Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Hurts so good

by Lawr Michaels, on June 7, 2011 @ 10:13:51 PDT


Last week I approached the delicate tactics involved with trading, and rebuilding in a keeper league. And, though the parameters for each differ a little, the bottom line is a good deal is a good deal, no matter what the setup.

Well, this week, I got a Tout Wars Mixed League notification that Nick Minnix had swapped Michael Pineda to Gene McCaffrey for closer Huston Street. Tout Wars Mixed is a 15-team standard 5x5 throwback league, with a $260 salary cap, $100 of FAAB we can parlay over the season.

Now, I have to think this was in some ways a tough trade for both Gene and Nick, because each was giving up a solid performer. But, with Nick in fourth place, 14.5 points out of first, while Gene is in seventh, 21 points behind leader David Gonos.

Pittsburgh Pirates SP James McDonald
Pirates piece: prefer not to peddle

With Nick's team at the bottom of the saves rung, with one point, while Gene is No. 11 in wins, the swap makes sense for both teams, although I similarly have to think the deal was some combination of last resort, and acceptance of reality, at least from my perspective.

Though I might not go into a draft or auction with a specific plan of players I want, I do try to exit with a balance of power and speed and pitching and saves. But, as we all know, those best laid plans do not always work as we imagined. Ask any owner who thought he or she was locking up saves with Joakim Soria and Ryan Franklin and Matt Thornton, if you doubt this.

So, it is inevitable that our teams will need a boost or fix here and there, and I prefer to try and do this via FAAB and reserve lists, as opposed to trading for a couple of reasons.

One is, though FAAB does cost allocated dollars, a player acquired is essentially free in that he does not cost either against our auction salary cap, or by proxy via letting go of one of your players.

Additionally, if you do strike gold with a free agent who becomes an everyday player - and I am thinking deep leagues in this case - and have a reserve list, this allows one to stash at-bats and cover for injuries without losing as many at-bats or innings pitched. For, in a deep league - in any league - at-bats and innings are critical to winning.

It is only when the reserve/free agent path seems exhausted, or more important the season clock ticks further along than we would like, that we have to seriously consider trading a valuable commodity for another that we need.

So, it could not have been any easy for either Gene or Nick to let go of either of their players, on one hand, but on the other, the only chance to pick the needed points was to make the deal they did.

During the offseason this year, I made a swap with Brendan Roberts in our Strat-O-Matic league that involved a lot of anguish. Brandon wanted Vicente Padilla from me, but the player of his I coveted was Jeff Niemann, and a straight-up deal was not fair.

Brendan, though, also liked James McDonald, whom I drafted during the previous year's rookie draft. Unfortunately, I like McDonald, which is one of the reasons I drafted him.

But, in this very deep 30-team league, where usage and innings count, Niemann not only gave me a solid fifth starter with 200 innings, but an arm who could serve my team for several years to come.

It was hard to trade McDonald, who to me was on a similar path to Niemann, just in an earlier phase, but my team is in position to seriously compete for the title this year, and I simply had to make the deal that was best for my team.

After the trade was consummated, I sent a note to Brendan, noting I knew this was a fair deal for each of us because though we each got something we wanted - and needed - we similarly hated to let go of the players we did.

I am guessing both Gene and Nick experienced the same paradox of excitement and buyer's remorse that usually follows a trade. But, as with my deal with Brendan, this was not only a fair deal, but a deal they had to make if they want to make a run at the title.

As they say, no pain, no gain.

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About Lawr Michaels,

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for as a statistician. Fantasy Baseball

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