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Charging the Mound: Player Envy

Chris Liss

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

Jeff Erickson

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

-----Original Message-----
From: "Christopher Liss"
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 3:23am
To: "Jeff Erickson"
Subject: charging

I remember a few weeks ago when I was feeling jealous of all the half wits who lucked into Matt Kemp - why couldn't I have the No. 1 overall pick? Now he's on the DL, and his dream of going 50-50 is dead. He'll be lucky to go 40-20. But the problem is I've already moved onto Josh Hamilton-envy. Why is it I got caught price enforcing on him in 2009 and 2011, but someone else had him in 2010 and 2012? But like Kemp's, this hot streak might very well fade into obscurity a month from now when the players I do own, Mike Stanton, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Hanley Ramirez are going on tears of their own. But it's sometimes hard to keep perspective early in the year when one of your teams is low in the standings. It's tempting to conclude you have a dud and direct your efforts into your more prosperous leagues.

My YF&F team was like that, but actually I'm not as worried about it. I'm low in wins and Ks, but my rate stats - K/9 and Wins/9 aren't bad. That's probably 15 more points that aren't showing up right now since I'm so far behind in IP. My batting average was so low early on, I offered you Cano and Jemile Weeks for Jose Bautista and Danny Espinosa (which you declined). Since then, Cano's heated up, and I'm actually not even last in batting average any more. So I went the other direction and offered Eric Hosmer (whose spring training could not have been less indicative of his disastrous start), J.P. Arencibia and Brandon League to Dalton Del Don for Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Mauer to make a move in average, even though I'm positive he's too cowardly to accept. And you know how valuable closers are in that league. Would you make that deal if you were DDD?

I've also picked up Kerry Wood and Jesse Crain who for all we know could be closing for their respective Chicago teams in a week. That daily moves league is crazy because a pick-up only costs you the player you're dropping. There's no moves limit, no FAAB and no charge to make a move. Why not have some scrubs on your roster to churn? In fact, I even dealt you the Henry Rodriguez-Brad Lidge combo last month not because I didn't think they'd have value but because they had too much value to drop, and they were clogging up the bottom of my roster. Luckily for you Lidge got hurt, and so you freed up some space. The worst thing you can have in YF&F are players that are too valuable to drop, but who aren't doing anything for you. I've got one in Carl Crawford who I just can't bring myself to cut, but who might limit my flexibility and cost me potential games played and speculative pick-ups for three months. Would you have dropped him already? (Or I could cut Justin Morneau or Chase Utley - also on the DL).

The one team I have that's doing really badly is the 18-team Staff Keeper team, and that one might not be salvageable. I spent $62 on Albert Pujols and know pretty much what the Angels are feeling. I had Mariano Rivera and Michael Pineda. Cliff Lee went on the DL. So did Lance Berkman (though one can't really complain about that). Matt Thornton never got the closer job, Justin Smoak finally cracked .200 and Jeff Niemann just broke his ankle. Time to bail and play for the future? I think that's where we're heading in a week or two. At least it's a keeper league, and there's joy in gutting one's team for prospects.

Are any of your teams sunk yet? And in one-year leagues, now do you handle sunk teams? Do you trade like crazy for five categories and vie for a respectable finish, or do you half-ass it and go through the bare minimum motions of setting your lineup so you don't look like a deadbeat? At what point do the ethics of maintaining your team give way to the ethics of devoting your time to lesser hobbies such as your children and your wife? Is moving from 12th to 9th worth the three hours you didn't spend with your daughters and will never get back?

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 8:44pm
To: "Christopher Liss"
Subject: RE: charging

I think it's natural to obsess over your good teams first and deal with your struggling teams later. I do the very same - the first team I look at every day is my NFBC Main Event team, which has gotten off to a strong start. I keep all the bookmarks for my leagues in one folder, then open them all up in separate tabs. Unless I'm looking for a specific item, I hit that team's live scoring page (if it's during games) or standings page (if it's first thing in the morning). It's the team I'm obsessing about.

But it's counter-intuitive - what I really should be doing is figuring out ways to correct the flaws of my struggling teams. Is it fundamentally flawed, or are there just slow starters away from me competing? If it's the former, those flaws need to be addressed right away, instead of pushed aside until later because it's unpleasant. But I'll cop to occasionally dragging my feet to fix a flawed team.

Player envy is also natural. It's especially true when you have a team falling just short of where you want to be. The "what if" game is easy to do, but as you alluded you're going to get your fun stretches where your elite guys heat up. Stanton is already approaching that level. Do you think it's more difficult to keep that perspective now than in June or July? Will the players' production have flattened out enough so that the tears don't stand out as much?

Where I really get envious, though fully acknowledging it's my own fault that I don't own the player, is where I had a feeling about a player, gave him a decent enough projection, talked him up on the show, but then didn't follow that up by drafting him anywhere. It's even worse when I let someone talk me out of getting that player. Two players that fit that description for me are Adam Dunn and Jeff Samardzija. I co-own one of my Scoresheet teams - not the one with you, but a different one. I let myself get talked out of keeping then drafting Adam Dunn, and then out of drafting Samardzija. To appropriate your quote from our Sirius/XM promos, I had a feeling, and I didn't heed it, to my own detriment. Aargh.

