4 Ponies vs. Kramerdogs – 5 F.J. 189 (August 24, 2013) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (I.Kennedy/R.Brothers/C.Headley)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

4 Ponies vs. Kramerdogs

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE

Decided August 24, 2013
Cite as 5 F.J. 189 (August 2013)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is a 12-team NL-only keeper league utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform.  Teams are permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with individual players allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years under contract.  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 $26.00 draft salary cap, as well as a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.

As with many rotisserie leagues, the Incontinent 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.

The Incontinent League’s commissioner submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.

Procedural History

The 4 Ponies traded Ian Kennedy (SP-SD, $2.00 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining), Brandon Belt (1B-SF, $0.50 in the final year of his existing contract and will become a free agent), and Garrett Jones (1B-PIT, $1.40 in the second year of his existing contract with one year remaining) to the Kramerdogs in exchange for Eric Young (OF-NYM, $1.00 in the second year of his existing contract with one year remaining), Rex Brothers (RP-COL, $0.30 in the second year of his existing contract with one year remaining), and Chase Headley (3B-SD, $1.40 in the second year of his existing contract with one year remaining).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the 4 Ponies and the Kramerdogs 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.

At first glance, the trade of Ian Kennedy, Brandon Belt, and Garrett Jones in exchange for Eric Young, Rex Brothers and Chase Headley looks fair and equitable.  None of the players involved in this deal are considered elite for the purposes of requiring additional scrutiny.  See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).

The Incontinent League 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).

This three-for-three player deal is even on all fronts and represents one of the most important motivations for fantasy owners in roto leagues.  Owners in roto leagues are faced with many strategic decisions when managing their rosters and are free to prioritize which categories they want to pursue improvement in when making trades and managing their rosters.  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).

Here, the key exchange in this trade is Ian Kennedy for Rex Brothers.  The Kramerdogs, currently in 2nd place and only three points out of 1st place, are looking to improve in wins as they are in the bottom half of the league in that category.  Kennedy was recently traded to the Padres and has the advantage of pitching in Petco Park along with his familiarity with NL West opponents.  On the other hand, the 4 Ponies have been attempting to rebuild their roster for the future and acquired Rex Brothers who has emerged as a viable closer for the Rockies while Rafael Betancourt has been injured.

The additional exchange of Garrett Jones and Brandon Belt for Eric Young and Chase Headley is also completely equitable.  Jones and Belt provide upgrades for the Kramerdogs in their continued pursuit of a championship.  For the 4 Ponies, they were going to lose Belt to free agency anyway so they were able to obtain some compensation for him in the deal.  Young provides nothing in terms of power or run production, but he does steal bases and has positional flexibility.  Headley has been a major disappointment coming off a spectacular 2012 season, but he is a low-risk chance to take for next season.

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.  See Los Pollos Hermanos vs. Little Stumps, 3 F.J. 192, 195 (October 2011).  Here, the trade makes sense from both teams’ perspectives and offers benefits to both parties.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the proposed trade between the 4 Ponies and the Kramerdogs.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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