• The Stress of the Trade Deadline

    Last night in the 8th inning, Denard Span came out of the game because he was feeling dizzy. He wasn’t feeling well. Seeing Darin Mastroianni in the lineup set off a firestorm on Twitter.

    A night earlier, Trevor Plouffe was abruptly replaced by Brian Dozier as a pinch hitter. The question there was whether he was sick or injured.

    With Span, there was a far different discussion for one big reason. Rather than thinking that maybe Span wasn’t feeling well in the nearly-100 degree weather, the question jumped to “Has Span been traded?” Was he going to the Yankees, or the Rangers, or the Reds, or the Nationals? What would the Twins be getting in return?

    The trade deadline is in nine days. Denard Span and Francisco Liriano are the two names most frequently mentioned in trade rumors. The Twins are far out of playoff contention, and that means that they will be (and should be) in sell mode. That means that any veteran on the roster could be dealt, and that it could happen at any time, even during a game.

    The sad thing is that once people found out that he left the game because he felt dizzy, there were a few who thought, “Great! That will minimize what the Twins can get for Span!” Stay Classy!

    It’s sometimes important to take a step back at the trade deadline and realize that all these rumors and then any actual trades affect and stress players in ways that go far beyond the baseball field.

    Span came to the Twins when he signed in August of 2002 as the team’s #1 draft pick (20th overall). He gave up a college football scholarship to play with the Twins. He debuted with the Twins in 2008 and has been the team’s leadoff hitter ever since.

    Liriano came to the Twins following the 2003 season in one of Terry Ryan’s best trades. Liriano was traded to the Twins, along with Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser, in the AJ Pierzynski trade. He debuted with the Twins in September of 2005. Johan Santana won the AL Cy Young Award in 2006, but for a two month period, Liriano was the best pitcher in baseball. Unfortunately, he tore his UCL and had Tommy John surgery. It took until 2010 for Liriano to regain any semblance of his form. However, 2011 and the first two months of 2012 were very frustrating for the left-hander. However, in the last two months since rejoining the rotation, he has been one of baseball’s pitchers.

    A year ago, Denard Span was on the Disabled List with his concussion yet he still was involved in several trade rumors. Span did not want to get traded, and he really struggled with the rumors and the process. Although he has seen teammates come and go, Span has been in this organization for a decade. There is a comfort factor. There are relationships with teammates and coaches. Span has developed a great fan following due to his play on the field and his work in the community and his willingness to interact with fans at the ballpark and on Twitter. Although he lives in Tampa during the offseason, Span also knows that part of who he is is a Minnesota Twin.

    The life of a professional athlete may not be as great as we all assume in a number of ways. Yes, the money and the travel and the fame and those types of things are great. However, when a player is drafted, he has no choice in where he plays. In the minor leagues, players get paid very minimally and travel on buses. Once they hit the big leagues, they have almost no say in their income until they have almost three years of service time. They have no say in where they play for the first six years of their career. If they become a free agent, they finally have the power to choose where they will play based on factors from contract offered to cities in which they want to live. However, until a player has 10-5 rights (10 years of MLB service time, and the past five with the same team), he can be traded at any time whether he wants to be or not.

    Baseball is a business. It is a business that pays its performers very well. It provides them with many other perks, as well. But I also think that sometimes fans forget that these are people too. People with feelings. Some players outwardly handle rumors better than others.

    As a Twins fan, I like the fact that Francisco Liriano is saying that he wants to stay with the Twins. I have no problem with Denard Span being affected by the thought of leaving the organization that he has been with for a decade.

    Don’t get me wrong… It is Terry Ryan’s job as GM to not let that sentiment and emotion go into his decision-making as he is determining what needs to be done for the betterment of the Twins organization. I don’t want Denard Span to be traded either, but I also understand the he is the kind of player that can actually bring back some players that the organization needs to replenish its farm system. Hopefully, that will bring the Twins back to contention more quickly.

    In the same way, Terry Ryan needs to make a decision regarding Josh Willingham. How much return is enough to make up for the hit the team could take for trading a guy they just signed to a multi-year contract. By all reports, Willingham is a great guy and he and his family have really fit in with the Twins and in the community.

    Regarding Jamey Carroll, Ryan must determine the value of freeing up the Carroll's contract versus what Carroll can bring as a mentor to the Twins infield next year, which could have Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon in the middle?

    Like Span, Glen Perkins has the type of contract (and talent) that could make him very valuable to a contender. However, he is from here. His wife is from here and they live in Minnesota year-round. It would affect a lot of lives to deal Perkins. Yes, that is the business side of it, but the personal side makes it tough to do.

