Brewers pick up Durham from Giants
Weeks still considered starting second baseman
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brewers manager Ned Yost made it abundantly clear Sunday that Rickie Weeks is his leadoff man and second baseman, but Weeks will have some company for the rest of the season.After the Brewers finished a three-game sweep of the Giants, the teams formally announced a trade that sent veteran switch-hitting second baseman Ray Durham to Milwaukee for fleet-footed Class A outfielder Darren Ford and Triple-A left-hander Steve Hammond.
"We're trying to get as many good players as we can," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said. "We're trying to win this thing."Durham called it a "weird feeling" to watch Sunday's finale from the Giants dugout, then pack his bags to join the Brewers' charter flight to St. Louis. He'll be in uniform No. 5 for the Brewers on Monday night in St. Louis, but Durham's role with his new team is to be determined. Yost said he does not plan to install a platoon between Durham and Weeks. "I will not, probably, right now," Yost said. "Rickie's doing fine. I'll play Ray a couple days a week, maybe. We'll see how it goes. I'll take it day by day. "I don't know what I'm going to do," Yost added. "We'll find out when it happens." Yost touted Durham as adding depth, and Melvin was mostly interested in the left-handed half of Durham's game. Durham's splits are nearly identical: He owns a career .279 average with a .354 on-base percentage as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers, and a .277 average with a .344 on-base mark as a right-handed batter against left-handed pitchers. Overall, the 36-year-old is hitting .293 this season with a .385 on-base percentage -- figures that now lead the Brewers. "I had heard; it's kind of a shock," Durham said. "I think it's better for both parties. This organization [the Giants] is building for the future [and] I think it's every player's dream to be in a playoff race." He is at least insurance for Weeks, who hit a go-ahead two-run single in Saturday's Brewers win but entered Sunday's series finale hitting .218 with a .322 on-base percentage. He walked twice and scored two more runs. "It's up to Ned to figure out how to fit [Durham] in," Melvin said. "Our other players shouldn't worry about it." Yost has been an ardent supporter of Weeks. "He just finds a way to help you win baseball games," Yost said. "Either by scoring a run, getting a big hit every now and then, stealing a base, taking a way to set something up. A lot of things go on that don't get noticed with Rickie that helps us win games. Everybody looks at solid numbers and says, 'How can you do this?' But he helps you win games." Yost called the Weeks critics "people that don't know anything about anything." He did concede that there is plenty of room for improvement. "He's going to get better," Yost said. "But he's never been a .300 hitter, ever. So who says he's underachieving? He is working his way up there. He's getting better in all phases of his game. For me, he has never underachieved because he has never achieved up here [in the Majors]." Like most of his teammates, Weeks learned about the trade Sunday morning. He insisted he isn't worried. "It's just something they felt like they had to do," he said. He still viewed himself as the starting second baseman. "Always," Weeks said. To clear a spot on the 25-man roster, the Brewers optioned utility man Joe Dillon to Triple-A Nashville. Dillon was hitting .227 entering Sunday's game but had not started since July 1 and was just 5-for-30 (.167) as a pinch-hitter. Durham is considered strictly a second baseman, so Craig Counsell's duties will be more focused on shortstop or third base. Giants left-hander Jack Taschner, a Milwaukee-area native who had been linked to the Brewers in trade rumors, was not involved in the deal. Melvin said the two teams never discussed expanding the trade to include more than Durham. Melvin will keep his eye on the market for relievers, but downplayed the likelihood of making another trade in that area "because it's so costly. ... If somebody becomes available before the end of July, you look at him. But I don't think that by the end of July somebody is going to become available without a high price." Ford was pulled from the Brevard County lineup Saturday in anticipation of the trade and is hitting .230 this year but had 48 stolen bases in 59 attempts. The Brewers selected him in the 18th round of the 2004 Draft. Hammond is a soft-tosser who started the season at Double-A Huntsville and has struggled since a promotion to Triple-A. He is 0-4 with a 7.41 ERA in four starts since the move and 7-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 19 starts at both levels this season. The Giants will help with the roughly $3 million left on Durham's 2008 contract, though Melvin would not divulge specifics. The Brewers will pick up the tab for a $200,000 assignment bonus in Durham's contract, which expires after the season. Durham had the right to veto the trade because he has served 10 years in the Majors including at least the last five years with one team. He did not play in any of the three games between the teams at AT&T Park this weekend. The Giants had said he had the flu. "He's a solid offensive player and he's a veteran guy," Yost said. "He fits right into what our veteran guys bring on a daily basis. He's going to fit in nicely."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.