The Patriot League’s first trade was struck yesterday between the Jackson Hammerheads and Knoxville Smokies, rivals in the league’s Eastern Division. The Hammerheads acquired middle reliever Butch Turnbull in exchange for third baseman Ronnie Aceuedo. The hard-throwing Turnbull, 26, compiled a 2.66 ERA to go with a 5-8 record with 7 saves last year, splitting time between two independent leagues. Aceuedo, 33, played last season in for the Puebla Pericos of the Mexican League, where he compiled a .276/.336/.429 slash line.
The trade didn’t sit well with Smokies manager Snuff Wallace. When notified of the deal, Wallace was overheard cursing out Smokies owner/GM Jeremiah Mills both for neglecting to consult him and for trading away one of his valuable bullpen arms in exchange for an “old as dirt” third baseman. According to witnesses, Wallace’s tirade lasted over 15 minutes and was peppered with “extensive and highly imaginative cursing.”
Mills defended the trade, noting that Turnbull was slated for mop-up duty with Knoxville and that Aceuedo provided the Smokies with important depth and flexibility at the hot corner. He also pointed out that the trade saved Knoxville $600,000 against the salary cap. “We did our homework before making this deal,” Mills said.
By the time the team held a press conference announcing the deal, Wallace had changed his tune. “We’ve now got three stellar third basemen in the organization,” Wallace remarks, noting that he believes any of them could start every game the team plays this year. He stated that he had talked things over with Mills and that his relationship with his GM is fine. “I trust him as far as I can throw him,” Wallace joked, “which I think is about 5 feet.”
Reached for comment about the deal, Hammerheads manager Lou Hayes had the following response: