Pirates, Red Sox swap relief pitchers

Updated: July 23, 2003, 12:39 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox made the third key addition in two months to their once-struggling bullpen, acquiring left-hander Scott Sauerbeck from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.

Brandon Lyon
Lyon

Scott Sauerbeck
Sauerbeck

In the four-player trade, the Red Sox gave up right-handed reliever Brandon Lyon and Double-A right-hander Anastacio Martinez and obtained Triple-A lefty Mike Gonzalez.

"We've wanted another really good left-hander in the pen for some time,'' Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "This was the top left-hander available, one of the top left-handers in the game in the bullpen. Sauerbeck is just about everything we're looking for in a left-handed reliever.''

The trade showed the differing approaches of the teams. The Red Sox lead the AL wild-card race and are hoping to win the World Series, while the Pirates are headed for their 11th straight losing season.

The Pirates made another deal on Tuesday, sending outfielder Kenny Lofton, third baseman Aramis Ramirez and cash to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Jose Hernandez, right-hander Matt Bruback and a player to be named.

Sauerbeck, scheduled to join the Red Sox on Wednesday, could help against lefties in the three-game series with the New York Yankees starting Friday night at Fenway Park. The Yankees lead the second-place Red Sox in the AL East standings.


Lincoln
Lincoln

Well, if you thought Mike Lincoln was the Buccos closer, we may have some bad news for you. Lincoln did save games Sunday and Monday, and appeared to be The Man. His season ERA is 1.59, and there's not much competition in Pittsburgh. But now with Lyon coming aboard, this could change everything. See who gets that first save. If it's Lyon, who did close for Boston this season, he'll probably keep the job. Otherwise, pounce on Lincoln. He was added in 90 percent of ESPN leagues the first two days after his Sunday save.
--Eric Karabell

"It hasn't sunk in yet. I have a lot of friends (in Pittsburgh) and this is the organization that gave me a chance,'' Sauerbeck said. "Part of me is excited because this is a park I've wanted to see since I was a little kid and I'm moving up in the standings. I'm excited. I looked at the schedule and they're playing the Yankees this weekend.''

The Red Sox began stabilizing their bullpen on May 29 when they acquired closer Byung-Hyun Kim from Arizona for third baseman Shea Hillenbrand. On July 2, they claimed former All-Star Todd Jones off waivers from Colorado. They also recently got back lefty Casey Fossum and righty Chad Fox from the disabled list.

That's helped the team lower its ERA from 5.23 on June 14 to 4.52 entering Tuesday night's game against Detroit.

Sauerbeck "makes a good bullpen that much better,'' said Epstein, who didn't rule out another trade if it would move the Red Sox toward their goal "to win a World Series.''

Lyon was a pleasant surprise after he was claimed off waivers from Toronto in October. He made the team in spring training and was its most effective closer in the early goings.

"He really helped get us through some tough times the first half of the season,'' Epstein said. "He's tough to give up.''

In 42 games, the 23-year-old Lyon had a 3.93 ERA with nine saves and a 4-5 record. He had been a starter until this season. Last year he was 1-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 15 games _ 10 of them starts _ with the Blue Jays.

"Hopefully it'll work out for'' the Red Sox, Lyon said. "It's a little tough'' to go to a non-contender.

The deals Monday continued the Pirates' youth movement. On Sunday they traded their only All-Star, closer Mike Williams, to Philadelphia for pitching prospect Frank Brooks. More trades are expected.

Lyon is younger and cheaper than Sauerbeck, Pittsburgh general manager Dave Littlefield said. "He's a younger guy who will be part of our future. He can throw 92 to 96 (mph) with a two-seamer that sinks.

"He's a hard thrower who's been a starter and a reliever,'' Littlefield said.

Sauerbeck, 31, is excellent against left-handed hitters, although he's been erratic this season. He is 3-4 with a 4.05 ERA and 0-for-4 in saves. He's allowed 11 of 31 inherited runners to score and given up five homers in 40 innings.

"I kind of wish I had pitched better early in the year. We would be closer in the standings and some of this wouldn't have happened,'' he said.

But he's held lefties to a .205 batting average over the last five seasons with Pittsburgh. In that span, he is 19-15 with a 3.46 ERA in 341 relief appearances. And he has 319 strikeouts in 308.2 innings.

"It just gives us another (lefty) option along with Alan Embree'' in the bullpen, Boston manager Grady Little said.

Gonzalez, 25, started the season at Double-A Altoona and has pitched 6 1-3 innings for Triple-A Nashville, with a save. He missed the first 2{ months of the season with back spasms.

Martinez was 3-1 with 14 saves and a 2.25 ERA in 34 relief appearances for the Red Sox Double-A team in Portland, Maine.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press