February 9, 2003  

March 28BrooklynC Ben Davis
C Mike Lieberthal
SP Woody Williams
3rd Round
NewarkC Paul Lo Duca
10th Round
May 17HobokenOF Juan PierrePhoenixOF Garret Anderson
May 22StanhopeOF Ken Griffey Jr.
5th Round
VancouverOF Moises Alou
C Shawn Wooten
9th Round
May 23BrooklynOF Jermaine DyeStanhope6th Round
June 14Brooklyn6th RoundNewarkRP Felix Rodriguez
12th Round
June 17Brooklyn1B Todd ZeileNewark15th Round
June 21Hoboken1B Tino MartinezStanhope8th Round
June 21BrooklynSP Kip Wells
4th Round
VancouverSP Joe Mays
June 26Brooklyn5th RoundHoboken3B Joe Randa
June 27Carolina1B Richie SexsonHoboken3B Kevin Millar
SP Mike Mussina
July 15Philadelphia1B Rafael PalmeiroTijuana3B Tony Batista
5th Round
July 15Philadelphia7th RoundVancouverRP David Weathers

The first trade of the 2003 season was made Nov. 15, with the Philadelphia Endzone Animals sending Troy Glaus and Juan Encarnacion to the Columbia Rattlesnakes for Magglio Ordonez. Time will tell who came out ahead on this deal, but with 20/20 hindsight, let's take a look back at the deals of the 2002 season.

There were 21 trades made in 2002 -- nine before Opening Day, 12 during the season -- involving 21 picks and 40 players. Brooklyn made the most trades (7); Arkansas, Columbia and Wanaque didn't make any.

This year ranked fourth in total trades, third in total players and tied for fourth in most picks. It was third in players plus picks (61). It was the most trades in a season since 1999, which remains the all-time leader with 33 trades involving 83 players and 38 picks.

Newark and Brooklyn were paired the most times, making four trades to exchange eight players and nine picks (five for the 2001 draft, four for 2002). The two teams also made the year's largest trade, twice swapping six players and/or picks.

Note that real-life stats, to differentiate from DMBL stats, are given in italics.

Regular Season Trades (12)

March 28: Brooklyn gets C Ben Davis, C Mike Lieberthal, SP Woody Williams and a 3rd Round Draft Pick from Newark for C Paul Lo Duca and a 10th Round Draft Pick.

Lo Duca, a 30-year-old rookie, was a first-round pick (7th overall), but was off to a miserable start (.240, .582 OPS, 1 HR, 3 RBI in 75 AB) for the sixth-place Bean Counters, who needed to replace the woeful Paul Abbott (2-9, 7.18 ERA, 16.7 R/9) in the rotation if they were to make a dark-horse playoff run. Meanwhile, the Sugar Bears were a gaudy 22-4 and in first place overall, but getting no production from their catching platoon of Davis and Charles Johnson, hitting a combined .173 with 2 HR in 81 AB. Williams, the latest minor-league journeyman to have his career resurrected by pitching coach Mike Grace, had gone 14-5 with a 4.73 in 29 starts for Newark in '01 but was sixth on the depth chart this season. Lieberthal was out for the season, but a fan favorite in Brooklyn, where he'd played the year before. So the swap was made, the Bean Counters looking for pitching now and an improved team for next year, the Sugar Bears mortgaging their future to patch up the final hole in their lineup for another grab at the brass ring. Although a few lengthy trips to the Disabled List derailed his Rookie of the Year bid, Lo Duca justified his first-round selection by hitting .311 (.867 OPS) with 21 2B, 16 HR and 68 RBI in 367 AB with great defense behind the plate. Although he probably won't produce at his '02 levels again, the Duke will likely be Newark's starting catcher next season (.281, .731 OPS, 10 HR, 64 RBI). Right after the trade, Brooklyn won seven of 10 games and appeared to be a legitimate playoff contender, but soon they'd be free-falling into a 13th-place finish. Davis didn't help (.209, .583 OPS in 263 AB), and Williams wasn't much better than Abbott anyway (3-10, 6.44 ERA, 13.9 R/9). Just looking at 2002, Newark got a steal. But what a difference a season will make: Lieberthal is likely to be as good or better than Lo Duca next year (.279, .792 OPS, 15 HR, 52 RBI), so everything else the Bean Counters got was gravy. And what gravy Williams will be (9-4, 2.53 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). Even forgetting about Davis (.259, .717 OPS, 7 HR, 43 RBI), the Bean Counters got their money's worth at the very least if the deal ended there. But don't forget, they also got a third rounder in the deal! Like Vancouver's Jan. 16 deal to get Leiter, this swap paid immediate dividends for the Sugar Bears -- and Lo Duca did help them win their second straight World's Championship, hitting .325 with 2 HR and a team-best 11 RBI in the post-season. But overall, it has to be considered a win for the Bean Counters.

