Bada Bing Boys vs. Moneymakers – 6 F.J. 306 (July 1, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (C.Davis/J.Cueto/J.Mauer)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Bada Bing Boys vs. Moneymakers

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided July 1, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 306 (July 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 Bada Bing Boys traded Kendrys Morales (1B-MIN, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015), Johnny Cueto (SP-CIN, can be kept for $12.00 in 2015), and Yan Gomes (C-CLE, can kept for $9.00 in 2015) to the Moneymakers in exchange for Jayson Werth (OF-WAS, cannot be kept in 2015), Chris Davis (1B-BAL, can be kept for $40.00 in 2015), Joe Mauer (C-MIN, can be kept for $23.00 in 2015) and Alex Wood (SP-ATL, cannot be kept in 2015).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Bada Bing Boys and the Moneymakers 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 Kendrys Morales, Johnny Cueto and Yan Gomes in exchange for Jayson Werth, Chris Davis, Joe Mauer and Alex Wood looks inequitable in terms of present-day value.  None of the players in this deal are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable they are.  Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).

When a trade such as this is consummated involving the exchange of players at the same position, it can reasonably be concluded that neither GM has any specific positional need to fill and is rather looking to upgrade or improve at those positions.  Stritz-4-U vs. Fire & Ice, 6 F.J. 271, 272 (June 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).

Since the record is devoid of any information regarding where either of these teams are in the standings, we can only draw inferences from the trade itself on whether the dichotomy of keeper league trade strategy is being employed.  Knights vs. Seawolves, 5 F.J. 46, 48 (May 2013) (holding that keeper leagues tend to demonstrate a dichotomy in trade strategy where one team is in a “win now” mentality coupled with a trade partner looking to build for the future by trading away expensive assets).  We can surmise that the Bada Bing Boys are looking to contend for a league championship and win right now by acquiring the expensive contracts of Chris Davis and Joe Mauer, along with the expiring contracts of Jayson Werth and Alex Wood.  Werth is a solid third outfielder and Wood will likely be in Atlanta’s starting rotation for the rest of the season due to the injury to Gavin Floyd.

In contrast, the Moneymakers appear to be rebuilding for the future.  The Moneymakers were going to lose both Werth and Wood at the end of the year anyway, so it makes sense that they would try and obtain some form of compensation for them now.  Chris Davis is arguably the best player in this deal, but he is hitting a paltry .211 to go along with his solid power numbers of 13 home runs and 41 RBI despite missing some time with an injury.  He has always struck out at an alarming rate, but this was forgiven in 2013 when he batted a respectable .286.  While he will still likely hit 25 home runs and drive in close to 100 runs, he will not come close to replicating his 2013 numbers.  But his power is what the Bada Bing Boys desire as they look to contend for a league championship.

Joe Mauer was once one of the preeminent catchers in fantasy baseball with his typical high batting average and run production.  But this season likely marks the last time he is eligible at catcher, and this fact diminishes his value immensely.  Currently he is batting a pedestrian .270 with only two home runs and 26 RBI as an everyday first baseman.  That is manageable while he has eligibility as a catcher, but going forward those numbers would be unacceptable solely as a first baseman.  The Bada Bing Boys clearly desire him as an upgrade at catcher for this season, but they will get diminishing returns if they keep him for $23.00 in 2015.

The package of Morales, Cueto and Gomes is not spectacular, but it is equitable given the dynamics of this trade.  Morales will look to reestablish his value and cash in on a big free agent contract now that he won’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.  He can provide solid batting average and power as the Twins designated hitter, so he is a respectable replacement while having eligibility at first base.

Johnny Cueto has had a Cy Young-caliber season thus far despite only having an 8-5 record.  His ERA and WHIP are a microscopic 1.88 and 0.83, respectively.  Still only 28 years old, he is a solid keeper option for the Moneymakers at a reasonable price going forward.  Finally, Yan Gomes is a more than equitable replacement for Mauer at catcher for the Moneymakers.  As the Indians starting catcher, he is batting .267 with nine home runs and 28 RBI and is only 26 years old.  With Carlos Santana abandoning the tools of ignorance, Gomes is the catcher of the future for Cleveland.

Even without knowing their rosters or the current standings, this deal appears to make sense from both teams’ perspectives.  See Los Pollos Hermanos vs. 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).  The compensation being exchanged is fair and equitable, and the deal itself satisfies both parties’ respective needs.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Bada Bing Boys and the Moneymakers.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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