Full Disclosure: When nonsense makes sense
There are all types of trade beliefs and strategies out there, but it's impossible to always live by them. Our Scott White recently went against virtually every philosophy he's preached and explains his thinking in his latest edition of Full Disclosure.
I paced around my living room this morning, dreading this very moment.
How oh how would I explain the trade I just made? How could I pass it off as something constructive for the handful of people who actually rely on me for guidance? How could I quell the hordes of angry e-mailers telling me they could do my job better than me?
It's just so unlike me. Yet it happened, and by my own volition. Tired of sinking in the standings and absorbing negatives from my patchwork pitching staff in my 20-team Head-to-Head league, I traded Jayson Werth -- the fourth-ranked outfielder in that league and all standard leagues, mind you -- for Joel Pineiro and John Lannan .
|Jose Reyes (DL)||SS||NYM|
|Gary Sheffield (DL)||OF||NYM|
|Chris Young (DL)||SP||SD|
|Randy Johnson (DL)||SP||SF|
|Pedro Martinez (DL)||SP||PHI|
It's a dangerous move -- dangerous to make and even more dangerous to tell you about, because if somebody interprets it the wrong way, it could undo months of progress.
I could tally up everything wrong with the deal, but the list would go on forever. I didn't get the best player. I gave up an elite player without getting one in return. I traded hitting for pitching -- and overachieving, non-strikeout pitching at that. I basically broke every so-called rule in one fell swoop.
But I had to do it. When I stepped back and examined the situation objectively, assessing it strictly in terms of wins and losses between now and the playoffs, the only thing keeping me from agreeing to the deal was my own sticky web of rules.
So with precedent thrown out the window, let's examine why this particular trade worked for me at this particular time, assuming it does actually end up working.
20-team mixed Head-to-Head (4th NL-only side; Record: 8-8)
(10 teams NL-only, 10 teams AL-only)
First of all, just look at my record. Yeah, I lost again. At .500, the only thing keeping me in playoff position is a slight points advantage, but with my team trending in the wrong direction and some of the teams below me pulling off some lopsided trades of their own, I'm hanging by a thread. If left unattended, that thread would've broken, my team would've fallen, and I'd have wasted six months, $25 and thousands and thousands of words on a failure. Something had to change.
That something quite obviously was my pitching staff, which combined for minus-17 points last week, minus-6 if you count the relievers. Granted, I didn't expect much from it. When you turn to Braden Looper , Tim Stauffer , Todd Wellemeyer and Ryan Sadowski as four of your starting five, you're asking for trouble. But I expected something. If I get nothing, literally nothing, from my pitchers (and in this case, less than nothing), I don't stand a chance of winning anything.
The playoffs begin in Week 20. I have four weeks to secure a spot, and the way I see it, I have to go 3-1 the rest of the way to make it happen. I had originally hoped I could survive with that garbage staff until Ryan Dempster , Chris Young and Randy Johnson returned from the disabled list, but so far, only Dempster has returned. I still have three junk hurlers in my rotation, and in a scoring format where minus-15 is almost as common as plus-15 for pitchers, that's no way to go 3-1.
So clearly, I needed pitching. Nobody would debate that point. But why did I settle for those specific pitchers in exchange for someone as good as Werth? Why didn't I trade a lesser position player or target a better pitcher?
Part of my reasoning is something I'll call the curse of the loaded lineup. I had only high-end guys like Werth, Shane Victorino and Lance Berkman , and low-end guys like Pedro Feliz and Randy Winn . I didn't have any of those middle-tier players like Todd Helton or Dan Uggla who could compete on equal terms with pitchers like Pineiro and Lannan.
|Jose Reyes (DL)||SS||NYM|
I had no choice but to trade a high-end guy, and of the ones on my roster, Werth made the most sense. Three of his best four weeks have come in the last five weeks, so he's due for a downturn. He's a streaky player -- he said so himself -- and if he happened to emerge from this 30-point-per-week binge with 10-15 points each of the next three weeks, I'd be doomed. I'd still have the same crummy pitching, only without all the offensive support Werth has provided lately.
