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Cubs add third Pittsburgh regular to roster

PITTSBURGH -- First baseman Randall Simon was traded
Saturday by Pittsburgh to the Chicago Cubs for a minor league
outfielder -- the third regular the Pirates have dealt to the Cubs
in less than a month.

The deal follows the July 22 trade that sent third baseman
Aramis Ramirez and center fielder Kenny Lofton to Chicago in a
salary-cutting move that drew considerable fan criticism in
Pittsburgh.

In the latest deal, the Pirates get Ray Sadler, who is hitting
.291 with 31 doubles, six homers and 42 RBI at Double-A West Tenn.

Simon is best known this season for hitting one of the Milwaukee
Brewers' racing sausages with his bat last month, drawing fines
from local authorities and Major League Baseball in addition to a
three-game suspension.

With the Cubs struggling for production at first base, Simon
figures to get considerable playing time down the stretch. The left
handed-hitter is batting .274 with 10 homers and 51 RBI.

"He can play first base and he's got a quality bat off the
bench,'' Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's almost a
lifetime .300 hitter. He's got a good personality.''

Chicago trails first-place Houston by a half-game in the NL
Central. The Cubs also have Eric Karros and Hee Seop Choi at first
base, leaving manager Dusty Baker with plenty of options the rest
of the season.

"He will play who's hot. He's got really good instincts with
that,'' Hendry said.

Simon hit .301 with 19 homers and 82 RBI last season with
Detroit, but wasn't re-signed because the Tigers -- like the Pirates
now -- were looking to slash payroll.

Simon, who is making $1,475,000, is eligible for arbitration
after this season. With the Pirates looking to trim their payroll
by as much as $20 million in 2004, general manager Dave Littlefield
said he didn't fit into their long-range plans.

"With where we're at now, we're looking at giving our at-bats
at first base to other players,'' Littlefield said. "As we look to
2004, we didn't see Randall being part of our team. He'll be a
second-year arbitration eligible player and he didn't really seem
to fit what we're doing.''

The Pirates, who have had 10 straight losing seasons, plan to
rebuild mostly with prospects and low-priced players. They've dealt
the three everyday regulars, starting pitcher Jeff Suppan, closer
Mike Williams and setup man Scott Sauerback over the last 3½ weeks.

The trades follow owner Kevin McClatchy's recent claim the team
might lose as much as $30 million in its first three seasons in PNC
Park.

For the rest of the season, the Pirates probably will split the
playing time at first base among Craig Wilson, Matt Stairs and Carlos Rivera.

Sadler, a .308 hitter in his first four pro seasons, has good
speed but wasn't considered a top prospect coming out of high
school. He was a 30th-round draft pick by the Cubs in 1999.

"He's an athletic guy who's performed pretty well,''
Littlefield said. "He's a fast outfielder who can play a good
center field. Like a lot of young hitters, he has trouble with
command of the strike zone, but we really like his athleticism.''

Pittsburgh fans certainly didn't seem to like the first
Cubs-Pirates trade that sent Ramirez and Lofton to the Cubs for
third baseman Jose Hernandez, minor league second baseman Bobby
Hill and minor league pitcher Matt Bruback.

Hernandez is on pace to set a single-season strikeout record and
almost certainly won't return to the Pirates next season. They
already have taken Bruback off their 40-man roster and exposed him
to waivers, meaning they probably will end up only with Hill for
two of their most productive regulars.

Fans have flooded the team and newspapers with e-mails and phone
calls criticizing the deal, with many saying McClatchy is worried
only about not losing money.