Archive for Trades

Selling High on Bad Closers

Neftali Feliz and LaTroy Hawkins both picked up their first saves of the season last night. Per ESPN’s live draft results, Feliz was drafted as the 25th reliever off the board on average and just inside the top 200 overall. Hawkins was drafted 38th among relievers and went at pick 226 overall. These are a couple of the names you wound up with if you chose not to pay for saves.

Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I assume the plan if you own guys like Feliz and Hawkins is to ride them out as long as they hold on to the closer’s job and squeeze as many saves out of them as you can. I ascribe to the “don’t pay for saves” philosophy and scrounge around late in drafts and on the waiver wire to acquire my saves. Typically when I get a guy who has the ninth inning job, I ride it out until he loses the job. But it occurs to me, as it may have occurred to you, that maybe it’s better to cash in that asset after a string of un-blown saves. Read the rest of this entry »


Should Vetoes Be Allowed?

Vetoes are a popular check and balance to the trade market, but it’s unclear whether they should even be allowed in most leagues. I have a firm opinion on the topic, but my main goal is to create a discussion about the pros and cons of trade vetoes as we head into Thanksgiving break.

The purpose of the veto is to prevent unfair trades from affecting the league. It seems, in theory, to suggest an owner’s sole sources of surplus value should be from the draft or waiver wire. They should not be able to acquire surplus value from their rivals.

This argument holds more merit in a league with widely varying skill levels. For example, if you put Eno Sarris and your mom into the same league, it stands to reason that Eno would have a big advantage. Eno’s probably many, many times better at fantasy baseball than your mom. Probably.

There’s nothing wrong with unbalanced leagues, the kind that let co-workers, families, or childhood friends share something over which to bond. However, judging from the comments here on RotoGraphs, most of you are in cutthroat leagues with a competitive field of owners. I’m sure there are one or two laggards, but every owner knows what they’re doing.

In such an environment, the use case for a veto is seemingly marginalized. If everybody knows what they’re doing, then a seemingly lopsided trade was made intentionally. Unless you can prove collusion, it’s probably just a case of divergent values. Is it fair to veto a trade because one owner sees things differently than the majority of the league?

Let’s consider the Mike Trout trade I discussed on Monday in the ottoneu league FanGraphs Staff Two.

I received:

$55 Mike Trout
$14 Jonathan Lucroy

A rival received:

$5 Corey Seager
$4 Steven Souza
$3 Jace Peterson

The general assessment was that I rooked my rival. One commenter said he would consider a veto of this trade. However, another commenter did the math using Steamer values and found that both Trout and Lucroy are overpriced. My own price sheet has them as slight values, but only because I manipulate what I consider the “neutral price” to favor skill sets I like.

So we have a trade where sentiment strongly favors me, but the math is less rosy. Moreover, this is a situation where mine was perhaps the only team that could afford to acquire Trout. His owner would have been forced to cut other high quality players like Robinson Cano, Stephen Strasburg, or David Price if he kept Trout. With their price tags, those players wouldn’t have returned much.

This is a situation where both owners accomplished a specific, reasonable goal, and the math is at least somewhat supportive of the trade being fair. By comparison, if I had made the same trade in a standard Yahoo league, one where prospects hold almost no value, there would be a stronger cause for a veto.

In a competitive league, the best remedy to an owner who consistently makes bad trades is to replace him or her. Using the veto is simply masking the symptoms of a broken league. I’ve seen leagues where trading stops completely, owners leave, or the veto is used tactically to prevent other rivals from improving.

My advice regarding vetoes is to enact a league constitution with clear guidelines regarding when a veto can be used. In my own leagues, a trade must be “clearly unconscionable.” Owners participating in such trades, especially the seller, are subject to removal at the commissioner’s discretion.

These are some of my high level thoughts about vetoes. They’re a dangerous tool that can take away from the enjoyment of a league. A veto is like taking advil for a sore pitching shoulder. It will mask the pain, but it won’t fix your problem. In fact, if you keep pitching, the advil will just let you do more damage. Vetoes are the same way, they just make the league even worse. I always prefer to attack the cause of a problem rather than a symptom.

I didn’t mean to make this so much about how I feel, it just happened that way. Mainly, I’m interest in how you feel about vetoes. So get to it.


