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Talking Trade: Talking Trade

Chris Liss

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire.com and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Liss
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 1:03am
To: Jeff Erickson
Subject: Charging the Mound



I realize it's just April, but it's annoying that no one wants to trade with me in a couple of my leagues. I've been making decent offers to a lot of owners in the 18-team RotoWire Staff League, and half the people either don't respond or just say no thanks. No one wants to make a counteroffer even. I try to make offers that I'd at least consider if I were in their shoes, and I expect people to come back and try to sweeten the deal a little bit - which is exactly what I'd do if I were them. Find a deal you want to make and then try to eke out a little more value from it. But no one's interested.


On the one hand, perhaps they're just afraid - after all Liss and Shoe's Dynasty has finished in the money every single one of the five years the league's been in existence - but that doesn't really make sense. We've been fleeced a few times - giving away minor leaguers David Wright and Matt Holliday, and also a $1 Aaron Harang (a terrible trade) a few years ago. We get it wrong plenty, and I try to mention those robberies so that people realize that we can be had. Still, no one wants to take a chance. What really gets me is teams in last place in April who have three injured or benched guys in their lineups, and yet the still hold out hope that by some miracle they'll compete! I mean, look - if your team is loaded with Ryan Howards and Ryan Brauns and Justin Verlanders, fine. I get it - you don't want to give up just yet. But if you have Jayson Nix, Cameron Maybin, Barry Zito and Rafael Soriano in your active lineup, and you're in last place, it might be time to face reality and think about your keepers. Be a man and make a trade for God sakes.


In my 15-team home league, it's a different story. It's a one-year league, and no one wants to trade with me there, either. Part of the problem is that you can't buy low the way most people think of it anymore. No one's going to give me Robinson Cano, Ryan Howard, Verlander or David Ortiz at any kind of a discount. Not on April 28, at least. And no one's paying me much for Ryan Dempster or Kosuke Fukudome, who I've been trying to shop. So selling high isn't possible, either. (In the staff league, no one even wants Cliff Lee! If you can't sell high on Cliff Lee, you can't sell high, period). So what can you do to make a deal early in the season? In both leagues I have quality starters on my bench and want to trade depth for upgraded starters.


For starters, you need to take on risk. You want to buy low? I bet you can get Carlos Delgado (at least before he hit two home runs yesterday). You could probably get Hank Blalock in an AL-only league for cheap now that he's out for a month. Francisco Liriano - sure you could get him. Basically, the only discount you'll get is on players regarded as damaged goods due to injury, age or long-term ineffectiveness. So you have to choose between standing pat or taking on a lot of risk to get any possible upside. The only exception to this is where you have a perfect fit, i.e., one team needs an injury replacement, and you have the perfect player for them. (But even then, people don't want to give you full value most of the time).


What's particularly annoying in the keeper league is that every week that goes by, the unkeepable one-year players you're targeting are less and less valuable to you, while your keepers have exactly the same value to the teams you're trying to trade with. A three-month rental of Carlos Lee or Ichiro isn't worth nearly as much as five months of their stats. So when all the teams who are hoping for a miracle want to sit and wait it out, their goods are rotting on the shelves. So it makes sense to get as early a read as possible on whether you're going to compete or not, and once you've decided, go all out as early as possible. Because if you've dropped the delusion of contending by late April, then you should get the best haul of prospects for your players because you're offering five-month ones. You should go to the contending teams and demand a five-month price. All the people who wait until July should, in theory, have to take much less, because each of their players has less time to help out contenders.


Of course, it doesn't always play out that way as people sometimes pay more in July or August when the race is close. But that shouldn't stop savvy owners from at least making the pitch early on - "Hey, what will you pay for five months of Ichiro?" and at least soliciting bids. And contending owners would be wise to pony up that premium.


But I think people just don't want to be bothered a lot of the time. Trading is stressful - you could lose out or make a mistake, so if you just tune out and bury your head in the sand for two months, then you avoid that stress. Two months in you can make obvious trades like when your team is hopelessly in last place. Or when you need one category in particular very badly. Of course, by that time, the window might have closed. You've given away two months of bad stats, and now you're in a hole and have to make a desperate move rather than a measured one. Also, instead of getting Mike Cameron or Adam Jones' steals for four months, now you can only target a handful of guys who can catch you up in two.


I'm rambling a bit now, but my question is twofold: (1) If you have a surplus in depth, and most of the people in your league who actually need some of the positions you have can't be bothered, what do you do about that? (2) How do you create a league that encourages participation, so that owners get back to each other and are active all season long? I can't tell you how much I appreciate even when someone rejects one of my offers if they do so promptly and either counter or explain why even though it's a fair offer, they're not inclined to do it.


