Sports Outside the Beltway

Cubs ship Barrett to Padres

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs traded embattled catcher Michael Barrett and cash to the first-place San Diego Padres on Wednesday for backup catcher Rob Bowen and minor league outfielder Kyler Burke.

Barrett, batting .256 with nine homers and 29 RBIs, has had problems defensively and also been involved in two dugout exchanges this month with Cubs pitchers — one of which led to a clubhouse brawl.

Barrett and starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano got into a skirmish in the dugout June 1 and it carried over into the clubhouse, where Barrett got a black eye and needed stitches in his lip.

The Atlanta Braves had scored five runs just before Zambrano and Barrett went at it in the dugout. Zambrano pointed at his head and screamed at Barrett, who allowed a run to score on a passed ball and throwing error.

Less than two weeks later, Barrett and pitcher Rich Hill had a verbal exchange in the dugout during an eventual loss to the Seattle Mariners.

“The fight had nothing to do with [the trade],” general manager Jim Hendry said during a telephone conference call. “The Rich Hill situation, that’s normal Major League Baseball every night. It just happened to be seen and blown out of proportion. That happens all the time. It wasn’t even discussed in-house about being an issue. … We just felt like we were trying to shore up the position in a little different fashion, a little bit more defensively.”

An emotional player, Barrett was the central figure in a brawl with the White Sox last season. He set it off by punching A.J. Pierzynski in the jaw after he’d been run over at the plate. Barrett was suspended for 10 games.

Barrett, who signed a $12 million, three-year deal in January 2005, has a $4.5 million salary this year and will be eligible for free agency after this season. Of the $2.2 million he is still owed this season, the Cubs will pay $1.5 million and the Padres are responsible for the remaining $700,000.

“It was an honor for me to put on a Chicago Cubs uniform, and I want to personally thank Jim Hendry, the Cubs organization, and all of the Cubs fans for making the past four years so special,” Barrett said in a statement released through his agent. “At the same time, I’m very excited to go to San Diego and do everything that I can to help the Padres win the NL West.”

Barrett has been known more for his offensive abilities than his ones behind the plate. In 2006, he batted a career high .307 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs.

“We felt he was on his way to becoming a terrific player, an All-Star caliber player,” Hendry said.

“This year he has had a little tougher time defensively, and a lot of it is probably from trying too hard. Maybe some of it is it’s the last year of his deal. He’s been a really, really good offensive player and for the first couple years really showed a lot of improvement defensively, then, like I said, we’ve had a little rougher time the first half of this year. We just felt like we needed to make a change.”

Koyie Hill has become Zambrano’s catcher the last three starts. Henry Blanco, who was supposed to be Barrett’s backup this season, has been on the disabled list with neck problems.

Bowen is batting .268 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 30 games for the Padres this season.

Chicago obtained Barrett in a trade with Oakland on Dec. 16, 2003, one day after the Athletics acquired him from Montreal. Prior to the trades, he had spent his entire six-year career with Montreal.

Hendry said discussions on the trade with Padres GM Kevin Towers began three or four days ago. As the Padres negotiated the trade, former Cub Greg Maddux — now part of the San Diego rotation — was asked about Barrett and gave club officials a ringing endorsement of the catcher.

The trade comes less than a week after San Diego and Chicago got into a bench-clearing brawl at Wrigley Field, one that began when Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch and took a swing at Padres’ pitcher Chris Young. Each player is appealing his five-game suspendion.

Burke, 18, was San Diego’s first-round compensation pick in last year’s first-year player draft. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound left-hander was the 35th overall pick in the draft out of Ooltewah (Tenn.) High School. In 62 games at Class A Fort Wayne, he batted .211 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 213 at-bats.

Information from The Associated Press and was used in this report.

I think this is a great move for the Padres. They get an All-Star caliber catcher for only $700K and they have no strings attached to him as he becomes a free agent this winter. The Padres, if they don’t trade him, will recieve a compensatory draft pick if they can’t re-sign him in the offseason.

This is a great all around move for San Diego. With Bard and Barrett behind the plate they will get plenty of rest and should both put up very good numbers. Beware though fantasy owners, their at-bats will both go down.


-Cleveland cut ties with reliever Roberto Hernandez today. Cleveland is responsible for the remainder of his $3.3 million salary this year and a $200,000 buyout of a $3.7 million team option for 2008. Look for Philadelphia, New York Yanks, and Tampa Bay to give him a call.

-Randy Johnson was placed on the 15-day DL with a herniated disk in his surgically repaired back, making the timing of his return to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation unclear.

-Curt Schilling is having shoulder problems and could miss his next start.

-The Oaklnad A’s brought back OF Milton Bradley from 15-day DL.

-The Cleveland Indians placed OF David Dellucci on 15-day DL.

-Kansas City placed DH hitter Mike Sweeney on the 15-day disabled list and recalled 1B/DH/LF Billy Butler from AAA. If you have room for Butler on your fantasy team then I would recommend picking him up. He plans on sticking with the Big League club and he has to hit to do so. Look for him to mash!

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