July 16, 2006: 12:01 a.m.  

What a Week!

Date Team Gets Team Gets
July 10
'07 3rd Round
'07 6th Round
VAN SP Mark Buehrle
'07 10th Round
July 12
SP Brandon Webb
WWD P Brad Hennessey
'07 2nd Round
NWK RP Scott Linebrink
PHX RP Akinori Otsuka
HBK P Jorge Sosa
PHX '07 8th Round
July 13
LV OF Gary Sheffield
RP Aaron Fultz
OF Jonny Gomes
'07 9th Round
LV 1B Derrek Lee
1B Scott Hatteberg
SP Aaron Sele
'07 8th Round
'08 2nd Round
DC SS Jose Reyes
'07 10th Round
3B Troy Glaus
SP Tom Glavine
'07 6th Round
July 14
NWK SP Zach Duke
'07 12th Round
WWD SS Orlando Cabrera
'07 6th Round
HBK RP Jose Valverde
WWD '07 10th Round
July 16
DC C Johnny Estrada MAR C Bengie Molina
OF Scott Podsednik
DC '07 8th Round NWK SS Jimmy Rollins

The Dealin's Done!
It's one minute past midnight on July 16, 2006, and the Commissioner's Office is officially closed! There will be no more trades until the off-season leading up to the 2007 season.

After an uneventful regular season that saw just one trade made since Draft Day, the final week of moves closed things out with a bang, with 11 trades made before the clock finally struck midnight. Some of the league's top stars changed addresses as some teams brought in reinforcements for the stretch drive, and others punted on 2006 and set their sights on bigger and better seasons to come.

There were a total of 11 trades made, involving a total of 22 players and 14 draft picks. The most active team was the Westwood Deductions, swinging five deals with five different teams. The D.C. Bushslappers made four trades, followed by the Newark Sugar Bears with three, then the Hoboken Cutters, Las Vegas Rat Pack, Marietta Mighty Men and Phoenix Dragons with two, and the Vancouver Ironfist and Philadelphia Endzone Animals with one each.


D.C. got the ball rolling with the long-anticipated trade of SP Mark Buehrle, sending him and a 10th Round pick to Vancouver for their 3rd Round and 6th Round picks.

The 27-year-old southpaw Mark Buehrleand former Ben McDonald Award winner was having another fine season (5-9, 4.09 ERA, 12.4 R/9), but he hadn't been shy about expressing his displeasure with the new management after the Rattlesnakes became the Bushslappers. With Buehrle saying he won't be back with the team next year, and D.C. all but eliminated from the playoff picture, the need to move him before the deadline ranked right behind "Bill Clinton likes the ladies" as the worst-kept secret in Washington. But even so, D.C. was able to get back good value. Bushslappers owner Jamie Landsman has been busily stockpiling draft picks, and Vancouver's third-rounder gives him five in the first three rounds. (The 6th rounder would be moved in a later deal.)

Vancouver reportedly beat out several other teams to win the Buehrle sweepstakes, and they're happy to have the young four-year veteran in their rotation as they continue their pursuit of the Morris Division title. The Ironfist had been struggling to find a lefty to plug into their rotation, having gone through Oliver Perez, Odalis Perez and Brandon Claussen. Oliver, who had been protected by the Fist, was released in May without making a big-league appearance; Odalis, a 4th-round pick, was cut after one disastrous start (5 ER, 8 H, 4 BB in 6.0 IP); and Brandon, also protected, was designated for assignment to make room for Buehrle despite a 6-4 record. (The 6.14 ERA and 14.0 R/9 probably had something to do with it.) Buehrle gives the team a much-needed left-hander this year as they struggle to catch Carolina and Las Vegas -- each has a better record against righties than lefties. And while two picks in the first 84 rounds may be a lot to give up for a two-month rental, there's always a chance that Vancouver GM Yaro Zajac can sweet-talk Buehrle into re-signing with the Fist (MLB '06: ).