So if, in a manner of speaking, I halfway expected to lose Werth anyway, why not trade him for something I actually needed? If I was looking at a longer time period -- one where he'd have enough time to rebound from the approaching cold streak with another hot streak -- I'd prefer to keep him, but I can only afford to care about the next four weeks. If I don't make the playoffs, what he does in September means nothing to me.
Logical enough, right? But it still doesn't explain why I went for Pineiro and Lannan and not something, um ... let's just say "safer."
Quite frankly, I needed the numbers more than the high-end talent. I'm sure I could have traded Werth for someone like Roy Oswalt , and in a standard-size league, where pitchers like Lannan and maybe even Pineiro go widely unowned, that's the way to go. But in a league where the best available free agents are Wellemeyer and Sadowski, sometimes you just need able bodies. I wanted to drown out the negative points, and one pitcher wasn't enough to do it. Who cares what Oswalt could do if one of Wellemeyer and Sadowski would quickly undo it?
No, to actually fix my pitching staff, I had to replace both Wellemeyer and Sadowski. I could settle for no fewer than two pitchers, and I had the bargaining chip to get them. I saw two teams that had a desperate need in the outfield and could afford to lose two pitchers. One of them declined my offer; one of them accepted. And there you have it: hitting for pitching.
I think I'll still have one of the better offenses in the league. I replaced Werth with Seth Smith , who I like. I wish he had a more encouraging first week on the job, but I have confidence in him nonetheless. Besides, if I managed to have one of the highest-scoring offenses even with my first two draft picks -- Jose Reyes and Lance Berkman -- on the DL, imagine how much better I'll get once they return. (Lord, I hope Reyes does.)
Obviously, Pineiro and Lannan went right into my starting rotation, where Craig Stammen got the nod over Stauffer because of a two-start week. Wellemeyer and Sadowski have since gone to the waiver wire.
|Jorge De La Rosa||SP||COL|
|Kevin Slowey (DL)||SP||MIN|
I don't know if this trade will get my team to the playoffs. For all I know, it did more harm than good. Hey, if someone sent me an e-mail asking me, without context, if he should trade Werth for Pineiro and Lannan, I wouldn't even deem the question worthy of publication. It's such an obvious "no."
But in a league this deep, with the end this close and my options so few, I had to make a move this desperate to have a fighting chance.
12-team mixed Rotisserie (1st; 5x5 Score: 79.0)
Let's move on to something less gloomy, shall we? I'm in first place!
Granted, it's a three-way tie for first place, but it still feels good. I haven't had a first-place team in any of these five leagues since about Week 4.
This race is tight, tight, tight, which means every lineup decision I make becomes magnified. I can't afford to wait on underachievers anymore. A hesitation now could mean the difference between first and fourth place.
With that in mind, I canned Scott Downs . Why not? He hasn't really done anything for me yet. I missed most of his nine saves on the year, so he's really just taking up space. And it's not like his five earned runs over his last three innings hint of good times ahead. If I had a bench, I'd stash him, but I don't, so he's gone.
Replacing him is Joel Pineiro , who I don't fully trust, but his numbers speak for themselves. He won't give me many strikeouts, but then again, neither did Downs.
I've almost reached a point where I'm ready to cast aside Aubrey Huff for good, but I wanted to leave him in the lineup for just this last week. He's at home and facing all righties. He struggles on the road and against lefties. If he can't make something happen this week, I'll cut him for the best player available on waivers.
|Luis Montanez (DL)||OF||BAL|
|Tim Wakefield (DL)||P||BOS|
|Kevin Slowey (DL)||P||MIN|
|Daisuke Matsuzaka (DL)||P||BOS|
|Koji Uehara (DL)||P||BAL|
Actually, someone just recently cut Juan Rivera . I should go make that switch now before somebody beats me to it. I already have Huff locked in for this week anyway.
10-team mixed Head-to-Head (4th; Record: 9-7)
This league puts me in a bad mood.
I have the most points, but the record of the Cleveland Browns in a good year. And I just lost two completely winnable games in a row. Why? I don't know. Somebody hates me -- somebody with power.
