Cajun Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks – 1 F.J. 41 (June 19, 2010) – fantasy baseball trade (J.Bay/M.Leake)
SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
Cajun Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM A FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUE
Decided June 19, 2010
Cite as 1 F.J. 41 (June 2010)
A rotisserie fantasy baseball league (hereinafter referred to as “Roto league”) utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform seeks an evaluation of a trade made between two teams within the Roto league. This is an NL-only keeper league where each team is permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with each individual player allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) years. Each team is also permitted to keep two minor league players which are in addition to the ten players kept. This Roto league also has a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.
As with many rotisserie leagues, the subject Roto league uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money. For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases. For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves. Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the Roto league.
The Cajun Crawdads, the 7th place team in the Roto league, has made a trade with the Carson City Cocks, the 3rd place team in the league. The Cajun Crawdads traded Jason Bay (OF-NYM) and John Baker (C-FLA) to the Carson City Cocks in exchange for Mike Leake (SP-CIN) and Kyle Blanks (OF-SD).
According to an anonymous source within the Roto league, the Cajun Crawdads were looking to unload overpriced busts in exchange for young talent.
(1) Should the trade between Cajun Crawdads and Carson City Cocks be upheld and approved?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades. The standard of review has been that people pay money to purchase a team in a league, draft their team, and manage it accordingly. Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness. The Court also acknowledges that the analysis for evaluating trades is much different in a keeper league than a non-keeper league. A trade that may look uneven or lopsided on its face may receive a different opinion when it is involved in a keeper league. The reasons for this are obvious, but must be restated. In a keeper league, teams that are having unsuccessful seasons are more likely to continue to pay attention and make moves that will set themselves up for better success in the following season. They can do this by acquiring young talent that is not under contract within the league, or by dumping salary (assuming it is an auction league) and allowing greater financial flexibility to sign key players in the next season’s draft. In non-keeper leagues, there is no rationale for thinking ahead, nor is there any need to stockpile young, inexpensive talent.
Another factor that the Court must always consider is whether there is any collusion or under-the-table dealings going on between teams. The Court has not been presented with any evidence of such malfeasance, so assumptions will be made that this is not an issue.
At first glance, the trade of Jason Bay and John Baker in exchange for Mike Leake and Kyle Blanks looks even. Bay has been one of the most disappointing fantasy players in all of baseball. His 2009 numbers of 36 HR and over 110 RBI will not come close to replication this year. Playing his home games at Citi Field has proven to be a detriment to Bay’s power numbers. However, what is most startling about Bay is his inability to hit with runners on base or in scoring position. He has had the fortune of hitting behind Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan and David Wright – all of whom have had solid seasons and been on base on a regular basis. However, Bay does not even have 30 RBI at this point. John Baker is merely a low to mid-tier catcher when healthy. He flirted with a .300 average back in 2008, but with his understudy Ronny Paulino playing so well in Florida, Baker’s playing time could be severely diminished despite being a left-handed hitter.
Mike Leake has gone from being drafted to being a successful winning pitcher in about one year’s time. He has been a solidifying force on the 1st place Reds’ pitching staff. Blanks is one of the largest ballplayers to ever put on a uniform. He has been injured most of 2010, but when he is healthy and his timing is on, Blanks can hit a ball as far as anyone – even in the spacious Petco Park.
On the Cajun Crawdads’ roster, both Bay and Baker still had two years remaining on their contract. Bay cost $3.50 and Baker cost $0.60. In comparison, Leake also has two years remaining at $0.50 and Blanks has only one year left at $0.50. The Cajun Crawdads will be gaining over $3.00 in salary cap after making this move. With only a $36.00 salary cap, this represents significant savings.
With regard to the Carson City Cocks’ interests, the acquisition of Bay was a necessity due to such a weak outfield. The demotion of Cameron Maybin, who was not productive even when playing, left a void in their outfield that they can fill with a player who is at least capable of hitting 30 homeruns for a team that looks like it will be in contention down the stretch. Baker is currently on the disabled list so he appears to be window dressing on the deal.
As referenced in Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 34 (June 2010), the dichotomy between the Cajun Crawdads and the Carson City Cocks’ motivations is precisely why the Court must look at trades in keeper leagues differently than non-keeper leagues. Had this trade been made in a non-keeper league, the Court might overturn it. Given this is a keeper league where teams can plan for the future by dumping talent and salary, the Court must allow teams to act in the best interests of both their roster as currently configured and to be built in the future.
The Court hereby decides that the subject trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league.
IT IS SO ORDERED.