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AaRr Transactions – Week 3, Starting 4/11/06

No great moves this week.  I sent Victor Diaz down, as he’s only getting the occasional pinch hitting appearances until Xavier Nady settles down to his May-September normal self.  In his place I brought up Jeff DaVanon, as he is actually playing (like now, for instance, in place of Eric Byrnes).  He’s also gotten the nod for Shawn Green twice, as he’s slumping a bit, so perhaps he’ll be helpful.  What would be nice is if Rich Aurilia would play a game in the outfield – two HR in my minors already, though at this point I’m not hurting for power from my middle infielders – Khalil Greene (4), J.J. Hardy (2), Jose Reyes (1) – oh, and Jeff Kent (0).

I did put in a $0 bid on Jason Smith, 2B for Colorado hitting lights-out while the “lesser” Luis Gonzalez is day-to-day, but was outbid by Maxell 10-Pack ($3) and the eventual winner, Get Off Kong! ($8).  Smith would have been reserved, and Shane Victorino would have been cut.  It’s no offense to Victorino, as his situation was supposed to be more like DaVanons, and now is the 5th outfielder behind Dellucchi, and three iron men outfielders (Abreu, Burrell, and Rowand).

Taylor Buchholz was supposed to start tonight in San Francisco, but the game was rained out, and he’ll get his first major league start on Thursday instead.  I didn’t bring him up – he could get torched.  And now, if he truly has put it all together and he’s an “ace”, I’ll only miss one outing of his.

Lastly, Armando Benitez is due off the DL on April 17th, so we’ll see how that goes.  I’d like to get a look at his simulated game just to make sure he’s not going to get lit up, or at least lit up all the time.

Overnight Dispatches

Via RotoTimes:

Kerry Wood is scheduled to throw batting practice Monday and could toss a simulated game the next time he throws, according to the Chicago Tribune. If all goes well, it’s possible he could return from his shoulder surgery before the end of the month

Armando Benitez, who is nursing a left knee injury, threw on the side for about 20 minutes Friday and believes his mechanics are coming along well, according to the AP. Benitez hopes to throw a bullpen Tuesday and live batting practice sometime next week.

Via RotoWire:

Brandon Webb scattered nine hits and gave up three earned runs in six innings of work in Saturday’s loss to the Brewers. Webb struck out six and walked just one en route to his second straight no decision. He’s scheduled to make his next start against the Astros on Friday.

Rich Aurilia snapped his 0-for-12 slump Saturday with two hits. Aurilia’s first hit was a three-run homer off of Oliver Perez.

J.J. Hardy went 3-for-5 and scored twice (including the game-winning run) in Saturday’s win over the D-Backs. Hardy also picked up his first stolen base of the young season in second inning off of Brandon Webb. He’s hitting .350 this season with a pair of home runs while being catalyst the Brewers’ lineup during their 5-0 start.

Prince Fielder went 3-for-4 and hit his first home run of the season in Saturday’s win over Arizona. The three-hit game was the first of his young career and helped lift his average to .278, after he started the year 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts. Fantasy owners can breathe a little easier as it appears that Fielder has put his early struggles behind him.

Taylor Buchholz was clocked at 94-95 mph in his most recent outing. His curveball and changeup have also improved considerably, and he is pitching with much greater confidence than in the past. Nagging injuries hampered him in 2004 and 2005 but he is fully 8healthy this year. Buchholz was throwing just 86-88 mph last year in Triple-A. If he can stay healthy and maintain his current velocity, he will be one of the most successful rookie pitchers this year.

Johnny Estrada will get a routine day off for Arizona on either Saturday or Sunday, the team web site reports. The D-Backs will face lefties on both Saturday and Sunday (Doug Davis and Chris Capuano of the Brewers), so Chris Snyder will get one of those starts. If Estrada starts Saturday, you should then bench him on Sunday in daily leagues.

BP Triple Threat

Notes from three different articles today at Baseball Prospectus:

First, in Kevin Goldstein’s Future Shock:

Tom Gorzelanny striking out eight over four shutout innings for Indianapolis: Lefthanders who throw hard are hard to come by, and Gorzelanny is the best pitching prospect in the Pittsburgh system, and possibly better right now than most of the Pirates rotation.

Next, Christina Kahrl rounds up the NL in Transaction Analysis:

With Klesko on the DL, right now represents a moment of truth for Adrian Gonzalez. What’s at stake is whether or not he’ll wind up in the same historical dustbin of first base superprospects that fell well short of greatness. You know, the one that already has Travis Lee, Carlos Pena, and Daryle Ward peeping out of it when they aren’t laminating their press clippings (some of which I wrote, come to think of it). We all know that he is still only about to turn 24, but first base is no place to be seen as merely adequate, and as much as Gonzalez’s glovework is rightly considered to be among the best, it’s what he’s going to do with the bat that’s going to make or break him. He’s got a clean shot right now at making Klesko into trade bait, so stay tuned.

