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No Rose in Spanish Harlem!

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How It All Went Down:
The Transcript

Trades are one of the most fascinating aspects of sporting life. Perhaps nothing arouses even the most casual fan’s interest more quickly than news of an impending trade and the armchair analysis begins as soon as the terms are announced. In Strat-o-Matic – and especially in our league – nothing is more likely to spark hours of debate than a blockbuster trade where several stars end up switching teams.


Ten days ago, Spanish Harlem acquired Jason Schmidt, Roger Clemens and Rafael Furcal from the New Jersey Bandits for Adrian Beltre, Jake Westbrook, Ted Lilly and Ryan Madson. It was a huge trade that changed the complexion of both franchises and, when you break it down, inspires all sorts of discussion about its implications.


The deal itself was consummated over about 10 days, but took an intense bargaining period that lasted nearly an hour and a half to finally make it happen. A late-night Instant Messaging session finally did the trick and helped Chris and I come to an agreement on the seven-player swap.


Instant Messaging has the added benefit of providing a transcript of the negotiations. I was able to save our entire conversation that night, from the initial inquiry to the final agreement. What follows is a fascinating look into the “art of the deal,” between two general managers who have been playing Strat-o-Matic together for nearly 15 years and know each other very, very well.


It is not a completely unabridged transcript – some of the discussion we had that night was neither relevant to the trade nor would it be appropriate to disclose for various reasons. In those rare instances when the material has been censored, rest assured that it does not affect the overall tone and tenor of what we were trying to accomplish. At certain points throughout the transcript, I will also add commentary explaining my thinking at that point in time.


One final word before I begin: one of the reasons I like trading with Chris is that he does so in an honest and straightforward fashion, which will become clear as you read the transcript. If you have what he wants, he will negotiate with you fairly and honestly to get that player. He does not waste your time with unreasonable demands or unrealistic assessments of his players’ ability (or your players’ “lack” of ability). He does not hold up progress by shopping your deal to someone else to try and squeeze every last drop out of a deal. It’s a gentleman’s way to conduct business, and I for one truly appreciate it.


Background: After taking six out of seven games from Midville at the beginning of the year, Chris made the surprise announcement that Jason Schmidt and Roger Clemens were available. By my reckoning, Schmidt and Clemens were the second and fourth-best right handed starters, respectively, and I immediately began formulating plans to acquire them both. Initially, Chris was talking to Jim about a deal involving Melvin Mora and told me that I had to get in line (another gentlemanly move, I might add, although it was frustrating to have to wait). This went on for the better part of a week, until I was finally able to get him talking …


Spanish Harlem c'mon, stop ducking me and lets make this deal happen!
New Jersey I'm not gonna trade two of the best pitchers in the set for one guy i really like and Frank Thomas … why won't JB move Snow?


(One of my initial offers included Frank Thomas, who Chris wasn’t much interested in. JT Snow, however, did pique his interest and I had previously made some inquiries to Lindenhurst GM Jason Boland about his availability.)

Spanish Harlem it's his #3 hitter, etc.

New Jersey he has Thome to play first?
Spanish Harlem so let’s start trying to do something!
Spanish Harlem Thome DHs, apparently
Spanish Harlem or is a backup
New Jersey Bonds … Ramirez?
Spanish Harlem beats me. all i know is snow is unavailable
New Jersey what about a Clemens for Beltre deal then … or do you have to have both pitchers?


(The first real opening salvo. In my mind, I was willing to do Schmidt for Beltre if necessary, but I really wanted to get both pitchers and was curious to see what the asking price would be.)

Spanish Harlem it would have to be schmidt for beltre. and i have a strong preference for both pitchers
New Jersey hmm
New Jersey I'm assuming XXX wouldn't even think of moving XXX … correct?
Spanish Harlem i dont know if he would, but since he has XXX and XXX, i doubt he'd trade XXX for XXX
New Jersey lol

(I decided to edit this because it involves a player from a team not included in these discussions, even tangentially. Since both Chris and I could theoretically reach out to this GM in the future to talk about the player in question, it would hurt our bargaining stances by revealing too much here.)

Spanish Harlem anyway, i seriously doubt XXX is available
New Jersey think you could get XXX?
New Jersey or XXX?
Spanish Harlem chris. if you couldnt get XXX or XXX off him, why do you think i could?
Spanish Harlem the price i would have to pay to get either one would hardly justify my re-trading them!
New Jersey Jim said Mora was available and then the last I heard was he was really busy getting ready for spring training and he would send me an offer as soon as he got a chance....that was a week ago


(Jim is, of course, Jim Baumbach, the West Babylon Scribes GM who is down in Tampa right now covering the Yankees for Spring Training. I left this in because Chris’s pursuit of Mora was the starting point for our negotiations.)

