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Hard trade decision

April 10th, 2012 by in Trade Analysis

One of the things I love about FBB is the social element to the game. Over the years I have formed many good friendships and met some pretty interesting people playing this game. And one of the great things about the DD league this year is that I have been introduced to Chris Hill. I freaking love this dude ( and not just because he gave me a free Parmalee for third in line to be closer, Aaron Crow).  So far I have found Chris to be friendly, good natured,  opinionated and willing to back those opinions up with sidebets and  trades.  The season is just 1 week old, but by my count we have made 2 trades, 3 sidebets and I have received 14 other trade offers from Chris. One of those sidebets actually involved him getting long the A’s to win the World Series. How can I not love him?  

Which is why, when I woke up this morning to find another trade offer from Chris in my inbox, I got excited with anticipation as I opened it to see what he had in mind.
Hill gives Alex Gordon, Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Getz in exchange for Jeff Francoeur, Matt Capps, Matt Harrison and 50 claim dollars.
Whoa, what’s going on here. Less than a week into the season I am being offered a deal that is good for me by 9 auction dollars ( Gordon 20, Hellickson 12, Getz 3 vs Francoeur 15, Capps 8 and Harrison 3).

I quickly check my own pre-auction pricing model and it has this trade 3 dollars good for me. Less exciting than my first impression but still a solid win . Could the claim dollars possibly be worth 3 bucks? Let’s see- If 16.6 claim bucks = 1 auction dollar that suggests that every team extracts more than 15 auction dollars in value from the claim pool each year. That certainly seems like a stretch. I know from my modeling that carrying a hole at a position for the entire season would cost between 12 and 24 dollars, depending on the position. But it is far from certain that I will even have holes during the year. Plus, there is no way that the value of claim dollars is linear. Your first 50 have to be worth less than your last 50. With just 20 or so a savvy team would be able to plug a lot of holes with something approaching baseline value. No, I don’t think the claim dollars can possibly make up the 3 bucks in value. I think a better estimate might have 50 claim worth a dollar, at most. Besides, Hill has been spending his claim money like a drunken sailor on shoreleave. 58 for Rodney, 8 for kila, 28 for Bruce Chen. Clearly this is not a man who values claim dollars. Given that this is his initial offer, there is a good chance I can at least get him to drop that part of the trade. Hell, if I am really on my game I might even get him to ship me some claim.

Gleefully, I log into the onroto site with every intention of sending a counter offer.. But just as I am about to click the send button, I run head on into my old familiar friend, the little voice. This is the same little voice that told me in high school that it was a bad idea to throw my baseball glove in Randy Couture’s face. This is the little voice that told me Eric Kesselman had a queen high straight the time I gave him 30k dollars with a set of 10’s on a 10 high flop. This is the same little voice that told me last year not to make the deadline deal in the league I was winning, the one where I gave up Jered Weaver in a package involving Kevin Youkilis. Yes, the little voice knows things. And I have learned over the years that I ignore the little voice at my own peril.So I decide to take a closer look at this gift horse of a trade I have been offered.

I had projected Alex Gordon to hit 21 hr, 73 rbi, 90 runs, 13 sb with a .273 average. Yielding a value of 22.5 dollars. But that was before Alex Gordon started 2012 going 0-14 with 7 strikeouts. How should that poor first week effect my projection for Gordon? Should it effect it at all? I honestly have no idea. It would take a huge database, a good programmer and a lot of time to get to the bottom of it I do know as a professional trader that it would be foolish to ignore the information and not lower his value at all. But I also remember 2009 when David Ortiz hit just 1 hr in his first 180 at bats. I thought I had found a real sucker that day as I traded him for 7 dollars in value, only to watch Papi hit 27 more dingers over the next 4 months. Experience has shown me that overreacting to a bad start is a classic error and over the years I have made a nice profit buying slumping players from fed up owners. Looking for balance, I decide to dock him 1 hr, 2 rbi and 2 run due to the bad start. This amounts to close to 1 dollar in value. I also lower him another dollar for practical considerations. Maybe my initial projection was high. After all, I did watch him auction for a couple dollars under my fair value in 3 different leagues. Plus, he has already been traded once in the DD league and is being offered to me in a second trade. Clearly, there isn’t much love for Alex Gordon out there. I have to respect the market place. Maybe they know something I don’t. And, at the least, it is clear that I am going to have trouble using him as a trade chip in the future. So, I settle on 20.5 as my new Alex Gordon value. I am certain that many will still find that too high, but it is a number I am comfortable with

