I’m likely to spend the rest of my fantasy baseball life in mourning. I’ll be the guy drinking at the bar, wondering what would have happened if he had just worked up the courage to go talk to the cute girl that one time. Or the woman who turned down a job opportunity for love, only for the relationship to break up. What might have been?
I traded Mike Trout last year.
I’ve been high on Mike Trout since there was a Mike Trout to be high on. Fell in love with the kid as soon as he started Trouting. I picked him up just before he came up in 2011 and kept him into 2012 at the expense of other, more-likely-to-contribute-in-2012 options.
And oh, it was glorious. You know what Trout did last year. Now imagine owning him on all three of your fantasy teams. Two of them were single-season redraft leagues, so the tale of Trout began and ended in 2012. But in the third, the keeper league…yeah, Trout’s going to be my personal neck tattoo, that thing you mourn when you’re 80.
But here’s the thing: Given the knowledge I had at the time, I’d do it again.
In late May, I discussed rosters with a leaguemate who claimed that Trout’s value was somewhere in the range of a healthy Emilio Bonifacio, that Trout was overperforming and overrated. By mid-July, that same guy came to me with an offer: In exchange for Mike Trout (and another personal favorite, Brandon Belt), I was getting back Joey Votto, Jose Bautista and Danny Espinosa. Oh, and Bonifacio, just to stick it to that guy.
Think back to the timing. Votto had been the National League MVP to that point in the season. After a slow start, Bautista had been on something of a tear. Bonifacio was just back from the DL and would in theory spend the rest of the season replacing any and all Trout stolen bases I’d be losing out on. And Espinosa had second base eligibility, which, having started the season with Chase Utley, I desperately needed.
Trout was great. Trout is great. But he’s one man. The trade made sense.
The trade was consummated July 15. Within two days, Votto and Bautista were both on the DL, and I got essentially nothing out of them the rest of the way. Bonifacio made it a couple weeks longer, but I ended up losing him, too. And we all know what Trout did the rest of the way, and what he’s likely to keep doing for the rest of forever.
The moral of this story? It’s the old risk-reward adage. I took a huge risk in dealing Mike Trout, in hopes of the huge reward that was my league title. It didn’t work out, but then again they can’t all work out. If they did, they’d be called “no risk, high reward” moves, and that would be a much easier game to play. I was on the fringe of the playoff race in my league; had everything gone well, I’d have made a deep run. As it was, I finished in seventh place, out of the hunt. But it was a risk I had to take.
The moral, then, is not to look back at the bad outcomes. Look at the process, and as long as it was sound, you’ll ultimately be fine.
At least, that is the moral for you. The moral for me is to try not to get too maudlin watching Trout do Trout things from now until forever. And don’t cry too many tears into my bourbon.