Archive for August 1st, 2008

Friday: 08.1.2008

My Trade Deadline Experience

The All-Star Break Fizzlers will be ready to post today, but in the meantime, here’s a look at my journey through yesterday’s trade deadline in one fantasy league:

After a ridiculously hot start, my team in an NL-Only 11-team 5×5 league has fluctuated between 4th and 6th for a few months. We took the cheap route with pitching as the Corderos were our highest priced arms at $13 (Francisco-kept) & $18 (Chad). Manny Parra & Wandy Rodriguez have been the aces at $7 apiece while Jonathan Sanchez has been a great $1 value even with his current struggles. We bought Mike Gonzalez for $26 when he came back (you can’t draft DL’d guys at the auction and they go up for bid when they come back) since we were short a closer after the other Cordero fizzled. $10 FA pickup Hong-Chi Kuo has really been an All-Star for us so despite this rag-tag group, we are 4th in ERA.

Offensively, we kept Upton ($5), Victorino ($6-extended from $1) CJackson ($10-extended from $5), Tulowitzki ($10-extended from $5), CYoung ($15-extended from $5 2yrs) and AGonzalez ($25). Holliday was our top get at $49 during the auction. We targeted and got several bit players that we thought would be instrumental to a great offense: Snyder $5, Keppinger $8, Sanchez $13, Ethier $13, Fukudome $18 and Encarnacion $24 were all guys that we happily acquired during the auction. Though some haven’t worked out (Sanchez & Keppinger have been underwhelming) and we’ve dealt with a rash of injuries (Bard, Tulow, Kepp, Holliday, Upton and replacement Spilborghs were all out at one point together)—we’ve still managed to rack up the league’s 2nd highest offensive point total.

Sorry for the long backstory, but I thought it worthwhile to the story of my deadline strategy. At any rate, we couldn’t give away Encarnacion & Tulowitzki to clear cap in order to get into the Harden or CC biddings despite how little we were asking (relative to their value). We still wanted to cut cap in order to get involved in any other players that might come back.

Since we owned Blake DeWitt, we wanted to get involved in the Casey Blake bidding. I didn’t know what was going on with the Manny business when this was going down, so we made an aggressive push to cut some cap and get Blake, too. We found a taker for Encarnacion. He wanted Parra and EE for Hermida $5 and Tankersley $1 (a Heilman $10 was tied to him). Since we were actually hurting our main need, pitching, I wanted more assurance on our end in case we didn’t achieve our end goal of finishing in the money and pushing for 1st. Hermida is a free agent at the end of the year, so I asked for Jay Bruce $5 instead. He agreed and the deal was consummated. We put in a $26 bid for Blake and won him (by $11… EEK!!!). Or did we? Trades of multiple players in this league are subject to a comparison of Sagarin ratings and the disparity needs to be within $20. Tankersley does NOT rate well for ol’ Jeff’s rankings and thus the deal was cancelled and thus, so was the Blake bid.

I lobbied the commissioner to let us make a small adjustment to the deal to let it fit Sagarin ratings and there’d be no harm, no foul. Adding Saito, who’s almost certainly out for the year, would balance the disparity and then we’d get Blake. He wouldn’t budge. We spoke on the phone, but he was firm. He made a compelling case, but I appreciated that he at least hashed it out with me. Talk about a blessing in disguise.

We re-did the trade to leave Tank out and insert Saito so now it fits. So Parra/EE for Bruce/Heilman/Saito opens up $16 in cap for us. At this point, we have set our sights on another Casey in lieu of losing Blake. Mr. Kotchman’s arrival has piqued our interest, but we’re still hoping for something to go down on the day of the deadline that’ll really appeal to us. Meanwhile, dealing Parra was slightly counterproductive given how badly we need pitching, but I thought it was a good value deal especially since we got a keepable Bruce over an expiring Hermida.

We looked at the strong pitching teams to try and find a match almost weekly yet nothing materialized. As the Blake thing was going on, we finally found a partner, or so we thought. It looked like this team had the ace we desired along with cap flexibility that would free us up for FAAB bids as well. It turns out that this owner travels a TON for his job and a working dialogue to hammer out a detail stretches the span of a few days.

Initially we offered a deal where the principals were Matt Holliday and Jake Peavy. We’d gain $15 with this move on its own and we hoped to free up even more cap with the supplemental pieces involved so we targeted a $1 Pelfrey among others. After not hearing back for awhile, he finally wrote back saying that while he didn’t mind Peavy-Holliday, the rest wasn’t going to work either because he didn’t want to give the players (Doumit $9) or they were frozen on his roster in accordance with different rules of the league (Church $7). In his email, he also mentioned something about wanting another piece of offense that viable. I suspect this was because he was going to include Pelfrey as well.

I studied and finally came up with the following:

Holliday $49-Fukudome $18-Waechter $10-Petit $10
Peavy $35-Broxton $13-Kapler $10-Edmonds $1

I was so excited about the potential of this deal. It gave us a third closer so we could make a dent in the saves category, a bona fide ace so we could maybe start to move up in Ks instead of just running in place. Despite being good in ERA, the WHIP was lacking, but there were 3 or so points sitting right there. And while he can’t touch Holliday in production, this would also give us cap to comfortably acquire Kotchman to supplement the offense loss. It also met the Sagarin ratings with a disparity of just 68 cents. I sent the email with the offer prior to the Manny Ramirez deal.

About three hours later, Manny was a Dodger. Now I was REALLY excited about the prospects of this deal. I really, really wanted to get it done because we could get Manny to replace Holliday PLUS get the pitching help we wanted!!! I sent a follow up email just to ensure that he understood the urgency of the matter for us. Then it hit me, OH CRAP… we have a 12 AM deadline because our free trading deadline is the same as baseball’s. We have a 2 up-2 down deadline until August 31st where you can trade with teams two away from you in either direction in the standings. I didn’t want to mess with that, I wanted to get it done today (Thursday).

I grew impatient and decided to give him a call letting him know my availability to hash out any reservations he may be having. It turns out he was in the air and landed around 8 pm at which point he phoned me and said it looked solid, but he’d confirm in about an hour and a half after he got into his hotel. I was ecstatic. I know I’m totally geeking out over a fantasy baseball trade, but this is why I play the game. Making moves and fighting hard to win is why this game is so damn fun.

The email came in around 10 that he confirmed the deal sending us Peavy, Broxton and spares for Holliday, Fukudome and spares. In the process, we freed up $28 more bucks for the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes that will take place on Tuesday. All told, we have $47 of open cap plus the $10 for Blake DeWitt, who we’ll cut to get him. Our 2-month push roster looks like the following:

C: Bard, Snyder
CI: AGonzalez, CJackson, Ojeda
MI: Sanchez, Tulowitzki, Keppinger
OF: Manny, Victorino, Young, Ethier, Bruce
DH: Edmonds, Kapler

Px10: MGonzalez, FCordero, Broxton, Kuo, JMiller, Lincoln, Heilman (for now), Peavy, JSanchez, Wandy

Standings at a glance with closest on both sides:
1st: 91
2nd: 74.5
3rd: 70
t4th: 64
t4th: 64
6th: 62

AVG (5th): .278 – .277 – .276 – .2692 – .2688 – .267
HR (3rd): 166 – 160 – 157 – 151
R (1st): 724 – 692
RBI (2nd): 679 – 651 – 636 – 632
SB (8th): 87 – 85 – 79 – 64

ERA (4th): 3.78 – 3.83 – 4.06 – 4.15 – 4.18
K (9th): 747 – 723 – 712 – 704 – 687
Sv (9th): 41 – 39 – 34 – 29 – 24
W (8th): 60 – 60 – 59 – 56 – 55 – 52 – 50
WHIP (7th): 1.31 – 1.31 – 1.33 – 1.37 – 1.38 – 1.39

I realize that Manny isn’t the season changer that Harden or CC would’ve been, but my excitement for Manny is because we essentially get Peavy and Broxton without decimating the offense because Manny covers Holliday very nicely. I’m not done making 2 up-2 down moves because we need at least one more starter in order to log enough IP to dent the ERA & WHIP. The Peavy move was our all-in, which is decidedly better than our FAAB acquisitions of Mark Mulder and Steve Trachsel last year that constituted as our last ditch all-in move to get into the money.

Thanks for reading.