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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bulls on the Move: Brignac to Tampa, Hughes to... Baltimore?

Posted by on Sat, Aug 15, 2009 at 5:33 PM

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The callup of Reid Brignac to Tampa was expected. Rays' designated hitter Pat Burrell hurt his neck again, which means more time at DH for Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist, both of whom play a lot of middle infield. Chances are good that Brignac won't be back this year, as he was likely to be promoted anyway when rosters expand on September 1. And as I wrote yesterday, the Bulls were about to have too many infielders with the arrival of Joe Dillon, who was outrighted to Durham and should be in uniform (and perhaps on the field) tonight.

Much more surprising was the trade of Rhyne Hughes (pictured) to the Baltimore Orioles. The move completed the deal that brought Greg Zaun to Tampa for a Player-to-Be-Named-Later (or at least that's what I assume). Hughes was assigned to the Norfolk Tides, a division rival whom the Bulls play six more times before the season ends. Hughes will probably DH and share time at first base with Wade Davis's least favorite player, Michael Aubrey.

Who really knows how these deals are consummated? It was easy enough to assume that the Orioles would wind up with a catcher in return for Zaun, less because Zaun is a catcher than because the Tampa Bay Rays have 149 catchers on their 40-man roster and need to move at least one of them. So much for that.

What does this mean for the Bulls? Well, for one thing, one of their best hitters is gone. Hughes was leading the team in batting average, slugging and OPS. His doubles rate was actually higher than that of teammate Jon Weber, who leads the league. Hughes played in 56 games for Durham and hit safely in 37 of them, including a recent team-high 13-game hitting streak. His big problem was plate discipline. He'd walked only 12 times in 230 plate appearances, with 69 strikeouts. Still, his big power bat will be missed.

Expect to see a fair amount of Joe Dillon at first base, where he'll probably be Chris Richard's main backup. Expect also to see more of Elliot Johnson at shortstop with Brignac gone. Ray Olmedo will see a good deal of time there, too. And as for Charles in Charge (I mean Bulls' manager Charlie Montoyo, of course), the deletions of Brignac and Hughes actually make his life a bit easier. The "too many pieces" he was wondering what to do with last night just got resolved---for now, of course. His job will get harder again soon enough. The one thing you can count in Triple A, as in life, is change.

Bulls vs. Yankees in about 90 minutes. Finish your chores and get to the DBAP, stat!

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