TTFBL Bottomfeeder's Report - Week Eight

In which a long hiatus is finally broken, and alternate universes are explored.

Hey guys. Sorry for the long time away.


Part of my problem, I think, is that I realize that 26 weeks is a lot of weeks to try to come up with things that are on-point, or at least interesting, for people who aren't into the TTFBL to look at. Sure, I could bitch week after week about how Michael Cuddyer's fall-off from his early-season hot start is hurting my chances of catching the #6 team by the end of the season, but Jesse and the guys have done yeoman's work making Twinkietown into a place where random, unsupported bitching is generally off-point. (We back up our bitching with *science*!)

At the same time, I recognize that some folks might actually be interested in some of the details of the league, or even in some aspects of the league's tools, so that straight discussions of those topics, while possibly boring for the general crowd, aren't necessarily totally off-point. So I'm going to try that this week, by introducing a feature of the Sportsline Fantasy League tools that makes for a more interesting take on the typical question of 'is this a good trade'?

Say you're a team that seems to have plenty of starting pitching, but you're missing power and RsBI. You could look down your opponents' rosters and try to find someone you might be able to pry away for a song because the other owner seems to have surplus production, or you might find that the surplus production isn't really surplus in your opponent's eyes, and anyway, he's saving it to trade for a different commodity than wins and strikeouts. You might check out the trade block and see who's available, or you may notice that you were the last one to update any league trade block and that was over a month ago, making the information there likely woefully out of date. (By the way, that's not a knock on my fellow owners -- when you've only seen four trades in the entire life of the league, some of which occurred before the first game of the season, it's hard to get excited about the possibility of a trade offer coming over the transom.)

But how should you value your player, in absolute terms? How do you think your opponent is likely to value his player, in absolute terms? You may think Jacoby Ellsbury for Kevin Slowey is an interesting trade, but your opponent might think it's outlandishly slanted against him. How to tell without sending an actual trade request? (Because if it turns out Ellsbury for Slowey is wildly slanted -- against you -- you may find you've made the trade before you really understand how bad it is.)

One tool to help depends on there being many different leagues using the same set of tools. As part of the information available about each player in the league, you can see how other leagues have valued that player by seeing what trades that player has been a part of.

Let's say you're really interested in Ryan Howard, and you think his slow start in 2010 might make him available for less than his draft value. A quick check of the player info page shows that Howard has been involved in the following deals:

Howard for Joey Votto (Reds 1B) and Jered Weaver (Angels SP)

Howard for Brian Fuentes (Angels RP), Aaron Harang (Reds SP), and Randy Wolf (Brewers SP)

Howard for Hanley Ramirez (Marlins SS)

In other words, other leagues have valued Howard pretty highly despite his not-so-hot start; you're likely going to have to come up with solid value even to get the other owner to consider your deal.

So you decide to deal the guy you think is your best starter, Matt Cain. Is that likely to work? You check the league history and find:

Cain for Heath Bell (Padres RP)

Cain for Brian Fuentes (Angels RP)

Cain for Chris B. Young (Diamondbacks OF)

The odds don't look good, especially since one recent Cain trade involves just one of the players that went with two others to get Howard. Straight-up Cain for Howard probably isn't worth offering. The real killer is the one you find just earlier today, in a league that uses scoring rules probably very like yours:

Cain and Mariano Rivera (Yankee RP) for Justin Morneau (Twins 1B)

So, no, Cain isn't going straight up for any top-flight slugging first baseman.

But maybe Cain isn't your best bargaining chip? You've also got Yankee hot-shot Phil Hughes. How about him?

Hughes for Scott Baker (Twins SP) and Denard Span (Twins OF)

Hughes for Ike Davis (Mets 1B) and Vladimir Guerrero (Rangers DH)

Hughes for Jason Bay (Mets LF)

Hughes for Casey McGehee (Brewers 3B) (twice!)

So no, you probably won't pry Howard away for Hughes alone, but Hughes is clearly a better bargaining chip than Cain.

The one drawback to the trade history, and a drawback that, if fixed, would make the tool far more valuable, is that you can't search for a combination of players -- for instance, you can't search for trades in which both Cain and Hughes were offered as part of a package to see what they've drawn from other owners.

Still, the tool is interesting, if only for a glance at another measure of value to consider in your own trading strategies -- alerting you to trade opportunities you might not otherwise consider. It also lets you browse the minds of other owners, and perhaps even find yourself surprised at times (Denard Span for Matt Cain? Seriously?), which I can imagine would lead to loads of fun in social leagues.

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