Archive: October 30th, 2007

Waiver Wire Update

To make room on the roster for newcomers Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez, the Braves had to release RHP Chad Paronto and C Corky Miller. Paronto had been DFA’d earlier, and was expected to be dropped anyway. The big — and I do mean BIG — righthander was fairly effective in a middle-relief role with the Braves over the past two years, sporting a 3.57 ERA in 41 games in 2007 and a 3.18 ERA in 63 games in 2006. He’ll be 32 next season, and doesn’t quite have a “wow” effect on anyone, but he could be a decent guy to have in AAA to provide depth in the ‘pen as the season wears on. Miller is a typical catch-and-throw backstop; essentially, a younger (32) version of Mike DiFelice.

In a more under-the-radar move, the Braves claimed RHP Chris Resop off waivers from the Angels — actually, they made room for him by DFA’ing Paronto. Only two years ago, Resop was a highly touted prospect in the Marlins’ organization; he was traded to the Angels for current Marlins closer Kevin Gregg. This could turn out to be one of the better moves by the Braves in the offseason, as Resop is only 25 and touches 98 MPH. He spent most of the last two years in AAA as a setup man and occasional closer, and posted OK numbers — 82 Ks and 31 BB in 95 IP. But before you dismiss those numbers, understand he’s a converted outfielder, and has only been pitching for four years. Since the Braves, I assume, get dibs on the waiver wire before the Mets, we can’t call out Omar on this one. But I’d imagine Resop would be the type of project ideal for Rick Peterson. Oh well.

Another hard-throwing reliever who became available is the well-traveled Jay Witasick, who was cut by the Devil Rays when they claimed OF Chris Snelling off waivers. Witasick will be 35 next year, and sported a 6.61 ERA in 20 games with the Rays — though only 3.60 with the A’s in 16 games. He still throws hard, but still walks far too many batters — 27 in 31 innings last season. In my mind, he’s the righthanded Ron Villone — just when you think his career is over, someone picks him up for garbage duty. A return to the NL might help him, but he’s not worth a roster spot. I’d prefer to take my chances with Guillermo Mota.

The White Sox released RHP Ryan Bukvich, a middle reliever who resembles Chad Paronto in size but not in effectiveness. He throws in the mid-90s but has always had control problems. Last season he appeared in 45 games but walked 25 in 36 innings (he struck out 18). I’m not sure he’s even worth a AAA spot.

The Reds dropped RHP Tom Shearn, who went 3-0 as a starter for them last season — including six shutout innings against the Mets. However, he’s not all that, and not much more than filler material for the back end of a AAA roster.

Corey Koskie was officially DFA’d by the Brewers. I don’t see a fit for the injury-riddled, 34-year-old Canadian.

There were other players dropped and moved, but none seemed remotely interesting. We’ll have another update in a few days or sometime next week.

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Reaction: Renteria, Girardi, Torre

Herewith the first installment of the “do we care” category of the Hot Stove season …


Edgar Renteria Traded to the Tigers

Do We Care: yes

The Atlanta Braves made the first move of the offseason — a preemptive strike on the impending free agent market — by sending shortstop Edgar Renteria to the Tigers for two minor leaguers no one has ever heard of, RHP Jair Jurrjens and OF Gorkys Hernandez.

On the one hand, it’s great that the Braves have dumped one of their most dangerous hitters and an excellent defender in the infield. On the other hand, they have Yunel Escobar waiting in the wings and looks more than ready to take over — possibly matching Renteria’s production both in the field and at the plate. Plus, he comes at a much lower salary, which means the Braves now have some cash to throw at free agents such as Torii Hunter and Tom Glavine.

Oh, and then there’s that matter of the two “unknown” prospects — it turns out they’re pretty good. Jurrjens, a 22-year-old from Curacao with outstanding control and a 97-MPH fastball, is almost guaranteed to step right in to the back end of the Braves’ starting rotation and be the pitcher that Kyle Davies couldn’t. Hernandez may be further away from MLB duty, but he’s only 20 years old and is a Carlos Gomez type of prospect — great speed, good raw ability, some possibility of developing power as he grows older. Baseball America rated him Detroit’s #7 prospect last November, saying, “The only position player in the system with more upside is Cameron Maybin. Hernandez may follow the same path and play in low Class A as a 19-year-old. He could become a special prospect if he continues to mature.”

Ain’t it amazing how the Braves are seemingly always able to make brilliant deals, shed money, and come up with great young (and inexpensive) talent? It’s really annoying …


Joe Girardi Named Manager of Yankees

Do We Care: No

Ho-hum. Do we care? Not really. The only benefit to the Mets is that Girardi is not a manager in the NL, where he showed promise leading the Marlins. Had he not been offered the job by the Yanks, he likely would have had a shot at the managerial position of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now that might have bothered me, since Girardi would have been a good fit there. However …

Joe Torre May Manage the Dodgers

Do We Care: Not really

So, “Clueless Joe” is moving westward … or at least, that’s the rumor. The rumor also surmises that Don Mattingly will follow him there as bench coach.

This is supposed to make the rest of the National League shake in their boots?

Unless the Dodgers decide to double their payroll, I’m not concerned. Without the very best talent in the universe available to him, Joe Torre’s managerial record is a sparkling 894-1003. Yes, he managed some bad Mets teams in the 1970s, but he also did nothing of consequence leading the Braves and Cardinals. OK, he did finish first with the Braves once (1982), but didn’t finish first in any of his other 15 non-Yankee years as a manager. Returning to the NL, he’ll have to actually manage again — you know, do that stuff that Willie can’t comprehend, like remove pitchers at the right time, use pinch-hitters effectively, call bunts at opportune times, and do that double-switch thing every once in a while.

If the Dodgers are dumb enough to blame their 2007 season on Grady Little, and think Joe Torre is the answer … well … good luck with that, guys. Another fourth-place finish in the ultra-competitive NL West looks to be in the future.

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