Always remember, never forget, never say always or never. Shakespeare? Whitman? Longfellow? Hemingway? No, this is a Zola original and I do not mean Emile. This is one of the tag lines I use in my forum signature and the message is simple: when it comes to fantasy baseball, there is no always or never. Every decision is contextual. It is a mistake to approach decisions myopically. Granted, there is what many would deem conventional wisdom, but sometimes non-conventional is the way to go. The bottom line is when managing your fantasy squad, there is no always or never. The correct decision is that which best aids your chances of winning. Today I will review some adages that fall under the mantra of conventional advice and elucidate why going against the grain could be beneficial.
NEVER TRADE HITTING FOR PITCHING
Huh? Never? Even if your hitting is solid and your staff is weak? This is perhaps the advice that is presently sitting atop my fecal list and I am hearing and reading it more and more. The primary reason offered for never dealing sticks for arms is there are always acceptable pitchers available on the waiver wire. Why deal offense when you can pick up a decent starter from your free agent pool? The reason goes back to what I was harping on this spring and that is value is relative. Pitching in general is better than in previous seasons so the rotisserie totals are improved. The so-called decent waiver wire fodder is not of sufficient quality to make a dent when the totals you need to catch are better than in previous seasons. In most leagues, between the evolution of pitching analysis and the proliferation of information, most potential impact pitchers are already residing on a team’s reserve or farm roster. While in a vacuum, the quality of what is left is “decent”, relatively speaking, it is not going to get the job done as well as a trade to acquire a stud difference maker. The evaluation is roster pre-trade as compared to post-trade. If dealing hitting for pitching nets you positive points, then buck (yes, I mean buck) conventional wisdom and go for it.
ALWAYS ACQUIRE THE BEST PLAYER IN A TRADE
I have discussed this one recently, so I won’t dwell on it, but the principle is just like above: roster before versus roster after. You cannot look at the value of the players in the deal, but rather focus on the construct and points potential of your squad if you do the deal and if you don’t. This entails factoring in the players you use to replace those being dealt, assuming the trade itself does not take care of this. Often, you have a player returning from the disabled list, promoted from the Minors or the recipient of a role change that increases their worth. If the best way to work this player into your active lineup is to deal away the best player, so be it – roster before versus roster after. If the best player in the deal helps you in categories where you can afford to lose stats without losing points and the acquired players provide stats in categories you can gain points, do the deal, which segues to the following.
ALWAYS TRADE FROM STRENGTH TO IMPROVE WEAKNESS
The problem here is not so much the concept, but the wording. The proper way to approach this is to deal from a category in which you can lose few points to improve categories where you can gain more points. The idea being this may not always involve dealing from a category you are faring well in to improve where you are not faring so well. The key is to look at the distribution of points within your specific league. Granted, it may be early to comfortably make this sort of evaluation, but in some league the gaps are already such that you know it is going to be hard to gain points, especially in the non-correlated like steals and saves.
NEVER TRADE FOR AN INJURED PLAYER
Okay, this is as close to a “never” as there is for me. In most instances, no matter how attractive the injured player might be, I am extremely reticent to deal for someone on the disabled list. I have seen too many examples of setbacks. There are two exceptions. The first is rather obvious and that is it is extremely apparent the player is healthy and will be activated as targeted. The second is if I am so desperate, that the only way I can compete is for the injured player to come back and perform at or above their usual level. An example may be David Wright. Say someone wants my Placido Polanco for Wright. Unless I am convinced I am not going to win with Polanco, I will hold onto him and pass on Wright. If I am going nowhere and need the potential Wright provides, I will roll the dice.