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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.

From Around The Web

  1. wakenbake says:
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    After Manny Parra’s performance today is he a must add?

  2. wakenbake says:
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    Max Scherzer also got dropped in my league. Do you think he can be uselful?

  3. wakenbake says:
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    Sry I dint include all this in one post but new questions keep coming to me. Do you think Mike Gonzalez has a chance to get some saves once he return to the Atlanta bullpen? Seeing how Rafael Soriano always gets hurt, would Gonzalez be next in line is he does?

  4. Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @wakenbake: (and Salty, when he gets here from the other thread):

    I just dropped Laffey to pick up Parra. (This is partly out of frustration over Acosta. I had to do something!) That’s two good starts in a row, and young pitchers tend to put it together all at once. There will def. be bumps in the road but I think he’s worth adding, especially if you have someone like, say, Laffey to drop.

  5. wakenbake says:
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    Sry I dint include all this in one post but new questions keep coming to me. Do you think Mike Gonzalez has a chance to get some saves once he return to the Atlanta bullpen? Seeing how Rafael Soriano always gets hurt, would Gonzalez be next in line if he does?

  6. SaltyBiscuits says:
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    @ BVV

    Yeah, I dropped Laffey for Wandy. Who I then dropped for Soriano when Smoltz news broke.

    Would you drop Guthrie for Parra?

  7. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    Awesome post, Rudy.

    I’m in an NL Only Keeper league that I comment about quite often here on this site. It’s in its second year, and it’s by far the best league I’ve been in over my last 6 years of playing fantasy baseball. It’s with a bunch of sportswriters in Des Moines and Kansas City, and slouchy marketing manager me, so it’s great fun and very competetive. This year, one fo the guys quit the league, so I nominated my best buddy who inherited the other guys’ team. Anyway, long story short, this friend of mine and I have made four trades, two of them major ones that have as a result put me in 1st and him in 2nd. Each trade, however, has been made with complete openess, always posting the players we’re interested in trading on the trading block for the rest of the league to have a fair shake at them.

    Anyway, this morning, I made a pretty lousy trade on purpose with my buddy that was questioned by one of the leaguemates. I traded Atkins and Bergmann for Pierre and Headley. Sure, this leans heavily in his favor, but I can’t stand the thought of losing to him, so I plugged my nose and did it, since the extra 20 steals mean more to me than the K’s from Bergmann and the power of Atkins (I’m 1st in every major category in offense except steals, where I sit at 10th place). In my mind, this is an okay trade for me because it accomplishes what I need without sacrificing more than enough, but I think it could be vetoed. Believe it or not, it’s going to end up being a fantasy net gain for me of about 3 points.

    I don’t know why I wrote so much about this, execpt that it was more fun to do than make sales calls, and I’m venting like Baron VV does from time to time about leaguemates that overvalue their players forcing me into bad trade situations.

    I’m a big fan of #3 on your list, btw, Rudy, but you forgot a HUGE #4. You forgot to include a discussion point about helping another player to hurt your opponents. In my case, the Atkins to my buddy trade will boost his numbers and drive the player in 3rd place down in the standings.

  8. Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @wakenbake: I think he’s got some chance, but Atlanta’s pen is kind of a mess. Unless Soriano blows out his arm, or you’re in the deepest league ever, I wouldn’t bother with Gonzales.

    There’s a reason that, save for the Smoltz Era, the Braves haven’t had a solid bullpen since, oh, 1989. Bobby Cox has many talents but recognizing and utilizing bullpen role-players is not traditionally one of them.* Plus, Cox is a hardcore oldschool lefty-righty matchup guy, and those kind of managers tend to distrust lefthanded closers. Not sure why, but they do.

    *(Come to think of it, the Jays pen in the 80s sucked under Cox as well.)

  9. @wakenbake: Yes on Parra. I had dropped him in favor of Kershaw (using a #1 waiver pick) and have just rectified the error. I’ve got him on another team too (so 2 of 3). Don’t get too enamored by the Ks today – it was the DiamondHacks.