The flip side of the Bushslappers' all-too-obvious need to deal Buehrle was one of this week's most unexpected swaps: Westwood's SP Brandon Webb going to Philly in exchange for SP Brad Hennessey and a 2nd Round draft pick.

Most GMs said they had no clue the Deductions had any interest in trading Webb, a 27-year-old sinkerballer the Ducks just this off-season had paid a hefty price to acquire -- a 1st round pick, an 8th round pick and Brandon Webbone of the league's top young relievers (Justin Duchscherer). (Webb came with Esteban Loaiza, Chris Capuano and David Dellucci; all three have had awful seasons.) It's true that Webb isn't having a great season with Westwood (4-10, 5.60 ERA, 15.2 R/9), but scouts say if you look past the numbers you'll see a pitcher poised to have a break-out season next year. (MLB '06: 9-3, 2.65 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 19 starts)

Considering how much Westwood gave up to get Webb before the season started -- Brad Hennesseyand that, if anything, his stock appears to be soaring heading into 2007 -- it's baffling he was dealt for a pick that will likely be at least 20 spots lower, plus a rookie pitcher in Hennessey who has yet to crack Philly's Triple-A starting rotation (MLB '06: 4-1, 1 SV, 2.41 ERA, 1.12 WHIP in 6 starts, 11 relief appearances) -- and is just one year younger than Webb anyway. A 2nd Round pick and a guy signed as a minor league free agent a month ago is a cheap price to pay for a starting pitcher who, if left unprotected, would have likely been the first pick overall in next year's draft.


In the second swap of relievers this year between the Dragons and Sugar Bears, Phoenix sent  Scott Linebrink to Newark in exchange for Akinori Otsuka. (In January, Phoenix sent Scot Shields to Newark for Mike Gonzalez.)

Akinori OtsukaOtsuka, 34, had just one appearance with the Sugar Bears this season, and it wasn't too pretty (1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 2 K in 2.0 IP). But the right-hander was having a tremendous season as the closer for the Triple-A Dublin Lucky Charms (MLB '06: 2-3, 17 SV, 2.13 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) and figures to join Gonzalez in what will be a formidable right-left closer tandem for the Dragons next season.

Scott LinebrinkLinebrink jumps 10 places in the standings, going from the 11th-place Dragons to the 1st-place Sugar Bears. The 29-year-old right-hander was 2-2 with 2 saves and 12 holds  (3.01 ERA, 11.5 R/9) pitching in middle relief for the Dragons, and figures to assume a similar role with the Sugar Bears this year, replacing Chris Reitsma (4-1, 1 SV, 4.89 ERA, 14.2 R/9). Linebrink could also figure into Newark's long-term plans (MLB '06: 6-2, 1 SV, 2.68 ERA, 0.96 WHIP).


Not satisfied with landing Otsuka, Phoenix GM Mike Chan continued working the phones until late Wednesday evening, finally swinging his second deal of the day -- SP/RP Jorge Sosa to Hoboken for an 8th Round draft pick.

This deal may have had more to do with public relations than anything else. The Phoenix front office thought they'd found a hidden gem in the 29-year-old right-hander, who had gone 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 20 starts and 24 relief appearances in the Costa Rican league last year. Jorge SosaExpectations were high after the Dragons took him with the #16 pick in this year's draft, but after Sosa was bombed early and often in Spring Training, the Dragons had no choice but to send him to Triple-A El Paso to straighten things out. He wasn't able to straighten out much (MLB '06: 2-10, 3 SV, 5.40 ERA, 1.51 WHIP in 13 starts, 9 relief appearances), but he was promoted anyway, as the organization was feeling the heat from callers on WFAN whining about how the team had "wasted" its first two picks on Sosa and OF Willy Taveras (#7 overall), who's had just 4 big-league at-bats so far this season. Sosa was recalled and assigned to middle relief duties, which didn't go so well either (4 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 1 K in 6.0 IP).

