July 15, 2007  

2007 In-Season Trades

Date Team Gets Team Gets
Mar. 18
Opening Day
May 8
1B Prince Fielder
VAN SP Chris Carpenter
May 24
RP Rafael Soriano
'08 2nd Round
PHI SS Jimmy Rollins
RP Brandon Lyon
June 10
RP Chris Ray
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Derrek Lee
LV OF Matt Holliday
3B Alex Gordon
'08 1st Round
June 12
'08 2nd Round
SAR SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
June 27
SP Woody Williams
VAN '08 8th Round
June 29
SP Jorge Sosa PHI C A.J. Pierzynski
July 12
1B/OF Greg Norton
RP Brandon League
SB RP Adam Wainwright
July 14
RP B.J. Ryan SAR '08 5th Round
July 15
OF J.D. Drew VAN '08 5th Round
'09 5th Round
July 15
RP Wes Littleton VAN '08 8th Round
July 15
Trade Deadline

The Dealin's Done!

The trade deadline has come and gone, and no more trades can be made until after this year's World Series. Let's take a look back and review the year in trades.

There were a total of 22 trades made this season (12 in the off-season, 10 during the seaon). In terms of trades made, it was the most since 1999, when there were 33 trades made; in fact, since 1996, the earliest period for which we have data, this season ranks behind only '99 and '98 (26 trades). But don't get too excited about this being the third-busiest season for trades, as there were 21 trades made in '06 and also in '02.

This year's 22 trades involved 36 players and 21 picks, a total of 57 "commodities." That's actually a relatively low number considering the number of trades made; even though there was one fewer trade made last year, there were 74 commodities exchanged (45 players, 29 picks). There were 57 commodities dealt in 19 trades in '05 (26 players, 31 picks), 46 in 13 trades in '04 (34 players, 12 picks) and 54 in 16 trades in '03 (36 players, 18 picks). The biggest year in terms of commodities that we know of (since '96) was '99, when there were 121 commodities (83 players, 38 picks) in 33 trades.

This year there were 12 off-season trades and 10 in-season trades. We've been splitting trades by in-season/off-season since '02, and this ranks as the busiest off-season we have on record, beating '05 by a single off-season trade. In terms of in-season trades, it ranks third, behind '06 (13) and '02 (12).

The most active teams in terms of trades were the Las Vegas Rat Pack, Marietta Mighty Men and Vancouver Iron Fist, who each made 7 deals. The Philadelphia Endzone Animals were right behind them with 6 deals, followed by the Sardine City Straphangers (4), then D.C. Bushslappers (3) and Hoboken Cutters (3), then the Newark Sugar Bears (2) and South Boston Gang (2). The Arkansas Golden FalconsHonolulu Sharks and New Jersey Team Buddah each made 1 deal. The only teams not to make any deals were the Carolina Mudcats and the Hillsborough Hired Hitmen.

Five teams partenered up twice: Las Vegas and D.C., Philly and Vancouver, Marietta and Vancouver, Marietta and Sardine City, and Las Vegas and Sardine City. No other teams made more than one trade with each other.

Now let's look at the 10 in-season trades in detail. (To read all about this year's 12 off-season trades, check out our previous edition of Trade Talk.)

We broke down the 10 in-season trades into three groups: The three trades that were "win-wins," that left both teams relatively happy; the four deals that one team appeared to come out ahead on; and the three deals that we just aren't sure yet.

You Win, I Win

Just about every trade is proposed as a "win-win" deal -- you might secretly think you're ripping the guy off, but you still have to pitch it as a trade that helps both teams. And sometimes, as in the case of the following three trades, they really do turn out to be an improvement for both teams.

For example, consider the first trade of the regular season -- a May 8 deal between Vancouver and South Boston. On paper, it just might be the classic example of a "win-win" trade -- that is, unless it turns out to be the continuation of the most storied curse in DMBL history!

