Abe Lincoln for Poseidonstein: Analyzing a Trade

Yesterday was a joyous day in the world of Backwards K, I made my first trade of the season. Trades are, without a doubt, my favorite thing about fantasy sports. They’re what make the game fun, interesting, and competitive throughout the season. Anybody can pick someone up from the waiver wire, but not everyone can make a successful and helpful trade. I think I did that. In need of hitting with Andre Ethier out and Backwards K All-Star Carlos Pena struggling (before his two homers against my beloved Yankees last night, typical) and in need of a top-15 pitcher with Dan Haren (or as he’s now known, “Poopy Dick”) pitching like it’s August, I made a pretty big trade. It went a little something like this:

I Deal:
Yovani Gallardo
Carlos Pena
Derek Jeter
A.J. Burnett

I Get:
Josh Johnson
Kevin Youkilis
Michael Bourn
Curtis Granderson (DL)

Side note: it was with my 18 year old little brother (who, in a mocking gesture, named his fantasy team “Strike Out Looking” to go against the mighty “Backwards K”), so there’s a certain level of mishpuchah here. Let’s break it down.

Top Pitchers: Josh Johnson vs. Yovani Gallardo
Johnson has been the better pitcher this year, but not by much. His 4 wins, 63 K’s and 2.68 ERA barely eclipse Gallardo’s 4 wins, 61 K’s and 2.89 ERA. One ball falls in against Johnson and a few hitters swing and miss against Gallardo and they’re the same pitcher. The metrics tell a different story. Despite a fairly low BABIP of .269 for Johnson, his ERA should stay down. It may not stay at 2.68 like it is now, but it should be at or below 3.00. His FIP (or Fielding Independant Pitching, what he can control) is 2.64, showing that, if anything, his ERA is a result of him being a little unlucky. Gallardo’s is significantly higher, at 3.44, showing that his ERA will almost certainly come up, probably higher than Johnson’s. Johnson walks more than a full two less batters per nine innings (Johnson’s BB/9 is 2.84, compared to Gallardo’s 4.92) which greatly affects his WHIP, a category in almost every fantasy league. Yovani has struck out more guys per nine innings, but that is off-set by Johnson pitching a few more innings. Throw in Gallardo pitching at the band box that is the Bud Selig Memorial Baseball Colosseum (or Miller Park), which ranks 5th in home runs allowed vs. Sun Life Stadium of the Land Shark Devoted to Pro Players Field, which falls in the middle of the pack at 15th, and I think I won the first part of this trade.
Advantage: Backwards K

The original Land Shark

First Baseman: Kevin Youkilis vs. Carlos Pena
Pena’s struggles have been well-documented, so when an opportunity to upgrade at first base and not lose much presented itself, I jumped at it. Youkilis has been very hot to start the season, as he typically is, hitting .324 with 8 homers and 26 RBI compared to Pena’s .194 average with 7 homers and 26 RBI. Youkilis is what we thought he was at this point in his career (and yes Denny Green, I do want to crown him): he’ll hit .300+, belt about 25 homers and knock in 90-100 runs. Pena, in a contract year, will almost certainly bring the average to at least .240 and maybe as high as .260 with 40 homers and a similar number of RBI to the Greek but Actually Jewish God of Walks. This trade really comes down to one thing: average vs. home runs. I took average, because Andre Ethier’s will certainly drop below .375 when he returns, and I dealt Jeter in this deal (one of my other average guys, despite his rough .268 number now). I think when Granderson returns (more on this to come), he’ll make up for the 15 home run difference here. There’s no question though, anyone would rather have Jewk (love owning a member of the Tribe) than Pena.
Advantage: Backwards K

Other Hitters: Derek Jeter vs. Michael Bourn
If this trade was in a vacuum and the comparison was just between these two players, I’d lose. Here’s the thing though, I own Starlin Castro, the Cubs’ new prized SS. He’s moving into that spot for me. Regardless, as far as this trade goes, I’ll admit defeat in this matchup. “Strike Out Looking” needed a shortstop, now he’s got one. I could afford to deal a shortstop in order to plug Castro into my lineup, so I did too. Bourn will fill in nicely in Ethier’s absence, giving me average, runs, and steals. It pained me as a Yankee fan to give up Abe Lincoln (people recite the title of the poem “Oh Captain, My Captain” for the Yankee captain occasionally, which was written for Abe Lincoln in the Civil War era. Come for the fantasy advice, stay for the vague literary history references.) but I had the resources to do it. The lesson, as always, is don’t let your heart get in the way of your head.
Advantage: Strike Out Looking

WILDCARD! Curtis Granderson vs. A.J. Burnett
I added another DL player (I own Miguel Montero, Brett “Man Crush 1a” Anderson, and the aforementioned Ethier) because I was able to put Bourn into my lineup in the meantime. The funny thing is that Anderson, Montero, and Granderson should all be back by the beginning of June. Dealing Burnett was an easy choice too, seeing as he’s been pitching like a young Mike Maroth recently. This is a weekly league, so I can just pitch Jaime Garcia in Burnett’s spot (which I planned on doing anyway) and maybe even be better off. Burnett is going to improve though, his BABIP is .314 compared to a .295 career number and he has a slightly low strand rate compared to his lifetime mark. With Granderson I get home runs and steals once he comes back, and his crappy average is offset by the addition of Kevin Poseidonstein to my lineup. Also, Granderson is a great clubhouse guy, so the morale on my fantasy team goes up. Whether you want to consider the circumstances or just look at the overall players, I won this matchup.
Advantage: Backwards K


Was this just an excuse for me to gloat after winning a trade? Maybe. There’s always lessons to be learned though.

No trade is just based on the players in it
Differing circumstances exist for every trade. I dealt Jeter, but only because I had Starlin Castro. I traded Burnett, but he was going to my bench anyway. Don’t just consider the players involved when making a trade. Both parties can benefit in trades.

Value is affected by a lot of factors
Value is constantly shifting and changing. Anything can change a player’s worth, including injuries. I grabbed Granderson before his value goes back up (since he should be returning within a few weeks). I also dealt Pena at his lowest value, not the best move but necessary to make this deal. That was off-set by unloading Gallardo at his most valuable.

Always be a few steps ahead
I know Youkilis isn’t as great later in the year historically, so I’ll probably start shopping him soon. I’m also preparing for the inevitable Poopy Dick second half disaster, even though he has already been sucking this year. Having Johnson now gives me some room to operate with Haren.

The scorecard at the end of this deal reads “Backwards K”: 3 “Strike Out Looking”: 1 but who knows, maybe he had some factors that led him to make this deal too. Like I said before, no trade is just based on the players in it.

Remember these things when trading and as always, keep the bat on your shoulders.
-Backwards K

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