Report: Mets deal for Astros' Hidalgo

Searching for a power hitter to complement their offensively-challenged lineup, the Mets have acquired outfielder Richard Hidalgo and cash from the Houston Astros for reliever David Weathers. <P> The trade, as first reported by the New York Daily News, gives the Mets a presence to complement Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza in the heart of their lineup.

Piazza is hitting .307 with 14 homers and Floyd has six RBI in his last six starts, but Mike Cameron – hampered by a hand injury that has left him unable to shake hands, much less swing the bat with authority – is batting just .204.

For Hidalgo, the deal to the Mets presents an opportunity to jump back into a starting role with a club that could be on the brink of contention in a weak NL East division.

Hidalgo, who will make $12 million this season and has a $2 million buyout option for 2005, had become a spare part with the Astros, partially fueled by manager Jimy Williams' dislike for the outfielder. He had batted .256 with four homers and 30 RBI in 199 at-bats this year, but was productive in 2003, hitting .309 with 28 homers and 88 RBI.

Weathers had been used heavily in each of the last two years by Mets manager Art Howe, and was well on his way to equaling his career high of 77 appearances set last season. Weathers pitched in 32 games this season for New York, compiling a 5-3 record and a 4.28 ERA.

The Mets entered the season with a right field platoon of Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer, but Spencer – the more productive of the two, with a .309 average in 51 games – has been sidelined recently with a sore left shoulder.

Hidalgo's acquisition could not only create a logjam for playing time, but it could also create friction between Garcia, Spencer and the rest of the roster, as the good friends appeared content to share playing with each other but could have issues with riding the bench at the same time.


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