Cajun Crawdads vs. Smittydogs – 4 F.J. 88 (June 14, 2012) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (L.Morrison/A.Cashner)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Cajun Crawdads vs. Smittydogs 

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE 

Decided June 14, 2012

Cite as 4 F.J. 88 (June 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 Cajun Crawdads have made a trade with Smittydogs.  The Cajun Crawdads traded Nyjer Morgan (OF-MIL, $1.40 in the first year of his existing contract) and Andrew Cashner (SP-SD, $0.20 in the first year of his existing contract) to Smittydogs in exchange for Logan Morrison (OF-MIA, $0.50 in the final year of his existing contract).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Cajun Crawdads and Smittydogs 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 Nyjer Morgan and Andrew Cashner in exchange for Logan Morrison looks fair and equitable.  None of the players involved in this trade are considered elite fantasy options, so there are no red flags raised during an initial “sniff test.”  Morrison has the most present-day value despite having a slow start to the season.  Through June 14, 2012, Morrison only has a .233 batting average with five homeruns and 17 RBI.  However, he plays mostly every day and hits in a potent Miami lineup.  Because of his struggles, Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen has sat him when the team has faced good left-handed pitching.  If Morrison was hitting better, there is little doubt he would be in the lineup regardless of who the opposition was.

On the other hand, Nyjer Morgan is a reserve outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers and has shown no ability to justify getting more playing time.  He is hitting only .227 with two homeruns and two RBI.  While he has never been known for his power or run production, his low batting average and only seven stolen bases have rendered him borderline worthless in roto leagues this season.  Cashner is an intriguing fantasy option for this season and beyond.  Currently he is in the minor leagues being stretched out so he can join San Diego’s rotation upon being promoted.  He was in the bullpen earlier this year and was a candidate to close for the Padres while Huston Street was out with an injury.  But after injuries depleted the Padres’ rotation, the decision was made to put Cashner into the mix.  He has dynamic stuff and can become a viable fantasy option in due time.

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).  It is clear that the Cajun Crawdads’ acquisition of Morrison furthers their goal of improving their position in homerun and RBI categories.  Currently in 9th place overall, the Cajun Crawdads were in the upper half of the league in stolen bases and could afford to deal Morgan because they still have Jose Reyes and Juan Pierre. 

On the other hand, Smittydogs, currently in 8th place overall, are dead last in stolen bases so the acquisition of Morgan makes sense.  Losing Morrison does hurt his power production in the outfield, but he has Jayson Werth coming off the disabled list in the foreseeable future to offset that loss.   In addition, the acquisition of Cashner with two years left on his contract at only $0.20 could be a bargain if he develops into a front-line starter. 

In terms of the contractual and financial ramifications of the trade, there is only a $1.10 differential which hardly has any consequence on either team.  Morrison’s contract expires at the end of the season, so this is merely just a rental situation where the Cajun Crawdads are looking only at this year’s benefits. 

When a team owner in a keeper league no longer has any hope for contending in the current season, he must make a critical roster management decision of whether to trade off established players in exchange for unknown entities in building for the future.  See Winners v. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011).  Smittydogs appear to still be competing for this season, but this trade represents their long-term vision with the acquisition of Cashner in exchange for Morrison’s expiring contract.  The Court can easily discern the benefits of this trade for both teams which makes the decision easy to render.  See Los Pollos Hermanos v. Little Stumps, 3 F.J. 192, 195 (October 2011) (holding that a trade will be rejected when the Court cannot objectively ascertain any benefit to one of the teams and the net result in no way makes a team better now or in the future). 

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 their 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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