Remember way back in March?
Before the auction draft in your single league format, you may have been wondering whether to spend a bit more on hitting, with the idea of acquiring pitching later if needed.
In a non-auction format, you may have been considering the ramifications of going heavy on hitting early and making pitching a lower priority in the early rounds.
If the 2013 National League Tout Wars is typical, you were clearly on the right track if you were more focused on hitting.
In a recent article, I shared my in-season strategy of picking up distressed assets at discount prices, hoping to cash in later. Specifically, I purchased injured players who had been cashed out by their original owners in return for a FAAB rebate.
In most cases, the players that fit this profile were pitchers, with Philadelphia’s Ben Revere being the exception. With a number of hurlers currently on my disabled list nearing return, I am facing a potential roster jam.
Trevor Cahill was first to return, with Ross Detwiler, Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Halladay, Jason Grilli and James McDonald among others who are in line to potentially contribute in the final month to six weeks, if healthy.
With six starters already active, including NL wins leader Francisco Liriano and no-hit master Homer Bailey, I needed to create roster room. Others on my roster are Marco Estrada, Jorge De La Rosa, Jacob Turner and Kyle Lohse.
Though sending out mass trade e-mails is rarely the best way to go, with eight starters I could trade – six actives plus Cahill and Jake Arrieta, who one-hit the Cardinals for six innings Saturday - I had no idea which pitchers might interest which owners.
So, I named all my available starters and asked for offense – any offense – in return. I even offered to provide hitting backfill if that would help ease a deal.
Surely there had to be something for everyone – right?
Not exactly. In fact, almost nothing.
From the 11 other Tout owners, I received exactly one reply. It was an offer for a .230-hitting catcher.
Now, I did not take the lack of response personally, nor did I believe my pitching was worthless.
I decided to try to make lemonade from lemons by making this the subject of my column. To make the exercise more meaningful for you, the reader, I polled my peers for their reasons to reject my overture.
To be entirely honest, in addition to getting column fodder, I held a low-odds hope that my second e-mail might generate some actual trade dialogue.
The specifics from many of the NL Tout warriors follow, but the overriding theme is that no one can spare hitting at this point of the season. Many feel they have more leverage in the offensive categories.
For this to be the case universally across the league despite the wide differences between where these owners sit in the category standings signals a clear gulf in perceived player value in favor of hitters.
Keep this in mind for your leagues, even if the lesson cannot be applied until 2014. I know I will.
Todd Zola summarizes the situation well:
“I've got no hitting to spare - in fact need hitting myself. I lead the league in wins and just got McCarthy and now Gallardo back and was hoping to move pitching but it is not a seller's market. Everyone is looking to move pitching.”
Lenny Melnick believes I waited too long:
“I had high hopes for my pitching after the draft. then I lost Beckett early. Gio stumbled early, Burnett went on the DL, Kennedy bombed then got suspended. I fell behind in wins and K's and decided to add Haren via trade. Haren made it even worse."
“I searched for pitchers then and stumbled on Nicasio and a few others to no avail. Adding a pitcher now will be like chasing a tail. Most starters have 8-9 starts remaining and acquiring one won't help, as gaining points is a function of the entire staff at this point. Offensive injuries have dissipated my strengths and made obtaining a pitcher a trade to make a trade."
“To get the best value in return for a pitcher is to deal him early. At this point, unless the stats are very close, one starter may not help, unless the pitchers who got you in trouble also turn it around, which at this point would be extremely lucky.”
At least Scott Wilderman made an offer, but could not quite do it with a straight face.“Until my injuries heal, I have no offense to offer. The only thing I could part with is perhaps Kimbrel -- Kimbrel and Lombardozzi for Liriano and Estrada?
“I thought not...”
Add Scott Pianowski to the long list of those frustrated in trying and failing to deal arms for bats. In his case, a prime starter was on the block with no interest generated:
“I couldn't give Matt Harvey away all year. I need bats, too.”
Perhaps I should feel better that the league leader and I are on the same wavelength. Then again, Tristan H. Cockcroft cannot find a trade partner, either.
“I was recently looking for nearly the identical thing as you with similar results. The market is poor for pitching-for-hitting deals.”
Peter Kreutzer has been trying to improve his hitting for some time, so he isn’t interested in trading any away.
“My project all summer has been to improve hitting, so trading hitting for pitching didn't fit my objectives.”
Derek Carty is another who sees no advantage in trading.
“Mostly I just don't have any hitting surplus to trade. My team is kind of a mess and I'm happy enough with where my pitching is at right now that I don't think trading for another one would really do me any good. Lincecum is finally pitching well (well, sometimes), and I haven't had Garza, Beachy or Niese the whole year, so if anything I need hitting."“I mean if the price is right, of course I'd be interested, but I just didn't think I'd be able to make a suitable offer.”
Earlier, Phil Hertz unloaded almost all of his starters in an offense-heavy initiative, so he would not be a good match. I guess Phil previously soaked up what limited pitching-for-hitting interest was out there in the league.
“My main interest in a starter is making sure I get to 950 (innings), and my hitting is in a tenuous situation, so giving up a good hitter is a dubious proposition.”
Steve Gardner is another who had already made his deals. I love his humor, though.
“Not much interest from my perspective, especially since I recently traded several bats (Segura, Rendon) to improve my pitching staff (Samardzija, Wainwright)."
“My hitters are dropping like flies in Starling Marte’s glove. The loss of David Wright, possibly for the rest of the season, really hurts my offense, so I’m scrambling to find some warm bodies to fill out that starting lineup.”
Mike Gianella shares more details on his thought process, but the bottom line is the same.
“As I do with every trade query that I receive, general or specific, I took the time to look at the players that you have on offer and see if they would help my team or not."
“Somewhat unintentionally, I only spent $34 on my pitching staff at the auction. I intended to trade for pitching early, but multiple injuries (Ryan Ludwick, Hanley Ramirez, Lucas Duda, Aaron Hill, Pablo Sandoval) put a crimp in this plan. By the time most of these players came back, I was in a deep strikeout hole. The best case scenario with any trade (with you or any team), involved a one-point gain in Ks that I might make anyway. I could move up in wins, ERA, or WHIP, but strikeouts are the one category when acquiring a pitcher where the gains are the least ephemeral and easiest to measure. It looked like a hitter/pitcher trade was going to be a neutral move for me, at best.”
Thank you to all the aforementioned members of National League Tout Wars for participating. Remember, you can seemingly always trade too much hitting, but not necessarily so with pitching.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.