The Atkins Alley Cats announced last night that they had completed yet another trade, this time sending pitcher John Patterson to the Arkansas Alley Cats for outfielder Jay Gibbons.
“We hated to move Patterson,” said Cats owner Charles Rector from his spring training location. “He’s been looking good so far in workouts. But we wanted to make room for another pitcher, and Patterson was the odd man out.”
The Cats signed pitcher David Bush to take Patterson’s slot.
“Wow, I’m just flattered that such a quality organization took an interest in me,” said Bush. “For them to go to the effort of clearing room for me, well, that just speaks volumes.”
The Cardinals were also considering this a positive move.
“While we weren’t in the market for it, it never hurts to stockpile some pitching,” said owner Daniel Shoptaw. “I mean, you look at what happened to [Clarksville Cubs pitcher] Kris Benson today–out for the season. If you stockpile some arms, it helps you deal with those type of major issues. It doesn’t fix them, but it helps you weather the storm.”
While there have been a number of trades in the United Rotisserie League over the past few months, the Atkins Alley Cats and the Conway Capitols found a way to make a new type of deal, including minor leaguers drafted this week in a deal that sent pitcher Chein-Mein Wang, minor league outfielder Chris B. Young and financial considerations to Conway for pitcher Nate Robertson and minor league outfielder Cameron Maybin.
“Maybin had been high on my target list,” said Alley Cats owner Charles Rector, taking time from managing other issues with his unique style to comment to a local reporter. “When Conway drafted him, plus were holding Robertson, I knew I need to make a deal. Losing Wang reduces our publicity department’s juvenile urges as well, so there is a benefit there as well.”
For their part, the Capitols seemed equally excited.
“We’ve been pretty quiet on the trade front, but this is one that we really felt we need to make,” said owner Mark Scott. “Getting a guy like Wang, while providing many marketing opportunities, was nice but having Chris Young in our stable was a real key. We think he may challenge some of our projected starters and be in the majors by the end of the year.”
The minor league draft, on the whole, has gone well according to Commissioner Daniel Shoptaw.
“We’re into the fifth round and only ten days have passed since we started this phase of the URL,” he said in a press conference on Thursday. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see us wrap this up early in February in time to open camps up and get ready for the start of the season.”
A day after dealing with his most familiar trading partner, Charles Rector and the Atkins Alley Cats mixed it up a little, dealing outfielder Chone Figgins and Trevor Hoffman for Mark Redman of the Edwardsville Armada.
“Mix it up a little, that’s my motto,” said Rector about the deal. “Redman should be a strong part of our winning rotation. Hated to see those guys go, but them’s the breaks.”
The Armada seem to be stocking up on closers, having previously dealt for Chad Cordero earlier in the week.
“Having a strong presence at the end of games is going to be big for us,” said Armada owner David Reed. “We think this way we can win some close games late and maybe more than our share of one-run ballgames.”
Late Edit: After consultation with the rules, the commissioner was forced to deem the above trade illegal. However, the teams modified the deal, with the Armada sending cash with Redman for Hoffman and Raul Ibanez.
It’s become a tradition of sorts in the United Rotisserie League. The Atkins Alley Cats put out the trade light and Wendy’s Peffercorns answer the call.
The teams hooked up for their league-leading seventh trade on Thursday night, with the Cats sending out young pitcher Chad Billingsley and financial considerations for outfielder Andre Ethier.
“I am extremely pumped to have Ethier join the Cats,” said owner Charles Rector. “Andre is going to be a star in this league for a long time to come and I’m glad we’ll be the beneficiaries. While we were looking forward to having Billingsley in our rotation, it was a deal we just couldn’t pass up.”
Wendy’s owner Mike Salony was asked about the frequency of the trades with the Cats.
“I’m not sure what it is. Charles and I seem to have trading philosophies that mesh well, we are both very available for communications and thoughts, so the trades seem to have come out of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we aren’t announcing a deal again next week as well.”
Teams continue to jockey for position for the few remaining free agents, as another trade was pulled in advance of Thursday’s penultimate group closing.
On Wednesday, the Edwardsville Armada sent first baseman Sean Casey to the Brewville Style for closer Chad Cordero and financial considerations. This marked Cordero’s second deal, having been part of the first-ever URL deal back in November.
“We’ve really been focused on getting another closer,” said Armada owner David Reed. “Getting one of the quality of Cordero has made 2007 get off to a great start.”
The Style were glad to get a player like Casey into the fold.
“We saw what he did in the World Series, and we don’t have any reason to believe he can’t produce at a similar level throughout the year,” stated Style owner Steve Egge.
While many people took a break during the New Year’s weekend, the owners of the United Rotisserie League continued wheeling and dealing in an effort to manuever their teams into position for the final stretch run of the initial free agent period.
On Friday evening, the Clarksville Cubs made their first trade, sending one of their stars, pitcher Dontrelle Willis, to the Atkins Alley Cats in exchange for three players, headlined by pitcher Noah Lowry and outfielder Torii Hunter.
“Losing Dontrelle would have been a major blow, save for the talent we got back in the deal,” said Cubs owner Jason Hoover. “We are excited about the players coming back, especially Noah, who we think can really fill the whole left by Dontrelle.”
