Brewers send three minor leaguers to Padres for Linebrink
CINCINNATI (AP) -- In turnabout in trade philosophy, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired reliever Scott Linebrink from the San Diego Padres for three minor league pitchers on Wednesday, hoping to bolster their unexpected run at the playoffs.
Linebrink will be a setup man for closer Francisco Cordero, who has converted 32 of 35 save chances.
"I wasn't surprised. I knew I was getting close to the deadline and hadn't heard anything," Linebrink said. "It's usually when you don't hear anything that happens. Last year my name was thrown out plenty and nothing happened. When it goes quiet there is usually something in the works."
The Padres acquired right-hander Will Inman, a third-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft; left-hander Steve Garrison, a 10th-round pick in the same draft; and 25-year-old left-hander Joe Thatcher.
The bullpen is one of the Brewers' main concerns, in part because of injuries. Reliever Yovani Gallardo had to move into the starting rotation after Ben Sheets hurt a finger on his pitching hand earlier this month.
The Brewers have been in first place in the NL Central since a 25-11 start. Their 8½-game lead had dwindled to only three in the past week, a slide set up by the team's struggling offense.
The deal was a notable change for the Brewers, who are more accustomed to thinking about who they might trade away in July. Milwaukee hasn't had a winning record since 1992.
"It's a change for us competing for the postseason," general manager Doug Melvin said. "You get to that point and you have to adjust your philosophy and your thinking."
It might wind up as the Brewers' biggest deal before the trading deadline.
"I'm not sure there's anything else we'd do," Melvin said. "This was one of our No. 1 goals. We have versatile players on the bench. We'd like our players on the offensive side to produce the way they did in the first half, when we got ourselves where we are. If they do that, we'll be fine."
The Brewers have allowed the Chicago Cubs to get back into the race by going 13-13 since June 23, when enjoyed that 8½-game lead. The offense has struggled since the All-Star break, the main reason for the downturn.
Linebrink has been a dependable setup man for the Padres, going 3-3 with a 3.80 earned run average in 44 games this season. Last year, he led the Padres' bullpen with seven wins and 68 strikeouts. He also led the NL with 36 holds.
He's expected to join the team for a weekend series in St. Louis.
Former closer Derrick Turnbow, who is now a setup man, leads the Brewers staff with 49 appearances. Milwaukee's bullpen leads the NL in saves and is sixth in earned run average, steadying the team while the offense tries to get back on track.
"Our goal was to add depth to our bullpen," Melvin said. "We like our bullpen now, but over the course of the year -- the dog days of summer -- the bullpen tends to wear down. And we've been using our bullpen a lot."
Thatcher was 1-0 with a 0.55 ERA in 14 relief appearances at Double-A Huntsville, and 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 24 appearances for Triple-A Nashville. Garrison was 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 20 starts at Class A. Inman, 20, was 1-5 with a 5.45 ERA in eight starts for Huntsville.
Padres manager Bud Black said Thatcher will join the team in Houston on Thursday.
"Thatcher is the one guy we hope will help us," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "It's an acquisition similar to the one we made last year when we got Cla Meredith. He hasn't had a chance yet, but has a tremendous strikeout-to-walk ratio and gets left-handers and right-handers out.
"We had two or three clubs that came at us hard for Linebrink. Unless it was an overwhelming deal we couldn't turn our head on, we would certainly consider it."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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