Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What's the Worst That Could Happen?

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For many of us, our Roto trade deadline is approaching. If your leagues are like mine, then you've probably made most of the significant moves you're going to make, and are just tweaking your team at this point to try and improve yourself on the margins. If you have an injury this week, you might wind up surrendering that farm player or draft pick you were hoping to hang onto and welcoming someone fringy into the fold. Hello, Magglio Ordonez. Hey Mike Carp, didn't think I'd see you on my team. Phil Hughes? Gee, I hope that last start is the beginning of a trend.

This time of year, teams often think about trying to grab a number of starting pitchers in an effort to try to grab a lot of wins and strikeouts and/or move up in ERA/WHIP. This is usually not an attempt to gain a point here or a point there but rather an effort to make a Hail Mary (pardon me for mixing my sports metaphors).

The biggest conundrum here is that the pitchers available typically aren't that good. Aces are typically not available and the second-tier guys go for too much. This leaves the guys in the middle or worse for trade and the drek in the free agent pool to pick up.

Generally, these types of starters at this point in the season are a bad play. A.J. Burnett was dropped for a reason; while trading for new N.L.-only import Edwin Jackson might seem like a good idea, last night's start probably gave you pause.

There's nothing wrong with trading for these types of guys if you think they'll improve your team. But try to look at it through a broader lens. Would you trade Paul Konerko for Ivan Nova in April? You know your categories better than I do, so maybe that's a good trade for your team. Odds are, though, that it's a very bad trade for your team.

One of the most difficult things about this time of year is that we know when our teams our close enough to winning but probably won't win. It's painful to sit back and do nothing when we're only a few points out of first place. Sometimes, though, it's better to do that than it is to make a trade that will definitely make your team worse, and ERA/WHIP are the two categories where it can go very wrong, very fast.

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