    Eh on Scherzer. It’s bad enough he’s a rookie pitcher but he doesn’t even have a role. I’d hold off for now unless your league is real deep and you can use middle relief Ks.

    Maybe on Gonzalez but who knows how he’s going to pitch.

    @All – Can we keep the posts not pertaining to this thread over in yesterday’s daily notes. Just trying to keep things organized… :)

  10. Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @SaltyBiscuits: I def. would, but I’m not as big a Guthrie fan as others here. Let me see if I can channel Grey on this one: Parra’s got more upside, Guthrie is safer. Pick your poison.

    And that’s me trying to quote me trying to quote Grey. Or something.

  11. RT says:
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    Thoughts on Burnett? Is he better than his 4+ERA and 1.3WHIP (haven’t checked the actuals)

  12. Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Oops. My bad. I lured everyone from that thread over here, so there wouldn’t be two parallel Parra conversations. (Parra-lel conversations! I kill me!) Back ye go, scurvy dogs.

    Great post on trades, btw.

  13. @IowaCubs: Thanks IowaCubs. The Atkins/Bergmann for Pierre/Headley is a trade where I can see leaguemates getting a bit steamed. In a single-year vacuum, it’s very borderline. But it does help both teams and my guess is that both of you are open to trading w/ others. When you factor in that Headley is a solid 3B prospect (and assumingly priced low for keeper status) while Atkins is probably priced high and might be sent to the AL by end of year, I wouldn’t veto this trade. Especially when you factor in this guy is in 2nd place and you’re in 1st place!

    I’d look at #3 as “Does it help both teams in the standings?’. If it helps by improving their stats or hurting their competitors somehow, it’s all the same. But if, say, this was a single-season league and you were in 10th place, I’d be PISSED that the 2nd place team got Atkins when you really have nothing to gain from the trade. But you’re a Razzball reader so it’s doubtful you’d ever be in 10th… :)

  14. peter says:
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    @wakenbake: re: Braves ‘pen. IF Soriano gets hurt, and IF Gonzalez is healthy/throwing well, sure – he could pick up some saves. But I don’t think he’d necessarily become the everyday guy. While Soriano/Smoltz were out, Bobby Cox showed his willingness to not only go closer-by-committee, but to play righty/lefty matchups with each out in the 9th. Which doesn’t have much value in fantasy.

  15. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Yeah, it’s questionable, and understandable that others are concerned. Originally, I was going to receive a closer, but then he offered Headley, and I can totally take that chance now that I’m so far up in 1st place. You were correct on value… Atkins was $31, Bergmann $2, Headley $2, Pierre $11. I gain salary room and a good keeper, plus I’m free of Atkins in case he’s traded mid-season.

    Here are the trades that were shot down from other leaguemates this week… each trade is the player that i offered and the opposing team is listed 2nd:

    Uggla for Harang
    Uggla and Victorino for Reyes
    Atkins for Kelly Johnson and Fuentes
    Braun and Parra for Reyes
    Braun and Victorino for Santana
    Votto and Victorino for Harang

    Cheese and Rice. It’s a tough ghaldarn league to trade in.

  16. Wait…I thought you needed steals? If so, why trade Victorino?

    That said, some big trades here. If Votto was cheap, him and Victorino for Harang is a more than fair offer. I’d take Braun for Reyes straight up, let alone adding Parra (who i imagine is cheap too)….

    Hopefully you have more luck making trades in the Razzball Commenters League :0

  17. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: I was going to punt on steals (which is why I tried to trade him) before I made this trade this morning, and I foolishly sat Victorino the last two weeks, missing out on his recent steals.

    Braun is well regarded, but I didn’t have the salary room to add Reyes without adding Parra. Anyway, these offers were made out of sheer frustration rather than pensive logical reasoning. Call them “on tilt” trades.

