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07/30/2007 7:36 PM ET
Player Journal: Scouts, trades part of life
Trading deadline prompts observations on the business of baseball
The business side of the game put at least a temporary end to a long association between Fernando Perez (above) and Shaun Cumberland. (Montgomery Biscuits)


Fernando Perez, an outfield prospect in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization, led all of Minor League baseball with 123 runs scored in 2006. En route to being named the Visalia Oaks' Player of the Year, the Columbia University product shared the California League lead with nine triples, ranked third with 168 hits, fourth in on-base percentage (.398) and stolen bases (33) and 10th with a .307 batting average.

Send Fernando an email

The trade deadline is near and we're in the clubhouse in Birmingham watching the ticker reel off trade news. We had been watching a horrible action movie, until the guy on the other side of the loveseat, Shaun Cumberland, was summoned into the manager's lair. [Cumberland was dealt to the Reds organization last week.]

Shaun Cumberland has been close to me during every waking moment of my professional baseball career, in every outfielder's drill, in every round of batting practice.

I tend to repeat myself, and sense I may already have mentioned that everything gets more businesslike in Double-A, and that you ought to expect some roster changes. I think I remember a former player and color commentator mentioning that the first time you get traded it's disheartening, but it's a part of the game you get used to by the second and third time around.

What does it even mean to be traded? As much as I can gather, in entering ourselves in sport, we live by our own worth -- which is at all times conferrable, so long as each party feels they're sort of tricking the other. You're a set of numbers and a set of habits. A particular likelihood of success. I'd imagine each case is different, but in any case, as players we have to just play, since there isn't any real dialogue about your progress or what you mean to the organization you're a part of.

At the other end of an inquiry into this is a change of the subject from a front office that has a very specific plan for you that you're not allowed to know.

It's all very interesting among players. There are conspiracy theories that we air as we stretch and throw, or sit around hotel rooms. I heard someone say once there are probably 10 teams that want you more than the team that owns you. There might be some truth to that.

Try to sit next to a scout next time you make it to a game. There's a lot more you could see on the field with the trained eye they possess, their insight and "insidership." Dressed on the more leisurely side of business casual, and usually about the same size, shape and gait of a former player, they sit behind the backstop taking in everything the players offer, when the ball's in play or not. They are overseers. Their opinions can shape your career, and you can't get a word in edgewise without a bat in your hands or a glove on your hand.

I know every player has shared the experience of making an error, looking back toward the plate as the next pitch is coming and seeing 10 heads bent forward intent on scrawling notes.

Watch a single baseball game and you might leave with the sense that a guy who is hitting .200 is the best player on the field. You could also leave without even a sense of the guy at short who made an error and struck out looking in the same inning, who'll be the best player of the next generation.

That's a nice part of our game, and a funny thing about having people come see you play.

Fernando Perez is an outfield prospect in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization and a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.