More and more recently, I've been hearing how leagues are won and lost on trades. Just now over in the "give me a draft strategy please" thread, shortsavage said
shortsavage wrote:I think a draft, in a leauge with active owners, does not carry as much value as it may seem. Sure you can snatch up great picks, but I rarely see a team finishing in the top 3 unless they make some wise trades. So, your drafting strategies may not need much help, and trading could be a better area to focus on.
My opinion has always been that this is faulty logic.
If you draft THE BEST TEAM there will be few ways to improve it with trades over the course of the season. And very few waiver acquisitions past the all-star break.
Now I'll babble about my experiences.
My baseball league has had the same 6-man core surrounded by others who come and go. Out of the 6 of us, we have very distinct personalities.
There's me: I attempt to win at the draft. I always walk away from the table with a great team that I love (usually the others are unimpressed) I make a few early season pickups of un-drafted players. And barely ever trade. (3 trades in the last 7 years: two deadline deals, one of which was all but meaningless, and one allstarbreak blockbuster) In 7 years I have two 4ths, two 3rds, two 2nds and a win. I'm the only one who hasnt seen the bottom half of the league.
#2: has basically been using the stars and scrubs draft strategy and has won two of the last four years. He also pays attention to the free agents and only trades if necessary. Had a down year this year after becoming the other fixture in the top 3.
#3: dominated the league before i joined and the first two years after, has since lost all ability to draft. Has managed to trade himself out of the cellar to middle of the pack the last few seasons.
#4: used to joe average, but has slowly built his own strategy. He now is the 2nd most prepared at draft day, and gets the jump on quality free agents. He will trade if he thinks it helps him but doesnt over do it. He has become a consistent 3rd or 4th place finisher with eyes on one day finishing 2nd.
#5: doesnt prepare for the draft. barely acquires free agents. will make any trade where he is getting the "bigger name" end of the trade. always finishes in the bottom 3.
#6 is the trader. He acquires as many big names and young "studs" as he can on draft day, and then does nothing but trade all season. He also NEVER competes.
My theory is that those who always seek to improve their team via trade usually dont allow for the dust to settle before they start tweaking again. If you just acquired a power hitter by giving up speed, you have to measure the impact that this will have on both categories before you try to get more speed by giving up pitching, and more pitching by giving up power and wind up where you started. The more player movement, the harder it is to judge where people really stand in each category.
The only way I feel I get hurt by drafting the best team of non-stars is that I get hurt by not being able to COUNTER stupid trades. This year, the cellar-dweller traded Pujols and Schilling and Shawn Green and a few other good players to regain his respectability.
Unfortunately for me, when the dust cleared on all of his and the trader's trades, the rookie in 3rd place wound up adding Pujols and Javier Vasquez to his squad and there was nothing I could do about it. The other rookie finished 2nd after an early trade of Arod for Mussina AND Moyer. This is the only time I have EVER seen a league won by trading, and I would contend that it wasn't due to the trades themselves, but rather the way the rookies controlled the draft. They inflated prices and rather than smack them down, the others let them run wild and prices stayed high. The teams were tremendously unbalanced. I walked away with my usual quality team with probably one less offensive stud than i was hoping, the 2nd place rookie was LOADED on offense with no pitching, and the winning rookie had a pretty good team with a few great bargains (like javy lopez) But the other teams all sucked and this was made even worse by the injuries to Johnson and Vlad and others. IF the other teams didnt let themselves get so hosed on draft day, they wouldnt have been making desperation trades and he would never have acquired Pujols AND Vasquez.
Another example: In my greatest fantasy comeback ever in a 2001-2002 basketball league, I sat in 5th place 15pts out of 1st and 7pts out of 4th as our trade-deadline loomed. The teams in 2nd, 3rd and 4th kept trying to loot my team. Offering me multiple trades daily trying to find something for me to bite on. A few weeks before the deadline I picked up FOUR free agents in one week and was sure that these guys would help my team immensely. The last week before the deadline, the teams in 2nd, 3rd and 4th were really getting desperate. They were insisitng I was a fool if I didnt trade with them, so they could finish either 1st or 2nd and I could finish 3rd. I passed on all offers. All three teams wound up making trades with each other or teams at the bottom of the standings. Some of the trades were bad, some of the trades left them with holes, some of them made no sense as far as scoring categories. My new young players were amazing. The rest of my team got hot. The guy in first lost Allen Iverson for the last month of the season. I WON, RUNNING AWAY. Never did you see trash-talk like what I put on our website, and I whistled my winnings all the way to the bank.
I've also heard from friends in other leagues, or people online talk about how there is a trade every week in their league. To me, that would be maddening, who can correctly gauge the standings with constant player movement? Reason enough to create a "maximum # of trades" rule
So in my experience, and I firmly believe this is ALWAYS the case. A great draft will ALWAYS have you competing. Trading usually hurts more than helps. Yes it is possible for a great trade or two to change the entire season, BUT hoping that another owner will be the sucker in your trade is a lot less controllable than what you do on draft day.
I've talked to a few people about this (including the "trader" whos in both leagues also) and they usually tell me that they think just making once-a-week moves is boring. So they have to trade to keep things interesting. To me, trash-talking and WINNING are more interesting than silly trades.
Since I've previously seen some BAD trades that I wanted to stop, and then got killed by two this year, I've pondered if I shouldn't alter my draft-strategy to include some big names, just so I have something I can counter trades with. But I can't accept this strategy mentally because I figure that trading for the sake of counter-trading will probably hurt my team, and then I will be FORCED to trade to patch it back up. (and having a team full of guys i can brag about "discovering" is more fun than a team with stars)
So far, I've decided to stick with my strategy of superior drafting follwed by NO TRADES. (except in extreme circumstances)
But I am curious what other people think. I would assume the general opinion would be "trade only when you get a deal that helps you and doesnt help them more" (which i do agree with, but unless youre playing with nimrods, it doesnt happen often) But now I'm wondering if there are other people who subscribe to the "trading is mandatory for victory" theory?
Assuming any of you are still awake, feel free to rip this post to shreds to. I'm getting used to it.
p.s. one time, i traded for todd helt...nevermind.
p.p.s and one time for ped...nevermind again.