Everyone in the world of baseball hears about the blockbuster trades toward the end of July. It’s plastered on every TV screen and sports ticker. It’s talked about on every sports talk show and morning radio show. You see the interviewed players during huge press conferences. People watch the superstars first appearances with new teams while wearing new uniforms in anticipation. There is a behind the scenes to these trades, however. In most cases, minor league players are the tiny blip on the ticker. They are the player to be named later, or the Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak and “some minor leaguers.” From the day I showed up here in Frisco, TX about a month ago, trading season took its toll on my team. I wanted to share with you a quick behind the scenes view on what it’s like when these trades go down.
My second day in Double-A was in Springfield, MO. Our pre game throwing program had been delayed by some rain, so we were all sitting around watching the few TV’s scattered throughout the visitors clubhouse. The big story of that day was Cliff Lee “supposedly” being traded to the Yankees. We all sat around talking about how the Yankees were going to do it again! They were going to acquire Cliff Lee, one of the greatest pitchers in the game today. Ho-hum, right? The rain lets up and we head outside to play some catch. My throwing partner that day was Kentucky native Josh Lueke. We had just begun throwing when the manager, Steve Buechele, came running out of the clubhouse with the pitching coach and a bat boy. He says something to Lueke, the bat boy runs into the batting cage and grabs our 2nd baseman Matt Lawson, and they head down the tunnel and into the clubhouse. Umm….ok? After about 5 minutes, he comes back out real quick to yell at me that he’s been traded. To the Mariners. For Cliff Lee. Wow. At 4:38 pm I’m playing catch with my fellow pitcher, and at 4:41 pm, he is part of another organization from a huge trade that wasn’t even supposed to happen. Just. Like. That.
A few weeks later, we’re in Midland, TX. There had been news trickling in all day that the Rangers needed a corner infielder/utility guy. Jorge Cantu had been targeted by the Rangers to fit that mold. A name that we kept hearing was our closer, Evan Reed. He didn’t really understand that it could happen, nor did he want to understand. It’s always business as usual for him. Remember my story about Josh Lueke a few minutes ago? Stay tuned. While the players hit BP, pitchers shag flies in the outfield. That’s our job during BP. One favorite pastime of pitchers is called “power shagging.” We grab an outfielder’s glove, take a position, and do our best to run down every fly ball in the vicinity. It’s a full out “make the Top 10 play on SportsCenter” type thing for us. Yeah, we’re dorks sometimes. Anyway, we’re out there shagging fly balls, and again the manager comes running out to the cut of the grass behind 2nd base yelling for Evan Reed. He slowly jogs in to near the batting cage at home plate, grabs a cell phone, and begins talking to whomever is on the other end. After a 5 minute conversation he hands the cell phone back to the manager, and disappears into the tunnel. Once BP was done, we all headed in to grab food, and there sits Evan Reed. Bags packed, smile on his face, headed to the Marlins organization for Jorge Cantu. Just. Like. That.
Remember the Evan Reed story I just told you about? Hang tight AGAIN. A few days later we’re back in Frisco. There had been more stories in the news about the Rangers wanting a utility infielder for Ian Kinsler while he was injured. Christian Guzman seemed to be the intended target. Just as I was leaving for the field that day, it was announced that the deal was agreed to and that 2 minor league pitchers were heading to Washington’s organization for Guzman. I knew right away that something was going to happen again. This time, TWO of our starting pitchers were taken from our team. Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark were informed of the trade as they arrived at the ballpark that day. Just. Like. That.
Being traded for a major league player is an awesome opportunity. It allows you to head to a new organization with some investment in you. A team gave away a MLB player, and decided that YOU were worth receiving for him. Pretty cool, right? I’m very happy for all my buddies that were traded this year. I know that they will all help those clubs in the future, and I know that the player we received for them will help out the Rangers as we make a push for the postseason. All in all, teammates and friends of mine that were traded THIS YEAR include: Michael Main, Blake Beaven, Matt Lawson, Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, Evan Reed, Ryan Tatusko, and Tanner Roark. All played for the RoughRiders this year, and all will do great things with their new organizations.
As always, I appreciate you reading my blog entires, and I hope that you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at what goes down when the “minor leaguers” are traded. From the outside, it seems easy to hear that you’re traded, hop on a plane, and head to a new city with new coaches and players and living arrangements. I can guarantee you that it’s not that easy. However, the new opportunity that it gives you is well worth any trouble caused by having to pack your life up and move. Hope you all have a great week!