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CommIssues: The C Word

Posted by: Peter Waterman

It happens every year, and it still drives me crazy, every year. A trade is made in the league and while it sits awaiting the 48 hour period when the league can voice their displeasure at the deal someone tosses out the C word. Really? Do we have to go down this road?

Collusion: secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others

That is some pretty heavy stuff, even if the C word is never actually mentioned (sort of like Lord Voldemort).  George Carlin is famous for his 7 dirty words.  If he played fantasy baseball, I am pretty sure Collusion would have made the list.  It is a word that sparks debate.  It is a word that hurts feelings.  It raises the ire of league members.  And it can really piss some owners off.

Let me give some details about the deal in question.  First, this deal went down in a roto league.  The teams involved are a team that currently sits in 8th place and does not have a strong selection of keepers, while the second team is in 4th place and has a solid collection of potential keepers.  The league allows each owner to keep 0 to 5 players, and you can only keep a player 3 times.  If you keep less than 5 you get to “draft” during the keeper rounds, selecting from free agents.  OK, so here are the details of the deal.  Team 1 sent Craig Kimbrell and Brett Gardner to Team 2 for Jose Fernandez and Mike Fiers.

After the deal is done, Team 2 is now rolling out a full rotation of closers on a daily basis, with a few starters streamed in for good measure.  The team still has Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, and is currently on pace to hit the inning cap (1250 innings).  Plenty of ground can be made up in saves, as well as ERA and WHIP, so the conversion over running all closers makes strategic sense.  As for Gardner, he should help in runs, may hit a few HR and even steal a few bases.  Neither of these guys is a likely keeper on this roster.  For Team 1, they land a potential ace in Fernandez, assuming his return from Tommy John is smooth.  Put him in a rotation with potential keepers Jon Lester, Madison Bumgarner and Garrett Richards (also recently DL-bound with season ending knee surgery), and this team could win K’s, while putting up insane win numbers from just these 4 arms.

So why all the noise?  Well, the commish just happens to be in first place.  But he has seen Team 2 cut into that lead, and now Team 2 is a mere 10 points behind in 4th place.  And the points are there for the taking.  The team in second place is also crying foul.  So what were their specific complaints?  Let’s take a look at the comments posted on the site.

Commish: This deal makes no sense to me.  There is no keeper going to Team 1….at best (Fernandez) is a round 7 pick.

My analysis: Umm, I think we can agree to disagree.  Fernandez could certainly be worth a keeper slot on a team that is rebuilding and doesn’t have a full set of stud keepers.  I mentioned the potential rotation, not to mention Xander Bogaerts as the future SS (I still believe in him).  In case you forget how dominant Fernandez was at the start of 2014, here is a quick look back at his stats:

8 starts, 4-2, 51.2 innings, 70 Ks, 2.44 ERA, 0.95 WHIP.  He had 4 starts where he went 6+ innings allowing no earned runs (he did allow 3 unearned runs in one of those starts).  He had 3 games with 10+ Ks.  And for those worried about pitch counts, he went over 100 pitches 3 times, with a high of 114.

Commish: At least 2 other owners agree with me that this deal is garbage.

My analysis: Well, while we are throwing numbers out there, let’s not forget these.  This is a 12 team league.  So, 2 teams and the commish agree, which is 3 teams.  The 2 teams that made the deal and the one other owner who had posted that he saw nothing wrong with this deal certainly agree that the deal is legal.  That would make it 3-3, with 6 votes still outstanding (more on this later).

Guy in 2nd place: There is no rational world where Fernandez is a keeper for next year.

My analysis: First, since when do fantasy owners do anything rational?  And second, no world?  Let’s focus just on this world.  If there are 60 players kept, and you don’t currently own 5 squarely in there, isn’t the lottery ticket known as Jose Fernandez worth 2 guys you probably are not keeping?

Two other owners weigh in at this point and both take the stance that there is nothing wrong with this deal.  That would bring us to 5-3, in favor of allowing the deal to go through.  Of course that leaves 4 owners as abstaining from the discussion thus far.

The thread finishes with a few more posts from the Commish and 2nd place guy, basically saying that Team 1 would be wise to keep no one and draft from the non-keepers.   This got me wondering, have players been drafted in the first 5 “keeper” rounds in the past few years?  And if so, who have these players been?  Maybe more importantly, who could those players be in 2015? And keep in mind, keeping no one is a sound strategy if you have the worst record and thus the #1 pick.  Team 1 is currently in 8th place and would have to really work at tanking to finish last.

