Tout Wars Tornado!

Sorry to those who have been missing my blogs in the past few months.  Having a newborn, a two-year-old and two jobs leaves a guy very little time for blogging (or for anything else, for that matter).

But I had to take a minute and explain the tornado that ripped through my Tout Wars team in the past two weeks.  Staring up at Cory Schwartz, I felt like I needed to make a move to improve my roster and have a chance at first place.  But then one move became two.  And two moves became three.  And by the time I was finished (am I finished?), I had made six trades in the span of two weeks!  Let that sink in — six trades in an experts league in two weeks.  And these weren’t six minor deals.  Players such as Dan Haren, Adrian Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus, Clayton Kershaw, Jason Motte, Matt Holliday, Joey Votto, Adam Jones, Curtis Granderson, Jason Heyward and Joel Hanrahan were all part of my trading madness. I didn’t have a plan, and I didn’t know what I wanted.  I just knew that I wanted something different, and now I have that.  I’m not sure if I won some of these trades, but they all felt right.  When dealing with a group of experts, it’s hard to really “win” a deal.  Hopefully, I did OK (unlike in May, when I traded Matt Moore and Marco Scutaro for Ricky Romero)!

How did I make six trades in two weeks?  Well…
I shopped hard: I had trade talks with nearly every other owner in the league to find out how they wanted to change their team.
I gave people what they wanted:  I didn’t think much about what I would have left behind after a trade.  If someone wanted a closer I couldn’t spare or my only shortstop, that was fine with me.  As long as I liked the overall effect the deal had on my team, I made it.  I wasn’t worried about making more trades or using waivers to fill a hole.
I wasn’t afraid:  I’m not going to track any of the players that I traded away.  There’s no point.  If I saw a trade I believed in, I pulled the trigger and moved on.
I wasn’t cheap:  In most trades, I was willing to throw in little extras to get the player I wanted.  Players like Bobby Parnell, Gaby Sanchez, Darwin Barney and Dale Thayer were of little consequence to me if they helped to sweeten the pot and get a deal done.

Without further adieu, the deals:

Credit: AP1. Fred trades Dan Haren and Gaby Sanchez to David Gonos for Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Thole.
I immediately dropped Thole to waivers.  This trade was made at the end of June, before Haren went on the DL and before the Marlins traded for Carlos Lee.  I was sick of Haren and wanted to make a change, so I looked for an owner who needed pitching and then decided to take someone he was likely sick of, too.  Gonzalez hasn’t set the world on fire for me yet, and Haren may bounce back to help David a lot in the second half.  But for now, I’m happy with this deal.

2. Fred trades Elvis Andrus and Bobby Parnell to Gene McCaffrey for Clayton Kershaw and Dee Gordon.
Of all the owners in the league, Gene is my favorite to trade with.  He gets back to me quickly and he doesn’t mess around.  With Gene there’s nCredit: APo, “Maybe I would consider doing this.”  It’s, “Here’s an offer, do you want to do it?”  Gene’s team is pitching very well, and he had recently lost Gordon for six weeks.  I offered him my best middle infielder for Kershaw.  He wanted to add Parnell for Gordon, so I bent a little.  I love Kershaw and I really need starting pitching help, so hopefully this deal works out well for me.  I spent $25 on Andrus on auction day and I don’t regret it.  But I wasn’t going to get Kershaw without giving up a good player.  I’ll trade to replace Andrus’ steals later on, and hopefully Gordon can eventually help with that.  With Frank Francisco suffering a setback recently, Gene might have picked up a valuable piece in Parnell.

Credit: AP3. Fred trades Jason Motte and Michael Young for Nicholas Minnix for Matt Holliday.
Nick emailed all Tout owners to say that he was willing to part with Holliday if he could get a closer.  Chances to get an elite bat are rare, but with Motte and Chris Perez as my closers, I didn’t have extra saves to spare.  I decided to go for it.  If I felt like the deal improved my team, I’d figure my saves out later.  This league has one of the tightest saves races I’ve ever seen.  Only 23 saves separates second place and 15th place in that category.  Nick got the closer he needed, and I came away happy to upgrade Young to Holliday.  I usually believe in Young, but he has been very ordinary this year.  He could do great in a loaded Texas lineup in the second half, or he could hit .270 with three homers.  I gave Nick his choice of Motte or Perez and his choice of Young, Kyle Seager or Anibal Sanchez as the second piece.  He chose Young. And all of a sudden, I was scrambling for saves.