I'd probably lean against doing that trade with you if I were Dalton. Is Brandon League worth the differences between Gonzalez vs. Hosmer and Mauer vs. Arencibia? In pure value, perhaps, as Dalton needs to make up some ground in saves, though he currently has three closers. But as you alluded, the spot also has value. He's going to have to cut a player that he probably doesn't want to get rid of, and while it's not *that* hard to bid adieu to A.J. Burnett in a mixed league, it also means the next player he cuts when inevitably a free agent becomes desirable is that much better. It's a very interesting trade offer - and I'll give you credit, you always present a decent first offer. I've traded with you pretty often, and I've found it easier to do so because your starting point is at the very least fair, even if it's not necessarily something I want to do.

There are others though, that aren't so good about their initial trade offers. I have very little time for dealing with those that present lowball offers, even if it's ultimately worth it to engage them because you can get to where you want to. How do you best deal with such an offer. Do you decline it outright? Decline with a note? Or send a counter-offer? Do you prefer dealing in the league system, via e-mail, or picking up the phone to call?

As far as the too good to cut, not good enough to use, I'm still hanging on to Peter Bourjos, hoping against hope that relief in the form of a trade comes soon. I knew that the Angels would have this problem, so it's my bad for drafting him anyhow. I just thought that they'd value his defense more than they did. But as Jock Thompson from pointed out on our show Monday, the Angels have much less room for error on offense because of all their slumpers, and it all starts with Albert Pujols.

I think that your Staff League team might still be viable, at least for another month. It really depends on the trade market - are there other sellers out there? How tightly will fellow owners cling to their prospects? You might be better off making proactive deals to contend this year if you can't pry good cheap prospects.

I don't know have any teams that are sunk yet, but two are on the precipice, only one that's not a keeper. My LABR team has been fairly disastrous, starting in spring training with Michael Pineda and Andrew Bailey. The bigger problem is that I don't have enough at-bats there, and some of my gambles on the fringe spots don't look like they're going to pay off. But I think you owe it to the league to at least put enough effort in to contend at least through the league's trade deadline, and then after that do your best to maintain a non-dead roster - replace those that have gotten hurt or demoted. Come August, I think it's sufficient to put in just minimal effort.

And then I'll start getting ready for my next football draft.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Christopher Liss"
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 5:42pm
Subject: Re: charging

I think it is more difficult to keep perspective early on because the hot streak has such a disproportionate effect on the season totals at that point. Moreover, if your players are cold through July, then feeling as though they'll never come around might actually be justified, i.e., there's no real perspective that you could take except to acknowledge that you probably screwed up.

I drafted Dunn in a couple places and also Samardzija, but even so, I'm angry with myself for not having them in even more places. There were some players I wanted but didn't pull the trigger on like Yu Darvish, but then again, I wanted to get Matt Moore in more than one league, too, and you can't have it both ways. Both of them were taken in most cases just half a round before I was ready, and I might have liked Moore even a little better.

As expected, DDD rejected the deal without comment or counter. I typically will comment and/or counter a fair initial offer. Even an unfair one in most cases, though I might be a little snarky if I'm not self-disciplined. My full take on proper trade etiquette is here.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:05pm
To: "Christopher Liss"
Subject: Re: charging

I too got shut out on Yu Darvish, and so far I've been rebuffed in trade talks for him. I had a reasonable shot at him in my old school AL 4x4 home league, which drafted the night of his first start. I made a common mistake, letting the results of that start in progress depress my bid on him when he came up. Instead, I ended up getting Dan Haren at a "discount." Yuck.

At least with Matt Moore, I think it's possible to buy low on him. In another 11-team mixed league, I just traded Jim Johnson straight up for him. This league values relievers more - we have to start five - but I had plenty of closers, plus Moore has RP eligibility (it's a league run on Yahoo). The takeaway here is that even with those players that we wanted more shares of, if they haven't started well, at least it's a correctable error.

But I share your anger about not getting "my guys" in more leagues. I was on Bryan LaHair, but I only have him in two places, even though he's precisely the type of player that was easy to acquire for cheap - older prospect, job security at risk with a younger prospect behind him, at a non-scarce position. Though I suppose in those leagues where his owner is experienced you may be able to "buy high" on him, as Todd Zola from has advocated (though not specifically about LaHair) in the past. If you believe LaHair or whoever else is your breakout player is legit, chances are your competitor's buy-low/sell-high offer on LaHair still might not value him properly.

I like your points on the proper trade etiquette. I'll add one other bullet point:

- Especially if you expect a fellow owner to respond within a reasonable time, you have a responsibility to keep the offer open long enough for him to evaluate the offer. I understand that it's an immediate, mobile world, but it's incredibly annoying when that ADD guy in your league sends offers left and right only to pull them 30 minutes later, without explanation. God forbid I finish my dinner first before reviewing your trade offer.