May 17: Hoboken gets OF Juan Pierre from Phoenix for OF Garret Anderson.

Like the Karsay-for-Stanton swap in January, this was a straight-up trade of players at the same position with very different skills. The Cutters were in desperate need of a true leadoff hitter -- they'd been splitting the job between Ryan Klesko and Mark Kotsay -- while the Dragons needed a big bopper in the lineup to back up Luis Gonzalez. Even after their preseason trade of Roger Cedeno, the Dragons still had all the lead-off men they wanted with Ichiro, Kenny Lofton, Jason Tyner and Corey Koskie, so Pierre -- not off to a great start anyway (.255, .294 OBP, .585 OPS in 278 AB) -- was expendable. Pierre, a rookie, made the most of his chance to perform for a playoff team, hitting .342 with a .393 OBP, stealing 14 bases and scoring 48 runs in 77 games -- though he fell apart in the post-season (0-for-13, 0 BB) and the one-dimensional speed demon is likely on the bubble of Hoboken's protected list (.287, .332 OBP, .343 SLG, 47 SB in 592 AB). Anderson, who was hitting .275 and slugging .554 (7 2B, 22 HR, 44 RBI in 269 AB) for the Cutters, went into a tailspin in Phoenix, hitting just .227 (.620 OPS) with 8 HR and 25 RBI over the final half of the year, helping gore the Dragons' long-shot playoff hopes. But as disappointed as the Dragons were with Anderson's numbers last year, they'll love having him next year (.306, 29 HR, 56 2B, 123 RBI). And as much as the Cutters would like to have Anderson back, Pierre was a big part of helping them to their first-ever post-season appearance. This trade has to go down as a win-win for both teams.

May 22: Stanhope gets OF Ken Griffey Jr. and a 5th Round Draft Pick from Vancouver for OF Moises Alou, C Shawn Wooten and a 9th Round Draft Pick.

Vancouver GM Yaro Zajac has never been shy about dealing away star players -- over the last five years, the Iron Fist have traded off Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Al Leiter, Matt Morris, Joe Randa, Curt Schilling, Shannon Stewart and Miguel Tejada. But perhaps the most controversial trade in the team's long and glorious history was struck May 22, when the Iron Fist sent one of the greatest players in league history to Stanhope. The 33-year-old Griffey was in the midst of a renaissance season (.304, .903 OPS, 14 HR, 38 RBI in 227 AB), but the Iron Fist desperately needed a catcher after the off-season trade of Javy Lopez, as the tandem of Todd Hundley and Ben Petrick were proving a disaster at the plate and behind it. Wooten, a 30-year-old rookie, fit the bill, hitting .315 in 305 AB and throwing out 13 of 32 base-stealers, one of the best kill percentages in the league. To replace Griffey's potent bat in the lineup, the Mighty Men had to throw in veteran Alou, who wasn't doing much for Stanhope anyway (.269, .685 OPS in 308 AB). Alou continued to struggle with Vancouver (.268, 9 HR, 27 RBI, .719 OPS in 291 AB), but Wooten would continue hitting .300 the rest of the way while playing excellent defense, though his lack of power (.358 SLG) and free-swinging ways (3 BB, 66 K) limited his true value. Griffey finished the season in fine form (.272, .860 OPS, 11 HR, 31 RBI in 169 AB), but the deal soured for the Mighty Men when Griffey (ineligible with 197 AB) revealed he'd sit out all of next season to work on a tell-all memoir about his years in Vancouver. The Iron Fist were just as frustrated to learn that Wooten (113 AB) chopped off his throwing hand in an off-season lumberjacking contest. That leaves just the 36-year-old Alou (.275, 15 HR, 61 RBI, .757 OPS), who at this point in his career might not be worth keeping. So, at the end of the day, the Iron Fist get nothing but a 9th-rounder for the player once considered the best in baseball -- but also remember Vancouver was 38-41 before this deal and 52-31 after it, and Wooten would lead the team in post-season batting average, hits and runs. And if the Mighty Men don't use a protected spot on the ineligible Griffey, they walk away from this deal with just a 5th-round pick to show for a protected-list player (Alou) and a 3rd-rounder (Wooten). This deal has to be considered a very marginal win for Vancouver.