-----Original Message-----
From: jeff@rotowire.com
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:47am
To: Christopher Liss
Subject: RE: Charging the Mound

Am I the source of your frustrations? I know that you're trying to pry Ichiro from my loving arms, and convince me to dump for the future in the process. And I think that's where part of your frustration stems from - you're trying to convince teams in a keeper league to give up on this season, even though it's only April. And you might not be wrong doing so - I knew that coming into this season that my team had a weaker set of keepers, and needed a few things to go right to be a contender.

But at the same time, why should I, as a putative dumping team, feel any sense of urgency to trade right now? I know that it means a lot for you to get Ichiro now, more so than in June. But it's incumbent upon you to convince me that it's in my best interest to trade, and to do so without putting Ichiro up for auction to the rest of the league. In theory, I should be able to get a whole lot more for him or any of my other veterans now than closer to midseason, but historically in the RotoWire Staff League, that hasn't always been the case. It's up to you to sell to your trading partner that it makes sense to trade and trade now, and that means you're going to have to overpay more in terms of keepers and prospects. But that shouldn't be a major problem for you, if you're going for it. In my personal case, I'm not completely sold that the prospects I'd be getting are slam-dunks. And given that I've got a really valuable property, I want that slam dunk prospect coming back. Maybe you have that, maybe you don't -but I want a Kershaw, or a Jay Bruce, or someone on that order. Otherwise, what's the rush for me?

I can't speak to the motivation of the other owners, but I doubt it's fear of The Dynasty. There's a natural tendency to not give up on a season, especially when we constantly preach patience with slumping players. Your example of the team with minor leaguers and injured players in their starting lineup is a different story, but then again, if he has those players starting right now, don't you think that inertia might be a problem in the first place?

In your home league, I think it's a different story. How much can you really tell about your team now than you could on March 31st, unless you've really had a spate of injuries? The natural reticence of trading too soon kicks in there some, but maybe also your reputation as a fantasy expert. I've seen that happen from time-to-time, that people just don't want to trade with you. If you're peddling Ryan Dempster, just an example, I can see why not - what are you more likely to believe, his April start, or the bulk of his work as a starter? Do you really truly believe that he's turned the corner? I don't, and I'm not the only one. The concept of "sell-high" works only if it's a plausible sell-high. Cliff Lee has been awesome, yes, but it's a question of what are you willing to believe - the last two years, or the last month? He's faced Kansas City, Minnesota and Oakland twice - is that representative of what he's going to face over the rest of the year? I want more data, against a lineup that's projected to be one of the better lineups in the game, like the Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, or even the Blue Jays. If you're going to convince an owner to give up on the season, you need to be taking on the risk, not him. A package consisting primarily of Cliff Lee and Chase Headley, to name a couple of names, is laden with risk. You've traded safer prospects in the past - both David Wright and Clayton Kershaw, to name two names. What you're offering now ain't them.

For that matter, let's talk about what you're looking to do with the whole concept of buy-low/sell-high. What do you really expect to get for Cliff Lee? What sort of value do you place on him? I don't think you can get Justin Verlander for him. Maybe, if you're fortunate, you can get someone like A.J. Burnett - a guy that was clearly valued higher than Lee coming in, but yet not an elite starter and not without risk. Really, you're looking to go out and purchase someone at .95 on the dollar, or sell for $1.05 on that dollar. You're not going to turn your reserve pick (Lee) into a $30 player, keeper league or not. Looking at the buy-low perspective, let's assume first that most of your league-mates have at least heard of buy-low/sell-high, and know better to not just give away Robinson Cano for peanuts. What are you going to have to give up to get him? Placido Polanco isn't going to get it done. Aaron Hill or Rickie Weeks might do it, but you're going to have to give up something of pretty good value in most leagues.

But let's assume that you can get around that problem - the "who" aspect of the problem. What's next? You still have the problem about some owners being non-responsive, or just flat rejecting your offers without any explanation. What do you do next? Or, what do you do different?

For starters, pick up the phone. I know that you've advocated that in the past, but it's worth emphasizing. You and I just had a really nice radio segment on your XM show (listen to the podcast here), and one of the productive elements of it was getting to know my perspective on the trade, or on trading in general. If you get the other owner talking more about his team, about what he's looking for, you might not be able to make the trade that you're looking for, but it could plant the seed for a different trade. Just sending an e-mail, or a blind trade offer through your league commish software system is just too easy to ignore or summarily dismiss. Plus, if you establish an open dialogue with that other owner, he'll become less wary of you trying to rip you off.

