In the next two weeks we will not only see a lot of interleague matchups but reach the real half way point of the 2011 season – at least in games played. Why should you be concerned about that?
Because this is really the time that teams get more interested in making trades. And really trading can be a lot of fun. Whether you are fortifying your roster for a playoff/championship run or looking at the competing teams since you aren’t going to be one of them trying to find that underpriced young player or draft day bargain who will help you more next year, there is an art to trading. And a lot of satisfaction from finding some common ground with your mortal competitors.
So I thought I would help some of you trying to find the best ways to consummate good trades. I think this is going to take several columns, so consider this the opening of a series on Trades – and how to make them. Things to do and some things not to do if you will permit me. I will also comment on some recent trades I have been in – some in “Industry Leagues” and some in good, old fashioned, keeper, money leagues.
So let’s start at the beginning – I see some form of this question on the message boards here and numerous other places:
What should I get for Adrian Gonzalez?
What should I offer for Jered Weaver?
Do you think this is a reasonable offer for (insert your own) stud?
And I have to tell you that in all those cases the first thing I think of and would love to type in capital letters even if I get accused of ‘shouting’ is – HOW THE HELL SHOULD I KNOW; WHY DON’T YOU CALL YOUR POTENTIAL TRADE PARTNER? Because all these “worth” questions are subjective.
In these days of internet access from your desk, your car, from phones no bigger than a large cookie but more powerful than my first computer, everyone wants the fast, easy way to do everything. Sorry kids, you can call me old school, old fashioned (a better drink that some of you have never even heard of), or just an old curmudgeon (I see you Drooker) but you are missing an integral part of the trade process – the exchange of thoughts and values regarding our players and teams.
So my first suggestion is to pick up the phone – either an old fashioned black one or a new dingleberry or whatever 4G mini-computer you have in your hand and call a player or players in your league. In fact I suggest you don’t even mention the word trade for several minutes. Talk about the weather, ask him (or her) about their home team – better yet their NFL team or what they think of the lockout – start what we used to call…….Conversations. I will guarantee you that if you try some real social intercourse; you will have a much better idea of how much to ask for a player you want or how much you might be able to get for the player you want to unload.
When the opening greetings have been made, don’t immediately say “I want to trade for Dustin Ackley…”, take a longer, smoother approach. Ask your potential trade partner about how their team is doing…….if they are in third place but have a shot to move up, ask how they view a specific category or competitor in your league. If they are languishing, commiserate with their frustration with Adam Dunn, or the latest player they have that just hit the disabled list; communicate. You will really be surprised at how much better prepared you are to try and work out a specific trade. You will also avoid certain pitfalls with that particular league mate – and that will help both of you to conceive and consummate a trade.
Verbal communication also helps reduce the chance that you or your potential trade partner will misinterpret an email. People read emails with some preconceptions whether it is about the sender or the subject. Trust me. Most all of you will have seen someone comment on the “tone” of an email. Tone? I didn’t write the email with a tone – did you read it that way? The point is we don’t know what someone thinks about the league or his team or a particular player without asking. And the questions in black and white may elicit a response you did not want. It is just as easy these days to pick up whatever phone you want and dial a number than it is to sit down and try and type an email to ask about a trade. Try It! It will also help you with a second goal – get the other party to make the first offer.
Now sometimes we just can’t avoid the quick twenty first century communication. I do think that teams that are considering “trading for the future” given their standings at the bottom of the league this year (dump trade is such in inelegant term) should give everyone in the league notice, but what you can do to alter that is exchange the necessary first emails and then pick up the phone. In my AL keeper league (now older than the legal drinking age) after two teams had already sent up the white flag a friend of mine sent out the laundry list of players he wanted to move. The list of course didn’t include the two most valuable teams on his team – Adrian Gonzalez and Dan Haren - $49 and $39 respectively from this year’s auction.
So I first sent back an email asking about Gonzalez and he responded with the names of my first born – in the fantasy sense – Jeremy, Michael and Mike. Now as much as I love Adrian Gonzalez, not only did I not want to be trading Hellickson or Pineda because I need them to win this year but in fact looking at all the categories, Haren was a much better fit, so I changed the subject. This led to a not unreasonable offer from him – Haren, an outfielder that would be useful, and his 4th round minor league draft pick in 2012 for Joyce, Dotel, and my 2nd round ml pick next year. Haren btw would not be considered by anyone to be a keeper at that price no matter how well he finished the year while Gonzalez could be the foundation for a team with a lot of young talent which he will have next year.
Matt Joyce he wants….My Matt Joyce – one of the steals of the draft this year as I rostered him for only six dollars. Now was the time to pick up the phone because I had to find an outfielder or combination that would help me approach the loss of Joyce but not make the trade so unwieldy we would not be able to collaborate. I explained all my thoughts and my values on his players from his original list. I needed to upgrade his outfielder to Vlad Guerrero and I was willing to add more on my side.
A few more phone calls and emails and we had a deal – one where we both made some concessions: he upgraded the outfielder from a DeJesus, Cust, or Borbon to Vlad; while I upgraded the minor league pick to a first rounder and gave him a list of minor leaguers already on my farm to pick one from. A good result for both teams and one I doubt would have happened without being able to discuss some of the players and options available.
But yes, there are times where you can make a trade via email. This is more likely to be the case in redraft leagues and where one party has already clearly defined what they want. Consider this league wide email from Ron Shandler in the XFL league that Todd, Lawr, and I all play in. Ron wanted to sell power – notably Alex Rodriguez and several others for speed and said…..”I am looking for COMPARABLE stolen bases, OBP and/or starting pitching. I am neither playing for this year or next so
salary/contract is immaterial... because limbo is a nice, comfortable place where I don't have to make a commitment or agonize over going nowhere. But attempting a mid-season Sweeney, particularly in a 5x5
league, is always fun to watch.”
Well I am lower than Ron in the standings by a few places and knew exactly what he meant – better to try and change course and see if you can catch lightning in a bottle and make a run up the standings. In Ron’s mind I am sure it also will be a case study for an article. But I could only gain a point maybe two in stolen bases while I could gain several in both home runs, runs batted in, and runs scored.
So now we get to another step in the trading process – ask for a little more than you want. Not so much you derail any possible trade. I started by stating my case as to why Victorino was more valuable in that league than ARod to ask for Napoli and offered Ron his choice of Davids – DeJesus or Murphy. He countered that he thought he needed more than Murphy (already we have a sale) and asked about a starting pitcher – not a Weaver or a Chacin, just something useful for him that I could spare and we easily settled on Freddy Garcia.
So the trade that will go into effect today is
Victorino, David Murphy and Garcia for ARod, Napoli, and Joaquin Benoit
Nice a fair trade where each team can realize a good result. Something you should always try for and next week we will discuss other ways to evaluate players and get there.