Friday, March 09, 2007

Determining What You Need

Value alone cannot be used to assess off-season trades. It becomes harder to rely on a true value assessment when you're dealing with scarcity: either positional or categorical.

I have Mike Mussina at $14. Another owner offers me Frank Thomas at $8. Should I make the trade?

From a pure value standpoint, yes. I have Mussina slated to earn $20 and Thomas earning $18. With the 30% or so inflation I'm guessing, Thomas will gain me +11.74 over the $8 hitter I'd buy in the auction. Mussina will gain me +9.48 over the $14 pitcher I'd buy in the auction. I should make the deal based on value alone.

However, a quick review of the anticipated freezes in my league tells me not to make that trade, for the following reasons:
  • Eight of the top 12 hitters will be available in my auction, according to my projections. Drilling down further, 17 of the top 30 hitters will be available. Compared to some seasons, this is a fairly hitting-rich auction.
  • On the contrary, only 8 starting pitchers with a $10 or higher bid are available. This is a pitching-poor auction.
  • Thomas is a DH-only. In an auction with a lot of hitting to go around, I'm not sure if I want to clog up my DH with a solid but old hitter.
  • Mussina is one of only two starters I plan to freeze. In a pitching-poor auction, I don't want to go in needing 3-4 starters.
Generally speaking, this type of risk assessment can be done for any trade you are making. If you know a trade offers superior value, but you've got cold feet, quickly run through your projected freezes, either on paper or in the software program you're using. In my league, for example, a quick glance tells me that:
  • All of the infield positions will be pretty thin in the auction, with the exception of 3B. I'll bump up Juan Uribe by $2-3, making him a little harder to trade if asked. Mark Teahen could be made available in the right deal for a comparably valued 1B, 2B or SS...of course, I have Teahen at $2, so that will be hard to do.
  • Outfield is rich: five players project at $30 or higher and 22 players at $10 or higher. It's worth considering moving an OF if an owner has 3 or more.
  • Catching is thin, is always. I have no catcher freezes. I might overpay a little to get a catcher, though I'll want to be careful not to grab an overpriced backstop for the sake of having one.
  • Three top closers are available...if I have the money, I'll spend it there.

Without this kind of analysis, you're trading in a vacuum. There's nothing wrong with trading Mussina for Thomas per se, but you have to know your roster AND your league. A couple of teams have four starting pitcher freezes, which puts them in a strong trading position. If they don't realize it, they're good owners to try and grab an arm from. If they do realize it, I still might overpay, if I want to lock in an SP before the auction.

Again, it's important to remember that value still comes first. If someone offered me a strong enough freeze for Mussina, I'd make the trade, and worry about SP later, either in the auction or later on after the season started.

But will I have enough to compete, even after I've made my trades? And what if I don't? I'll tackle that in my next post.

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