Trading Places: Be more like Billy Ray Valentine than Duke and Duke.
Trading in fantasy baseball is sometimes more art than science.
Last night, I got an e-mail from Chris Liss, a host the Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. It was a simple trade offer in the FSTA experts’ league which as many of you know was really drafted by Glenn Colton and Stacie Stern. He suggested the very fair Dee Gordon for Francisco Rodriguez. Glenn Colton called it “a classic saves for steals trade”. Over the years, Chris has played in literally dozens of baseball and football leagues against us. That means that you need to present to each other “fair” deals or you will lose credibility and hurt the possibilities for the future. Almost all the leagues that we play in together are shallow leagues where trading low level players is fairly common and critical to winning. We have made major block buster deals with Chris. Last year in LABR AL, we traded a soon to come off the DL David Price for three decent pitchers and we swapped hitters. We were in 8th place and like Ricky Bobby says: “if you’re not first, you’re last.” So, I thought that it would be a good idea to look at how we see trading for shallow leagues and how to create deals that help you win your league.
So, I broke out Trading Places, a classic 1983 film starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Akyroyd. It is a wildly funny movie that Eddie Murphy simply takes over. John Landis directs and as in many of his films he uses comedy and great writing to drive home a lesson about society. Murphy plays Billy Ray Valentine, an inner city con man who is in and out of trouble as he tries to make his way. Akyroyd plays Louis Winthorp III who has a Harvard degree and has been given everything since then including a top job at the trading company of Duke & Duke. Duke & Duke is run by Mortimer and Randolph Duke, two brothers who disagree on why people are the way they are. One says that it is genetics and the other says that it is environment that makes people do what they do. So they make a $1 bet (“the usual”) and set up an experiment by having the down on his luck con man “trade places” with the successful Wall Street executive to see if the con man will shine and the executive will go crazy as a poor out of luck hobo. Trading Places is brilliantly crafted with the timeless message of equality for all mankind. It is a hysterical comedy for the ages and must see watching for those of you who are too young to have seen it. So here are some guidelines to use in your when causing players to trade places.
Find a good trade partner.
There are a couple of ways to find a good trade partner. A common way is to send out a note soliciting trade partners based on players that you have available for trading. That works sometimes, but most times people are not interested in those specific players and you are much better off with a different approach. I have found over the years that the best way to make a deal is to craft the deal that makes sense for both teams and send something VERY SPECIFIC. Many experts will tell you, do not make the first offer. Crrrrap. Here is what you should do to get a good deal done and not waste time. First, identify the category you need help in. Examine what teams can help you in that category. Then look at that team and determine what categories they are weak in to determine if you have what they need. If you do, then, look at SPECIFIC players you can afford to give up and SPECIFIC players you want from their team and craft some fair deals. Then, send SPECIFIC suggestions for deals and they will either accept one or counter one of them to bring you closer to a successful deal. One thing I never accept is someone who says they are interested, but is negative on the players in the deal. I tell them to counter. That is the way it works. You send out SPECIFIC offers. They either accept or counter. When I send my note, I always include the logic in the not to show that I am being fair and to make it easier for the trading partner. Have to be careful not to treat people like the Dukes treated Billy Ray Valentine…
“We are 'commodities brokers', William. Now, what are commodities? Commodities are agricultural products... like coffee that you had for breakfast... wheat, which is used to make bread... pork bellies, which is used to make bacon, which you might find in a 'bacon and lettuce and tomato' sandwich."
