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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

Though we come from different walks of life, we are all busy people through the detailed fabric of our daily lives – with commitments to our families, friends, jobs and the like.

Here in the fantasy baseball world, there is no way around the fact that trading takes time and effort.

As a result, the two can - and often do - come into conflict.

While there have been many articles – here and elsewhere – about the ins and outs of trading, I do not recall having ever written about the time and effort angle – until now, that is.

As we are now partway through the 2017 season’s third month, it is definitely time to take stock of our fantasy roster needs.

But again, to pull off a deal means that someone is going to have to put the effort into analysis. Basic questions must be answered, such as - What are my team’s needs and what can I afford to give up to satisfy them? I consider that a “meets minimum” effort.

The better traders study the remainder of the league as well and target owners who look to have compatible needs. They float a personal feeler - whether via phone, email or text – identifying what they have to offer and suggesting potential and reasonable trade subjects.

In one of my leagues, a long-standing owner has been doing just the opposite. Over the last three weeks, this team owner has sent out an extended series of mass emails looking for a trade.

I see a number of learning opportunities from this owner’s approach, which will be detailed below.

Lesson #1: Customize your method of approaching peers. Ideally, in long-standing leagues, you may have begun long ago to file away information on how certain owners prefer to communicate and their likelihood of trading - or at least which channels they ignore. For example, if emails do not work, try to reach out via another, more personal approach.

Lesson #2: Avoid sending multiple broadcast emails to the entire league. One, I can deal with, but eight is crazy. In this case, it is clear the owner hoping to trade does not want to invest the time to try to identify a trade partner who may be more likely to trade. Instead, he expects someone else to do the necessary analysis. Not surprisingly, it seems no one took him up on it – over and over again.

Lesson #3: Don’t be vague. Never has the sender taken the time in any of his communications to even identify which league he is talking about. Many of us industry types play in a number of competitions in which we intersect. So, the first challenge here was trying to determine even where the owner was coming from. The only way to figure it out was to sift through the email distribution list looking for unique names. This is another example of how the initiating owner hurt his own chances of finding a trade partner by wasting the time of the other 11 owners – just to be able to interpret his email. With just a little more care and consideration, this could have been very easily avoided.

Lesson #4: Don’t beat a dead horse. If you don’t get a response, try something else. This particular owner has sent out eight emails since May 19, seeking essentially the same trade – his hitter for your pitcher. After a few tries, this moved from being mildly amusing firmly into the annoying stage, with joking comments that could rub some others – all experienced industry analysts – the wrong way.

The full text of the eight emails follow, with only the identifying details altered.

Email #1 May 19: “Subject: Offering Trade”
“Will deal ‘Mr. X’ for very good starter..Operators are standing by”
As a point of background, “Mr. X” is a former MVP who has fallen upon rougher times the last few seasons, dropping from an elite performer to a league-average one.

#2 May 26: “2nd-year guy or Mr. X or anyone else for Good Starter”
The owner expanded the scope of available players to include an offensive performer who is in his second full season of play. “2nd-year guy” is a good enough hitter, but not of All-Star caliber.

#3 May 27: “Ok Im upping the ante ‘Good 3bman’ for a good good starter + Need a MI for position mix to move (another player) to 3rd”
He only waited 27 hours before his next communication. This third baseman is having a career year, but has not been an All-Star yet. This could be the season.

However, the owner narrowed his scope of potential trade partners by adding the requirement of a middle infielder on top of his top starting pitcher need. This is an –only league, so the waiver wire rarely has hitters available with more than 10 at-bats the prior week – and those players are quickly scooped up.

#4 May 27 (just three minutes after note #3): “867-5309 if easier”
OK, at least he is willing to take phone calls – and offered up his phone number. But again, you have to call HIM.

#5 June 5: “Looking to trade offense for a Good Starting pitcher”
At this point, the trade proposal has gone entirely generic – as he is no longer mentioning names.

#6 June 5 (nine hours later): “I will be sending a very good offensive player to another team by Friday Hurry if you want him!!”
Now, in his sixth email, the seller is trying a new tactic – suggesting he has at least one offer on the table while trying to solicit a higher bid. Does anyone really believe this? The tone gives more of the feel of a late-night TV infomercial than a serious trade communication to industry peers.

#7 June 6: (no text, just a copy of the #6 June 5 email re-sent)
OK, now the guy is getting plain annoying. Why doesn’t he understand that we all saw his other two emails within the last 24 hours, as well as the four prior to that? Our missing his emails is not why he is receiving no response.

#8 June 11: “Today.,is the day Trading Offense U nmae the player for GOOD SP Thanks”
June 11 was Sunday, but the way. The supposed Friday deadline was already two days past.

This email is pasted verbatim. You can tell just from reading it the amount of effort being put into engineering a trade. Why work on a specific swap when you can grind your peers with the same generic message over and over? Maybe he believes that someone will give in and make a deal with him - just to stop his emails.

In fact, a reply was finally received. It came from another owner, who copied the entire league in his sarcastic comment following email #8: “The suspense is killing us.”

It is not my intent to call anyone out, as many of us may know someone like this. Instead, I am offering this example as what not to do – if you want to get a trade done, that is.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 18-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter @B_Walton.

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