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Friday 15th Dec 2017

Maybe I am old-fashioned. Maybe I am stupid or stubborn or both, but the fact is that I abhor broadcast trade offers made to an entire league.

"Joe Generic Player is available. Make me an offer.”

Yes, sometimes proposals can arise this way that could not have been foreseen, but to me, this kind of approach is the epitome of laziness.

Sure, it takes more time to analyze the standings and the rosters of your competitors and make pinpoint proposals, but I thought others would respect the more personal approach and most importantly, it would increase the odds of a trade actually occurring.

That was my theory, anyway.

I gave it a test recently in National League Tout Wars. With a group of experienced industry players, completing a trade is especially difficult. Further complicating matters are the standings, as even creating the perception of potentially helping the rich get richer is not on anyone’s agenda.

I was focused on moving saves. Considering the closer position in a 13-team format with a player pool consisting of the 16 MLB teams, you can do the math pretty quickly. On a level basis, if every NL Tout owner had one closer, only three teams could have two.

I have three. Better yet, all three are ninth-inning men for teams that have winning records and are playoff contenders, making save opportunities more plentiful than on average.

One is NL All-Star Craig Kimbrel of Atlanta, drafted for $8. The rookie has been superb, but there has been an unusual level of man-love shown toward Braves set-up man Jonny Venters for some time now. Some quanity of the Touts are apparently among them, despite this being a re-draft league.

Second is a less-certain situation. At the time, St. Louis’ Fernando Salas was 10-of-11 in save situations with a WHIP around one, but there is certainly the chance the Cardinals will add an experienced closer. I cover the Cardinals for a living and believe they have a greater need for, and are pursuing a starting pitcher instead. As now-deposed St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin began to falter early in the season, I had picked up Salas on a speculative basis for $0. I also hold Kyle McClellan, who may find save opportunities coming his way if the Cards add a starter via trade.

My third closer was Ryan Madson, purchased on draft day for $4 as a handcuff for my ill-advised $14 Brad Lidge. Like my other two closers, Madson averages better than a strikeout per inning. This was prior to Madson’s recent DL stint, but I was willing and able to keep the handcuff in place and move both pitchers together.

I analyzed the league standings and specifically the save rankings, identifying a half-dozen competitors that could pick up anywhere from four to six quick points with a burst of saves. Over and above that is the potential benefit to their ERA and WHIP categories.

Then, I sent each of the owners a personal email, naming my available closers and stating I had hoped to get starting pitching in return.

Then the fun began.

I wasn’t sure if the first owner to reply wanted to be bothered with me, but at least he responded almost immediately with a one-sentence note.

“Which of my SP's are you interested in?”

Pleased with a fast dialogue, I decided to shoot high, not knowing if he wanted one, two or three closers. So I mentioned the names of his two best starters.

Only silence ensued.

I was unaware the second trade target had just dealt a decent starter to one of my competitors for offense and as such, immediately announced his three top remaining starters were unavailable. While he said he was still willing to consider offers, it was a hollow statement. Both he and I knew there really weren’t any other starting pitchers worth talking about remaining on his roster beyond his former four top starters.

I at least appreciated him not wasting the time of either one of us. I thanked him and moved on.

A third owner replied that he was busy then but would look into it and get back to me. Despite a friendly reminder from me a few days later, he never did. Can’t make the horse drink the water.

Owners number four and five did not even take the time to say “No, thank you.” Far too typical of a reaction, but I still find it disappointing and mildly disrespectful. Remember, I did not ask them for any specific players in my initial inquiry, so at this early stage, I could not be accused of over-valuing my closers.

That left owner number six, who rather than just saying “No, thank you,” decided to question my motives. He replied that he didn’t think any of the three would be able to hold his job for the remainder of the season. My reply was short and sweet.

“Thanks for the reply. Sounds like a mismatch so I’ll look elsewhere. Have a good weekend.”

The owner, an apparent cynic, shot back this response.

“Be honest with me - you can't be completely sold on them, or you wouldn't be trying to sell now. Correct?”

I didn’t want to burn any bridges with a league-mate but I really don’t like to ignore emails, so I continued the discussion. I was holding out faint hope that he was just trying to bring my still-undefined price down. I was wrong.

I explained that if I was down on one of them, I would not have offered a choice of any of the three, but instead would have focused on the one I was trying to dump.

I then pointed out that I was already 11 saves ahead of the team with the second-most saves and at that rate, I would have built a lead of about 30 saves by season’s end. In other words, 29 of those saves would be completely wasted. I simply wanted to move an excess of stats in one category in return for help in another.

This seemed a pretty fundamental analysis, and not surprisingly, it did not lead to owner number six making anyone available in trade.

Six inquires. Four replies, from which not a single name of a starting pitcher was offered up. I fear that moving saves in this league is darned near impossible.

I guess I should just travel the easy route next time and send a simple mass email. I couldn’t do any worse as all I got from this episode is column fodder.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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