Lost in Transactions 2/23/09-2/29/09: Nationals’ Bowden resigns

The Atlanta Braves finally got a hitter to come to Turner Field while the Washington Nationals started step one of moving past the Esmailyn Gonzalez scandal with the resignation of general manager Jim Bowden. Unfortunately, whoever takes over will find a logjam at first base and center field. Read on for this past week’s transactions…

2/24/09

Atlanta Braves signed OF Garret Anderson to a one-year contract.

The Braves had to make this move to add more offense to their club. After losing out on Rafael Furcal and Bobby Abreu, the club finally got a hitter. Anderson isn’t as bad a hitter as he’s been made out to be. Certainly, he was overpaid, but most players who get out from under the six years’ service time tend to be overpaid. Last year in 557 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels, Anderson hit .293/.325/.443 with 15 home runs while also stealing seven bases, the most since 2001′s 13.

Anderson has been rather consistent over the last four years in his rate stats. While he’s certainly at high rate to fall off due to being 37, all of the projection stats (PECOTA, Bill James, Marcel, CHONE, Oliver) project Anderson to be just fine in 2009. That’s definitely something the Braves need if they hope to contend.

Washington Nationals released LHP Odalis Perez.

I’m torn about this. On one hand, I do feel that Perez, the Nationals’ best starter last year, deserved better than a non-guaranteed minor league deal from the Nationals. And technically, Perez did not sign any contract. (Yes, yes, I know about the offer sheet. It’s not a contract.) On the other hand, he needs to realize what his market is in this economy, and it’s doubtful he can do any better. He’s also harmed his chances of getting an offer from another team, who will want to send a message to him and other players that they can’t back out of a deal.

Of course, all it takes is one desperate team, and if Perez can turn in a solid showing in the World Baseball Classic, he’ll likely end up with a job.

2/25/09

Cleveland Indians outrighted 3B Andy Marte to Minors.

Marte certainly has fallen a long way since being the centerpiece of the Edgar Renteria/Coco Crisp trade. He hasn’t been able to put together a season with any type of success in the majors. He’ll head back to Triple-A and will hope to rebuild his value. One way to do that, Andy, is to start getting hits. That means stop swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. He makes solid contact with the ball inside the strike zone, but only sees balls in that area roughly half the time due to his propensity to go after (and make poor contact with therein) pitches outside the strike zone.

2/26/09

Atlanta Braves placed RHP Tim Hudson on the 60-day disabled list.

Cincinnati Reds signed LHP Ron Flores to a minor league contract.

Los Angeles Dodgers signed LHP Brad Halsey and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz to a minor league contract.

Mientalphabet has a chance to take over for Nomar Garciaparra in the role Nomar served in last year. Mientkiewicz can now play first, left field, third base and pinch-field at other positions such as second base. Just make sure Carlos Delgado isn’t playing when Doug plays second. The club may elect to carry more of a true outfielder, however, than Mientkiewicz as its infield bench situation is already rather crowded.

2/27/09

Kansas City Royals LHP Neal Musser cleared waivers and was released.

New York Mets signed LHP Ron Villone to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

This is a nice signing by the Mets. For all their fifth starter and end-of-the-game relief acquisitions, they could use some depth in the middle innings. Left-hander Villone does that, as he’s been a solid reliever ever since converting from starter after 2002. He’ll have to battle for a spot, but even if he has to report to Triple-A originally, he’ll definitely see time in the majors at some point.

Philadelphia Phillies released RHP Adam Eaton.

What a disastrous signing. How many people saw this coming? Say “yes” out loud if you did. Whoa—I just heard over a million people say “yes.” Pretty cool. Eaton was passable in San Diego from 2004-5 and then was part of a very ill-advised trade by the Texas Rangers in which he headed to the heat for Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young. An ineffective and injured season later, he signed a lucrative deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Three years later, the Phillies cut bait. (How much do you want to bet the World Series year allowed the Phillies to escape derision—except from me, of course—for releasing Eaton?)

Reportedly, the Baltimore Orioles have inked Eaton to a minor league deal. I suppose that’s fine, as long as they’re not paying him tens of millions of dollars like the Phillies did. Eaton’s only 31, so he’ll stick around for a while, but if he has any hope of turning things around, he’s got to figure out how to reduce his walks, an issue that has gotten progressively worse year by year.

Boston Red Sox signed RHP Steve Green to a minor league contract.

Chicago White Sox signed 1B Brian Myrow to a minor league contract.

2/28/09

Kansas City Royals signed RHP Juan Cruz to a two-year contract with a 2011 club option. Designated INF Esteban German for assignment.

This is a great deal for the Royals, who have now found the replacement for Ramon Ramirez. (H/T Craig Brown at Royals Authority for that quote.) Cruz often doesn’t know where the ball is going (5.6 BB/G last year!) but he flat out throws gas. He gave up only 34 hits and whiffed 71 in 51.2 innings last year. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is the mark of someone with filthy stuff.

Side note: As much as some of the moves by the Royals may have been met with consternation (Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Jacobs, Willie Bloomquist), I am glad to see that they’re ramping up their efforts to contend. I’m not as much a hater for the Jacobs trade than most; while I am a dyed-in-the-wool OBP fan, I understand that teams can win without OBP (generally speaking, of course—the Angels spring to mind). Of course, to have offense, you need to get on base, but you don’t need the team to average a .375 OBP to do so.

The Royals seem intent on increasing their power output, which was definitely a cause for concern last year. What defensive issues they now have with Jacobs (possibly) at first is also mitigated by their addition of defensive whiz Coco Crisp in center field, which allows David DeJesus to shift to left field. Don’t count this team out as a Cinderella team.

St. Louis Cardinals signed pitcher Mitch Harris to a minor league contract.

Chicago Cubs signed Corey Koskie to a minor league contract.

Koskie spent most of his career with the Minnesota Twins before spending a year apiece with the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins. He was his usual self his entire career—never great, just solid enough. After a debilitating concussion, he retired, or so he thought. Koskie is attempting a comeback with two years off. At 35, the odds are stacked against him, but there is an opening for a backup first- and third-baseman. Marcel is surprisingly bullish on Koskie in 2009, projecting that he could hit .260/.337/.441 with six home runs in 200 plate appearances. If he can actually do that, he will be a great bench player for the Cubs.

2/29/09
3/1/09

Kansas City Royals signed LHP Bruce Chen to a minor league contract.

Washington Nationals announced the resignation of general manager Jim Bowden.

Bowden certainly had his faults, but he was also rather adept at building the minor leagues. For whatever reason, however, he seemed more intent on creating a logjam at first base and outfield. The new general manager, whether it’s Tony LaCava of the Toronto Blue Jays or current assistant general manager Mike Rizzo (responsible for the drafts of Stephen Drew and others from the Arizona Diamondbacks), will have enough on his hands trying to move one or even two of the first basemen (Dmitri Young, Nick Johnson and one of either Adam Dunn or Josh Willingham).

The Nationals aren’t as bad as people think. They have a few promising players coming up in the minors (and you can add Steven Strasburg to that list come June) and have enough of an intriguing core at the majors to finish .500 in the next few years if they can make some adept pitching moves—a problem that has plagued the franchise for a while. Scott Olsen has regressed, but if pitching coach Randy St. Clair can bring him under control, suddenly the base is there. They’ll have to find new a second baseman and shortstop in the near future, sure, but I look at this team and I see potential. Now about clearing up that logjam…

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