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Sunday 17th Dec 2017

I have had pretty good success in my Scoresheet League since I joined the Murphy configuration four years ago. My first season I had the best record in the 24-team head-to-head set up, and just missed the playoffs year two (thanks to my making a dumb trade and a dumb freeze) and year three we made it to the league World Series, though lost.

Part of this has been good drafting taking those dull sensible everyday players like Jason Kubel over potential young stars like Jesus Montero. Part of it has been in gambling on guys like Alex Gordon and Carl Pavano at the right time. And, part of the success has been when I inherited my team two of the freezes I got were Albert Pujols and Roy Halladay.

Albert and Doc certainly are capable of carrying a team--or at least they have been over the past decade--although, as I thought about assembling my freeze list in March, I started thinking about moving one or both, hoping to exchange them for some up-and-comers before the 35-year old pitcher and 32-year old hitter started to hit the slide inevetible in professional sports as players age.

Still, good players--say Derek Jeter, or even Lance Berkman--can reach deep and seriously produce as they get older, and the reality is there is nothing in the resume of either Pujols or Halladay to suggest they were ready to struggle for the first time, or, well, ever.

However, there are a couple of corollaries I like to follow when drafting--and trading in keeper leagues--while playing the season out.

First is the old Branch Rickey trading maxim of swap a guy a year before he goes bad.

There were a couple of reasons for this in Rickey's view. First, when swapping, you get top value in exchange for your commodity. Second, if the player gives a good season in his new venue, the team will not necessarily associate you with taking advantage. They will remember you traded them a guy who hit .295-32-101 when they got him from you, and not that he hit .256-17-63 a year later, .234-12-43 the next, and was swapped for Jamie Wright the following year. Which means the same team will likely be willing to trade again in the future.

But, I also have this rule within the fantasy universe and that is if a player has put together a pair of stellar years, try to avoid him, at least in throw-back leagues.

For example, players can have breakout years, like Matt Kemp last year, or Carlos Gonzalez..

The reality is those guys cost (or make high draft picks) the following year, with the expectation that they will meet or exceed the previous season. Matt Kemp might equal his 2011 line of .324-39-126, but the odds he will exceed it are slim. True, he might exceed those numbers one season over his career, but it is a hard game.

Same with Cargo a couple of years back, when .336-34-114, and while he might, like Kemp, exceed that total, perhaps even this year, expecting such steady production over a prolonged period is simply unreasonable in a game with such a fine margin of success and error, not to mention the potential for injury.

So, with Halladay and Pujols essentially putting up 10 straight years of exceptional statistics, and bearing in mind each player is moving to the final third of their respective careers, it was reasonable to expect an off-year sooner rather than later.

Hence, as the freeze date approached, I had to consider swapping both players because after three good years in a row, let alone ten, the odds were telling me think about moving them.

The problem, however, in the Murphy Scoresheet League is we as can only freeze eight players (that rule has since been expanded to allow us to each keep a soft eight, and up to three minor leaguers who take the 19th-21st draft slots), the question becomes what can I get for them, and how many of those spoils, in addition to the rest of my freeze list, can I actually keep.

So, I chickened out and froze them both.

I do have a good feeling that Halladay will rebound to close to his dominant form, at least for another year or two, and Pujols seems to have regained the bulk of his groove, although I am not sure if that means my team makes it to the post-season this time (we currently sit at 25-26, nine games out of first in out division, but with 111 games to go), and that also means some hard decisions next year.

But, since this year might be a loss leader anyway, though, I do wish I had swapped and begun revamping my squad now, while I could get the market maximum.

Like I generally say: "listen to those instincts." They are telling you things for a reason.

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