“Trades are the lifeblood of a healthy team,” said Cats head honcho Charles Rector. “We are always trying to fine-tune this roster, especially with the talent that is still out there left to be signed.”
In the last trade of 2006, the Texas Outlaws made a minor deal, sending third baseman Rich Aurilia to Wendy’s Peffercorns for the now much-traveled Luis Castillo.
“Luis has had a rough week, but now that he’s landed on our roster, he can settle in. We have no plans to trade him again,” announced Outlaw owner Robert Arnwine. “We liked Aurilia, but we had a backlog of third basemen and had a need at second base. It’s a classic baseball trade.”
Wendy’s owner Mike Salony was unavailable to comment at press time.
Luis Castillo had the shortest stint in a uniform the United Rotisserie League has ever seen.
Just hours after being acquired by the Brewville Style in a deal, Castillo was shipped out to Wendy’s Peffercorns in a four-player deal. Going with Castillo was third baseman Bill Hall, while the Peffercorns sent Takashi Saito, Kenny Rogers and financial considerations to the Style.
“Flipping Castillo like this was never our intent,” said Style owner Steve Egge. “However, Mike (Salony, owner of the Peffercorns) and I got to talking and it seemed to work out for the both of us.”
The Peffercorns were pleased as well with the deal, according to Peter Gammons, Wendy’s GM.
“Getting a guy like Hall that can play so many positions, that’s going to be a very helpful asset as we round out the roster and finish putting the pieces together,” said Gammons in the press conference held in the “Northern Command”, the Boston division of the Wendy’s braintrust.
After the moves of Friday morning, only the Conway Capitols now have a complete roster.
While rumors of a Johan Santana trade had everyone looking one way, the Edwardsville Armada surprised the United Rotisserie League by shipping another superstar off to the Brewville Style on Friday morning. The Armada sent Vladimir Guerrero, along with Tony Armas, Luis Castillo and financial considerations in exchange for Freddie Sanchez.
“This frees up some roster space for us,” said Armada GM and owner David Reed said in a press conference. “It’s a lot of talent to give up, I know that, but we think we’ll be able to fill some of those holes in the free agent market.”
The Style were ecstatic to be able to land Guerrero.
“Adding a bat like that, and at such a reasonable price, is a great move for us,” said Style owner Steve Egge. “We are very excited to get him into the Style orange and start marketing him to our season ticket prospects.”
Both the Brewville Style and the Conway Capitols wrapped up their free agent signings, filling in the rest of their roster with quality signings on Thursday as business resumed with a vengance after the Christmas break.
Prior to Thursday’s signings, familar trade partners Wendy’s Peffercorns and Atkins Alley Cats swapped players, with Raul Ibanez going to the Cats and Mike Gonzalez to the Peffercorns. This became very beneficial for both teams, as they landed free agents that they normally would not have been able to land.
As of this writing, the Cats were still deciding on the pitcher they were going to sign, having landed the rights to two of them. The Peffercorns signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a five-year, $125 deal.
“Getting Beltran makes that whole Ibanez trade that much sweeter,” said Peffercorn owner Mike Salony.
Conway only needed one player to finish their roster, and they signed outfielder Jeff Francouer to a $35, five-year contract. The Style made a bigger splash, wrapping up the last five players they needed, headlined by second baseman Ian Kinsler’s five-year, $61 pact.
“I didn’t expect to complete my roster today,” Style owner Steve Egge was quoted as saying, “but if I had to, these are great guys to get. Looking over the team, it looks very good in my eyes.”
The Clarksville Cubs finished up their pitching staff by signing Ben Sheets to a $150, five-year deal.
“For the last pitcher we signed, he’s darn good,” grinned owner Jason Hoover.
The URL will take another breather for New Year’s before resuming next week in a last push to finalize rosters and prepare for the minor league draft.
Even a program may not help you keep track of who is playing in Arkansas. By time they get back from the printer, everything has changed again.
The Cardinals completed two trades on Thursday after making two on Wednesday. First, they sent Brady Clark to Edwardsville Armada for Scott Schoeneweis and financial considerations. Then, the Cardinals sent Jonathan Papelbon–who had signed only hours before–to Wendy’s Peffercorns for Jim Edmonds and financial considerations.
Owner Daniel Shoptaw faced the press instead of general manager Billy Beane, who was still out with the flu. “Billy better hurry and get better,” Shoptaw joked, “or there won’t be anybody left he recognizes.”
On the Clark deal: “Getting Schoeneweis was a nice move for us, I think. We needed someone to get holds, and we think Scott will be a good bridge to (closer) Chris (Ray). It was a win-win deal for the two teams, I think.”
On Papelbon: “He was a bargain and a great talent, but we have our eyes elsewhere and wanted to make sure we had the room to make a run at someone. In any other situation, we’d have kept Paps for a long time, but moving him to Wendy’s–who has even more affection for him than we do–seemed to work out well. And Edmonds will give us some great leadership in the clubhouse.”
From the Aramada side, owner David Reed was pleased. “It’s nice to be able to get back into the free agent market, for one thing. We’ve been sitting on the sidelines for too long. Getting the chance to get a solid outfielder like Clark was a great thing as well.”
Peffercorn owner Mike Salony was not available for comment.