The Iron Fist, in need of a starting pitcher, gave up 23-year-old first baseman Prince Fielder, while the Gang, looking toward next year, swapped 32-year-old starting pitcher Chris Carpenter. Prince FielderFielder was one of the most coveted batting prospects in baseball -- he'd been drafted as a prospect in 2004 and 2005, but not retained. Then the Iron Fist took him in the 3rd Round (#40 overall) of the '06 draft as an ineligible prospect and protected him this off-season. Fielder wasn't expected to do much this year as a rookie (MLB '06: .271 BA, .347 OBP, .483 SLG) but no one expected him to be this bad (.183 BA, .543 OPS in 71 AB). He also was buried in the depth chart behind David Ortiz and Conor Jackson. So while Fielder was regarded as a promising future slugger, he was deemed an expendable commodity to the Iron Fist front office. But still, at the time of the deal, some wondered if he was too much to give up in exchange for what could be just one year from Carpenter. (At the time of the deal, it looked like he would be ineligible for the 2008 season -- he was shut down after just one '07 MLB start with an elbow injury; now he's rehabbing and just might qualify for next season.) In any event, this clearly was a deal the Iron Fist made for today, not tomorrow, as they were in the thick of the division race. Carpenter hadn't had a great start with South Boston (3-4, 5.20 ERA, 13.8 R/9, .333 QS%), but there was every indication he could pitch better than that (MLB '06: 3.09 ERA, 10.0 R/9).

After the deal, Chris CarpenterFielder has looked much more comfortable in South Boston (.245, .741 OPS in 220 AB), where he's getting a chance to play just about every day and is undoubtedly the team's first baseman of the present and future, and no doubt will contribute even more next season (MLB '07: .284 BA, .996 OPS, 29 HR in 324 AB). Meanwhile, just as expected, Carpenter has pitched a lot better for the Fisters, going 7-3 with a 4.76 ERA, 11.9 R/9 and .538 QS%. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider who the Fisters would've had to use in the rotation if they hadn't acquired Carpenter; every other starter, other than Greg Maddux and Jake Peavy, has ERAs at 5.80 and R/9s at 13.6 or higher, and only Carpenter and Maddux have better than a .500 QS%.

But the oddest thing about this trade is that the Fisters were 31-20 and in 3rd place overall, just 3 games behind Philly for the division lead; now they're 59-59 and in 8th place, 2½ games behind Honolulu for the final playoff berth. How could giving up a player that didn't contribute at all in exchange for a top starting pitcher result in such a rapid fall in the standings?

It Vancouver is indeed cursed for the rest of its existence, then undoubtedly they lost in this deal. But if that's not the case, this deal appears to be fairly even so far: The Gang got a young slugger, but the Iron Fist didn't need him. They got back a starter who, despite the team's overall performance, has pitched very well so far. The fact that Carpenter could conceivably contribute to their 2008 campaign also helps even things out. So let's call this one a win-win.

Another trade that left both sides happy -- kind'a -- was struck on the day before the deadline. B.J. RyanThe Straphangers, after prolonged negotiations with multiple teams, finally pulled off the long-awaited trade of closer B.J. Ryan. The 31-year-old lefty has incredible stuff (MLB '06: 1.37 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) and had a 3.35 ERA, 11.9 R/9 and 35 K in 37.2 IP for the Straphangers this year, but is expected to be ineligible next season. That gives him limited value to 13th-place Sardine City. But the 5th overall pick in this year's Dispersal Draft team had plenty of suitors among the playoff teams. The Hangmen are rumored to have considered and rejected several offers in the hope of driving up the bidding, waiting until the second-to-last day to finally accept Marietta's 5th Round draft pick.

After the deal, both sides were wondering if it was a fair one -- usually a good sign that it was an even swap. Ryan has pitched brilliantly in two appearances so far with the Mites (0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 6 K in 4.0 IP), but some wonder why the front office didn't use that pick to go get a starting pitcher, instead of adding another reliever to a bullpen that already features DMBL legends Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. There's also the question if the Mites could have pried Ryan away for less, or maybe convinced the Sardine City front office to throw in another player or a late pick. At the same time, some sources inside the Sardine City front office had earlier said they'd accept nothing less than a 4th Round pick for Ryan, and instead they settled for one of the last picks of the 5th Round. Some Straphanger fans were annoyed that Ryan was traded at all, saying he should have been squirreled away for 2009, as South Boston did this year (and last) with Eric Gagne.

