Seeking second base help, A's land Ginter

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Milwaukee Brewers traded infielder
Keith Ginter to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday for right-hander
Justin Lehr and minor league outfielder Nelson Cruz.

The A's, who missed the playoffs for the first time in five
years, had been looking for a second baseman because general
manager Billy Beane isn't sure how Mark Ellis will perform after
missing all of last season with a shoulder injury.

"We feel fortunate we could get a guy like Ginter," said
Beane, who began working on the deal about three weeks ago. "It's
a position of need for us, and we think Keith will be an upgrade
for us. I said a couple weeks ago we've got to be prepared that
Mark isn't ready to go. He's convinced he's going to be ready to
go, but I'm not sure that's a great strategy for us going

Ginter batted .262 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI in 113 games
for Milwaukee last season. He posted career highs in batting,
at-bats (386), hits (101), doubles (23), home runs, RBI and
slugging (.479).

The 28-year-old Ginter appeared in 54 games at second base for
the Brewers, 47 at third base and two in right field. Beane even
inquired about Ginter last season after Ellis went down during
spring training in a collision with shortstop Bobby Crosby.

But Mark McLemore and Marco Scutaro wound up sharing the duties
at second base.

Ginter is thrilled to be joining a winning franchise that's
always in the hunt for the AL West title each year. He expects to
compete with Ellis during spring training for the starting job. The
two share the same agent and Ginter considers them friends. He and
Ellis have hung out and gone to dinner.

"Now, being a part of the A's, I think it's a great opportunity
for me," he said. "It's a winning organization and they win every
year. I'm excited to get a fresh start in Oakland."

While Beane considers Ellis the stronger defensive player, the
GM believes Ginter will provide more offense that the A's lacked
last season.

"Obviously, this is a tough time for Mark," Ginter said. "As
far as I see it, when we come to spring training, we're going to
battle for a job and the best man wins. I think Mark's fine with
that, and I'm fine with that."

Ellis anticipated the move since he'd spoken to Beane last week
about the possibility of the A's adding an infielder. He, too,
considers Ginter a friend.

"I'm not surprised at all," Ellis said in a phone interview
from his home in Arizona. "I expected to go to spring training and
compete for the job. We're both grown men and very mature. Being
friends and knowing each other is going to help. It will be a nice
competition, and either way the team's in good shape. I think it's
going to be fine."

Lehr made his major league debut in 2004 and went 1-1 with a
5.23 ERA in 27 relief appearances with the A's over three separate
stints. He was slated to be behind a few pitchers the A's already
have and others they acquired.

Cruz batted a combined .326 with 26 home runs and 100 RBI in
137 games for Class A Modesto, Double-A Midland and Triple-A
Sacramento last season.

Cruz was a late addition into the deal, which Beane said
"wasn't a significant payroll hit for us at all."

"There were a few people on Ginter and we felt we needed to
step up," he said. "I was starting to run out of options if we
didn't get Keith."

Beane has had preliminary talks with representatives of
designated hitter Erubiel Durazo and closer Octavio Dotel, and he
expects talks to progress in the next couple of weeks.

Beane wouldn't specifically discuss trade rumors regarding ace
Tim Hudson, but said he still does have things "percolating"
following last weekend's winter meetings in Anaheim.

"You always hope someone will make you an offer you can't
refuse, as they should if we're considering moving one of the
primary pieces of our team," Beane said.

According to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, the Braves have been balking at dealing Marcus Giles, but the A's still have plenty of takers for Hudson. One scenario centered around the Dodgers landing Hudson and giving up pitching prospect Edwin Jackson.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.