Lost in Transactions 3/2-3/8/09: Return to Mannywood

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Manny (Icon/SMI)

Nothing particularly shocking happened this past week, as you probably know. Scott Baker got a new contract while David Roberts lost his. Oh yeah, some really good hitter signed with the Dodgers.

3/2/09

Toronto Blue Jays sent RHP Bryan Bullington and LHP Fabio Castro outright to Triple-A Las Vegas.

3/3/09
3/4/09

Atlanta Braves sent RHP Anthony Lerew outright to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed OF Manny Ramirez to a two-year contract.

Finally, our winter-long nightmare is over. After much posturing, Manny returns to the only place that would both take him and pay him. Putting aside for the moment the issue of how he dogged it in Boston and then turned it on only when it was apparent he would force his way out and then become scorching hot in LA, this is a deal that cements the Dodgers as the favorites to win the NL West. Can he sustain his ridiculous .396/.489/.743 line? Of course not. But he’ll be his usual mashing self and will make everyone in the lineup around him better. Since there’s no other true home run threat on the Dodgers, he could rake in some serious RBIs.

Tangent: Anyone think that Juan Pierre has a shot in hell of being traded somewhere where he can start? With that contract in this economy? I don’t blame Pierre for requesting a trade, but if he honestly thinks it’s going to happen, he has another thing coming. And the worst part of it from his perspective (and the Dodgers) is that he’s still got a looong way to go on that deal. What is it with Los Angeles and irrational deals for outfielders? (The Angels have Gary Mathews, Jr.)

Milwaukee Brewers invited OF Lorenzo Cain to spring training.

3/5/09
Houston Astros signed LHP Neal Musser to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

Oakland Athletics sent INF Yung Chi Chen outright to Triple-A Sacramento.

Philadelphia Phillies signed RHP Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract.

I really like this deal from the Phillies’ standpoint. It’s a low-risk contract for someone who has proven he can soak up innings and not embarrass himself while doing so. He last saw major league time in 2007 for the Colorado Rockies, when he started 14 games and posted a 4.42 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP and a career FIP of 4.59. He saw a bit of time in the minor leagues last year for the Atlanta Braves, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Why do I like this deal for the Phillies? Well, I’m a bit concerned about their pitching. Their rotation is projected as follows: Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick/J.A. Happ/Chan Ho Park. It’s not an impressive list of names for the fifth spot, and you can never have too many candidates for that slot. Lopez adds depth and a potential fifth starter who can hold his own. There’s great value in that.

San Francisco Giants released OF Dave Roberts and optioned RHPs Kelvin Pichardo and Keiichi Yabu to Triple-A Fresno.

I love Dave Roberts for his steal against Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game Four in the 2004 ALCS, but who didn’t see this coming? The San Francisco Giants signed him to an ill-advised three-year, $18 million deal before the 2007 season, and he spent the last two years being an ineffective, injury-prone outfielder. In this economic market, Roberts may become involuntarily retired. He still holds some value as a pinch runner off the bench but certainly is deserving of nothing more than near the league minimum and a minor league deal. Will he get it? We’ll see.

St. Louis Cardinals signed LHP Dennys Reyes to a two-year contract.

The Cardinals finally bring in an able left-handed reliever instead of their amalgam of Royce Ring and Charlie Manning. He’ll bring a weapon to neutralize batters such as Prince Fielder. Reyes bounced among many teams before suddenly finding the “on” switch and becoming one of the better left-handed relievers in the game from 2006-8. The key to his success was reducing his BB/9 from 7.11 in 2003 to 2.91 this past year. The only two years he’s had BB/9s below 3.00 were 2006 and 2008.

3/6/09
Chicago Cubs reassigned LHP Edward Campusano, RHP Andrew Cashner and RHP Rocky Roquet to minor league camp.

Los Angeles Dodgers optioned LHP Greg Miller to Triple-A Albuquerque. Designated RHP Justin Orenduff for assignment.

Oakland Athletics signed SS Orlando Cabrera and INF Nomar Garciaparra to one-year contracts.

If your job has been usurped by someone who hit .277/.334/.371 and was considered a disruptive presence in the clubhouse, you know you have problems. And Bobby Crosby has problems. He’s run out of time to impress Billy Beane and Co. and is now going to be a bench player, something he’s obviously not happy with. But the Athletics are increasing their emphasis on putting balls into play and fielding. Cabrera certainly fits that mold. Crosby? Not at all. Let’s compare: Crosby’s career wOBA is .304 and has a total UZR value of 14.4 at short. Cabrera has a wOBA of .318 and a 47.6 UZR at short. With Crosby’s salary at $5.75 million, I’ll be surprised if he lands on his feet somewhere. More than likely, he’ll have to stomach a year of being on the bench unless (cough, cough, A-Rod) an injury opens up playing time elsewhere with a team that can afford Crosby in this economical climate.

3/7/09
Kansas City Royals reassigned non-roster RHP Dan Cortes to minor league camp.

Los Angeles Dodgers reassigned RHP Ronald Belisario, RHP Yhency Brazoban, SS Ivan De Jesus and LHP Jacobo Meque to minor league camp. Signed RHP Tim Corcoran to a minor league Contract.

San Diego Padres reassigned RHP Gabe DeHoyos, RHP Will Inman, RHP Mat Latos, RHP Oneli Perez and LHP Nick Schmidt to minor league camp. Optioned RHP Ernesto Frieri to Double-A San Antonio.

Toronto Blue Jays returned LHP Fabio Castro, 1B David Cooper, INF Brandon Fahey, OF Wayne Lydon, C Kyle Phillips, RHP Marty McLeary and LHP Reid Santos to minor league camp.

Oakland Athletics signed LHP Andrew Sisco to a minor league contract.

Sisco had a lot of promise, starting off his career with a 3.11 ERA in 75.1 innings for the Kansas City Royals in 2005. Never known for his control, it only got worse and he couldn’t turn things around in Chicago for the White Sox. He’ll move on to Oakland to try to resurrect his career. As a young lefty, he’s going to be able to receive more than enough chances over the following years to be the next Dennys Reyes.

Toronto Blue Jays signed RHP Wade Miller to a minor league Contract.

Wade Miller last pitched effectively in 2004 and probably has a robotic arm at this point from all his injuries and subsequent surgeries. He last pitched in 2007 and while he’s a long shot, it can’t hurt for a team that needs some pitching depth what with a number of their pitchers out with injuries.

Minnesota Twins signed RHP Scott Baker to a four-year contract with an option for 2013.

Baker continues a trend of Minnesota Twin pitchers having impeccable control. He’s also raised his K/9 consistently over his career. In his four years in the majors, his K/9 has gone from 5.37 to 6.70 to 6.39 to 7.36. Could it go higher? Maybe, maybe not. But whiffing just over seven batters per nine innings while limiting them to just about two walks is the mark of a great pitcher, and Baker is on his way to being one. Last year, his first full year in the bigs, he started 28 games, posting a 3.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He averaged 6.1 innings a start, so that’s something he needs to work on if he wants to become one of the elite pitchers in the league. (6.1 innings over 32 starts translates to about 198 innings.)

3/8/09
Kansas City Royals reassigned non-roster RHP Franquelis Osoria to minor league camp.

Los Angeles Dodgers reassigned LHP Carmen Cali and RHP Edgar Martinez to minor league camp.

Milwaukee Brewers released RHP Eric Gagne from his minor league contract.

And so continues the string of bad luck. Game Over?

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