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Charging the Mound: Exorcism By 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: Jeff Erickson
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:38pm
To: Chris Liss
Subject: Charging


Sometimes a trade can be an exorcism. That's how I feel about a deal I just completed in one of my home leagues. I'm stuck with B.J. Upton in the NFBC, but I also drafted him in an 11-team mixed league with a few of my buddies from Ally & Erin's school. This is the league that has seen a few hair-trigger drops of players that shouldn't be dropped, but on the flip side it's also a very active league with all owners having made 20 or more moves this year. So I'd judge its competitive level as a medium league - some really good players, some newer players - one of those newer players is kicking butt, though.

Anyhow, I sent out a missive to the league saying that I wasn't willing to cut Upton, but I was willing to deal him at $.75 on the dollar. I had benched him last week, but put him back in this week, thinking that two games in Toronto could help turn him around. Of course, he didn't play in either game, with no mention of an injury. That was my final straw. I know better than to make emotional decisions, but in an 11-team mixed league, I just can't have a guy like that active where we have weekly moves.

So the first offer I got was Omar Infante for Upton straight up. My first instinct was that this wasn't anywhere near $.75 on the dollar. It didn't matter anyhow as this league doesn't have a MI spot (just two UT slots) and I already have Jason Kipnis and Jose Altuve - with Altuve sitting on my bench most of the time. But is Infante right now (.303, 28 R, 2 SB) really .75 on the dollar? Forget whether Upton is worth .75 on the dollar - what exactly constitutes that? Just looking at outfielders, I suggested that Melky Cabrera would represent that. Too high, too low?

So after rejecting that offer, I got a text from another friend in the league throwing his hat into the ring. He started with offers of either Lorenzo Cain or Homer Bailey. Both were somewhat tempting, but part of me still wants to not get too invested in Bailey because of his park, at least as the weather heats up. I have two shares of Bailey already. Instead, I wanted to do a 2-for-1, because in a shallow league like this (11-team mixed, no CR or MI slots, 3 OF slots + 2 UTs), the extra spot has a lot of value.

Instead, I ended up doing Upton and Altuve for Shin-Soo Choo and a throw-in who I subsequently cut (Jake Odorizzi). It's pretty much the opposite of the standard roto advice of buy-low, sell-high. Choo got off to a great start and started to slow down some in May, but then has rallied again. I know the risks with him (cue the comment from "ZenGuerrilla" in 3, 2, 1 ...), but at the same time, there's no doubt in my mind that I value him more than Upton the rest of the way. I wish I could have gotten something for Altuve straight up, but my efforts there were rebuffed time-and-again.

Speaking of that, remember last week how we were discussing the spread in value between "buy" and "sell" in most leagues? I have a perfect example for you. Before trading Edward Mujica for Alex Cobb in Yahoo F&F, I tried to deal Joe Nathan straight-up for Altuve, with no luck. In fact, I didn't even get a response, positive or negative. It was just ignored. Meanwhile, in the same home league where I made the Upton deal, I offered the reverse - Altuve to try and get Nathan, and was rebuffed. I get that they are different leagues with different owners, but I think my experience reinforces your principle.

Is there anyone on your squads you want to exorcise from your roster, but aren't willing to just dump? Maybe Ike Davis? How would you approach that dilemma?

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Liss
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:49pm
To: Jeff Erickson
Subject: Re: Charging


I think the bid/ask is pretty wide in most leagues. It's like when Vegas says the Pats are -1200 to beat the Raiders, but the Raiders are only +800 to beat the Pats. The true value is probably somewhere in the middle, say +/- 1000, or 10 to 1. But you can't get 10 to 1 on the Raiders, and you can't lay 10 to 1 with the Pats, either.

The difference is few owners even counter and tell you what it'll cost to get their guy. Most ignore your offer, or reject without counter and sometimes without comment. So it's actually even worse than Vegas. It's like Priceline if the hotels instead of being at a discount were actually more expensive than they should be. You make a blind overbid and don't know if it's even enough to secure a place you'd be willing to stay.

