Yesterday afternoon, at the BaseballHQ First Pitch AFL, we held the 10th annual Experts Fantasy League (XFL) draft.
The XFL is a mixed format 5X5 that drafts in November with a $260 salary cap. Then, in March we hold a 17-player expansion draft giving a 40-man roster.
The league only performs waivers once a month, but weekly we can move players in and out as we please.
Over my decade in the league my performance has been pretty awful, which is tough, as I was able to dominate my local mixed league for many years, and thought I should have no trouble with this format.
Except that this is a very very tough league, with very very good players.
Over the years I have ascribed to the strategy of picking a few prospects, but basically drafting to win each year in the keeper format that allows us to freeze up to 15 players.
Well, after consecutive last place finishes, I decided to take a step back.
Since I really enjoy rebuilding, I decided to embrace the dynasty approach, and draft younger players, sacrificing 2012 for a contender in 2013 that will hopefully prove to be competitive for a couple of years beyond before the rebuilding begins again.
I did freeze $65 worth of players, ten of whom were on my major league roster plus five minor league prospects.
One of the things that makes the league tough is though we cannot draft minor leaguers during the auction, we can during the March expansion, and believe me, all the good prospects are nabbed and fast. For example, Trace Wood selected Yu Darvish two years ago.
So, in trying to determine how to rebuild with good young players, and knowing it would take longer to just draft prospects in March, and that would mean I would probably not do well next year, I had to start the process now.
What I decided to do was draft a few high priced unprotected players, and then hold the rest of my money till the end draft, and try to pick up as many promising rookies who had been advanced to the major league levels as I could.
That meant spending at least $100 on one or two stars, and then loading up at the end game with as many $1 and $2 players as I could.
If for some reason I assembled a solid roster, I had the stars to build around, and if not, come June, I would simply trade the stars for more undervalued players, and/or prospects.
Surprisingly, I heard crickets when I nominated Bobby Abreu for $2 (though that is not a bad buy), and decided to spend $10 on Yunel Escobar and $17 for Mark Reynolds, both of whom might also be parlayed as trade material.
I did plan on leaving extra money so I could control the board oubidding $1 bids with an extra buck, and thus my planning went a little off as I did leave $47 on the table by the end of the draft, and while I knew it would be a success in the execution of my plan to leave money behind, I had anticipated the total being closer to $20.
Additionally, I could have spent a little more on third and picked up Ryan Zimmerman ($39), but, the Nationals third baseman was nominated fairly early (#24), and to tell the truth the shock of spending so much on Pujols and Halladay--amounts I have never come close to spending before--it was hard to pull the trigger.
Still, the basics of my plan are in effect, and with the youngsters I rostered, along with freezes Tyler Flowers ($1), Dustin Ackley ($4), and Ben Revere ($4), hopefully 6-8 of these youngsters will prove to be solid, productive, and hopefully cheap players to build around within a year or so.
Of course I am not sure this will work, but, I do really enjoy rebuilding, and enjoy trying new angles within the game just as much.
Now, the only question is will it work?