Mets deal slumping Matsui to Rockies for Marrero

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets traded slumping second baseman
Kaz Matsui and $4.5 million to the Colorado Rockies for utilityman
Eli Marrero on Friday.

The cash represents the remaining difference in the players'
salaries, Met assistant general manager John Ricco said. The club
had to get Matsui to waive a limited no-trade clause, Ricco said.

"We're looking at it as a chance to get a guy who adds
flexibility for us," Ricco said before the Mets played the Arizona
Diamondbacks in Phoenix. "By the same token it gives Kaz a chance
to, with a change of scenery, maybe turn things around."

The Mets began the day with the best record in the National
League. They've made several trades lately, including a deal for
Orlando Hernandez from Arizona.

The Rockies optioned Matsui to Triple-A Colorado Springs and
recalled outfielder Jorge Piedra.

Signed by the Mets to a $20.1 million, three-year contract
before the 2004 season, Matsui never showed the talent that made
him an All-Star and MVP in Japan. He struggled at shortstop in his
first year with New York, and later was moved to second base.

Though he became a target of fan ire, Matsui said he bore no ill
will toward Mets fans.

"Obviously, this is a game of results and they will react
accordingly," Matsui said through an interpreter. "The fact that
I couldn't produce for Willie is probably one of the most
disappointing things to look back on."

Mets manager Willie Randolph wished Matsui well but didn't want
to analyze why he failed in New York.

"To me, it's irrelevant why it didn't work," Randolph said.
"He's moving on."

The 30-year-old Matsui was hitting .200 with one home run and
seven RBI in 38 games. For three straight seasons, he has homered
in his first at-bat of the year.

"We'll have to see what we're getting," Rockies general
manager Dan O'Dowd said. "He was a premier player in Japan. He's
struggled since he's come over here."

The 32-year-old Marrero batted .217 with four homers and 10 RBI
in 30 games for Colorado. He has started in right field, left
field, first base and at catcher this season.

Marrero has hit .244 with 64 homers, 256 RBI and 54 stolen
bases while playing for St. Louis, Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore
and Colorado.

There's no timetable when Matsui will join the Rockies.

"We'll see if we can relax him and get him in the right frame
of mind," O'Dowd said. "This guy was an impact, premium
middle-of-the-diamond player. Now, whether we're getting that
player or the player that struggled for two years in New York, we
really don't know. It's a shot with a lot of upside for us and we
thought very little downside. We'll see how it turns out."

The emergence of free agent infielder Jose Valentin, who is
hitting .299, made it easier for the Mets to deal Matsui.

"That obviously gave us a little more comfort being able to
make that deal at this time," Ricco said.

Valentin was in the lineup at second base Friday night at
Arizona, but Randolph said he would share the position with Chris