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Rays Family Tree: The Dead Trade Strings of 2001

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1999: Aaron Ledesma and Rolando Arrojo for Vinny Castilla (Released 2001)

 

1999 Trade Acquired Trade Salary PT Stat NT Stat Original Draft
Aaron Ledesma Expansion Draft $525k OPS .682/2 yrs OPS .554/1 yr 2nd Rd 1990 Mets
Rolando Arrojo AFA $325K ERA 4.23/2 yrs ERA 6.04/1 yr AmateurFA 1997
for
Vinny Castilla Released 2001 $6.25 million OPS .870/9 yrs OPS .569/ 2yrs Bought for Mexican team

 

Pre-Trade:

Formerly a second round pick of the Mets in 1990, Aaron Ledesma was a 26 year-old utility man when the Raysselected him in the 1997 expansion draft. Ledesma would start games at all four infield positions for the Rays in both 1998 and 1999. During his two season run he posted a slash line of .295/.325/.358.

Rolando Arrojo was signed as an amateur free agent in 1997 after defecting from the Cuban national team. The allegedly 29-year-old right hander was a sensations during the Rays inaugural season in which he earned 14 wins and had an ERA of 3.56. His FIP of 4.32  told us he was not quite that good.  In 1999, his FIP/ERA were more in line at 5.32/5.18. Its no fun when you know something is too good to be true.

 Vinny Castilla was 32 years of age and coming off 7 consecutive seasons of .800+ OPS with the Rockies while manning the hot corner. For his career with the Rockies, which also included stints in 2004 and 2006, he posted a slash line of .294/.340/.530.

Post Trade:

Vinny Castilla was supposed to usher in the Hit Show era. Outside the infamous Colorado air, Castilla proved to be quite average. His career road splits of .257/.303/.435 might have served as a warning sign of what was to come. For those who have spent the past year cursing the Pat Burrell signing of 2009, well, all I can say is its a good thing you weren't on the bandwagon for the Hit Show.  In just over one season, and 109 games with the Rays, Castilla put up a line of .219/.253/.316. He certainly was not helped by a .236 BABIP, but he saw his ISO drop to .088. He also only walked 4.1% of the time in 2001. After Navi's season, its probably time to look at the correlation between BABIP and BB%. By contrast, Burrell's OPS in 2009 was .682, or .113 higher than Castilla's with the Rays. Burrell's ISO also was .146, or .058 higher than Castilla's. Finally, Burrell still managed to walk 12.2% of the time, or 8.1% more often than Castilla.

The Rays released Castilla near the beginning of 2001 and he was quickly signed by the Astros. He was far better for the Stros, posting an OPS of .812. He later had two stints with the Rockies and one each with the Braves, Nationals, and Padres. Only with Colorado did Castilla again show flashes of his former self. He retired from baseball in 2006 and is currently serving as a player-manager for a team in the Mexican League, as well as the manager of Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

Aaron Ledesma had 40 at-bats in 32 games with the Rockies with an OPS of .554. He was granted free agency, had back surgery in 2001. and never played affiliated baseball again. Today, he is an an assistant coach for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees along with former Ray Scott Aldred.  The late PLK of DRB fame interviewed Ledesma back in 2006 for the site and that can be read  here(see the gem below from Coach Ledesma):

 

DRB-You performed well with the '98 Rays, but your production slowed in '99, as your OPS dropped .121 points. What was it like on those nights when you just couldn't swing the bat. What is a player in a slump feeling in those times?

AL-Being in a slump was horrible for me. I was absolutely terrified of going o-fer. That's probably why I never hit for much power. I trained myself to put the ball in play hard somewhere. If I had another chance to do it all over again, I'm coming out of my shoes. Easy to say now. And I have no clue what OPS stands for. (On Base Percentage+Slugging Percentage OBP+SLG=OPS)

 

 Rolando Arrojo lasted 19 starts in 2000 with the Rockies (ERA 6.04) before being shipped along with Rich Croushore and Mike Landing to Boston in exchange for Jeff Frye, Brian Rose, John Wasdin, and Jeff Taglienti.

Taglienti was a minor leaguer who never made it past AA and was out of baseball in 2002. Frye played 27 games at 2B with an OPS of .838 for the Rockies before being granted free agency.  Wasdin pitched 13 innings for Colorado before being released. Rose made 12 starts for the Rockies with an ERA of 5.51 before being traded in 2001 to the Mets in exchange for Mark Leiter. Leiter was traded a week later along with Mike Dejean and Elvis Pena for Juan Acevedo, Kane Davis, and Jose Flores.

Flores was granted free agency a few months later with no time spent in the majors.  Acevedo was moved in August of 2001 for Josue Espada of the Marlins organization. No details on Espada could be found. Kane Davis pitched 68 innings of relief for the Rockies in 2001 before being traded to the Mets for Corey Brittan, who lasted just one season in AAA for the Rockies and has been out of baseball since 2002. This concluded the Vinny Castilla string for the Rockies.

 

1999 Trade: Joe Oliver & Humberto Cotafor Jeff Sparks (Released 2000) and Jose Guillen (Released 2001)

 

Pre-Trade:

Journeyman Joe Oliver was signed by the Rays to a minor league contract prior to the 1999 season and began the year at AAA Durham.

Humberto Cota was a 20-year-old catcher coming off a stellar 1998 campaign with the Princeton Rays in rookie ball where he posted a slash line of .310/.399/.580 with 15 home runs.

Jeff Sparks was a 27-year-old right handed reliever in AAA with the Pirates. Through 34 appearances in 1999 he had struck out 69 and walked 23 in 49.1 IP.

Jose Guillen was the 23-year-old everyday right fielder for the Pirates in 1997 and 1998 with a slash line of .267/.301/.406.

 

Post-Trade:

Jeff Sparks made 23 relief appearances over two seasons with the Rays where he flashed stuff that was tough to hit with a K/9 of 12.16/9 and a Slugging % allowed of .305. However he also had control issues with a BB/9 of 8.9/9. He was released following the 2000 season. He pitched in the in dependants through 2005, but never for an affiliated team past his time with the Rays. Per wikipedia, as of 2007 he was hawking home and garden tools at Lowes, while going to firefighter school and training with Mike Marshall.

 

Jose Guillen would be a part-time right fielder for the Rays through 2001 when he was released, thus ending the Oliver/Cota string. During his stint he posted a slash of .255/.317/.394. He would go on to have a richly compensated career after he discovered power in 2003 with the Reds and A's to the tune of 31 home runs.

Guillen was traded in a 1-for-3 deal to Oakland during 2003. One of the 3 pieces? A young pitcher named Aaron Harang. A few years later  in 2005, the Angels traded away Guillen for Maicer Izturisand Juan Rivera. For his career Guillen has OPSed .764 over 13 seasons with below average defense. With nets of Izturis and Rivera, and Harang, the Rays should have done better than releasing him in 2001. One consoling fact, there is a team that had far more costly consequences involving Guillen than the Rays missed opportunity costs. The Royals have paid him $24 million over the past two seasons for one full season's worth of . a 720 OPS.

 

Joe Oliver started 40 games for the Pirates in 1999 with a lowly OPS of .537. He would continue floating around the majors through 2001.

 

Humberto Cotawas a part-time catcher for the Pirates from 2001-07 with a slash of .233/.280/.358. Cota was granted free agency after 07, and had a very nice AAA season for the Rockies in 2008 with a line of .319/.342/.493. He became a free agent again, and played in the Mexican League in 2009 with an OPS of .850. Cota kept the trade string alive for the Pirates through 2007.