And lastly, Will Carroll has the latest on injuries in Under the Knife:

The Cubs get the best news of the bunch, as they begin to plan for the return of three pitchers. The order should go: Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and finally Wade Miller, though Miller and Prior seem to be on about the same schedule. Wood is throwing well, rated by many who saw him this spring as “fully back.” One player who watched him throw batting practice said that his “BP curve was better than most guys’ ‘A’ curve.” Wood is on track for a late April return as the Cubs resist pushing him. . . The addition of these three into any lineup is a major plus; keeping them in the rotation is the challenge.

Sources tell me that Ryan Klesko will have shoulder surgery, though no official announcement has been made.

Regarding Eric Gagne, expect there to be a lot of talk about whether the Dodgers saw this coming when making the Danny Baez deal. Also expect rumblings of a a coverup with the infection/virus and suspension. 

Injury Updates

From Rotoworld:

Kerry Wood (shoulder) is on the fast track during his rehab. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild thinks that Wood is doing so well in the rehab of his injured shoulder that he could return to the Cubs by the last week in April.

Armando Benitez played catch Tuesday, and trainer Stan Conte declared the pitcher’s inflamed left knee is better. In addition to his knee problems, Benitez was also suffering from a virus and had a 103-degree temperature for two days. “He was weak,” manager Felipe Alou said. “He was throwing the ball all right, then he got sick.” Benitez  isn’t expected to spend longer than two weeks on the disabled list, manager Felipe Alou told the San Francisco Chronicle. The Giants are focusing on his mechanics after a poor spring (23.48 spring ERA). “We’re really concentrating on his throwing, more than anything else,” trainer Stan Conte told the San Jose Mercury News. “The knee, I think we can get under control.”

AaRr Transactions – Week 2, starting 4/4/06

Added Juan Cruz (P-Diamondbacks) for $5, sent Armando Benitez down, cut Ryan Franklin.  No other bidders.

Juan has some potential, the same potential that caused him to be traded from the Cubs to the Braves to the A’s, and now the Diamondbacks.  Acquired from the A’s for Brad Halsey on March 26th, he’ll be primarily used as a swingman at the beginning of the season, but his stuff is good enough to warrant a starting slot, or possibly an emergency closer.  For the RoadRunners?  I’m banking that he’ll get his head clear, find consistency, and will supplant Russ Ortiz come May.  Ryan Franklin wowed them in Clearwater, but that’s a different ballpark than Citizens.  Plus he didn’t make the rotation, so he would have been the first cut regardless of who was acquired.

Added Taylor Buchholz (P-Astros) to reserves for $5, cut Clay Hensley. Pi Train bidded $0.

Buchholz finally put the pieces together in Spring Training, claiming the Astros’ 5th starter position, something that no one else wanted, apparently.  With Brandon Backe hurting, Wandy Rodriguez sucking, Fernando Nieve to the pen, and Ezekiel Astacio sent down, Buchholz could be the nominal #3 behind Oswalt and Petitte.  We’ll see how he does first time out, but there’s plenty of upside here.  Buchholz spent 2-1/2 seasons in AAA, so he may have a short leash – but Roger Clemens isn’t walking through that door – yet.  Clay Hensley had an outstanding season last year in relief, and was thought that he could be a quality swingman, possibly starting this season.  But a relatively poor spring, and the emergence (as it were) of Dewon Brazelton scuttled his value.  He’s one to keep an eye on, and he pitched a shutout inning yesterday.  He may be back, once the outfield situation is sorted through.

Added Matt Herges (P-Marlins) for $3, cut Matt LeCroy. No other bidders.

Matt Herges is a known quantity in an unknown situation – namely, the Marlins’ bullpen.  He was a good pickup in 2004, and ended up with 21 saves before Dustin Hermanson took over.  Last year he was flammable.  But Borowski was shaky yesterday, and Joe Girardi is unpredictable.  So he’s a potential closer, who will stay in my minors until that happens.  Meanwhile, Matt LeCroy is a known quantity (backup 1B, emergency catcher), who’s contributions depend on the occasional pinch hitting appearance and Nick Johnson injury.  Although the later may be a distinct possibility, until the OF is sorted, he’s 6th on the corner man depth chart, and we need saves.

