Reds continue to unload players

Updated: July 31, 2003, 6:40 PM ET news services

CINCINNATI -- The Oakland Athletics bulked up their outfield by getting Jose Guillen from the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday for right-hander Aaron Harang and two minor league pitchers.

Wed., July 30
The story about the Jose Guillen trade says this has been "a breakout season" for Guillen, which is a little bit like saying Bull Durham is Kevin Costner's best movie. Entering this season, Guillen had played 614 games in the major leagues, and his OBP was barely above .300 while his slugging percentage was barely short of .400. When you're a 26-year-old right fielder in the 21st century, those numbers aren't nearly good enough.

And yet, here he is in late July with a .385 OBP and a .629 slugging percentage. Is Jose Guillen for real? The A's must think that the new Guillen is the real Guillen, which is interesting because they're also hoping that the new Miguel Tejada and the new Scott Hatteberg aren't the real things.

Guillen was the Reds' top hitter, filling in during Ken Griffey Jr.'s two serious injuries. He was hitting .337 -- third in the National League -- with 23 homers and 63 RBI in 91 games.

Manager Ken Macha explained why the A's made the move Wednesday on GameNight on ESPNRadio.

Macha said, "We lost Jermaine Dye earlier this year and we've been kinda mixing and matching in the outfield to get the right combination, and we felt we needed to bolster the lineup, preferably with an outfielder.

"We're looking at putting him in rightfield and move Terrence (Long) over to left, and probably have a combination in center with Eric Byrnes getting the most time there."

The A's felt they needed a more productive outfield to pull off another one of their second-half surges and overtake Seattle in the AL West. Oakland is second-to-last in the league in batting average.

Eric Byrnes was the only consistent outfielder in the first half, but he started to tail off after the All-Star break. Chris Singleton, signed to a one-year contract in the offseason, lost his job and has been on the bench.

"We needed a big bat,'' manager Billy Beane said. "I think you'd be hard-pressed to find another guy that's better than him right now.''

The 27-year-old Guillen is going to his fifth team in seven years. He finally started living up to expectations in Cincinnati, but bristled at his backup role when Griffey was healthy enough to play.

"I appreciate the Reds giving me a new life, so I could show people I can still play every day,'' Guillen said. "I would just love to stay here. I haven't felt so comfortable in a long time.''

He was comfortable, but not always happy. When Griffey returned from a dislocated shoulder in May, Guillen demanded a trade rather than returning to a backup role. Guillen also threw three bats against a clubhouse wall in June after learning he wasn't in the starting lineup that day.

Guillen couldn't move ahead of Griffey, Adam Dunn or Austin Kearns. He was interested in staying in Cincinnati next season, but not as a backup. The Reds decided to trade him rather than letting him leave as a free agent and getting nothing in return.

One might think this is bad news for Guillen fantasy owners, but it's not. Guillen actually had better numbers away from Cincy's hitter's park than he did at home. In Oakland he'll fit right in behind Miguel Tejada and possibly Erubiel Durazo, and his production should take no hit. This guy is on pace for 35 homers and 96 RBI. As for replacing Guillen in an NL league, it won't be easy; he is currently the No. 15 ranked outfielder in fantasy, and that's after seeing little time in April. Something that should not be forgotten: Harang had terrific minor league numbers and could be a valuable starting pitcher for the Reds.
Here's all the fantasy spins in one place.
--Eric Karabell

The A's also sent the Reds right-handers Joe Valentine and Jeff Bruksch.

"Several clubs were interested in him,'' scouting director Leland Maddox said. "It was a matter of getting the best package we could put together of guys who are ready for the major leagues. The theme is pitching, pitching, pitching.''

It was the Reds' second trade in two days since they fired general manager Jim Bowden and manager Bob Boone. The Reds sent closer Scott Williamson to Boston late Tuesday night for prospects.

The trade of Williamson stunned the clubhouse. Guillen's trade was no surprise -- he had packed up belongings in the clubhouse this week, hoping to leave.

As the rest of the players put on their game uniforms for the annual team photo on Wednesday, Guillen stayed in T-shirt and shorts.

"What do you think?'' he said. "It makes no sense to go outside and take a picture.''

He eventually suited up and was the last one to join the team photo. Afterward, he sat in front of the dugout and did a television interview while the rest of the team did the mandatory pregame stretch. Several teammates called for him to join them, but he ignored them.

Five minutes into the interview, a teammate hit him in the face with a paper plate slathered with shaving cream. Guillen wiped it away and kept on doing the interview while his teammates worked out.

An hour after he had his picture taken as part of the 2003 Reds, he got word that he was traded.

The Reds activated outfielder Wily Mo Pena off the 15-day disabled list to take Guillen's spot. Pena went only 3-for-35 (.068) with 15 strikeouts and started only two games before the injury.

Pena, 21, was on the roster solely because Bowden didn't want to risk losing him if they put him on waivers to send him to the minors.

Harang opened the season at Triple-A Sacramento, went 7-2 with a 2.38 ERA, then was called up. He was 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA in seven games before he was sent back to the minors. He was assigned to Triple-A Louisville.

Valentine was 1-3 with a 4.82 ERA and four saves for Sacramento, and might have been in line to be a closer with the A's someday. Bruksch was 10-8 with a 5.13 ERA in 23 starts for Class-A Modesto.

"This year, we really have guys that are untouchable, and we weren't going to trade guys just to trade,'' Beane said. "This wasn't a painless trade, but it was pretty easy.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.