Day after 'pen leaked, Reds deal for Guardado

Updated: July 7, 2006, 9:23 AM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Trying to bolster their struggling bullpen, the Cincinnati Reds will turn to former All-Star closer Eddie Guardado.

Keith Law's blog
Keith Law
Wayne Krivsky has the right idea in trying to upgrade his pitching staff, particularly the Reds' disastrous bullpen, which didn't have a reliable left-hander and which could use an upgrade in the closer role over Todd Coffey. But Eddie Guardado is not the solution.

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The Reds obtained Guardado and cash from the Seattle Mariners for minor-league pitcher Travis Chick on Thursday. The trade came hours after the latest in this season's series of bullpen meltdowns -- blown leads in the 10th and 13th innings of a 6-5 loss at Milwaukee.

"He lives for the ninth inning. He loves the pressure of being in that situation, and we're going to give him that opportunity," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said.

Krivsky was a former assistant general manager at Minnesota, where Guardado was an All-Star for two years. Guardado led the AL with 45 saves in 2002 and was second with 41 in 2003.

Guardado lost his closer's role at Seattle this season, but Krivsky said he'll get the chance to claim the job in Cincinnati.

The 35-year-old lefty is expected to join the Reds in Atlanta on Friday. Cincinnati began the day two games behind St. Louis in the NL Central, after losing five straight games.

Guardado had 36 saves with a 2.72 ERA in 58 games for the Mariners last season.

The Mariners exercised their 2006 option for Guardado for $6.25 million. It wasn't immediately known how much cash the Mariners are giving the Reds in the deal.

This year, the normally reliable reliever known as "Everyday Eddie" struggled and was demoted in May after blowing three save chances. Guardado was 1-3 with five saves and a 5.48 ERA and was serving as a setup man for J.J. Putz.

Olney blog
This is Wayne Krivsky being aggressive, taking a shot, giving Cincinnati a chance. Krivsky hopes the adrenaline of moving back into the closer's role will help Eddie Guardado, who lost that job in Seattle this year, despite having a solid season in 2005.

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"Eddie had some struggles early on this season that allowed some of our young guys to run the back of the game and they got that job and haven't let go," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said.

Guardado had a 3.77 ERA in 19 games since losing his closer role.

"Lately, he's been doing a lot of what he does. He is back to the Eddie of old," Bavasi said.

"This guy battled. Hard," said Bavasi, noting that Guardado pitched through knee and shoulder troubles during his Seattle tenure.

The Reds have been shuffling their bullpen, last week designating veteran Chris Hammond for assignment and recalling Brian Shackelford from Triple-A Louisville.

The Reds have tried veteran David Weathers and then Todd Coffey as closers. Coffey blew a ninth-inning lead Monday in Milwaukee for an 8-7 loss and gave up a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 10th Wednesday before Jason Standridge, who joined the team last month from Louisville, allowed two runs in the 13th for the loss.

"I wanted to do something that made sense, and this deal makes sense to us," Krivsky said. He expects Guardado to bring "veteran influence that will settle down" the bullpen, "and we can start closing out these games."

The 22-year-old Chick was 4-5 with a 4.61 ERA for Double-A Chattanooga. The Reds acquired the righty from the San Diego organization last July in a deal for third baseman Joe Randa.

In other moves Thursday, the Reds activated third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and obtained outfielder Dewayne Wise from Louisville.

To make room, the Reds designated outfielder Quinton McCracken for assignment and shipped pitcher Elizardo Ramirez to Class A Dayton so he can start on his regular turn Monday during the All-Star break.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press