Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Rebuilding the walls of Jericho

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on May 31, 2011 @ 09:11:58 PDT

 


If you know the classic Clark Gable/Claudette Colbert screwball comedy - and the movie is credited with being the first of the genre - from 1934, It Happened One Night, then you will understand about "the walls of Jericho." If you have not seen the film, at one point the pair stays - unmarried, which was not the same then as now - overnight in a motor hotel.

At that juncture neither character realizes they are in love with each other, and the gallant Gable, in order to provide privacy, splits their room in half by tying a rope between the two parts, and placing a blanket over it. Gable refers to the barrier as "the walls of Jericho."

As the movie ends, the pair, on their honeymoon, return to the scene and gleefully tear the walls down, reporting back to Colbert's delighted father, who happily proclaims, "Let 'em fall."

For some reason, when I am in rebuilding mode with one of my keeper teams - and I have three - I associate the process with that movie, but in reverse.

Since we are at that first major seasonal mile post, now is the time many of you, in a keeper format, have to make that serious assessment as to whether or not your team can truly compete for a crown this season.

New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez
Getting Grade A for A-Rod

Doing this is tough, for it means the daily stats we watch accumulate and covet mean something different than were we still in the race. However, for me the rebuilding process can be both fun and, ultimately, satisfying.

Rebuilding also takes two traits that are always essential for continued success at fantasy ball (and just about everything else in life.) They are objectivity and patience.

Patience is important for a couple of reasons. For one, you are no longer playing for this year, and for two, sometimes the players you acquire will not realize their full potential for a few years out. If then.

Objectivity is necessary first, in making that hard decision about rebuilding in the first place. Then it is necessary when assessing a true value of the players you are willing to barter. Further, you must target a trading partner, and objectively determine a reasonable exchange.

Something that makes this process more daunting is one of those baseball paradoxes. For, while it is hard to let go of a season in progress, the sooner you do make that realistic decision to trade for the future, the better. For, the sooner you trade a player, the larger the body of stats the recipient will get over the remainder of this year.

And, sometimes bailing - or "dump trading" as it is known - can anger your league mates, so there are a couple of things you can do to potentially mitigate any bad feelings.

Dump trading is really an OK thing to do. It is also part of baseball. But, you can do a lot to ease the process by spreading around your goods, so rather than trade Alex Rodriguez and Roy Halladay, as expensive non-keepers, don't trade them together, but rather approach a few of the contending teams, and at least give everyone a chance to make an offer.

In doing you can not only avoid tipping the scales of the league by almost handing someone a title, but, you can also create a more potentially competitive market for your goods.

When negotiating, avoid telling your partners why they need to make a trade, or of the value of what they will get, let alone how useless what they might swap might be. For anyone who plays the game seriously should know these things (at least about his or her respective league).

In trading a player of Halladay's or A-Rod's stature, you should expect two-for-one at this time of the season, as in two prospects or undervalued players, although this does depend upon what you seek. For example, asking for Eric Hosmer and Zach Britton might seem like a little much for Halladay now since both are starters with bright futures. But it really isn't.

Do be aware that we all covet our prospects, sometimes tending to overvalue them, based on a smaller body of work. Similarly, don't let your veterans be undersold or undervalued, as they are stars, and at this point, they can indeed make or break a pennant for any team. And, that is why Britton and Hosmer for Halladay might be an even swap.

Finally, when prepping for the future, don't just look at the prospects or bargains you covet, but also look at your team, your potential freezes, and equally important, who is likely to be available in the following year's draft.

For if you do own and swap Halladay, and his salary is so much that his new owner won't retain the pitcher's rights in the coming season, that means you have a chance to get him back next year. Meaning by 2012, you really gave up nothing for those spoils of the 2011 trade.

If you try to follow these simple thoughts, it can make putting those walls of Jericho back up almost as much fun as it was for Gable and Colbert to tear them down.

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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.

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