March 25, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 92  

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Fantasy baseball part II: the art of trading

On the DL
David Lee

Sports Editor

Ric Flair once said “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”

The same holds true for fantasy baseball. For anyone that’s played fantasy ball, you know that one person in your league who’s always a leg up on the competition. He (or she, though fantasy baseball seems to have a disproportionate amount of male players) seems to have ESP and is always making the smart moves. He lets go of streaking players right before they crash and picks up slumping players just before they recover. How does he it?

I won’t lie to you — keeping on top of fantasy baseball takes time and commitment. You’ve got to read experts’ columns, features and daily updates about players’ performance and health. But there’s an easier way to get ahead and it comes in the glory that is the unfair trade.

The first step towards making a favourable trade is identifying strong areas on your own team. By doing this, you’ll be able to see where you can afford to lose talent. A prime example of this would be having two elite shortstops on your team, as I did after my 2003 draft. This type of advantage needs to be properly leveraged; otherwise, you’ll end up playing a stud SS at your Utility spot, something that would be much better used by a bomb-launching corner infielder/ outfielder or a speedster to add to your SB.

Next, identify teams that are weak in your strong areas. If you’ve got an extra closer, look for teams that are short on relief. Instead of waiting for teams to come to you, take the offer to them. You’d be surprised how many managers will entertain offers they would have never made in the first place.

Two for one trades are a great way to build a small nucleus of elite players. Be warned, though — they also mean you’ll be scrambling to fill newly-created gaps on your team.

Nevertheless, such trades are easy to sell to opponents. By taking a small step back in one area, your opponent is able to make significant gains in another. The net effect, you tell your competitor, is to increase his team’s overall skill level. Meanwhile, you move closer to your vision of a tight-knit group of studs that were originally taken in the first few rounds of the draft.

More than anything, a numerically uneven trade in your favour gives you the greatest tool available to any fantasy manager — flexibility. The empty roster spot can be used to grab a backup for a position with minimal depth, a rising star you’ve heard about or even somebody to replace a starter on your squad.

Alternately, perhaps the best move you can make is to grab a player that will play no role on your team. In this case, smart managers use empty roster spots to get a player that will soon be invaluable to another team.

Again, proactively identifying weaknesses on other teams goes a long way towards being able to make trades that make your team the best in the long run. If you can constantly make two-for-one deals, you’ll end up with a few elite players and a bunch of nobodies and sleepers. The challenge then becomes trading two of those nobodies for one average guy and slowly getting a stud from nothing but acquisitions from your league’s waiver wire.



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