Jonathan Gangi

Outside the Boxscore

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This week I'll talk about some lowlights from this fantasy baseball season and further debate the issue of player renting.

Topic of the Week: Lowlights

You can't make it through a fantasy season without enduring at least some ultra-frustrating events that set you back. The following are mine from this year. If you have others, send them along (, and I'll try to get them in the Trash Dump next week.

On a night when his team drives in the most runs in American League history, Michael Young knocks in zero.

I was licking my chops on August 22 when I saw the Rangers racking up points like Pac Man after a Power Pellet. When the ghosts finally turned color again, Texas had thrown 30 up on the board. To put that in perspective, the last time a team tallied that many runs in a single game was before the vacuum cleaner, airplane, pop-up toaster, and television were invented. So, you can hardly blame me for assuming that my man Young must have accumulated at least three runs and five RBI. I mean he does bat out of the three hole! As I eagerly checked the box score, I saw that Ramon Vazquez (who'd piled up a grand total of 12 HR since 2001) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each belted two bombs and drove in seven runs. Marlon Byrd (who averages a HR every 50 AB) and Travis Metcalf (who'd hit just one previous big-league homer) each had grand slams. But what about my boy Young? Goose eggs in the HR and RBI columns. One measly run. Five men left on base. As if he hadn't already punished his fantasy owners enough.

Ned Yost leaves Yovani Gallardo in to get shelled for 11 earned runs.

What do you do when your 21-year-old phenom—the future of your organization—has been pounded to the tune of eight runs in two innings? When his confidence has suddenly become as tenuous as Ron Washington's job security? You cart him back out there, of course! At least that's what Ned Yost does. I don't care how depleted his bullpen was, he'd have been better off handing the ball to Craig Counsell than letting his rookie get abused for three more runs. That game single-handedly ruined fantasy baseball seasons. I know it instantaneously dropped me three spots in the standings.

After averaging 21 HR over the last six years, J.D. Drew manages just seven through August.

Hitting at Fenway behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, you had to figure Drew would easily top his career high in RBI (100) and wrap liners around Pesky's pole with regularity as long as he stayed healthy. Five months into the season, and he's batted in 46. That's three less than Miguel Olivo. And his home-run output has been equaled by the likes of Cody Ross, Marco Scutaro, Miguel Montero, and Travis Buck. Okay, so you factor in an adjustment period with the move to the AL and the fact that he's understandably been weighed down by his son's health issues, but now the guy is platooning with Bobby Kielty…and being outplayed by the Oakland castoff.

The Trash Dump

To submit a question or comment to the Trash Dump, email

Excellent column {on sore losing}, Jonathan. You should add the guy who blames his losing on missing the draft. That was me last year, but I still managed to finish in second place. Thus, everyone gave me props for climbing from last place to finish in third. I know, I said second before, and that's where I should have finished if a certain someone in our league didn't stop setting his roster with 2.5 months to go causing the guy who did finish in second to pass him in a stat where he was way behind and providing the one point swing he needed to beat me by .5 points! Anyway, I am a little sore about that one, but I was thrilled with my "comeback."
- Mike

Yeah, I should have included that. There's one guy in my league that always seems to have "computer issues" during the draft that cause him to miss out on the players he wants.

Question, if you are in a league of 10 managers that has three of them quit before July, one of whom was the commish, and then the new commish blatantly cheats, is it sore losing to bitch and moan about it? How did he blatantly cheat you ask? By trading with dead teams despite everyone protesting, and by vetoing valid trades.
- Mike

I think you get a pass in that situation!

Just a quick comment on your sore losers column. Anyone who is not willing to acknowledge "luck" as the driving force behind any fantasy squad in ANY league. While there are varying degrees of the category luck, there are more situations of "luck" in a given league that determine the results then any other situation. For example, the owner who drafted Alex Rodriguez certainly did not draft him expecting him to have his best or second best career year at age 32. While there are reasonable expectations of ARod, anyone who went into the draft expecting these type of numbers would have been laughed at… in fact, I assume you would have been the ring leader. That said, these numbers CAN be chalked up to "luck." To shoot down luck is to ignore all the work of baseball statisticians. Sabermetrics, maybe you've heard of it, have concluded is the variance as to why predictability in baseball specifically is impossible.
- Brandon Heikoop

You know how I know you're a sore loser? You send me an email that argues that fantasy success is based on luck. Dude, if you really think it's based entirely on luck, then why are you playing? Why research before the draft? Why look for sleepers? Why look at minor-league stats when determining who to pick up? Of course luck is a factor, as it is with pretty much every game to some degree. But it certainly isn't the only factor. It's like in poker. Despite all the luck involved in the cards that are dealt, somehow you see the same dudes in the finals of the World Series of Poker every year.

By the way, just to clarify, did you ever hear me say I'm not a sore loser?

{In response to your debate over whether player renting is ethical in fantasy baseball and real baseball}, Tito Landrum was traded, essentially, for himself between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Baltimore Orioles in 1983. {Baltimore basically rented him for one month.}
- Michael


In the MLB, a bad team might trade a free agent to a contender in the hopes of re-signing him in the offseason. This is not the same as a fantasy player rental. The receiving MLB team does not promise to trade the player back (or ever does trade the player back); the player only returns to his original team if it ponies up the most dough and a future agreement is reached. I know there is some poor soul out there who was traded for a player to be named later…who turned out to be himself, but that was an isolated incident. Temporary trades obviously upset the competitive balance. At best, they lack the quid pro quo of a normal trade and at worst are collusive.
-Andy, Little Falls

But what would prevent such a deal?

Can you really see Selig approving such a trade? Also, MLB teams cannot collude, and more significantly, the Player's Association would probably call for a work stoppage if its player-members were getting traded about like commodities on an exchange. Finally, if this loophole exists, don't you think Steinbrenner would be constantly exploiting it? I can just hear him, "Hey Cash, get Beane on the horn. Tell him we want Haren; we'll send him back in November, good as new, and will even throw in a Cairo for his troubles." Ugh.
-Andy, Little Falls

I hear what you're saying, but again, are there any specific rules against such a deal?

Conditional trades should be banned based on the fact that they are impossible to record and enforce. One owner who said it was conditional and the other said it wasn't conditional. Since there is no proof of the conditional trade besides he said he said, there is no way to solve the dispute. I'd assume if they ever built it into fantasy baseball, my league would probably use it. But, because it isn't built into fantasy baseball and it would be near impossible to record every single conditional trade (As it would become common if people accepted it as good strategy), it would be in our leagues best interest to make things as black and white as possible. Keep is simple and dispute free.
- Chris

I agree that it adds complexity, and I'm not arguing that it is desirable. However, I disagree that is would be impossible to record and enforce. You could simply write up the arrangement and submit it to the league.

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