You should also widen your search. Find different trade partners, different ways to crack that nut. Maybe you have to target someone who is not dumping yet, but could still match part of what you need. Sometimes that perfect trade doesn't exist, so you have to address what you need incrementally.

Stay patient - keep in mind how early it is, and how hard it is to convince someone that they need to do that deal. If they don't feel that sense of urgency to deal now, chances are, they're not going to respond well to pressure. Make sure that they know you're talking to a number of different owners, but at the same t


I realize it's just April, but it's annoying that no one wants to trade with me in a couple of my leagues. I've been making decent offers to a lot of owners in the 18-team RotoWire Staff League, and half the people either don't respond or just say no thanks. No one wants to make a counteroffer even. I try to make offers that I'd at least consider if I were in their shoes, and I expect people to come back and try to sweeten the deal a little bit - which is exactly what I'd do if I were them. Find a deal you want to make and then try to eke out a little more value from it. But no one's interested.


On the one hand, perhaps they're just afraid - after all Liss and Shoe's Dynasty has finished in the money every single one of the five years the league's been in existence - but that doesn't really make sense. We've been fleeced a few times - giving away minor leaguers David Wright and Matt Holliday, and also a $1 Aaron Harang (a terrible trade) a few years ago. We get it wrong plenty, and I try to mention those robberies so that people realize that we can be had. Still, no one wants to take a chance. What really gets me is teams in last place in April who have three injured or benched guys in their lineups, and yet the still hold out hope that by some miracle they'll compete! I mean, look - if your team is loaded with Ryan Howards and Ryan Brauns and Justin Verlanders, fine. I get it - you don't want to give up just yet. But if you have Jayson Nix, Cameron Maybin, Barry Zito and Rafael Soriano in your active lineup, and you're in last place, it might be time to face reality and think about your keepers. Be a man and make a trade for God sakes.


In my 15-team home league, it's a different story. It's a one-year league, and no one wants to trade with me there, either. Part of the problem is that you can't buy low the way most people think of it anymore. No one's going to give me Robinson Cano, Ryan Howard, Verlander or David Ortiz at any kind of a discount. Not on April 28, at least. And no one's paying me much for Ryan Dempster or Kosuke Fukudome, who I've been trying to shop. So selling high isn't possible, either. (In the staff league, no one even wants Cliff Lee! If you can't sell high on Cliff Lee, you can't sell high, period). So what can you do to make a deal early in the season? In both leagues I have quality starters on my bench and want to trade depth for upgraded starters.


For starters, you need to take on risk. You want to buy low? I bet you can get Carlos Delgado (at least before he hit two home runs yesterday). You could probably get Hank Blalock in an AL-only league for cheap now that he's out for a month. Francisco Liriano - sure you could get him. Basically, the only discount you'll get is on players regarded as damaged goods due to injury, age or long-term ineffectiveness. So you have to choose between standing pat or taking on a lot of risk to get any possible upside. The only exception to this is where you have a perfect fit, i.e., one team needs an injury replacement, and you have the perfect player for them. (But even then, people don't want to give you full value most of the time).


What's particularly annoying in the keeper league is that every week that goes by, the unkeepable one-year players you're targeting are less and less valuable to you, while your keepers have exactly the same value to the teams you're trying to trade with. A three-month rental of Carlos Lee or Ichiro isn't worth nearly as much as five months of their stats. So when all the teams who are hoping for a miracle want to sit and wait it out, their goods are rotting on the shelves. So it makes sense to get as early a read as possible on whether you're going to compete or not, and once you've decided, go all out as early as possible. Because if you've dropped the delusion of contending by late April, then you should get the best haul of prospects for your players because you're offering five-month ones. You should go to the contending teams and demand a five-month price. All the people who wait until July should, in theory, have to take much less, because each of their players has less time to help out contenders.


Of course, it doesn't always play out that way as people sometimes pay more in July or August when the race is close. But that shouldn't stop savvy owners from at least making the pitch early on - "Hey, what will you pay for five months of Ichiro?" and at least soliciting bids. And contending owners would be wise to pony up that premium.


But I think people just don't want to be bothered a lot of the time. Trading is stressful - you could lose out or make a mistake, so if you just tune out and bury your head in the sand for two months, then you avoid that stress. Two months in you can make obvious trades like when your team is hopelessly in last place. Or when you need one category in particular very badly. Of course, by that time, the window might have closed. You've given away two months of bad stats, and now you're in a hole and have to make a desperate move rather than a measured one. Also, instead of getting Mike Cameron or Adam Jones' steals for four months, now you can only target a handful of guys who can catch you up in two.


