The deadline trade that never was
ED NOTE: Thunder blog king Mike Ashmore did a far better job on this story than BareBones, and although a conflict of interest prevents me from providing a direct link to his piece, you can find that and all kinds of great stuff on his site . But you know that already.
There is a very good reason why Thunder manager Tony Franklin refuses to get himself all worked up in the hours leading up to the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline, which is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.
“My thinking has always been if something happens, it happens,” Franklin said. “But a couple years ago (2008) there was a fellow at the other end of our dugout yelling at Phil Coke, who was pitching for us that night.
“Hey, Phil, you just got traded and (George) Kontos is in it, too.’ And I am thinking to myself, “where is this guy getting this stuff?’ ”
Turns out, the guy was onto something.
Almost simultaneous with the fan’s chatter, Franklin received a call from Yankees’ brass to remove Coke from that July 25, 2008 start against Portland at Waterfront Park. Teams generally do that to avoid injury and protect the integrity of any deal.
That night, word began to spread that the Yankees had a trade in place to acquire outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte in exchange for Coke, outfielder Jose Tabata, former Princeton University star Ross Ohlendorf and a one other minor league prospect to be named later _ a player widely believed to be Kontos.
However, when the trade was became official the following day, Coke and Kontos were out, while pitchers Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen were added and on their way to Pittsburgh.
Rumors that Coke failed a pre-trade physical, nixing him from the proposed deal began to swirl. Coke denied ever failing a physical for the Yankees or Pirates.
Needless to say, it was a rather hectic 24 hours at the ballpark for everyone involved.
“That situation kind of threw me because that was my first experience with anything like that,” Franklin said. “Phil is looking at me and was like, “what’s going on?’ The next thing I know I am getting a call that we had something working and to get Phil out of the game. So, I am thinking, “Oh my God. This guy is right!’ ”
Coke stayed a Yankee prospect over the short term, but eventually was dealt to the Detroit Tigers over the winter in exchange for outfielder Curtis Granderson.
As for Kontos, the right-hander returned to the Thunder last month and has been effective out of the Trenton bullpen as he continues to make it back from Tommy John surgery. The quartet of Tabata, Ohlendorf, Karstens and McCutchen are still with the Pirates organization.