Make ANY deal that makes your team better
It sounds simple right. Well, some people value a deal strictly on the basis of what players you are getting and what their projected stats will be for the rest of the season. You see “trade evaluators” on sites all over the internet showing you only the stats for the players and determining who “wins” the deal. That is crrrrap. Both sides should win the deal. How can a computer tell whether you need Dee Gordon unless they can read the stolen bases category scoring in your league? That is how I evaluate trades. I look at the categories and subtract the stats that I am giving up, add in the stats that I am getting in the deal plus the replacement value of any positions that need to be replaced. Simply put, I make all trades that have a positive impact on my team. One caveat to this is that when you make the deal, you need to make sure that it is not a “king maker” deal. The deal cannot make your trading partner win the league or you have defeated the purpose of the deal. The deal should make both teams better, but if it is a deal late in the season that gives the first place team the only thing that s/he lacks, you need to pass on that deal. Also, if you have a ton of steals, let’s say and someone is offer you a deal to acquire more, it is never a bad idea to consider it. By controlling a scarce commodity, it allows you to trade players in that category to get greater value for your team. Like Billy Ray noticed about the Dukes…
"My God! The Dukes are going to corner the entire frozen orange juice market!"
Be fair. Don’t be a con man.
There is a TON of noise out there from fantasy players about how to make good trades. I heard a lot of experts talk about the art of the trade this week. Some will tell you that you can evaluate the trade based on sheer numbers and if you got more projected numbers, you did great. Some will stick to pre-season values and say things like, “you got a first rounder for a third rounder.” I heard Adam Ronis this morning say that if you don’t throw out the trade you won’t know if it will be accepted. This is VERY true in leagues that you do not know the participants and will not be playing with them for years, absolutely. Try to get the most you can. I heard Dr. Roto say that you should never throw out a specific offer first. Let the other guy throw out the offer and maybe he will make a mistake. Again, VERY TRUE in one year leagues. If you are in a league with the same group of people each year, being fair and working for both sides in a trade means that when you REALLY need it, you will be able to trade with people. If you try to pull a fast one on people, they will remember and always be skeptical of your offers. If your tactics are for yourself all the time and treating the trading partner like the Dukes treat Valentine and Winthorp, then you will have no one left to trade with. People will know if you are trying to fool them like when Billy Ray says to the girls walking by him…
“Once you have a man with no legs, you never go back, baby”
Don’t insult your potential trade partner
It always makes me laugh when someone who is trading for someone on your team makes them seem like they are on their way to AAA by how bad they are. The classic “sell high/buy low” deal makes some owners describe your pain in a deeper way than possible. A good example is that as a Prince Fielder owner, I was approached by a Garrett Jones owner who wanted Fielder for Jones straight up. Yes, Jones has more home runs, more runs batted in and is hitting for better average, but he is no Prince Fielder. Fielder is hitting .228 with only 2 home runs and 11 runs batted in. On the surface the owner felt he could make that offer based on stats. Well, it is an insult and I won’t trade with that guy ever. He is dead to me. Pretending that your opponent is poor is bad form, like Billy Ray says:
“When I was growing up, if we wanted a Jacuzzi, we had to fart in the tub.”
Couple of more quick things
No deal is too small. Many deals that helped us win in the past were very small deals that got us those three extra steals or five extra home runs. If you are dropping a player, we always offer him up for ANY DL or reservable player. You may as well get something for what you are getting rid of. It is the same in Major League Baseball. Deals are made all the time for players who don’ fit one team who can end up contributing in some way for the other team. We commonly end up doing these deals with the same people as you create a relationship with certain people in every league who want to help each other in small ways. That also leads us to another fine point of dealing. Many times teams will have hurt players or players on reserve that you like more than they do. It is an easy ask to have them put those players in the deal to balance or sweeten the deal for you. THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS NO UNTIL YOU ASK.
One more point is that people are human so knowing the players they like is a great way to get greater value while giving the trading partner better perceived value. During the draft, I will note who made the last bid on players that we got. That way I know who wanted those players when it comes time to trade. It is also important to know the favorite teams of different opponents. They will see slightly higher value in players from those teams sometimes enough to get a deal done that wouldn’t get done for an equal player from a different team. If you use these guidelines to trading, you will end your season like the end of Trading Places…
Louis: “Looking good, Billy Ray!”
Billy Ray: “Feeling good, Louis!”