Next, I take a look at Capps. Surely his value hasn’t change, given that he has pitched just 1 perfect inning in 2012. But wait. Since the auction, both Soria and Bailey have been removed from the closer pool and replaced with pitchers who are far from certain to hold the job. I had their combined value at 33.5 pre-auction. My new projections have their replacements picking up about 22 dollars of that. What has become of the other 11.5 dollars in lost dollars?. Since most of the value for Soria and Bailey comes from saves, I think it is correct to redistribute those dollars amongst the remaining closers. Capps, though he has not pitched an inning, goes up in my opinion. Though his job is far from secure, his security relative to the rest of the pool is looking a bit better. After all, in addition to Bailey and Soria, a couple other closers have struggled as well. I don’t think that I am wrong to give him another half a dollar in value.

So now my 3 dollars of trade edge is down to half a dollar. I check the remaining players in the deal. Francoeur looks to be in line. Hellickson and Harrison both had excellent starts. I will leave their relative value unchanged. Getz is a player I had marked as 1 dollar prior to auction. He seems to be sharing playing time with Betancourt. And Johnny Giavoltella looms. It is not a 1 dollar that I am excited to pay. In fact, he wouldn’t even make my lineup at the moment. 

So, in the end, I reject this deal.   Although the value is close and it fits fine with my lineup, I saw no reason to trade without edge.    Besides, there may be chances to pick up a cheaper Gordon later in the year.  After all,  I get the distinct impression that Chris Hill and I will be  trading  again.

23 Responses to “Hard trade decision”

  1. Eric Kesselman says:

    This was a really good article. A lot of helpful process pointers.

    Also it was a J high straight, a Q high straight makes it sound like you put $10k in on 89T instead of 78T. Also I'll point out you raised UTG and I called in 2nd so it sounds less fishy. 

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  2. Chris Hill says:

