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February 16, 2011

Fantasy Beat

How Not to Offend Me With a Scoresheet Trade Offer

by Sky Kalkman

An open letter to my fellow BP Kings Scoresheet league members:

Hi, I'm the new guy—well, one of the new guys. Many of you are quite aware of that fact, having offered some, ahem, creative trade proposals over the last few weeks. Rather than take offense, I'll  assume we just have philosophical differences. (That's certainly the case for fellow noob Paul Swydan.) To help open the lines of communication, here's some friendly advice for offering me trades.

To begin, you can stop offering me...

  • Relief pitchers: Usually I deny that relief pitchers exist. But because of Scoresheet's deep rosters, I'll admit they do have a use. That doesn't mean I have to value them, however. 4.00 ERA relievers are more abundant than tribbles and 2.50 ERA relievers tend to be overrated. I'll stick to drafting my bullpen in the later rounds, thanks.
  • Starting pitchers with a projected ERA above 4.00: Given that our league is 80% the size of MLB and we have the roster space to hoard relievers, replacement-level ERA is probably no worse than 4.75. That means a mediocre innings eater no longer has much value. Give me studs, even with lower innings pitched totals.
  • Pitching prospects: Say hello to TINSTAAPP—not just the "pitchers are fragile" part, but also the unheralded "pitchers don't improve continuously like hitters and instead take huge leaps without warning" part.  I know a strong rotation is important, but I believe it's a better use of resources to acquire established, underrated pitchers via trade or draft.  (If I ran a major league team, I'd stock up on two-star pitching prospects, but there isn't the roster space for that in Scoresheet.)
  • Non-elite hitting prospects who aren't close to MLB: Why would I want to hold on to someone for multiple years who has a good chance of busting and probably won't be a star anyway? Wishcasting is emotionally fulfilling, but breaks down when applied to reality.
  • Players you aren't going to keep: Chances are I'm not going to want to keep them either. And I'm not going to give you Nelson Cruz in return.

However, I'm quite happy to listen to offers involving...

  • Elite hitting prospects: As it's been shown over and over again, you can count on these guys becoming productive major leaguers nearly as much as you can count on productive major leaguers maintaining their production. It's true that everyone else loves elite hitting prospects, too, but I definitely don't mind throwing my hat into this ring.
  • Hitting prospects with a 2012 or earlier ETA: Keeping a prospect is next to free, so if I'm guaranteed at least moderate production, that has value.  For example, Brent Morel—he won't be a stud, but should be decent for at least 2011. Who doesn't like free stuff?
  • Aging stars: It seems like everyone else is scared of Alex Rodriguez types. Sure, he'll be unkeepable in a couple years, but until then he's a 4+ win player. Planning on winning later is nice, but I want to win now and later. How is rostering a young player who won't produce for the first two years out of the next five any different from rostering an old player who won't produce for the last two years out of the next five? If you're looking more than five years down the road for a hitter, you're crazy. And I won't look past the next three for a pitcher.
  • Studs: Yeah, ok, this one's not a shocker. Elite talent wins championships, and it's even more valuable in leagues with a higher replacement level than MLB. With the ability to keep only ten veterans per year, league-average players are thrown back into the pool. Players worth keeping are those with major skills.

Thanks to everyone for the opportunity to compete in your league. I'm looking forward to the competition. And watching you waste picks on pitching prospects.

- Sky

Sky Kalkman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sky's other articles. You can contact Sky by clicking here

Related Content:  Tribbles

33 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Rusty Pecker

OH SNAP! I've lost many friends through trying to make a deal.

Feb 16, 2011 13:22 PM
rating: 0
 
murber74

There's some wisdom here...Thanks for the laughs!

Feb 16, 2011 14:01 PM
rating: 0
 
Swydan

Loved this take Sky. We may disagree on stocking up pitching prospects, but I don't think either of us is going to be a pushover in this league!

Feb 16, 2011 17:47 PM
rating: 0
 
mtmannin

Love it! I just joined a continuing AL league and have been tested with ridiculous offers from day 1. I'd add to the list of "stop offering" - guys in the other league who are under contract for several years. Am I really going to wait 2-3 years for guys like Tabata, Marcum or Halladay to get to the point where their teams will trade them and then I have to hope they go to the AL? Come on.

Feb 16, 2011 19:18 PM
rating: 0
 
dantroy

You CAN play those guys. Standard rules allow teams to keep 2 players from the other league, so if someone owned Hallyday before he moved to the NL, they can keep him or trade him to another team. You just can't have more than 2 guys like that.