Spanish Harlem well, i figure that beltre is equal than mora anyway. in my mind, i have him equaling schmidt. which means the key is what it would take, along with westbrook, to get clemens too
New Jersey playing with a possible sec
Spanish Harlem ok
New Jersey I'm looking at your original offer of Schmidt and Clemens for Beltre, Thomas, and Westbrook but I'd have to confirm the XXX for XXX deal with XXX first


(This is only being edited for now, as this trade is still apparently in limbo.)

New Jersey otherwise I have Guerrero and Thomas both fighting for the DH spot
Spanish Harlem XXX for XXX? that would be interesting
Spanish Harlem why wouldnt thomas play 1B?
New Jersey:  we've touched on it several times but he keeps insisting that I have to throw him XXX back … not sure if I'm willing to give him anything else for XXX … Thomas would DH so I can keep Bags in the lineup
Spanish Harlem:  but wouldnt thomas be an upgrade over bags?
Spanish Harlem (by the way, that proposal included me getting a third player back, it wasnt a 3 for 2)


(I just wanted to make sure Chris knew I expected to get a third player back at this point.)

New Jersey:  yes, but I like going to Lee (defense) once the starter gets yanked … I don't mind taking Bags out but I'd want to keep Thomas in the lineup … all part of the master plan
New Jersey:  I know … we can touch on that later
Spanish Harlem:  but since guerrero is a 3e11 in RF, you'd yank him out instead
Spanish Harlem:  move thomas to DH
New Jersey:  or bring Rivera in also to play RF … which I've been doing
Spanish Harlem:  yes. thomas and guerrero start, in 1B and RF respectively. who DHs in that scenario?
New Jersey I'd DH thomas and start Bags at first
Spanish Harlem ahh ok. so thomas stays at DH, lee subs for bags and rivera subs for guerrero
New Jersey yep
New Jersey what would you be looking for as the 3rd player?
Spanish Harlem which means you dont have a problem. XXX for XXX doesnt need to come first. IF or OF, doesnt much matter. probably need a decent hitter though, with my two best being traded to you
Spanish Harlem:  fielding not impt
Spanish Harlem:  can be a DH
New Jersey:  it does mater though....If I don't make the XXX trade there are two snags … XXX stays in XXX, XXX stays in XXX, XXX plays XXX and I don't want to start Thomas at first if i don't have to.....problem 2 is my botton 3 are Hernandez, Roberts, Izturis....and that's just plain ugly.
Spanish Harlem 1) thomas is better than bags. i dont see what the problem is. as a 4e7, he's not much worse than bags' 3e7
Spanish Harlem 2) your top 6 is good enough to offset the bottom three
Spanish Harlem but we could always swap wilson for izturis to give you a little more OBP at SS


(I love Cesar Izturis and Chris knows it. I can’t believe he pulled him out of the set last year. Chris pulls someone useful or better out of the set EVERY year!)

Spanish Harlem:  and thats why i was surprised you didnt try harder for XXX
New Jersey:  as for teh third guy, I would guess you'd be interested in either Casey Blake, Troy Glaus, or Rafael Palmeiro
Spanish Harlem:  and by the way, if you dont want thomas "clogging things up" you could always ask for someone else, which would also allow you to give less (or nothing) back to me
Spanish Harlem:  actually, none of those three interest me
New Jersey:  I don't mind when a 60 is the cause of the me
Spanish Harlem:  haha, i didnt think so!
Spanish Harlem ok, lets start from the beginning
New Jersey then name names
Spanish Harlem if it was separate, would you do beltre for schmidt?
New Jersey wouldn't want to but I'd consider it
Spanish Harlem ok. putting aside whether you would or wouldn't, do you consider them "equal?"
New Jersey I think Schmidt has a slight advantage over Beltre....i think most would agree.....but they are close
Spanish Harlem ok, so the discrepancy btwn the two - if any - is slight?
New Jersey yes
Spanish Harlem ok. thats part 1. part 2 is clemens. you seem comfortable with westbrook. to me, that means the second player has to make up for the diff btwn clemens and westbrook and the slight diff btwn schmidt and beltre
Spanish Harlem would you agree?
New Jersey yes
Spanish Harlem now you can ask me for just about anyone as that third player. but depending on the caliber of the player you ask more, i may or may not require compensation of some type
New Jersey:  yes
Spanish Harlem:  you can ask for a guy that bridges the gap and doesnt require you sending me someone back
Spanish Harlem:  or you can ask for someone really good and give me something back
Spanish Harlem:  thats totally up to you


(At this point, I was happy the way this was shaping up. I wanted Schmidt and Clemens badly enough that I was willing to be very flexible with additional compensation. It seemed like letting Chris dictate how it went was a smarter tactic then demanding a third good player and making the trade even harder to consummate.)

