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Thursday 19th Oct 2017

It is a lost season for my Scoresheet team, this year incorrectly named "Help Make Lawr's Team Great Again." My run over the past six seasons in the league has been pretty good, with four playoff appearances over that span, including one trip to the BL Murphy League World Series (which I lost).

But last year, things started to fall apart. I thought I had a winning team, with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Alex Gordon, Marcell Ozuna, Jonathan Lucroy and Kyle Seager. But another player, Albert Pujols, started to slow and Kolten Wong never developed as I imagined, and last year's squad, "Don't Shoot, Can't Breathe" (I change the team name to something topical every year) finished under .500 for the first time.

So, there was purpose beyond parody in the moniker chosen for my squad this year.

Unfortunately, the team did not get the message. I still froze Kershaw, along with Seager, Pujols, and Kole Calhoun, and made a trade with my mate Zach Kweller, giving him a 13th round pick and Michael Brantley for Brandon Crawford and Stephen Piscotty. But things simply went bad from the start as I paid too much attention to next year--grabbing Greg Bird, Jacob Nottingham, Matt Chapman and a bunch more minor leaguers--and did not build out my pen.

Scoresheet is a fun and interesting variation of fantasy ball in that it is a sim game, and includes factors such as defense and roster depth, not unlike Strat-o-Matic or Diamond Minds. All are similar, and yet all are distinct and equally pleasurable.

The Murphy league is deep with 24 owners, and a drafted roster of 37 which includes up to eight "soft freezes." That means a team may freeze up to eight active players, but should an owner choose to freeze just five, he or she--and the other owners who similarly have less than eight on their freeze list--draft out of the free agent pool until all 24 teams have eight players and then the draft proper begins. (Note that we can also freeze a minor leaguer as our 19th round pick, and a team can collect up to three 19th rounders in addition to the soft eight.)

In Scoresheet, solid pitching is probably the single most important thing, and though I had the anchor in Kershaw, and a decent gamble with Brandon Finnegan (whom I did freeze), that meant drafting the rest of my rotation after the start of the 9th round. So, 216 Major Leaguers were gone before I could look at my #3 starter. 

That turned out to be Ervin Santana, who is nothing spectacular, but neither is he a horrible #3, and followed up with Nathan Eovaldi along with either Henry Owens or Kendall Graveman as my #6 starter. But the reality is that Santana, Gravemen, Owens and Finnegan have been ok. They have not been nearly good enough, and as June arrived, I found my team struggling, 10 games under .500, which is essentially the road to nowhere.

The Murphy League also has a monthly free agent draft of two players through August, so that eventually a full roster is a complement of 45, and barring a swap at some point prior to freeze day, each team must choose among that list who will make up the soft eight of the coming year.

Well, with Lawr's team not getting particularly great again, and with the June draft upon us, I decided to cash it in and focus on the five other leagues where I might have a chance to win something. And, it isn't like I leave the team dormant, I set a roster, but I begin the process of rebuilding, something that I find very satisfying.

I sent an e-mail to the league, and wound up making three swaps over the past few days, with one more potential trade out there. In the note, I said Kershaw and Eovaldi were unavailable, but that the rest of the roster could be had, including my backup shortstop, Jonathan Villar.

What becomes looney is trying to determine value in a league where the 19th rounders are coveted, often more so than a regular starting player. For instance, I got Lucroy a few years back in exchange for a 13th round selection. This was a year before the Brewers backstop really broke out, and I was able to grab Villar and Travis Shaw--another gem I already swapped for a pair of middle relievers to try and stop leaking--within the late 20's rounds. And aside from queries for Piscotty and Calhoun, Lucroy and Villar were the points of interest along with my future draft picks.

Where things get silly to me is that I did make a swap of my catcher and back-up shortstop, exchanging them for Jose Abreu and Nathan Karns, but the offers for the pair ranged from the players I got, to the pair for a 24th rounder, to the pair for a 35th rounder. 

And, I do have to wonder if Lucroy and Villar are potential freezes next year, how could anyone offer less than a 10th round selection for either, let alone both.

I do get we often confuse the perceived value on draft day versus the actual value of a player today, but since the season has begun, the reality is those Draft Day thoughts and values mean nothing. What does matter are the contributions a player can make this year, and if the league is a keeper league, the potential disposition of said player in the coming season.

In other words, speculating on the value of Jackie Bradley, Jr., whom Larry Schechter purchased in Tout Wars for $5 (as opposed to the $7 I spent on Rusney Castillo) of what Bradley would have been had we known is as specious as trying to argue that JBJ only cost $5, so that should be factored into trade value.

Some years back--before the Giants won their three World Series titles--the Giants played a "What if Bobby Richardson had not caught Willie McCovey's line drive with runners on to end the 1962 World Series?" It was hopeless speculation for a team and city that simply had not won a title, and simply wanted to dream about it.

Those, I guess, are the guys I want to play against: the ones lost on "what if" instead of "what is."

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