I offered Aramis Ramirez three weeks ago for Ike Davis and A.J. Griffin in my 15-team home league (there are three-week periods during which you can't pick up players, and I was two pitchers short), and the guy rejected it without comment. I knew it was a terrible offer for my side, but I had Brett Lawrie, Nolan Arenado and Justin Morneau already, I was bleeding Ks and wins, and this was one of the few teams that had surplus pitching. Even so, I normally wouldn't give another owner such a windfall out of principle, but I did it as an experiment just to see if he'd do it. But apparently I didn't overpay enough.

As for your Upton trade, I think it's fine. Choo is worth more at this point, and Altuve in a league with no MI isn't that valuable. Personally, I'd probably target the buy lowest guys, but Upton is too much of a name ever to get on the dirt cheap. You could get Dustin Ackley in an AL-only, Eric Hosmer in a mixed, maybe David Price who's still hurt for a real discount (as you should). But not Upton, Heyward or Josh Hamilton in most cases.

As for Davis, I only have him in NL Tout and NFBC - which just lost Eric Chavez who I picked up this week for Michael Young - and just lost Curtis Granderson again, and that's on top of Bryce Harper not playing all week, and Giancarlo Stanton having a setback with his knee now (what a flat tire), and Ackley getting sent down, and Jake Odorizzi getting shelled in a spot start (for whom I dropped Vinnie Pestano right before Chris Perez got hurt) and Austin Jackson needing more than the 15-days to get back and Cameron Maybin still on the bench and Aramis Ramirez missing three weeks earlier in the year. So I don't care that much in NFBC, and anyway, I have to wait it out. In NL Tout, obviously I can't drop him.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Erickson
Sent: Friday, May 31, 2013 7:40pm
To: Chris Liss
Subject: Re: Charging


Do you sometimes get the feeling that some owners specifically don't want to trade just with you? As if they're afraid that they'll get burned because it's you? Either because you've had success in the league, or that you're a public figure in this silly little world that we've created? Seriously, could you have imagined 20 years ago that you'd be calling yourself a Managing Editor of a fantasy sports company? Remind me to never find anyone's career aberrant or surreal. We're living the life (though you're in football magazine hell right now, so maybe you don't feel that way at this exact moment). It seems paranoid, but I'd bet there's at least one or two owners that feel that way. There's probably also a bit of a winner's curse - once you've had a certain measure of success in a particular league, I'd have to think that there's an internal pressure not to help you improve.

All that said it's pretty ludicrous that your Aramis offer wasn't accepted, and even worse that it was dismissed out of hand. I guarantee you that owner will go on to make a worse trade elsewhere.

I'm worried about my Upton trade from one other angle - when I mentioned it on Twitter, the reaction was pretty universal that I did well. Unless it's clearly a trade where I did poorly, I'd actually prefer a little bit of blowback. We can talk about wisdom of the masses all we want, but it seems (I haven't completed precise records on the phenomenon of crowd reaction to my trades, for obvious reasons) that when everyone thinks I did well, I actually end up regretting it. That said, I see another DNP for Upton tonight - it's really difficult to be patient here. I ended up benching him for the next three days in NFBC. Much like Pedro Alvarez last week, I fully expect two homers from him tomorrow.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Liss
Sent: Friday, May 31, 2013 8:02pm
To: Jeff Erickson
Subject: Re: Charging


I think that might be part of it. Not necessarily consciously, but maybe because of what I do they see interest in their player and assume I know there's some special hidden metric that means he's going to turn it around. So just by my asking about him, they start to assume his rosiest scenario. But even in expert leagues people are pretty passive and rarely counter, let alone make me an initial offer. In the YF&F, I've made offers to almost everyone, and the only people to make them to me are you, Andy Behrens and Pianow.

And it is crazy we have this job. I remember playing in this weekly hoops game about 12 years ago and telling one of the guys - who incidentally plays every fantasy sport - what I did, and he opined that it obviously wasn't a career. At the time I thought he might be right, but I'm still at it, and he still subscribes to the site 12 years later. Of course, let's hope our favorite cable-company owned competitor doesn't gain more market share and we can buck the trend of increased media consolidation and continue to thrive as an independent company.

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