May 23: Brooklyn gets OF Jermaine Dye from Stanhope for a 6th Round Draft Pick.

A day after landing Griffey, the Mighty Men dealt away the superfluous Dye, who had a monster '01 season (.331, .938 OPS, 30 HR, 99 RBI) but couldn't do anything right in '02 (.218, .622 OPS in 330 AB). His production was marginally improved in Brooklyn (.236, .644 OPS), but the Bean Counters obviously made this trade hoping the 28-year-old would be a solid keeper for next season. Although they protected him, his future production is still a question mark (.252, .792 OPS, 24 HR, 86 RBI in '02), making this a win for Stanhope.

June 14: Brooklyn gets a 6th Round Draft Pick from Newark for RP Felix Rodriguez and a 12th Round Draft Pick.

Following up on their trade from a month before, Brooklyn essentially converted Rodriguez into Dye, replacing the 6th Rounder they'd given up for him and adding a 12th Rounder in the process. At the time, "F-Rod" was -- to the amazement of many -- one of the most dominant closers in baseball, with a league-leading 26 saves to go along with a 2.78 ERA, 8.9 R/9 and 50 whiffs in 45 innings. But the 30-year-old journeyman wasn't likely to show up on anyone's protected list (a 5.21 ERA at the time of the trade), so the rebuilding Bean Counters were happy to convert him into a draft pick. Rodriguez continued pitching brilliantly in Newark (3-1, 3 SV, 1.57 ERA, 8.3 R/9, 43 K in 40 IP) and helped the Sugar Bears win their second straight league title (2-0, 1 SV in six post-season appearances). Despite Rodriguez's strong finish (8-6, 4.17 ERA by the end of the season), Newark declined to pick up his option, making him a free agent. The Sugar Bears can't complain about the results of the trade and the Bean Counters were certainly happy with what they got out of the deal, so this one goes down as a win-win.

June 17: Brooklyn gets 1B Todd Zeile from Newark for a 15th Round Draft Pick.

Manny Ramirez's two-week bout with the flu opened the door for Zeile, a key component of the team's 2001 championship drive (.275, .900 OPS). Zeile didn't get much playing time, but he made the most of it, going 4-for-9 with 1 R, 1 RBI. When Ramirez came off the DL, the Sugar Bears sent him to Brooklyn, the fourth and final time these two teams would swap this season. Zeile did nothing for the Bean Counters (1-for-11, though the one hit was a home run), but the deal was clearly made with next year in mind (at the time of the trade, Zeile was hitting .309 with a .371 OBP, .507 SLG) and the veteran wound up on Brooklyn's protected list despite his season-ending tailspin (final numbers: .273, .353, .425). A 15th round for a keeper, even a borderline one, makes this swap a very marginal win for Brooklyn.

June 21: Hoboken gets 1B Tino Martinez from Stanhope for an 8th Round Draft Pick.

The dream-team platoon of Richie Sexson and Ryan Klesko was turning into a nightmare in Hoboken, with the former and future superstars combining to hit just .234 with 215 Ks over the first half of the season. In Stanhope, Martinez was putting up his usual solid numbers (.267, .500 SLG, 22 HR and 55 RBI in 326 AB) and had spent his entire career with the Stanhope franchise -- in fact, he was an original member of the '96 Jerusalem Rabbis squad -- but the 36-year-old Tino didn't look like a keeper for next year and the Mighty Men were set at first base for the rest of the decade with Todd Helton inked to a long-term deal.

After the trade, Martinez kept up his steady production (.261, .516 SLG), and a week later the Cutters were able to address their pitching needs by dealing Sexson for Mike Mussina and Kevin Millar. The value of the eighth-round pick remains to be seen, but it seems like adequate compensation for Martinez, who declined arbitration and is a free agent (.262, .776 OPS). This trade goes down as even.

June 21: Brooklyn gets SP Kip Wells and a 4th Round Draft Pick from Vancouver for SP Joe Mays.

