Padres acquire Todd Walker to play third
Todd Walker is about to find out how good of a third baseman he is.
And the San Diego Padres got through the non-waiver trade deadline Monday without parting with any relievers -- specifically setup man Scott Linebrink -- which general manager Kevin Towers thinks could help the Padres repeat as NL West champions.
The Padres acquired Walker from the Chicago Cubs to help out at third, which has been a weak link offensively. The Padres also got $350,000 in the deal and sent minor league right-hander Jose Ceda to the Cubs.
Walker won a three-way battle in spring training for the Cubs' second base job, but played first while Derrek Lee was out for two months with a broken right wrist.
Asked at Wrigley Field how his third base is, Walker said: "We'll see. You know, if I can't do it, it's not going to be from a lack of effort. I'm going to go over there and give them everything I've got. They deserve at least that."
The 33-year-old Walker hasn't played third base since 1996-97 with Minnesota, but the Padres got him for his bat more than his defense. He has seven errors this year.
The Padres have been looking for a third baseman since the All-Star break, a search that became more critical when they released slumping Vinny Castilla on July 19. Mark Bellhorn and Geoff Blum didn't provide the needed offensive spark the last two weeks.
The Padres envision a platoon with Walker, who bats left-handed, and Bellhorn, a switch-hitter. Blum likely will return to a utility role.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Walker can also spell rookie Josh Barfield at second base and come off the bench.
In yet another move to combat their injuries, the Yankees acquired infielder-outfielder Craig Wilson from the Pirates for former All-Star pitcher Shawn Chacon.
Wilson was hitting .267 with 13 home runs and 41 RBI, making 40 starts at first base and 23 in right field for the Pirates.
New York, which acquired right fielder Bobby Abreu and starting pitcher Cory Lidle from Philadelphia on Sunday, has been trying to overcome injuries to right fielder Gary Sheffield and left fielder Hideki Matsui.
"I think we're better equipped to run the rat race here in the final two months, but the competition is so fierce," general manager Brian Cashman said.
A big hitter in 2004, the 29-year-old Wilson missed most of the 2005 season because of an injured hand. He also has provided power off the bench, hitting a team-record 12 pinch-hit home runs in his career.
His arrival could cause manager Joe Torre to reduce Andy Phillips' playing time.
"He just provides Joe some flexibility, and there's a lot of value there," said Cashman, who isn't expecting Sheffield or Matsui back from wrist surgery until September.
Chacon was a pleasant surprise for the Yankees last year after they got him in a July 28 deal with Colorado. After going 1-7 despite a 4.09 ERA for the Rockies, he went 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA down the stretch and helped pitch the Yankees into the postseason.
But the 28-year-old righty lost his spot in the rotation this season and pitched sporadically, going 5-3 with a 7.00 ERA in 17 games, 11 of them starts. Even when the Yankees recently needed a starter, they signed struggling Sidney Ponson rather than put Chacon back into the rotation.
The Detroit Tigers acquired first baseman Sean Casey from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday for minor-league pitcher Brian Rogers.
Reds bolstering bullpen
Cormier gives the Reds another lefty to team with two other recent acquisitions, Eddie Guardado and Bill Bray, in relief.
To read more analysis from Baseball America's Jim Callis, click here.
Casey, a career .304 hitter, is expected to provide much-needed offense from the left side as the Tigers try for their first postseason appearance since 1987 and their first winning record since 1993.
"We like Sean Casey a great deal," Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said. "He's a solid major-league hitter and he's solid at first base. He makes us a little better right now."
To make room for Casey on the roster and in the lineup, Detroit optioned first baseman Chris Shelton to Triple-A Toledo. Shelton is hitting .277 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI.
Shelton had a spectacular April, hitting .326 with 10 homers and a franchise-record 19 extra-base hits, but is hitting .260 since then with six homers -- and he is striking out more than once every four at-bats.
"We like Chris, but he's been scuffling," Dombrowski said. "We thought it would benefit him to go back to Triple-A, and when we talked to him today, he didn't disagree. He'll be back with us sometime this year."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland called Shelton the Tigers' "first baseman of the future."
"It's just one of those situations where Chris Shelton needs to go down and play," Leyland said. "I think he'll be our first baseman next year, and maybe more this year again."
