From’s Jon Heyman :

The Mets have traded left-hander Royce Ring and right-hander Heath Bell to the Padres for outfielder Ben Johnson and right-hander Jon Adkins.

The Mets like the athleticism of Johnson (above), 25, who batted .250 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in limited duty for the Padres last season. His acquisition adds depth to New York’s outfield and should allow them to keep prospect Lastings Milledge in the minor leagues in 2007. Adkins, 29, made 55 relief appearances last season, posting a 3.98 ERA and striking out 30 batters in 54 1/3 innings

Johnson has one of those multi-tools sort of reputations the likes of Alex Ochoa or Jay Payton were either blessed or cursed with, depending on your point of view. Heyman seems to be suggesting Johnson will be the Mets’ everyday left-fielder in ’07, and if that’s the case, you’d have to think Milledge would be of greater use as a bargaining chip than spending the season in New Orleans.

I wish the duo of Ring and Bell all the best in San Diego, though hopefully the latter will be able to make his way to work each day without donning a disguise.

The Boston Globe’s Michael Silverman
reports the Red Sox have shown interest in several names from the Houston relief corps.

Houston closer Brad Lidge, as well as relievers Brad Qualls and Dan Wheeler, are three names the Red Sox have asked about, according to a baseball source. Right fielder Wily Mo Pena is one player the Sox have said is available. The Astros, who yesterday hired ex-Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace to serve in the same role in Houston, are intrigued by Pena but it would take more than that to land Lidge.

The Sox also have expressed interest in free agent reliever Justin Speier, who pitched well for Toronto last season. Speier has 17 career saves in 459 appearances, but the Sox are exploring the idea of using him as either a closer or set-up man.

The Sox are looking for both fastball command and the ability to induce swing-and-miss at-bats from their closer, as well as proven success in the American League. Speier, who averaged more than one strikeout per inning pitched last season, would fit those qualifications.

Another reliever whom the Red Sox have expressed interest in is free agent Danys Baez, who pitched for the Braves and Dodgers last season. Baez had 41 saves in his last season in the AL in 2005 for the Devil Rays, and had 30 the year before and 25 the year before that. After being traded to the Dodgers at midseason, Baez lost the closer™s job to Takashi Saito.