Feb 14, 2008

Contending or rebuilding? Make a plan and stick to it!

The fun part of being in a balanced keeper league is managing the cycle of contending and rebuilding. Make no mistake, you can NOT do both during the same season. There are guys I've played with for years - (you may or may not know who you are - but Murph knows who I mean!) - these guys perenially finish somewhere between 5th and 8th place. There's no glory in that! Like a league-mate of mine, Chad, always says - "Flags fly forever!" Even if they are only imaginary flags - you'll always have the esteemed title of "Past League Champion".

If you really want to maximize your success, you need to take an honest look at your team in comparison to the other rosters in your league and assess where you stand. If you don't have one of the top four groups of keepers heading into your draft or auction, it's going to be very difficult for you to contend.

I was in this exact situation going into the 2007 season. I knew I didn't have what it took to compete for the top spot, so in late February I made my first trade in the process for building a contender for 2008:

I dealt Roy Oswalt ($27) and Salomon Torres ($1) for Andre Ethier ($5) and Conor Jackson ($10)

Oswalt was basically priced at 'fair market value' and Torres was a very nice keeper at $1 heading into 2007 as the closer in Pittsburgh. I came to the conclusion that Torres' trade value would never be higher than it was prior to the auction - which ended up being the right call as Matt Capps took over the closer role and Torres lost virtually all of his value mid-season.

I dealt Jason Schmidt ($21) for Matt Kemp ($5)

Like Oswalt, Schmidt was basically priced at 'fair market value'. Kemp was projected to either share time in the L.A. outfield, or put in a month or so at Las Vegas - either was fine with me, I wanted his upside for 2008. Obviously this deal worked out quite well for me with Schmidt's injury.

I dealt Ray Durham ($11) and Brian Fuentes ($10) for Ryan Braun ($5) and Bill Bray ($2)

Durham and Fuentes presented a similar value proposition to Salomon Torres, good pre-auction values that likely wouln't net nearly as much during the season. There's no way anyone could have predicted the massive dropoff of Durham or the emergence of Manny Corpas in pushing Fuentes to a set-up role.

Heading into 2008
I now have a very solid keeper core heading into the 2008 Gas House Gang League, anchored by Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp from the 2007 pre-auction deals I made. By dealing away the salaries of Oswalt, Schmidt, Durham and Fuentes I also freed up funds to draft a few premium players like Jake Peavy and Garrett Atkins to serve as additional 'rebuilding trade' fuel. I'll cover the impact of those moves, and other in-season deals, in a later post.

NOTE: The Under 27 Up-and-Coming Hitter List - Pt. 3 post is coming tomorrow!

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