Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Dump City

by Lawr Michaels, on May 1, 2012 @ 10:15:18 PDT


Rebuilding in keeper leagues is such a dicey thing. There are always things to balance when either being the team trying to rebuild, or the team trying to close the deal for a star or two who can help win a title.

Aside from trying to negotiate a deal that is fair between the involved teams, there are also the members of the league who must be pacified.

Philadelphia Phillies SP Roy Halladay
Huge trade chip

Then since the basic premise of the "dump trade" is "I give you what you need to win this year, and you give me what I need to win in the near future: hopefully next year even," there is not just pulling the right trigger, but doing it at the correct time.

Well, as documented in this space among others, when I entered the draft room of the Experts Fantasy League (XFL) last November at the BaseballHQ First Pitch Forums, I knew 2012 was going to be a rebuild year for me going into the draft. That is because I had spent the previous eight seasons trying to build a winner based upon draft bargains, a few prospects, and shrewd auction purchases.

And for the previous eight seasons I banged my head against the XFL wall, watching my league mates, who had built juggernauts by drafting prospects and augmenting the cheap salaried up-and-coming stars with solid stars.

This is indeed a competition where Yu Darvish was picked in 2010, meaning there are no players who can hide from the reserve list of an ultra-league where we purchase our teams in November (at the BaseballHQ First Pitch Arizona) and then fill our rosters out with a 17-player reserve draft.

A couple of other thoughts are we can freeze up to 15 players each season prior to the draft, and that players drafted as minor leaguers, who come up through our reserve list start with a salary of $1, can be retained in perpetuity, and only increase $3 a year. That means Darvish, who was activated for a buck this year, will cost $4 next year, $7 the season after, and so on, and that is quite an advantage during the auction.

Since all the good youngsters were pretty much gone, I decided to try and get the jump on my mates by filling my auction roster out with guys like Leonys Martin and Taylor Green: players with a little big league experience, who I could get cheap, and who would command the cheap salary Darvish and his mates had ahead of them.

That meant leaving money on the table, so, one other plan I conjured was copping two or three expensive players whom I could then trade during the coming season for some more bargains in one or two of those dump trades.

Well, I walked away from the auction with Albert Pujols ($66), Roy Halladay ($42), and Mark Reynolds ($17), so Phase I of my plan worked.

Now, I had planned on waiting till June to swap these guys, and I also had decided that I would do everything I could to spread my treasures around, so as not to tip the balance of the league scales.

Still, I started getting offers as my team tumbled to not only the bottom of the standings, but close to "hitting" as few points as possible (with ten categories, my present 14.5 total hovers dangerously close to the inverse pinnacle).

I deflected those early overtures, however, noting my desire to try and cling to some kind of ethos within the looniness of that delicious combination of baseball, fantasy baseball, and the desires and machinations of my league mates.

But then my Tout - and music - bud of many years Steve Moyer approached me in an attempt to disrupt my plan, stating he had what I wanted (Bryce Harper to start) and that he was ready to deal.

I thought about it, and sent a note out to the league saying that since I both was getting offers, and well, since my team could not get any worse (I do have to note that as you may well know, Albert had not been helping me too much), I was ready to deal.

In perfect harmony with this change in plans, Steve then advised me he had reconsidered (he was probably anticipating Mr. Harper's arrival to The Show this past weekend), but he did challenge my ethics, bravely suggesting that I should simply trade for what I wanted, and be as cutthroat as I deemed necessary in order to improve my team.

Well, as soon as the draft was over Doug Dennis told me he had what I needed, and then I deferred, but when I suggested I would deal now, he was the first to contact me. And, though a number of my fellow owners also contacted with a myriad of names (Tim Lincecum, Brett Jackson, Mike Carp, Gordon Beckham and lots of prospects, but generally none who were yet established), Doug, who started his offer with Yonder Alonso, had one player I really wanted in Matt Moore.

Texas Rangers SP Yu Darvish
AbYusing the system

So, I offered him Albert for Alonso and Moore, right there, and Doug accepted (he also got Anthony Swarzak to ensure roster balance). And, for you bean counters, Alonso commands a salary of $4 this year, while Moore is just $1, and each player will go up $3 a year for as long as I own them (and there is no time limit).

Now at the same time Brian Feldman had offered up Yoenis Cespedes (also $1 this year, moving to $4 next, and so on) straight up for Halladay. And, as much as I appreciate the new Oakland outfielder's skill and future, swapping arguably the best pitcher in the National League the last few years for him seemed a little steep.

Brian and I went back and forth, objectifying what my mate Lord Zola would identify as the difference between perceived value and what the market would bear.

That is when Doug and I re-entered negotiations, for Doug has a lot of good young players, and he had Desmond Jennings ($4, going to $7) and Dan Hudson ($7, going to $10), both of whom I really love (I think Jennings will be Carl Crawford in a year).

Still, I hated to swap both my treasures to the same team, irrespective of Mr. Moyer's sage advice, so Sunday Brian and I knocked it back and forth, finally agreeing to my getting Cespedes, along with Matt Harrison ($2, going to $7) for Halladay and Nolan Reimold, along with swapping our picks in the next free agent draft in a week.

Plus, I gave Brian my second and tenth round expansion picks next year, for his fourth and seventh rounders (and this suggests the significance placed upon future picks within the XFL).

Now, as far as picks, this is not much of a sacrifice on my end, as I am not going to compete this year, and I already have around 22 potential freezes for next year, with a limit of 15. Meaning I can trade prospects for picks and even things out.

Essentially, for my two stars, I netted Moore, Cespedes, Alonso, and Harrison, who hopefully with Hector Sanchez, Tyler Flowers, Dustin Ackley, Alejandro De Aza, Ben Revere, and Justin Masterson will give me the core (all under $10) that would make purchasing guys like Pujols and Doc next year something that would actually make me competitive.

So, that means that Phase II of my rebuilding plan is completed.

Phase III lies ahead. That is if Matt Moore is not Daniel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes is not Jeremy Hermida, and Yonder Alonso is not Brandon Wood.

Hey, now you can get me on Twitter @lawrmichaels!

You can also subscribe now to the Mastersball Platinum Package, and get the edge that has led to three Tout Wars titles, eight NFBC crowns, two Scoresheet Championship teams, a KFFL title, and a Fantasy Pro 911 title over the last three years.

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About Lawr Michaels,

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 as a statistician. Fantasy Baseball

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