But it was apparently enough to catch the eye of Hoboken GM Mark Hrywna, who'd been desperately searching for a replacement for Jarrod Washburn (6-6, 5.10 ERA, 14.8 R/9). But Hrywna was dealing with a public relations problem of his own: even given his struggles this year, Washburn -- a fan favorite and an original Cutter -- couldn't be replaced with just anybody. The enigmatic 16th pick fit the bill nicely, and an 8th round pick doesn't look like too steep a price to pay, even if Sosa returns to Costa Rica at the end of the season.


A day after their division rivals Newark and Hoboken swung deals for pitching help, the Rat Pack made an even bigger splash with two huge deals. The first, made with Marietta, brought back long-time Rat Gary Sheffield, plus southpaw reliever Aaron Fultz, for OF Jonny Gomes and a 9th Round draft pick.

Sheffield Gary Sheffieldis an original member of the Harrison/Las Vegas franchise, having been inherited -- along with the rest of the roster -- from the Austin Outlaws when a consortium headed by Eric Wickstrom bought the team in 2001. He was then traded to the Mighty Men in 2004 (Sheffield and Shigetoshi Hasegawa for Alfonso Soriano and Freddy Garcia). In those 3½ years with the Rats, Sheffield established himself as the franchise's greatest hitter, ranking 1st in career on-base percentage (.384), hits (454), runs (283), runs batted in (243), home runs (82), extra base hits (154), walks (238), runs created (307.9), total average (.902), total bases (782) and OPS (.881). Most of that production was in vain, however, as the Rats never reached the post-season. Now, like the recently re-acquired Reggie Sanders -- a member of the 2002-2003 teams that combined to finish 40 games under .500 -- Sheffield is back with the Rats and hoping to lead them to their first-ever playoff appearance, if not a division title. With Marietta this year, Sheffield hit .272 (.830 OPS) with 18 2B, 21 HR and 75 RBI in 412 AB. The only potential downside is Sheffield has already discussed sitting out the entire 2007 season in order to land a role in Die Hard 4 (MLB '06: would likely need to come off the D.L. by Sept. 1 Aaron Fultzto have any chance of qualifying)... While Sheffield is definitely the marquee name in the trade, don't overlook Fultz, a lefty reliever who posted eye-popping numbers with Marietta over the first four months of the year (1 W, 1 SV, 1.99 ERA, 8.6 R/9, 67 K in 72.1 IP). The 32-year-old minor league journeyman, taken in the 4th round (#51 overall) of this year's draft, will likely be a free agent at the end of the season (MLB '06: 4.57 ERA, 1.46 WHIP).

Some were surprised to see what was obviously a rebuilding trade made by a team still very much in the playoff hunt -- in fact, the Mites made the trade while tied for the league's No. 5 wild card seed. Jonny GomesConsidering it's their first year in Marietta, and that they've been to the playoffs for three straight seasons, the apparent "surrender trade" yielding two of the team's best players has some fans giving GM David Landsman plenty of grief. "Typical carpet-bagger move," one letter writer opined to the Marietta Daily Journal. "Put a quality product on the field when you're up north, then come down here and gut it, thinking us dumb rubes will keep showing up anyway. Hope you enjoy sitting in your empty stadium." But Gomes, while not producing on Sheffield's level, is no slouch at the plate (.246, .763 OPS, 19 HR, 42 RBI). And, perhaps most importantly of all, he was born Nov. 22, 1980 -- making him 12 years and four days younger than Sheffield. (MLB '06: .247, .854 OPS, 18 HR, 52 RBI) The move also freed up a roster spot for 28-year-old Eric Hinske, who is hitting .283 (.931 OPS) with 8 HR and 18 RBI in 56 games in Triple-A.


Believe it or not, Sheffield wasn't the biggest bat landed by the Rat Pack on Thursday. They also cobbled together a two-player, two-pick package to bring home another former Rat, Derrek Lee, from Westwood. In exchange, the Ducks got veterans Scott Hatteberg and Aaron Sele, plus an 8th Round pick in next year's draft and a 2nd Round pick in 2008.

