White Sox trade Carlos Lee to Milwaukee for Podsednik, Vizcaino
Lee, who batted .305 with 31 homers and 99 RBIss last season, gives the Brewers a right-handed slugger in the middle of the lineup to complement Geoff Jenkins and Lyle Overbay, both left-handed hitters.
"A profile like Carlos' was our biggest need and we felt we accomplished that -- but it didn't come cheaply," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said.
The speedy Podsednik is a proven leadoff man. Though he slumped at the plate this year, he led the major leagues with 70 stolen bases.
After finishing runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year in 2003, Podsednik hit .244 with 12 homers, 85 runs and 39 RBIss last season.
"His swing got a little long and little bigger. He kinda went away from his strengths," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said.
"We're looking for something in between last year and the year before. That's plenty good enough for us. One positive is his speed, his ability to create havoc on the bases. "
Vizcaino, a right-hander, went 4-4 with a 3.75 ERA and one save in 73 relief appearances.
Jenkins could shift to right field to make room in left for Lee, who did not commit an error last season.
"It makes us maybe even a little better defensively in the outfield," Melvin said. "I'm confident that Brady Clark can play center field for us and then Dave Krynzel at some point. Brady had an on-base percentage of something like .420 after the All-Star break, which was one of the highest in the National League."
Lee, 28, had at least 24 homers and 80 RBIss in each of the past five seasons -- and he can run, too. He had 31 homers and 113 RBIss in 2003, but he became expendable when Chicago signed right fielder Jermaine Dye last week.
Lee will make $8 million next year, and his contract contains an $8.5 million club option for 2006 with a $500,000 buyout.
"People will probably be shocked that we spent the money," Melvin said. "I don't know that we have a lot left to spend, but this does send the right message to our fans."
Podsednik is guaranteed $550,000 next season and $1.9 million in 2006. Vizcaino is eligible for salary arbitration and figures to make about $2 million next year.
Williams said the White Sox's formula wasn't working, so they had to make a change.
"What we were about the last few years, we got caught in sort of an all-or-nothing type zone. Our run production was misleading. We scored in bunches," Williams said.
"One day we'd look like world beaters and then for three days, we'd fall into a pattern where we couldn't score any runs. ... We wanted to find people who can create their own runs, create scoring opportunities," he added.
"We looked at it in this fashion: remaking the club like we said we would with speed a dimension; we're upgrading the defense and upgrading the bullpen and we have financial flexibility to add another player."
After finishing last in the NL Central, the Brewers were busy at the winter meetings, which concluded Monday. They traded All-Star closer Dan Kolb to Atlanta on Saturday for prized pitching prospect Jose Capellan and minor league right-hander Alex Zumwalt.
"It makes us a little thin on the back end of our bullpen," Melvin said. "Now we have to go out and find some relief pitching. We have to have the courage to find someone to close and just give him the ball."
Zumwalt was acquired Monday as the player to be named in that deal, then assigned to Triple-A. He was 3-7 with a 5.09 ERA in 46 relief appearances at Double-A Greenville last season.
The White Sox also placed right-hander Dan Wright on unconditional release waivers. Wright went 0-4 with an 8.15 ERA in four starts last season before being demoted to Triple-A Charlotte on May 1. He had reconstructive elbow surgery on June 1 and isn't expected to be ready to pitch again until next December.
Wright is 20-26 with a 5.65 ERA in 70 career games, all but six of them starts.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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