Rockies busy after All-Star Game, complete two deals

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies traded outfielder Preston Wilson and picked up outfielder Eric Byrnes in a pair of trades
with Washington and Oakland on Wednesday.

The Rockies sent Wilson and cash to the Nationals for
right-hander Zach Day, outfielder J.J. Davis and a player to be
named later or cash. Colorado also sent left-hander Joe Kennedy and
right-handed reliever Jay Witasick to the Athletics for Byrnes and
minor-league prospect Omar Quintanilla.
"We believe we've added some good, young talent that will help
us in our rebuilding process," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd
Wilson was one of Colorado's more popular players after leading
the majors with 141 RBI and making the All-Star team in 2003, but
is due to make $5.7 million the rest of this season and will become
a free agent.
He could be just what the NL East-leading Nationals need for a
lineup that has produced the fewest runs in the major leagues and
is tied for the fewest homers. With cleanup hitter Nick Johnson on
the disabled list, the Nationals were reduced to using utility
players such as Carlos Baerga and Wil Cordero in the No. 4 spot in
the order.
Wilson leads the Rockies with 15 homers and 47 RBI, though he's
been plagued by a sore knee and hit just .258 with 77 strikeouts.
The deal, which has been in the works for a few days, was
completed after Colorado agreed to pick up part of Wilson's salary.
"We love what Preston has done for us, but he more than likely
wasn't going to be a part of our rebuilding process," O'Dowd said.
Day opened the season in Washington's rotation and was moved to
the bullpen after a clash with manager Frank Robinson. The
Nationals were close to trading Day before he went on the DL with a
broken wrist in May after he went 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA.
Davis opened the season with the Nationals because of his power
potential, serving as an extra outfielder and pinch hitter, but was
sent to the minors in May after going 6-for-26 (.231) with two RBI
in 14 games. The Rockies immediately optioned him to Triple-A
Colorado Springs.
Byrnes earned a $2 million contract from the A's after setting
career highs in nearly every offensive category in 2004, but seemed
to fall out of favor with manager Ken Macha and has been the
subject of trade rumors since the offseason. He hit .266 with seven
home runs and 24 RBI for the A's.
"Byrnes is the kind of player who can complement our roster in
a lot of ways," O'Dowd said. "He's not the youngest player [29],
but he's someone who's close to what we're looking for."
Getting Byrnes also allows the Rockies to get rid of Kennedy.
He set a team record by a left-hander with 11 wins last season
and was named Colorado's opening-day starter this year, but was
headed to the bullpen following the All-Star break after going 4-8
with a 7.04 ERA.
Oakland will use Kennedy out of the bullpen at first and could
move him to the rotation if things work out.
Witasick, who played for Oakland in 1996-97, was one of
Colorado's most consistent relievers after signing a minor league
contract with Colorado, going 0-4 with a 2.52 ERA in 32 appearances
primarily as a setup man.
It was tough for the Rockies to unload Witasick, particularly
with the problems they've had in the bullpen, but he's 33 and will
be a free agent at the end of the season.
Earlier Wednesday, the A's acquired outfielder Jay Payton and
cash from Boston for right-handed reliever Chad Bradford.