Nothing fires up leaguemates more than trades. Accusations of collusion, usury, and stupidity get thrown around like grenades. Everyone loves a good drama but this verbal warfare is usually more irksome than anything. Since collusion is so hard to prove, here are some general principles for gauging a trade and how I would react to trades that violated these principles:
1) The player(s) on either side of the trade should be within reasonable value to each other. This is the most basic test of the trade. Stripped of all context (what does each team need?), is the trade within reason? This doesn’t mean you feel the trade is balanced. I almost always prefer one side of a trade vs. the other. But everyone has their own perspective on players and you have to respect that. So if someone thinks it is worth trading Carlos Lee for Alex Rios, I would disagree but it’s within reason. If they traded Carlos Lee for Alex Cintron, it’s unreasonable. Basically, If you have a shred of doubt, it’s reasonable.
2) Both trading partners should be equally responsive to trades. We all play in leagues where some people are closer than others. We all play in leagues where perhaps two people are bitter rivals and/or don’t get along so are unlikely to ever agree on a trade. These are just the realities of leagues. But there are cases where players basically go MIA in a league. They make roster changes infrequently at best. They don’t respond to trade offers, etc. When this type of player ends up making a trade with someone they are friends with in the league, this is unfair.
3) The trade should help both teams. Even the most lopsided of trades can sometimes be justified based on team needs. “Yes, I overpaid for a closer but I can make up 3 points with just 10 saves!” And there are cases where one player (not a serious one, mind you) will make a trade simply because they really like a player. Fair enough. But, independent of the value from each side of the trade, the trade should not make a team worse off in terms of accumulating the most points (Roto) or wins (H2H). Since the point of a single-season league is to accumulate the most points, such a move can’t help but evoke suspicion in other leaguemates. The easy litmus test is if such a trade was done by two friends, would you suspect collusion?
Rudy’s recommended courses of action:
Veto – This should ONLY be used in the case of a clear violation in #1. It helps to ask someone outside the league to get a more impartial opinion. I don’t even recall the last time I vetoed a trade – had to have been at least a couple years ago.
Give Leaguemates Shit For It – This is my tactic for close cases on #1 as well as #2 and #3. There are levels to it, though. In one expert league this year, there was a trade of Vlad for Michael Bourn and Moises Alou. Ridiculous trade in my eyes as Vlad easily provides more value. But it was close enough when you factor in Bourn’s speed that I didn’t want to veto. So I posted this on the message board “…I can’t be the only one thinking Vlad for Bourn and Alou is a questionable trade? That is, unless 0-fers and DL Trips were added as categories…” The Vlad side did their best to justify the trade but there’s no doubt he knows they got the better end. In my cash league, if it’s one of my two biggest rivals (Grey and L-Dog), I’ll do anything I can to elicit guilt or anger. Grey pulled a MASSIVE #2 trade last year, getting Reyes for Vlad from his friend who wouldn’t respond to our trades. He just pulled a massive #3 trade this year getting Braun for Crawford from a team that was 9th in RBI, whose top OF is Ichiro, and has no other 3B option waiting in the wings. I’ve given him shit. I keep giving him shit. I will keep giving him shit.
Don’t Play With the ‘Loser’ Side of the Trade Again – A team who is on the losing side of a #1 trade is probably a very weak player. If you’re playing in a big money cash league, I’d keep the cow in the league. If it’s for minor stakes or no money, boot them out. In the case of #2, a team that’s unresponsive to trades and doesn’t keep their roster current is useless anyway. Making trades with friends just makes it that much easier to not play with them again. For #3, this is the same rationale as #1.
Don’t Play With the ‘Winner’ Side of the Trade Again – This is a much tougher call since this person is likely competitive. If I strongly suspected collusion, I wouldn’t play with them again. If they repeatedly make lopsided offers or trades that don’t help the other side, they usually alienate or neutralize leaguemates enough to correct these practices. I would lean towards the ‘Giving Shit’ response as well as loosening up your trading principles if they are higher than such leaguemates.