Tales From The Trade Deadline

By Jonah Keri


If the 2006 trade deadline is any indication, Major League Baseball has nothing on BrassWorld.


Big names such as Dontrelle Willis, Roy Oswalt, Barry Zito and Alfonso Soriano were all bandied about in MLB circles in the days leading up the July 31 non-waiver deadline. In the end, though, none of those players were traded, and few impact names changed addresses.


That wasn’t the case in BrassWorld. A total of 17 trades took place, many of them coming in the final, frenzied moments before the deadline. Those deals, combined with three notable trades in June, made for some exciting water cooler debate—and could play a big role in sorting out the league red-hot pennant chases.


While Willis stayed put in MLB, he found his way to the top team in BrassWorld, San Bernardino, as part of a blockbuster trade. After inheriting the top team in the league from outgoing owner Tom Fish, new skipper Chris Metz added reinforcements. The deadline deal saw San Bernardino acquire Willis and Bobby Abreu for $11 million, 1st- and 3rd-round draft picks in 2007, and 1st- and 2nd-round picks in 2008. Major League Baseball stipulates that all trades involving a cash exchange of more than $1 million must be approved by the commissioner. Metz had no such restriction, thus placing himself in the driver’s seat for a World Series run.


The beneficiary of Metz’s largesse was Bob Loose, the new owner of the Santa Barbara franchise. Like Metz, Loose wasted little time diving into BrassWorld’s trade waters. He first acquired Melky Cabrera and his rock-bottom contract, along with Min pitcher Garrett Mock, in a deal that sent Julio Lugo to Montreal. His next trade saw Mark Teahen and Trot Nixon head to Annadale for Abreu. That deal seemed a head-scratcher for a team on the fringes of contention. But the subsequent trade of Abreu and Willis to San Bernardino improved Santa Barbara’s future outlook considerably.


Following the lead of Abreu and Lugo, Carlos Lee was another notable player dealt in both MLB and BrassWorld. In one of three Annadale trades made in July, owner Robert Smith sent Lee and stingy reliever Scot Shields to Alaska. Lee and Shields were willing to overlook the 24-hour daylight and resulting sleeping problems, though, as Alaska also projects as a strong playoff contender. In return, owner Chris Blake sent young talents Neil Walker, Gavin Floyd and Kelly Johnson to Annadale.


The third of Annadale’s three trades for the month saw the Anteaters acquire young reliever Jose Capellan, along with Jorge Posada, $1.2 million and 2nd- and 3rd-round 2007 draft picks for Jason Varitek and Torii Hunter. Montreal owner Jonah Keri sought to supplement Dave Roberts’ production in center field while also adding arguably the best catcher in the 2005 set to his roster. Keri was one of the league’s busiest owners in June and July. Stockpiling players for next year, he added Kelly Shoppach, Mike Lamb, Boof Bonser, Adam Lind and Eddy Martinez-Esteve in four separate deals.


Gotham City’s Wayne Foulke acquired Jose Molina for Martinez-Esteve. Said Foulke: “GCG mgmt felt the team needed little or no improvement heading into the postseason—we added Molina because Dougie Mirabelli was low on PA. No major moves planned…no money in the budget.”


Keri also added to this year’s roster, acquiring eight likely 2006 contributors in all. One deal with Taggart sent Chris Resop, Greg Miller and D’Angelo Jimenez out of town, in exchange for David Bell, Sal Fasano, a 3rd-round 2007 pick and $750,000. Montreal’s biggest trade saw Pedro Martinez, Todd Jones and Mark DeRosa join the McGaffigans. In return, Keri shipped Jake Westbrook and Nate McLouth to Virginia near the end of June.


In a possible landmark case for Bill Simmons’ famous Ewing Theory (http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?id=1193711), Bardos’ Virginia team put up an incredible 20-6 record in July—after the departure of the team’s ace, its closer, and a solid utility infielder.

“Oddly, after trading Pedro, the Pats had their best month of the year 17-5. Just when we thought we were out of the race; not able to predict what can happen.”


Virginia, Montreal and Maryland head into August deadlocked for the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Bill Galanis’ Mounders helped their cause, picking up Cliff Politte and Julio Franco in two separate trades, strengthening their bullpen and bench. Maryland also added Shawn Chacon, upgrading the starting rotation.


“I needed pitching, Chacon was advertised, I responded, dealing with Lenny was easy,” said Galanis. “Chacon upgrades my rotation and bullpen for the last two months, Halsey and Maine (while marginal prospects with some usage next year; in fact, Halsey will be very respectable, if he keeps pitching like this) were not cornerstones for my team for the long-term, and Lenny was looking to both replace innings for this year and get some help for the future. Voila.

”With respect to Franco, someone advertised they needed pitching, Redman is not part of my long-term plans, I didn't need his innings for this year and his card was no better than Trachsel and Liriano (guys I had in reserve, before I traded for Chacon), so I traded him to dump his salary,” Galanis continued. “The manager who acquired Redman did not want to part with picks or prospects, so we settled on Franco, who allows me to sit Helton occasionally vs. lefties (and avoid overusing Helton). So, Chacon replaces Redman in the rotation (upgrade) and fills in on long-relief whenever possible to save the rest of my pen.  His salary is roughly half of Redman’s for this season.  Franco is a bench player for two months that I picked up in dumping Redman’s salary, and he costs just a bit more than Halsey and Maine combined. Neither guy I picked up is a stud who will put me over the top, but they are upgrades that will allow me to continue to be a pest, and I could absorb the cost.”


Plum Island was the other contender that made multiple deals in an effort to beef up for the playoffs. Henry Vance’s team acquired Kyle Farnsworth, Magglio Ordonez, Chris Gomez, Matt LeCroy and Jamie Walker as it looked ahead to October.


Teams can still trade within their own conferences in August. Look for a few more moves before the Aug. 31 deadline, as playoff races heat up in both leagues.