Cubs add third Pittsburgh regular to roster
PITTSBURGH -- First baseman Randall Simon was traded Saturday by Pittsburgh to the Chicago Cubs for a minor league outfielder -- the third regular the Pirates have dealt to the Cubs in less than a month.
In the latest deal, the Pirates get Ray Sadler, who is hitting .291 with 31 doubles, six homers and 42 RBI at Double-A West Tenn.
Simon is best known this season for hitting one of the Milwaukee Brewers' racing sausages with his bat last month, drawing fines from local authorities and Major League Baseball in addition to a three-game suspension.
With the Cubs struggling for production at first base, Simon figures to get considerable playing time down the stretch. The left handed-hitter is batting .274 with 10 homers and 51 RBI.
"He can play first base and he's got a quality bat off the bench,'' Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's almost a lifetime .300 hitter. He's got a good personality.''
Chicago trails first-place Houston by a half-game in the NL Central. The Cubs also have Eric Karros and Hee Seop Choi at first base, leaving manager Dusty Baker with plenty of options the rest of the season.
"He will play who's hot. He's got really good instincts with that,'' Hendry said.
Simon hit .301 with 19 homers and 82 RBI last season with Detroit, but wasn't re-signed because the Tigers -- like the Pirates now -- were looking to slash payroll.
Simon, who is making $1,475,000, is eligible for arbitration after this season. With the Pirates looking to trim their payroll by as much as $20 million in 2004, general manager Dave Littlefield said he didn't fit into their long-range plans.
"With where we're at now, we're looking at giving our at-bats at first base to other players,'' Littlefield said. "As we look to 2004, we didn't see Randall being part of our team. He'll be a second-year arbitration eligible player and he didn't really seem to fit what we're doing.''
The Pirates, who have had 10 straight losing seasons, plan to rebuild mostly with prospects and low-priced players. They've dealt the three everyday regulars, starting pitcher Jeff Suppan, closer Mike Williams and setup man Scott Sauerback over the last 3½ weeks.
The trades follow owner Kevin McClatchy's recent claim the team might lose as much as $30 million in its first three seasons in PNC Park.
Sadler, a .308 hitter in his first four pro seasons, has good speed but wasn't considered a top prospect coming out of high school. He was a 30th-round draft pick by the Cubs in 1999.
"He's an athletic guy who's performed pretty well,'' Littlefield said. "He's a fast outfielder who can play a good center field. Like a lot of young hitters, he has trouble with command of the strike zone, but we really like his athleticism.''
Pittsburgh fans certainly didn't seem to like the first Cubs-Pirates trade that sent Ramirez and Lofton to the Cubs for third baseman Jose Hernandez, minor league second baseman Bobby Hill and minor league pitcher Matt Bruback.
Hernandez is on pace to set a single-season strikeout record and almost certainly won't return to the Pirates next season. They already have taken Bruback off their 40-man roster and exposed him to waivers, meaning they probably will end up only with Hill for two of their most productive regulars.
Fans have flooded the team and newspapers with e-mails and phone calls criticizing the deal, with many saying McClatchy is worried only about not losing money.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- Sandoval to sign with Red Sox, sources say
- Report: Boston, Ramirez finalizing $90M deal
- Source: Rangers inquire about J. Upton trade
- Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz make HOF ballot