Thursday, June 21, 2012

More (Unwanted) Trading Advice

Earlier this year, my wife and I decided to buy a new house. No, this isn't entirely accurate. Three years ago I started pissing and moaning about how the row home I live in is too small and we need a bigger house and my wife was reluctant to move. It took two years to convince her, and by that point we both figured we would wait until my oldest daughter was ready to go to kindergarten so it was another year before we started exploring the market.

Some houses sell themselves I suppose, but in the price range my wife and I were comfortable with, this simply wasn't the case. Even the best houses we looked had some aspects that - while not exactly flaws - were definitely not what I was envisioning when we set out to find our "ideal" house. I love the house we decided to buy, but if you had described it to me before we started looking, I wouldn't have even put it on my short list. 

As a writer, I'm probably more critical of those short real estate blurbs that you see on a sales sheet than most. Actually, there's no probably about it; my wife is also a writer and spent a lot of time during our house search rolling her eyes at me as I either laughed or mocked the short paragraph describing the house someone was trying to sell. Bad writing was never a deal breaker in terms of what I would or wouldn't see, but in terms of how I reacted to a house, writing was essential.

Many Rotisserie owners I know don't think of trading in terms of trying to make a sale. But that's what you're doing every time you reach out to another owner or send a league wide missive to your fellow owners. You're trying to convince someone to give you something of his for something of yours. It would seem like this should be easy, but there are usually a few factors working against you.

People Like Their Players. In keeper leagues in particular, people tend to get attached to the guys they own. You might think Edwin Jackson is pitching over his head, but the owner who gambled on EJax and is being rewarded with a strong season isn't going to see it that way. Start talking about how disappointing Brett Lawrie is to Lawrie's owner, and I'm certain that you're not going to get a positive response.

An Obvious Trade for You Isn't an Obvious Trade for Him. Even if you've sat there and done your homework and are convinced that flipping your pitcher for his hitter will benefit both of you, the other owner might not see it that way. Whether there is a difference in opinion where he stands in the categories or what that particular player might do for the rest of the season, your proposal that nets your opponent five points in the standings might be seen as a neutral move.

People Fear Change. Everyone wants to win. But no one wants to make the trade that will be the deal that cost him his season. Many owners would rather play it safe and finish third or fourth than roll the dice and wind up finishing eighth because they gambled on Jon Lester and Lester didn't return to form in the second half. This is human nature and goes beyond Rotisserie. There are personality types that would rather stay in the neighborhood they grew up in or keep the job they have rather than take a chance on a promotion with more money and more responsibility. If all other things are equal, an owner will often stand pat.

So how does this all tie back into real estate? I'm glad you asked, imaginary reader that is really just a voice inside my head.

Keep Your "I"s Inside Your Head
I don't really care where the owners of my potential new house are moving or why they're selling their house. We're not going to exchange Christmas cards or have black tie dinners together after I sign my life away at the closing table. I've probably stood on this soapbox before, but your opponent is going to glaze over if you start talking about what you need or what you want instead of what he might need or want. An e-mail that starts out with "I need speed and you have just the guy I'm looking for" isn't going to generate a good response. But an e-mail that says, "you look like you need a starting pitcher and I'm looking to trade one" is much better. 

The Deal You Want Might Involve Settling
Like I said above, you might not wind up buying your dream house; in fact you probably won't. Some of the things you thought you wanted or could afford are going to disappear once your budget comes into play. In Roto, you obviously don't want to trade Josh Hamilton for Bruce Chen. But your potential trading partner might not see eye to eye with you on value. Go into your negotiations with a broad idea about what it is you will or won't accept. And keep in mind that there is a floor. The Hamilton/Chen example is clearly an exaggerated case, but at some point you have to be ready to walk away. 

Don't Over Promise
One of the biggest disappointments when looking at houses was when something in the house wasn't as good as advertised. I walked into one house with decent appliances that were advertised as "top of the line" and found myself disappointed even though top-of-the-line appliances weren't even something on the top of my wish list. If the seller's agent had merely mentioned that the appliances were included, I would have been happy that the house had a working washer/dryer, dishwasher and stove. If you're not going to trade Justin Verlander or Cole Hamels, that's fine, but don't tell your fellow owners that you're willing to trade anyone and then offer this caveat in the middle of the negotiations. A disappointed owner is far less likely to make a trade.

Don't Advertise The Little Things
Yes, you have two working toilets. No, I don't really need to see a picture of your toilets unless they can spit out gold doubloons and sing the soundtrack to Oklahoma (which, come to think of it, would just be weird and not a selling point at all). Mike McCoy and Jayson Nix might be on your team, but no I don't want them, not even in the deepest of deep leagues that I play in. This should seem obvious, but in deep leagues I often get e-mails from owners listing practically every player on their roster as "available", including the detritus like McCoy and Nix. I suspect owners think that they're giving me the idea that they have more to sell. What they're really doing, though, is making me think that they don't have a lot to offer if they're resorting to including guys like McCoy and Nix in their e-mails.

Assume Your Trading Partner Is As Brilliant and Handsome As You Are
There is always a difference of opinion on what a house is worth and what its owner thinks its worth. Thanks to the Internets, though, it's pretty easy to see when a house sticks out like a sore thumb in a price range that's just too high. In trading, we all have differences of opinion. But bad offers are the same as overpriced houses: they stick out like a sore thumb, particularly if you're an active owner that negotiates regularly with the entire league. Before you offer up Yonder Alonso for Matt Cain, think about how you would react if someone made that offer to you. Would this offer open up the door for further negotiations? Or would you simply delete the e-mail with this offer and be more wary of dealing with this owner in the future?

There are no hard and fast rules for trading in Rotisserie. But remember that every time you try to make a trade, you're trying to make a sale, and this isn't always the easiest thing to do. Every e-mail you write or phone call you make should keep this idea in mind. Of course, your goal is to help your team win the title. But stating that - either overtly or covertly - isn't going to get the deal done.

1 comment:

KeithyP said...

Well said. I just traded Jason Kubel/Jeremy Hellickson for Yovani Gallardo/Drew Stubbs

it is a pts league where only the starting team(2 players at each pos, player with more pts on starting team) matters towards standings.

All 4 players involved in the deal were on our backup teams, but Kubel and Gallardo jumped to respective starting teams.

Anyway the point is that my email clearly stated that he was earning 4x the points that I was and acknowledged the fact that we were swapping DL players (Stubbs/Hellickson)

I am confident that Gallardo will have more points than Kubel come seasons end

But i felt like i reassured him that the deal benefitted him enough to make the deal