In one of my leagues I am trying to trade for a couple good closers by offering up depth from my OF and SP. What is the general rule of thumb in trying to get equal value when giving up starting pitchers for one category players like closers? I put this question in this forum because it not a question of specific players, it's more a question of strategy. I hate giving up too much for closers because in a 5x5 league, they basically just give you saves. Is this a case where you take a slightly unbalanced trade knowing you are improving your team by trading from depth that you don't necessarily need? Is a good pitcher ever worth 2 closers in return, or is that unrealistic? Any thoughts?
It would depend on what you mean by a "good" pitcher. Obviously, Schilling, RJ or Pedro are worth more than any closer, and you wouldn't trade them for closers anyway. If you mean an upper tier starter like Morris, Millwood, Wood, Prior, Halladay, Brown, Perez, Oswalt, Hudson, Mulder, etc., I would say that you could trade one of them for one of the elite closers (Smoltz, Gagne, Foulke, Guardado, Wagner, Percival or Benitez) or possibly a couple of mid to low range closers (like Julio, Politte, Mantei, Williams, etc.). If you are trading outfielders for closers, you'd probably have to trade a top 20 or so outfielder at least to get one of the elite closers and probably a top 40 outfielder to get a mid to low end closer.
Yes, closers do help you in only one category, but they command alot in trades, because there is a limited pool of closers available, with there only being 30 MLB teams, and some of the teams not having any viable closer options (Cards, Padres, BoSox, Tigers). In a 12 team league, that leaves only an average of 2 closers available for each team. It's not like outfielders or starting pitchers where you can easily go to the waiver wire and find adequate replacements, and that's why you have to pay a premium to get them.
First check, and make absolutely sure there is nothing available on the wire for low range closers that people have overlooked. If not, in a 12 team 5x5 league, you probably need to finish around the middle of the pack in saves to avoid killing your chances. Since an average closer gets 30 saves, that would mean you need to have a total of around 60 saves. You could get that either by getting 2-3 low range closers or by making a deal for a Smoltz or Gagne that will get you 50+ saves.
Saves are just one category, but if you don't compete in that category you'll have a tough time winning that league. Normally I wouldn't trade a big name pitcher for simply a closer, but as the draft plays out and the season moves along ya gotta fill your needs. For a good trade, you gotta look around, and as they say trade from your strengths to the other team's needs. I'd avoid gagne or smoltz since they command too much.
In general, always sift through the FA Pool to pick up any second rate closers. This will almost always be preferable than trading for closers. But in most competetive leagues, every single closer has already been claimed.
There is no hard rule for dealing closers. You are basically at a disadvantage because you will be trading a dependable player for guy who may or may not play who may or may not get a save. Try to trade for second tier closer with whatever scrubs you can afford to lose.
If that doesn't work, then you have go with the last resort: trading a marquis player. If you absolutely must trade Shawn Green, Kerry Wood (or whoever) make sure you get a top tier closer in return (i.e. Gagne, Smoltz, Percival, etc.). Some have tried getting two mediocre closers for a marquis player and I usually don't recommend this. Why? Because you can get the same number of saves from one top closer without having to waste two roster spots. There are exceptions of course but this is the general strategy I would abide by.
Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
I disagree. I think there is no guarantee about how many saves any particular closer will get you. The fact that the closer is on a good team will help you a little, but it all depends on how many close games the team is in. Gagne wouldn't get so many saves if the Dodgers actually had an offense and built up a lead from time to time.
There are definitely no guarantees, but if you get one of the top 7 closers, they pretty much have a track record of several years of getting 30+ saves. Benitez last year got 33 saves, despite being on the last place Mets and Hoffman used to always get 30+ despite being on some really dreadful Padres teams. Another advantage of getting an elite closer is that they are very unlikely to lose their jobs or be displaced (as long as they don't pitch for Jerry Manuel that is). Also, elite closers help and not hurt your ERA and WHIP and give you some extra K's. Kelvim Escobar did have 38 saves last year but had the potential to really torch your ERA when he had his frequent implosions. Some low end closers like DeJean might actually do more harm to you than they help you with saves.