Ballbusters vs. Miami Exxpos – 6 F.J. 238 (June 8, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (D.Ortiz/M.Cain/F.Liriano)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Ballbusters vs. Miami Exxpos

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided June 8, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 238 (June 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 Matt Cain (SP-SF), Hector Rondon (RP-CHC) and Eric Young (OF-NYM) to the Miami Exxpos in exchange for David Ortiz (DH-BOS), Junior Lake (OF-CHC) and Francisco Liriano (SP-PIT).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Ballbusters and the Miami Exxpos 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 Matt Cain, Hector Rondon and Eric Young in exchange for David Ortiz, Junior Lake and Francisco Liriano 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).

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).

It is apparent that the Ballbusters were looking for in infusion of power on their roster by making this trade.  David Ortiz is batting .260 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI and Junior Lake is batting .244 with eight home runs and 23 RBI.  Ortiz can still perform at a high level, but at his age and without any depth or protection in Boston’s lineup, it seems unrealistic to expect him to reach his 2013 levels of a .308 batting average with 103 RBI.  Lake does have some pop in his bat, but he is not likely going to be playing every day once the Cubs begin promoting some of their young prospects.

In terms of the pitcher that the Ballbusters acquired, it would behoove them not to even include Francisco Liriano in the starting lineup.  Liriano has been terrible in his second season with the Pirates and almost is not worth even keeping on a roster at this point.  He is 1-6 with a 4.54 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts in 69.1 innings.  His 4.7 walks per nine innings is not a good sign as he is proving that his success in 2013 was an aberration.

On the other hand, it seems apparent that the Miami Exxpos needed help with their pitching.  Matt Cain is 1-3 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 53.2 innings.  He has already endured two stints on the disabled list this year.  Granted, both injuries were a little unusual as he cut his finger making a sandwich and strained his hamstring trying to get out of the way of a comebacker.  When he is healthy and everything is normal in the world, Cain is one of the most reliable and consistent fantasy pitchers in the league.  Hector Rondon has emerged as the Cubs’ closer and has saved seven games out of nine chances with a 2.45 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.

Finally, in terms of the hitter exchanged in this package, Eric Young is currently on the DL with a hamstring injury.  While he does have 17 stolen bases, the rest of his offensive numbers are just that – offensive (.219 batting average with one home run, seven RBI, 28 runs scored, and only a .314 OBP which is awful for a leadoff hitter).  He was playing himself out of an everyday role with the Mets before injuring his hamstring and landing on the DL.  Unfortunately, he suffered a setback during his rehab so he will not be coming back any time soon.

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); see also Speedboys vs. Kramerdogs, 5 F.J. 109 (July 2013) (rejecting a trade of Paul Goldschmidt, Adam Wainwright and Rafael Soriano in exchange for Bryce Harper, A.J. Burnett Trevor Rosenthal, and Archie Bradley).  Here, both teams seem to be prioritizing different things and have managed to exchange players that have fair and equitable value in order to further those goals.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Ballbusters and the Miami Exxpos.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather