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Shuffling, Sifting and Shifting

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CHICAGO - MAY 06: Starting pitcher Dana Eveland #30 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on May 6, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - MAY 06: Starting pitcher Dana Eveland #30 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on May 6, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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As I discussed last Thursday, we've begun to make a concerted effort over here at BtB to cover the majority of noteworthy transactions that occur throughout the league. We'll continue with that today, taking a look at a couple of minor league signings, designations for assignment, and outright releases.

Cubs sign RHP Bob Howry

I touched on this last week when the Cubs were reportedly close to adding the former Cub set-up man, but the two sides finished up a deal over the weekend and Howry has already appeared in one game for the Cubs this season. The results were ugly against Texas, though. Howry came in and immediately gave up an RBI double to Michael Young before inducing a pop-up on Ian Kinsler and intentionally walking Vlad Guerrero. As I said last week, this is a reasonable risk for the Cubs to take, but realistically Howry doesn't look anything like a solution to the Cubs' bullpen issues.

Blue Jays designated LHP Dana Eveland for assignment

After three consecutive rough outings, the Jays' brass had apparently seen enough. Eveland has said that he'll report to Triple-A if he passes through waivers, which seems likely given how he's pitched lately. For now, Toronto's called up David Purcey to take Eveland's roster spot, but it's unclear who will take Eveland's spot in the rotation. I'm particularly unhappy with Eveland because he two-hit the White Sox over 7 innings when I went to see them play a couple weeks ago at The Cell, but has given up 17 ER in 9.1 innings in his three starts since. Pretty rude, if you ask me. Eveland can still get groundballs at a very good rate, but you just can't get away with walking more guys than you strike out these days. In 2009 and 2010 combined, Eveland has 43 strikeouts and 53 walks in 88 innings. You can't just be an MLB starter because you induce ground balls and have an interesting name.

Diamondbacks sign RHP Luis Ayala

Just another move by Arizona as they try to figure out how to make their bullpen even somewhat effective. Then again, Ayala hasn't had an FIP or xFIP under 4.30 since 2005. It's hard to maintain your effectiveness when your walk rate is constantly increasing, your groundball rate is constantly decreasing, and your strikeout rate is holding steady. At this point, anything better than a ~4.50 ERA/FIP is an unreasonable expectation for Ayala. This move is highly unlikely to matter come autumn.

A's release RHP Chad Gaudin; Dodgers release RHP Josh Towers

The A's opted to release Gaudin after designating him for assignment earlier this month, which isn't surprising given his 8.83 ERA. But in his 17 innings, he did strike out 20 while only walking 5. The big problems for Gaudin were a low groundball rate (38%) and a very high HR/FB (22%), which led to opponents knocking five home runs off of him. But his Pitch F/X data indicates that his stuff hasn't changed much from last season, when he posted a 4.36 xFIP as a starter, and he showed little trouble missing bats so far in 2010. I wouldn't be surprised if Gaudin latched on somewhere, presumably in a bullpen role though. He's got sub-4 xFIP's against right-handed hitters in each of the past four seasons, so he could probably be pretty helpful for someone if they can minimize the number of lefties he faces.

Towers, on the other hand, appears to be pretty much done. He took advantage of an opt-out in the minor league deal he signed with LA over the offseason, but given his performance over the year a return to prominence and effectiveness seems unlikely. His velocity is down from where it was when he posted a 4.2 fWAR for Toronto in 2005, and while he's shown flashes in Triple-A, it's unlikely that he'll miss enough bats to once again be effective in the majors. It's not easy when you're a right-handed fly ball pitcher that struggles to miss bats, you know?

Nationals release OF Willy Taveras

I'm surprised that Taveras lasted as long as he did, even though it's already the second time that he's been released since February. Taveras is the kind of player who absolutely positively needs to have a high BABIP in order to succeed offensively, but over the past three seasons he's had respective BABIPs of .296, .277 and .241. He's still an asset defensively and on the basepaths, but he's not even remotely close to being good enough to hit in the majors right now. It's just really tough to get by with a roughly 5% walk rate and an ISO in the .040-.060 range, even if you make tons of contact and are fast as hell.

Blanks, Posada, Maine, Penny, Olsen, Rollins, Bailey to 15-Day DL

A few pretty notable guys are sitting out the next couple weeks due to aches and pains. Blanks' struggles make his trip to the DL unsurprising. It's too bad that Aaron Cunningham is struggling in Triple-A so much, this would seem to be a good time to see what he can do. For now, most of the OF playing time is going to Will Venable, Tony Gwynn Jr., Chris Denorfia, Oscar Salazar and Jerry Hairston.

The Yankees are surely going to miss Posada's bat, especially with Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson hurting as well, but you have to be impressed with what Francisco Cervelli has done so far this season. He obviously is going to decline a good deal from here, but if he can come close to being average with the bat, he could be a huge asset for New York going forward.

As for Rollins, we don't really need to delve into why the Phillies are worse with Juan Castro and Wilson Valdez at shortstop instead of Rollins. Luckily, that team in Philly is pretty good, if you know what I mean.

Maine looked hurt out there, so it's not surprising that he's off to the DL, but the trips of Penny, Olsen and Bailey are far more unfortunate. Penny and Olsen were pitching about as well as they have in years, while Bailey had finally strung together a few effective starts before leaving his start on Sunday in the third inning with shoulder inflammation.