An Update on Co-Ownership

In early March, I wrote about my first co-ownership experience with fellow Rotographs contributor Trey Baughn. To refresh, we have been paired up in a newly formed Ottoneu league which has added on a 5milb draft system and coupon incentive structure to reward higher finishes. Ottoneu leagues can be difficult as is – the structures in place have made this league feel more difficult than others.

Last month I touched on a couple key observations from our first few weeks of co-owning.

  • Ottoneu auctions are easier with two people.
  • Finding a co-owner with a compatible skill set is essential for the process to run smoothly.
  • Communication is key.
  • Roster moves are more difficult when you have to manage two sets of opinions.

I still agree with each of these points, but it was the beginning of March.  The season hadn’t started. Many trades had not been made, and most of the roster moves we had made had very minimal impact. Much has changed…

Let’s start with where things currently stand. 

Currently we (Siamese Dream) sit in 4th place. However, according to the Standings Dashboard we are projected to be the 2nd place team when balancing teams for innings pitched and games played. We’re in a good spot, but it’s a tight race. We are short on games played compared to the other top teams. The reason for this (and our obvious weakness) is catcher. After Robinson Chirinos suffered an injury, we decided to punt catcher entirely. Since Ottoneu allows you to start two catchers per day, Trey and I decided it would be better to use our roster spots elsewhere unless a catcher fell to us, since making up games at that position is easier than any other roster spot.

So our difference in games artificially ranks us lower than other teams since we will definitely be back-loading those catcher games. Our strong suit has been our pitching and we have clearly benefited by some breakout performances – Noah Syndergaard, Vincent Velasquez, Aaron Nola and Taijuan Walker to name a few. Our offense, while performing well, has not been nearly as good. Luckily we have been able to make up for some of our roster no-shows (here’s looking at you Prince Fielder and Howie Kendrick) with some savvy early pickups like Joe Mauer and Chase Utley, but it’s time to improve. Here’s what we are learning.

Trades are much harder:

We came into this season expecting to make trades. We drafted minor leaguers Joey Gallo ($14), A.J. Reed ($10), J.P. Crawford ($10), Blake Snell ($6) so that we would have ammunition when trade season came around. We wanted to position ourselves as key buyers when expensive players hit the trade market. Last Thursday, we made our first major “buy” potentially starting an arms race. We traded an $8 Domino Santana, $14 Joey Gallo, and $10 AJ Reed to our rotographs counterpart Justin Vibber for a $70 Mike Trout, $2 Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Trent Clark (in the 5MILB system). I love Domingo. Justin loves Domingo. I didn’t want to trade Domingo. Sometimes you have to give up a player you really like – we’ve all made trades before.

This is not to talk too much about this specific trade, but rather to acknowledge that Trey and I have both realized that trades are much harder when you add a third person to the process. We have found that the process of keeping track of trade talks requires a lot more work than it otherwise would. We both love to trade, so it certainly isn’t because of a lack of effort on our side, but everyone has different opinions, and those opinions can hold up trades.  Up to this point, Justin had labeled himself as a seller, and Trey and I had expressed interest several times in a group message between the three of us – but we never got anywhere. To be honest, the process was unnecessarily difficult since both Trey and I were trying to mutually coordinate a trade. Last Thursday, I took a different approach that I’d recommend to anyone else who is co-owning.

Coordinate trades without your co-owner:

I contacted Justin about Trout and worked that deal telling Trey the bare minimum he needed to know. He knew I was trying to nail down a Trout trade, sure. He knew the names that were being discussed – Domingo $8, Gallo $14, Reed $10, Benintendi $3– but he didn’t get involved in the process until the trade was ready to be approved. At the beginning of the talks I informed Trey what framework I was shooting for – Trout for Domingo and 2 of the prospects – and he signed off. He got the spark notes version of the trade, but this left me the freedom to get to that end point by whatever means I desired. Trey didn’t want to be along for the ride. He just wanted Trout.

By following this framework, we were able to progress in trade talks much faster than we had earlier in the season… and we landed Mike Trout. If you are co-owning, I would recommend following a similar framework. Let your counterpart know the general framework of a deal you would like to work toward, get their sign off, then pursue the deal without them. By doing this, your counterpart will have a realistic idea of the cost of a trade, but the actual communication process will be much more concise.

Communication with other teams is challenging:

Mike Trout won’t be the only acquisition we make. We’ve discussed trades involving many of our young cheap pitching, for example. While I have acknowledged several times that communication between the two of us is important (and I would say this is one of our strengths) we have realized that communicating with other teams can be really challenging. I imagine it is difficult to know which of the two of us to contact. Some have resorted to 3 person group messages; others will just contact one of us – expecting Trey or I to keep each other informed. Honestly, neither is wrong, but it has required an adjustment. Communicating with the league has had to be a much more deliberate process for the two of us than it has in previous leagues.

With April in the books, it looks like Siamese Dream will be one of the main contenders within Brinksmanship. Our plan is to continue improving our team via acquisitions over the next month.  Both Trey and I have been in the middle of an Ottoneu title race before. However, even though each of us have played Ottoneu for four plus years, this experience feels different. We are still trying to learn how to most effectively keep each other informed. Have any of you found specific tactics to be helpful when dealing with a team run by co-owners? What’s worked best for you?

We hoped you liked reading An Update on Co-Ownership by Joe Douglas!

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Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades

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I’m a co-owner in an 18-team Ottoneu-esque league. We set up a single gmail account that forwards to both our personal emails, which eliminates the problem of who to contact. Seems to work pretty well, no one feels left out.

Trades are definitely a little harder, but we usually let one person be the “front man” who actively discusses the deal, while both of us strategize in the background. It’s slower than it would be otherwise, but doesn’t seem to cause too many holdups.

Trey Baughn

This is a good suggestion that we may have to try. Have your leaguemates expressed any frustration over this process when trying to trade with your team (delays, confusion, etc.)?