Offseason Fantasy Blockbusters

Ottoneu is a year-round fantasy baseball platform developed by Lord of Shadows Niv Shah. You probably know that. The arbitration period ended on November 14, and trading began the next day. In the writer’s league, FanGraphs Staff Two, a pair of blockbuster trades were consummated on the very first day of trading. Today, we’ll discuss those trades and the perspective of each owner involved.
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Jason Heyward in St. Louis

Your first instinct when hearing the Jason Heyward is now a Cardinal might be to discount him in fantasy circles. After all, his power has been waning already, and now he’s moving from a park with a 100 park factor for lefty home runs to one that has a 96 park factor (or 97 and 92 respectively if you use StatCorner’s numbers).

But it’s not that simple.

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Trading for the Final Month

We’re heading toward the end of August, which means there’s only about a month remaining in the regular season. Though I’m sure many of your league’s trade deadlines have already passed, I’m quite confident that a lot of yours have not, but are certainly coming up soon.

For the first two months or so of the season, I’m all about trading for value. That is, my preseason dollar values guide my trade offers and responses. It’s far too early to determine what my team’s strengths and weaknesses are at that point, so I just want to accumulate as much value as possible.

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Fantasy Impact: Asdrubal Cabrera to Nationals

The Washington Nationals have acquired Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians, sending shortstop Zach Walters back as compensation.

Asdrubal still has great name recognition for fantasy owners, but that’s his biggest selling point anymore. Asdrubal hit .242 last season with a .307 wOBA, and he’s in the midst of repeating it with .246/.306 marks as a member of the Indians. Asdrubal has brought a touch of power to the middle infield — hitting 25 dongs in 2011 — but those numbers have faded each year since, with ZiPS thinking he ends the year with 14, just as he did in 2013. Asdrubal is going to play second base in Washington, which will make him eligible at both middle infield positions for the first time since 2010. Not having to face the Tigers pitching staff will be a boost, and he should get a minor jump in HR potential due to his new ballpark, but Cabrera’s value doesn’t change much with the move.

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Fantasy Impact: John Lackey to Cardinals in a Blockbuster

In Boston’s second big deal of the day, John Lackey is headed to the Cardinals in exchange for starter Joe Kelly and “outfielder” Allen Craig.

Lackey will see a sweet boost in his value in August and September, as he’ll get to avoid the DH and move into baseball’s best pitcher’s parks. Throughout his career, Lackey has feasted on the NL in interleague play, earning a 3.07 ERA in 246 innings. Lackey has stuck out 219 in those innings, leading to a WHIP of 1.18. Lackey won’t necessarily see much of a defensive boost with his new club, especially because he’s induces neither grounders nor flies at a special rate. If you’re in an NL-only league, go bid big on Lackey right now and use this unique chance to add an impact starter over the roto stretch run.

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Fantasy Impact: Jon Lester, Yoenis Cespedes Switch Teams

Jon Lester has been traded by the Red Sox to the Oakland Athletics, and in a fascinating twist, Boston will receive Yoenis Cespedes in return. Jonny Gomes will accompany Lester in Oakland, and a competitive balance pick will go with Cespedes to Boston.

Lester has reemerged as an absolute ace in his contract year, and he’s rolling into the Bay Area with a career best ERA, WHIP, FIP, xFIP, and SIERA. While most people consider Boston to be a hitter’s paradise, it’s actually relatively neutral outside of doubles smacking off the Green Monster, but moving to Oakland will still be a good thing for Lester. Oakland is one of the great pitcher’s parks, with spacious foul ground that makes ranchers fantasize about life on the open range. Lester has started six games in Oakland throughout his career, allowing four homers with an ERA of 3.52 in 38.1 IP, slightly better than his career ERA in Fenway park.

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Balancing Future and Present at the Deadline

The MLB Trade Deadline is coming up quickly, and fantasy deadlines will follow over the next few weeks. For dynasty owners, particularly those near the top of their standings, there is a big question of how you balance making a run in 2014 vs. staying in a good position for 2015.

I am in the midst of a marathon trade dialogue with fellow Rotographer Brad Johnson. Brad is sitting in fourth place, but has the 8th best offense and 4th best pitching staff and has determined that puts a top-three finish out of reach. And as he has shipped off one star after another (Miguel Cabrera, Craig Kimbrel, Adam Wainwright) he and I have repeatedly debated the merits of those stars and my young up-and-comers.

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The Power of a Compliment

You’re in first place, but you just lost Masahiro Tanaka. He was the only pitcher standing holding your staff above water. It’s time to make a trade.

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