New Jersey let me take another look at yer team
Spanish Harlem do you have my roster or do you need it?
New Jersey i have
New Jersey you should know better than that ... lol
Spanish Harlem ok then. take a look. pitcher or position player, makes no diff to me
New Jersey Would you consider Beltre and Madson for Schmidt and Shields?


(If I was forced to, I would’ve done this deal. I still consider Beltre and Schmidt virtual equals, but since Schmidt was the guy I actually wanted and Beltre wasn’t, I was prepared to give a little more to make it happen.)

Spanish Harlem i would consider it. but my strong preference is to acquire both schmidt and clemens. so until that option is exhausted, i want to try to do that
New Jersey:  would you consider that offer equal other words the diff between schmidt and beltre is offset by the diff between madson and shields......i am still looking at clemens for westbrook and a plyer
Spanish Harlem:  yeah, i could do that. but that means the player you ask for is only making up the diff btwn clemens and westbrook
New Jersey i realize that
Spanish Harlem ok then. that four can be the base
New Jersey its a good start...
New Jersey would you consider either/both/neither of the following two offers ....Clemens for Thomas.....Clemens for Lilly and Westbrook


(Both offers were fair at that point. Trading the two starters made more sense to me, since if I added Schmidt and Clemens to the rotation with Schilling and Zambrano, there wasn’t going to be any room for Lilly. At some point in the season I may try to acquire a left-handed starter in case I need one, but in the short-term Thomas was more valuable to me than Lilly.)

Spanish Harlem i would consider clemens for the two pitchers
New Jersey on top of teh base we've already established
Spanish Harlem with the base
Spanish Harlem that makes it: schmidt, clemens and shields for beltre, westbrook, lilly and madson
New Jersey yes
Spanish Harlem i would do that. but since i dont have any real use for shields, is there any position player you would put in there instead?
New Jersey who would you be interested in?
Spanish Harlem hold on ...
New Jersey I'm gonna be cursing you in 4 hours when I have to get up for


(it was about 1:30 am at this point and the negotiations had been going on over an hour!)

Spanish Harlem haha, we'll both be dragging!
Spanish Harlem ok: what about schneider, nevin, menechino, ginter, izturis, furcal or mabry?


(Each of those guys could’ve played a useful role for me. Chris didn’t respond for about 10 minutes afterwards, which made me a little concerned.)

Spanish Harlem oh man, you didnt fall asleep at the screen, did you?
New Jersey no....was considering my options
New Jersey you drive a hard bargain
Spanish Harlem its not the end of the world either way. i only want to sub a player, not add to the deal. if you cant sub a player in for shields, than I’ll do shields
Spanish Harlem i dont have it in me to be a stickler!


(Sometimes, it’s not a good idea to push someone too far. If you can live with a deal as it stands, sometimes it’s best to just take it. There was absolutely no need to be a hard-ass about Shields and it wasn’t worth it for me to try to push for anything more.)

New Jersey ok......lets do this, I agree to trade Schmidt, Clemens, and a player to be named to you for Beltre, Madson, Westbrook, and Lilly. The player to be named will either be Shields or Furcal (with Menechino as my third choice if I end up moving both XXX and XXX to XXX)....all i ask is I get one day to pull the trigger on teh XXX-XXX deal


(Again, pushing for a confirmation on Furcal or Menechino would’ve been silly. Either one would’ve been useful to me and it was better to let Chris decide who was the most expendable for him.)

Spanish Harlem ok thats fair. one day to make the trade official or one day to decide who the third player is?
New Jersey and you have to have picked up my trophy before I’ll make any deal
Spanish Harlem haha, its done!
New Jersey:  one day to make it official......I'll talk to XXX tomorrow and call you as soon as we make a deal.....otherwise its back to the drawing board
Spanish Harlem:  oh no! im relying on XXX!! im screwed!!


(Yeah, don’t bother reading into who that is – trust me, if I had to rely on ANY of you to make a trade, I’d be nervous!)

New Jersey he came to me with the XXX for XXX offer.....I am pretty sure we'll get it done
Spanish Harlem whoo boy. he still makes me nervous. all right, thats fine. i can wait 24 more hours
New Jersey just in case.....who is your third
Spanish Harlem barrett or olivo, depending on what you value!
New Jersey kk, you gonna be home tomorrow night?
Spanish Harlem ill be out with christine. but you can call to confirm the deal
New Jersey F me, tomorrow is valentines Day … he may have plans
Spanish Harlem yeah it is. try to get him earlier in the day
New Jersey I will
Spanish Harlem gotcha. I’ll have my cell with me, so just let me know when you know
New Jersey:  kk, I'll let you know as soon as I get an update.....I'm off to bed
Spanish Harlem:  sounds good. I’ll talk to you later
New Jersey later
New Jersey signed off at 2:11 AM



Stars of the Game

For every win the Heat earns in 2005, there will be a Star of the Game awarded to the player who did the most to help his team to victory.