July 19, 2004: 12:01 a.m.  

What a Week!

Date Team Gets Team Gets


2005 4th Round
STP SP Esteban Loaiza
Thursday HBK 3B Vinny Castilla
C Charles Johnson
2B Juan Uribe
2006 1st Round
STP RP Rheal Cormier
OF Brian Giles
SP Mike Mussina


STP C Benito Santiago
C Damian Miller


HAR 2005 8th Round NWK SP Jerome Williams
HBK SS Omar Vizquel NWK C Greg Myers

The Dealin' Is Done!
It's one minute past midnight on July 19, 2004, and the Commissioner's Office is officially closed! There will be no more trades until the off-season leading up to the 2005 season. But we have plenty of moves to talk about as lots of big-name players changed addresses in the final week. Moves were made right up to the trading deadline as the league's GMs tried to decide if it was time to hold 'em or fold 'em for the 2004 season.

In the end, a dozen players and three draft picks were moved in the final week, including five players who were protected this off-season and another who was a first-round pick.


Esteban Loaiza Stanhope and Philadelphia got the ball rolling on Monday, announcing the trade of a fourth-round pick for SP Esteban Loaiza (8-6, 4.75 ERA, 14.0 R/9). Loaiza, 31, had been protected by the Endzone Animals over the off-season and had been counted on to be the veteran anchor for a staff that was rich with talented young arms (SP Joe Kennedy, SP Mark Prior, RP Francisco Rodriguez and SP Johan Santana are all under 25!). But the youngsters proved poised beyond their years, and the mid-season addition of veteran SP Brad Radke -- not to mention Philadelphia's surprisingly bad 10th-place record -- made Loaiza, in the final year of his contract, expendable. They were all-too-happy to deal the righthander to the Mighty Men, who had been shopping for a starting pitcher to help them in their battle for the division or at the very least the top wildcard slot. The deal proved even more beneficial for the Animals as they were able to sign the pitcher Stanhope had to drop from its roster -- former phenom SP Kris Benson -- to a minor-league contract.

But the deal delighted Stanhope fans and Loaiza, who pitched for this franchise in 1998, when they were known as the Jerusalem Rabbis. In the regular season that year, Loaiza was a rather mediocre 9-10 with a 4.59 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, but in the the playoffs he stepped up to become one of the team's best starters (2-0, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHP in three games) and GM David Landsman hopes Loaiza will show that big-game ability again this September.


Brian Giles In what was the biggest -- in terms of quality and quantity -- and most controversial trade of the week, Hoboken and Stanhope made a monster deal, swapping six players and a pick. The deal landed Stanhope three-time All-Star Mike Mussina -- their second big-name starter acquired this week -- and three-time All-Star outfielder Brian Giles. The Cutters also threw in Rheal Cormier, one of the league's top left-handed relievers. The three players were all the pieces needed to transform the Mites into the favorite to win any short series.

For Hoboken -- just a handful of games out of the sixth and final playoff spot when the deal was made -- the swap ended any hope of the team competing this year, and also completely changed the face of the franchise by dealing away the best hitter and best pitcher in team history. The Hoboken fan base was further outraged when they saw what the Cutters got back for them: Vinny Castilla, a 37-year-old third baseman; Charles Johnson, a 32-year-old platoon catcher; Juan Uribe, a 24-year-old minor league middle infielder. They also got a first-round draft pick, but it won't kick in until 2006.

Was this a lopsided deal? Who can say, as one man's trash can be another man's treasure. But consider this: Cormier, Giles and Mussina were all protected this off-season, while Johnson was drafted in the 13th round (#180 overall), and Castilla and Uribe were signed as free agents. (Actually, Castilla was protected... by Hoboken! The Cutters had Castilla on the roster as their starting third baseman, but when they were able to draft rookie Morgan Ensberg in the first round of this year's draft, Castilla became expendable, and he was released before the end of spring training. After a brief stint with Arkansas, Castilla was released again, then signed by Stanhope. Castilla hit .238 with a .619 OPS in 21 at-bats for the Mites, but that somehow was enough to convince the Cutters that they needed him back.)

On the other hand, both front offices agree that this trade was proposed by the Cutters, so if the trade was unfair, it was by Hoboken's own arrangement. According to some accounts, GM Mark Hrwyna came up with this proposal after spending the evening snorting Scrunchy Punch.

Sports talk radio was immediately deluged with callers dissecting the trade, some going as far as to call it the worst move in league history! But once the dust has settled, will this trade really be memorialized as the worst-ever? Through a tear in the time-space continuum, we've been able to tap into a future edition of Trade Talk to see what analysts are saying about this swap, 10 years from now:

Trade Talk with Chris Nabholz Jr. July 15, 2014

On this date in league history... July 15, 2004, was the fateful day of "The Trade" -- the infamous swap between the Hoboken Cutters and the Jerusalem Rabbis (known as the Mighty Men at that time, as it was during their brief stay in Stanhope, N.J.)

