Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 10a: The Makings of the Turn
Before I get into my push towards contention in the 18-team league I began discussing in the previous post, I wanted to go back and discuss how I got the team ready to make the turn – as it’s now been long enough that it makes for an interesting perspective and, in most cases, for proper judgment. What I did not get into in the last piece was that the team I took over in early 2009 was the fourth place team in the league during the 2008 season, and I began my ownership trying to keep the party going. Here were all the players on that roster which were at least 50% owned in CBS leagues at the end of the 2008 season:
Brian Roberts, Jimmy Rollins, Garrett Atkins, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Jermaine Dye, Torii Hunter, Mark Buehrle, Johnny Cueto, John Lackey, Braden Looper, Andy Pettitte, Adrian Beltre.
Don’t laugh – how quickly we forget. Garrett Atkins was coming off a .286-21-99 age-28 season. Jermaine Dye was coming off a .292-34-96-96 season. Jason Bay was on the Red Sox and putting up studly numbers (.286-31-101-111-10 in 2008) and so was Lance Berkman with the Astros. John Lackey was still the pre-Boston John Lackey and Jimmy Rollins was one season removed from his MVP. In fact, even the two players who look the best now (Beltre and Cueto) were among the worst of this group at the time. And this was only four years ago!
Today, we’re going to go chronologically through the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons to see how I got to the point where I was ready to move toward contention in order for the last part of the series to be as instructive as possible.
Draft (Pick #15): Eric Hosmer (R1), Martin Perez (R2), Jason Castro (R3), Christian Friedrich (R4), Joel Hanrahan (R5), Sean West (R6), Nick Hagadone (R7), Ryan Westmoreland (R8), Mike Montgomery (R9), Kevin Gregg (R10), Nick Barnese (R11), Luis Castillo (R12), Chris Nelson (R13), Derek Norris (R14), Trevor Reckling (R15)
Free agent pickups: Leo Nunez, Ryan Madson, Alex Avila, Jonathan Lucroy, Brandon McCarthy, Starlin Castro, Casey Kelly, Josh Bell, Alex Torres
Trades: Traded Brian Roberts for Kelly Johnson and Brett Wallace
Every once in a while I like to look back and see how much of a head start I gave this team through both my 2009 draft and FA pickups on the minor league side. And things would have been even better if not Ryan Westmoreland’s career being abruptly interrupted (but hopefully still not ended – I will forever root for him harder than any other player in pro baseball). The biggest pieces ended up being Hosmer and Castro – who are two of the most important cogs in my team’s current incarnation. Perez, Monty and Wallace all looked like they were going to be important pieces as well, but that’s why you always need more prospects than you think.
Draft (Pick #11): Casey Crosby (R1), Shelby Miller (R2), Simon Castro (R2), Kyle Gibson (R3), Bobby Borchering (R4) – the number of picks vary so much year-to-year because you draft until you have a full 40-man roster.
Free agent pickups: Coco Crisp, David Murphy, Brian Duensing, Billy Hamilton, John Lamb, Andy Oliver
Trades: Traded Jermaine Dye and Alex Torres for Rich Harden and Skip Schumaker; Traded Alex Avila for Conor Jackson; Traded Josh Reddick for Troy Glaus (!); Traded Garrett Atkins for a 4th round pick (Bobby Borchering); Traded Lance Berkman for Matt Moore, Chris Perez and Jerry Sands.
This year didn’t yield any major league cogs through the draft and free agency, but did yield two of my biggest minor league pieces – Shelby Miller and Billy Hamilton. And yes, I’m still kicking myself for choosing Casey Crosby over Mike Trout. I was deciding between the two of them and thought Trout had the better chance of being around for my next pick – turns out, he was taken the pick before I snapped up Shelby Miller. Although, clearly the more interesting thing here are these trades. Let’s go in order. I got very little from Rich Harden, but Dye ended up playing his last game in 2009 so that guy made out worse. Avila and Reddick were both players who I was not going to use re-signs on and traded away before the 2010 season even started. It looks funny now, but neither of them did anything in 2010 (though the same can be said from the guys I got for them).
Which brings us to the most important trade of my rebuilding phase here — Berkman for Moore, Perez and Sands. I made this trade near the deadline, after Berkman had been dealt to the Yankees. The team I traded him to had just lost Ryan Howard and Kevin Youkilis to injury and were very much in contention to make the playoffs (which they did). Yes, Berkman had a phenomenal 2011 season, but he was also on a one-year contract when I dealt him, so I would have had to burn one of my three re-signs on him. This trade made me very happy at the time, and it’s made me giddy since. Moore and Perez were both key contributors to my 2012 team, and I used Sands to get two other pieces which did the same (I’ll get to that later). But Matt Moore. Yes, Matt Moore.
Draft (Pick #10): Josh Sale (R1), Yorman Rodriguez (R2), Kaleb Cowart (R2), A.J. Cole (R3), Lorenzo Cain (R4), Trevor May (R4), Luis Heredia (R5)
Free agent pickups: Matt Harrison, Tim Wheeler, Brad Peacock, Jonathan Singleton, Addison Reed, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway, J.D. Martinez, Henderson Alvarez
Trades: Traded a 2nd round pick for Aaron Hicks; Traded Mark Buehrle for a 4th round pick (Lorenzo Cain); Traded Jimmy Rollins and Brian Duensing for Adam Wainwright and Aaron Crow
Another year, another cog from each of the three avenues: Cain (draft), Harrison (FA), Wainwright (trade). It stings to miss on both of your first two draft picks, but I certainly made up for it with the last five. In free agency, I was building up my army of prospects one at a time. Many of these players would make the trade chips that I would use to acquire the pieces my team was missing prior to the 2012 season. The Wainwright deal was made in May (only a couple of months after he underwent Tommy John surgery), as I knew I was not going to compete this year and liked Wainwright’s long-term outlook much better than Rollins’ – which I still do.
Hopefully this background helps to explain how I got the point where I will start the next part of this series – the off-season following the 2011 season. That’s when the fun really started.
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
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 10: The Turn