Bada Bing Boys vs. Kalamunda – 6 F.J. 88 (April 26, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (M.Pineda/M.Trumbo)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Bada Bing Boys vs. Kalamunda

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided April 26, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 88 (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 Bada Bing Boys traded Michael Pineda (SP-NYY), Omar Infante (2B-KC) and Luke Gregerson (RP-OAK) to Kalamunda in exchange for Mark Trumbo (OF-ARZ), A.J. Burnett (SP-PHI) and Jose Quintana (SP-CHW).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Bada Bing Boys and Kalamunda 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 Michael Pineda, Omar Infante and Luke Gregerson in exchange for Mark Trumbo, A.J. Burnett and Jose Quintana 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).

When a trade such as this is consummated involving the exchange of players at 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).

The record is devoid of these teams’ current rosters.  As a result, we must look at this deal in a vacuum and can only draw inferences based on the limited information we have.

The two best players in this deal are Mark Trumbo and Michael Pineda, and both of them come with issues at the present time.  Trumbo is one of the best power hitters in baseball and already has seven home runs and 19 RBI.  However, he sustained a stress fracture in his foot which will cause him to miss at least six weeks.  On the other hand, Pineda has been stellar in his first action since 2011.  Through his first four starts, Pineda is 2-2 with a sparkling 1.83 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.  However, he was recently suspended for 10 games after being caught with pine tar on his neck.  This will likely cost Pineda at least two starts.

To help offset the time that Trumbo will be out, the Bada Bing Boys have mildly upgraded their pitching with the acquisitions of Burnett and Quintana.  Despite only being 0-1 through five starts, Burnett is proving he has plenty left in the tank with a 2.73 ERA and 20 strikeouts.  However, his is still walking far too many batters (17 in 29.2 innings) which tend to inflate his WHIP.  Quintana has also pitched better than his 1-2 record compiling a 3.90 ERA and 1.33 WHIP through five starts.  Neither pitcher is a top of the rotation starter, but they provide the Bada Bing Boys with depth.

Kalamunda’s acquisitions of Omar Infante and Luke Gregerson are less likely to provide impactful benefits.  Gregerson is part of a closer by committee in Oakland and has compiled three saves, but has also blown a couple as well.  He has not proven to be an effective closer in his limited opportunities, so his value in obtaining saves is quite limited.  In addition, Oakland may re-insert Jim Johnson into that role once he has regained the manager’s confidence.  But in a set-up role, Gregerson can be very productive with a low ERA and WHIP.

Omar Infante is a solid but unspectacular fantasy second baseman.  He will not provide much power or run production, but he won’t hurt a team in batting average and will also sneakily steal some bases.  We don’t know what Kalamunda’s situation is in terms of their middle infield, but Infante can fill a void if needed.

Even without knowing the teams’ rosters, 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 value of the packages being exchanged for each other is equitable and both also have inherent risks.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Bada Bing Boys and Kalamunda.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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