signing, American League
Kenny Rogers, LHP, Tigers
First in the league in wins (10) and 11th in ERA (3.44) at week's end, the
41-year-old has prospered in Detroit, where he had a 1.76 ERA in six home
starts and was an important veteran presence in a young rotation.
signing, National League
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B, Dodgers
He had a league-leading .362 batting average and the third-best OPS (on-base
plus slugging percentage), but what was most impressive about the former
All-Star shortstop's first season in Chavez Ravine was his seamless move to
first base, where he had committed only one error.
Esteban Loaiza, RHP, A's
Shallow-pocketed Oakland can't afford missteps like its three-year, $21 million
investment in this 34-year-old journeyman, who arrived in the Bay Area with a
4.60 career ERA and a slacker reputation. Loaiza (above) was 3-4 with a 6.34
ERA plus one arrest for speeding and suspicion of DUI.
Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers
L.A. spent a hefty sum ($39 million over three years) for a poor-fielding (16
errors, second highest among all major leaguers) leadoff hitter who strikes out
too often (a team-high 48 times) and doesn't get on base enough (.334 OBP).
Jim Leyland, Tigers
After a seven-year hiatus he returned to take over a team that had lost more
than 90 games five years in a row. In no time Leyland cleaned up a toxic
clubhouse, provided stern leadership and rejuvenated the franchise.
Joe Girardi, Marlins
The youngest (and cheapest) team in baseball has flourished under the
no-nonsense style of its 41-year-old rookie manager (right). Expected by most
to flop to the tune of 100-plus losses, the post-fire-sale Marlins owned the
majors' best record since May 22 (20-9) and, remarkably, were only 2 1/2 games
out of second place in the East.
Reds New general manager Wayne Krivsky quickly made his mark with two moves
that have been central to his club's strong start: He traded outfielder Wily Mo
Pe�a to Boston for righthander Bronson Arroyo (9-4, 2.58) in March, then dealt
a lightly regarded prospect to Cleveland for second baseman Brandon Phillips
(.314, seven homers, 43 RBIs) in April. Both players should be in Pittsburgh
for the All-Star Game on July 11.
After making questionable moves in the off-season, including signing third
baseman Tony Batista (.236 average, .303 OBP before he was designated for
assignment on June 14) and outfielder-DH Rondell White (.182, no homers in 181
at bats), Minnesota then took too long to move lefthander Francisco Liriano
(below) into the rotation (6-1, 1.64 ERA since becoming a starter on May 19),
promote top shortstop prospect Jason Bartlett (.368 average since his June 13
call-up) and make outfielder Jason Kubel (.515 slugging percentage) an
every-day player--even though it was clear in spring training that all were
ready to play major roles. After a 25-33 start, the Twins had gone 14-2.
On May 28, which was designated Jewish Heritage Day at Dolphins Stadium,
Florida gave away Mike Jacobs T-shirts. Jacobs, however, isn't Jewish.
"They said it wasn't done intentionally, but I don't know about that,"
said the first baseman. "It's a big joke around the clubhouse."