I'm rambling a bit now, but my question is twofold: (1) If you have a surplus in depth, and most of the people in your league who actually need some of the positions you have can't be bothered, what do you do about that? (2) How do you create a league that encourages participation, so that owners get back to each other and are active all season long? I can't tell you how much I appreciate even when someone rejects one of my offers if they do so promptly and either counter or explain why even though it's a fair offer, they're not inclined to do it.


-----Original Message-----
From: jeff@rotowire.com
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:47am
To: Christopher Liss
Subject: RE: Charging the Mound

Am I the source of your frustrations? I know that you're trying to pry Ichiro from my loving arms, and convince me to dump for the future in the process. And I think that's where part of your frustration stems from - you're trying to convince teams in a keeper league to give up on this season, even though it's only April. And you might not be wrong doing so - I knew that coming into this season that my team had a weaker set of keepers, and needed a few things to go right to be a contender.

But at the same time, why should I, as a putative dumping team, feel any sense of urgency to trade right now? I know that it means a lot for you to get Ichiro now, more so than in June. But it's incumbent upon you to convince me that it's in my best interest to trade, and to do so without putting Ichiro up for auction to the rest of the league. In theory, I should be able to get a whole lot more for him or any of my other veterans now than closer to midseason, but historically in the RotoWire Staff League, that hasn't always been the case. It's up to you to sell to your trading partner that it makes sense to trade and trade now, and that means you're going to have to overpay more in terms of keepers and prospects. But that shouldn't be a major problem for you, if you're going for it. In my personal case, I'm not completely sold that the prospects I'd be getting are slam-dunks. And given that I've got a really valuable property, I want that slam dunk prospect coming back. Maybe you have that, maybe you don't -but I want a Kershaw, or a Jay Bruce, or someone on that order. Otherwise, what's the rush for me?

I can't speak to the motivation of the other owners, but I doubt it's fear of The Dynasty. There's a natural tendency to not give up on a season, especially when we constantly preach patience with slumping players. Your example of the team with minor leaguers and injured players in their starting lineup is a different story, but then again, if he has those players starting right now, don't you think that inertia might be a problem in the first place?

In your home league, I think it's a different story. How much can you really tell about your team now than you could on March 31st, unless you've really had a spate of injuries? The natural reticence of trading too soon kicks in there some, but maybe also your reputation as a fantasy expert. I've seen that happen from time-to-time, that people just don't want to trade with you. If you're peddling Ryan Dempster, just an example, I can see why not - what are you more likely to believe, his April start, or the bulk of his work as a starter? Do you really truly believe that he's turned the corner? I don't, and I'm not the only one. The concept of "sell-high" works only if it's a plausible sell-high. Cliff Lee has been awesome, yes, but it's a question of what are you willing to believe - the last two years, or the last month? He's faced Kansas City, Minnesota and Oakland twice - is that representative of what he's going to face over the rest of the year? I want more data, against a lineup that's projected to be one of the better lineups in the game, like the Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, or even the Blue Jays. If you're going to convince an owner to give up on the season, you need to be taking on the risk, not him. A package consisting primarily of Cliff Lee and Chase Headley, to name a couple of names, is laden with risk. You've traded safer prospects in the past - both David Wright and Clayton Kershaw, to name two names. What you're offering now ain't them.

For that matter, let's talk about what you're looking to do with the whole concept of buy-low/sell-high. What do you really expect to get for Cliff Lee? What sort of value do you place on him? I don't think you can get Justin Verlander for him. Maybe, if you're fortunate, you can get someone like A.J. Burnett - a guy that was clearly valued higher than Lee coming in, but yet not an elite starter and not without risk. Really, you're looking to go out and purchase someone at .95 on the dollar, or sell for $1.05 on that dollar. You're not going to turn your reserve pick (Lee) into a $30 player, keeper league or not. Looking at the buy-low perspective, let's assume first that most of your league-mates have at least heard of buy-low/sell-high, and know better to not just give away Robinson Cano for peanuts. What are you going to have to give up to get him? Placido Polanco isn't going to get it done. Aaron Hill or Rickie Weeks might do it, but you're going to have to give up something of pretty good value in most leagues.

But let's assume that you can get around that problem - the "who" aspect of the problem. What's next? You still have the problem about some owners being non-responsive, or just flat rejecting your offers without any explanation. What do you do next? Or, what do you do different?

