Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Lord Zola answers critics regarding trades

by Todd Zola, on August 8, 2012 @ 19:35:39 PDT


Last week, I polled the participants of Tout Wars and LABR and we debated the responsibility of the non-contending teams with respect to trading with the contending teams in an effort to gain as many standings points as possible, regardless of standings position. My opinion was in the vast minority and I received some private e-mails this week, asking me to embellish on some of my thoughts.

So after last week's marathon session, I thought I would give the knights the week off and publicly address some of the inquiries. However, since the e-mails were sent to me in private, I'll keep them anonymous, but I suspect others that read last week's epic Round Table have similar poses.

Todd - the thing I don't understand is how you can declare yourself out of it with so much of the season left.

New York Yankees 2B Robinson Cano
Cano, don'tcha know, ain't helpin'

I have seen worst-to-first jumps and have nearly done it myself. But, sometimes you just know this is not your year. I'll spare you the "why my team sucks" diatribe, but at most, I can climb from 13th to 9th with about 10 more standings points.

What bums me out is my drafting plan was sound and I was pleased with the execution. I felt that starting pitching would be undervalued in an industry league and if I took advantage of this market deficiency, I would be able to deal from my intended pitching strength to fortify what was likely an offense a tad light. As expected, I snagged Felix Hernandez early and he has more than done his part. Unfortunately, Jon Lester, Ricky Romero and Justin Masterson have sabotaged the plan. In addition, the first-round selection of Troy Tulowitzki has weakened the offense more than expected.

Don't you feel you have a responsibility to do the best you can, especially since you are a respected figure in the fantasy baseball industry and have a reputation to uphold?

My answer to this is likely to rub some of my brethren the wrong way. I think this notion of upholding a reputation is part and parcel to much of last week's exchange. What I mean by that is while I will stop way short of calling some of the responses disingenuous, I do think there is a bit of saying what you think you are supposed to say as opposed to saying how you really feel. In other words, some of the guys prefer their public perception to not be a "quitter," thus took a bit of a soapbox approach. But here's the deal. For all the grandiose assertions that most fight tooth and nail for every point until the last day of the season, the actions of teams in this position over the years simply does not corroborate that claim. I have played in industry leagues for over a dozen years and have served as SWAT of many as well, and can recall a precious few instances of a struggling team actually dealing with a contender.

With respect to my reputation, I feel the same way about this as I do other aspects of the hobby. I want my reputation to be of someone who not just states an opinion, but backs it with well thought out reasoning. Of course, I also want integrity to be a huge component of my reputation, and I humbly admit that in some eyes, this calls my integrity into question. But I am willing to take that chance. In an odd sort of way, I feel being forthright and candid about this issue adds to my integrity as opposed to taking away from it.

Also, something that got lost in the shuffle is everyone, regardless of their position on the trade issue, was adamant about continuing to make all other roster moves including free agent pickups and weekly lineup changes. Frankly, this speaks more to one's integrity than the trade stuff. And, you know what? While I don't recall many trades from bottom teams, the examples of guys not paying complete attention to a struggling team are prevalent.

I think the most compelling reason that you're wrong is the argument that, in your own words, "by doing nothing you are actually doing something." Shouldn't that be enough to convince you that you should be willing to do trades with anyone at any time?

This is the point that I had to really contemplate. I perfectly understand the contention and agree with the premise. In my mind, the counter-argument is which of the "somethings" I want to do. I am impacting the standings either way. At the end of the day, I agree wholeheartedly with Cory Schwartz, and that is the points gained to move up in the standings at the top are more important than the points I get for moving from 13th to 9th. Even if I were to make a "fair" deal and swap Felix Hernandez for Robinson Cano, if the team acquiring Cano can afford his loss and net more standings points with Felix, the deal (to me) is still skewed. The points necessary to win are more valuable that those that got me all the way to 9th. So basically, I am more comfortable doing the something that does not directly impact the standings.

Dang it though, even as I write this, I can still see your side. I like to look at a grey area and think about it long enough so I make my feeling black and white. There's still a whole lot of grey with this one.

So Todd, I have to know, did you make the trade? It seemed like you were considering it in your wrap-up when you said, "We all play in leagues where we vote on rules and while you may not agree with a rule, you follow it. While this topic is not a rule, it is a rule of thumb. As such, since it is obvious (at least using the respondents as the sample) that more Tout and LABR participants favor dealing regardless of placement, I am beginning to feel more comfortable making such a deal, even if it is against my philosophy."

Nope, I opted not to. As I explained to someone else, I think a lot of the responses were what people thought they were supposed to say. I feel my obligation is not to play how I perceive others want me to play, but to play how I feel is right, and even though I may end up changing my mind, as of right now, I am more comfortable not dealing with a contender.

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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