|Padres make 3 deadline trades, getting Ensberg, Mackowiak and Ledezma|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2007 19:18|
Stagnant since the All-Star break, the two-time defending NL West champions made three deals before Tuesday's deadline, acquiring slumping infielder Morgan Ensberg from the Houston Astros, outfielder-infielder Rob Mackowiak from the Chicago White Sox and reliever Wilfredo Ledezma from Atlanta.
While right fielder Brian Giles doesn't think clubhouse chemistry will be affected because the team's core players remain intact, closer Trevor Hoffman isn't so sure.
Six days after seeing setup man Scott Linebrink shipped to Milwaukee, Hoffman tried his best not to second-guess the front office.
``It doesn't really serve a purpose, other than there's chaos in the clubhouse, and that's not a good thing, either,'' Hoffman said.
Additionally, San Diego - 7-10 since the break - fired hitting coach Merv Rettenmund and replaced him with former Padres first baseman Wally Joyner.
``Today's kind of caught a lot of people off guard,'' Hoffman said. ``There's a bit of scrambling around, not really knowing what happened or why. I think it forces you to just kind of keep your head down and focus on what you can do to improve the club personally.''
Ensberg, Mackowiak and Ledezma are expected to report Wednesday, which means the Padres will have to make three corresponding moves to clear spots on the 25-man roster.
``There's only so many spots,'' Hoffman said. ``It's musical chairs, and you better get a chair.''
The Padres cleared one spot after a 4-0 loss to Arizona, releasing reserve outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., who was hitting just .234. Cruz played well earlier in the season, when he platooned with left fielder Terrmel Sledge and filled in when right fielder Brian Giles was hurt. But his playing time dwindled from late June on, after Giles returned and the Padres acquired Milton Bradley. The Padres are carrying 13 pitchers, so the other two moves likely will come from that group.
Towers said the acquisition of Ensberg and Mackowiak will strengthen the bench, while Ledezma can serve as a swingman, either in middle relief or as a starter.
The accessions cost the Padres little in terms of prospects, and the team picked up a little more than $2 million in salary.
San Diego, in the thick of the NL West and wild-card races, completed the trades shortly before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline for making deals without waivers.
The Astros sent Ensberg and cash considerations to the Padres for a player to be named or cash. The White Sox traded Mackowiak to San Diego for pitcher Jon Link. The Braves traded Ledezma and minor league pitcher Will Startup for reliever Royce Ring, who recently was optioned to Triple-A Portland. The Braves assigned him to Triple-A Richmond.
The Padres have made numerous changes in a matter of days, starting with the Linebrink trade and including the acquisition of outfielder Scott Hairston on Friday.
``I felt we needed it,'' said Towers, who also signed well-traveled Shea Hillenbrand to a minor league deal. Earlier this season, the Padres traded for Michael Barrett and Bradley.
``I'm extremely disappointed,'' Mackowiak said before the White Sox played the Yankees in New York. ``It hurts to go from the team you grew up watching and idolized as a kid.''
Mackowiak, who has played left field, right field, first base and third base this season, said he expects to be a utilityman with San Diego. He knows a few players on the Padres and ``they told me to take all (of my) gloves,'' he said.
The Mackowiak deal was the only move made by Chicago, which some thought also might deal outfielder Jermaine Dye.
``All in all it was not the day that we had hoped,'' White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said.
The 33-year-old Dye, one of the top offensive players available at the deadline, said he was glad to still be with Chicago.
``We have a good nucleus here,'' said Dye, who can become a free agent after the season.
Ensberg, an All-Star in 2005 when he helped the Astros reach the World Series, has not been the same caliber player since tearing a tendon in his right shoulder diving for a foul ball on June 9, 2006.
The 31-year-old Ensberg was hitting .232 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 85 games. Houston is responsible for the remainder of Ensberg's $4.35 million salary this season.
The Astros designated Ensberg for assignment on Sunday, giving them 10 days to either trade him, waive him or send him to the minors. A Southern California native, Ensberg recently bought a house near San Diego.
``I do think the change of scenery is going to help him,'' Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. ``This is a player with a lot of talent.''
``Being at the trade deadline, players are certainly in demand and this is the kind of time where you can take a gamble on a player who is maybe not performing so well.''
The Astros couldn't pull off a blockbuster deal as the trade deadline passed, keeping their bullpen intact and holding on to productive infielders Mike Lamb and Mark Loretta.
Ensberg hit a career-low .235 with 58 RBIs last year. In 2005, he batted .283 with 36 home runs and 101 RBIs. His 105 career home runs rank second in Astros history for third basemen.
The 31-year-old Mackowiak hit .278 with six home runs and 36 RBIs in 85 games with the White Sox this season. He is a career .264 hitter with 63 homers and 280 RBIs in seven major league seasons with Pittsburgh and the White Sox.
Ledezma started the season with Detroit, then was traded to Atlanta. The 26-year-old lefty was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in 12 games for the Braves and designated for assignment Sunday. Startup, a 23-year-old lefty, was in his third season in the minors.
AP Sports Writers Jay Cohen in New York and Chris Duncan in Houston contributed to this report.