Comings and Goings (6/10-6/13)by Bryan Smith
June 14, 2004
Toronto Blue Jays- Activated pitcher Roy Halladay from the 15-day disabled list; placed pitcher Kerry Ligtenberg on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 11, with left hip inflammation. Activated catcher Kevin Cash from the 15-day disabled list; optioned pitcher Aquilino Lopez to Syracuse of the International League (AAA).
Someone might see that the Blue Jays went 7-7 in Halladay’s absence, and think losing the Cy Young didn’t affect them too much. But, that person would be wrong, as the .500 record is a bit deceiving. During Halladay’s fourteen-game disabled stint, the Blue Jays went 5-1 when Ted Lilly or Miguel Batista started a game. But, when Pat Hentgen, Justin Miller, Jason Kershner or Josh Towers took the mound, the team was 2-6. Halladay gives the Jays a much better chance to win than Jason Kershner does, and with him, the Blue Jays may have earned another win or two.
While often gone unseen, one of the many other ways Halladay helps this team is that he gives the bullpen a rest when he pitches. The 2003 Major League Baseball innings-eater, Halladay has averaged just under seven innings during his twelve starts this year. In sharp contrast, the Blue Jays bullpen was worked hard during Halladay’s stint, pitching 22.2 innings during the five starts from Miller, Kershner and Towers. Who knows, maybe the Blue Jays would still have Ligtenberg and Lopez if Halladay hadn’t went down.
Anaheim Angels- Placed outfielder Raul Mondesi on the 15-day disabled list with a torn right quadriceps muscle; activated outfielder Garret Anderson from the 15-day disabled list. Placed pitcher Aaron Sele on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder fatigue; recalled infielder-outfielder Robb Quinlan from Salt Lake of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
Maybe Mondesi would have been better off sitting this year out. It was only a month ago that Mondesi vowed to sit the 2004 season off, and to return for 2005. Then, with a glut of Angel outfield injuries, Arte Moreno splurged to sign Mondesi for $1.25 million. And in just his eighth game of the season, Raul tore his quad, leaving his season line at a Gutierrez-ish .118/.189/.235.
While changing from Mondesi to Anderson is going to lose a lot in arm strength, the Angels have one of their best bats back in Garret. Since returning from the DL, Anderson has five hits in fifteen at-bats, including a game-tying home run in the 15-inning marathon with the Cubs on Sunday. Anderson has been called underrated by so many people that the title doesn’t apply anymore, and now can be replaced with overpaid. I’m sorry, I just don’t think a move to centerfield past thirty is going to help that slugging percentage.
It sure is odd to say, but Aaron Sele had the best ERA (3.18) for an Angel starter before going down, beating out the highly esteemed trio of Colon, Escobar and Washburn. Sele’s great pitching was enough to land Ramon Ortiz in the bullpen, which was a blessing in disguise as Ortiz allowed four runs (0 HR!) in 22.2 relief innings. Despite the fact that Ortiz protests to a relief role, I’d much prefer keeping him where he succeeds rather than move him back to the rotation. Just check my Randy Wolf comments from Friday for my reasoning.
Minnesota Twins- Optioned pitcher J.C. Romero to Rochester of the International League (AAA); recalled outfielder Michael Restovich from Rochester.
What a fall from grace it has been. It wasn’t long ago, merely two years, when we called Romero the best young reliever in the Majors, before anyone had heard the name Francisco Rodriguez. We all figured Romero to be just another starter-turned-reliever success story, after the southpaw gave up two earned runs in 31.1 innings during April and May in 2002. Romero was fantastic the whole season, becoming Eddie Guardado’s set-up man, and finishing the year with a 1.89 ERA. And now, both Aaron Fultz and Terry Mulholland have been more dependable.
In other news, the Twins hate for Justin Morneau continues, though it’s nice to see Restovich get another chance at the Major Leagues. As I think you’ll find out later (keep reading Mr. Gleeman), there really is no question what Restovich’s role might be with this team.
New York Yankees- Activated center fielder Kenny Lofton from the 15-day disabled list; optioned infielder Homer Bush to Columbus of the Interational League (AAA).
While a full-strength lineup didn’t do much for the Yankees in April, I’m sure Yankees fans will be glad to see Bernie Williams head back to the DH spot. In 52 AB in the DH spot, Williams has an .834 OPS, against a .759 OPS in 155 centerfield at-bats. Lofton has contributed an .839 OPS in center, including a surprising four doubles in only 64 AB. Kenny’s speed is long gone, and maybe I’m talking because I’m gracious of his work with the Cubs, but he is still a very good top-of-the-order hitter. Smarter people know more about Yankee lineup construction than me, but starting a game off with Lofton-Jeter looks fine to me.
In other news, I’m depressed to announce I don’t think we’ll ever see the name Homer Bush reappear in Comings and Goings. A lock for any all-name team, Bush was only given seven at-bats in his attempted comeback, and he got all of zero hits during that time. His career average of .285 is very respectable, and there are second basemen across the league that would kill for the .320/.353/.421 line that Bush put up in 1999 with the Blue Jays, which included 32 steals. We’ll miss you Homer, especially seeing your name in a box score.