    Justin Morneau has the kind of contract that would be great to get off the books: $14 million for 2013. Morneau and his wife just had their second baby. She is from Minnesota and they have made Minnesota one of their homes. Morneau has done a lot for the Twins organization over the last 8-9 years, including winning an MVP, hitting a lot of home runs, driving in a bunch of runs, becoming a very good first baseman and much more. Loyalty comes into play when the thought of trading Justin Morneau comes up.

    The July trade deadline is a lot of fun for fans. It’s fun to read the rumors. It’s fun to think about what prospects the Twins could receive in return for various players. It’s exciting. From a team perspective, they need to do what is right short-term and long-term for the organization. For the players, it has to be difficult from so many standpoints. Loyalty. Being happy and comfortable in an environment. Family and Friends. Winning opportunity. Not the least of which is trying to feel like more than a trade chip to be dealt.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The Stress of the Trade Deadline started by Seth Stohs View original post
    Comments 55 Comments
    1. Vervehound's Avatar
      Vervehound -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Understood, but 99% of the non-players would not mind if their employer traded them to a team in Antarctica, if they were making a few million a year or even half a million minimum wage to play a kid's sport. Trenton is not too bad actually if you are in the right place during day time. And the ball park is pretty nice.
      most kids aren't striking out in front of 30k people and having to answer for it in the court of public opinion. not to mention that ballplayers have shown that they're in the elite 0.01% of humanity in terms of hand-eye coordination. i get that being a ballplayer could be a really fun career but it's also super hard for all but a half dozen players so the argument of it being a "kid's sport" is lazy, imo.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Vervehound View Post
      most kids aren't striking out in front of 30k people and having to answer for it in the court of public opinion. not to mention that ballplayers have shown that they're in the elite 0.01% of humanity in terms of hand-eye coordination. i get that being a ballplayer could be a really fun career but it's also super hard for all but a half dozen players so the argument of it being a "kid's sport" is lazy, imo.
      Yeah, I agree that I think there is plenty of stress just playing the game for these players, i.e. each at bat, the press etc, the idea that you may be traded should be at the bottom of that list IMHO.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Having moved and changed jobs on a number of occasion, I think it is safe to say that it is a stressful experience. I realize that these guys aren't facing circumstances like what Jason Marquis faced earlier this season, but that doesn't take away from the stress of the situation. Add to it that these guys basically live out of a suitcase from April to October, which is hardly a cakewalk. The idea that this is simply a kids game and is unstressful is rather lazy if you ask me. These guys are people who have to deal with families, travel, and everything else just like the rest of us. Just because they make a lot of money doesn't somehow make these issues go away.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Going back to some of the earlier comments about stress, I actually think that stress is feeling like you don't have control of the situation.

      So, to me, Span's situation would be more stressful than Liriano's because Span is locked into a contract through 2014 -- and has no ability to make his own choices until after that season. Liriano becomes a free agent after this season so regardless of what happens, he only has to live with it for a few months.

      And, some people have a greater need for control than others -- usually these are also people who don't react well to change becaue it affects their control (that is control over their own circumstances not necessarily control over others).

      I have a feeling from his tweets last year that Span may be someone who needs that control -- it may be part of why he wanted to sign a long-term contract (considered by many to be team-friendly even at the time) in the first place. It gave him some certainty over a period of time.

      And that is also why all the talk of trades might be more stressful to him than it might be to others in the same situation.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Yeah, I agree that I think there is plenty of stress just playing the game for these players, i.e. each at bat, the press etc, the idea that you may be traded should be at the bottom of that list IMHO.
      I disagree. Playing in front of crowds and handling the press is something that the players train for -- and it becomes routine. Since they know what to expect, the stress level is minimized.

      Dealing with a family situation (as Marquis did) or being traded is a whole different thing. It is stressful because you have no way of knowing what will happen.

      And each person's view on this question may well depend upon how much of a control freak you are personally. (Since I am one, that may well explain why I think not having a say in where you will be for the next few years would be incredibly stressful)
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
      Chief, you work with people who move all the time. The shorter the notice, the more stress. More money doesn't necessarily reduce the stress, although they obviously have more resources to throw at the stressors. It's still difficult to pick up and move, whether you're an A1C with a wife and kid, a Major married to a Captain with no kids, or a ballplayer making $1M+.

      The military member is going to have a few days to take care of business; the ballplayer is going to be expected to be in uniform in Toronto (or wherever) the next night.
      Fair points, and I understand being told today you're working in another city tomorrow can't be fun. I still think people are making way too much of this.

      Is it too stressful for them when they're told theyre leaving Rochester on the next flight to Minneapolis? Perhaps all in season promotions should come with two weeks notice?

