Ballbusters vs. Stritz-4-U – 6 F.J. 126 (May 5, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (M.Morse/A.Gordon/J.Lackey)


Ballbusters vs. Stritz-4-U


Decided May 5, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 126 (May 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 Ballbusters traded Alex Gordon (OF-KC) and John Lackey (SP-BOS) to Stritz-4-U in exchange for Michael Morse (OF-SF).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Ballbusters and Stritz-4-U be approved?


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 Alex Gordon and John Lackey in exchange for Michael Morse looks fair and equitable.  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).

This trade involves an even exchange of outfielders along with a starting pitcher added in to balance out the trade.  When comparing the two outfielders to each other, it is apparent that Morse is currently more valuable than Gordon based on their respective production to date.  Morse is currently batting .302 with eight home runs, 22 RBI and 16 runs scored.  Comparatively, Gordon is batting .256 with one home run, 15 RBI and 13 runs scored.

Morse’s biggest detraction is his inability to stay healthy.  But in the one season where he played practically a full season (146 games in 2011), he hit .302 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI.  On the other hand, Gordon is historically more reliable but less spectacular as he has averaged a .287 batting average with 19 home runs, 80 RBI, 94 runs scored and 12 stolen bases over the past three seasons.  Given Morse’s projected production for the remainder of the current season, we can conclude that he has greater value than Gordon.

To help balance out the trade, Stritz-4-U is also acquiring John Lackey.  Through his first seven starts, Lackey is 4-2 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 46 innings.  He is not an ace of a fantasy GM’s pitching staff but he is certainly a serviceable starter who can provide depth and fulfill needs.

Stritz-4-U is giving up power in this deal, but they are getting a comparable outfielder and pitcher in return.  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).

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 being exchanged for each other is fair and equitable.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Ballbusters and Stritz-4-U.


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