December 29, 2002  

Dec. 27CAR1B Tony ClarkPHI5th Round(SS Rafael Furcal)
Jan. 5NWKRP Steve KarsaySTPRP Mike Stanton
Jan. 13NWK5th Round (1B Jeremy Giambi)PHXRP Jose Cabrera
10th Round (OF Jason Tyner)
Jan. 13BRKSS Ricky Gutierrez
OF Brian Jordan
14th Round (1B Travis Lee
15th Round (SP Kyle Lohse)
NWK8th Round (C Ben Davis)
12th Round (C Mike Lieberthal)
Jan. 13PHXRP Scott Sullivan
SP Brian Tollberg
VANOF Roger Cedeno
Jan. 14PHXRP Matt HergesSTPOF Johnny Damon
Jan. 16HARSP Tony Armas Jr.
SP Tom Glavine
C Javier Lopez
VANSP Al Leiter
Jan. 25HON2B Craig BiggioTIJSS Edgar Renteria
March 3CAROF Carl EverettPHI15th Round

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.

Preseason Trades (9)

Dec. 27: Carolina gets 1B Tony Clark from Philadelphia for a 2002 5th Round Pick (SS Rafael Furcal).

Perhaps a sentimental trade, as Clark is one of the greatest players in Mudcats history, holding many career records. Though he was off to a career year in '02 (.307, .950 OPS, 19 HR, 61 R, 50 RBI in 342 AB), the ninth-place Mudcats released him in August when it became clear the 30-year-old slugger isn't a keeper for next season (.207, 3 HR, 57 K in 275 AB)... The Animals used Carolina's pick to grab Furcal, coming off an impressive rookie year with Phoenix in '01 (.289, .400 OBP, 32 SB). Though he owned southpaws (.358, .964 OPS), Furcal was helpless against right-handed pitching, dragging down his overall numbers (.257, .661 OPS, 74 R, 10 SB). It doesn't look like he'll return to his rookie level next season (.275, .323 OBP, .387 SLG) but Philadelphia might not have a better option at shortstop. Either way, this small-potatoes trade is essentially a draw.

Jan. 5: Newark gets RP Steve Karsay from Stanhope for RP Mike Stanton.

Newark already had a LHP setup guy in Arthur Rhodes and Stanhope was overloaded from the right side (Mariano Rivera and Kyle Farnsworth), so this even-up trade balanced out the bullpens. As both hurlers could be keepers for next season (Karsay: 6-4, 12 SV, 3.26 ERA; Stanton, 7-1, 6 SV, 3.00 ERA), it comes down to DMBL performance: Karsay (2-0, 2 SV, 3.20 ERA, 10.5 R/9 in 42 G) helped the Sugar Bears win their second straight title, while Stanton (5-4, 1 SV, 4.33 ERA, 13.8 R/9 in 57 G) was merely mediocre for the 11th-place Mighty Men. That makes this swap a marginal win for the Sugar Bears.

Jan. 13: Newark gets a 5th Round Draft Pick (1B Jeremy Giambi) from Phoenix for RP Jose Cabrera and a 10th Round Pick (OF Jason Tyner).

The first of two trades each team would make this day. Although Cabrera did show some promise (14 BB, 45 K in 55.2 IP), he certainly didn't help the Dragons' cause (3-2, 1 SV, 5.66 ERA), so this trade comes down to the antipodal choice of Giambi (.299, 13 HR, 0 SB) or Tyner (.292, 0 HR, 17 SB). But Tyner's inability to draw a walk (.321 OBP) cut down on his base-stealing chances, while Giambi posted a rather plump .386 OBP to go with his .466 SLG, so he actually scored 35 more runs in the same amount of games. On the other hand, Tyner was drafted five rounds later... None will likely figure into plans for next year (Cabrera went 6-10 with 6.79 ERA; Tyner is ineligible after hitting .214 in 168 AB; Giambi hit .259 with 20 HR in 124 G), so the comparisons end there. This one goes down as a slight win for the Sugar Bears.

Jan. 13: Brooklyn gets SS Ricky Gutierrez, OF Brian Jordan, a 14th Round Draft Pick (1B Travis Lee and a 15th Round Draft Pick (SP Kyle Lohse from Newark for an 8th Round Draft Pick (C Ben Davis) and a 12th Round Draft Pick (C Mike Lieberthal).

The two players Brooklyn drafted didn't help -- Lee spent the season in the minors, and Lohse was released in March -- but Gutierrez and Jordan were among the Beanie's best hitters last season. Gutierrez hit .288 with .707 OPS, 7 HR, 70 R and 61 RBI, and led the team in batting average, tied for the team lead in hits and played all 162 games at shortstop; Jordan hit .282 with 24 HR, 85 R and 85 RBI, leading the team in OPS (.787) and finishing second on the team in doubles, home runs, runs, RBIs and slugging percentage. For the Bears, Lieberthal missed the whole season due to a knee injury, and Davis lasted just 8 games, hitting .238 (5-for-21), before both were -- ironically enough -- sent to the Bean Counters in the trade of Paul Lo Duca, so Newark actually kept nothing from this swap. For next season, Jordan is probably a keeper (.285, .807 OPS, 18 HR, 80 RBI); Gutierrez and Lee are borderline (Gutierrez: .275, .671 OPS, 4 HR, 38 RBI; Lee: .265, .725 OPS, 13 HR, 70 RBI). This trade will go down as a win for the Bean Counters.