Well, any trade that is second-guessed by that many people on either side must be a fair one. What remains to be seen if it's a double-win or a double-loss. For the moment, we'll just call it a draw.

The final trade of the 2007 regular season was consummated moments before the trade deadline at midnight, as the Iron Fist swapped reliever Wes Littleton to the Cutters for an 8th Round draft pick. Wes LittletonLittleton, a 24-year-old rookie taken in the 5th Round (#69 overall) of this year's draft, was expected to be a key member of the Iron Fist bullpen this year (MLB '06: 1.73 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in 36.3 IP). But he proved to be overmatched in the DMBL (4.84 ERA, 13.6 R/9, 29 BB, 30 K in 61.1 IP), particularly against left-handed batters (.364, 1.116 OPS). He also appeared to be of dubious value for next season (MLB '07: 4.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP in 11 G; now in Triple-A). But despite Littleton's ugly numbers with the Iron Fist, the Cutters badly needed a reliever -- in fact, his 4.84 ERA with Vancouver would be second-best in the Hoboken bullpen, just behind only Juan Rincon (4.82 ERA)!

Littleton was nearly perfect in his only appearance so far with the Cutters (0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K in 1.1 IP), but it remains to be seen if he reverts to his old form. And even if he does, he'd still be an improvement over the guy he replaced in the 'pen, Braden Looper (4.92 ERA, 16.6 R/9). So it appears the Cutters did a good job in acquiring Littleton for an 8th Round pick, even if he doesn't come close to their protected list. As for the Vancouver, an 8th Round pick seems fair compensation for a guy who was being routinely booed by Iron Fist fans. This swap likely won't go down in the history books as an all-time great trade, but at the moment it looks like a very minor win for each team.

No Take-Backs!

Then there are those trades that we're confident we already know who won and who lost. Yes, in a year's time we may feel differently, but for right now, these four trades appear to have a clear winner and a clear loser.

The Bushslappers are in just their second season, but they've already made a number of headline deals with the Rat Pack. Last year, they exchanged 10 players and eight picks in three deals; this year, it was seven players and two picks in two deals. The two have exchanged such notable players as Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano and Carl Crawford. Last year, the deals were mostly sending veteran players to Las Vegas for its playoff run, with younger players and prospects heading to D.C. Matt Hollidayas it was being built as a first-year franchise; this year, the deals seem to be swinging in the opposite direction as Las Vegas is likely to finish with the league's worst record while the Bushslappers are in the thick of the playoff hunt. In an example of such a trade, the Bushslappers traded away outfielder Matt Holliday, prospect Alex Gordon and their 1st Round draft pick, and got back from Las Vegas reliever Chris Ray, first baseman Derrek Lee and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

It was obvious to see why Vegas made this deal. Ray, while just 25 years old and having a very good season (3.66 ERA, 9.4 R/9, 15 BB, 42 K in 46.2 IP), doesn't look like a keeper for next year (MLB '07: 4.54 ERA, 1.22 WHIP), and at this point that's the only thing that matters to the rebuilding Rat Pack. Derrek LeeLee, an ineligible 31-year-old first baseman, looks like he will be a keeper next season (MLB '07: .335, .915 OPS in 319 AB) but the Rat Pack is set at first base with Mark Teixeira. And Zimmerman, regarded as a top prospect last year, was having a fine season (.285, .806 OPS, 11 HR, 43 RBI in 316 AB for Las Vegas) but didn't look like a keeper (MLB '07: .256, .740 OPS) and was buried in the depth chart behind Chone Figgins and Edwin Encarnacion. All three of the players Vegas sent to D.C. could be considered expendable for both this year and next.