Looking at the 2014 draft, there was 1 team that elected to keep no one (and not surprisingly it was the team that finished in last place and had the first overall pick).  With that pick they selected Felix Hernandez, who was already on their roster in 2013.  By not keeping him they effectively reset the keeper clock and can now keep King Felix for 3 years if they so choose.  In Round 2 they selected Jose Reyes and then took Ian Kinsler in Round 3.  Round 4 saw another team enter the mix, so after Shin-soo Choo was selected the next non-keeper “drafted” was Matt Holliday.  In Round 5, 5 non-keepers were selected: Ben Zobrist, Albert Pujols, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain and Anibal Sanchez.  Not exactly a dream team of non-keepers, as an example, Team 2 kept Mike Trout, Robinson Cano, Jose Fernandez, Yu Darvish and Joey Votto (sure, not all those guys panned out as planned this year but all were pretty high on keeper lists).

Just for curiosity, I checked into the 2013 draft as well.  The team that finished second to last elected to keep no one, and took David Wright in round 1, Starlin Castro in round 2, Adrian Gonzalez in round 3, Craig Kimbrel in round 4 and Ben Zobrist in round 5 (wow, Zobrist selected in the supplemental rounds 2 years in a row, so was Matt Holliday interestingly enough).  Again, it is all about owner preference in how you draft your roster, but it is not as if Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Clayton Kershaw are available in the draft.  Having a player of Jose Fernandez’s potential is a gamble worth taking, IMO.

So, while I certainly do not feel that this trade was made in bad faith (I mean it was Team 1 that offered the deal to Team 2), what do you think?  Is there a legitimate gripe from the Commish and Second Place Owner?  Should leagues allow for trades to be voted on by other owners and ultimately vetoed?  I’d would love to hear what you guys think so drop a comment or send me a tweet, let the discussion continue.  BTW, there is absolutely no $$$ involved in this league (if that makes any difference in your opinion).

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3 comments on “CommIssues: The C Word

  1. I feel this trade is fair. The fourth place team has the right to make every move possible to catch up to first. I do believe all trades should be up for a vote though. I am in a league that it automatically takes effect and there is collusion. The commissioner makes outlandish trades and gets away with it. Several people call him out and nothing happens. This year, the commissioner sits in 3rd place, sent Tulowitzki (out for season), Carlos Gonzalez (out for season), Justin Verlander to the 10th place team. In return the third place team receives Buster Posey, Ian Desmond, and Felix Hernandez. This league is NOT a keeper league. Call foul?

    • Bogus trade, absolutely.
      I would e-mail those in the league that you trust and have a small private conversation about the commish. It’s obvious he needs to be removed.
      If you all come to the same agreement about the commish, here is what I would do.

      It’s too late for this year and he’s not going to give up power. Next year though, he’s done. Someone else should step up next year, starts the league and invites everyone to join. Come up with a set of rules regarding trading that everyone who joins must agree upon. Tell the former commish he is welcome to be in the league, but he will a. not be in charge and b. be under scrutiny with any and all trades. If he agrees fine, if not, you replace him. Even if he does agree, have a backup person in mind as you may have to replace him during the season.

      If he agrees but still continues to complain and raise a stink about it, kick him out and ban him. I say give him a chance because I know someone like this. They cheated to win and everyone quit. I started a league the following year and he was invited to join because he was a strong player, but he was given no control over anything. Everyone is different and you know what he’s done in the past better than I so use your own discretion.

      Also assign a co-commissioner. This keeps things in check and gives you a fail safe if there is a disagreement between the commissioner and another owner.

      As for your commissioner, and people like this in general, I think it is sad when you have to cheat to win. Nobody cares about your virtual trophy case. All you are doing by cheating is padding your own personal ego and disrespecting everyone else in your league. If your life is that empty that you have to cheat to win some fake game to make yourself feel superior, I feel sorry for you.

  2. The trade detailed in this article is 100% legit.

    The one in the comment section is pure collusion. There is no other explanation for it. Jim offers a rather diplomatic solution, but if I started a new league, there is no chance I would invite a known cheater to join it. Just not worth the headache.

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