Moneyball vs. 2 Louns Crew – 6 F.J. 500 (August 7, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (P.Goldschmidt/B.Posey)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Moneyball vs. 2 Louns Crew

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE

Decided August 7, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 500 (August 2014)

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

Moneyball traded Paul Goldschmidt (1B-ARZ, $4.20 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining) to 2 Louns Crew in exchange for Buster Posey (C-SF, $3.40 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between Moneyball and 2 Louns Crew 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 IL 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 Paul Goldschmidt in exchange for Buster Posey looks inequitable in terms of present day value because Goldschmidt is injured and will miss the rest of the season.  Both Goldschmidt and Posey are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable they are.  See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).  The fact they are being traded for one another adds credence to the fact that there is equitable compensation being exchanged.  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).

Moneyball is currently in 3rd place and clearly suffered a devastating loss when Goldschmidt was injured last week.  He was hit by a pitch and suffered a fractured hand which ended his season.  Goldschmidt is one of the top five fantasy players in the league, and even more valuable in this NL-only league.  Moneyball recognized that they needed to try and replace his offensive production, so the acquisition of Posey will help offset that loss while also providing a substantial upgrade at catcher.

On the other hand, 2 Louns Crew is currently in last place and is trying to rebuild for 2015.  This trade is not the prototypical keeper league deal where one team sells off an expensive player for less expensive assets.  Rather, they have traded away Posey and received Goldschmidt knowing full well he will not be back until next year.  In their attempt to compete in 2015, they will have the best first baseman in this NL-only league.  In that sense, they are clearly employing the keeper league mentality of sacrificing the present in exchange for building towards the future.

This trade involves two elite players, arguably the most valuable at their respective positions.  Goldschmidt will miss the rest of the season, so 2 Louns Crew is banking solely on his future value for which he can retain Goldschmidt for the next two years.  A straight comparison of these two players conclusively demonstrates that Goldschmidt is the better player.  Even though he will miss the rest of the season, his value going forward is sufficient in exchange for Posey. Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between Moneyball and 2 Louns Crew.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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