"The Trade" is still regarded by many as perhaps the most unfair swap in league history. (Some would argue that it was since surpassed by last year's mind-boggling Prince Fielder trade between the Arkouver Golden Fist and the Baghdad Husseins. But at least Saddam could crow that he got Kuwait back as a result of that deal.)

Looking back at the Hoboken-Stanhope trade 10 years later, it's easy for us today to wonder: What the hell was he thinking? But remember, sports fans, Juan Uribe was still over a year away from his first Triple Crown season.

Few reports survive from the period, given the widespread destruction during the Winter 2004-2005 national riots, but our researchers have uncovered a few accounts that suggest fans at the time believed this trade to be a bad one -- FOR THE CUTTERS! It just goes to show you that hindsight is 20/20. Heck, in 10 years, future league owners may be laughing at us for not taking Toe Nash's comeback seriously.  


Benito Santiago Minutes after completing the Hoboken deal, the Mighty Men were on the move again. They quickly inked 34-year-old catcher Damian Miller, who was hitting .291 with an .803 OPS for the Ontario Outlaws of the Maple Leaf Softball League. Miller's plane landed at Newark Airport and he hopped into a taxi, and the driver floored it -- not for Stanhope, but for Westwood! The cabbie had just gotten the word on 1050 AM ESPN Radio that, in the shortest-lived signing in league history, Miller had already been traded to the Deductions in exchange for another catcher, Benito Santiago. Rumor has it the Mites wanted Santiago to back up Posada in an effort to force their white-bread starters (Mike Mussina, Kerry Wood and Brian Anderson) to start speaking Spanish.


Jerome Williams After those three deals by the Mighty Men, any trade that didn't land an All-Star would have to seem anti-climactic. But Stanhope's long-time divisional rivals -- the Newark Sugar Bears -- were compelled to make some kind of move, if only to get the Mites off of the New York Post's back page. On Saturday evening, the Crunch With Punch announced their first trade in nearly two months, sending an 8th round pick in next year's draft to the Harrison Rats in exchange for 21-year-old rookie starter Jerome Williams.

Williams had been drafted by Harrison in the first round (#12 overall) -- ironically, with a pick the Rats had picked up from Stanhope the year before -- but he wasn't justifying that lofty selection so far this season. While Williams' 12-9 record is impressive -- his .571 winning percentage is 136 points better than his team's winning percentage -- he had allowed a 5.48 ERA, 14.2 R/9 and a woeful 84:61 K:BB ratio in 23 games for the Rats this season. But there's another set of numbers GM Butch Garretson had in mind when pulling the trigger on this deal: In four games against Stanhope this season, Williams is 4-0 (2 complete games) with a 3.37 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 18:7 K:BB in 32 IP.


Omar VizquelStaggering out of the bathroom after his week-long binge of sniffing glue and huffing paint, Hoboken GM Mark Hrywna was horrified to see he had somehow dealt away his franchise's two best players and a key reliever in exchange for two over-the-hill spare parts, a minor-league infielder and a post-dated draft pick. Hrywna first tried to protest the trade, until it was pointed out that he'd proposed it himself. Then he heard the low rumbling from the stadium parking lot. Peering through the venetian blinds, Hrywna was horrified to see a mob of angry fans, waving pitchforks and torches. After knocking back a few belts of pineapple juice and anti-freeze, Hrywna was ready to roll with a series of moves aimed at winning back the fans. First, he re-signed SP Jarrod Washburn, the first player selected by the Cutters in their first league draft. Next, he cut 1B Eric Karros, an unpopular figure in Hoboken ever since he told an interviewer that he didn't like Frank Sinatra. And finally, minutes before the trade deadline, he brought back the one player -- other than Brian Giles -- who could disperse an angry mob with a friendly wave of his hand. Hrywna got on the horn and worked out a deal with the Sugar Bears to bring home Omar Vizquel, a founding member of the organization who had been drafted with the 18th pick of the 2001 dispersal draft. Washburn and The Viz arrived within the hour and began signing free autographs, and soon the mob that had come to the stadium to lynch Hrywna was instead holding hands and sharing tales of the '02 playoffs.

In exchange for Vizquel -- who was, by the way, having a pretty good season for Triple-A Dublin (.298, .362 OBP) -- the Cutters had to give up catcher Greg Myers, who is having a career year at age 38 (.273, .766 OPS in 399 AB). While those are some nice numbers for a catcher, Myers might have a tough time finding at-bats given the already crowded backstop picture in Newark, with Mike Piazza and Paul Lo Duca sharing the job and Michael Barrett waiting in the wings in Triple-A.

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.