Miami Exxpos vs. Ballbusters – 6 F.J. 455 (August 1, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (J.Lester/T.Lincecum/E.Santana)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Miami Exxpos vs. Ballbusters

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided August 1, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 455 (August 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 Miami Exxpos traded Ervin Santana (SP-ATL, cannot be kept in 2015), Doug Fister (SP-WAS, can be kept for $10.00 in 2015) and Hector Rondon (RP-CHC, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015) to the Ballbusters in exchange for Jon Lester (SP-OAK, can be kept for $15.00 in 2015), Tim Lincecum (SP-SF, can be kept for $7.00 in 2015) and Collin McHugh (SP-HOU, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Miami Exxpos and the Ballbusters 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 Ervin Santana, Doug Fister and Hector Rondon in exchange for Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum and Collin McHugh looks fair and equitable based on present day value.  Lester is considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable he is.  Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).  Besides the fact he is having a stellar season, he provides great keeper value at only $15.00 for 2015.

When a trade such as this is consummated involving the exchange of players at the same positions, it can reasonably be concluded that both GM’s do not have any specific positional needs to address.  Rather, they are seeking specific improvement in a particular category or have other keeper league strategies in mind.  See Mudhen Wannabe’s vs. Screaming Psychopaths, 6 F.J. 399 (July 2014).  Because Rondon is a closer and is included in this deal, it can reasonably be concluded that both GM’s have different interests and priorities with respect to the composition of their rosters.  See Posey’s Posse vs. That Wimpy Deer, 6 F.J. 61, 62 (April 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 seems evident that the Ballbusters made this deal with the intention of competing for the rest of this season.  We come to this conclusion based on the fact that they acquired Ervin Santana’s expiring contract, as well as Rondon who is a closer and can provide help in the saves category.  However, this deal does not qualify as a dump trade for the Miami Exxpos because the value of the players being exchanged is extremely comparable.

When look at the packages statistically, we can clearly see that they are equitable:

Ervin Santana is 10-6 with a 3.63 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 118 strikeouts.
Doug Fister is 10-3 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 59 strikeouts.
Hector Rondon has 14 saves along with a 3.34 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 45 strikeouts.

Jon Lester 10-7 with a 2.51 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 149 strikeouts.
Tim Lincecum is 9-7 with a 4.20 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 116 strikeouts.
Collin McHugh is 4-9 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 102 strikeouts

Lester is the best player involved in the trade.  While it certainly appears positive that he was traded to Oakland who is in a pennant race, there is always the possibility that he struggles pitching in a new place for the first time in his career.  Plus, Oakland has had trouble scoring runs at various points in the season, so it cannot be said with pure certainty that Lester is a lock to remain elite for the rest of the year.

This is a trade comprised of all pitchers with strikingly similar statistics.  Even without knowing their rosters or the current standings, 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 compensation being exchanged is fair and equitable, and the deal itself satisfies both parties’ respective needs.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Miami Exxpos and the Ballbusters.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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