I now realize I kind of hate April. I want to do analysis, but the best I can do with the current data is note peculiar observations. Rather than pluck out more guys based on some tenuous indicator, let’s refresh ourselves on a few critical strategies.
Trading 101 – Gain expected points from (almost) any trade
Owners can get tied up on the names involved in a trade discussion. For owners in a roto league, any trade should help you collect more points in the standings. Perhaps your team is power deficient but has a ton of starting pitchers. In that case, you can trade from your depth to add a few home runs. If you give up one point in pitching to win three in home runs and RBI, then you made a good trade.
Sometimes you’ll receive an offer that doesn’t directly help you but is too good to pass up. Immediately after an ESPN draft, I was offered David Ortiz (DH only) and Brandon Moss for Brandon Belt and Chase Headley. The deal unbalanced my roster a bit, but the pair I received were the two best players in the deal – at least based on my preseason analysis.
You know all of this. What I see people forget is…
Trading 102 – Don’t help your rival more than yourself
It’s not enough to benefit from a trade, you also have to make sure that your rival doesn’t benefit more than you. The exception is if they are miles ahead or behind you. If a rival has a similar quality roster but a problem in their outfield, it’s in your interest to watch them squirm. They might be able to trade you that closer you need, but if that helps your team less than an outfielder helps his, you should probably find a closer elsewhere.
The tricky part of this lesson is that there are other owners in your league and some of them may not follow this tactic. A leaguemate and frequent reader spat on my preseason offer of Marlon Byrd for Sergio Santos, even though he didn’t need relievers and did need an everyday outfielder. At the time, Santos wasn’t even the obvious front runner for the job. My rival recognized that I was in unprecedented waters with only two closers (I usually roster five in this 12 team league), and I also owned nine viable outfielders and a prospect in a five outfielder format.
So I turned around and dealt Gregory Polanco for Fernando Rodney. He’s not the best closer, but he’ll get me some saves. Meanwhile, the guy who spurned my original offer was peeved. Sometimes you have to make a judgment call if it helps your team “enough.” Maybe he should have taken Byrd after all.
Conversely, in this same league, one of the owners had a thin outfield before Avisail Garcia and Josh Hamilton hit the disabled list. I still have eight viable outfielders (and Justin Ruggiano), so I’m the obvious trade partner. But I don’t need anything and he does. As such, we’re not making a trade if I don’t come out the clear winner. He’ll probably have to solve his roster problem via the waiver wire.
Stream your way out of a catastrophe
What if you were the owner who lost Garcia and Hamilton? What you should do is stream (if allowed) based on batter/pitcher matchups, park, and handedness until a solution falls in your lap. Guys like Chris Heisey, Dayan Viciedo, Garrett Jones, Jesus Guzman, and Lucas Duda are drawing good positions in the lineup. They’ll give you acceptable production if carefully cycled until something better comes along.
The harder part is catching one of those breakout studs before your rivals.
Relievers can save you from bad starts
Non-closing relievers are oft overlooked in most roto leagues, but they can save your season. If you wound up short a few pitchers, dealing with injuries, or digging out from a Jordan Zimmermann clunker, then a few relievers can easily set you right. If done properly, you’ll get an elite strikeout rate, ERA, and WHIP. The downside to this strategy is that it can negatively affect your win total. You can mitigate this effect by using multi-inning middle relievers like Adam Ottovino and Brad Hand, but they’re usually less elite in the other categories.
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