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About Trades And The Trading Deadline

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The non-waiver trading deadline is 3 pm CDT this afternoon -- let's use this post for trade-deadline discussion. I've got a few things to say about the whole process that I thought would be of general interest. First, even though the deadline is 3 pm -- don't assume that when that magical time passes and you haven't heard anything, that means no deal has come down. It takes time to get all the proverbial i's dotted and t's crossed, and make sure the players themselves have been notified; there are times a just-before-the-deadline deal gets announced an hour or so later. The Nomar Garciaparra deal in 2004 is a perfect example of this -- it was a complicated deal between four teams and took a while for everything to get sorted out, and wasn't announced until about an hour after the deadline.

The mania surrounding the deadline is getting much more intense with the advent of Twitter. I've got my phone set to receive tweets from MLB Trade Rumors; that way if something I find interesting gets tweeted while I'm out or at the ballpark, I can check it out right away at their site. I probably got 30 of them from that site on Thursday alone. But it can get a little ridiculous, and this is where rumors can fly to unintended places. Just before 12:30 yesterday afternoon, I got a tweet from them that said "Josh Willingham just pulled from the lineup. Hmmm..."

Well, that got lips flapping and keyboards clacking, but 15 minutes later came this followup: "Willingham has stiff neck, not traded".

There were other tweets on Thursday afternoon from MLBTR saying "looks like Rolen to Reds has a 'good chance' of getting done"; that one was also debunked an hour later.

The truth is that all of this information has to drive major league GM's out of their minds. Jim Hendry is one, in particular, who doesn't like to do his trade negotiations either in the traditional media or on blogs. Kevin Towers, on the other hand, often updates outsiders by the hour, seemingly, then does things like blame blogs for the fact that the Jake Peavy to the Cubs deal never got done -- which is patently ridiculous.

The fact is, not one of us can know what goes on in a major league front office. There are a tremendous number of different factors that are involved in any transaction involving major league baseball players in 2009 -- MLB is a huge business and even the lowest-paid player makes more than, I daresay, virtually anyone who reads this site. For any major league player who becomes involved in a trade at this time of year, especially one who has a large or multi-year contract, agents have to be involved, GM's have to figure out whether the player(s) they are acquiring will fit in with the clubhouse and the field manager, travel arrangements have to be made, they have to help the new player(s) find places to live in the city they're being traded to -- it has to be one giant headache.

So when I see posts here suggesting trading players with huge contracts for other players with huge contracts -- how often do you really see that happen? If it does, it's usually during the offseason, not at the trading deadline. Or someone will make a post suggesting trading all the players we've been complaining about as "terrible" for someone else's superstar. Why would anyone do that if the players are so bad? Maybe you can trade three mediocre players for one really good one in a fantasy league, but not in real life.

So as you keep checking online news sources, MLBTR or Twitter for information on last-minute big deals this afternoon, keep all that in mind and know that the most likely outcome around three this afternoon is "none", particularly for the Cubs, who have probably made their one big deadline deal.

Finally, remember that trades can still be made, as long as players clear waivers, until August 31, and any player acquired by such a deal is eligible for postseason play. While the best players won't clear waivers, hundreds of players do, and deals do get made in August. Enjoy the morning & afternoon, and let's keep the trade discussion here instead of starting dozens of FanPosts.