Lee, like Sheffield and Sanders, was a member of the 2003 Harrison Rats team that went  67-95 and finished in second-to-last place. Ironically, just as Sheffield was traded and then reclaimed from the Mighty Men, Lee too is returning from where he was dealt in 2004. The Rats sent Lee, Derrek Leealong with Vicente Padilla, Corey Koskie and Kaz Matsui, to the Deductions, and got back Carlos Beltran and picks in the 3rd and 5th rounds. Lee had been in the midst of the best season of his career when he was traded (.295 BA, .951 OPS), but faded badly in Westwood, hitting a combined .248 with a .753 OPS over the next two seasons. But he's really blossomed this year, hitting .315 (.992 OPS) with 31 HR and 85 RBI in just 109 games with the Ducks. He was not only named to the All-Star team for the first time, but he's also won two OmahaSteaks.com Batter of the Week awards this season. Lee, Sanders and Sheffield, all added mid-season, add three of the league's most potent right-handed sluggers to what was already one of the league's top 5 offenses. As an added bonus, the 30-year-old Lee will almost certainly be willing to sign an extension to stay with the Rats at the end of this season. (MLB '06: .282, .873 OPS in 124 plate appearances).

Ducks' GM David Schlossberg seems to specialize in deals that bring back a package of players for one star. This year, it was Justin Duchscherer and two picks for Brandon Webb, Esteban Loaiza, Chris Capuano and David Dellucci. In 2004, as noted above, it was Beltran and two picks traded for Lee, Koskie, Matsui and Padilla. In 2003, he sent Mike Lieberthal and a pick to the Mighty Men for Rick Reed, Jose Jimenez, Kenny Rogers and Darin Erstad. In fact, the team's first-ever trade was a mega-swap with the Mighty Men, sending Todd Helton (along with Rich Garces) in exchange for Lieberthal, Tino Martinez, Steve Finley, Bobby Higginson, Steve Parris and Turk Wendell. Aaron SeleMost of those deals haven't worked out too well for the Ducks. This deal brings back, in addition to a pick for next year and a pick in 2008, two DMBL journeymen capitalizing on strong independent league campaigns. Scott HattebergSele, 36, was signed by Las Vegas as a minor-league free agent last month after a very successful run with the independent league Kalamazoo Kazoos. (MLB '06: 6-2, 2.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP in 11 starts, 1 relief appearance) Hatteberg, also 36, had joined the Rats just six days before the trade, coming off a hot couple months for the Teterboro Pilots (MLB '06: .304, .883 OPS, 8 HR)


The Deductions then swung another huge deal, giving up a player perhaps even more shocking than Brandon Webb or Derrek Lee. Westwood sent 23-year-old shortstop Jose Reyes and a 10th Round pick to D.C. in exchange for 29-year-old third baseman Troy Glaus, 40-year-old starter Tom Glavine and a 6th Round pick.

Why would a rebuilding team trade away Reyes, a 23-year-old shortstop Jose Reyeshaving a terrific season (.299, .746 OPS, 79 R; leads the league with 18 triples and a 23-for-26 steal percentage), a fan favorite ever since he was taken in the first round (#8 overall) in the 2004 draft, who most believe has an even greater career to come? (MLB '06: .300, .838 OPS, 12 3B, 39 SB in 86 G) Only the Westwood front office knows for sure, but D.C. fans were all too happy to welcome the speed demon to their squad, even if it meant saying good-bye to 27-year-old Jimmy Rollins, who was moved in a subsequent trade.

