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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

The success of my failure in the XpertsFantasyLeague is becoming legendary.

Years of teeth-gnashing, and attempting to strategize into a winning team against the toughest across-the-board players in the fantasy universe (IMHO) is no easy task.

To tell the truth, the format--mixed, 5x5, 15 teams, 40-man rosters, 15 freezes, $260 cap--is one in which I excelled enough in the early 90's to give me the confidence to get into this industry in the first place. And, in a league where Yu Darvish was drafted a year before he was signed by the Rangers, there is no hiding anyone from anyone.

Clearly, building via the Minors is the way to go, as the 2015 winner, Steve Moyer, was able to pull Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant out of his reserves at an aggregate cost of $2 (they will be a cumulative $8 next year) and win by 17 points. The strong past winners, however, have all built from this basic formula, and after spending close to two seasons house keeping, grabbing prospects and low-priced deals for stars, my team moved to sixth place in 2014, and I felt I was ready to really make a charge at the title.

Tell it to David Wright, Kenley Jansen, Leonys Martin, Yan Gomes and the various injury-prone under achievers I managed to acquire, finishing with 26 points, my worst finish anywhere ever (and only 103 points behind the leader).

The XFL holds its auction at First Pitch Arizona, making the whole affair essentially the first draft of the next year (for most of us anyway, rumor has it Lord Z just finished an NFBC draft that started the day after the regular season ended). This timing makes projecting who will be starting, in the Minors, on the DL, or on another planet in March mere speculation.

A few years back, I made a dump trade for Francisco Liriano when he first came up, and was happy to freeze the young flame thrower for $10 according to the rules of 2006. Then, after I announced the freeze, Liriano and the Twins announced that their lefty would be missing the entire 2007 season after arm surgery. Or worse, Peter Kreutzer and Alex Patton froze Oscar Taveras for $4 going into 2015, and as we all know, Oscar unfortunately had his career cut short.

Aside from those roster risks, there is also the difficulty of playing against the likes of Patton and Kreutzer and Moyer, Ron Shandler, Greg Ambrosius, and my mates Todd Zola and Brian Walton, among others.

So, following a miserable showing, I do need to rebuild, but I similarly managed to salvage some decent bargains in a league with a somewhat shallow reserve pool, but one that can only be accessed monthly during one free agent draft.

So, who did I keep, and why?

Jedd Gyorko ($10, 2B): At value, but Gyorko salvaged a lot with his strong second half (.259-13-43) and since he qualifies at both second and short, worth the power gamble for a guy who could bang 30 big flies.

Kyle Seager ($21, 3B): Pretty steady power source at third. Close to value, but still can squeeze a few bucks profit, and Seager might still have a monster year in his bat.

Marcus Semien ($4, SS): Cheap gamble for a little speed and some power. Will look to kick his totals up next year.

Rob Refsnyder ($4, MI): Another prospect gamble, but like Semien, Gyorko and several others on my team, their salaries only increase $3 a year as they were drafted as minor league prospects, and promoted through the league.

Nick Castellanos ($10, CI): Another former prospect, Castellanos is like a lot of the players on this list: great minor league numbers, lots of potential, but I need it realized, ideally this year.

Matt Kemp ($31, OF): Again, close to value, but there have been big years in Kemp's stick, and he has certainly been very hot the second half of recent seasons. Kemp was another guy whose salary advanced to the tune of $3 a year and I am just not ready to let go yet (maybe that is the problem?).

Yoenis Cespedes ($13, OF): Another salary control, if Cespedes can come close to his 2015 numbers, he will be a bargain and a half.

Zack Greinke ($32, P): Easy to justify based upon his 2015. At least I have an ace going into the draft.

Marco Estrada ($6, P): A cheap end draft play last year, Estrada certainly showed his stuff. The question is can it carry into 2016? I hope so.

Hector Santiago ($7, P): Pretty much the same as Estrada, but younger.

That gives me $115 for some speed and power and relief to fill things out, but that is easier said than done.

In the Minors, I still have:

Aaron Blair

Billy McKinney

Hunter Renfroe

So, as with any league and season, I go in with optimism. We shall see, however, in the toughest Rotisserie league in which I play.

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