Fantasy Baseball's Tumbling Dice: Bulldozing your keeper league team

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on June 24, 2014 @ 08:54:37 PDT

 


Last week I noted in my Rebuild Stalled piece how I was trying to set my XFL team up for 2014 after making a brief, albeit serious push towards the top of the league this year by making trades to fill out the flaws on my squad.

SP Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
Blue about trading Greinke

Truth is, like it or not, that push fell woefully short so I am looking at trading a couple of my non-keepers -- mostly Zack Greinke and Jose Reyes, whose price tags are more than I want retain.

I have been rebuilding, as noted, in the XFL for almost three years in a league that I think is the toughest in which I play thanks to extremely smart players, coupled with our ability to draft and hold prospects who move into the Majors at a salary that gives quite an advantage.

But, similarly, I have been rebuilding in my Strat-O-Matic league for a couple of years, and there is light at the end of that tunnel. After just a season of tweaking in my Scoresheet set-up, I have the team with the best record at this juncture.

I actually find the whole rebuild process very satisfying, especially when it seems to be working, and I bring this up because as we quickly approach the mid-season point of the year, it should be pretty clear for those off you in keeper leagues whether your team has a realistic chance, at finishing in the money.

Which means, if you are not in the hunt, now is surely the time to give some serious thought to rebuilding.

So, I want to share a handful of items I try to consider when looking at how to embrace the "art" of reconstructing a team for the future.

Act now. Make a fearless and objective assessment of your team, and if you determine you are still in for 2014, trade aggressively, and do it now. But the flip is that if you see it is a stretch, make your deals now. As in right now. For the further into the season we get, the lower the value your trading of Reyes or Greinke will be, simply because the totals they will produce will be less. So, just as fearlessly as you evaluate your team and make a determination of the path forward, act decisively.

Be willing to trade anyone. Again be fearless in objectively being willing to cut ties with just about everyone. Now, I am not saying if you can keep Mike Trout for the next five years for $7 that you should dump him. But, I am saying if Trout is the only player you have of value, and you can turn him into two or three underpriced and undervalued up-and-comers (say George Springer, Matt Harvey and Javier Baez) do it. And don't look back.

Keep the trades simple. I think there are a couple of problems people have making trades. The first is an inability to objectively evaluate worth-for-worth, as in "I'll give you Sam Fuld and his steals for Nick Castellanos." Ha.

But there is a tendency in making swaps to let them get out of hand, and suddenly something simply like Fuld for Castellanos includes Craig Breslow and Emilio Bonifacio and Rick Porcello and his No. 1 pick next year if you include your No. 3 next year and your No. 2 in 2016.

Surely, you want to get the most value you can, but keep it simple, and keep it fair (integrity is worth something). A good trade should both hurt in one way, and make you optimistic and excited in another.

Trade for draft picks, but don't get too many. Trading for draft slots in the coming year(s) is a great thing. I managed to gut my Strat-O-Matic team (30 team league, with strict usage rules) swapping Hanley Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy, Shane Victorino and Ryan Zimmerman, among others. But I wrangled four first-round picks and a couple of lower round guys for them, and those players turned into Domonic Brown, Matt Adams, Jedd Gyorko, Alex Wood, Derek Norris and Marcell Ozuna.

That is a pretty good and young core, albeit Gyorko's and Brown's somewhat rugged 2014 seasons. But I do feel pretty good about the future of each and can pencil them into the head-to-head league for at least a couple of years while they have made my team successful this year.

On the flip, sometimes too many prospects can give you too many gambles, to don't get greedy either in what you trade, or what you trade for.

Be patient. I know, I know, I started by saying "act now." But rebuilding to the core usually takes at least a year, and often two to three before a team becomes dangerous. So, be patient, and make a plan, and stay that course.

For the worst thing you can do is change plans mid-stream, for that leads to chaos, and that generally leads to failure.

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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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