Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Yankees get infielder Betemit for reliever Proctor
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees traded workhorse reliever Scott Proctor to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Wilson Betemit on Tuesday in a deal that could add some punch to their limited bench.
Betemit hit .231 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs with Los Angeles, which acquired him from the Atlanta Braves in a deadline deal last season. He played mostly third base with the Dodgers but is unlikely to see much time there with Alex Rodriguez in the midst of an MVP-type season for New York.
But the 25-year-old switch-hitter can also play shortstop and second base, and the Yankees said they may take a look at him at first as well.
"We just think that Wilson provides us a little more flexibility because of his age and the ability to play couple different spots," general manager Brian Cashman said.
The Yankees were also in the running for Rangers reliever Eric Gagne before Texas decided to deal him to Al East-leading Boston. Cashman said the price was just too high for the right-hander.
"Texas was very honest with me," he said. "They just said basically if we don't do this Boston's going to get him. So, it's as simple as that."
New York had an opportunity to deal reliever Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta for Bob Wickman but would've been on the hook for nearly all the money Farnsworth is owed.
Betemit provides manager Joe Torre with the solid offensive option off the bench that he has talked longingly about at times this season. He is also batting .320 (8-for-25) as a pinch-hitter this season. He had pinch-hit homers in consecutive games at Atlanta in May.
"I view him as a guy that will give you offense if you decide that hey, I want to give Alex a day at DH or I want to give [Derek] Jeter a day at DH," Torre said. "This is something that offensively won't be a big drop-off because of his potential."
Proctor developed into one of Torre's favorite relievers last season, going 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA in an AL-high 83 games. It was the second-most appearances by a pitcher in club history.
"Scott has a record of durability and success in one of the major markets in the country," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "We see him as a solid addition to our bullpen down the stretch."
The right-hander is 2-5 with a 3.81 ERA and four blown saves in 52 games this year. He finished off a rough June by burning some of his equipment on the field at Yankee Stadium after a loss to Oakland and has a 2.84 ERA in July.
"I'm glad Joe put me in as many games he did," said Proctor, dismissing a question about overuse. "It showed he had confidence in me and I have nothing but respect for him. I want to go out and pitch every night if I can."
Proctor was drafted by the Dodgers in 1998 and traded to the Yankees in 2003 in the deal that landed Robin Ventura in Los Angeles.
He gives Dodgers manager Grady Little another option to give a lead to Takashi Saito, who has converted 26 of 29 save opportunities. Los Angeles led Arizona by .001 in win percentage for the NL West lead entering play Tuesday.
"That's exciting going there, but I hate leaving here," Proctor said. "It was a great organization and you hate that it's come to this but Betemit's a good player. Hopefully he can help the team here and on the flip side I hope that I can go there and fill a major role."
The Yankees pulled within seven of Boston in the AL East and three of Cleveland in the wild-card race with a 16-3 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday night. They haven't missed the playoffs since 1993, not counting the strike season of 1994.
They are planning to activate another reliever Wednesday -- Jeff Karstens and Edwar Ramirez are among the possibilities -- and hard-throwing minor-leaguer Joba Chamberlain just moved to the bullpen and could be with the big-league club soon. Phil Hughes will come off the disabled list to start Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.
"We have some young arms," Cashman said. "Some of them are transitioning from the rotation to the 'pen down there and others are ready to knock on the door and push their way up here at the same time. We just feel that some of these guys have earned the shot."