  18. BSA says:
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    Interesting move in my h2h league today. Someone added Parra and dropped Jurrjens. He doesn’t seem like a team (2nd place) to make hot/cold decisions. Any insight on what he was thinking other than seeing Parra’s hot hand?

  19. BigFatHippo says:
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    @BSA

    I’d go with you, hot hand. Jair did give up 2 homers and 6 ER in last game, 4.1 IP. Plus has a very suspect bullpen right now.

  20. peter says:
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    @BSA: Dropping Jurrgens for Parra seems a little hasty. Parra had a great outing today – I own him in a league and am thrilled. But if Jurrgens were a free agent, I’d probably still do the opposite of what that guy did.

  21. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Rudy Gamble

    You’d take Braun for Reyes straight up? I would too but thought I was the exception. Yahoo has Reyes 7 and Braun 12. Another reason I don’t trust Yahoo rankings, but is there something I should know about Reyes?

  22. BSA says:
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    Looking at the pitchers side by side, including Cueto in that rookie mix, Jair has been and projects to provide more value than Parra. Didn’t realize until I looked at the numbers side side for the year to date, last 28, 14, and 7 games how well Cueto is doing overall. Maybe after you disagree with someone on razz and pull the add/drop trigger everyone should step back and look at both previous performances so far as well as projections.

    Another question for fodder, at what point do people start to increase moving hot rookies for proven veterans? Or do they?
    Just a question on the table.

  23. BigFatHippo says:
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    @BSA

    Didn’t disagree with you in the first place, trying to figure out what the guy in your league was thinking. Just thought he was playing hot hand like you did.
    Personally I wouldn’t have done it based on one bad outing. Gonna take another look at Cueto though, dropped him for Andrew Miller. Who would you take in that deal?

    As for moving hot rooks, packaged Linc and Braun in 2 seperate deals last year in July for Webb, Hudson and some fluff. I was bad in ERA and Whip but went from 4th place to 2nd. Couldn’t overcome my Banker, he’s got all my money plus fantasy bball money. Hate that guy.

  24. BigFatHippo says:
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    Brett Myers is pitching a no no right now by the way. Don’t think I’d trade Volquez for him though, not that I had Volquez but wish I did over Cueto.

    Gonna keep my Bruce. Lovin these Cincy rooks.

  25. BSA says:
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    @BigFatHippo – IBeing that I am only a sophomore fbm and a rookie razzer take what I say with a a grain of salt. The numbers look pretty close as Miller has been performing better, yet not coming away with wins or high strikeout numbers. By looking back each week it looks like he has only had a couple of good weeks, probably two starts. All in all rookie highs and lows. I think Cueto will be stronger in the end.
    I am hoping that by balancing my rookies and veterans I have built my team for the long haul and increased my chances of nailing a diamond in rookie cleats. My three rookies are Longo, Bruce, and Cueto.

    I am still not confident enough with some of the roto leagues after trying last year and failing miserably. It is making me question my inclusion in the razzball league.

  26. BSA says:
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    I traded Volq for Vlad a couple of weeks ago planning on the rule that baseball is a game of averages and Volq has to come down and Vlad has to be better.

  27. BigFatHippo says:
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    @BSA

    Took me 6 years to figure out how to play Roto and “failing miserably”, the balance is tough. Don’t give up.

    Our commish tried to change it to H2H this year since he hadn’t won in three years. My argument went something like this, “you bastard, it took me 5 years to figure out how to play this shit and why do you think I kept who I kept?”

    We kept roto.

    Your rooks are strong and depends whether you’re in a keeper league, wouldn’t trade Bruce if he only costs you 6 bucks next year. I’m not.