As for the Bushslappers, there was no blaming them for wanting to ship off Gordon, Alex Gordona 23-year-old third baseman regarded by some as the best prospect in baseball. They'd taken Gordon this year with the 23rd overall pick, but he was having trouble living up to those lofty expectations in the D.C. farm system (MLB '07: .200 BA, .600 OPS at the time of the deal). It seemed like a fair deal to convert him into Zimmerman, who had the benefit of being eligible for this season and was in fact seven months younger than Gordon anyway. Ryan ZimmermanAs for Holliday, he was struggling mightily in D.C. (.218, .692 OPS in 335 AB), and there were whispers that the outfielder -- one of the last hold-overs from the old Columbia Rattlesnakes -- had the "taint" of that cursed franchise hanging around him. But still, Holliday is just 27 years old and looks very much like he will be a keeper for next season (MLB '07: .339, .964 OPS in 366 AB). However, one could make an argument that Lee and Holliday are comparable keepers for next season, even though Lee is four years older, ineligible for this season, and plays the less demanding defensive position.

But if Gordon is cancelled out by Zimmerman Chris Rayand Holliday by Lee, that leaves the trade of Ray for a 1st round pick -- a deal few owners would regard as an even exchange. Making the deal all the worse for the Bushslappers is that Ray has been a complete disaster (0-3, 8 ER, 11 H, 7 BB, 3 HR in 8.1 IP). So even if the rest of the deal evens out -- Gordon for Zimmerman, Holliday for Lee -- the deal still boils down to the Bushslappers giving up a 1st Round pick for a reliever who has already cost them at least three games, and at this point doesn't look like a keeper for next season. When you also consider that Ray was worthless to Vegas anyway, this deal must be regarded as a win for the Rat Pack.

That was the regular season's biggest trade, with six commodities exchanged (five players, one pick); next up, we'll review the second-biggest, the May 24 swap between Newark and Philly that saw three players and a pick change hands.

Philly has had a real problem at shortstop this season: An amazing nine different players have had at least one game at short, including five guys who have played at least five games there. In fact, the franchise has been looking for an answer shortstop since they traded away Rafael Furcal in 2005. The Sugar Bears, on the other hand, had too many guys for the position -- the original plan was to play Jimmy Rollins at short and use Carlos Guillen as the designated hitter, but then Mark Teahen came out of nowhere to claim the third base job, pushing Chipper Jones to DH, Guillen to SS and Rollins to the bench. Though he got in some time as a defensive replacement and pinch runner (and went 5-for-15 as a pinch hitter), the 28-year-old switch-hitter was overqualified (and overpaid) as a utility player. So the Sugar Bears were willing to sell; the question was, how much were the Endzone Animals willing to pay? The two owners haggled for about a month before finally coming up with a deal that sent Rollins and reliever Brandon Lyon down the Turnpike to Philly in exchange for reliever Rafael Soriano and a 2nd Round draft pick.

Rollins immediately took over as the Animals' shortstop, and so far the results have been mixed. He's hitting an unimpressive .258, compared to the .287 BA posted by the guy he replaced, David Eckstein Jimmy Rollins(although Rollins's OPS is 60 points higher). And while Rollins had 4 stolen bases to Eckstein's 2, Rollins also has been caught 5 times. J-Roll also been a mixed blessing with the glove, ranking first in the league in fielding percentage (.990) but near the bottom of the pack in total chances per game (3.8). In fact, while some thought Rollins's real value over Eckstein would come in the field, the two posted fairly similar numbers defensively. Considering how pumped the Endzone Animal fans were to get him, Rollins has to be considered a disappointment so far. On the other hand, Rollins is still only 28 years old, and some expect he'll be a key member of this team come next year (MLB '07: .286, .847 OPS, 16 HR, 15 SB in 71 G). He better be, as Rollins is the only thing Philly has to show from this deal; they cut Lyon a few weeks after making the deal.