In exchange for Reyes and the 10th, the Ducks get Troy GlausGlaus and Glavine, two DMBL veterans, plus the 6th rounder. Glaus was having a brutal season for the Bushslappers (.185, .598 OPS, 127 Ks in 111 G), and next season will likely continue his low-average, high-power ways. (MLB '06: .239, .853 OPS, 23 HR, 80 K in 85 G) But where will he play, with third base likely occupied for the next decade by this year's second-round pick (#15 overall), Joe Crede? Glaus says he'll work out this off-season in the hopes of becoming a shortstop next year, if that's what it takes to remain in Westwood... Tom GlavineGlavine (7-10, 5.06 ERA, 13.2 R/9) was having a mediocre year, but immediately steps into the remnants of the Westwood rotation as their ace, a role he'll undoubtedly fill next season as well. (MLB '06: 11-2, 3.48 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) Teams seldom try to rebuild around 40-year-old starting pitchers, but with the team heading into next year's draft looking for young pitching talent, he will also prove invaluable as an on-the-field pitching coach.


Starting pitching is said to be the toughest commodity to acquire in baseball, yet six had changed hands in just four days. A seventh was moved Friday afternoon, when the Sugar Bears landed SP Zach Duke and a 12th Round pick for SS Orlando Cabrera and a 6th Round pick.

Duke, a 23-year-old rookie left-hander, was at the top of everybody's board entering the 2006 draft, and as expected Westwood took him with the first pick. But he's had a disappointing debut season (8-8, 4.74 ERA, 13.8 R/9), Zach Dukeand most scouts believe he needs at least one more season in Triple-A before he'll be a quality starter in the bigs. (MLB '06: 6-8, 5.15 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) On the advice of his agent, Arliss Michaels, Duke turned down a conventional contract and instead signed an incentive-laden deal that had him making close to the league minimum for this year, but a whopping $10 million if he's not released this winter. Given his struggles this season, Westwood had no interest in activating that option, so they opted to trade him and at least recoup part of their investment. For Newark, Duke replaces the shell-shocked Dave Bush (8-8, 7.25 ERA, 16.9 R/9) in a rotation that leads the league in just two categories -- run support and wins. 

Orlando CabreraIn exchange for Duke and the 12th, the Ducks get a 6th rounder and the 31-year-old Cabrera, who -- with the departure of Jose Reyes -- immediately becomes the starter at shortstop. Cabrera was stuck behind Carlos Guillen in Newark, but was having a very good season in Triple-A. (MLB '06: .296, .770 OPS, 13 SB in 86 G) He's played six seasons in the DMBL, carrying a .263 BA (.663 OPS) with 184 R and 175 RBI in 504 games.


The Deductions would close out their wild week with one last trade -- RP Jose Valverde to the Cutters for a 10th Round draft pick.

Westwood made five trades in just three days, giving up five players and two picks and getting back six players and six picks, including one for the 2008 draft. As it stands now, they have 12 picks in the first eight rounds -- the most of any team. 

Valverde, a 26-year-old right-handed reliever, was taken in the 3rd round (#29 overall) of this year's draft. Jose ValverdeHe's been one of Westwood's most dependable middle relievers (2-1, 1 save, 5 holds, 3.99 ERA, 14.5 R/9), but with the Deductions stuck at the bottom of the standings since April, dependable middle relievers are an unnecessary luxury. And since he's a free agent at the end of the season (MLB '06: 2-3, 14 SV, 8.22 ERA, 1.79 WHIP), Westwood was happy to take whatever they could get for him. Not only did Hoboken need a reliable middle-man for the stretch run, but they also were finally able to cut Bob Wickman (1-3, 6 SV, 7.11 ERA, 14.0 R/9) -- which in and of itself was probably worth a 10th rounder to GM Mark Hrywna.


On Saturday, all the GMs turned off their computers, went to synagogue and reflected on their new rosters. Then, Sunday morning, the final flurry began. The first trade of the day was a curious one: D.C. sent 31-year-old catcher Bengie Molina and 30-year-old outfielder Scott Podsednik to Marietta for 30-year-old catcher Johnny Estrada.

