The other day, I announced that we filled the four open positions in the Screw Cancer ottoneu FGpts league. Including me, that makes five new owners. Everybody seems pretty enthusiastic. The above picture lists all the trades that have happened since the newbies showed up. If you’re curious enough to take a closer look, I believe you can.
I’m The Least New New Owner. I’ve been there since November. The other new owners are Naming Rights, Mos Eisley, Smithsonian, and Dunder Mifflin. Of the 16 trades (actually 17 now, but I don’t feel like updating), at least one of the newest four owners were involved in every one of them. Counting me, newbies accounted for 25 of 34 teams making a trade. The flurry is likely to continue once these trades process.
The phenomenon is not unique to this league. Anytime somebody new joins a keeper or dynasty format, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll try to make a ton of trades. Even I’m guilty. When I hopped on the Screw Cancer train, I immediately discarded Nick Castellanos, Jameson Taillon, Mike Moustakas, and Blake Parker in a pair of trades for Clayton Kershaw and DJ LeMahieu. I stand by those swaps; I’m just admitting that I’m not immune to the new owner tinkerbug.
From a league health perspective, the worst is when a new owner takes a mid-rebuild team and blows it up Miami Marlins style (the Marlins were actually the inspiration for this post). When you take a team that’s almost back to being competitive and re-distribute their best players to the top teams, it only reinforces the haves and have nots.
In my experience, owners who rebuild via prospects tend to get lost in the weeds. That doesn’t apply to everybody, but there is something sticky about playing in the prospect end of the pool. When somebody performs well in the majors sooner than expected, it’s tempting to convert them into a prospect who better fits your timeline. If you’re lucky, you’ll eventually get a surge of talent reaching the majors. If you’re unlucky, they’ll keep arriving piecemeal. Undoubtedly, there’s a behavioral effect involved. Perhaps some mix of anchoring plus an instinct to nurture your own assets.
New owners can overreach in the other direction too, taking a not quite ready to contend roster, spending valuable resources, and still coming up short. At least this error comes with a silver lining. So long as you didn’t go whole hog on old stars like Joey Votto, Robinson Cano, and Zack Greinke, you should find yourself holding a decent roster foundation. Kind of like the 2017 Miami Marlins.
The largest mistake new owners make is not properly valuing assets. For example, jumping from 5×5 to FGpts has massive implications for player value. Starling Marte is a great example. He’s a valuable 5×5 asset due to a high steal rate, .290 batting average, and useful lineup role. In FGpts, he’s maybe a $7 or $10 outfielder. Last season, Lonnie Chisenhall posted nearly the same points per plate appearance.
An easy way to avoid this error is to be patient. It’s tempting to take the proverbial bird in hand for fear that an engaged owner making an acceptable offer could withdraw their interest. That does happen sometimes. More frequently, time will simply lead to better offers. It will also help you to learn how others in the league value talent.
When you have the opportunity, solicit multiple offers – even if you know some owners aren’t that interested. A low ball offer still conveys information about your new enemies. Politely let engaged owners know that, since you’re new, you want to give everybody time to be involved. Frame it as you needing help to understand value in this format. They probably won’t go anywhere. They may even include another throw-in to further tempt you.
At the end of the day, I don’t blame the owners in our league for rushing their decisions. With a week until the keeper deadline, there’s pressure to move quickly. Since trades take two days to process, there’s very little time to perform arbitrageable swaps. Unfortunately, that plays to the favor of the existing owners who were already comfortable with their rosters and now sit ready to pounce on opportunities. However, when you do have more than a week to tidy up your new roster, I recommend a slow, plodding pace.