Montreal Expos- Placed pitcher Tomo Ohka on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right arm; purchased the contract of pitcher Joe Horgan from Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
That injury is one that makes me happy that I don’t pitch in the Majors for a living. Against Carlos Beltran, Ohka fell victim to having a batted ball shatter his arm, undoubtedly ending his season. A trip to the 60-day DL is likely in order, and it’s all a little sad considering Ohka was pitching in good form this year. But, I guess that was to be expected, since Tomo has been trying the every other year approach:
1999: 6.23 ERA
2000: 3.12 ERA
2001: 5.47 ERA
2002: 3.18 ERA
2003: 4.16 ERA
2004: 3.01 ERA
I guess he’s gradually improving on the odd years, but I can tell you right now, I will not be drafting Mr. Ohka at all next year.
Boston Red Sox- Activated pitcher Scott Williamson from the 15-day disabled list; optioned infielder Andy Dominique to Pawtucket of the International League (AAA).
First it’s Nomar. Now Williamson. Next, expect Bill Mueller and Trot Nixon to be playing again. While some are saying the Yankees won’t look back this year, I’ve yet to see a great Red Sox team, and would still give them my prediction to be the AL East champs. If I think the Cubs can come back from fourth place and 4.5 back in the NL Central, I better think the Red Sox can catch the Yankees.
Williamson has been part of a fantastic bullpen, especially the quartet of Williamson, Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin and Alan Embree. I liked Williamson when he finished the year off well in 2003, and the acquisition is starting to pay dividends in big ways for Theo Epstein. Why Dominique was ever called I don’t know, but with ten at-bats, he’ll get his own page at Baseball-Reference, and for that, we can all be jealous.
San Francisco Giants- Placed pitcher Brett Tomko on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 8, with right elbow inflammation; recalled pitcher Noah Lowry from Fresno of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
Whether or not the Giants will ever fix this rotation I don't know, but it has become such a large problem, I don't think San Francisco will be able to win this division. After Jason Schmidt, there is very little to like about this rotation, though Jerome Williams is serviceable as well. Kirk Rueter is beyond ineffective at this point, and sooner or later, people have to stop giving Brett Tomko all these chances. I really can't offer too many suggestions to fix this rotation, but I can say, Noah Lowry simply isn't going to get it done.
Cleveland Indians- Purchased the contract of catcher Sandy Martinez from Buffalo of the International League (AAA); designated pitcher Lou Pote for assignment. Purchased the contract of pitcher Scott Elarton from Buffalo of the International League (AAA); optioned outfielder Alex Escobar to Buffalo.
Blast from the past, as both Martinez and Elarton are called up on the same weekend. Martinez was called up when Victor Martinez went down with a foot injury, but Victor's already back in the lineup, so Sandy's days in uniform are numbered. That's probably for the best, as Martinez offers nothing more than a normal backup catcher, although his OBP once did top .350 in a season. When Martinez is sent back down, the Indians will likely bring up somebody to play centerfield, and quite possibly give top prospect Grady Sizemore his chance, as it's the only position that the Indians are really struggling in offensively. I'm telling you, with a decent bullpen, this team would be right with the Twins and Sox.
Elarton was called up to start, as the Indians still haven't found a fifth starter since Jeff D'Amico went down. Scott didn't fair well, allowing four hits, six walks and five runs in a five inning start against the Cincinnati Reds. The Indians ended up winning the game, so it might just be good enough to buy Elarton another start, although he belongs in the James Baldwin, Jimmy Haynes, Kevin Jarvis group anyway...which is to say pitching for the Newark Bears.
Chicago Cubs- Activated outfielder Tom Goodwin from the 15-day disabled list; optioned infielder-outfielder David Kelton to Iowa of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
Thanks to The Cub Reporter, I can offer these quotes...
“I can’t say enough about our bench guys. They call themselves ‘The Lemons.’ It just shows you how important it is to have a good bench.”
Baker (Cubs.com 5/13/2004)
“It’s more of a friendly thing. It sounds like it’s a bad thing. The bench guys are bored sometimes and we labeled ourselves ‘The Lemons.’ It’s kind of caught on. The coaching staff drops ‘The Lemons’ on us.”
Paul Bako (Cubs.com 5/13/2004)
“We never really defined it. Obviously, a lemon can be a bad car. Lemons are also something you can make lemonade out of. They freshen water. It can do a lot of things. So it’s for each person to determine how they want to define it.”
“Goody’s more the leader; he’s in the big chair. It’s fun and a little fraternity we’ve got going on. We pull for each other, no matter what. But when another Lemon is playing, it’s like, shoot, we want him to get a couple knocks.”
Well, thank God the Cubs have the leader of the Lemons back!
San Diego Padres- Recalled pitcher Blaine Neal from Portland of the Pacific Coast League (AAA); optioned pitcher Brandon Puffer to Portland.
As for this move, I have no incredible insight, but rather thought I would offer two quotes, one having to do with each player. Neither will be awe-inspiring, likely the opposite, but they amuse me. Enjoy...
"The name of the game is not throwing the ball 100 m.p.h., but the number of people you get out."
- Cubs announcer Chip Carey, about no player in particular, though I guess you could apply this to Blaine Neal. And yes, Harey Carey's grandson normally does offer wonderful tidbits like this one.
"If a Puffer can't make it in SoCal, he can't make it anywhere."
- Yours truly. And yes, I do plan to use this line every time I see Brandon Puffer on the transaction wire.
Bryan Smith, co-founder of Baseball Analysts, is a freelance writer with work appearing at SI.com, BaseballProspectus.com and Baseball America. Feel free to e-mail Bryan here, and look for his annual prospect list at SI.com next week.