Story Time! by Brad Johnson February 6, 2017 In the grand scheme of things, FanGraphs is closer to a blog than a newspaper. We usually try to make our content look more like articles than posts. We even have a style guide that directs us not to speak in the first person (pretty sure nobody listens to that rule). Today, you’re reading a blog post. I hope that’s ok with you. If not, get over yourself. This is the story of last Tuesday, January 31… It all started with a Slack message at 7:13pm. Paul Swydan asked if I still had interest in joining FanGraphs Staff One – the first ottoneu league for FanGraphs Staff. I had expressed a willingness to join way way back in October. Since I’m already in FG Staff Two, they opted to let in some newbies. I guess the newbs were noobs. “Yes, I’m interested,” I said whilst snacking on a piece of rich devil’s food cake with cream cheese frosting. There are many good cakes in the world. Empirically, this is the best cake ever made. It’s also stunningly easy to prepare. I’ve eaten it once a year for my birthday since I was four. The key is the cream cheese frosting. Many bakeries screw it up even though it’s so damned simple. One package cream cheese, one stick butter, three to four cups powdered sugar, and a couple additives (salt, vanilla, color). Where was I? Oh, right. I set the cake aside on an end table to peruse my new roster. The team is headlined by a $64 Mike Trout. This paralleled nicely with my other ottoneu roster ($65 Trout). I also had a strong, affordable pitching staff. I was pleased with my roster, but I had cake to finish. I sent Paul a quick note confirming that I’d get some special treatment as a new owner and reached for the cake. You see, I left out an important detail. The ottoneu keeper deadline was at 11:59pm on that very night. In other words, I had to rapidly analyze and cut a bunch of players. The worst part is that the keeper deadline is also a trade deadline. By the time the team was actually transferred to me, I had only four hours to wheel and deal with owners who may or may not care to tinker at the last minute. Luckily for me, two other owners were in the same boat. At least my pain was shared. Paul immediately confirmed that no, I would receive no special keeper deadline extension. Apparently, the Dark Overlord, in his infinite evil, hatched this insidious plan to give us no time at all to prepare. I returned my cake to the end table and rolled up my sleeves. Metaphorically of course, I was wearing a tee shirt. I laid the ground work for a blockbuster swap involving $42 Paul Goldschmidt and stud relievers for most of my second tier pitching. I’d still hang onto $22 Noah Syndergaard, $21 Johnny Cueto, and $18 Marcus Stroman to anchor my staff. The ground work was made easier because my trade partner was one of the new owners – Marc Hulet. We swapped half our rosters in FanGraphs Staff Two earlier in the winter. By now, we knew how to throw together a rushed deal. The time was 9:00pm. Confident Marc was about to accept my offer, I reached for my cake. Discovery! The piece was gone. In its place was my 14 pound dog. Grinning his biggest grin. The cake had chocolate and coffee in it, both poisonous to dogs. However, it was unclear if the small amounts in one piece would be toxic. I told my partner we’d need to keep an eye on him. She was considerably more alarmed. Certain portions of my anatomy were threatened if anything happened to her pup. And so, I called the nearest emergency vet and asked them what to do. Their advice was to call the Animal Poison Control Hotline. Which I did. After waiting on hold for 15 minutes, I called a different emergency vet. They said to bring him in. We scurried into the car, and I got back on hold with poison control. They finally picked up after about 20 minutes. At this point, we were about five minutes from the emergency vet. While we were pulling into the parking lot, the poison control vet suggested we go home and keep an eye on him for the next 12 hours. We were to expect some vomiting. Or the other kind of gastric distress. Three instances of either should trigger a vet visit. There were other instructions, but I’ll spare you the details. We had an option – use the emergency vet to induce vomiting or go home. We went home, arriving at 10:30pm. I generously volunteered to stay up all night with the dog. This also afforded me 90 minutes to save my new roster. While I was out, Marc accepted the Goldschmidt blockbuster. Goooood (rubs hands maniacally). Marc Received $10 Danny Salazar $15 Brandon Belt $10 Jose Quintana $7 Lucas Giolito $10 Kevin Gausman $5 Tyler Glasnow I Received $41 Paul Goldschmidt $9 Zach Britton $3 Kelvin Herrera $4 Rafael Devers Hard part complete. Now my Staff One roster has way too much in common with my Staff Two unit (Trout, Goldy, Britton). Those are great players to have on multiple rosters. This was the second league in which I traded a $15 Belt to Hulet. Now it was just a matter of offloading some of the keepable guys I planned to cut. Three trades quickly fell together. Eno Received $17 Dallas Keuchel $9 Devon Travis I Received $20 Hanley Ramirez Under different conditions, I probably wouldn’t have made this trade. I was fully prepared to cut Keuchel and Travis though, and Ramirez at least has the ability to outperform this investment. My median expectation is roughly $14 of value, but the max is above $30. And my team is definitely in need of some luck and volatility. Swydan Received $7 Lewis Brinson I Received $9 John Lackey This is another case of taking a trade due to time constraints. I wasn’t going to keep Brinson, but I know half the league was probably interested at this price. If only I had an opportunity to shop around. Lackey is a fine piece of depth, especially since I traded most of my pitching. Cistulli Received $11 Josh Reddick I Received $4 Ivan Nova More pitching inventory for me in exchange for a guy I would have liked to shop more but still planned to cut. Nova did put up a 1,000 point pace while in Pittsburgh. I doubt anybody really expects a repeat. For $4, I’d be happy with 800 points. This trade was originally going to be a $20 Kenley Jansen for Nova, but Cistulli cut Jansen after I went radio silent from 9:00-10:30. And now, the grand unveiling of my new roster… Hitters Name Position Cost Jonathan Lucroy 1B/C $19 Paul Goldschmidt 1B $41 Hanley Ramirez 1B $20 Brian Dozier 2B $15 Tim Anderson SS $4 Asdrubal Cabrera SS $4 Jose Reyes 3B/SS $3 Mike Trout OF $64 Dexter Fowler OF $17 Randal Grichuk OF $5 Total $192 All I need is a few outfielders and some depth. Not too shabby. Pitchers Name Position Cost Noah Syndergaard SP $22 Johnny Cueto SP $21 Marcus Stroman SP $18 John Lackey SP $9 J.A. Happ SP $7 Ivan Nova SP $4 Zachary Britton RP $9 Kelvin Herrera RP $3 I need muchos relievers plus some starting pitching depth. This is where I’ll be spending most of the $108 I’ll bring to auction. The options are plentiful too…Corey Kluber, David Price, Stephen Strasburg, Matt Moore, Cole Hamels, Masahiro Tanaka, etc. etc. Prospects Name Position Cost Rafael Devers 3B $4 Brendan Rodgers 2B/SS $3 Total $7 Gratuitous table alert! Epilogue The pup never showed the slightest ill from his poisoning. He slept peacefully while I was awoken by alarm every half hour to check on him. I’m still tired. Later, I discovered two-thirds of the cake piece between the end table and the couch. Phew.