Feb 16, 2011 21:44 PM
rating: -1
 
mtmannin

Learn something every day. Luckily I didnt like the offers anyway. But thanks for the correction! First year in a continuing league has been, and will continue to be, a learning experience

Feb 18, 2011 20:50 PM
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dantroy

I'm in the same boat, as far as experience goes. I'm lucky to have charitable owners in the league willing to explain the rules, though I also have invested a decent amount of time digging through the rules. Good luck with your team.

Feb 18, 2011 23:04 PM
rating: -1
 
Sky Kalkman

I have two theories as to why prospects are overrated beyond the obvious "we're all infatuated with potential."

1. There are limited keepers. So once a prospect makes it to the majors, he has to be really good in order to be worth a roster spot. League-average players have value within a season, but not long-term, since they aren't keepable. Not only do prospects have to make it to MLB, they have to make it beyond league-average. That rarely happens.

2. Salaries don't matter. In real baseball, young guys, even if they're worth only 1-2 wins, have a lot of value because they're free. But in Scoresheet, there's no salary difference between Brent Morel and Vernon Wells.

Feb 17, 2011 06:35 AM
rating: 0
 
Sky Kalkman

Adding on to #2, not only do salaries not matter, but contract length doesn't matter. In MLB, prospects are great because you have them locked up for at least six years (at minimal pay). But in Scoresheet, you don't care if Albert Pujols is a FA next year. You can keep him even if he signs with a new team.

Feb 17, 2011 06:57 AM
rating: 0
 
Edwincnelson

I would add only relying on a particular system's projections. Yes, I know Bill James has so and so projected for a .820 OPS, but he had a .700 OPS last year, and I'm not trading Prince Fielder for him.

Feb 17, 2011 07:18 AM
rating: 0
 
Sky Kalkman

Good one. And any time someone makes a sales pitch really amuses me.

Feb 17, 2011 07:51 AM
rating: 0
 
jeffbarton

Sky, I pretty much agree with everything you said, though for me the reason I don't value prospects very highly is because I am horrible at predicting which ones will make it. If I draft a young guy in single or double A it is the kiss of death for that plaeyr.
One note though - in Scoresheet middle relievers and set up men are *far* more valuable than they are in regular Rotisserie. Major league teams have a very difficult time winning without a very good/deep bullpen, and those relievers are just as valuable to their Scoresheet team as they are to their major league team. After all, most starting pitchers now pitch 6 innings a game at most, and someone has to get form the starter to the closer. I do agree that you can wait awhile to start drafting middle relievers, but for most drafts I think you need to stock up on them in rounds 18-25, as after that most of the good ones are long gone.

Feb 17, 2011 10:47 AM
rating: 1
 
Sky Kalkman

I'm with you on relievers. I think the main point is that while a collection of solid guys is valuable, no one guy is. Quantity > quality. Which means I'll stick to re-drafting a group of them every year instead of keeping them or trading for them (unless someone wants to trade me a group of relievers.)

Feb 17, 2011 11:28 AM
rating: 0
 
wjmcknight37

I couldn't agree more, Jeff. That was my only criticism with Sky's post. I've found that it's very hard to win without a good solid bullpen.

Feb 19, 2011 14:11 PM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

My #1 trade gripe is people who say "Who on my team would you take for [Insert Player Name]?"

If you want to trade, make an offer. I won't do it for you.

Feb 17, 2011 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
touchstone033

I'm in the middle of a Scoresheet AL-only draft right now, round 18, wondering if and when Brandon Webb is worth a pick. Ditto for Erik Bedard.

Feb 17, 2011 17:37 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Avoid pitchers with major shoulder operations. They rarely make it all the way back.

Feb 17, 2011 19:44 PM
rating: -1
 
John Carter

Sky, on prospects you are in agreement with what I have advocated for many years: http://scoresheetwiz.tripod.com/id73.html

Here is another article I wrote over five years ago on a study regarding 13 years of trades in my league: http://scoresheetwiz.tripod.com/id66.html. The trading rules of thumb uncovered hold up very well.

- John Carter
aka Scoresheetwiz

Feb 17, 2011 20:07 PM
rating: -1
 
Sky Kalkman

Good stuff, John, thanks.

Feb 18, 2011 06:53 AM
rating: 0
 
touchstone033

I'm assuming this "advice" is for pre-season trades? Because the market for relievers is pretty robust mid-season, when contenders are trying to solidify their bullpens...

Feb 18, 2011 04:48 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

I wish these people who give a negative ratings would have the guts to explain why. Instead the authors have to guess what about their comment was offensive or needs improving. My guess with my first comment is that it wasn't specific enough.

