August 9, 2012
Resident Fantasy Genius
Improving Your Team, or Butting In?
Last week, fellow Tout Wars NL participant and industry friend Todd Zola sent out an email to all of the Tout and LABR warriors, asking each to give their brief thoughts for a roundtable he was putting together. The question:
If you are obviously not going to win a league such as Tout Wars or LABR, will you make trades with those competing in an effort to move up in the standings, even if it is not a "money" finish?
This is a question I have a very strong opinion on, though up until this year I didn’t realize there were people who held the opposite stance. You can read everyone’s responses here, but here’s the Spark Notes version: most people said “yes,” but a few said “no” (with varying shades of grey).
For me, the answer is simple: yes. Unequivocally and always. The argument from those who say no is that trading with contenders will influence the standings and can even decide who wins the league. Well, yeah. That’s what trading is: an attempt to make one’s team better. An attempt to win.
The best argument presented in favor of making these kinds of trades is that, even if you don’t trade with a contender, you’re going to influence the race anyway. (I believe I was the first to raise this point, but many others reiterated it throughout the discussion.) If the contending owner is winning the home run category by 30 long-balls but is in a tight spot with steals, he’s going to need to trade power for speed if he hopes to win. Sure, maybe if you trade with him you hand him the title, but if you refuse to trade with him, you’re merely handing the title to someone else—his competitor. Not doing anything is still doing something.
And personally, I think the owner who realizes he needs to buff up in a certain area and actively looks for trades to improve deserves to be rewarded (or at least not punished). He shouldn’t be put at a disadvantage just because the value on his team happens to be clustered among certain categories, in essence wasting some of the value, while his competitor’s team is more balanced. And, of course, every team has room to improve somewhere. If one competing owner comes to me with a trade offer that improves my chances of moving up and/or winning, I’m going to take it. If that owner’s competition is upset, well, maybe they should have been talking trade with me themselves. They have no one to blame but themselves. If you’re contending for a title and not regularly checking in with the other owners in your league, you’re probably making a mistake.
Trading is a part of this game that we play; it’s a vital skill that most championship-caliber players need to have. If we’re not going to engage in trades, though, then why do we allow them at all? Why not just draft and hold?