemen when Jose Reyes went down, but it doesn’t appear like Ricky Gutierrez is fully recovered from last year’s injury. Gutierrez was hitting an abysmal .175/.257/.206, making Mets fans wish for the return of a man named Marco Scutaro.

While Gutierrez was more than deserving of this treatment, both Danny Garcia and Joe McEwing should have been considered. Eric Valent has hit enough to stay on the bench, and Art Howe is going to have to use Garcia and McEwing at second until Reyes is ready to return. I liked the Mets potential speed combo with Reyes and Matsui before the season, and it’s quite unfortunate for Mets fans that it hasn’t debuted yet.

New York Yankees- Purchased the contract of catcher David Parrish from Columbus of the International League (AAA); optioned pitcher Scott Proctor to Columbus; transferred pinch hitter Travis Lee to the 60-day DL.

I’ve often criticized teams like the Rangers (Adrian Gonzalez) and the Diamondbacks (Scott Hairston) for calling up top prospects when they won’t get a lot of at-bats during their stay. The Yankees avoided this situation by purchasing Lance Parrish’s son’s contract from AAA, rather than call the other catcher on their 40-man roster, Dioner Navarro, up from AA. Navarro is the club’s top prospect, but is only hitting .255/.363/.340 in the Eastern League.

I applaud Steinbrenner and Cashman for biting the bullet and not calling up their top prospect, even if they were a bit tempted. When Posada returns from that horrific nose injury, Parrish will be sent back to Columbus, where his OPS had been a cool .600.

San Diego Padres- Traded outfielder Henri Stanley to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named and cash.

I urge you to head to THT Live and read the entry entitled “Gratification”, as Matthew Namee reports one of his pet minor leaguers was acquired by his one-time organization. Namee says that Stanley is at least almost as good as Johnny Damon, although he has struggled so far this season. While I think Matthew might be falling victim to overrating his pet, I will say that Stanley would be a welcome addition to the bench of my team.

Chicago White Sox- Recalled pitcher Felix Diaz from Charlotte of the International League (AAA); optioned catcher-infielder Jamie Burke to Charlotte.

It was finally time for the White Sox to make a decision on their fifth starter, and two weeks after Dan Wright was sent down, the logical choice was Diaz. Felix had a 1.83 ERA in 39.1 AAA innings, with a WHIP under 1.00. Felix had been a nice prospect when he was acquired from the Giants, but a bad 2003 lowered the organization’s expectations of the right-hander.

I had the chance to watch Diaz, and let me say, I was less than impressed. Diaz barely touches ninety miles per hour, and also doesn’t spot his fastball well enough. His curve is good enough to be an out pitch, be he occasionally hangs it and usually throws it early in the count. His change is left up way too much, and he basically gave Luis Matos a home run. Unless Diaz starts improving his control, he looks quite like a quad-A player to me.

Texas Rangers- Placed pitcher Jeff Nelson on the 15-day DL with a torn meniscus in his right knee and pitcher Doug Brocail following an appendectomy; activated pitcher Brian Shouse from the 15-day DL; recalled pitcher Frank Francisco from Frisco of the Texas League (AA).

The DL is becoming the favorite home for Rangers pitchers, but it doesn’t matter, as the Rangers keep winning regardless of who is on the mound. Jeff Nelson appears to be falling victim to the same bout that Mike Stanton lost last year: losing control after leaving New York. For some reason, it seems that Nelson only feels comfortable on the mound at Yankee Stadium. The Rangers needed a veteran arm in the bullpen, not expecting the huge contributions they have got from Jay Powell and Carlos Almanzar.

Shouse and Francisco appear to be opposites, but both will make their homes in Arlington for the next few weeks. Shouse is a 35-year-old soft-thrower with only 76 innings of Major League experience, and Francisco is a 24-year-old fireballer involved in the Carl Everett trade last year. Francisco will be back to Frisco before long, as the Rangers probably are having competitions on who could get off the DL first. And who woulda thunk it? Brian Shouse won.

Los Angeles Dodgers- Traded pitcher Tanyon Sturtze to the New York Yankees for a player to be named.

Not many weeks ago we talked about players like Kevin Jarvis and Jimmy Haynes, players that made Major League careers on superficial seasons. What I mean by a superficial season is a year in which a player wins more than his ERA suggests, or what Tanyon Sturtze did in 2001, when he won 11 games. 2002 was one of the worst full seasons I’ve seen a pitcher have in recent memory, and Tanyon is lucky to still be pitching for a living after that disaster.

2003 was bad with the Blue Jays, but the Yankees bought into Sturtze’s first six starts enough to believe he was worth some scrub minor leaguer with a limited upside. Columbus has a pitcher with over 600 career Major League innings now, although I doubt Tanyon even smells the Bronx this season.

San Francisco Giants- Activated infielder Ray Durham from the 15-day DL; optioned infielder Brian Dallimore to Fresno of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).

Not considering Durham, Giants second basemen are hitting .155 this season, and the team is leading off the game at a .203 pace. Ray is essential to this team, and is 4/9 since his return. Missing Barry Bonds and Durham is a death sentence to San Francisco, but unlucky for Cubs fans, it appears both will be back for their series this week. Expect the Giants to start playing much better baseball, and return to the hunt by the All-Star Game.

Boston Red Sox- Recalled third basemen Kevin Youkilis from Pawtucket of the International League (AAA); optioned pitcher Mark Malaska to Pawtucket.

One of the better rookie hazing pranks I’ve ever heard of happened to Youkilis the other night. The Greek God of Walks hit his first Major League home run, and when entering to the dugout, his teammates pretended as if nothing had happened. The team remained sitting on the bench, so Youkilis went through the dugout high-fiving imaginary people. Youkilis hasn’t been great in Pawtucket, showing the worst BB/K of his career, but the Red Sox really want to find out if he’ll be ready for 500 AB next season.

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