  28. @BigFatHippo: While I think Reyes is a great fantasy baseball asset, he’s overrated in my book. When I did my own Player Rater for 2007 final stats (see here for the anthology of posts – http://razzball.com/espn-player-rater-did-they-listen-to-rudy/), Reyes came in at #23. And that was with 78 SB!!!! The reason is simple – he’s a two stat player (SB, R). And I think that SBs are a volatile stat b/c all it takes is a little leg injury or a change in the lineup and you lose 20 SB.

    When I did the 2008 Point Shares (see ’08 Ranking section at top of page), Reyes projected to #14 and Braun projected at #8. This methodology looked at how much better than the average player at their position a player was. For a 12 team league, Reyes is worth +4.8 points in the SB category (so, on a team w/ average speed, replacing your SS w/ Reyes moves you from 6.5 points to 11.3). He’s a +1.5 for Runs and a negative -0.7 for HR/RBI/AVG. So he’s actually a below average performer outside of SB and R.

    Braun was one of the few players who had positive value across all stats (netting at 7.1). I didn’t believe in his SB (b/c they are volatile) but his R/HR/RBI/AVG all trump Reyes EVEN when factoring in more competition at 3B.

    So that’s my take. But the rankings are only as good as the projections I used (Baseball Prospectus, BaseballHQ). Johan was #1. Peavy at #4. Hanley is at #7. Putz is #20. So it’s not perfect. But Webb is #13 (higher than ANY preseason ranking)….

  29. Kevin says:
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    As I wrote to you earlier in the season, I agreed to trade Gallardo for Markakis on the morning of Gallardo’s big injury. My league subsequently rejected the trade even though it was clear we negotiated the deal beforehand.

    I emailed every fantasy expert I could think of and they all agreed with you–trade should have been judged when it was made, not events that have occurred since. Anyway, the owner and I have not spoken since. And this is a friend of mine, the guy that invited me into the league…my one and only league.

  30. @Kevin:
    Dear Frustrated in Fantasyland – I remember your earlier letter. It’s unfortunate that the trade didn’t go through but it’s definitely not worth losing a friendship over. Friends aren’t robots you’ve programmed – they are going to do things time to time that you disagree with. Some days we are as rational as Greg Maddux, some days were are as irrational as Milton Bradley. Better you disagree on something like fantasy baseball vs. something more important. I’d advise making a truce and finding another league to play in next year…

    Regards,
    Dear Rudy

  31. Kevin says:
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    Rudy – I am not upset that the trade was allowed so much as how he handled it. He emailed the whole league advising how they should vote while I took the high road. Also, he sent some pretty nasty emails my way when all I was trying to do is convey to him that the overwhelming opinion among fantasy experts was to not veto the deal.

    Just goes to show you how explosive trades can be. We will remain friends. He is a bit of a hot head and I am letting him cool off. This was just my way of letting him know that I didn’t appreciate how he handled the whole thing.

    I believe that the veto process needs to be done away with. Actually I would be happy with no trades at all. The first trade of the season in this league (non keeper) had Elijah Dukes and Chad Gaudin going to another team for Conner Jackson and Jokim Soria. I was very vocal about the stupidity of this deal when it went down and have since been proven right and then some. The beneficiary is one of the best teams in the league and now is sitting nice.

    I guess what I am saying is it only takes one donkey owner to offset the balance of power with one lopsided trade. So you are damned if you veto (Gallardo-Markakis debacle) and damned if you do (Jackson-Soria charity).

  32. @Kevin: No offense to your friend but your league sucks. Jackson/Soria for Dukes/Gaudin is a joke. I hate vetoing but I’d veto that one. Don’t go back. We’ll put together a Razzball league next year hopefully….

  33. Kevin says:
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    Yep, they approve a ridiculously one sided deal and veto one that should have been approved. The thing is, I continue to be amazed how intelligent and successful people in real life can be so dumb when they play fantasy sports. I see it in my baseball and in my football league too. And I read it in mailbag columns and hear it on radio shows. In other words, I am pretty convinced I am going to encounter this whether I stick with my league or join another.

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