You could also look at this deal as addition by subtraction in terms of the Philly bullpen -- Soriano was a disaster for them over the first quarter of the season (6.99 ERA, 15.6 R/9 in 28.1 IP). Rafael SorianoHe's been only slightly better in Newark (6.52 ERA, 14.9 R/9 in 9.2 IP), and the Sugar Bears recently put him on the D.L. after he finally admitted to team trainers that his arm just hasn't felt right since spring training. The Sugar Bears can afford to take it easy with him down the stretch this year, but still hope the 27-year-old will factor into their plans for next year (MLB '07: 2.79 ERA, 0.83 WHIP in 38.2 IP). And of course Newark's GM still has tucked away in his pocket that 2nd Round pick. It's likely to be near the end of the round, but the Sugar Bears certainly are familiar with finding value there. Rollins has provided more value this season than Soriano, and both are likely keepers; however, the 2nd Round pick makes this one a win for the Sugar Bears.

That trade got all kinds of publicity, but a month later the Endzone Animals made a much quieter swap, this time with Team Buddah. The Endzone Animals would have one of the league's best catchers in David Ross, provided all pitchers were left-handed (.317 BA, 1.390 OPS vs LHP; .176, .509 vs RHP). He obviously needed to be platooned, but no one could handle the other half of the job as the team tried Javier Valentin (.250, .589), Jason Varitek (.100, .200) and Rod Barajas (.105, .255). Meanwhile, New Jersey had an awesome platoon going at catcher, with Mike Piazza (.372, 1.055 vs LHP) and A.J. Pierzynski (.383, .994 vs RHP) A.J. Pierzynskicombining to give the team some of the league's best production at backstop. But it was all for naught as neither veteran looked like a keeper and the team was well out of playoff contention. So the Animals picked up A.J. to pair with Ross, sending swingman Jorge Sosa to the Buddahs. Unfortunately, Pierzynski appears to have left his bat in New Jersey, as he's looked just as bad as the previous partners (.214, .517 in 28 AB). There's still time for him to pick it up, of course; either way, it's likely to be his last season in Philly (MLB '07: .254 BA, .684 OPS). Jorge SosaSosa, on the other hand, while being essentially useless in the DMBL this year (MLB '06: 5.42 ERA, 1.51 WHIP), looks like a keeper for next year (MLB '07: 3.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP). Now, it's possible Sosa will implode over the second half and not be worth keeping; or even that he will be protected but pitch as poorly as he did last year with Phoenix and Hoboken (1-6, 4.52 ERA in 11 games). And it's also still possible Pierzynski will regain the stroke he had in Jersey and finally give Ross a worthy platoon partner. But at this moment in time, this trade has to be regarded as a  win for Team Buddah.

Another trade that wasn't exactly a headliner was the June 27 swap between Marietta and Vancouver. The Mighty Men had been looking for a fifth starter essentially all season, having tried Gil Meche (2-5, 6.96 ERA, 15.9 R/9), Mark Hendrickson (1-2, 8.31 ERA, 23.9 R/9), Jeff Suppan (0-3, 8.38 ERA, 16.8 R/9) and Brett Tomko (0-2, 9.19 ERA, 20.1 R/9). So the front office went looking for outside help. Readily available was Vancouver's Woody Williams. Woody WilliamsThe 40-year-old right-hander has had a journeyman DMBL career -- he's played for seven teams in nine years -- and over that span has gone 41-62 with a 5.10 ERA. In fact, he's had a winning record just once (14-5 with Newark in '01), although his 8-18 mark in '03 with Brooklyn had a lot more to do with his lack of run support (3.99 ERA, 1.24 WHIP). This season, it was more struggles for Woody -- despite the fact that the Iron Fist had protected him this off-season, he had been demoted to Triple-A after going 0-2 with a 10.66 ERA and 19.9 R/9 in his first three starts for the Iron Fist. But the Mighty Men figured he still had something left (MLB '06: 3.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), and after all, he couldn't be worse than their other options, right? So the Mites gave up an 8th Round draft pick and slotted Williams into their rotation. In his first three starts for his new team, Williams was awful (0-1, 16 ER, 22 H, 4 BB, 2 K in 10.1 IP). But just as it seemed Marietta was also going to give up on Woody, he threw a shutout against the Straphangers (0 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K) for his first win of the season. Granted, Sardine City has by far the worst offense in baseball, but the Mighty Men can only hope he can build on this performance. But the bottom line is even after the shutout, Woody is still 1-1 with a 7.45 ERA and 15.4 R/9 for the Mighty Men, numbers not much better than the ones that sent Meche to Triple-A and Hendrickson, Suppan and Tomko to the waiver wire. He's also not going to be worth keeping next year (MLB '07: 5.37 ERA, 1.42 WHIP).