    How could the A's not win the World Series with Brandon Allen? At least I got 20-1 or something.
    UTG raise w 10-10 and a flat call with J-9 for enough to make the flop bet 10k?  You guys think I am a fish? Hah. I know Eric, it was sooooted. 
    All that yada-yada, the obvious point that I am losing 9 auction dollars  is totally blown off. Plus he thinks potentially I am shipping HIM claim along with the 9 bucks. Are you kidding me?  I must be in the pet store in my own personal aquarium just waiting for Bill and Eric to dribble some more dried seasweed crumbs on my poor suffering skull. 
    Here's the way I saw it: Gordon is maybe 10% better than Francouer unless Gordon has forgotten how to hit again. 90% ain't bad when your other choice is to own huge chunks of Borders, er Gordon stock in May.  
    Hellickson and Harrison: who pitches against Seattle and Oakland more? Who strikes out more batters per nine (its a tie)? Who has more run support (Harrison)? Who has more control issues (Hellickson)"? Why is there $10 difference in their values? (I have no clue).
    So if I offer Bill Hellickson and Gordon for Harrison and Francouer, thereby hedging my risk of hitting loss to the 0-13  donkey tied with Cespedes for the AL K lead, I have to figure out what I can get that he will snap call with instead of thinking this through on the simplistic level on which I dwell.  I need an equation, a rational mind decision with lots of math, not an instinctive, gut "what am I gaining here" sort of response.
    What to ask for is obvious: he has been trying to use Capps as a chip to upgrade some donkey of his into one my race horses ever since Bailey, that picture of reliability 'urt  'is lil tumbie. (FYI, I may not be smart, but I did make a bailey capps comment before Bailey's recent fall from grace- and given the likelihood and rapidity of the fall that took some doing). No way Bill thinks about this deal if he can unload that braying loser Mad Matt Capps on me.
    So I am looking at getting Francouer, Harrison and Capps, with a max hitting loss of maybe 3 hrs and 15 runs but an uptick in rbi's and an average/sb push, but adding 3 or 4 wins and 14 or so saves (well, that assumes the twins win 20 games in the first half- now there's a crappy over and under bet). To Hellickson and Gordon I add Getz for balance, making the deal a seeming prohibitive loss for me, but I figure that allows me to get 55 claim for sure. 55 ismost of my last drunken binge, otherwise known as Chen and Rodney, that I have for deal purposes valued at 10 dollars total. So basically from my point of view, even if the auction values turn out to be par and I really am losing nine bucks- and hey not all markets are irrational, either, 55 claim pays-ish  for the 10 bucks I perceive I have added to my roster. Another way to look at it is I get Rodney and Chen from Bill as part of the deal.
    Is 55 claim actually worth 10 auction dollars? I guess it depends on whether you buy Hector Santiago or Wei yu Chen with it.  But at least it is a parachute if I have accidentally left the plane before landing again. Plus my experience last year was Eric blew like 120 on a guy that got 4 at bats with the Angels and I bought wild man Endy Chavez, may he rot for eternity, in equal desperation for 88. It turned out that for the most part, other than  Mark Trumbo and Casey Kotchman, no one showed up preannounced worth bidding huge for. So are free agent dollars worth auction dollars at any given rate? Jemile Weeks sold for 3 faab last year.  So maybe three is all you need if you are as smart as Derek (I am still bitter about my 1 bid that week.) I guess that means I need about 3000 faab. I'll keep trading.
    I did think Bill might work it through to a push analysis , but I thought he'd beat me for 15 claim or so and get rid of Capps.  His instinctive avoidance of Gordon and holding of Capps was in my opinion the correct decision. I loved the trade for me. Still do.  The really scary guys are the guys that can do all the math and still trust their instincts. The unquantifiable factor, Gordon's performance range having expanded to include "truly suck" due to his bad start, does not appear in the analysis particularly (something about "a dollar"- oh please, like we can project within 5%), but that's what I was selling and he was smart enough not to take on the additional risk.
    My little house cards continues to teeter in the wind. Its a race to see who wins my stack first. Best of luck one and all.

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  3. Bill Phipps says:

    Let me be clear.    I am not suggesting that we can price within a dollar.   I am saying that we can quantify our guesses.   Another way of looking at docking Gordon a dollar for his start is to say that if there is a 10% chance that he is 10 dollars worse than I thought,   that is the 1 dollar.

    Also,  I intentionally didn't go into the pricing of Hellickson and Harrison.   Some things I wanted to keep to myself.    Suffice it to say that I also think the 10 dollar auction spread between them was a total joke.

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  4. Chris (not Hill) says:

    Bill, how is Getz not worth $1 getting half-time ABs with his SB potential?

  5. Eric Kesselman says:

    Getz does nothing other than steal bases, he is playing 50% of the time now and has Giovetella looming over him.  1ish seems fair. I could see less pretty easily given its a 10 team league.


    This is a good thread with lots of insight into how people think.

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  6. Bill Phipps says:

    Ackley, Andino, Aviles, Beckham, Cano, Johnson, Kendrick, Kinsler, Kipnis, Pedroia, Raburn, Rodriguez, Weeks, Zobrist, Andrus, Aybar, Cabrera, Escobar, Escobar, Hardy, Jeter, Nunez, Pennington, Peralta, Ramirez, -   there are 25  players who I think are better than Getz.   Plus Carrol, Casilla, Betancourt, Plouffe, Keppinger   are still in the mix.  

    Getz is looking very baseline to me.

  7. Eric Kesselman says:

    Plouffe thinks you're baseline.

  8. Bill Phipps says:

    Looking at the standings,  Plouffe is right

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