Seeking second base help, A's land Ginter

Updated: December 15, 2004, 10:23 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Milwaukee Brewers traded infielder Keith Ginter to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday for right-hander Justin Lehr and minor league outfielder Nelson Cruz.

Keith Ginter
Third Base
Milwaukee Brewers
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R SB AVG
113 19 60 47 8 .262

The A's, who missed the playoffs for the first time in five years, had been looking for a second baseman because general manager Billy Beane isn't sure how Mark Ellis will perform after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury.

"We feel fortunate we could get a guy like Ginter," said Beane, who began working on the deal about three weeks ago. "It's a position of need for us, and we think Keith will be an upgrade for us. I said a couple weeks ago we've got to be prepared that Mark isn't ready to go. He's convinced he's going to be ready to go, but I'm not sure that's a great strategy for us going forward."

Ginter batted .262 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI in 113 games for Milwaukee last season. He posted career highs in batting, at-bats (386), hits (101), doubles (23), home runs, RBI and slugging (.479).

The 28-year-old Ginter appeared in 54 games at second base for the Brewers, 47 at third base and two in right field. Beane even inquired about Ginter last season after Ellis went down during spring training in a collision with shortstop Bobby Crosby.

But Mark McLemore and Marco Scutaro wound up sharing the duties at second base.

Ginter is thrilled to be joining a winning franchise that's always in the hunt for the AL West title each year. He expects to compete with Ellis during spring training for the starting job. The two share the same agent and Ginter considers them friends. He and Ellis have hung out and gone to dinner.

"Now, being a part of the A's, I think it's a great opportunity for me," he said. "It's a winning organization and they win every year. I'm excited to get a fresh start in Oakland."

While Beane considers Ellis the stronger defensive player, the GM believes Ginter will provide more offense that the A's lacked last season.

"Obviously, this is a tough time for Mark," Ginter said. "As far as I see it, when we come to spring training, we're going to battle for a job and the best man wins. I think Mark's fine with that, and I'm fine with that."

Ellis anticipated the move since he'd spoken to Beane last week about the possibility of the A's adding an infielder. He, too, considers Ginter a friend.

"I'm not surprised at all," Ellis said in a phone interview from his home in Arizona. "I expected to go to spring training and compete for the job. We're both grown men and very mature. Being friends and knowing each other is going to help. It will be a nice competition, and either way the team's in good shape. I think it's going to be fine."

Lehr made his major league debut in 2004 and went 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA in 27 relief appearances with the A's over three separate stints. He was slated to be behind a few pitchers the A's already have and others they acquired.

Cruz batted a combined .326 with 26 home runs and 100 RBI in 137 games for Class A Modesto, Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento last season.

Cruz was a late addition into the deal, which Beane said "wasn't a significant payroll hit for us at all."

"There were a few people on Ginter and we felt we needed to step up," he said. "I was starting to run out of options if we didn't get Keith."

Beane has had preliminary talks with representatives of designated hitter Erubiel Durazo and closer Octavio Dotel, and he expects talks to progress in the next couple of weeks.

Beane wouldn't specifically discuss trade rumors regarding ace Tim Hudson, but said he still does have things "percolating" following last weekend's winter meetings in Anaheim.

"You always hope someone will make you an offer you can't refuse, as they should if we're considering moving one of the primary pieces of our team," Beane said.

According to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, the Braves have been balking at dealing Marcus Giles, but the A's still have plenty of takers for Hudson. One scenario centered around the Dodgers landing Hudson and giving up pitching prospect Edwin Jackson.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.