We're a little reluctant to say anyone won this trade as an 8th Round pick isn't much compensation for a guy who the Iron Fist thought was worth protecting just five months ago, but something's better than nothing. Assuming Williams's performance against the Straphangers says more about Sardine City's offense than it does about Woody, we're going to call this one a slight win for the Iron Fist.

Answer Unclear; Check Back Later

Hey, this prognostication stuff ain't easy. It's just too soon to tell who won the following three trades.

First we'll look at the Trade Deadline Day deal between Vancouver and Philadelphia. After their miserable June swoon in which they dropped five places in the standings, the Iron Fist were in that no man's land every owner dreads -- not good enough to count on reaching the post-season, but not bad enough to get a good lottery pick, either. With the trade deadline looming, owner Yaro Zajac had to decide whether it was time to add another player to help with this year's team, or start unloading some non-keepers with an eye toward next year. On the surface, it would appear the first of the two deals the team made Sunday were in rebuilding mode. But a closer look reveals that the Iron Fist may be attempting to achieve addition through subtraction.

J.D. Drew was one of the most coveted prospects in baseball when Philly took him with the 4th overall pick of the J.D. Drew1999 draft -- the highest any ineligible player has ever been selected. He then had five so-so seasons with the Endzone Animals. But in 2005, he had a monster season, setting career highs in just about everything (.322, .995 OPS, 34 HR, 126 R, 98 RBI). This didn't exactly endear him to Philly fans, who felt he'd finally delivered only because it was a "walk year." Sure enough, Drew left the Endzone Animals at the end of that season as the Iron Fist selected him with the 12th overall pick of the 2006 draft. To the chagrin of Philly fans, he then had an even better year (.320, 1.059 OPS, 40 HR, 107 R, 102 RBI), despite missing about 40 games due to various aches and pains.

The Iron Fist brought him as a keeper for '07 hoping to see more of the same, but Drew tailed off badly this year, hitting just .239 (.720 OPS) in 297 ABs. In fact, Drew had recently been riding the pine behind youngsters Andre Ethier and Curtis Granderson. Yet he still remained an intriguing option for teams looking for some left-handed pop (MLB '06: .296, .946 OPS vs RHP). And that's exactly what the Endzone Animals needed, after finding no help from Magglio Ordonez (.242, .677 OPS vs RHP), Michael Cuddyer (.227, .573 OPS vs RHP), Trot Nixon (1-for-11) or Jeff DaVanon (0-for-6). There also is the sentimentality of Drew returning to his original team -- although he's not exactly a fan favorite in some circles. So the Iron Fist had every reason to get rid of Drew, and the Endzone Animals had every reason to acquire him. But for how much? In the end, Philly agreed to give up a 5th Round pick this year and a 5th Round pick next year.

The trade has been equally praised and condemned by fans of either team. Vancouver was happy to get anything for a guy they weren't using anyway and weren't likely to protect; on the other hand, some Iron Fist fans have complained that a pair of 5th Round picks isn't enough compensation for a keeper-list player who was a first round pick just one year ago. At the same time, some Philly fans say their team overpaid for a guy who had already lost his job in Vancouver.

