Moneyball vs. Smittydogs – 5 F.J. 127 (July 28, 2013) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (J.Teheran/R.Nolasco)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Moneyball vs. Smittydogs

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE

Decided July 28, 2013
Cite as 5 F.J. 127 (July 2013)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is a 12-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’s commissioner submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.

Procedural History

Moneyball traded Ricky Nolasco (SP-LAD, $0.70 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining) to the Smittydogs in exchange for Julio Teheran (SP-ATL, $1.90 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining) and Heath Hembree (RP-SF, $0.50 in the minor leagues and can be retained at that salary until he is promoted)

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between Moneyball and the Smittydogs be approved?

Decision

The Court has consistently ruled that people who participate in fantasy leagues should be given the freedom to manage their teams according to their own preferences.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  See Gangrene Master Yoda vs. Team Dizzle, 4 F.J. 284, 285 (October 2012); 4 Ponies vs. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).

When presented with a dispute over the fairness or equitability of a trade, the Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained.   Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).  Typically, the approval or rejection of a trade is based on whether the deal was made without collusion, has equitable consideration, and comports with the best interests of the league.  See 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 Ricky Nolasco in exchange for Julio Teheran and Heath Hembree looks fair and equitable.  None of the players involved in this deal are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny.   See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).

The Incontinent League is a keeper league which can lead to a different evaluation of a trade as opposed to a non-keeper or redraft 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 Smittydogs are currently in 11th place and have decided to build for the future.  There is no question that Julio Teheran is emerging as a solid fantasy pitcher who would fit well within the Smittydogs’ plans for next season.  However, it is apparent that the Smittydogs are looking to obtain some salary cap relief by making this deal as they will get an additional $1.70 by making this deal.

Moneyball is in 3rd place and clearly pursuing a championship this season.  Teheran currently is 7-5 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 106 strikeouts in 126 innings.  He has been pitching extremely well over the past two months and will help Moneyball in all pitching categories.  Teheran does represent an upgrade over Ricky Nolasco despite Nolasco’s recent trade to the Dodgers.  Nolasco only has six wins, which is partially attributable to being on a horrendous Marlins team.  But his peripheral numbers are either equal to or slightly worse off than Teheran.  In addition, Teheran has the fortune of having a better bullpen including closer Craig Kimbrel to protect wins.

This trade makes sense from both teams’ perspectives.  It personifies the dichotomy of trade strategy that exists in keeper leagues. On the one hand, the Smittydogs are building for the future by obtaining salary cap relief to be used for future transactions or draft flexibility.  On the other hand, Moneyball is trying to win right now and acquired a less experienced but more talented starting pitcher who has been thriving of late.   Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between Moneyball and the Smittydogs.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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