      A major leaguer getting traded is going to have the team pick up the expenses, have a flunky waiting to help him find a place to live, have his personal effects packed up and shipped by others, etc etc.

      Maybe I'm just a cynical old bastard, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for pampered millionaires getting "stressed" over something they signed up for.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      I disagree. Playing in front of crowds and handling the press is something that the players train for -- and it becomes routine. Since they know what to expect, the stress level is minimized.

      Dealing with a family situation (as Marquis did) or being traded is a whole different thing. It is stressful because you have no way of knowing what will happen.

      And each person's view on this question may well depend upon how much of a control freak you are personally. (Since I am one, that may well explain why I think not having a say in where you will be for the next few years would be incredibly stressful)
      I'm sorry what is the purpose of bringing up what happened to Marquis? What does that have to do with a player being traded? Are you comparing the potential death of a child to being potentially having to move to another city?
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Shouldn't've backed off Chief. If the coaches can't handle their agony in a few sentences they should just laminate your comment and hand it to them. Their stress is pretty much the same stress I feel when I get a piece of road tar on my motorcycle.

      Makes me think of the old Martin Mull song "Rich Man's Blues"..."I felt so low down I threw my drink across the lawn."
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      No, I'm not comparing it. Someone else brought up Marquis earlier.

      Of course the stress of dealing with an injured child (or spouse or parent or other loved one) is greater than the stress of moving to another city.

      But changing jobs or moving to another location is a pretty high stress factor as I recall from all those cute little lists they publish from time to time on life's stressors. And, even when it is by choice, its not really routine.

      My point was that most at bats for a player (even in front of 30,000 fans) are somewhat routine. Does that mean that he doesn't get stressed? Of course not. And SOME at bat situations are very stressful, I'm sure.

      But overall, I think that the possibility of being traded -- and in having no say in where you go -- is probably more stressful than routine at bats for which the player has trained.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Why its not correct to compare our jobs getting transferred to baseball is players only play 6/7month seasons....they still go home for 5months & dont work....do workout but its not work.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post

      But changing jobs or moving to another location is a pretty high stress factor as I recall from all those cute little lists they publish from time to time on life's stressors. And, even when it is by choice, its not really routine.
      I have moved states like 5 or 6 times in my life, only once was due to choice. I'd say the majority of people in this country have had to as well. It's really not that stressful.

      These guys are professionals, if they are concerned with outside issues (such as being the rumor of trades) they should keep it inside and continue to do their jobs. Just like everyone else is expected to do in their day to day lives.

      I still think the stress of playing in front of 40k fans and millions on TV is much greater then "oh we might have to move soon"
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Pro sports is like musical chairs, the game show. Denard should realize that, along with every other player. Play hard, and then hope you get to sit with a good team for awhile, and make some money.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Is it too stressful for them when they're told theyre leaving Rochester on the next flight to Minneapolis?
      I'm sure the flight in the other direction is much more stressful, especially since it usually comes with a major pay cut. (I'm sure the cut from the MLB minimum to the pittance most minor leaguers make is pretty painful.)
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      I still think the stress of playing in front of 40k fans and millions on TV is much greater then "oh we might have to move soon"
      That is something I think you can get used to, especially after years of being watched. In my experience, real stress sneaks up on you. Worrying that your kid needs to move from his friends ( or be raised by an absentee father). Worrying your wife is alone or that her support network is in jeapordy or that her parents are going to call her worrying about the latest rumors & whether that means the grand kids are moving away. Ths is the stuff that hits you when you aren't looking, that you can't control.

      That doesnt mean they need our pity, and that's not what the story was saying. It just men's it's silly to think this stuff means NOTHING to them. It probably does, and they likely can't help but have it affect them.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I enjoyed the article and agree that the "cloud" of a trade rumor could be stressful. Just because someone makes a lot of money and has flunkies to do the grunt work does not mean that he won't be stressed by some of the consequences of being traded.

      I also agree with those who believe that it is good business to treat your employees with respect and with concern for their personal lives. As fans, we expect players to give 110% for the team. If the team perceives that the GM is a coldblooded *******, I think that this could hurt team morale. But if the GM genuinely cares about every player as a human being, then this could build loyalty. My sense is that Terry Ryan seems to feel this way. Here is a quote from a recent article from the Twins website where Ryan talks about losing the opportunity to trade Capps and Pavano:

      But Ryan refused to look at the injuries as a lost opportunity for the Twins, as he's more worried about them coming back healthy.

      "I wouldn't be worried about trade chips when it comes to a guy's health," Ryan said.

      Here is the link to the full article.



      I understand that baseball is a business and that the GM sometimes has to make a tough decision. But I think that players will play harder when they think that the GM genuinely cares about them as human beings.
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