Blue Jays trade Koskie to Brewers for minor league pitcher
By COLIN FLY, AP Sports Writer
January 7, 2006

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- After the shock of being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers had worn off, the next thing Corey Koskie thought about was steak.

"Milwaukee has one of my favorite steakhouses," Koskie said Friday night by phone from his offseason home in Minnesota. "I don't know these guys at all, so I don't know what I bring yet. I've watched them play, and I've been impressed with the way they play the game."

Koskie was traded by Toronto to Milwaukee late Friday night for minor league pitcher Brian Wolfe. The third baseman became expendable after the Blue Jays acquired slugger Troy Glaus last month.

"Corey brings a presence to a ballclub," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "I've seen enough of him through the years, we felt we could upgrade defensively with him."

Koskie hit .249 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 97 games last season, his first with the Blue Jays after spending the first seven years of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He was on the disabled list from May 20 to July 26 because of a broken right thumb.

"I've been taught to play the full nine innings," Koskie said. "I play hard. I have the wounds to prove it."

The 32-year-old Koskie gives the Brewers an experienced player to complement a young infield that also includes 21-year-old first baseman Prince Fielder, 23-year-old second baseman Rickie Weeks and 23-year-old shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Bill Hall, 26, also had a solid season playing mostly shortstop and third base last year.

"He adds a lot with us having such a young infield in Hall, Hardy, Weeks and Fielder. He's a left-handed bat. He's a great addition," Melvin said.

Hall batted .291 with 17 homers, 62 RBIs and 18 stolen bases last season, and Melvin sounded confident that he would get adequate playing time.

"Billy will find his way. Every year he seems to get his 400 or so at-bats. Things will work themselves out there," Melvin said.

It was the second significant trade the teams have made this offseason. The Blue Jays acquired first baseman Lyle Overbay and minor league right-hander Ty Taubenheim from Toronto for right-hander Dave Bush, minor league left-hander Zach Jackson and outfield prospect Gabe Gross at the winter meetings in Dallas last month. That paved the way for Fielder, a top power-hitting prospect, to play every day.

Milwaukee improved to 81-81 in 2005, the first time the team has avoided a losing record since 1992.

Toronto signed Koskie to a $17 million, three-year contract before last season, giving him a chance to play in his native Canada. But the Blue Jays had a logjam at the corner infield positions after acquiring Glaus in a trade with Arizona last month.

Along with Overbay and Glaus, Toronto still has Shea Hillenbrand and Eric Hinske.

The Blue Jays also signed a pair of expensive free agents during their busy offseason: starting pitcher A.J. Burnett and reliever B.J. Ryan.

In eight major league seasons, Koskie has a .277 batting average with 112 home runs and 473 RBIs. He helped the Twins win three consecutive AL Central titles from 2002-04.

"Even when I was a free agent last year, my agent approached Milwaukee," Koskie said. "Milwaukee was one of the first places on my list."

Wolfe, a 25-year-old right-hander, went 5-2 with eight saves last season, pitching exclusively in relief at three minor league levels.