You know, if I miss the playoffs in a league where I have obvious flaws but am fighting tooth and nail to get the most out of what I have, that's one thing. I'll survive if I miss the playoffs in that 20-team mixed league, for instance. But if I miss the playoffs in this league, where I clearly have one of the most dominant teams, I'll have to throw something heavy and loud.
I shouldn't have to stress so much over a team so good, but thanks to someone's twisted ambitions, I do.
All right, all right ... conspiracy theories won't get me anywhere. Good lineup decisions will, and I could have used some last week when I decided to play two-start Dallas Braden over one-start Matt Garza . That was the difference in the game, folks. I got cute, and I paid for it.
I had a chance to get cute again this week with Matt Garza facing the Yankees and J.A. Happ facing the Diamondbacks, but in an effort to follow my newfound no-cuteness policy, I stuck with Garza. Just to avoid any future cuteness, I think I'll stick with the same five starting pitchers every week. We'll see how long that lasts.
I only made it harder on myself by adding Jorge De La Rosa . The guy deserves more credit than he's getting. I know he had some rough starts earlier in the year, but he has a 2.08 ERA over his last five and had a 3.08 ERA in the second half last year. He's also averaging more than a strikeout per inning, so I don't know what more he needs to do to get your attention.
I kept my starting lineup virtually the same, though I did substitute Denard Span for the slumping Melvin Upton . I need a win too badly this week to take a chance on a single-digit performance from Upton. I also kept Andre Ethier in the lineup even though he tends to struggle on the road, hitting only four of his 20 home runs. Still, he's too hot to sit.
Expect to see David Aardsma starting over Ryan Franklin most weeks going forward. I only recently caught on to the fact he has significantly outperformed Franklin since the end of May. Look it up.
|Jorge De La Rosa||P||COL|
|Alfredo Amezaga (DL)||SS/OF||FLA|
|Brett Myers (DL)||P||PHI|
12-team AL-only Rotisserie (5th; 5x5 Score: 61.0)
I don't know if I can make the leap into fourth place. I'll need to come up with about 20 points between now and the end of the season, and I don't know how much more I can squeeze out of a team that spent so much of the season in 11th place.
I still have all of my FAAB dollars, so maybe if a big bat changes leagues, I can cash in. I like those Adrian Gonzalez rumors I'm hearing.
Until then, I'll just have to settle for what I have. I don't have much trade bait anymore -- not after the moves I've already made -- but someone tried to pry Brian Roberts away from me, offering Russell Branyan in return. His sales pitch made sense. Based on the way my team's stats compare to everyone else's, I can't really lose any ground in stolen bases, but I can make up some ground in home runs and RBI. For another player, I might have done it, but I get the feeling Branyan will do more harm than good to my batting average between now and the end of the year. He was just too hot for too long. Plus, I could see the Mariners moving him at the trade deadline, possibly to an NL team.
I'd still rather have a hitter than a pitcher, though that seasoning-ending injury to Kevin Slowey does hurt a bit. OK, it hurts a lot. With only two starting pitchers, I might lose significant ground in the wins category. Maybe I'll get some good news on Tim Wakefield or Daisuke Matsuzaka soon.
12-team NL-only Rotisserie (5th; 5x5 Score: 69.5)
Looks like we get to end this column on a good note. After gaining 11 points last week, I'm back in the top half of the standings, which means for the first time all year, I'm in the mix in all five leagues featured in this column.
And unlike in my AL-only league, I have chance to keep moving up in this one. My offense has become one of the better ones in the league, and my overachieving starting pitchers have overachieved to the point we should probably just call them achievers now. About the only thing that could ruin me is J.A. Happ going to the Blue Jays.
Mark DeRosa looks like he can hit just as well with a hurt wrist as with a healthy one, so I can breathe a sigh of relief after spending all of my FAAB dollars on him. No regrets there. Sure, you could argue I should have saved those dollars for Matt Holliday instead, but if I did and he didn't get traded, I would have some regrets. You can't get too cute with your FAAB dollars in these single-league formats. You want to save them all for a big acquisition, but if you try to wait for that perfect acquisition, you'll likely end up with nothing.
With Ryan Dempster coming off the DL, one pitcher had to go. I opted for Greg Burke . Mike Adams looks like a keeper.
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