Comings and Goings (7/5-7/7)by Bryan Smith
July 08, 2004
Chicago White Sox - Agree to a three-year extension with pitcher Freddy Garcia through 2007.
I’ve talked about Ken Williams’ hastiness before on this site, citing that as his largest weakness as a General Manager. This is true in a lot of his trades when he vastly overpays for a small weakness only to see the Sox further underachieve. While it’s hard to blame Chicago's latest 1-5 skid on Freddy Garcia, shouldn’t Williams have waited a while longer to see how Garcia fits in? Or, maybe wait until he pitches in front of the U.S. Cellular ‘crowd’ once?
Much praise has been transferred to Ozzie Guillen, as his influences as a friend surely was a selling point to Garcia. But, I think Williams used this in the wrong way. Why not, first, spend every effort you have to re-sign Magglio Ordonez, your best player and face of the franchise? And if Magglio still walks, then utilize the selling point on Garcia, hoping he might take a little less to stay with Ozzie? Now, the Sox have waived goodbye to Ordonez, while he knowingly plays out the year.
I spent some time looking at a lot of players that had heavy workloads between their rookie age-23 season, and the end of their arbitration run at age 28. If you limit it to pitchers that threw 1,200 innings in that span, a number Garcia will likely pass this year, you’ll get pitchers like Andy Pettitte, Doug Drabek, Mark Langston and others. When examining their age 29-31 seasons, most stayed within the contexts of their previous numbers, before a significant post-31 drop-off. So, I can’t criticize Garcia for the time length of this deal, as I think it’s just long enough for the right-hander to have a few more 100 ERA+ seasons.
Ken Williams always means well, he just gets a little too excited.
Toronto Blue Jays - Activated first basemen Carlos Delgado from the 15-day disabled list; optioned pitcher Adam Peterson to Syracuse of the International League (AAA).
So, the Jays get half of their vaunted two-some (Delgado and Wells) back, just in time to...battle with the Devil Rays and Orioles for places 3-5? Actually, J.P. Ricciardi is probably very excited that Delgado is back, as scouts from all the contenders will come witness Delgado in the next three weeks, deciding what they want to pay for the 2003 near-MVP.
I might tell you that during Delgado's and Wells’ absence, Orlando Hudson and Frank Menechino have lead the team in OPS, but that might just be too embarrassing for Craig Burley. Luckily, Delgado’s return will have no bearing on the playing time of Alexis Rios, the former top Jays prospect, who is just getting acclimated, with a .333/.385/.542 line through 24 July at-bats. Getting Rios on the right track is integral for the Jays surviving post-Delgado, but as each day passed during his stint, I’ve started to believe less and less they can live without him. I spent all winter thinking that the Jays were a few pitchers away from contending, but even after adding ‘All-Star’ Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista, it has been the league-ranked-11th offense that has hurt the Jays the most.
Trade Delgado? Don’t do it J.P., remember, he was accountable for 11 wins (32 win shares) in 2003. Trading one-eighth of your team is never a good idea, no matter what the prospect yield may be.
San Diego Padres - Placed first basemen Phil Nevin on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee injury; recalled outfielder Xavier Nady from Portland of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
When first looking at this injury, I was going to make a reference to the Nevin-Griffey trade that never happened last year, thinking Griffey had a huge lead on Nevin in terms of Win Shares. But, through the latest update, the two are notched at fifteen each, both contributing approximately five wins for their teams. Nevin is tied for Brian Giles with the team lead in Runs Created, and also tied for first on the team with a .290 GPA. I guess I just didn’t realize just how much Nevin was contributing after all.
He’s so integral, that no matter how much Nady tries, the Padres will be affected negatively by this loss. Ryan Klesko must see his .087 isolated slugging percentage raise, and Xavier Nady must hit similar to what he’s done in the minor leagues. I’m sure Matthew Namee would have been petitioning for Jon Knott here, but the next transaction should be a bit of a consolation for him. As of this writing, the Padres are deadlocked with the Dodgers for first in the NL West, but in all likelihood, that won’t be true when Phil Nevin returns. Who would have thought that Magglio Ordonez and Phil Nevin injury analysis would be so similar?
Florida Marlins - Placed pitcher Josh Beckett on the 15-day disabled list with his 1,087,925 blister of his career; recalled catcher Josh Willingham from Carolina of the Southern League (AA).
Who knows if there is any truth to the Nomar to Florida rumor, but it’s highly probably that Larry Beinfest is considering trading either Brad Penny or Carl Pavano. Beckett’s injury prevents this from happening for another two weeks, because while at full health the Marlins’ rotation has room to fill out, they don’t without Beckett, the third best pitcher on the team. Beckett’s numerous injuries have given me enough space to complain about how overrated he is, but at this point, can anyone deny that Carl Pavano is the best Marlin pitcher?
With Willingham hitting the Major Leagues, Matthew Namee has currently seen three of his “Top 5: Good Minor Leaguers You’ve Never Heard Of” make the Major Leagues. I once compared Willingham to a young Tyler Houston, but after checking out some numbers, I see more Wally Schang. Who is that? Schang was a 19-year-veteran that closed out his 5,307 at-bat career with a line of .284/.393/.401. While he played about 90% of his career games at catcher, Schang also saw time at third base and in the outfield during his career. A catcher that walks and is versatile? Very valuable commodity. If Jack McKeon can ever manage to Free Ramon Castro! and Free Josh Willingham! at the same time, he will have mastered his art.
Cleveland Indians - Activated pitcher Bob Wickman from the 60-day disabled list; designated pitchers Jose Jimenez and Scott Stewart for assignment.
Jeez, talk about two decent transactions gone wrong, huh? Back in the winter, I would have considered the acquisitions of Jimenez and Stewart to be low-risk, high reward, but I guess you can’t say that until you really conceive reliever workloads. Jimenez had the third most innings for an Indian reliever, and Stewart was tied for fifth on the team in appearances with 23. The problem with this is that neither transaction worked out, as Jimenez finished his Cleveland time with an 8.42 ERA, and Stewart’s was 7.24. It’s probably best that both are gone, but I guess they had nowhere to go but up at this point.
Now, more than ever, it looks like the Indians should have spent the $1 million on signing Curt Leskanic, like I had advised. Getting Wickman back is nice, but he should take time to get acclimated, and though David Riske is slowly working back from a horrendous start, they’ll need more than two good relievers to really stay in this race, though I’m not sure if that’s Mark Shaprio’s #1 priority. Can the team expect consistent performances from Bobby Howry, Matt Miller and Rick White? We shall see.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Activated pitcher Brian Bruney from the 15-day disabled list; optioned infielder Andy Green to Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
Last edition we talked about the Diamondbacks' need to rebuild, and I consider Bruney to be a large part of that. When the dust settles and the injuries heal, the Diamondbacks will be able to field a good bullpen with Jose Valverde, Bruney and Oscar Villarreal leading the back end. I hardly expect Elmer Dessens and Matt Mantei to stick with the team, though this probably isn’t the end for Stephen Randolph or Andrew Good. The bullpen is hardly part 1a on the rebuilding checklist, but it’s nice to have regardless.
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.