Jan. 13: Phoenix gets RP Scott Sullivan and SP Brian Tollberg from Vancouver for OF Roger Cedeno.

The third trade of the day was a lesson in Economics 101: Supply and demand. Phoenix already had speed demons Ichiro Suzuki and Juan Pierre on the roster, making Cedeno redundant; Vancouver was well-stocked in pitching but in desperate need of a lead-off hitter, so this trade looked like a win-win; instead, it turned out to be a lose-lose. Sullivan (4-2, 4 SV, 4.05 ERA) pitched OK, but Tollberg (6-12, 5.86 ERA) was a disaster. Cedeno wasn't much better -- though he hit .268 with 29 SB, his .300 OBP quickly cost him his lead-off job and eventually left him warming the bench. All three will likely get their walking papers (Sullivan: 6-5, 1 SV, 6.06 ERA; Tollberg, 1-5, 6.13 ERA; Cedeno: .260, .318 OBP, .664 OPS). This trade has to be considered a wash.

Jan. 14: Phoenix gets RP Matt Herges from Stanhope for OF Johnny Damon.

For the third time in two days, Phoenix traded for pitching. But this deal turned out to be a head scratcher, as the Dragons traded for Herges but then didn't protect him -- so Stanhope used a 15th round pick to get him back. In effect, Stanhope got Damon for free, and sometimes you get what you pay for: He was brutal (.204, .541 OPS in 191 AB), while Herges wasn't much better (0-1, 6.02 ERA in 55 G) and probably won't be back (2-5, 6 SV, 4.04 ERA). But Damon likely has a place on Stanhope's protected list (.286, 14 HR, 118 R, 31 SB), and that alone makes this a win for Stanhope.

Jan. 16: Harrison gets SP Tony Armas, C Javier Lopez and SP Tom Glavine from Vancouver for SP Al Leiter.

Last July, Vancouver got Glavine from Harrison for 26-year-old Wade Miller, who is blossoming into an ace (15-4, 3.28 ERA, 144 K in 164.2 IP). That trade didn't exactly go as planned (Glavine went 4-7 with a 5.45 ERA in 12 starts), and six months later the veteran was shipped back to the Rats, where he continued to struggle (7-13, 5.84 ERA), and Armas didn't have a great year either (6-17, 5.57 ERA). Nevertheless, the trade at first looked like a steal for the Rats, as Leiter got off to a so-so start (7-8, 4.35 ERA) and Lopez was en fuego for Harrison (.315, 12 HR, 67 RBI), leading the team in batting average and was third in OPS (.815). His strong numbers really rubbed salt in the wound for Vancouver, as their platoon of Todd Hundley and Ben Petrick turned out to be a complete bust, requiring another deal five months later for a starting catcher. But Leiter would recover from his slow start by going 8-3 after the All-Star break, finishing with a respectable 15-11, 3.59 ERA, and will likely be back in Vancouver's rotation next season (13-13, 3.48 ERA). But they'd be much happier with a rejuvenated Glavine (18-11, 2.96 ERA) and a 24-year-old Armas (12-12, 4.44 ERA, 131 K in 164.1 IP). Although Lopez was a good fit for the Rats, they'll likely have to let him test the free agent waters rather than going through arbitration (.233, 11 HR, 52 RBI). But with an eye toward next year, Glavine's strong performance and Armas's potential makes this one a win for Harrison.

Jan. 25: Honolulu gets 2B Craig Biggio from Tijuana for SS Edgar Renteria.

A win-win trade, in that the Sharks didn't need Renteria with Miguel Tejada, and Biggio was stuck behind Bret Boone in Tijuana. The Banditos made wise use of Renteria, sitting him against righties: He responded by hitting .321 with a .380 OBP against southpaws and ranking among the league's best glove men. Biggio, on the other hand, had an awful year, hitting just .224 (.609 OPS) and eventually losing his job to Eric Young. Even worse, Tejada had a disappointing year (.238, .681 OPS in 639 AB), so Renteria certainly could've helped the Sharks. How big a difference could he have made? The Banditos reached the post-season by going 81-81, the Sharks went home after going 80-82... And to top it all off, the 27-year-old Renteria looks like a mainstay in Tijuana's lineup (.305, .803 OPS), while the 37-year-old Biggio may be at the end of the road (.253, .734 OPS). All in all, this has to go down as a big win for Tijuana.

March 3: Carolina gets OF Carl Everett from Philadelphia for a 15th Round Draft Pick.

The second trade of the year between these two teams, and the only trade made during Spring Training, turned out to be a bust. Everett, coming off back-to-back monster seasons in which he slammed 66 doubles, 75 HR and 207 RBI, had porked up to 400 pounds after hitting the banquet circuit in the off-season. Philly drafted him in the 13th Round with the hope that manager Steve Balboni could give him some slimming-down advice, which went about as well as could be expected. Shipped to Carolina, Everett lasted just two months at Triple-A Raleigh before he was caught nibbling "Oh Henry!" bars still in the locker room from Henry Rodriguez's 1997 campaign. "This is the low point of my career," sobbed Everett as he gobbled down the chocolate bars. "Anyone got a Dr Pepper?" He was promptly released. But the Endzone Animals can't giggle too much: They essentially traded a 13th-round pick for a 15th-round pick. All in all, this trade had to be considered the most marginal of wins for Philadelphia, since they got something for a guy they would've released anyway.

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.