StrategyJune 1, 2007

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Trading Strategies

By Jacob Harvey

By this point I am sure most of you have made one trade or another. Either you have made a move to strengthen the needs of your team, or you have sold high on the obvious candidates like Hardy, Upton, or Lowell. Well, if you have not, then it is definitely time to start thinking about it. I am here to help you out with some various strategies that will 1) allow you to get a trade worked out in a timely manner, and 2) help you get the most bang for your buck. Trading is, in my opinion, one of the best aspects of fantasy baseball and you should not be afraid to make a move.

Recently I made a big move in my 16 team mixed league. I traded Jose Reyes, Jason Isringhausen, and Tyler Clippard for Carl Crawford, Mariano Rivera, and Dontrelle Willis. Now I am not here to analyze this trade specifically, I am just using it as an example to show you how to go about attacking the trading market. I have come up with a series of pointers that will help even novice owners make killer trades.

First and foremost, talk in person. I cannot stress this enough. Give the guy a call. I do not know about you guys, but I love getting calls from my friends to talk about baseball. At the very least, you should be able to talk to the manager online. For the trade mentioned above, I was able to grab my very busy friend online for a few moments to work this out. The reason why this is so important is that it is much harder for a person to say no to your face than it is for them to simply hit the “cancel” button. Not only that, but I hate waiting around for days to hear back about a trade. This way you can throw out several offers in minutes instead of waiting days to hear about one.

Secondly, it is important to get a feel for where the target owner values his players. If you are like me, you will tend to value the players on your team higher than you should. Almost everyone values players differently. You should try throwing out questions like “What are your thoughts on Player A?” or “How do you feel about Player B?” when you talk. During my trade talks, I could tell that my friend valued Josh Beckett a lot higher than I did, and that I valued Prince Fielder a lot higher than he did. To make a trade work that we both liked, I knew I was going to have to stay away from those two guys. Also, this will help you determine who you might be able to buy low on. Who does the guy value lower than he should? In my particular case it was Rivera. Yes, Rivera only has 4 saves, but I am willing to bet he finishes with at least 30. I knew the guy seriously undervalued Mo because just a few weeks earlier he had tried to trade him for Ryan Doumit and Al Reyes only to have it vetoed (lame veto I know but that is beside the point).

Third, you want to be courteous in many different ways. Going back to Beckett for a second, once I realized how high he valued Beckett I said something to the effect of “You have every right to feel that way, he’s a high K pitcher on a great team.” This showed that I valued his opinion and was not there to simply rip him off. Also, you do not want to low ball the guy. This only insults his intelligence and typically will turn him off to trade talks. Did I want to own both Reyes and Crawford? Sure. But was that logically possible? Probably not. You have to give value to get value. Additionally, you might be wondering why Clippard is even in the deal, and that is because I was going to drop him but out of courtesy I asked if my friend wanted him instead. This last act of kindness most likely kept the trade doors open for me in the future.

Just a couple more quick points. Do not offer anything up that you would not actually accept. Trust me there is nothing more maddening than a guy offering you a trade and then, when you say yes, they say “Oh wait let me rethink that.” Along similar lines, being a little deceitful can be a good thing. If a guy offers you a great deal, do not instantly jump on it. Pull a line like “Well that looks pretty good, let me think about it for a second.” If you instantly accept an offer, it throws up a red flag to the other guy that might indicate he has done something stupid. Finally, do not be afraid to take risks. You win some and you lose some, it’s just part of the game. I will be the first to admit I have made some stupid trades in the past, but at least it was fun.

Play the player, not the game. Every league is different, every owner is different, and every set of rankings is different. It is your job to figure out what players the market is seriously undervaluing and how to exploit that. And, as always, have fun!

Jacob Harvey is an avid Orioles fan and despite living in New Hampshire he argues that it is loyalty that counts and not location. Catch up with him in the forums where he posts as jake_harv88.
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