Roto Arcade: Trade deficit

At least half of the fantasy-related email I receive confounds me. The other half is some combination of "Barry Bonds is a cheaterpants!" and "What's the deal with Jason Bay?"

But let's talk about the confounding half. It's not that the questions are complex or indecipherable. They're mostly requests to evaluate trades. And they're almost unanswerable because people rarely provide context.

As we've discussed before, we're way past the point in the fantasy season where you should be concerned about winning a deal in terms of pure value. Trade deadlines are nearly here, and owners should be concerned primarily with addressing needs. This is as true in head-to-head leagues as it is in roto leagues, and it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out the categories in which your team is deficient. (There's a very useful tool in head-to-head leagues to get at this, by the way. Click on the "Head-to-Head Stats" link on that grey menu bar).

It's really kind of astonishing that in Week 17 so many owners are still concerned about acquiring players with greater O-Ranks. These aren't necessarily the players who will help your specific team win your specific league. But again, we've dealt with this topic before.

Here's a wrinkle we haven't discussed: In roto leagues, sometimes the best transaction you can make is one that helps another owner at least as much as it helps you. The easiest way for me to illustrate this point is to direct you – and not for the first time this week – to the Yahoo! Friends & Family League.

In the F&F league, I'm locked in a fierce battle with Fantasy Guru's Scott Pianowski. (Obviously I mean that figuratively. If Scott and I were to literally battle, it would involve a lot of screeching and flailing, like old women whacking each other with handbags. It's better that we battle online, in notional spaces). For weeks, we've been separated by the thinnest margin at the top of the standings. At the moment I'm leading 112 to 109.5. Tomorrow, this will change. It's a very tight race.

Scott is nearly maxed out in most categories, but he can still gain a bit in SB and W. Thus, over the past few days he's traded for Ryan Freel, Rafael Furcal, and John Maine – and he's already picked up a steal from Furcal and a win from Maine. Meanwhile, I lead the league in R, HR, and RBI by relatively wide margins. In all likelihood, I can trade power hitters without consequence; it would be silly for me to acquire any of them. My team can really only add significant points in W, and I'm one more miserable James Shields outing away from losing three points in ERA. Again, it's an extremely tight race.

So I've been looking to make deals that might negatively affect Scott's team.

I think I've found two. I've just sent Frank Thomas to Craig Falzone for Pat Neshek, and I've dealt Carlos Lee to Matt Buser for Brandon Webb. Those pitchers should provide Ws and solid ratios, which I undoubtedly need. Still, I'm pretty sure I didn't win either of those deals in terms of player value. That doesn't mean I won't benefit, though. There are two ways for me to widen my lead: I can add points, or Scott can lose them.

I clearly had an excess of HR and RBI. The best places for me to ship those stats were to teams that can catch Pianowski. His team currently has 143 HR, which is good for 10.5 roto points in the F&F league. But there are five other teams within four HR of Scott's total. Doesn't it make sense for me to deal power – which, again, is an expendable resource for me – to one of the teams in that tight cluster? Well, Falzone and Buser are in there. Even better trade partners for my purposes would've been Joe Lago and Fantasy Auctioneer, but they didn't bite.

Does this all seem sketchy? It might. Within the Yahoo! fantasy baseball rules, you'll find a "Fair Play and Sportsmanship" section. The first item in this section reads as follows: "All league-related transactions will be executed with the intent of improving the owner's team and/or its standing within the league." I'm plenty comfortable that I've done that. I'm clearly all about improving my standing within the league. I've sought to address my team's need for pitching, too.

And I don't mind at all if my team loses a trade value-wise if I can gain in the standings. You're not trying to win trades, but leagues.

Jason Giambi begins what will apparently be a short rehab assignment on Friday at Single-A Tampa. He's an excellent weekend option in FSL-only leagues. He's probably worth adding and stashing on the DL in mixed leagues if you have the room. Giambi has been known to enjoy dramatic, almost inexplicable mid-season resurgences, which probably are related only to proper diet and nutrition.

• There's an ad for MLB.TV on the Kansas City Royals web site right now that features a picture of Alex Gordon. The text says "What Will Alex do Next? Follow it LIVE!"

• Hmm … what will Alex do next? Let's see, maybe, oh, I dunno … go 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, just like every other night? LIVE!

• Actually, Gordon had three hits in a loss to the Yankees last night. He's raised his batting average to .239.

• No great surprise that Bobby Crosby is broken again. What's moderately surprising is that he was owned in 44.7 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Brendan Harris, Khalil Greene, Ryan Theriot, Jason Bartlett, Dustin Pedroia, Yuniesky Betancourt, Mark Loretta, and Stephen Drew have lower percent-ownerships, yet they've been at least as valuable.

• The recent news on Takashi Saito couldn't be much better. The Dodgers' web site reports that he played catch on Tuesday, and was pain-free. When asked when Saito would be available to pitch, Grady Little said, "I feel pretty optimistic it will be tomorrow or Thursday." Jonathan Broxton (2.44 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 61 K in 51.2 IP) is good enough to help your fantasy team even if he's not closing, so don't drop him just yet.

• Widely-available Mike Jacobs homered on Sunday and Monday, and he hit clean-up for the Marlins at Arizona yesterday. Expect a strong finish in the power categories.

• For those who stream, and because all my recent picks have worked out so well: Buddy Carlyle at San Francisco, Micah Owings versus Florida, Adam Eaton versus Washington.

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