Gentle fantasy owners: Must we be ill-mannered?
Need we poke fun at those who drafted Kerry Wood?
Have we no couth?
Your fellow fantasy players are people too. If you're in first place, Gentle Owner, don't offer Kyle Lohse to a last-place owner for Johan Santana. That might make the other owner feel a tad small.
And you wouldn't want to do that, would you?
Fantasy league etiquette is in its infancy. No fantasy owner who has been to a live fantasy draft will be surprised to hear that; those drafts have never been safe for the kind or ultra-sensitive. When Rich Harden was drafted in leagues around the country this past March, opposing owners didn't think twice about grabbing their shoulders and saying ``ouch.''
That may have been apt, but it wasn't nice.
Here are some suggestions on making fantasy baseball a kinder, gentler game.
Insulting Trade Offers
Nothing makes a fantasy owner feel worse than receiving an obviously bad trade offer. Consider an offer I received this week from the top team in my league: Chris Capuano and B.J. Upton for Johan Santana and Hunter Pence.
That would have meant giving up the best pitcher in baseball, and arguably the game's best rookie - the only good players on my last-place squad - for a similar rookie and a lesser pitcher.
The subtext of this offer seems to be 'I think you are so dim that you don't know Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. Why don't you hand him over for nothing?'
Make too many offers like that, and you'll find no one wants to trade with you. Since trading overperforming players for those off to slow starts is a big part of staying in first place, this isn't just a matter of etiquette; it's about winning.
Offering Injured Players
As the Cincinnati Reds will tell you, nothing feels worse than unkowingly receiving damaged goods in a trade.
The Reds filed a grievance in May against the Washington Nationals over the trade that brought sore-shouldered reliever Gary Majewski to Cincinnati last season. The Reds contend that Nationals general manager Jim Bowden failed to inform them of Majewski's shoulder problems when they got the right-hander as part of an eight-player deal last July.
Fantasy owners won't be any happier to learn they've been traded a player who is hurt.
The aforementioned insulting trade offer was therefore a double whammy, since Upton was put on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, a day after the trade was offered.
Some might argue that it's an owner's responsibility to research a trade offer. But why make the offer in the first place? If you fail to pull the wool over an opponent's eyes, you'll certainly raise his or her ire.
We all know owners who won't take no for an answer and continually badger you to make a trade. He or she figures you'll eventually relent, just to make the endless e-mails and phone calls stop. Maybe that owner will succeed in getting that trade done. Whether he or she will be invited back for another fantasy season is another question entirely.
Thoughtful Trade Offers
Know what will help the team you're trading with. Nothing's worse than receiving an offer of Paul Konerko for J.J. Hardy, when you can't possibly pull the trigger because you need Hardy and already have Travis Hafner and Justin Morneau at first base.
A trade that shows consideration for your fellow fantasy owner's needs is much more likely to go through. If I have too many first basemen and lack power-hitting outfielders, I'm liable to accept a trade offer, even if I'm getting a possibly inferior outfielder (Michael Cuddyer) for Konerko. Is Cuddyer going to hit more home runs than Konerko? Probably not. But if I have a decent replacement for first base and Cuddyer is an outfield upgrade, I'd do it. And that's a win-win for both sides.
Make One Questionable Trade
Showing other owners your willingness to make fair deals or even slightly bad deals can help open up the lines of communication down the road. I traded away Chone Figgins when he was at his lowest point for Curtis Granderson and pitcher Braden Looper. Since I have already enough speed, I didn't lose a ton by giving away Figgins for an inferior outfielder and a pitcher who isn't that valuable. But in a month, who will owners come to with trade offers?
A willingness to be wrong isn't just good etiquette; it's good strategy.
QUICK HITS: As predicted in my article two weeks ago, Yankees OF Bobby Abreu has woken up and is tearing things up in June, with 20 hits in his first 41 at-bats and 12 RBIs. ... Brewers OF Corey Hart has five stolen bases during the first 13 days of June. ... Who is Jeremy Guthrie, and what is he doing among the top 10 pitchers in ERA and WHIP? The Orioles righty, a converted reliever, has allowed 62 baserunners in 66 2-3 innings. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last six starts, and has allowed three runs or fewer in each. He's available on the waiver wire in many leagues. Grab him.

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