Injury Updates

From today’s Under the Knife, by Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus:

Armando Benitez also goes to the List, still hobbled slightly by a bad left knee. The Giants are being conservative early with Benitez, still within range of that terrible hamstring injury from last year. . . Kerry Wood is doing extremely well. A bad first week from a weakened rotation and the Cubs will be less conservative with a pitcher who told one source that he’s “ready yesterday.”

More good news for Adrian Gonzalez:

People with knowledge of the situation are claiming parallels between Jeff Bagwell and Ryan Klesko. The Padres are hoping that Klesko will have surgery on that shoulder, opening up an insurance claim.

Victorino Slides into Fifth

Well, that sucks.

Tonight the Phillies traded another marginal starter to Texas – this time it was Robinson Tejeda, who did well in a limited role as a starter when Randy Wolf went down last year.  Also traded to Texas was Jake Blalock, younger brother of Texas slugger Hank.

How does this affect the RoadRunners?  The return was David Delucchi – a former Dback – and now the definite 4th OF for Philadelphia, which all but relegates Shane Victorino to 5th OF status, though he’s the only backup for center field.

Some early musings from around the Net (the trade was only two hours ago):

Phillies acquired OF David Dellucci from the Rangers for RHP Robinson Tejeda and OF Jake Blalock.  OK, we take back the whole punchless bench remark. Dellucci is a huge upgrade as the Phillies’ fourth outfielder, so much so that it’s going to be a shame how few at-bats he’ll get. This obviously makes Shane Victorino much less of a sleeper, as Victorino is only the backup at one spot — center field — now. Since Dellucci may struggle to reach 250-300 at-bats, he’s not going to have a lot of value in NL-only leagues. He should do enough in limited action to be worth owning, though. (Rotoworld) 

Dellucci was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Robinson Tejeda and minor leaguer Jake Blalock, the Associated Press reports. Dellucci’s value takes a pretty big hit here, as he’ll presumably serve as the fourth outfielder behind Bobby Abreu, Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell. (Rotowire) 

Dellucci played in 235 games over the past two seasons in Texas, and had quickly become a fan favorite. He hit .251 with a career-high 29 homers and 65 RBIs last season, when he also drew a career-best 76 walks as the primary leadoff hitter.  The acquisition of Dellucci gives the Phillies five outfielders and completes their 25-man roster. Philadelphia was going to enter the season with only Shane Victorino behind starters Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Bobby Abreu. (Yahoo!/Associated Press

Another RoadRunner bites the DL

As per Rotoworld (a few hours apart):

Armando Benitez (knee) will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list, manager Felipe Alou said following today’s game.  “He’s not throwing the ball well,” manager Felipe Alou said. “We know he’s not 100 percent. He took it well. He’s a battler. He wants to be on the hill, but he also knows he’s not there yet.” Alou didn’t name a replacement for Benitez. Tim Worrell should be the favorite for saves, but he’s also struggling, as is Tyler Walker. Scott Munter looks the Giants’ best reliever right now, so NL-only leaguers could consider picking him up. Benitez indicated that he hopes to be back two weeks into the season.

Armando Benitez gave up four more runs in an inning Saturday to conclude the spring with a 23.88 ERA.  And Tim Worrell allowed three runs, leaving him with an 8.44 ERA. The Giants may have to go with their younger relievers in key situations early on. Benitez isn’t going to be yanked from the closer’s role right away, but manager Felipe Alou may want Scott Munter warming up behind him. 

UTK update on Kerry Wood

Will Carroll provides an update on Kerry Wood in yesterday’s Under the Knife column at Baseball Prospectus:

The Cubs are ahead of schedule. Yes, I typed that correctly. Both Kerry Wood and Mark Prior are ahead of most estimates for their return. While both remain risky red lights, they’re both making progress. My Cubs source says both are working hard on their individual programs, actually needing the Cubs staff to consistently hold them back a bit. Overdoing it isn’t the best way to get healthy or stay healthy, but the spirit has to be considered a positive. Wood is a bit ahead of his late April return.

Let’s trade another good young pitcher to the D-Rays, since it worked out so well last time . . .

According to the Tampa Tribune, the Mets and Devil Rays are considering a trade to send Aaron Heilman (he of the 4th-best-starter-that’s-been-relegated-back-to- the-pen because of the best 16 innings pitched by Brian Bannister – lifetime) in exchange for middle infielder Julio Lugo. According to Rotoworld, Heilman would start immediately should the trade be made. Mets reliever Heath Bell has also been mentioned in talks. If consummated, it would certainly turn out better than the last deal, that send uber-stud Scott Kazmir to the Devil Fish for Victor Zambrano.