Unfortunately, I can't find the somewhat old article I read recently here by Wil Carroll that put the success rate of a certain type of shoulder operation at 3%. The one success he cited was a pitcher I couldn't even remember, so I would hardly call that a success that applies to Brandon Webb or Eric Bedard. Hence, I cannot confirm that the type of operation discussed was precisely the same as Webb's and Bedard's, but I recall the article mentioning that shoulder operations tend to be very tricky. Hence, it was probably discussing them in general, in which case it would apply to Bedard and Webb.

Feb 18, 2011 06:38 AM
rating: -1
 
jrmayne

I am pleased that the people who give negative ratings do not commonly explain why. If they did, it'd take up a lot of space.

If you're comment's at a -10 and you can't figure out why, go ahead and ask (says me). If it's one comment at -1 or -2, don't sweat it. If it's a bunch of comments at -1 or -2, look for patterns.

I like the rating system (I think rating systems are mild to moderate troll deterrents). I've certainly had comments I considered to add to the equation get negative reviews. C'est la mort.

--JRM

Feb 18, 2011 07:40 AM
rating: -1
 
eighteen

OK, since you ask so nicely, I'll explain why.

Everyone here has known for a long time to avoid pitchers who've had major shoulder operations. When you have to put on a Captain Obvious uniform to post a comment, you're wasting your time and mine. That's why I hit the "-"

Feb 18, 2011 13:39 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

I'm not going to even try to guess what was objectionable about my other comment above which provided a link to a related article. A negative rating is like a "boo". When someone is making a time consuming effort to be helpful and they get boo-ed, it is very hurtful. And since there is no explanation for the rating, it is not helpful either.

Feb 18, 2011 06:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Edwincnelson

I think sometimes it's just an accident. I wanted to rate a +1 to a comment awhile ago but by accident clicked the - sign instead, but because there is no clear differentiation between the + and - I didn't notice. Fangraphs colors their + and - red and green so it's clear what you did. Maybe a similar system would work here?

Feb 18, 2011 08:36 AM
rating: 0
 
Sky Kalkman

Once the +/- system gets figured out, we'll have to work on replies. ;)

Feb 18, 2011 08:59 AM
rating: 0
 
David Laurila

I'm in the same league as Sky, and someone recently offered me a 36-year-old pitcher for either one of two 24-year-outfielders who are better-than-even bets to play in multiple All-Star games over the next half dozen years.

The veteran pitcher is still good, but just like in "real life baseball," balancing the present and future is important.

Feb 18, 2011 12:01 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Thank you for answering, eighteen. I will try to consider the level of special knowledge in my answers and, perhaps, raise the bar somewhat.

However, the questioner in that particular case obviously didn't seem aware of the rareness of such shoulder surgery recoveries, since he was considering drafting those pitchers in round 18. While my answer was obvious to you, it seemed likely helpful to touchstone033, and some other readers. Should we ignore such questions unless we have some inside knowledge about how that player is doing? I've certainly read many Chat responses here that were much more obvious than my response. I'm not against raising that standard, but we all have different standards.

Feb 18, 2011 15:17 PM
rating: 0
 
touchstone033

Well, I wasn't considering drafting Webb or Bedard at 18, just wondering if and when a draft pick was appropriate. Yes, I realize recovery from shoulder surgery is iffy, but then there's always someone like Tim Hudson, Josh Johnson, or Chris Carpenter. Pitchers can and do recover from shoulder surgery.

Are others passing completely on Webb? Waiting for a supplemental round, if he does recover? Seems to me for a team that's not in contention this year, a late-round flier isn't a bad risk.

Feb 19, 2011 11:47 AM
rating: 0
 
touchstone033

It's worth mentioning in the AL-only drafts already underway, I have yet to see Webb fail later than rd 15...

Feb 19, 2011 12:20 PM
rating: 0
 
touchstone033

Except in our draft, of course... ; )

Feb 19, 2011 12:20 PM
rating: 0
 
fawcettb

You are in sooooo much trouble with those first three rules. And with a 24 team BL, you're going to find talent very scarce, particularly when it comes to frontline starters. (20 year scoresheeter)

Feb 19, 2011 13:53 PM
rating: 1
 
Edwincnelson

In my 12 team AL only we're through 18 and Webb and Bedard are still on the board, but in My 12 team NL only Webb was protected, so it is going to depend on the league.

Feb 20, 2011 09:03 AM
rating: 0
 
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Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: W... (02/15)
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