Wheeling & Dealing Etiquette
For many, thinking up trades is one of
the most fun things about fantasy baseball. This article used to go through all
the different types of trades, but I’ve edited that out. My only advice on that
is to be persistent. If you have a roster issue that can’t be mended by an
upcoming supplemental draft, then keep thinking of ways you can solve your team’s
problem without making a bigger problem. Besides unnecessary depth and draft
picks, you have minor leaguers and injured players at your disposal. Sometimes,
it takes three or four teams to work out a deal that makes everyone happy.
OK, one more piece of advice. The
prime trading season is August. That’s when you can get the most for all but
your top 13 keepers. If you are certainly out of it (and I’ve seen some amazing
comebacks), that’s the time to load up on draft picks and prime prospects. If
you are in the championship hunt, that’s often when you can pick up a good
reliever or fill a hole most economically, because that’s when teams know whether
they really need those players or not. The sellers come out – and you know if
you are one or not. Don’t forget some fading starters lose their jobs to
September call-ups, so be careful about who you have and who you get. Anyone
could get hurt and during the last four weeks, so depth is good for play-off
Now let’s get to the etiquette and
Be a Good Responder
Etiquette rule R1.: RSVP ASAP. If
have time to give the offer full consideration in the next 25 hours, let them
know. Check your e-mails every day. Those of you with cell phones probably
check you messages every 15 minutes, so if you want a quick answer, that’s a
good route (assuming he’s not a dinosaur like me).
Etiquette rule R2: Do not be offended
another manager`s trading style or his seemingly low ball offer. They are not
trying to offend you or waste your time. They might have a completely different
opinion regarding the players’ values – or possibly just thought you enjoy
haggling. If you can diplomatically tell them your objections, you will both
Etiquette rule R3.: If you take a vacation
away from your internet access, let everyone in your league know – as long as
you can do so without alerting the robbers.
Be a Good Initiator
Etiquette rule I1:
Do your homework. Avoid offering
a player at a position where the other manager is already strong – or asking
for a player they can’t afford to trade.
It is reasonable to try to sell why
your trade offer would be good for his team, but . . .
Etiquette rule I2: do not tell
him why you think his player isn’t
very good – that is ineffective and just pisses them off.
Etiquette rule I3: Be honest and
– never hide injuries – whether you are an initiator or a responder.
Etiquette rule I4:
Develop a reputation for making reasonable
offers right off the bat. If you do, your trading partner is less likely to
haggle you back. Low ball offers annoy some managers so much that they don’t
even respond. Of course, it is impossible to know what they consider a low ball
offer, so this is difficult to avoid. Just try to be sensitive about it and
have honest communication.
It would be nice to know who on your
team you think the other manager overvalues and who on his own team he is
undervaluing. There is a greater chance you can do this if you can engage the
trading partner in a friendly phone conversation. If the other manager has
formidable depth at the position of the player you are seeking – inquire about all
those players at that position. It becomes less obvious who you want. If you
are after a player during the winter before the protection lists are due,
inquire about other players you might think are on the bubble to see if the
player you seek is being held closely for protection or not.
Etiquette rule I5: The initiator
the first to name names. Yes, anyone who negotiates professionally knows it is
generally better to get the other party to bid a price first. Go ahead and try,
but not to the point of being annoying, if you are the initiator.
Etiquette rule I6:
Be clear whether it is a
firm offer or not. One owner used to piss me off with his coy offers that I
thought were genuine, but were really just feelers. As a responder, try to make
sure you understand whether or not the offer is firm.
Just stating to the league that
are looking for a catcher, for example, and are offering relievers or prospects
or whatever is usually ineffective. Go back to the Initiator rules and don’t be
so lazy. However, sometimes when a big star is being sold, you might have found
that other managers will think you colluded or were being stupid as they may
feel they would have offered you much more. So, sometimes (especially if you
are an inexperienced cellar dweller) it is OK to broadcast that you are
offering that big name a day before you finalize the deal you have in mind.
Also, in the off season, I sometimes
offer players for the highest draft pick or alternative deal such as a really
good prospect, etc. Declare that you will trade your player to the highest
bidder. Give a response deadline or, better yet, contact each owner
individually. Insist that you will accept only the highest bids from each
manager. You will not come back for a higher pick or throw-in. You will weigh
the bids as is and take the best one. Say this way it saves them from getting
into a bidding war. Warning, though: this can backfire. Some managers do not
like to work this way and refuse to participate. It depends on your league mates.
Advice for Sharks
If you are a
manager with ample trophies to show for it, don`t take advantage of weaker
managers. Those of us who play this game are naturally competitive, so this
rule may be a challenge to follow. Take this as a reminder. Anyone with a
conscience will feel better taking the high road. This is a game – which is
about having fun – not just winning.
If you make an offer, stick to it,
unless the circumstances significantly change – in which case withdrawal your
offer ASAP. At the risk of sounding too lawyerly, put an expiry date on your
offer. This is a risk, though. Some managers resent it, so it might be best to
ask. “Look, I’ve made offers which were held in limbo for weeks. I’m sure you
wouldn’t do that, but just as a good habit, do mind if we put an expiration
date on this offer of Sunday at 9pm?”
or 2007, some of us in the
Scoresheet community had a round table discussion about trading
ethics/etiquette that mostly concerned when a trade is irrevocable. For
example, the pros and cons of the expiry date idea was touched upon in this
discussion. Of course, ultimately a deal isn’t a deal until both parties have
confirmed it with Scoresheet. This discussion came before we all could confirm
the trades by the web. However, all of the ethical and etiquette issues still
apply. Besides, it is a fun read: