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2003-03-27 08:39
by Jon Weisman

In 2001, Giovanni Carrara and Matt Herges were mainstays of the Dodger bullpen. They combined for 184 innings, 15 wins and a B-plus ERA, if you will, of 3.33.

Wednesday, both players were released by two different teams - Carrara by the Dodgers, Herges by Pittsburgh.

Herges looks like the more perplexing case. Despite the fact that the struggling Pirates had traded two top prospects to Montreal for him only months ago, and despite his Spring Training ERA of 1.93, Pittsburgh chose to keep a third left-handed reliever in another ex-Dodger, Dennys Reyes, over Herges.

One of my loyal readers told me of reports that Reyes, who has a Spring Training ERA of 7.71, was throwing well. Still, I have trouble understanding the choice.

Carrara, meanwhile, was clearly the Dodgers most expendable reliever, assuming that Guillermo Mota doesnÕt get in any more High Noons. More than Carrara's exhibition ERA of 8.31 this year, you can look at the fact that last year, Carrara made a habit of allowing inherited runners to score. These didnÕt show up in his ERA, but they may well have shown up in Dan EvansÕ consciousness.

I will always wonder whether CarraraÕs 2002 season - and in turn, perhaps his career with the Dodgers - was ruined the night of May 7, when the Dodgers were forced into a 16-inning game with Atlanta and Tracy kept Carrara out to pitch a career-high five innings of relief. A useless Terry Mulholland was still left in the bullpen - illustrating the perils of a wasted roster spot.

In any case, had I known that CarraraÕs 2003 contract was not guaranteed until today, this would have been even easier to see coming. I really need to get on top of those details.

All in all, itÕs a good move by the Dodgers - keeping a comparable or better player at a position where they have less depth, be that player Tom Martin or Steve Colyer or Wilson Alavarez. This is not like keeping Quilvio Veras instead of Joe Thurston - this is like keeping Mike Kinkaide instead of Quilvio Veras.

Colyer, despite his youth, had a fine season in the minors last year, and you could see coming on as a candidate all spring. As I've said before, he's probably the best of the bunch.

Martin, on the other hand, I didnÕt take seriously at all. Not that I wasnÕt familiar with him - not only had he pitched well in his rookie year (1997), with a 2.09 ERA for Houston, but he was an excellent player to have in my Strat-o-Matic league that year. But since then, the guy has been injured so often, that I just didnÕt take him seriously. His career ERA has risen to 5.45.

The likely move is to keep Martin or Alvarez and send Colyer, who has options, down to Las Vegas. Again, it would help me to know MartinÕs contract situation. If his major-league deal is well above the minimum, then you have to weigh your investment in him against the likelihood he will earn some of that money on the disabled list, not to mention his poor performance in recent years.

Perhaps Carrara, if he resigns a minor-league contract, will return someday.

And Herges? Could he do much worse than Pittsburgh? ItÕs late in Spring Training, but he may end up happier in the long run.

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