Moneymakers vs. Stritz-4-U – 6 F.J. 503 (August 13, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (H.Bailey/Y.Gomes/J.Odorizzi)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Moneymakers vs. Stritz-4-U

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided August 13, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 503 (August 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 Moneymakers traded Homer Bailey (SP-CIN, can be kept for $22.00 in 2015) and Yan Gomes (C-CLE, can be kept for $9.00 in 2015) to Stritz-4-U in exchange for Jake Odorizzi (SP-TB, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015), Rymer Liriano (OF-SD, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015) and Robinson Chirinos (C/1B-TEX, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015)

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Moneymakers and Stritz-4-U 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 Homer Bailey and Yan Gomes in exchange for Jake Odorizzi, Rymer Liriano and Robinson Chirinos looks fair and equitable based on 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 all different positions, it can reasonably be concluded that both GM’s have different interests and priorities with respect to the composition of their rosters. See In Pursuit of the Grail vs. Reloading Again, 6 F.J. 12, 13 (March 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 Stritz-4-U is continuing its pursuit a league championship this year and to win right now by acquiring the expensive contract of Homer Bailey who is clearly the most established and dependable player in this trade. In contrast, the Moneymakers appear to be building for the future by acquiring two solid young players in Odorizzi and Liriano.

Bailey is a premier fantasy starting pitcher but has been a bit inconsistent in 2014. However, he turned things around after a rough start and now has a 9-5 record with a 3.70 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 124 strikeouts. Bailey was scratched from his most recent start and has allegedly been dealing with neck and elbow injuries which are not deemed serious.

Stritz-4-U also receives an upgrade at catcher by acquiring Yan Gomes who is currently hitting .285 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI. In contrast, Robinson Chirinos is likely going to see his playing time take a hit with the impending return of Geovany Soto. He currently has 11 home runs and 31 RBI which is respectable for a backup catcher, but he does weigh down the batting average category hitting only .234. The fact he also plays first base could help keep his bat in the lineup which would also help even out the disparity.

In exchange for Bailey and Gomes, the Moneymakers received a package which features Liriano and Odorizzi. Rymer Liriano was once held in the same regard as fellow rookie Gregory Polanco, but he missed all of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has now been recalled by the Padres and should get an opportunity to play which is beneficial for GM’s. Thus far in 2014, he has hit 14 home runs combined between Double-A and Triple-A. He also possesses a lot of speed which could translate into significant stolen base production.

Odorizzi is now one of the anchors of the Rays’ starting rotation and has been pitching terrifically over the past couple months. He also got off to a rough start but has managed to improve his record to 8-9 with a 3.88 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 139 in 122 innings. These peripheral numbers are even more impressive considering how poorly he began the season. He presents solid present day value and even better long-term value.

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). Just because the value of the packages is not totally equal does not mean that the trade is not fair and equitable. The Moneymakers are receiving enough present day and future value to offset the slight downgrades they suffer by trading away Bailey and Gomes. Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the subject trade between the Moneymakers and Stritz-4-U.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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