Comings and Goings (5/7-5/10)by Bryan Smith
May 10, 2004
Kansas City Royals- Signed shortstop Angel Berroa to a four-year, $11M extension.
This is just one of those signings that works for all involved. Kansas City buys out some arbitration years, eliminating the possibility of a shortstop eating up way too much payroll (they are close to Dallas). Angel Berroa lands a guaranteed $11M, securing dollars in case of a prolonged slump.
And Berroa is susceptible to prolonged slumps. After a 2001 full of potential, Angel cracked every preseason prospect top 20, but then fell apart at Omaha. His offense was terrible at AAA, as his batting average was below .240 all season long. The Royals ignored his slump and handed the slick-fielder their everyday shortstop job. He paid them off with a return to his 2001 self, earning the 2003 Rookie of the Year.
With expectations for both him and the team sky high, Angel Berroa had one bad April. I speculated in my preseason preview on the Royals that moving back the fences might hurt Royal hitters. That, mixed with Aaron’s Sophomore slump findings, all spelled mediocre for Berroa. But, I still like this signing for the Royals, as they are paying only $2.75M per year for a good fielding, .260/.330/.480 shortstop.
Anaheim Angels- Placed first basemen Darin Erstad on the 15-day DL with a strained right hamstring; Purchased the contract of first basemen Casey Kotchman from Arkansas of the Texas League (AA).
Currently, the Angelsa re the best team in baseball. The club continues to win, despite injuries to Erstad, Jose Guillen, Garret Anderson and Tim Salon. The latest addition to the big club is Casey Kotchman, the top prospect dominating the Texas League to the tune of .368/.438/.544.
Most of the time I would frown on a 2-week call up for a top prospect, but this one makes sense. Kotchman deserves payment for that AA line, and what better gift than a chance to prove himself at the Major League level? Kotchman very well could hit like Hell for 50AB, leaving Erstad to move again, this time back to the outfield.
I can’t help it, but I can’t think Kotchman without thinking Chris Snelling. Both are oft-injured super-talented sluggers, and like Kotchman, Snelling’s first ML trial was because of an injury. But Snelling quickly added to the ML DL, thanks to some freak accident. Let’s hope this is where the comparisons end, and that Kotchman might make it to game nine.
Chicago White Sox- Activated shortstop Jose Valentin from the 15-day DL; sent infielder Kelly Dransfeldt outright to Charlotte of the International League (AAA). Activated pitcher Kelly Wunsch from the 15-day DL and optioned him to Charlotte.
This is an example of a couple of good problems the White Sox have. Kelly Wunsch was one of the team’s best relievers last year, keeping his ERA at 2.45 in 36 innings as the White Sox situational left-hander. But, some good performances leave Wunsch to Charlotte, where he’ll have to earn his spot back. Left-handers Damaso Marte and Neal Cotts have been fantastic this year, and the team is reluctant to let go high-priced players like Billy Koch or Cliff Politte this early in the year. Wunsch will be back, but he’ll need to prove he belongs first at AAA.
Before the season, we all wondered how Ozzie Guillen would manage this middle infield. I mean, how could Guillen possibly get offense out of this group, right? Wrong. Juan Uribe and Willie Harris both have averages over .300, and Uribe’s OPS is over 1.000. Not giving these guys extended chances just because Valentin is back is wrong. Valentin could get dealt crosstown, where I hear the Cubs are in need of a shortstop.
Arizona Diamondbacks- Purchased the contract of pitcher Brian Bruney from Tuscon of the International League (AAA); Optioned second basemen Scott Hairston to Tuscon.
Cleveland Indians- Activated pitcher Jose Jimenez from the 15-day DL; optioned pitcher Kaz Tadano to Buffalo of the International League (AAA).
I put these two together to prove a point.
Don’t bring them up if you’re not going to use them!
Colorado Rockies- Signed pitcher Kevin Jarvis to a minor league contract and assigned him to Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).
You had to know that this was coming soon, I mean, how long did Kevin Appier have between the Angels and Royals last year? That, mixed with the successes of Shawn Estes make Jarvis a perfect match here. There is just one minor problem: Jarvis tends to get a little flyball prone. He’s been inconsistent throughout his career, but here are his groundball/flyball ratios per year (under 1.20 is considered a flyball pitcher):
2004: 0.86 thus far
Jarvis has yet to decide on a style, but keeping that number to the 1995, 1996, 2003 version might be the best in Colorado. I had forgotten this, but Jarvis had a stay with Colorado in 2000, spanning 24 appearances and an ERA nearing 6.00 (5.95). But, that’s hardly worse than his career ERA of 5.88, so I guess the Rockies got what they expected.
Jarvis should be happy that he’s pitching in a pretty place with millions considering his atrocious Major League performances.
Cincinnati Reds- Released pitcher Jimmy Haynes.
This week’s veteran release goes to...Jimmy Haynes. His career path is similar to Jarvis’, lots of bad years clouded by one good one. Haynes best year was in 2002 with the Cincinnati Reds, where the team gave him enough run support to win fifteen games with an ERA of 4.12 and a WHIP of 1.48. Haynes, like Jarvis with the Padres, was able to turn this into millions, confusing a GM there was something in his tank.
And like Jarvis, it won’t be too long until someone bites on Haynes. He’ll always be bad, and hopefully no GM will actually give this guy a Major League start this year. Maybe guys like Jarvis, Haynes, and the Mark McLemores of the world (not to mention Rickey Henderson) should start a different league somewhere.
New York Mets- Purchased the contract of pitcher James Baldwin from Norfolk of the International League (AAA); optioned pitcher Tyler Yates to Norfolk.
Pardon the Mets in their quest to have an all-veteran pitching staff. First it was Ricky Botallico in for Grant Roberts, and now Baldwin steps in for Yates in the rotation. The team will be searching long and wide for replacements for Orber Moreno, Jae Seo and Dan Wheeler, but have created the rest of the staff with unwanted veterans.
The chief example of this is Baldwin. James was begging for a spot somewhere this spring, and the Mets finally gave him a chance at their empty rotation spot. After not making the team, Baldwin accepted an opportunity to pitch in the minor leagues, and actually made the best of it. In five starts, Baldwin kept his ERA over 3.00, but Jim Duquette failed to realize he had allowed more hits than innings pitched. This is not a good sign, and Baldwin just got trounced for six runs in his first two innings as a Met. Think they had wished to call up Matt Ginter (1.30ERA in 5 starts)? Yeah, me too.
Come to think of it, Baldwin belongs in the Jarvis/Haynes club as well. The pitcher won fourteen games in 2000, and made some big dollars before leaving the White Sox. His career ERA also sits over 5.00, and like Jarvis and Haynes, could be added to the free agent list before too long. But hey, I hear Brady Anderson's team needs a third starter...
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.
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