by Howard Bender
So here we are...almost at the midpoint of the season. The Mid-Summer Classic is about two weeks away, and we're inching closer and closer to fantasy trade deadlines all over. For two of my leagues, the deadline is the Monday of the All Star Break, but for my others, I have until mid-August to make any last minute deals. Either way, the trade talk is abundant and it is driving plenty of folks into a frenzy.
But while last week's column discussed trading habits and techniques, this week I want to talk about one of the most important aspects to being a successful fantasy GM -- patience. I can still hear my grandmother's voice as she repeatedly informed me that "patience is a virtue." I'm sure you heard it your whole life as well. But it's never been as appropos as it seems to be in the fantasy world.
How many times have you seen this? Team A is third overall and is watching his team solidify him in the top part of the standings. But then Raul Ibanez, one of Team A's most productive players goes down and the panic sets in while waiting for MRI results. But the owner of Team A is freaking out. "I just lost my best power guy!," he cries. So along comes the smooth talking GM from Team B (conveniently located in 6th place) and offers up a package of sub-mediocre to mediocre players in exchange for Ibanez. He talks about how the total production from the three guys he's giving up will equal, if not surpass, the production of Ibanez, and before waiting to even see how long the Phillies slugger is out, Team A jumps at the deal so he doesn't lose ground/momentum.
It's a panic trade. We've all seen them; hell, we've all done them at some point or another. But the outcome is usually the same. The injury is, in fact, not as serious as originally reported, Team A is stuck with a bunch of shlubs just barely getting by, and Team B is headed for a power surge as he just added one of the better hitters in 2009. Team A's supporting cast will soon be losing time to some late season call-ups and Team B is suddenly taking off and moving past A in the standings. It's brutal.
And that's just one reason why patience is of the utmost necessity. How about the guy (and I've definitely been here) that makes one trade too many beacuse he is too anxious? Team A makes a nice deal by trading away speed for power and average, but when he doesn't see an immediate return on his investment, he goes out and makes another deal. Sometimes he'll trade away more speed and suddenly the drop in the SB category becomes almost as big, if not bigger than, the increase he was looking to make in the power categories. Sometimes, he'll try and turn around the players he just got and actually hurts his team more by taking players he wouldn't/shouldn't have gone after in the first place. Either way, there is such a thing as "over-trading."
That's why I'm here...to be the voice of reason. I understand all the feelings you are going through as you're deciding what to do with your team at this point in the year. I know you want to improve your team. I know you don't want to make a bad deal. I know you're nervous about trading away a stud in your keeper league. I know all of this. And I'm here to say it's going to be ok. Everything's going to be fine. Just relax, stay calm, and the patience you employ will pay dividends in the end.
Rule #1 -- don't panic. If an injury hits one of your players, wait a day or two to learn the extent of the injury. Sometimes a guy will go down and the announcers are saying he's lost for the season and then it comes back two days later that the MRI revealed no structural damage and he'll be back after a quick trip to the 15 day DL. You always want to trade from strength, not weakness. If you start to immediately shop a guy who gets hurt, you're going to look desperate and, more than likely, you're not going to get the full value you want.
Rule #2 -- don't overtrade. As I said before here, if you're trading from a surplus, don't deal away too much and leave yourself shorthanded. If you have plenty of speed and need power, make sure you leave yourself enough burners on your roster so that your decrease in that category isn't greater than the increase you're hoping to get in the power department. If that happens, then you're going to find yourself trying to trade for speed at the deadline and you don't really have a surplus to trade from somewhere else.
Rule #3 -- if you make a deal, let the trade marinate before you try to make another one for the same category. I've seen it all too many times. A guy trades away top starting pitching for power and starts to get antsy when he doesn't see himself moving up in HR or RBI, yet he's already losing a point or two in wins and strikeouts. Bottom line, give it some time. It usually takes up to 2 weeks of everyday play for you to start seeing certain results. Make sure you know just how far behind you are in th ecategories you are looking to improve. Check and see how much ground you need to make up to gain 2 points in the category. How much for 3 points? 4? Take a look and see. Usually in the standings, team are clumped together and very few RBI separate a 3 point increase from a 5 point increase. Once you've got that figured out, then watch your progress after one week. You may not see a huge improvement, but if you see you're closing the gap even a little, then you made the right move.
If you've followed these three simple rules, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about, save for scouting the right players to trade for in a deal. You have to look at this now like a business, and in business we don't get emotional. It's always good to follow your gut, but don't let panic and worry divert you from your plan. Keep a calm, level head and do your research and the rest should just fall in line for you.
Good luck and I'll see you all in the money this year!
For more fantasy baseball insights and advice, check out what's going on over at Rotobuzz.com. We're guiding plenty of people to the top of their standings!
Howard Bender is a freelance fantasy sports writer and champion in both rotisserie and head to head leagues. For questions, thoughts, or comments, you can email him at Howard.Rotobuzz@yahoo.com.