Saturday, March 10 – 12:42 PM
I’ve never really been a big trader. I think it’s because I give my own players a very long leash. After all, I drafted them, which means I like them, and even if they are marred in a huge slump, the least I can do is be a little patient, wait for things to turn around and then pat myself on the back when those guys finally live up to my expectations. Well, in my NL-only keeper league it’s been a whole different story. The rules are such that I have been forced to change my ways, and I have to admit it does feel kind of weird. Long story short, our “restricted free agency” draft was held this past week. The purpose of the exercise is simple: price enforcement. Each owner got a chance to call out one player from another team who was no longer under contract, and the bidding began. When it was over, the player’s current owner could decide to keep him at his new price or let him go to the high bidder. For me, the 10-player draft was quite depressing, as Joey Votto’s price tag skyrocketed from $10 to $47! Still, I had to match considering the sorry state of Senior Circuit first basemen. We now have a one-week window to make trades before our “+5 keepers” are due, and I’m faced with the tall task of dumping payroll while getting decent value in return. Farewell Justin Upton. Farewell Clayton Kershaw. Votto’s massive salary hike has put an end to my 2011 juggernaut squad, which is now a shell of its former self. I’m in a position where any trade, no matter how lopsided it may look on paper, is better than no trade at all as long as I bring back a cheap useful player, with the emphasis on the word “cheap.”
On Thursday night, Upton ($46 keeper) turned into Jose Altuve ($5 keeper) and moments ago I swapped Kershaw ($39 keeper) for Angel Pagan ($13 keeper). My infield will still be stellar, as Altuve teams up with Votto, Troy Tulowitzki and Pablo Sandoval. My outfield and starting pitching, however, is a mess, and I’ll need to draw up a sound draft day game plan in order to come close to last season’s second place finish. I don’t like it one bit, but the system has forced me to be a major dealer. I guess that’s what makes this league so intriguing though. It’s so different.
“I feel a little like Billy Beane right now,” I explained to a league mate yesterday. “Nah, you’re actually more like Brian Cashman, trying to get that payroll under the luxury tax threshold,” he fired back. Yeah, I guess that’s a more accurate analogy. There’s still nothing small market about this group. I just read today that the Yankees might need to choose between Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson when their contracts expire in a couple years. Come to think of it, that’s a perfect analogy.