For starters, pick up the phone. I know that you've advocated that in the past, but it's worth emphasizing. You and I just had a really nice radio segment on your XM show (listen to the podcast here), and one of the productive elements of it was getting to know my perspective on the trade, or on trading in general. If you get the other owner talking more about his team, about what he's looking for, you might not be able to make the trade that you're looking for, but it could plant the seed for a different trade. Just sending an e-mail, or a blind trade offer through your league commish software system is just too easy to ignore or summarily dismiss. Plus, if you establish an open dialogue with that other owner, he'll become less wary of you trying to rip you off.

You should also widen your search. Find different trade partners, different ways to crack that nut. Maybe you have to target someone who is not dumping yet, but could still match part of what you need. Sometimes that perfect trade doesn't exist, so you have to address what you need incrementally.

Stay patient - keep in mind how early it is, and how hard it is to convince someone that they need to do t


Am I the source of your frustrations? I know that you're trying to pry Ichiro from my loving arms, and convince me to dump for the future in the process. And I think that's where part of your frustration stems from - you're trying to convince teams in a keeper league to give up on this season, even though it's only April. And you might not be wrong doing so - I knew that coming into this season that my team had a weaker set of keepers, and needed a few things to go right to be a contender.


But at the same time, why should I, as a putative dumping team, feel any sense of urgency to trade right now? I know that it means a lot for you to get Ichiro now, more so than in June. But it's incumbent upon you to convince me that it's in my best interest to trade, and to do so without putting Ichiro up for auction to the rest of the league. In theory, I should be able to get a whole lot more for him or any of my other veterans now than closer to midseason, but historically in the RotoWire Staff League, that hasn't always been the case. It's up to you to sell to your trading partner that it makes sense to trade and trade now, and that means you're going to have to overpay more in terms of keepers and prospects. But that shouldn't be a major problem for you, if you're going for it. In my personal case, I'm not completely sold that the prospects I'd be getting are slam-dunks. And given that I've got a really valuable property, I want that slam dunk prospect coming back. Maybe you have that, maybe you don't -but I want a Kershaw, or a Jay Bruce, or someone on that order. Otherwise, what's the rush for me?


I can't speak to the motivation of the other owners, but I doubt it's fear of The Dynasty. There's a natural tendency to not give up on a season, especially when we constantly preach patience with slumping players. Your example of the team with minor leaguers and injured players in their starting lineup is a different story, but then again, if he has those players starting right now, don't you think that inertia might be a problem in the first place?


In your home league, I think it's a different story. How much can you really tell about your team now than you could on March 31st, unless you've really had a spate of injuries? The natural reticence of trading too soon kicks in there some, but maybe also your reputation as a fantasy expert. I've seen that happen from time-to-time, that people just don't want to trade with you. If you're peddling Ryan Dempster, just an example, I can see why not - what are you more likely to believe, his April start, or the bulk of his work as a starter? Do you really truly believe that he's turned the corner? I don't, and I'm not the only one. The concept of "sell-high" works only if it's a plausible sell-high. Cliff Lee has been awesome, yes, but it's a question of what are you willing to believe - the last two years, or the last month? He's faced Kansas City, Minnesota and Oakland twice - is that representative of what he's going to face over the rest of the year? I want more data, against a lineup that's projected to be one of the better lineups in the game, like the Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, or even the Blue Jays. If you're going to convince an owner to give up on the season, you need to be taking on the risk, not him. A package consisting primarily of Cliff Lee and Chase Headley, to name a couple of names, is laden with risk. You've traded safer prospects in the past - both David Wright and Clayton Kershaw, to name two names. What you're offering now ain't them.


For that matter, let's talk about what you're looking to do with the whole concept of buy-low/sell-high. What do you really expect to get for Cliff Lee? What sort of value do you place on him? I don't think you can get Justin Verlander for him. Maybe, if you're fortunate, you can get someone like A.J. Burnett - a guy that was clearly valued higher than Lee coming in, but yet not an elite starter and not without risk. Really, you're looking to go out and purchase someone at .95 on the dollar, or sell for $1.05 on that dollar. You're not going to turn your reserve pick (Lee) into a $30 player, keeper league or not. Looking at the buy-low perspective, let's assume first that most of your league-mates have at least heard of buy-low/sell-high, and know better to not just give away Robinson Cano for peanuts. What are you going to have to give up to get him? Placido Polanco isn't going to get it done. Aaron Hill or Rickie Weeks might do it, but you're going to have to give up something of pretty good value in most leagues.


