making moves

i got pretty good response on my previous post about my fantasy baseball league, so i thought i’d go ahead and let you all know how i followed up.

after examining my team, it was clear that i was starting pitcher-heavy, and lacking in the OF and MI spots. however, my lack of a bullpen kind of made it hard for me to really lose much on the starter side, i decided.

a side note – i think our league might have a weakness in that we don’t have saves as a stat, but we have an equal number of starter and reliever lineup slots, with no P flex slots available. i think this needs to be balanced better, because i think starters are more important than relievers. then again, major league teams carry 11-12 pitchers and usually 4 guys who make 30+ starts, so maybe i’m wrong in my thinking. i would like to get some feedback on that.

so geoff basically convinced me that completely ignoring relievers was dumb, but given the lack of quality relievers available after the draft, i felt stuck on that side of things – i can get some replacement level guys for a dollar here or there, but i wasn’t going to make strides there. so, despite my starting pitching depth, i didn’t want to give up too much on that side, but i still wanted to add a major bat to my offense.

thankfully, just in time, one of our owners decided he wasn’t going to compete this year. this was probably an accurate assessment. due to work constraints, he was unable to attend our auction draft, and his proxy wasn’t able to keep up with us at auction, just because he didn’t know the tendencies of each owner. this owner was thus stuck with a few very overpriced offensive pieces, but nothing in the way of depth or skill at most positions. so, he started his fire sale immediately after the auction draft. i think my firesale last season was sooner, and while it is annoying for other owners for one owner to quit right away, i can tell you from personal experience that it is way more annoying to have to go through an entire baseball season without competing in your fantasy baseball league.

the owner in question, jee hang, had aaron hill, a decent but grossly overpaid (at $30) 2B option. he asked me for justin smoak, a prized prospect out of the rangers farm system that i picked up in my dealings last year. i said no, and looked to other 2B options. but, i kept in mind that jee hang valued smoak, which provided a lot of help later on.

that night, i had dinner with jon. jon’s team had 3 excellent, excellent players at excellent values – roy halladay, chase utley, and kevin youkilis. through the whole dinner, i interjected our otherwise scintillating conversation with trade offers for chase utley. ok, the conversation wasn’t actually scintillating, which made it easier for me to make those trade offers. i knew jon wasn’t willing to make a trade for just prospects – he needed a proven player back, and with his lack of depth on the rotation, plus the fact that utley’s cost ($44) was pushing up against keepable, i thought we’d make a good match. we left each other with the thought of clayton kershaw plus justin smoak for utley left dangling.

the next day was a crazy, crazy day.

i emailed jon and asked him to give me a deadline to make the trade. i emailed jee hang around 10am, and i told him that justin smoak was going to be traded very soon, unless he objected, and that my new asking price was a starting pitcher, NOT aaron hill.

in very rapid succession, i got multiple emails from jee hang saying he was extremely busy but that he didn’t want me to give up smoak, and from jon telling me he’d trade me utley for kershaw and carlos santana. this worked out as well as i wanted, though giving up santana was pretty tough for me as an indians fan and collector of catching prospects.

around 11:15am, fedex showed up to my office. this is important, because we didn’t expect fedex to show up until later in the evening, and on the fedex truck was 4 tickets to the morning session of the first round of the ncaa tournament in san jose, which we had assumed would be wasted. of course, my phone wasn’t charged. while i greatly enjoyed seeing murray state nail a buzzer-beater against vandy, being offline for 5 hours in the middle of the day was far from ideal. at some point during the second game i told jon i’d agree to utley ($44) for kershaw ($26) and santana . now my goal was to replace kershaw’s performance in my rotation.

jee hang had a couple of interesting starting pitcher targets, cole hamels (who i expect to bounce back strong this year) and cliff lee. hamels was a bit expensive, so i told jee hang (again, during the ncaa games, just before my phone died) that i wanted cliff lee, and offered a package of lower-tiered prospects in addition to justin smoak. he countered with nolan reimold (currently my #4 or #5 OF, $5) and smoak ($4) for lee ($33). i quickly, quickly accepted. i think consensus around the league would be that jee hang could have gotten more for cliff lee at that price, but there was a feeling that pitching in our league generally was cheap, so lee might be overpriced compared to his peers.

and that is how i turned clayton kershaw, justin smoak, carlos santana, and nolan reimold into chase utley and cliff lee. in other words, how i turned smoak + santana + reimold into chase utley over the course of two days. with both utley and lee, i was trying to acquire targets that were off the radar of the rest of the league. it was imperative that i moved quickly and snagged both players before i could get outbid on either, and on this front i was successful. i’m not sure if i would have been outbid on utley, but numerous owners have made it clear to both me and jee hang that my snagging of lee was, by their estimations, a coup.

so march 18 was an unequivocal success. and yes, i’ll talk about something else soon.

3 thoughts on “making moves”

  1. in your last paragraph you implicitly assume that kershaw = lee. do you believe that is true? kershaw seems to be younger, less expensive, and arguably better overall (better in ks and slg, even in era, worse in whip).

    even if they are a wash, is turning smoak, santana and reimold into utley a coup? i like utley a whole lot (think he’s the 3rd best hitter in the league) but that is quite a bit to give up – its a very win-now deal. obviously if things dont go well you can try to flip utley again as we move along into the season, but do you expect you’d be able to get that much back for him?

    no doubt your team is better off this year as a result of these deals on net. so i guess im trying to figure out the merits of looking at your roster post-draft and immediately deciding to either go for it all or sell it all off versus taking a more wait-and-see approach as the season progresses. i certainly fall more on the cautious side, but the past two years you seem to have gone with the aggressive strategy.

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