Two-thirds of the way through the 2002 season, the Vancouver Iron Fist -- the defending division champions and a team that had reached the playoffs for eight consecutive years -- were just one game over .500 and battling for their playoff lives. GM Yaro Zajac was working the phones looking for a starting pitcher to replace four unreliable starters sharing two spots in the rotation: Brian Lawrence (4-9, 4.46 ERA, 12.8 R/9), Sean Lowe (6-3, 4.50, 13.2), Brad Radke (5-8, 5.12, 13.1) and Todd Ritchie (1-2, 6.35, 12.3). The Bean Counters, again looking to improve their position in next year's draft, had a perfect commodity in Mays -- despite his All-Star numbers (11-10, 3.03 ERA, 9.5 R/9), a journeyman who wasn't worth holding onto next season. Mays' numbers came back to earth in Vancouver (5-5, 4.26 ERA, 11.5 R/9), but the Iron Fist went 34-17 (.667) after the trade to ensure yet another trip to the post-season.

Considering that the Bean Counters had landed Mays (and Scott Schoeneweis) for a 5th rounder and then-ace Chuck Smith almost exactly one year earlier, a 4th rounder and a marginal prospect represents a rather modest return on their investment. Wells, a 25-year-old right-hander, had respectable numbers in the minors last season (12-14, 3.58 ERA), but the rebuilding Bean Counters surprisingly left him off their keeper list. Nevertheless, they're certainly better off with a 4th Rounder than they would have been with Mays, who wasn't going to help them salvage their lost season and isn't likely to figure into anyone's future plans (4-8, 5.38 ERA). Both teams got what they wanted, but Mays' merely adequate performance over the final third of the season turns this into a marginal win for Brooklyn.

June 26: Brooklyn gets a 5th Round Draft Pick from Hoboken for 3B Joe Randa.

Over the first half of the season, the Cutters' hot corner was a black hole, with Adrian Beltre (.209), Jeff Liefer (.229) and Randy Velarde (.235) all stinking up the joint. On June 20, after Beltre went 0-for-5 with 4 Ks and a two-run error in a 6-7 loss, one fan's sign said it all: "Bring Back Chris Truby". The Cutters had cut Truby after he'd hit just .245 with a ridiculously awful .888 fielding percentage in 98 games at third base the previous season, but his .717 OPS was actually better than any of his three replacements. That night, Hoboken GM Mark Hrywna started working the phones in search of "Plan D." He quickly got in touch with Brooklyn's David Schlossberg, the league's leading wheeler and dealer. But although both teams were motivated to make a trade, each may have been better served looking elsewhere: Randa, while still looking like a decent keeper for next year (.300, .362 OBP, .483 SLG when the deal was made), was having an awful first half (.215, .545 OPS) and hardly seemed like the answer to Hoboken's immediate problems. But the Cutters bet that Randa had nowhere to go but up. They were right, sort of, as Randa's numbers "soared" to .221, .568, worse even than the three stiffs he had replaced at third base. Twenty-four hours later, the Cutters were making another deal, landing the player (Kevin Millar) who would finally solve their third-base problem, at least for this season.

For next season, it's a tough call as to whether the Cutters will hold onto Randa (he finished at .282, .768 OPS), as their protected list is looking awfully crowded. The Bean Counters, who will have a tough time finding 15 players worth protecting, may have had room for him, but they're happier with Hoboken's fifth rounder -- their seventh pick in the first five rounds of the draft. This trade goes down as another win for Brooklyn.

June 27: Carolina trades 1B Kevin Millar and SP Mike Mussina to Hoboken for 1B Richie Sexson.

Two years ago, the Mudcats traded away Roger Clemens, the greatest starting pitcher in team history, for a 10th round pick. This year, after six years with the Mudcats, the Moose had caught Clemens in several career categories and was in the midst of a fine season (9-9, 3.76 ERA, 11.6 R/9). But the Mudcats, a playoff team the previous year, were seven games under .500 and fading fast from the post-season hunt thanks to their 11th-place offense. Mussina, at age 34, wasn't looking like a sure thing for next season (4.72 ERA when the trade was made), and the Mudcats were loaded with budding stars Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Roy Halladay. The Cutters, after trades for Tino Martinez, Juan Pierre and Joe Randa, had offense to spare for a veteran arm to round out their talented but inexperienced rotation. Mussina proved to be even better after the trade, going 5-3 with a 3.26 ERA and 10.7 R/9, and more importantly meant the Cutters could finally yank Jarrod Washburn (1-13, 7.45 ERA) from the rotation. But, as good as Mussina was, Millar -- viewed as a throw-in at the time -- proved to be the key to the deal. The previous day, the Cutters thought they'd solved their third base problem by acquiring Randa, but after he proved just as inept as his predecessors at the hot corner, Millar was given a chance and never looked back, hitting .296 with a .484 slugging percentage. In the post-season, Millar did a George Brett impression, hitting .455 with a league-leading 1.682 OPS.

