August 4, 2011
Resident Fantasy Genius
The Offensive Gamble
This past week in the CardRunners Fantasy Baseball Experts League, I was extremely active on the trade market, making a total of four deals before Tuesday night’s weekly deadline, all involving elite players. Today, I wanted to discuss one of the trades I made, the alternatives I had, and the reasoning for making the trade, which I think will be applicable to all fantasy leagues.
This past Friday, I sent out a league-wide e-mail announcing that Dan Haren was officially for sale. I’d been shopping him a little bit, but I wanted the league to know that he was going to get traded and give everyone a chance at making an offer. Being that this is an AL-only league, it’s very difficult to find a starter as good as Haren this late in the season. Here’s what my e-mail said:
Dan Haren to Be SOLD for Best Hitter Offered
Offers came rolling in. Some were underwhelming (Travis Snider—though that one was, at least partially, a joke from an owner bitter at an earlier trade I’d made), while others held promise. The first offer that I really considered to be decent was from Clark Olson, a rocket scientist and a two-time ESPN Uber Challenge winner. Clark offered Miguel Cabrera for Haren and Edwin Encarnacion. The dilemma here was that Clark is in first place. At the time, I was in third with aspirations of taking home a title (now I’m up to second). Making a deal with your primary competition is a risky game indeed.
I received a couple more nibbles, then got an e-mail from “Rotoman” and Tout Wars board member Peter Kreutzer. After going back and forth a bit and ruling out the injury-prone Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista’s name came up. As anyone who follows me knows, I’m a big Bautista fan and have been since the offseason.
With this as leverage, I went to see if Clark could do any better. After all, I want to make the best deal possible, but it’s also only fair to allow those who have made serious offers the chance to improve them. Not being afforded this opportunity is one of my biggest fantasy baseball pet peeves.
In the end, Clark offered up an additional exchange of J.J. Hardy for Aaron Hill. Peter’s final offer ended up being Bautista, Andrew Miller, Josh Bell, and $15 FAAB for Haren, Juan Rivera, and Chone Figgins. It was decision time.
There were two sides to consider in contemplating Clark’s offer, entirely separate of the value of the players themselves. You see, if I had given Haren to Clark, he probably would have gained four points in strikeouts, as many as five points in wins, one point in ERA, and probably would have passed me in WHIP for a two-point swing. However, since my plan was to load up on offense (which I successfully enacted with this and my two subsequent trades), taking Miggy from him would have been beneficial. Clark currently leads the league in RBI and runs, but if I am able to pass him in both, that’s a four-point swing in my direction. Without Miggy, that may have been possible. If I went with Peter’s offer, though, he’d likely be out of reach. I also knew he had been shopping Miggy and that he could end up trading him for pitching anyway, regardless of whether it was for Haren.
This all made for a very complicated situation. Eventually, I decided that I liked Bautista better than Cabrera and would prefer to move Rivera over Encarnacion, so I went with Peter’s offer. While making a run at that four-point RBI/R swing would have been nice, it wasn’t worth all the pitching points an extra elite starter would have given Clark. Maybe he ends up trading Cabrera for a starter anyway, but it will at least be down the line when some time has elapsed and he’ll derive less value from the starter, who could very well end up being worse than Haren.
This is the kind of thinking that all fantasy owners hoping to win a championship must engage in when making trades at this time of year. If a trade helps you gain a few points in the standings, it can still hurt you if it helps your primary competitor gain even more points.