Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads – 4 F.J. 61 (May 15, 2012) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (Dickey/Dolis)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads 

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE

Decided May 15, 2012

Cite as 4 F.J. 61 (May 2012) 

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is an 11-team NL-only keeper league utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform.  Teams are permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with individual players allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years under contract.  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 $26.00 draft salary cap, as well as a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.   

As with many rotisserie leagues, the Incontinent 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 Incontinent League submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.

Procedural History

The Stud Muffins made a trade with the Cajun Crawdads.  The Stud Muffins traded R.A. Dickey (SP-NYM, $0.20 with two years remaining on his current contract) to the Cajun Crawdads in exchange for Rafael Dolis (RP-CHC, $1.00 with two years left on his existing contract)..

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Stud Muffins and the Cajun Crawdads be approved?

Decision

The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades.  People pay money to participate in fantasy leagues, and generally they should be afforded the freedom to manage their team accordingly.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  See 4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).

It is well documented that there is a different analysis of trades in a keeper league as opposed to a non-keeper league.  A trade that may look facially uneven or lopsided could easily pass muster in a keeper league.  Trades made between teams in a keeper league need to be analyzed by other factors besides merely comparing statistics.  Grave Diggers vs. Chilidogs, 4 F.J. 5, 8 (January 2012).  These other factors include salary cap flexibility, contractual status of players, and long-term planning at the expense of the current season.  Smittydogs vs. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010); Winners vs. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011) (holding that team owners in keeper leagues with no hope of contending in the current season must make critical roster management decisions of whether to trade established players to help build for the future).

The Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained.  See Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).  The Court will not undermine a fantasy owner’s ability to manage his/her team unless a deal is unfair or inequitable, ripe with collusion, or not in the best interests of the league.  Whether a trade is objectively   intelligent or popular will not be part of the analysis.  4 Ponies vs. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 27 (June 2011).  The virtue of a trade is measured in both quantifiable criteria and subjective needs of the teams involved.  Carson City Cocks vs. Stud Muffins, 3 F.J. 23, 24 (May 2011).

No evidence has been submitted indicating any alleged collusion or malfeasance.  As such, the Court will operate on the presumption that there is no collusive conduct between the parties.

At first glance, the trade of R.A. Dickey in exchange for Rafael Dolis seems fair and equitable.  Neither player can is considered an elite fantasy option, so there are no red flags raised during an initial “sniff test.”  Dickey has become a reliable starting pitcher since 2010 with impressive numbers so far this year (5-1, 3.65 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 1.26 WHIP).  Dolis has emerged as the Cubs new closer replacing the volatile and inconsistent Carlos Marmol.  Dolis has converted four of his six save opportunities thus far despite being almost as wild and erratic as Marmol (ten walks in just over 22 innings).  For now, he will be given the opportunity to close out games especially with Marmol on the disabled list.  The Cubs are in a clear rebuilding phase and will not win a lot of games this year.  This will limit his chances for saves, but assuming he is marginally successful and remains in the role he should reach 15-20 saves by the end of the year. 

When analyzing the fairness and equity of a trade, the Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from each team’s perspective.  See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin).  This trade involves a swap of a starting pitcher in exchange for a relief pitcher, so it appears that positional needs were a factor in the parties’ rationale for making the deal.  The Stud Muffins just acquired Clayton Kershaw, so they had enough starting pitching depth to be able to trade Dickey.  The acquisition of Dolis pairs him with J.J. Putz in an effort to ascend the saves category for which he remains in the lower half of the league.  The Cajun Crawdads chose to build more starting pitching depth by adding Dickey to a staff that includes Josh Johnson, Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Anthony Bass.  They already have Santiago Casilla as a closer, as well as Andrew Cashner who may get an opportunity to close inSan Diego if Dale Thayer falters.  He does haveHuston Street on the disabled list, so he is banking on Street’s return to offset the loss of Dolis’s saves.  It is clear from this analysis of their respective rosters what the teams’ needs were and how they were fulfilled by entering into this deal.  Fantasy owners in roto leagues are free to prioritize which categories they want to pursue improvement in when making trades and managing their rosters.

In terms of the contractual and financial ramifications of the trade, it makes sense on both sides.  The Stud Muffins are adding $0.80 to their salary cap in the deal.  But if Dolis is successful, then he has acquired a closer on the cheap and can control him for another two years if he so chooses.  On the other hand, the Cajun Crawdads do save $0.80 which they can use during the season, and they can keep Dickey for another two years if so desired. 

Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the subject trade is fair, equal, and free of collusion.  There is a rational basis for both teams to make this trade with respect to roster management and the teams’ short and long-term goals.  The trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league. 

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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