A good salesman can sell ice to an eskimo. Notice I did not say honest salesman. I also said salesman instead of salesperson. Hopefully that did not offend my one female reader. After all, she does make up ten percent of my followers. Sorry token girl reader. Back to the guy that’s going to sell you a mattress when all you came into the store for was a pillow. For years, used car salesmen have been considered the prototypical charlatan. I’m not sure if charlatan is the right word, but I really want to use it, so it’s been crowbarred into today’s post.
What in Grey’s name does this have to do with fantasy baseball? One word. Trades. When making a trade in fantasy baseball, what we are really doing is selling one or more players in return for other player(s). Your opportunity to make a favorable trade relies upon your ability to sell your players for more than they are worth, or buy your opponents players for less than they’re worth. And if you can do both, perhaps you should open a used car lot. Razzcars! They sound fast.
This post is less about advice and more an anecdote of how I turned Vincent Velasquez, Kyle Hendricks, Sean Manaea, Justin Upton and Aaron Nola into Madison Bumgarner, Michael Wacha and Adam Jones. However, this was not your traditional trade. Instead, I constructed this deal as a two-phase operation by making two separate trades. You can’t really call it a three-way trade because neither of the other teams knew about each others involvement and neither was contingent on the other.
Here’s how sh!t went down. The first trade I made was Vincent Velasquez, Kyle Hendricks, Sean Manaea and Justin Upton for Chris Archer, Michael Wacha and Jose Bautista. Yes, I was able to pull that deal off. Please bear in mind that this trade was made about three weeks ago. At this time neither Velasquez nor Manaea were injured, Archer was pitching more like current day James Shields, Wacha was an embarrassment to the Cardinals rotation and Justin Upton was the complete opposite of good. I don’t care how you spin it, I took home the mother load in this deal.
Here’s how I convinced my league mate. First let me say that in our league the scoring system is heavily tilted in favor of starting pitchers. Last year there were 17 starting pitchers with more points than the top hitter (Bryce Harper). Starting pitchers are rather valuable in our league. At the time Velasquez was a top ten pitcher based on points. He was pitching well above his head. The kicker was his RP eligibility. In our league that’s a huge plus. The next key is to know who you are dealing with. There are two teams in our league that love to throw as many starts out there each week as they can. These teams rarely employ a closer. Instead they fill the RP spot with an RP-eligible SP. Usually one that has two starts that week. It’s a strategy than can work, but often falls short. I will address that in a future post. Regardless these teams continue to roll this way.
Pointing out Velasquez’s value to one of these owners was like offering free McDonalds to a hungry fat kid. Hendricks was pitching well and Manaea was the next Randy Johnson who had success striking players out at every level. That left Justin Upton. How was I to sell high on perhaps that biggest let down so far in the season. The answer was simple. By pointing out that there was no way this trend could continue. Look at his stats the last several years. Every season he ended that season with about 400 points. More in some seasons. I also said that nearly every expert had tagged Upton as their top “buy low” guy. A little, believable lie never hurt one’s cause. Justin Upton was obviously going to hit 20-something home runs and since he only had two at the time, there were a lot more homers to come off his bat. I mentioned the cold weather in Detroit and a few other tid bits to boot.
But perhaps I should take a step back. This was not my initial offer. My initial offer did not include Velasquez. Of course it didn’t. He was the player I would use to seal the deal. Originally I believe it was Henrdricks, Manaea and Upton for Archer and either Wacha or Sonny Gray. Shortly after I dangled Vincent out there, but said he was too valuable in this league to trade and pulled him back. There was the hook. Soon he wouldn’t stop with how much he wanted him. That’s when I pulled Bautista into the deal and shortly after had an agreement.
Part one was accomplished, but the end goal was Madison Bumgarner. And now I had the additional resources to overpay to get him. And that’s exactly what I did. After a few rounds of negotiations, I managed to trade Archer, Nola and Bautista for Bumgarner and Adam Jones. Yes, I gave up more than I got. But I am ok with that. Here’s why. I wanted Madison Bumgarner. In this league we can only keep four players, and we can keep them for as long as we want. Bumgarner is a no doubt keeper, and at 26 years young, he’s got a lot of years left in the tank. I initially offered Zach Greinke and Aaron Nola for MadBum, but he passed. At 32 years old, Grienke will not be a keeper much longer. I tried to get Charlie Blackmon, but he was downgraded to Adam Jones.
Sadly my team is in next to last place. While I am only four games out of 4th in a league where four teams make the playoffs and we play two game per week, I still have a reasonable shot. My team is good, I’ve just been unlucky, playing the one or two teams that outscore me that week. This aspect of head-to-head points leagues drives me insane (another post coming on this soon). I definitely wouldn’t say I’m packing it in by making this deal, but I am looking more to the future. Considering my other potential keepers of Paul Goldschmidt, Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, Zach Greinke and Felix Hernandez, I just don’t see Archer, Nola or Bautista making the cut. But Bumgarner will be a member of my team for years to come. And since we only start four SP each week, it’s not like Archer or Nola were pitchers I were starting week in and week out. Madison Bumgarner will be in my lineup EVERY week. And yes, when healthy, I consider King Felix a strong keeper candidate. JB’s rank be damned.
Because I was able to get the better of one deal, I was willing to take the lesser of the next deal to get what I ultimately wanted. Instead of looking at it as two trades, I looked at it as one. And at the end of the day my team was better now and in the long run.
Remember, your bad player is going to turn it around. Their good player is going to come back down to earth. Know your league. Know your keeper rules. Know your opponents. Sell high. Buy low. And when needed, lie.