Cajun Crawdads vs. 4 Ponies – 3 F.J. 125 (August 7, 2011) – fantasy baseball trade (M.Holliday/D.Murphy/Z.Lee)


Cajun Crawdads vs. 4 Ponies 


Decided August 7, 2011

Cite as 3 F.J. 125 (August 2011) 

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league (hereinafter referred to as “Roto league” or “The Incontinent League”) utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform seeks an evaluation of a trade made between two teams within the Roto league.  This is an NL-only keeper league where each team is permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with each individual player allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) years.  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 $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.   

As with many rotisserie leagues, the subject Roto 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.

Procedural History

The Cajun Crawdads have made a trade with the 4 Ponies.  The Cajun Crawdads traded Matt Holliday (OF-STL) to the 4 Ponies in exchange for Daniel Murphy (1B-NYM) and Zach Lee (SP-LAD).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Cajun Crawdads and the 4 Ponies be upheld and approved?


The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades.  The standard of review has been that people pay money to purchase a team in a league, draft their team, and manage it accordingly.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  The Court also acknowledges that the analysis for evaluating trades is much different in a keeper league than a non-keeper league.  A trade that may look uneven or lopsided on its face may receive a different opinion when it is involved in a keeper league.  The reasons for this are obvious, but must be restated.  In a keeper league, teams that are having unsuccessful seasons are more likely to continue to pay attention and make moves that will set themselves up for better success in the following season.  They can do this by acquiring young talent that is not under contract within the league, or by dumping salary (assuming it is an auction league) and allowing greater financial flexibility to sign key players in the next season’s draft.  In non-keeper leagues, there is no rationale for thinking ahead, nor is there any need to stockpile young, inexpensive talent.  See Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010).

Another factor that the Court must always consider is whether there is any collusion or under-the-table dealings going on between teams.  The Court has not been presented with any evidence of such malfeasance, so assumptions will be made that this is not an issue. 

As a disclaimer, the Court notes that this trade was made prior to Daniel Murphy’s season-ending injury which he sustained on August 7, 2011.  As such, the Court will review, evaluate and analyze the merits of the trade without considering his injury.

At first glance, the trade of Matt Holliday in exchange for Daniel Murphy and Zach Lee looks slightly uneven and imbalanced.  This is because Holliday is a bona-fide star with significant production in all categories except stolen bases, and the package in return for him does not contain anything of equivalent present-day value.  The Court has no issues with the idea of trading superstar players so long as the package in return is equitable and makes sense given the needs of both teams.  See 4 Ponies v. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 29 (June 2011).   Murphy has been a revelation this season as he has been in the top ten of National League batters for several months now.  His opportunity to play everyday came as a result of other injuries to Ike Davis and David Wright, so this production was not expected or predicted from him.  He lacks homerun power, but he has produced an almost equal number of runs as Holliday.  That comparison is misleading because Holliday missed several weeks this season with two separate injuries.  Regardless, Murphy has proven he can hit and at least be somewhat comparable to Holliday in all categories except homeruns.  Lee was the Dodgers first round pick in the 2010 draft.  He is currently in Single-A and performing well with a 7-3 record. 3.14 ERA, 74 strikeouts in 86 innings, and a 1.18 WHIP.  He is not projected to reach the major leagues until 2013 at the absolute earliest, but he is considered one of Los Angeles’s best pitching prospects.  Given these factors, despite the appearance of inequity, the trade does represent fair value for a player such as Holliday in both short and long-term analyses.

The following is a statistical comparison of the players involved in the trade:








Matt Holliday






Daniel Murphy







Based on this statistical comparison, the numbers are equivalent enough to conclude that the value is comparable. 

When analyzing the fairness and equity of a trade, the Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from each team’s perspective.  See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin).  This trade involves an elite outfielder for an infielder who qualifies at multiple positions and a minor league pitching prospect.  The 4 Ponies, currently in 1st place, clearly are motivated to improve their team to maintain their position and win the league this year.  The rationale behind desiring to acquire a player of Holliday’s stature goes without saying.  The Cajun Crawdads are left with no viable homerun hitters with the loss of Holliday, but they were not competitive in that category anyway.  Acquiring Murphy gives  him a legitimate second baseman who also qualifies at first base and third base.  He also acquired a top pitching prospect in Lee who he can stash in the minor leagues indefinitely until he reaches the majors.  Based on the foregoing analysis, the needs of each team were equally met with this trade.

In terms of keeper league status and salary cap value, this trade benefits both teams.  Holliday is in his first year under contract, so the 4 Ponies will have the benefit of retaining his for another two seasons at $3.50.  The Cajun Crawdads received Murphy for $0.10 in his first year under contract, as well as Lee at $0.50.  They also obtain $2.90 in salary cap flexibility which is significant in the Incontinent League. 

As referenced in Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 34 (June 2010), the dichotomy between the Cajun Crawdads and the 4 Ponies’ motivations is precisely why the Court must look at trades in keeper leagues differently than non-keeper leagues.  However, had this trade been made in a non-keeper league, the Court would approve it. 

Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the subject trade is fair, equal, and free of collusion.  The trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league.


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