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The Art of the Trade
In the final days before Opening Day there is always a mad rush as owners try to tweak their rosters in hopes of getting it just right. Inevitably, these same owners find themselves dropping those same pickups a week into the season, after Spring Training heroes morph back into Mendoza Line hitters. But hey, it's fantasy baseball, go crazy. You're going to dedicate probably more time than you should to this game over the next 6+ months, you might as well try to field the team of your dreams for Opening Day. I'd like to offer a couple pieces of advice as you attempt to wheel and deal during these final days of Spring Training.
Trade to Meet Needs, Not Relieve Boredom:
Draft Day is without a doubt the climax of the Fantasy Baseball Preparation Season. All of your research and planning is put to use for a 2 hour roller coaster ride, on which you're certain you'll take home the title for a few rounds, and sure that you're doomed a few rounds later. Once the draft is over, however, it can be a long wait until you get to put your picks to the test. The old cliche says "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." This holds true for your fantasy team. Regardless of how excited or worried you were about the guys you selected, you, and the other managers, clicked the "Draft" button, creating, whether you like it or not, some connection with that player... a desire to "be right" and have them go .300/95/25/95. Sometimes it can be hard to part with these guys. Sometimes looking at the same roster day in and day out can have you itching to change it. Do your best to steer clear of either extreme. Analyze your squad, and back that analysis with reasonable projected statistics. If you see a hole, address it. If you see balance, leave it alone.
Do the Math:
I've expressed numerous times on this site the importance of understanding the cumulative stats and percentages that you need to aim for to give yourself a fighting chance in the league. Each league is different, so the numbers at which to aim depend on the number of categories, which categories they are, how many roster spots you play each day, and how many teams are in your league. You can easily find the Final Standings of leagues in years past, to determine your targets. In a 10 team Roto League, I suggest shooting for an 8 in each category. This will likely put you right in the hunt for a championship in the end.
Once you have your targets, project reasonable statistics for each of your players. I stress reasonable. Yes, Jacoby Ellsbury could hit 35 bombs again, but 20-25 is probably a more reasonable projection. If he repeats, it only helps you. You can find projections all over the internet, from ESPN to CBS to SportingNews, to this site. In the end, you must decide how you truly feel a player will perform. Once you have your projections, add 'em up, and examine your needs.
Find the Fit:
Once you've determined the needs of your team, try to fill the holes. Sometimes this can be done through free agency, but often the good fit will sit on someone else's roster. Take a shot at them. If you can pull off a lopsided deal, more power to you; but many times an equal swap can benefit the targeted areas of your team. Don't trade based on "draft rankings!" When experts release these rankings, they are ranked, generally, by players that can most help your team. Once rosters are filled, a player's value on a specific team varies. Sure, in any draft you're going to grab Giancarlo Stanton ahead of Emilio Bonifacio. No question. But once the draft is complete, and you're sitting there with 60 more projected HRs than you need, and 50 fewer SBs, it might serve your team better to work out a deal to make that swap. That doesn't always mean trade them straight up, but put together a package where you can improve your teams needs, while trading away players who only help you in your "excess" areas. Trades may look lopsided because of a player's ranking; but the best managers have a sense of exactly what they need to improve their team. Trust your math, and trade with confidence.
There's No Such Thing as a Bad Offer:
Getting told "no" by your dream prom date hurts. Getting rejected on the big screen at Yankee Stadium while proposing to your girlfriend of two years can scar you for life. But having your trade offer shot down is painless. You usually don't even remember what you offered. The beauty of Fantasy Baseball. You can have a pretty good idea how other owners think, but you never really know. It only takes one trade to work out in your favor to turn around a season. Don't be afraid to make offers. Worst case scenario, you have the same team. You're not penalized, embarassed, or publicly humiliated. I try to constantly have a trade on the table that will improve my team in some way. It might drive other managers crazy, they may not even look at my offers. But it just takes one. One click could be the difference. Have a great '12 season! Good luck!