4. Fred trades Joey Votto, Adam Jones and Darwin Barney to Paul Singman for Jason Kipnis, Mike Moustakas Credit: APand Curtis Granderson.
Paul has been bouncing around between first place and third place for most of the season.  Batting average has been his Achilles heel.  He came calling for Votto, offering Kipnis and Moustakas.  I love Kipnis, but I’m only lukewarm on Moustakas, who hasn’t solved lefties yet.  I asked him to upgrade Moustakas to Lawrie.  He passed.  Wanting a little more for Votto, I asked him to include the swap of Jones for Granderson and that got the deal done.  It was attractive to Paul because Jones gives him even more batting average help.  I was happy to get Granderson because I feel that he’s a little safer than Jones.  Jones hit 10 homers in May but hasn’t been as dominant since.  He’s a top-25 hitter for the second half in my opinion, but I believe Granderson is a little better.  Kipnis was the key to the deal for me.  I think he’s already a top-5 second baseman.  If he hits 20 homers and swipes 35 bases this season, I will have a lot of people joining me on his bandwagon next March.

This trade was made hours before games began in the second half.  A few days later, it was announced that Votto was going to miss a month of action.  While I’m always hopeful of winning trades, I was disappointed to have one of Paul’s new players injured so quickly.  I never like to see that happen to someone I trade with.  I hope Paul still gets two great months out of Votto.

Credit: AP 5. Fred trades Gavin Floyd to Nando DiFino for Marco Scutaro
This one pales in comparison to the others.  It was a good example of keeping open lines of communication.  Nando and I had already made two trades earlier in the season.  He liked A.J. Griffin and emailed me to see if I wanted to send him his way.  I had picked up Griffin for $0 one week earlier.  I decided to keep the A’s rookie but told Nando I might not have room for Floyd anymore (we both knew about Floyd’s injury at the time).  Nando is overloaded with middle infielders and offered to sent his worst one, Scutaro, to me for Floyd.  The Andrus trade had opened a hole at shortstop for me and while Yuniesky Betancourt was doing his best to fill it, I decided to make the switch to Scutaro.  As a Torontonian, I love Scutaro.  And his hot bat last September was a key to me winning this league.  I’ll hopefully use him for five weeks and then turn the spot over to Dee Gordon.  In the end, I mismanaged Floyd all season.  I used him often early on.  He struggled and then he sat on my bench while pitching really well prior to the All-Star break.  I am hopeful that Nando can figure him out.

6. Fred trades Curtis Granderson, Dale Thayer and $5 FAAB to Cory Schwartz for Joel Hanrahan and Jason Credit: APHeyward.
Granderson pulled off the difficult feat of being involved in two of my trades without being in my lineup for a single game!  I was without a second closer since my trade with Nick.  That was bothering me since the race was tight.  Cory has pulled away from everyone in saves, leading by 15.  He was the one owner who could trade a closer, but I knew it wouldn’t be cheap.  I put out a message board post, looking for a closer and Cory came calling.  He was looking for a power bat, and they don’t come much better in that area than Granderson.  I didn’t like the idea of helping the owner in first place, but I only think about my own team but until the middle of August.  Anything could happen to Cory in the second half.  He could end up winning the league by 20 points, or he could suffer through slumps and injuries and move back into the pack.  Heyward won’t be as good as Granderson, but I’m hoping he can hit 10-12 homers and swipe 6-10 bases the rest of the way.

I like my team better after making these moves.  I have a deep group now, even if I’ve lost some of my star power at the hitting spots.  Adding Kershaw to my pitching staff should be a big help, and I tried to obtain plenty of second- and third-tier hitting, with players such as Kipnis, Heyward and Moustakas.  If Holliday stays hot and Gonzalez comes around, my offense could be excellent.

I think I might take a break from trading for a while.  But, I probably won’t!  I’ll likely end up sending out an offer in a few days, looking to make improvements.  I made 15 trades in 2011, and I’ve completed 10 deals so far this season.  I never intend on making so many trades, it just seems to happen!

This is a great group of owners to compete with.  I’m enjoying this league every step of the way.  Mostly, I hope to stay in the race so that I have something to do until the end of September!

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