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Saturday 24th Feb 2018

As you likely know many of my staff brethren and I participate in the XFL, administered by our friend and colleague Ron Shandler from BaseballHQ. While not an industry league in the sense of Tout Wars and LABR, the XFL is certainly a showcase league featuring a stalwart group of industry veterans. Hmm, enough of us write about the league and the auction was covered live on SiriusXM satellite radio so maybe we are at least close to being on a par with LABR and Tout Wars.

Other than some rules quirks like OBP replacing batting average and not having any materials other than depth charts at the auction, what sets the XFL apart from the others is we are a keeper/dynasty league. There are 15 teams and each of us is allowed to freeze 15 players which can be a combination of active Major Leaguers or farm prospects.

Another quirk is we will hold the auction quite early, during the First Pitch Forum Arizona Symposium which will occur the first weekend in November. Here is my keeper list heading into the 2013 season.

Buster Posey $10
Jonathan Lucroy $10
Freddie Freeman $7
Mike Moustakas $7
Mike Trout $7
Jose Bautista $16
Corey Hart $23
Alex Rios $7
Clayton Kershaw $16
Drew Storen $10
Michael Pineda $7
Danny Hultzen farm
James Paxton farm

That’s 11 players for $120 and two farm guys (we have a combo reverse/farm roster with 17 spots whom we draft in March).

Well, this would have been my freeze list had I not opted to make some deals the past three seasons as I felt I had a chance to win. The problem is, I have fallen short and am left with just Bautista, Hart, Rios and Kershaw to actually carry over to next year, though I do have others that I will also protect.

Yes, that means I very well may have traded away the American and National League 2012 Most Valuable Players (Trout and Posey) along with the still maturing Freeman, Moustakas and Lucroy.

And you know what? I’d do it all over again if I was in the same situation. I’ve been asked if I really believe in the “Flags Fly Forever” mantra we preach and the above is proof positive that I do.

Long story short is I consider the XFL to be a hybrid keeper and dynasty format. In my way of thinking, a pure keeper league has rules which replenish the player pool every season, making rebuilding as fast as a one-year process. A pure dynasty league allows you to keep your entire, or close to your entire roster ad infinitum, so the turnover is extremely limited and consists of primarily fringe players. This makes building a team that will perpetually compete (i.e. a dynasty) a very long and arduous journey. The XFL is in between. We can keep players as long as we desire, but each year they incur either a $5 or $3 salary bump, with players drafted as prospects getting the very modest $3 raise. This forces some higher priced players into the pool but using Kershaw as an example, I drafted him as a prospect so he is only going to cost me $16 next year even though he would go for over twice than that on the open market. The potential MVP duo of Trout and Posey will be just $17 combined since I originally scooped them both as prospects.

My rule of thumb in leagues of this nature is I am willing to sacrifice competing and rebuild for multiple seasons, but I want to construct a foundation allowing me to compete for at least that many more years until I embark on the rebuilding process again. To that end, my endeavor was pseudo-successful as I wallowed in less than mediocrity from 2007-2009, leading to an ensuing 2nd, 3rd and likely 5th place finish this season with one more legit shot next year to go for it before I likely have to dismantle and focus on another youthful foundation.

If I fail to win the XFL next season, some may question my decisions to deal away such valuable entities as Trout and Posey. But as I mentioned, I would do it all over again if I felt I could win the title. I obviously didn’t win, some of which was my own doing with poor managerial decisions, some of which was injuries and trusting Jon Lester and Ricky Romero to support Kershaw this season. But next time I advise you to deal away a significant part of your future if you objectively feel it gives you an honest shot of winning, please take heed knowing I have done so myself – with no regrets.

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