So who won? We dunno. By all indications Drew is a better hitter than he has looked so far this season, and could be a tremendous help to the Endzone Animals in the post-season. There's also still the possibility that the 31-year-old will wind up a keeper for the Animals (MLB '07: .260, .763 OPS overall, but .308, .906 since June 1). If Drew has a monster fourth quarter and winds up on Philly's protected list, the Endzone Animals made out like bandits. On the other hand, if he continues to hit the way he did in Vancouver and isn't worth keeping next year, it's a slam dunk win for Vancouver. If the results are somewhere in between, it could wind up being a wash, depending on which players the Iron Fist get with the Philly picks. We'll have to say right now that this trade is too close to call.

Another deal that the jury is still out is the June 12 swap between the Rat Pack and the Straphangers. If you think it's rare to see a trade between the two teams at the top of the standings, consider this exchange between the two teams battling it out for the league's worst record! Both were in rebuilding mode, but each had its own method. The Rats wanted to make some trades for players for next year, but they were limited in what they could do as they already had the maximum five ineligible players on the roster. Meanwhile, the Hangmen were interested in adding to their protected list a starting pitcher. Daisuke MatsuzakaSo the two teams came to an agreement, with the Rats sending Daisuke Matsuzaka to Sardine City in exchange for Rats' 2nd Round draft pick. (The Straphangers inherited Las Vegas's 2nd Round pick in the '08 draft from the Westwood Deductions, who obtained it as part of the July 13, 2006, deal that sent Derrek Lee to the Rats.) Curiously, in the '07 draft, Dice-K had been a 3rd Round pick (#37 overall), but now without throwing a pitch in the DMBL his value had been risen by about 20 spots -- even his numbers at the time weren't anywhere close to the pre-season hype (MLB '07: 7-5, 4.52 ERA, 1.31 WHIP at the time of the deal). But perhaps the Hangmen had actually "bought low" on Matsuzaka, as he's been a lot more impressive recently (4-1, 2.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP since the deal was made; 11-6, 3.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP overall). Based on his numbers at the time of the deal, or even his overall numbers now, it appears the Strappers overpaid, as there generally are starting pitchers with numbers better than a 4.00 ERA/1.30 WHIP at the top of the second round. But if Dice-K continues to pitch at his more recent level of production -- and proves to be the top-shelf ace starter he was in Japan -- they got a bargain. At this point, it's just too soon to tell who won this one.

Adam WainwrightThe Cutters bolstered their bullpen and their lineup with the first deal of the final week before the deadline. On July 12th, they sent struggling rookie Adam Wainwright to South Boston in exchange for RP Brandon League and 1B/OF Greg Norton. The 25-year-old Wainwright was a highly prized young pitcher when he was drafted in the 4th round (#48 overall) of this year's draft, but he'd been terrible so far, posting an 8.77 ERA and 15.8 R/9 (and a ridiculous .943 OPS allowed, mostly due to his 19 HRs in just 66.2 IP).

The two players the Gang gave up to get Wainwright were both having excellent campaigns. League was 8-2 with 3 saves and 15 holds (2.24 ERA, 10.7 R/9) as the team's top set-up man, while Norton, the team's DH against righties, was hitting .309 with an .850 OPS overall, and an even more impressive .325/.902 vs RHP. Greg NortonLeague, 24, was expected to be a good reliever as he was taken in the 3rd Round (#33 overall), but the 34-year-old Norton proved to be an incredible bargain for the Gang as he was taken in the 14th round (#187 overall), right between Marco Scutaro and Zack Greinke. However, neither one is expected to be a keeper (MLB '07: League just returned to the majors July 16 after being out with an injury; Norton is hitting .178 with a .588 OPS in just 90 ABs), giving them little value to the 12th-place Gang.

It's only been a week, but so far neither Brandon LeagueLeague (3 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 1 HR in 5.0 IP) nor Norton (.167 BA, .556 OPS in 18 AB) has done anything to his impress his new teammates. Meanwhile, Wainwright also has been awful since joining South Boston (3 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 1 HR in 2.2 IP), but the Gang-bangers don't care how the righthander fares this season; they're more interested in using him as a starter next year (MLB '07: 4.36 ERA, 1.51 WHIP overall, but 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP since June 1). This trade could clearly go either way; at the moment, we'll have to say it's just too early to call.

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.