Saturday, August 01, 2009

Trade Advice: Selling High and Going with Your Gut

posted by Jon Williams
Here is the content of a recent e-mail I received from a frequent reader:
Hey Jon,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I drove 16 hours to Chicago to catch the Cubs/Astros 4-gamer. That's not the full truth, though... I also delayed a response due to the shame I felt for going against your advice. I accepted the trade I mentioned in my last email. Don't worry - I paid for it. I was drinking $7 beer at Wrigley when Oswalt was helped off the field in the 2nd inning. It sounds like he's heading for the DL, too... yippee.


OK, so here's a quickie: Who would you rather own, Carlos Pena or Jason Bartlett? I'm pretty torn. Pena's batting average annoys me, but I feel like Bartlett is a good sell-high candidate. It seems inevitable that his power numbers decline... in fact, this seems to have already begun. Bartlett does, though, give you BA, Runs, & SB while providing decent HR & RBI numbers for his position.

Like I said, I'm torn.
The reason I ask is I plan to trade 1 of the 2 for a closer. I've picked up Carlos Guillen to fill the void. This will probably change based on matchup. Well, thanks again for all the advice. Maybe this time I will listen. And, as always, if you're short on time, no worries. I've been keeping afloat for this long... just need to get healthy. Have a good one, Robert


Hey Robert,

No need to feel shame, I'm just offering second opinions here. I say all the time that you sometimes have to follow your gut in fantasy sports. You won't always be right but at least you won't feel the pangs of regret from not doing something that felt right to you.

I wish I could get away for a day to drive to other stadiums. I haven't been on a vacation in a long time, even of the one or two day variety. I'm in Cambridge, Massachusetts so it's Fenway Park or nothing most of the time.

In a vacuum I prefer players that hit for average and steal bases over low-average sluggers. So, I guess that puts me in the Bartlett camp. I actually like both guys to be productive if not stellar players over the balance of the season. Pena swings and misses a lot which leads to a lot of bad streaks where he offers very very little. Bartlett has some on-base skills. He takes a few walks and steals bases even when he isn't exactly tearing the cover off the ball.

A lot of owners misunderstand what the idea of selling high is about.. The purpose is to get maximum value for a player that is not likely to repeat his peak performance, which gives your team a steady production at a very high level. This does not necessarily mean that the player will become worthless at some point. Sometimes a good sell-high player is also a pretty good keeper. For example, Cliff Lee in 2008 was performing at a level that no one expected he could continue given his track record and skills. But if you owned Lee for a reasonable price he was worth keeping even if you expected a 20 percent decline.. Sure enough Lee was worth keeping for everyone that owned him in 2009. Though I expect there are more than a few AL-only guys banging their heads against a wall.

Good luck Robert.

Jon Williams
Advanced Fantasy Baseball

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