But let's assume that you can get around that problem - the "who" aspect of the problem. What's next? You still have the problem about some owners being non-responsive, or just flat rejecting your offers without any explanation. What do you do next? Or, what do you do different?


For starters, pick up the phone. I know that you've advocated that in the past, but it's worth emphasizing. You and I just had a really nice radio segment on your XM show (listen to the podcast here), and one of the productive elements of it was getting to know my perspective on the trade, or on trading in general. If you get the other owner talking more about his team, about what he's looking for, you might not be able to make the trade that you're looking for, but it could plant the seed for a different trade. Just sending an e-mail, or a blind trade offer through your league commish software system is just too easy to ignore or summarily dismiss. Plus, if you establish an open dialogue with that other owner, he'll become less wary of you trying to rip you off.


You should also widen your search. Find different trade partners, different ways to crack that nut. Maybe you have to target someone who is not dumping yet, but could still match part of what you need. Sometimes that perfect trade doesn't exist, so you have to address what you need incrementally.


Stay patient - keep in mind how early it is, and how hard it is to convince someone that they need to do that deal. If they don't feel that sense of urgency to deal now, chances are, they're not going to respond well to pressure. Make sure that they know you're talking to a number of different owners, but at the same time, you understand that they need to analyze/think it over/test the market, etc. Then follow up with them a few days later, and keep on them until you get a resolution.


Your league's structure might also be a problem for you, at least in the keeper leagues. The trade deadline in our Staff League isn't until late - midnight on August 31st. Maybe there'd be a heightened sense of urgency if it more closely mirrored the major league (non-waiver) trade deadline.


Failing all that, and any other potential solutions that you can think of, if the league still isn't active enough for your liking, maybe you need to find a different league. It's hard to give up on a league that you've been in forever, but if you've reached the point where you can never pull off a trade or even get a response, then maybe it's just not the right league for you.


-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Liss
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 2:26am
To: jeff@rotowire.com
Subject: Re: Charging the Mound

No, you're not the source of my frustrations because we've had a good dialogue about what it would take to get Ichiro in April and that's enough for me. I don't expect people to do every deal I want, of course, but I do expect a response and an interest level in the league we're in. I also think you're right to want a premium for Ichiro at this time of year, and I'm perhaps willing to pay it. What else would I have to throw in?

I'm peddling Ryan Dempster as a throw-in, not the main player in a deal, and while it's easy to dismiss what every player in the league is doing due to a small sample, things do change, and the seeds of change sometimes happen in April. At some point last year, Travis Hafner just wasn't going to bounce back. Same with Jason Bay, Andruw Jones and a few others. There will be players like that this year, too. One year we moved a $1 Aaron Harang, Kendry Morales (M) and Adam LaRoche (after a terrible start) for Jason Lane and Jon Lieber. Lieber never bounced back to his previous levels, Lane fell apart and LaRoche raked all second half for the team we traded. And he's still got Harang as a long term keeper. That team (Roger Anderson) took a chance on a fast starting Harang and was willing to give up a slow starting Lane (who was a sabermetric darling for a short while). I'm not trying to rob anyone and sometimes come up on the short end.

Also, regarding Cliff Lee, you're really going to plead schedule? I wish that Johan Santana, who I have in the Yahoo Friends and Family League, was pitching half that well against the bad teams he's faced. Lee's putting up numbers against major league lineups that other pitchers would be lucky to put up against high-school players. Would it be more impressive if he were facing the Red Sox and Tigers? Sure. But citing the schedule is like citing Petco as a reason Jake Peavy is that great a pitcher. No, he is a great pitcher anyway. I'm not saying Lee is Peavy, but teams in desperate need of starting pitchers and strikeouts should be entertaining offers for him. Burnett, we have, so that's not a possibility, and anyway, we're looking more for hitting. And Lee was pretty good a few years ago, and he's more mature now and getting closer to his prime. You can look at the past for clues, but it doesn't completely explain the present, especially with pitchers who do not often develop linearly.

I'd expect to get Aaron Hill or Weeks for Lee - I think that's pretty fair at this point. I'd throw in a MI like Adam Kennedy so they keep the at-bats (It's an 18-team league). If you need Ks, and have a hole in your rotation, that's a legit offer. Maybe you don't want to do it because hitters are safer, so you counter by asking for one of my prospects as a throw-in. Maybe that could be done. Maybe not.

