Ballbusters vs. Logan’s Heroes – 6 F.J. 107 (April 28, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (M.Holliday/M.Cain/A.Gordon)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Ballbusters vs. Logan’s Heroes

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided April 28, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 107 (April 2014)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called the Jabroni League (hereinafter referred to as “JL” was established in 1999 and is hosted on CBS.  The JL is a 12-team mixed AL/NL keeper league where teams are permitted to maintain a maximum of six (6) players.  GM’s can either retain players under a one-year contract or a three-year contract.  If a player was acquired during the auction draft, his value escalates $5.00 the following season.  If a player was acquired via free agency, his value escalates $8.00 the following season and then $5.00 every subsequent year capped at three years of keeper eligibility.

The JL uses a standard 5×5 format for its 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.

All trades made between GM’s are subject to review.  Due to the fact that the JL is comprised of several clusters of family members and close relatives, the commissioner has the sole authority to submit all trades to the Court for review to avoid any potential conflicts.

The commissioner has submitted a trade to the Court for review to determine whether it should be approved or rejected.

Procedural History

The Ballbusters traded Ubaldo Jimenez (SP-BAL) and Matt Holliday (OF-STL) to Logan’s Heroes in exchange for Matt Cain (SP-SF) and Alex Gordon (OF-KC).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Ballbusters and Logan’s Heroes 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.

The JL 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).

At first glance, the trade of Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Holliday in exchange for Matt Cain and Alex Gordon looks fair and equitable.  None of the players involved in this trade are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of their inherent value or projected statistical production.  See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).

This trade involves the even exchange of a starting pitcher and an outfielder.  As such, there are clearly no specific positional needs being addressed outside of mere upgrades and changes at the same position.  See Moneymakers vs. Logan’s Heroes, 6 F.J. 92, 93 (April 2014).  GM’s in roto leagues are free to prioritize which categories they want to pursue improvement in when making trades and managing their rosters.  Team Sabo vs. 4 Ponies, 5 F.J. 167 (August 2013) (approving a trade where a team higher in the standings traded Mat Latos for Homer Bailey because he needed improvement in the WHIP category despite Bailey having better statistics with wins, ERA and strikeouts); Joba’s Mustache vs. Obtuse Wardens, 5 F.J. 40, 41 (May 2013); Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads, 4 F.J. 61, 63 (May 2012).

It is apparent that these two GM’s are trading away disappointing pieces in exchange for each other hoping that a change of scenery brings better results.  The comparison between Matt Holliday and Alex Gordon is astonishingly exact in terms of their current statistics:

Matt Holliday .272 with one home run, 14 RBI, 10 runs scored, and one stolen base
Alex Gordon .277 with one home run, 14 RBI, 11 runs scored, and no stolen bases

While Holliday has a lengthier and more consistent resume, they present fair and equal value for each other in terms of the current season.

In terms of the pitchers being exchanged in this trade, the numbers are similarly unpleasant through five starts for both:

Matt Cain is 0-3 with a 4.35 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 25 strikeouts in 31 innings
Ubaldo Jimenez is 0-4 with a 6.58 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, and 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings

Cain is the better pitcher given his history and the fact that the first half of 2013 appears to be an outlier for his career.  That being said, he is off to another slow start this season which has diminished his overall value.  The numbers for Jimenez are far worse and raise serious doubts as to his viability as a rosterable fantasy pitcher.  Granted he has had some successful seasons in the past, including 2013 which he parlayed into a free agent contract with the Orioles.  But currently his value is at an all-time low and Logan’s Heroes is banking on an epic turnaround.

This deal is an even exchange of underperforming players who play at the same positions being traded.  While all of the players involved have diminished value at the present time, they are all equally and equitably diminished which is what made the trade balanced and fair.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Ballbusters and Logan’s Heroes.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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