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Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 10: The Turn

You’ll notice that as we get further and further into this series, the time associated with each of these stages expands. The first seven parts all will happen within the first few months of owning the team. Then we discussed more nebulous concepts like how to best approach the waiting game which comes naturally after the initial flurry of activity and how to make the most out of your league’s draft. Those steps are all very important to the process, but it’s just as important not to fall in love with this part of the process. I’ll elaborate on this a little more in the next section (since it’s more relevant).

All that we’ve done so far has been an effort to put our roster in the best position to have a window of contention. We haven’t won anything. We likely haven’t even come close. That is why you throughout the entire rebuilding process, you need to constantly have one eye on the horizon – or what I like to call, the turn.

The turn is the point where the roster you currently have moves from future contender to contender. It happens at a different speed for every team and it’s not something you can force. It’s something which has to come organically from the hard work that you’ve put in over the previous seasons. Also, it may happen either before or after your initially constructed time horizon. All it takes sometimes is a couple of prospects and free agents to hit in a way which was unexpected at the time you picked them up to necessitate a shift in your time horizon. It is extremely important that you analyze this timing correctly because if you make a run for it too early, you can risk destroying the window you worked so hard to create.

Since this has obviously not happened yet in the league which has been the focus of the series up to this point, I’m going to use a different league as a focal point for the last few parts here. The basic details you need to know are that this is a 18-team H2H dynasty league that I took over back in 2009. It was an old team and I blew up most of it with a targeted time horizon of 2013. In fact, the only two players on my roster who are holdovers from February 2009 when I took the team over are Adrian Beltre and Johnny Cueto. However, due to some moves which worked out better/more quickly than I had originally anticipated, this horizon got bumped up to 2012.

What I’m going to do today is explain what happened with this team which made me decide that I was witnessing the turn. First, you’re crudely looking for approximately half of your active lineup to be filled with players who would qualify as at least “strong”, as we used for our evaluation process back in the earlier parts of the series. And I’m not talking about having strong potential, I’m talking a player who you expect to be strong the following season either because they are strong now or have shown glimpses of it. Second, you’re looking for at least half of your minor league roster to be top-100 level prospects that you can move in order to push in. If you have the first, but not the second, you’re not going to be able to get what you need to put yourself over the top.

I made the decision just after the All-Star Break of 2011 that I would be changing my time horizon to 2012. These were the players I currently had which qualified as at least strong for 2012: Eric Hosmer, Kelly Johnson, Starlin Castro, Adrian Beltre, Lorenzo Cain, Adam Wainwright, Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore, Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish. I put Darvish on that list because I was in line for the #1 draft pick that off-season and was going to take him. For me, that was enough major league talent to move forward.

Then it came time to look at my minor league talent. I had, in my estimation at the time, 14 prospects who were candidates for the Top-100 (and in an 18-team league, that’s more than twice the expected average). Here were my biggest ML chips: Jonathan Singleton, Will Middlebrooks, Jean Segura, Casey Kelly, Brad Peacock, Addison Reed, Billy Hamilton, Derek Norris, Kaleb Cowart, A.J. Cole, Luis Heredia, Shelby Miller, Mike Montgomery and Martin Perez. Beyond that, I had lesser prospects like Jerry Sands, Trevor May, Aaron Hicks, John Lamb and Ryan Lavarnway.

The complicating factor, which I’ll try to sum up as quickly as I can, with these prospects is that the ones I picked up off waivers had to be signed to 1 or 2 year contracts, so they could not be held on a minor league contract until I wanted to call them up (at which point I could give them a contract of my choosing — up to 8 years). That wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we weren’t only allowed 3 re-signs each off-season – so using a re-sign on a minor league player is a rare scenario (that I’ve only used four times in four off-seasons). The big guys who were on non-minor league deals were Singleton, Middlebrooks, Segura, Hamilton, Kelly, Hicks and Lamb – which made these guys the ideal trade chips. In case you were wondering, when acquiring a player on a non-minor league deal, you can give him a minor league deal if he qualifies, so he holds more value to the team acquiring him than the one which holds him.

Anyway, to make a growing story shorter, the confluence of my major league roster rounding into shape and my minor league roster filled with trade chips (and ones which would begin to expire the following season), I made the decision to move the process along. In Part 11 of the series, I’ll go through how I went from knowing I was ready to push all-in to actually doing it.

Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 1: Setting the Table
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 2: Establishing Your Time Horizon
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 3: The Evaluation Stage
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4: The Opening Trades
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4a: Wait at Your Own Peril
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 5: The Free Agents
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 6: The Re-Evaluation Stage
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 7: The Secondary Targets
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8: The Waiting Game
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8a: The Challenge Trade
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8b: Know Your Waiver System and Draft Rules
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 9: The Draft

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The Dynasty Guru

The Dynasty Guru

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