And it's not like I'm not going to be making offers in June or July. Only that our market is inefficient because the teams that never really had a chance are finally going to wake up to that fact then, and offer two-to-three months of their players' services to contenders. And the contenders *should* pay less than they would now. In fact, teams that have little chance should be aggressively shopping one-year players to the contenders now for more prospects than they would ever get later. But that will never happen because most of the teams that are doing poorly early on are the same ones that don't pay enough attention and don't really care anyway. So it's really a hopeless situation for the most part. I'd love to have more at stake, and more at stake long term, and we'd have a more robust league with more wheeling and dealing throughout the year because playing for the big prize in 2009 would be compelling. As it stands, people are just content to play the hand they're dealt and hope to flop a full house. Over time, that style almost never wins.

The bottom line is that we're determined to contend, and we want star players for five-months. It makes sense for teams that are out of contention to offer five-month players at a premium. That's a win-win. And so I'm putting it out there - assess your team realistically - do you have slow-starting superstars ready to break out (four to the flush with an inside straight draw), or are you stuck with a low pair and praying for one or two outs left in the deck? If it's the latter, realize that I'm buying - five months of your superstars, and I'm willing to pay a premium. My first offer is what I deem a fair one - one that you might do. But it's not necessarily the most I'll give up. Fire back, let me know what it'll take, and maybe we'll reach an agreement. Or maybe not. But at least we're playing ball.

-----Original Message-----
From: jeff@rotowire.com
Sent: Thursday, May 1, 2008 3:59am
To: Christopher Liss
Subject: Re: Charging the Mound

You work in more poker analogies per capita than most baseball writers that I read. Not that they're not apt, or unappreciated. You're absolutely right about one thing - it's important to be realistic about your team's chances to contend and know when to take the long view. Once you've reached that point, then in an efficient market, you should be proactive in trading for the future early on as well.

I'm in a 10-team hockey league where we only keep three guys from year-to-year, but you can trade for picks. It's a head-to-head league rather than a total points league, and when I went on an extended bad luck stretch where I scored about as many points as I gave up yet lost something on the order of 15 out of 20 games, I made the decision to dump early. I was able to get a slew of picks, and did better in terms of both quality and quantity than the teams that decided to play for next year after me. It's a really active league, and I think that's the real key, and probably most vexing to you. Those good trading leagues do exist - sometimes it's tough to spur the beast into action. I also think that you might have a little bit more luck a couple of weeks from now.

Lee's schedule isn't the only reason I'm a little reluctant to target him as a keeper. His strikeout and strikeout-to-walk rates are phenomenal, and that's usually a sign that a pitcher is for real, but even in his best years, his component numbers have never been close to be this good. I probably wouldn't give up Aaron Hill for him - though my bias for hitters and particularly those at a scarce position influence my thoughts here (and I also have a Scoresheet bias mixed in here as well, as Hill is a fantastic defensive player as well). I'll acknowledge that's probably fair value, though.

Coincidentally enough, in the Yahoo Friends & Family league, I was just offered Cliff Lee in exchange for Chad Billingsley. I turned down the offer for a couple of reasons. I've still retained my charter membership in the Billingsley Fan Club and have been encouraged by his recent outings, and am generally reluctant to trade him now. But more importantly, I'm less


No, you're not the source of my frustrations because we've had a good dialogue about what it would take to get Ichiro in April and that's enough for me. I don't expect people to do every deal I want, of course, but I do expect a response and an interest level in the league we're in. I also think you're right to want a premium for Ichiro at this time of year, and I'm perhaps willing to pay it. What else would I have to throw in?


I'm peddling Ryan Dempster as a throw-in, not the main player in a deal, and while it's easy to dismiss what every player in the league is doing due to a small sample, things do change, and the seeds of change sometimes happen in April. At some point last year, Travis Hafner just wasn't going to bounce back. Same with Jason Bay, Andruw Jones and a few others. There will be players like that this year, too. One year we moved a $1 Aaron Harang, Kendry Morales (M) and Adam LaRoche (after a terrible start) for Jason Lane and Jon Lieber. Lieber never bounced back to his previous levels, Lane fell apart and LaRoche raked all second half for the team we traded. And he's still got Harang as a long term keeper. That team (Roger Anderson) took a chance on a fast starting Harang and was willing to give up a slow starting Lane (who was a sabermetric darling for a short while). I'm not trying to rob anyone and sometimes come up on the short end.