The Bushslappers were no doubt intrerested by Estrada as a keeper for Johnny Estradanext year (MLB '06: .321, .836 OPS, 8 HR, 48 RBI in 72 G) as the heir to Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge is, after all, five years older and having a rough season (.237, .645 OPS, 8 HR, 38 RBI in 88 games). But he's still Pudge, and if the Bushslappers put a quality team on the field next year, he could rediscover his past glory. (MLB '06: .312, .802 OPS, 8 HR, 41 RBI in 76 G) But having two catchers with great numbers is a nice problem to have... Estrada, who was having a terrible season in limited action (.225, .514 OPS in 46 games) as the back-up to Jorge Posada in Marietta, will continue in that role in D.C.

D.C. didn't have to give up much to get him. Scott PodsednikPodsednik was having a mediocre season at best in D.C., hitting just .255 -- and an empty .255 at that, with a .613 OPS. In fact, he wasn't even good at what he does best -- he'd stolen 10 bases, but had been caught 8 times (.556 SB%). His numbers are a little more palatable if he can be platooned (.286, .355 OBP vsR; .248, .316 OBP vsL). Molina, who had played in just 43 games in D.C. as Rodriguez's back-up, has decent numbers for a catcher (.270, .734 OPS, 3 HR, 9 RBI) given his limited duty. Like Podsednik, he's best platooned (.286, .819 OPS vsL; .237, .546 OPS vsR). Bengie MolinaThough each is just on the wrong side of 30, either or both could wind up on Marietta's protected list next year (Molina MLB '06: .286 BA, .762 OPS, 8 HR, 25 RBI in 63 G; Podsednik MLB '06: .277, .353 OBP, .393 SLG, 29 SB in 82 G) -- though Molina would probably be a back-up again next year, with Posada already in the fold. (Posada MLB '06: .280, .851 OPS, 11 HR, 47 RBI in 78 G)

So after trading away a top slugger and a key reliever, why did Marietta make this trade if not for next year? Our best guess: GM David Landsman started the week in rebuilding mode and made several trades, only to wake up Sunday morning and find himself tied for the league's 5th-best record. Needing to replenish some of the offense he'd just traded away, he added Molina to protect Posada against lefties (.229 BA, .709 OPS), and Podsednik to platoon with the right-handed hitting Jonny Gomes just acquired from Las Vegas. He also gives the team -- tied for 9th in stolen bases, with just 26 -- another dimension on offense.


With just hours to go before the trading deadline, D.C. GM Jamie Landsman still had a problem -- two starting shortstops. But an answer came when Sugar Bear Carlos Guillen went down in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader with an injury. Within minutes, Jimmy Rollins was on his way to Newark in exchange for an 8th Round draft pick.

It's unclear what D.C. and Westwood had in mind when they made the Jose Reyes deal earlier in the week without including Rollins; it left D.C. with two switch-hitting fast shortstops, and Westwood with no one to play the position between second and third. In fact, in an odd way, the whole sequence could be seen as a three-way deal stretched over four days: D.C. gets Reyes from Westwood; Westwood gets Orlando Cabrera from Newark; and Newark gets Rollins from D.C. Anyway, the Bushslappers got to defuse a potential Rollins/Reyes controversy before it got started, and picked up their 11th pick in the first eight rounds in the draft, just one fewer than Westwood.

When Guillen comes off the D.L. in a couple weeks, Newark will have the same problem of two shortstops for one position. Jimmy RollinsWhile Rollins is having a fine year (.301, .801 OPS, 37 2B, 51 R), he has little chance of dislodging Guillen as the starter (.320, .776 OPS, 32 2B, 69 RBI). One potential solution is to platoon them; even though they're both switch-hitters, Guillen is a god against lefties (.414, .968 OPS) and a mere mortal against righties (.295, .725 OPS), while Rollins has the opposite splits (.262, .729 vsL; .316, .850 vsR). Even though Rollins is three years younger, it's unlikely he'll beat out the beloved Guillen for a spot on Newark's protected list, meaning he's probably a two-month rental for the Sugar Bears. (MLB '06: .257, .739 OPS in 89 G)

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.