A few weeks back, as my XFL team crawled out of the depths of last place for basically the first time in three years of rebuilding.
For background, the XFL is a keeper league of industry guys where we are allowed to keep up to 15 players, including minor leaguers.
Dealt possible future Ace Ventura
Drafting minor leaguers shrewdly is definitely a ticket to a title in this format, and a player advanced through a farm system has a salary that only increases by three bucks a season. As in, I have Matt Kemp at $25, and he will move up to $28 next year: easily worth the gamble in a deep league for a couple of more seasons.
I bring up the Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder because a month ago I traded a very cheap Yordano Ventura for the rights to Kemp. I did that after a couple of other swaps as my team pushed from the bottom of the league up to a respectable eighth place with 86 points.
Since I had been rebuilding for these past seasons and I could see just some speed and saves would be worth close to 20 points, I swapped a portion of my bevy of cheap kids, like Miguel Sano and Matt Moore, for Mark Teixeira and Kenley Jansen, along with the Kemp deal.
All that has happened since then was for my squad to drop 20 points and four slots in the standings.
And though it is edifying not to be at the very bottom, and though I might even finish as high as seventh or eighth, the reality is that deep down I knew that it was a long shot to challenge for a title this year.
However, I had another set of reasons for making the trades and trying to take a stab this year: setting myself up for next year.
For though we can indeed build a solid core of a roster out of our respective XFL keeper lists, the annual auction is where the likes of the Paul Goldschmidts and Miguel Cabreras are obtained.
And while it is essential that a roster include a handful of cheap home-grown players similarly, it is really impossible to be competitive without spending some money on a banger or two of the Goldschmidt/Cabrera ilk.
Since I can indeed freeze only 15 players including minor leaguers, it could be very easy to fill a roster with so many young players who are earning their veteran status.
That means a roster peppered with Leonys Martin and Nick Castellanos might point to some solid years ahead. Having a couple of core producers who can produce 30 homers and near 100 RBI is, as noted essential.
Meaning the trick to winning the XFL is to create a balance among the up-and-coming, cheap, salary-controlled prospects; the surprising sleeper players like Charlie Blackmon; and those stars who will command a $35-$50 price tag come the auction.
So while letting go of Sano and Ventura was tough, I still have a roster with eight such players, along with a couple of minor league prospects yet, and now some established stars in Kemp, Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes.
When I look at my roster, I indeed have 15 freezes totaling around $156, meaning I will have $104 to spend, so dropping $40 on one more big hitter is doable in such a format where this year the only real impact type player I could add was Jose Reyes (not that Reyes is bad, and he is hitting well, but we are talking a potential 30-homer player).
In other words, though I do feel I did a good job trying to see how far we could go in 2014, at the same time the real setup in for 2015.
And, who knows: There is still half of this year out there, and stranger things have happened.
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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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