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One of the most common pieces of advice at this early juncture of the fantasy baseball season is to be patient.  While this is very wise, we’re often told that, as part of being patient, we shouldn’t make any trades until a certain point—the middle of May, the start of June, whenever.  This, however, is a piece of advice I strongly disagree with.

This piece of advice usually comes with one of two explanations.  The first is that you should wait a while to see how your players perform before you decide to trade them.  But this line of reasoning is flawed.  If you wait to make trades for this reason, one of two things will happen: your player will play well (so why would you trade him?) or your player will play poorly (so who would want to trade for him?).  Waiting for this reason accomplishes nothing except getting games in the books, all the while passing up opportunities to improve your team.

The second explanation some give for the “wait to make trades advice” is that, in April, we’re not very far removed from the draft.  If you liked a player more than everyone else on draft day, why should you expect that to be any different now?  This one seems to make sense, but I still disagree.  The dynamics of a draft (and auctions even more so) sometimes do align such that the owner who likes a player most does not get the player.  For example, I can pretty much guarantee you that I liked Chipper Jones more than anyone else in LABR NL, but he didn’t end up on my team because I filled my 3B spot too early by price-enforcing on Ian Stewart (I believed I got a discount on Stewart, but not as big of a discount as I would have on Jones).  Even in a draft, this kind of thing can happen; I may value a player as a fifth-rounder but, seeing that his ADP is as a 12th-rounder, wait until the 10th round to take him.  If someone else grabs him in round nine, though, I don’t get my guy

Not only might you be able to justify making trades early, but I would contend that April and May are, in fact, the best time to make trades (especially if you’re in a league with weaker players).  As I discussed in regard to FAAB budgeting, the earlier you make a move that stands to benefit your team, the larger the benefit will be.  The longer a good player is on your roster, the more of his stats you’ll get!

Additionally, at no point in the season will a player’s stat line be further removed from the stat line he’ll finish September with than at the start of the year.  Because we’re dealing with small sample sizes, a guy could be playing poorly due to nothing more than random variation, due to nothing more than luck.  When this happens, fantasy owners tend to panic.  They wonder if something is wrong.  They wonder if the player is going to be this year’s Adam Dunn. The truth of the matter is, though, for every one Adam Dunn, there are dozens and dozens of Carlos Gonzalez’s who have a bad April and then are completely fine.  The savvy fantasy owner will realize this and take advantage of the weaker owners who are going to panic about their underperforming players.  The savvy fantasy owner is going to go out and swing a deal for Zack Greinke or Tim Lincecum or Adam Wainwright and will likely find himself acquiring a May-to-September ace for a fraction of the sticker price.

So while some may warn you against making trades this early—You don’t have enough information!  What if you make a trade you regret?!—I don’t hesitate.  We’ll never have perfect information, and our projections in April are going to be just about as accurate as our projections in August.  If you can acquire extra value in April, why not do it?  Your chances of swinging a lop-sided deal will never be greater.

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ErikFanClubPres
4/30
Anyone else in particular who's just seen some bad luck and should rebound?
Dodger300
5/01
I would be REALLY careful about a guy who is playing poorly after coming back from a serious injury. I questioned why everyone assumed that Adam Wainwright would step right in as the Wainwright of 2010. Sure, lots of guys come back fine from Tommy john surgery, but certainly not everyone. See Francisco Liriano as Exhibit A. Even if they do come back, sometimes it takes guys two years instead of just one. If you pay for the Wainwright of old, odds are good that you might be overpaying by a lot.
Robotey
5/01
Truth is 12 games is a long time and hitters seasons are incredibly consistent and repeatable. Players like Raul Ibanez can play semi-mediocre up to the All Star break, then go on a six week run in the summer and their final numbers come out to be decent, and if you bought low you got mostly the good stuff. So buy low. Veteran pitchers too. But for most readers of BP, it's common knowledge that pitchers returning from TJ surgery can suffer from control issues, especially being wild in the strike zone. It sure must be frustrating for Wainwright, trying to spot his fastball on the black only to watch it sail over the heart of the plate then out of Busch stadium thanks to Ian Stewart. whoa.
Robotey
5/01
oh, it's late--I meant to write '162' games is a long time. 12, is not.
pobothecat
5/01
price-enforcing?
derekcarty
5/05
Yeah, making sure a guy goes for proper value. And if he doesn't, well, you get him for less than proper value. He was one of the first players nominated too, so I figured with so much money available people would bid him up. Guessed wrong.
pobothecat
5/01
My problem isn't so much buying low, it's selling high. I get attached. Last year, Pineda, Ogando. This year, Lynn, Sale, Alvarez. Any thoughts, advice, reprimands on that part of it?
Robotey
5/03
re: selling high--learn from other's mistakes. Last year I grabbed Derek Lowe for a buck in the last slot in our auction. I felt like a genius after he has a great April. I drank my own koolaid --he had his strongest K rate in years--and when i was offered Lance Berkman for him straight up, instead of clicking 'accept' in nanoseconds, I thought about it. By the end of the evening, when i finally decided to pull the trigger, it was too late. Offer had been rescinded. I spent the next two months re-working the deal. We pulled it off, and it got me into 3rd place. But if I'd sold high on Lowe, I might have won it all. Lowe came back to earth and Berkman experienced a renaissance. Sell high when you can.
Rhubarb
5/07
Re: selling high Is Peavy a sell high candidate or a legit ace at this point?
derekcarty
5/07
Depends what you can get. He's not a 1.99 ERA pitcher, but he's still very good -- maybe 3.50 ERA. Of course, he's a large injury risk too, which makes his range of possible values quite wide. You have to weigh what you can get with how much you can afford to gamble.