Also, regarding Cliff Lee, you're really going to plead schedule? I wish that Johan Santana, who I have in the Yahoo Friends and Family League, was pitching half that well against the bad teams he's faced. Lee's putting up numbers against major league lineups that other pitchers would be lucky to put up against high-school players. Would it be more impressive if he were facing the Red Sox and Tigers? Sure. But citing the schedule is like citing Petco as a reason Jake Peavy is that great a pitcher. No, he is a great pitcher anyway. I'm not saying Lee is Peavy, but teams in desperate need of starting pitchers and strikeouts should be entertaining offers for him. Burnett, we have, so that's not a possibility, and anyway, we're looking more for hitting. And Lee was pretty good a few years ago, and he's more mature now and getting closer to his prime. You can look at the past for clues, but it doesn't completely explain the present, especially with pitchers who do not often develop linearly.


I'd expect to get Aaron Hill or Weeks for Lee - I think that's pretty fair at this point. I'd throw in a MI like Adam Kennedy so they keep the at-bats (It's an 18-team league). If you need Ks, and have a hole in your rotation, that's a legit offer. Maybe you don't want to do it because hitters are safer, so you counter by asking for one of my prospects as a throw-in. Maybe that could be done. Maybe not.


And it's not like I'm not going to be making offers in June or July. Only that our market is inefficient because the teams that never really had a chance are finally going to wake up to that fact then, and offer two-to-three months of their players' services to contenders. And the contenders *should* pay less than they would now. In fact, teams that have little chance should be aggressively shopping one-year players to the contenders now for more prospects than they would ever get later. But that will never happen because most of the teams that are doing poorly early on are the same ones that don't pay enough attention and don't really care anyway. So it's really a hopeless situation for the most part. I'd love to have more at stake, and more at stake long term, and we'd have a more robust league with more wheeling and dealing throughout the year because playing for the big prize in 2009 would be compelling. As it stands, people are just content to play the hand they're dealt and hope to flop a full house. Over time, that style almost never wins.


The bottom line is that we're determined to contend, and we want star players for five-months. It makes sense for teams that are out of contention to offer five-month players at a premium. That's a win-win. And so I'm putting it out there - assess your team realistically - do you have slow-starting superstars ready to break out (four to the flush with an inside straight draw), or are you stuck with a low pair and praying for one or two outs left in the deck? If it's the latter, realize that I'm buying - five months of your superstars, and I'm willing to pay a premium. My first offer is what I deem a fair one - one that you might do. But it's not necessarily the most I'll give up. Fire back, let me know what it'll take, and maybe we'll reach an agreement. Or maybe not. But at least we're playing ball.


-----Original Message-----
From: jeff@rotowire.com
Sent: Thursday, May 1, 2008 3:59am
To: Christopher Liss
Subject: Re: Charging the Mound

You work in more poker analogies per capita than most baseball writers that I read. Not that they're not apt, or unappreciated. You're absolutely right about one thing - it's important to be realistic about your team's chances to contend and know when to take the long view. Once you've reached that point, then in an efficient market, you should be proactive in trading for the future early on as well.

I'm in a 10-team hockey league where we only keep three guys from year-to-year, but you can trade for picks. It's a head-to-head league rather than a total points league, and when I went on an extended bad luck stretch where I scored about as many points as I gave up yet lost something on the order of 15 out of 20 games, I made the decision to dump early. I was able to get a slew of picks, and did better in terms of both quality and quantity than the teams that decided to play for next year after me. It's a really active league, and I think that's the real key, and probably most vexing to you. Those good trading leagues do exist - sometimes it's tough to spur the beast into action. I also think that you might have a little bit more luck a couple of weeks from now.

Lee's schedule isn't the only reason I'm a little reluctant to target him as a keeper. His strikeout and strikeout-to-walk rates are phenomenal, and that's usually a sign that a pitcher is for real, but even in his best years, his component numbers have never been close to be this good. I probably wouldn't give up Aaron Hill for him - though my bias for hitters and particularly those at a scarce position influence my thoughts here (and I also have a Scoresheet bias mixed in here as well, as Hill is a fantastic defensive player as well). I'll acknowledge that's probably fair value, though.

Coincidentally enough, in the Yahoo Friends & Family league, I was just offered Cliff Lee in exchange for Chad Billingsley. I turned down the offer for a couple of reasons. I've still retained my charter membership in the Billingsley Fan Club and have been encouraged by his recent outings, and am generally reluctant to trade him now. But more importantly, I'm less likely to do a "challenge trade" of pitcher-for-pitcher at this time of year; I'm far more likely to trade a starter for an improvement at a fielding position. Still, that's exactly the type of offer I'd make if I were in his shoes and wanted to sell-high. It just wasn't the right match for me.

Article first appeared 5/1/08


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