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Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 11: Pushing In Your Chips

The final step of the rebuilding process can be a very difficult for owners to wrap their heads around, but in almost all cases, it’s absolutely necessary. You have spent a long time cultivating the right collection of young talent, both at the major league and minor league level, but you cannot become too attached to your roster. If you rely solely on the players in your farm system to fill the holes in your roster, you’re going to be disappointed.

Everyone has at least one owner like this in their league. They have meticulously built up a really great farm system and appear ready to contend, but can’t bring themselves to let go of the talent they’ve accumulated in order to improve their team. They ask for the moon and stars when you inquire about their prospects, as they’re so in love with their own process, they can’t see the likely disappointment of these “can’t miss” prospects right in front of their face. So as the minor leaguers in their farm system start to fail, they replace them with more high-end prospects, until it becomes a never ending cycle of near-contention.

Let’s go back just five years to see this materialize. Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list in 2007 included many stars, but let’s just take a look at the top-10 – the elite of the elite. Evan Longoria (7) and Justin Upton (9) are elite fantasy players. Alex Gordon (2) and Cameron Maybin (6) have been OK, but great disappointments based on their expectations. Same with Daisuke Matzuzaka (1), Phil Hughes (4) and Homer Bailey (5) on the pitching side. The other two we haven’t covered? Brandon Wood (8) and Andrew Miller (10). Ouch. It goes on further down the list. How about Reid Brignac (17), Andy LaRoche (19), Mike Pelfrey (20), Fernando Martinez (22) or Adam Miller (23)? Those didn’t work out so well. So yes, maybe Wil Myers and Jose Fernandez do turn into superstars. But if you can get an ACTUAL superstar for the two of them, you’re putting yourself in a better long-term position.

Here is my roster at the end of the 2011 season in the 18-team league I’ve been discussing in the last few posts:

C – Ryan Lavarnway
1B – Eric Hosmer
2B – Kelly Johnson
SS – Starlin Castro
3B – Adrian Beltre
CI – Brett Wallace
MI – Jean Segura
OF – Lorenzo Cain, Torii Hunter, Coco Crisp, Jason Bay
Util – EMPTY

SP – Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright, Matt Moore, Matt Harrison, Henderson Alvarez,
RP – Aaron Crow, Chris Perez, Addison Reed

Minors (hitters) – Jonathan Singleton, Will Middlebrooks, Aaron Hicks, Billy Hamilton, Derek Norris, Matt Carpenter

Minors (pitchers) – Kyle Gibson, John Lamb, Brad Peacock, Casey Kelly, A.J. Cole, Casey Crosby, Luis Heredia, Trevor May, Shelby Miller, Mike Montgomery, Martin Perez

For those of you counting at home, that’s 37 roster spots, which means I’d only be in line for 3 draft picks if I didn’t start consolidating. Needless to say, I wanted to get more since I knew it would be a deep draft. My focus going into trade talks was to deal my prospects on non-minor league contracts and get a catcher, a corner infielder, a middle infielder and an outfielder in return. I also knew that I could likely get one or two of those in the draft as well. And to top things off, I had Ryan Lavarnway stolen from me in the Rule 5 draft (yes, we have a Rule 5 draft) – though I did get an extra second rounder as compensation. So I shopped around and made two deals prior to the pre-season draft.

Deal #1 – I traded Will Middlebrooks, Brad Peacock and Jerry Sands for Alex Gordon and Ryan Doumit

I liked Gordon a lot, especially in a points league, and he became a nice target because his owner was not sold on him having turned the corner. This is why I was able to get him with a package that did not include a single elite prospect. It turns out, even though Gordon gave back a little of his performance in 2012, he was still the 8th highest scoring OF in my format — points leagues love Alex Gordon. The kicker was that Doumit was even better than I was hoping for, as he finished 9th among catchers. In fact, he played so well, I’m likely to keep Derek Norris on my minor league roster for at least a good chunk of 2013. Middlebrooks did explode onto the scene, but I don’t regret this deal for a second.

Deal #2 – I traded Jonathan Singleton, Casey Kelly, Kaleb Cowart, Aaron Crow, a 2nd round pick and a 3rd round pick for Miguel Cabrera

This certainly took care of my corner infield problem. It also cleared three more roster spots for draft picks, which I will get to next. In my mind, Cabrera was the #1 player in fantasy, especially in my format. In fact, for 2012, he finished as the #1 player overall – which gave me three offensive players in the top-25 (including Gordon and Beltre). I really like all three of those prospects, but I had to make this deal in order to be a real contender.

Now, onto the draft. The combination of these moves and the players I did not use re-signs on left me with 10 open roster spots and the #1 draft position. Here’s how the draft played out:

Yu Darvish (R1), Rymer Liriano (R2), Brian Goodwin (R4), Daniel Norris (R5), Ronald Guzman (R5), Marco Scutaro (R7), Domingo Santana (R8), Hector Noesi (R9), Trevor Story (R10), David DeJesus (R11)

I got the guy I wanted badly at #1 and followed him with some long-term high upside plays and roster fillers. The Liriano, Goodwin and Story picks seem like ones which will help me a lot in the coming months, potentially as more trade bait, and the Scutaro pick helped out the major league team. Noesi and DeJesus were worth a shot as fliers, but I knew I’d likely find guys to take their place during the season (which I did).

So, by the time Opening Day came around, my roster looked a little different. Here’s what my 2012 Week 1 roster looked like:

C – Ryan Doumit
1B – Miguel Cabrera
2B – Kelly Johnson
SS – Starlin Castro
3B – Adrian Beltre
CI – Eric Hosmer
MI – Marco Scutaro
OF – Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Coco Crisp, Torii Hunter
Util – Jason Bay

SP – Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright, Yu Darvish, Matt Moore, Matt Harrison, Henderson Alvarez
RP – Chris Perez, Addison Reed

Minors (hitters) – Billy Hamilton, Jean Segura, Aaron Hicks, Derek Norris, Trevor Story, Brian Goodwin, Ronald Guzman, Rymer Liriano, Domingo Santana

Minors (pitchers) – Shelby Miller, Martin Perez, A.J. Cole, Trevor May, Casey Crosby, Mike Montgomery, Daniel Norris, Luis Heredia

Based on the strength of my infield and starting pitching, I thought this team was poised to make a run for the title. It turns out I was right – and I made the playoffs for the first time since I joined the league. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite break right for me as I lost in the first round. Not to bore you with details, but I was up 200 points going into Sunday’s games and then went on to lose by 200 (1,000 points is a very good week in this league). Turns out not even the best of planning can overcome both James Shields and Ricky Nolasco (!) throwing shutouts against you on the last day of your season.

Sadly, next week will be the final installment of this series (aside from the epilogues I’ll have from time-to-time as things happen in the league which was the focus of the majority of the series). So I hope you all have more room for one more of these ramblings.

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
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 10a: The Makings of the Turn

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The Dynasty Guru

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