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Split Squad: Dynasty Owners: Be Bold or Stand Pat?

Conan Hines

Conan Hines writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Justin Green

Justin Green writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching in most leagues, dynasty owners are in the situation where they need to decide what tack to take as the end of the season approaches. For those owners who are out of contention, the focus turns to making trades to help their future. For owners in contention, the issue becomes whether or not to make a trade or two and likely sacrifice a piece of the future, or whether to stand pat with the team that got them where they are in August. This week we debate whether dynasty owners in contention should go for the gold or stand pat.

Do or Die (by Justin Green)

When it comes time for me to decide whether or not to make a big move towards the end of the season, I think of Anthony Michael Hall’s “The Geek” from Sixteen Candles, when he said: “I’m a gamblin’ man by nature, and, um, I'd go for it.” As true as those words were when spoken to Molly Ringwald in the front of a disassembled convertible, they are even more relevant to fantasy owners when deciding whether to go for it or stand pat at the end of a dynasty season.

The number one reason why a fantasy owner who is contention in mid-August should go for it is because this may be your only shot in the next few years to get in the money. With the multi-year contracts and salary cap restrictions of most dynasty leagues, owners do not have the flexibility to correct drafting and contract mistakes via yearly drafts or free agency. You’re pretty much stuck with the team you have. If you find yourself near the top of the standings in August, that means your group of guys has come together and provided quality output. No matter the players on your team, or the contracts they are signed to, there is no guarantee your team will perform as well next year as they have in 2010. Due to this uncertainty and the constraints of a dynasty league, owners should do all they can to get in the money while the opportunity is there.

Second, most deadline deals involve prospects and trading a prospect for established major-league talent that can help you this year is a better bet than hoping a prospect pans out. By their very nature, prospects are very sketchy. A top-10 prospect to start the season in 2010 can be out of the top 100 to start 2011. Obviously, there are some prospects that are more solid than others, but if a deal involves prospects, it is hard to assess what exactly it is you’re giving up. Who knows how a prospect will turn out? By being conservative and holding onto a guy who is raking in Single-A, rather than trading him to improve your team this year, you may be costing yourself a chance to win your league. Taking the chance now, while you’re in contention is worth it if your deal is involving players who haven’t established themselves at the major league level.

It goes without saying that this advice is subjective. Depending on how close you are in the standings, or what kind of players you have under contract, making too dramatic of a move may not be advisable. Generally, however, just like in real life, teams rarely have a chance to contend in consecutive years. The chance to place in the money is rare and owners should take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.

Save for the Future (by Conan Hines)

Prospects are prospects. Nothing more nothing less. In today’s fantasy market the biggest talk is about who the next big prospect will be. And usually I am quite happy to dish off the up-and-comers to owners who think they got the next Ryan Braun or Tim Lincecum, for a solid veteran contributor. With the trade deadline approaching in a lot of leagues (for our purposes, keeper and dynasty leagues), those teams in contention are feverishly deciding whether or not to trade a “rising star” for that veteran boost. My advice, contrary to my usual thought process, is NOT SO FAST!

The time to trade your Domonic Brown chip Jayson Werth or Nelson Cruz was over a month ago. If you’re in a Roto league, the time to trade is always now. Every day wasted not making a trade, is a day closer to making the trade less worthwhile. Right now we are 75% through the season, which means your stats will only realize a slight boost from good fantasy players. If your team is on pace to throw 1600 innings, what actual good can Ricky Nolasco do for your squad? He’ll add some strikeouts and maybe an additional win from what you currently have, but not much else.
As much as I loathe prospect-hype, I still realize there is value to be had. Unless you can pry Josh Johnson or Miguel Cabrera away from a sucker, there’s no real point in giving up a top prospect at this stage of the game. Yes, you want to win, but you want to win championships – plural. Flags fly forever… Ok. Tell that to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Believe me, even if you win your league, it is no fun mulling around in the basement the next few years because you gave up a prime and controllable prospect.

If you need coveted commodities such as steals or saves, I can see giving up a low minors guy, or an older minor leaguer whose ceiling is capped. But remember, just because you are doing well in the power categories, doesn’t mean you can now trade for Juan Pierre or Coco Crisp and take Paul Konerko out of your lineup. You still have to maintain production unless you built up a substantial lead. Yeah, you may gain a few points in steals or saves, but you might also end up losing ground in other categories. Now you’re back to square one.

The last thing to remember is because there’s only a month and a half of ball left, means a very good player could very well not be as productive as you might have hoped. If your new acquisition falls into a slump or has a few bumpy starts, you could very well be back at square one. Although, you’re not really back at square one, you’re worse off because now your top prospect is gone. I really believe you need at least two months (if not longer) to feel comfortable making the move.

So if you can’t get Roy Halladay or Hanley Ramirez for a reasonable price, my suggestion is to stand pat. Continue to scour the waiver wire for the hot bats and arms and make due. It’s a good time to do it since other owners who are out of the race are probably spending less time competing with you for those players.