Fantasy Baseball Round Table: An experiment in trade negotiations, Part III

by Todd Zola, on June 19, 2013 @ 13:40:10 PDT


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Tim Heaney responded with:

(C). For this exercise to reflect the situation and offer a productive example to readers, you have to treat it as if you're invested in your given team. I approached this no differently than I have been in any league that has my name and strategy attached to it.

Always the company man! I respect and appreciate Tim's diligence. That said, my own answer was both A and B.

Some have a hard time dealing a player because it's an admission they were wrong. I don't worry about that so much as the fact that I have my own opinion on every player. Much of the time, it is different than the masses. A lot of the time, my rosters will have a handful of these common players. What I have found is I have difficulty dealing some of these players since my baseline expectation is better than my trading partner, so I won't get back an adequate return. Since the teams were assigned randomly, I didn't end up with any of the players that can be considered "my guys". As such, I found discussing them to be much easier.

On the other hand, I found the non-familiarity with my team and the league to be a hindrance. Standings are static on a day-to-day basis but what generates them is dynamic. Some teams are trending upward, some downward. Some squads have players returning from injuries, some just lost some players to the disabled list. Many teams recently made a deal that will change the complexion of the categories. All that was lost by having rosters and standings plunked down with the dictum, "make a trade." As an aside, I run a number of leagues and am often asked why. The answer lies in the above: Being the commissioner of the SWAT keeps me in touch with the league and helps me manage my own team. There's actually more than being a kiss-ass.

For what it's worth, while mealing on a wonderful deep dish pizza in Chicago, Lawr Michaels and I talked about the above and he essentially shared my opinion. Well, all except the ass-kissing part. Lawr too found the exercise to be both easier and harder. Actually, the biggest detriment to Lawr's ability to trade was his team happened to be one of the better squads and coincidentally was assembled a lot like how he puts teams together. As Lawr has written, he does not like to make deals solely for the sake of dealing so that was a hindrance as well.

Nick Minnix also had mixed feelings:

D. All of the above.

It was liberating to trade players without worrying about what I might be giving up and whether what I'm getting is really enough. It served as a lesson to me about how I might change my perspective for the better in future negotiations.

It was still a little -- a little, not much -- harder for the reason cited in answer B. It takes a little time to assess things from a purely statistical perspective. It's easier to estimate when you've lived it, but it's beneficial to step outside the situation if you're doing so.

In the end I felt that I was just making decisions that may turn out to be a little less biased. (Although, sometimes, I think my bias benefits me, haha.)

Closing thoughts....

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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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