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Thursday, April 23, 2009
Updated: April 24, 9:16 AM ET
Fantasy World: Justify My Trade


"Samantha Jones is a good metaphor for the DH. You co-exist, but you gotta' live for you. Though Smith Jared was cool."

My first trade of the year is in the books, and I'm already second-guessing it.

It's only natural any blockbuster trade comes with nightly fits of indigestion, but my symptoms are heightened because (a) the trade occurred in my high-profile AL-only league -- you can consult and ridicule my roster over here -- and (b) there's a good chance I talked myself into accepting this one in spite of the stats, a dangerous concept in the Fantasy World. So as a warning to all, I'm listing the Twelve Steps of Justification I went though to help you avoid the same fate.

Step 1: Initial Glee

The trade: I was giving up Paul Konerko, Travis Hafner and Erik Bedard for Josh Hamilton and some also-rans. In most three-for-one deals, the person on the "one" side usually comes out ahead -- it's better to get the superstar than three middling pieces -- and this seemed no different. I was getting a top-5 outfielder who went for $36 on draft day for three players who cost a combined $24. The same hand-in-the-cookie-jar flush went through my face like when I was caught using a tabloid-sized Rolling Stone to hide a, let's say, "less musically-inclined" magazine inside. But instead of immediately accepting it …

Step 2: A Moment of Hesitancy

… I sent back the requisite "let me check out a few stats" email and headed to the spreadsheet. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. I certainly wasn't giving away "middling" talent: Bedard is a good bet for 12-15 wins and 150 Ks, Konerko can knock out 30 HRs and 100 RBIs, numbers Hafner can match if he continues his Comeback Player of the Year pace. The only way this was a slam-dunk for me was if one of the categories was "most tattoos".

Step 3: Official Statistical Analysis

In fact, what I would be losing from Pronk-erko -- conservatively good for a combined .260, 50 HRs, 160 RBIs and 140 Rs -- does not a season of Hamilton make. I would gain 10 stolen bases since the two hefties aren't the fleetest of foot, but I'd be on the losing end of the other hitting categories. And that's before taking into consideration the loss of Bedard.

Step 4: The Cool Factor

But still, how cool would it be to add a top-10 hitter in Josh Hamilton to an outfield that already includes Nick Markakis and Carl Crawford? I mean, come on! The disconnect between the stats and the cool factor meant it was time to head back to the statistical well …

Step 5: Lies, Damned Lies

… and fudge them as best I could. If Hamilton is good for 35 HRs, 110 RBIs and 90 Rs, I'd just need someone to get the remaining 10 HRs, 50 RBIs and 50 Rs to justify the deal. And what do you know, I have Adam Lind and Billy Butler on my bench, both capable of that production. So while the hitting end of the deal is justified, I was still let with the Bedard Quandary.

Step 6: Justificrazy!

Luckily, my mind is easily tricked. I looked at those 81 innings he pitched last season, that 30-year-old shoulder of his, the fact that he's currently pitching lights out for a team that shouldn't contend, and thought "Sell High!" More importantly, with both John Lackey and Smoltz coming back from their own injuries and into my rotation next month, I have pitching to spare. And yes, what you just witnessed is extreme hypocrisy, which leads to …

Here Elvis Andrus and Otis Nixon discuss strategy. Wait.

Step 7: Ignoring My Own Hypocrisy

I can ignore Carl Crawford's downward trajectory and spend $33 on him just because I have a man-crush. Or chase after no-power, middling-average Elvis Andrus just because his name is, awesomely, Elvis. So I have no problem thinking Bedard's injury history is a real concern, while Lackey and Smoltz are guaranteed to overcome their injuries.

Step 8: Phone-A-Friend

But still, it isn't enough. Like needing a second general to turn his key in order to deliver the bomb, I seek a second opinion before blockbuster deals. So it's off to Intern Jason to get his opinion. Unfortunately, when I'm this far down the rabbit hole, unless Jason just spotted Hamilton sawing his own hamstring in half, the conversation goes like this:

I.J.: "You know, losing those 150 or so strikeouts from Bedard is going to hurt." R.P.: "I can trade Hamilton later for pitching if I need to." I.J.: "But then you're basically giving away Hafner and Konerko for nothing …" R.P.: "Did I mention I'd have three of the top-seven outfielders?"

Step 9: Asking the Universe

With the statistical arguments settled, one more little sign from the universe is all I need to put the trade over the top. It could be as simple as stumbling on an update regarding one of the players, or seeing an advertisement for a new movie with Linda Hamilton, or flipping a coin. Of course, if the coin doesn't come up okaying the trade, it's probably best to flip two out of three. Maybe three of five.

Step 10: Acceptance

And when above steps are complete, it's time to just accept the trade and move on. Mistakes can be fixed later. After all, Hafner, Konerko and Bedard could all run into each other tomorrow, Three Stooges-style, ending their seasons and I'd come out of this trade looking like a genius.

Step 11: Final Consent

The final formality. I included a "I think you're winning this deal" clause in the final email, giving me an nice qualifier in case this trade blows up in my face. Kind of like saying "I know I shouldn't be doing this …" right before calling a big check-raise in a poker tournament, as if that makes everything better. No, there's only one thing that actually does make it all better …

Step 12: Inebriation

Alcohol, always there to help us forget our mistakes. Just don't indulge too heavily or you'll have another twelve steps to complete.

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Players On My Team of the Week: Ian Kinsler, for the second week in a row. It's easy to justify when he has this kind of week: .538, three home runs, eight RBIs, eight runs and five stolen bases. I'd say Sell High on him, but a lot of those stats are legit.

How to Heckle One of My Players of the Week: "Hey David Purcey, this isn't a contest to see who can get to the showers first."

The Educational Video of the Week: "How to Make a Baby" by Cassidy Curtis and Raquel Coelho. Apparently, I've been going about this all wrong.

Buy High: A new shortcut for profanity you can say in front of your children, after F/X broadcast "Snakes on a Plane" with an edit that could only be described as hilarious. Yippee ki-yay, Mister Falcon!

Sell Low: My sanity. In this spot I usually try to link a recently-reported strange news story, but this time out I'm just going to even the mental playing field by taking you all down to my level. Watch this Jack in the Box commercial for their new "Mini Sirloin Burgers" and see if you can get through a day without humming that catchy jingle.