While Casey does not have Shelton's power -- the 32-year-old has just three home runs and 18 extra-base hits this season -- he will immediately become one of the most patient hitters in Detroit's batting order. His .377 on-base percentage this season ranks second among the Tigers behind Carlos Guillen's .384.
Casey also gives the Tigers a defensive upgrade over Shelton, a converted catcher. Shelton made a key error in Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Twins, while Casey is a career .995 fielder and has not had an error this year.
The Texas Rangers wanted to add a pitcher before the trade deadline, and had been watching Kip Wells.
Confident that the right-hander is finally healthy, the Rangers acquired Wells from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the final hour before the deadline for a minor leaguer.
Wells is 1-5 with a 6.69 ERA in seven starts since being activiated from the disabled list June 18. But he has allowed only four earned runs over 19 2/3 innings for a 1.83 ERA in his last three starts, with seven shutout innings Saturday at San Francisco for his first victory since October.
"We feel like he's fully back and healthy," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "The last couple of starts, his velocity was back, he had a good breaking ball, the slider was good, the changeup was there. He was throwing strikes and getting groundballs."
Wells, who last season led all major leaguers with 18 losses, missed most of spring training and began this season on the DL after surgery for blocked artery near his right shoulder.
The Rangers finally added a starting pitcher three days after getting two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Lee from Milwaukee in a six-player deal. Texas sent right-hander Jesse Chavez to the Pittsburgh.
The Rangers also acquired first baseman-outfielder Matt Stairs from the Kansas City Royals on Monday for minor league right-hander Joselo Diaz. Stairs is a veteran left-hander who will primarily be a designated hitter and pinch hitter.
The Cincinnati Reds bolstered their bullpen and possibly their starting rotation with two trades before the trade deadline, acquiring right-hander Kyle Lohse from Minnesota and left-hander Rheal Cormier from Philadelphia.
Lohse, a starter for most of his career, will join Cormier in the bullpen for now. Cincinnati sent 23-year-old right-hander Justin Germano to the Phillies and 22-year-old right-hander Zach Ward to the Twins.
"I would have loved to have this bullpen at the start of the season," manager Jerry Narron said.
After being bumped from the Twins' rotation and being demoted to Triple-A Rochester in May, the 27-year-old Lohse has been used mainly in long relief since his return in June.
"I wouldn't say I was dying for a change in scenery," he said. "I just wanted an opportunity to get back in the starting rotation, but that just wasn't going to happen here."
Cincinnati has one more roster move to make and will do that Tuesday, before the start of a 10-game homestand with Los Angeles, Atlanta and St. Louis.
The Colorado Rockies failed to find the impact bat and speedy outfielder they were looking for but did acquire the bullpen help they feel can bolster their chances of making a playoff run in the NL West.
The Rockies acquired pitchers Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista from Kansas City for right-handed reliever Scott Dohmann and slugging minor league first baseman Ryan Shealy, who was stuck behind Todd Helton in Colorado.
"He deserves a chance to play. He'll get it there," Helton said after Shealy picked up his bags at Coors Field and caught a flight to Kansas City. "I like what we got. Jeremy Affeldt has good stuff. He has major league stuff."
Affeldt gives the Rockies a seventh arm in the bullpen. Bautista was sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Shealy hit .284 with 15 home runs, 16 doubles and 55 RBI in 222 at-bats with the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. He went 2-for-9 with two doubles in five games with the Rockies.
The Braves dealt Jorge Sosa to the Cardinals for a minor-leaguer, one day after the disappointing pitcher was designated for assignment.
Sosa was a huge surprise in 2005, going 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA after being acquired from Tampa Bay for a backup infielder during spring training. But the 28-year-old right-hander was horrible this season, going 3-10 with a 5.46 ERA in 36 games. He lost his spot in the rotation after 13 starts, and a brief attempt to turn him into a closer failed miserably. He spent his final weeks with the Braves in a mop-up role.
"He obviously hasn't done for us what he did last year," Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz said Sunday after Sosa was removed from the roster. "He did a great job for us last year and it hasn't worked as well this year."
The Braves acquired right-handed reliever Rich Scalamandre from the Cardinals. He was 7-0 with two saves and a 4.44 ERA while splitting time between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis this season. The 25-year-old pitcher was assigned to Atlanta's Triple-A team at Richmond.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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