The one-dimensional Sexson (27 HR and 67 RBI in 402 AB, but with a .236 BA, .293 OBP and 135 K) would have been a small price to pay to plug both of Hoboken's biggest needs, no matter what he did for his new team. But, adding insult to injury, Sexson proved completely ineffective in Carolina (.170, .574 OPS). In fact, Millar could prove to be the more valuable player next season (Millar: .306, .875 OPS; Sexson: .279, .867 OPS), although it must be remembered that Sexson is four years younger and just a year ago was touted as one of the year's great young stars. Still, this trade has to go down as a huge win for Hoboken and ranks with the Biggio-for-Renteria swap as one of the most lopsided of the year.

July 15: Philadelphia gets 1B Rafael Palmeiro from Tijuana for 3B Tony Batista and a 5th Round Draft Pick.

The Endzone Animals, mired in last place in the Morris Division for the second straight season, closed out the year's trades with two moves on the day of the trading deadline. The Animals had picked up Batista for free -- they claimed him June 9, two days after he was cut for the second time this season -- and he'd been stuck in Triple-A for the last month after hitting .161 (5-31) with 1 HR and 3 RBI in 31 AB for Stanhope, so he was excess baggage from Philly's point of view. Tijuana, on the other hand, had a gaping hole at the hot corner for next season with the retirement of Scott Brosius (no at-bats in 2002), the awful year by Shane Halter (.239, 10 HR, .704 OPS in 410 AB) and the slow development of Hank Blalock (ineligible after hitting .211 in 147 AB). On the other hand, Palmeiro was having a lousy year, hitting .231 with a .771 OPS in 442 AB, and was deemed expendable because Tijuana had Sean Casey, 10 years younger and a career .326 hitter.

So the deal was struck, Batista and a fifth for Palmeiro, and at the time of the trade it looked like Tijuana had pulled off a steal. The 29-year-old Batista looked like a good fit for the Banditos (.263, .506 SLG, .841 OPS on July 15), and he hit .259 with a .481 SLG in 54 AB, helping the team reach a playoff berth. But they may be back to the drawing board for next season after Batista hit just .094 (5-53) in his final 14 games of winter ball and might not even make the spring training roster (final season numbers: .244, .457 SLG, .766 OPS), so essentially this trade turned into Palmeiro for a fifth rounder. Even worse for the Banditos, Casey has developed a persistent shoulder problem and also could wind up on another team next year (.261, 6 HR in 425 AB), while Palmeiro has looked great after working with renowned hitting coach Mickey Morandini and might be in for a big year in 2003 (.273, 43 HR, 105 RBI, .962 OPS in 546 AB). It all adds up to a win for Philadelphia.

July 15: Philadelphia gets a 7th Round Draft Pick from Vancouver for RP David Weathers.

The trading season didn't end with a bang, but everybody came out happy. Weathers was having a fine year (2.27 ERA, 11.2 R/9, 77 K in 79.1 IP), but middle relievers seldom figure into rebuilding plans (6-3, 2.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP), so the Endzone Animals were happy with whatever they could get for him. Weathers continued throwing well in Vancouver (1.93 ERA, 13.5 R/9 in 11 G), though he didn't get much work as the bullpen's sixth man. Both teams got what they were looking for, so this one goes down as a win-win.

Chris Nabholz was the subject of one of the league's most controversial trades on Dec. 12, 1991, when the Austin Outlaws southpaw was dealt to the Scranton Sparrows for unspecified "future considerations." The cantankerous owners couldn't agree on adequate compensation and ultimately the trade was resolved through arbitration, with Scranton getting Austin's 5th and 15th round picks in 1993. Trades for "future considerations," players to be named later, cash and so on were banned after this trade. Nabholz now lives in Pottsville, Pa., where he helps coach the local high school team and at baseball camps. Click Here for past articles.