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Charging the Mound: Sell Low, Buy Lowest - With Video

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: "Jeff Erickson"
Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:14pm
To: liss@rotowire.com
Subject: Charging


It's the second week of the season, so a lot of the observations we can make about the season so far are probably premature, and many of the general points about how to handle this part of the season are played out. How many times can we say "buy low, sell high ... but you really have to buy lowest and buy high in reality ..." without being redundant? I suppose there are new readers of this feature that could use the lesson, but I'll leave it to you in the response to make that case, as it's something you've spent more time developing.

I'm actually trying to go in the opposite direction on one player, Roy Halladay, and selling low before he hits what I think will be rock-bottom, if he's not there already. The problem is those with whom I've been talking trade want me to bundle him with another buy-low candidate - in one case Pedro Alvarez - whom I'm not willing to cast aside. I want offers in the 35-50-cents-on-the-dollar range but am getting 25. At some point I just have to accept the small possibility of hitting the five-outer rather than folding the hand - though Jason Motte's recent news is the warning lesson against that, I suppose.

One conversation we were having about our draft kits for every sport was the problem about projecting players whose potential outcomes are more volatile than others, so they often rank lower even though they make for better late-round investments than the steadier players projected ahead of them. The same thing applies to early season free agents, in my opinion. I noticed that you're trying to do the traditional Liss 2-for-1 deals in Yahoo Friends & Family, so you have more room to stream players or gamble on upside pickups. What sort of players are you seeking out on the waiver wire?

This concept applies more to mixed leagues, where there's actual talent on the waiver wire, than in AL or NL-only leagues, where anyone with a pulse gets snatched up each week. So far in YF&F (14-team mixed) I've grabbed a couple of closer speculation plays (Edward Mujica, Jonathan Broxton) in addition to a couple of Astro-streams (Bartolo Colon, Garrett Richards). You grabbed Kelvin Herrera on Saturday - it makes me sick he was even available, given the relative value of closers and high-strikeout relievers. Who else would you put in your lottery ticket shopping cart right now?

-----Original Message-----
From: "Christopher Liss"
Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 11:16pm
To: jeff@rotowire.com
Subject: Re: Charging


What kind of offers are you getting for Halladay straight up? Last week, I said I'd offer Brian Walton Hyun-Jin Ryu for him in NL Tout, but never got around to it. Maybe I'll consider it this week. If you're selling Halladay low in an NL-only league, you'd have to take Ryu, right? It's pretty ridiculous to think you'd get anything better. (Not that Walton necessarily feels the same way you do). I think when we sell a player low about whom everyone is worried, we really have to take a pretty big haircut.

Yes toward the end of your draft - or at the bottom end of your roster during the year in mixed leagues - you're really looking for volatility because you want someone who has a chance to be a difference-maker. If he doesn't pan out, you cut him and move onto the next volatile player. In YF&F I'm usually looking for closers or maybe someone who inherits a job who could steal bases, but honestly, I'm already in deep trouble in that league. I know baseball's a marathon, and we're only in the first mile, but I've tripped and sprained my ankle already. Aramis Ramirez is out for God knows how long, and I had the Halladay/Mitchell Boggs duo going the other night. It also doesn't help that my first two picks were Giancarlo Stanton/Jason Heyward, both of whom are off to horrible starts. But I do value the extra roster spots quite a bit in a league like that.

A couple other potentially available players in a 14-team mixer: Drew Storen (Rafael Soriano got the save tonight, but he's been shaky and has a leg issue), Andrew Bailey (Joel Hanrahan just blew a save, and Bailey is clearly next in line) and Stephen Drew (he's back, and it's a pretty good environment if he stays healthy).

-----Original Message-----
From: "Jeff Erickson"
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 2:10pm
To: liss@rotowire.com
Subject: Charging


I'm asking for 50-cents on the dollar but think what I'm getting is closer to 10 or 25. One offer (and it was really a framework of an offer after I was the one to make the first offer) was Will Venable and Wilton Lopez for Halladay and Pedro Alvarez. Say what you will about Alvarez, and plenty have, but I'm not willing to cut bait on him in a trade where I'm already taking a haircut on Halladay. Another offer so far was from Shawn Childs (who is partnering with Greg Ambrosius this year in LABR), and he offered me Zack Greinke (pre-injury) and one of his catchers (Nick Hundley or Devin Mesoraco) for Halladay and one of my catchers - and there's the rub, my two catchers are Yadier Molina and Wilin Rosario. Derek Carty has reached out and expressed some interest, but it hasn't risen to the level of an offer yet.

But so far I don't have a 1-for-1 offer, or a deal where I'm not giving up significantly more ceiling, in my opinion. There are scenarios where Mesoraco or Hundley might be really interesting, but if I were offered one of them straight up for Halladay, I'd decline it. I think Venable and Alvarez are in the same neighborhood, so the first offer essentially becomes Wilton Lopez for Halladay. Mark Melancon (!) was even taken off the table in that one. That's right - he wouldn't even trade the Pirates' set-up guy for Halladay, on the basis of his site's original projections.

So if I can't get 50 cents on the dollar, or even 35, I'll take the 3.5-1 odds Halladay bounces back. We'll see what happens with Carty, as I've only played in one league with him and haven't done much trading with him.

That said, even though I'm having trouble getting the deal I want in LABR, I don't buy into the notion that some leagues are just too hard to make a deal in. I hear that complaint a lot about industry leagues, but I think too often we give up on dealing with someone in the league if we've once failed to get a trade done with them and ascribe it to them being unreasonable. Sometimes in my home leagues it's a case of offer-acceptance-done, but just as often there requires a back-and-forth. Maybe some of the industry folks de-prioritize trading in these leagues, but more often than not a little effort gets it done, if the circumstances regarding the player are right. I think in my case it's the player, Halladay, that's tricky, and not the league itself. Though the league's no-reserve rule complicates matters considerably.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Christopher Liss"
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:44pm
To: jeff@rotowire.com
Subject: Re: Charging


I think it's always harder to make trades in April because the sample is smaller, and people aren't as clear about what their teams are. It's easy to harbor hope that you're fine without an ace because you got Jose Fernandez off of waivers last week. So why would I take a chance on a struggling pitcher like Halladay? But by June, when my rotation's falling apart, I might gamble on a pitcher who once was great because I need to do something. Hope isn't cutting it anymore, and I can see that I'm slipping dangerously behind in WHIP, wins and Ks.

When people need to trade, they can be very reasonable. But when they're full of hope and not sure they need anything, then they're going to shuffle things up only if it's an obvious win for them.

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