Thursday, August 07, 2008

Keeping Players Traded to the "Other" League

Continuing yesterday's thread, anonymous asks:
I've seen some leagues continue to keep stats for players who switch leagues, and I think it makes some sense since interleague play started several years ago and the idea of NL hitters hitting only NL pitchers is a thing of the past.

Do you have any recommended alterations to the rule?
Though I can see the appeal of keeping players traded to the "other" league, I'm personally against it, for some of the same reasons I outlined yesterday.

I can see the appeal of the rule. It allows a team not to randomly lose a player to the "other" league, thus hindering his team unfairly if his CC Sabathia gets traded out but my A.J. Burnett doesn't. Worse, if both Player A and Player B are trade risks, and Player A gets traded to the other league and Player B stays in my league, I've essentially benefited from dumb luck.

But dumb luck is as much a part of the game as skill. Milton Bradley only went for $17 in my league because most owners thought he was an injury risk and/or an attitude risk. No one dared question Bradley's talent, but they didn't want to pay $25-30 and see him fizzle out. That hasn't happened, and right now it looks like that $17 gamble on Bradley's going to pay big dividends.

What happens if Bradley gets hurt? Do we get some sort of reward for his missing stats?

No, we don't. We understood the risk when we bought him and we accepted that risk.

The same can be said for players who might get traded to the other league. CC Sabathia and Rich Harden were both knows risks to get flipped to the National League. Owners who bought or froze these players knew the risk and, in some leagues, got a discount. As a result, they got burned.

I look at the scenario with Bradley versus the scenarios with Sabathia/Harden as similar. With injury risks and trade risks we take a chance. That chance may pay off or it may not. If Sabathia stays in the league, great. If not, your gamble doesn't pay off. So be it.

Interleague play has made the American and National Leagues more similar...but not alike. If your league allowed you to keep Sabathia, he gets to face the opposing pitcher and a weak pinch hitter three times a game. That actually gives his owner an advantage.

If you are going to let players who are traded to the other league stay in your player pool, I argue that the only fair way to do it is to prohibit players traded in from the other league to be acquired as free agents. If you can't lose Manny, why should you gain Bay? The Red Sox can't play 10 hitters in their line-up; your league shouldn't be allowed to go over, either.

As always, these are just my opinions on the rules. Every league is different and has different ideas about what works and doesn't.

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