|Wednesday, July 31
Updated: August 1, 12:27 PM ET
Ex-prospects Kapler, Hollandsworth change places
PITTSBURGH -- Todd Hollandsworth and Gabe Kapler, one-time top outfield prospects who haven't reached the stardom expected of them, switched teams Wednesday as the Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers made a four-player trade.
With both teams already out of their division races, the Rockies sent Hollandsworth -- whose $5.5 million, two-year contract is up after this season -- and left-hander Dennys Reyes to the Rangers for Kapler and infield-outfield prospect Jason Romano.
The trade, the second involving Colorado in a matter of minutes, left the Rockies with only 21 players for their Wednesday night game in Pittsburgh. They also dealt pitcher John Thomson and outfielder Mark Little to the New York Mets for outfielder Jay Payton, right-hander Mark Corey and minor league outfielder Robert Stratton.
''This gives us a lot of flexibility in the outfield,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. ''There are some players we might not have been able to sign anyway. We've got an intriguing mix now in the outfield.''
Payton may take some playing time away from Juan Pierre in center field, while Kapler gives the Rockies a much-needed right-handed bat. They are 12-19 against left-handed starters.
''He is kind of like me -- a player with unlimited potential that hasn't been fulfilled,'' said Hurdle, a one-time prospect himself with the Mets and Royals.
The 26-year-old Kapler is hitting .260 with no homers and 17 RBI in a part-time role with Texas after hitting in a club-record 28 consecutive games in 2000. Hollandsworth has a .295 average with 11 homers and 48 RBI, while Reyes was 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA in 43 games out of the bullpen.
After batting .302 with 14 homers and 66 RBI in 116 games in his promising 2000 season, Kapler signed a $5.6 million, three-year contract through 2003. But he slipped to a .267 average with 17 homers and 72 RBI last season in 134 games, then failed to secure the center fielder's job this season.
The Rangers will pick up $1 million of Kapler's salary next season, pending the approval of the commissioner's office. For now, they will essentially give Hollandsworth a two-month audition.
''We didn't feel that as we went forward with the numbers that there was necessarily a fit on this club for Gabe,'' general manager John Hart said. ''He (Hollandsworth) will be a free agent, so we're under no obligation at the end of the year.
''We can use the last 60 games to take a look at him. ... This trade gives us some flexibility for next year and we get a left-hander that could be a good fit for us in the future.''
The Rangers may look at Reyes as a starter, if not later this season then next season.
Angels bolster bench with addition of Ochoa
Ochoa is batting .256 with six homers and 21 RBI in 85 games.
''Alex gives us some outfield depth that is definitely needed,'' Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. ''This gives us more options for lineups that can help us,'' ''We felt it was important for us to get an outfielder.''
Ochoa came to the Brewers from Colorado in the offseason as part of an 11-player trade with the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies. The Brewers also obtained pitcher Glendon Rusch in the deal, while giving up outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and pitcher Jeff D'Amico.
''I hope I can contribute,'' Ochoa said in Atlanta. ''I'm happy that they wanted me, and we'll be in the race automatically. It should be fun.''
Ochoa is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season and was one of a few players Milwaukee general manager Dean Taylor said the struggling Brewers could trade.
''He's a good defender and he's got a good arm,'' Anaheim general manager Bill Stoneman said. ''He accepts his role on the club, he's a team guy.''
Milwaukee dealt third baseman Tyler Houston to Los Angeles last week.
The Brewers also sent catcher Sal Fasano to Anaheim, which assigned him to Triple-A Salt Lake. Fasano batted .206 with 11 RBI for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Red Sox add Howry to bullpen
The White Sox received right-hander Franklin Francisco and left hander Byeong Hak An from Class-A Sarasota.
Howry is 2-2 with a 3.91 ERA in 47 appearances this season. In 50 2/3 innings, he's given up 45 hits, 17 walks, seven home runs, and has struck out 31 batters.
''This is a very positive addition to our bullpen,'' Red Sox interim general manager Mike Port said. ''He has some setup and closing experience, and we're excited to have him onboard. Although this involved two of our younger pitchers, we're delighted the Red Sox had the developmental depth to make this addition to our club.''
Howry, 28, was a closer for the White Sox in 1999. He saved 28 games, but the following year served as Chicago's setup man.
''I'm going to a contending team,'' Howry said from the White Sox clubhouse in Minnesota, while his former teammates warmed up on the Metrodome turf. ''That's why you play, not only because you love the game, but it's about winning.''
''I think these moves have improved our ballclub a lot and have addressed all three areas of concern for us -- not only for this year, but for the future,'' Boston manager Grady Little said. ''We're much better. How much? I don't know. I'll let you know in about a month. Nothing can be said about the deals until you see some results.''
In October 2000, Howry had arthroscopic surgery to his pitching shoulder. Howry is still recovering from the surgery, but can still throw over 90 mph and handle regular appearances, Port said.
In 2001, Howry made 69 appearances and went 4-5 with a 4.69 ERA and five saves. He is 13-17 in his career with a 3.74 ERA and 49 saves.
The bullpen has been a trouble spot for the Red Sox, who on Friday designated reliever Rich Garces for assignment. He was 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA this year after going 19-4 with a 3.60 ERA the past three years.
Pirates ship Hermansen to Cubs
Hermansen, a 1995 first-round draft choice who was the Pirates' Opening Day center fielder in 2000, is hitting .206 with seven homers and 15 RBI. He is only 24, but has never hit above .233 in four trials with Pittsburgh.
''To get an athlete at that age that our people still think has some upside, and still think there is more in the bat that has come out so far, seems to be a solid decision for us,'' Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.
Hermansen has struck out 68 times in 194 at-bats and was hitless in his final 14 at-bats with the Pirates. He was 6-for-30 in 14 games following the All-Star break, and has only four RBI in his last 38 games.
''He's an athletic guy, he can play all three spots, he runs well and we hope the change in scenery will help his offense,'' Hendry said.
Hermansen is a .341 career hitter at Wrigley Field, with three homers and six RBIs, including a two-run homer May 21 in the first game of a doubleheader.
''It's tough to leave here because I've made a lot of friends, but the change of scenery probably can't hurt me,'' Hermansen said. ''I've hit a lot of home runs at Wrigley Field. I think Chicago could be a good fit for me.''
Lewis, best suited at age 34 to being a part-time starter and late-innings defensive replacement, wouldn't seem to be a good fit for the non-contending Pirates.
The Pirates are loaded with outfielders, and Armando Rios, out more than two months with knee and calf injuries, is expected to end a minor league rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
''This is a trade that is the first in a series of moves we plan on making this week,'' general manager Dave Littlefield said. ''Part of it is Chad is out of options.''
Lewis, 34, is hitting .241 with no homers and seven RBI with a .326 on-base percentage. He has played in the majors for the Athletics, Giants, Reds, White Sox, Dodgers, Red Sox and Cubs.