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Monday 18th Dec 2017

On late-night television over the past few weeks, I have been inundated by a series of commercials for cheap loans pitched by Ty Pennington. The carpenter was made famous as the screaming, bullhorn-wielding host of a crew of home remodelers on a long-since canceled show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Well, in National League LABR recently, I pulled my own version of a major makeover in hopes of pulling out a win this season. After leading the league during the first few months, I had settled into a second-place rut, with Derek Carty of ESPN holding a consistent 10-12 point lead.

With a little over a month to go, I once again analyzed the standings. Carty and I were neck and neck atop the five offensive categories, where I had a three-point aggregate edge. Pitching was another story, however, where I was 14 points behind.

With a deep starting staff, I could make up just one point in wins the rest of the way, where Carty was leading the way despite having lost Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw. However, there was enough opportunity to improve my ratios, strikeouts as well as saves to potentially close the gap.

At the time, I had just one closer, St. Louis’ Seung-hwan Oh, but I had a wealth of starters that included Stephen Strasburg (DL), Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Dan Straily, Tyler Anderson and Ivan Nova. Rookies Lucas Giolito and Jake Thompson were on my bench and on the disabled list were Tyler Chatwood and Tyson Ross, both on their way back. I would have no way to play them all, anyway.

I decided to keep at least two of my best starters plus Oh and add six more closers. That meant I would keep Strasburg and Martinez while leaving my offense intact.

I did not want to send out a broadcast e-mail as Carty also had a starting excess that he was trying to deal, so instead I contacted a series of my peers individually trying to make trades.

I was quickly reminded of an important lesson to remember when assembling teams. Power always seems to have a trade market, but it is more difficult to unload excess speed and saves.

This lesson both helped and hurt me in my endeavors. Had I been willing to part with offense, I could have acquired one or more of the top closers: Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen and Jeurys Familia. Sticking to my plan, I could not pry any of them loose.

Instead, I made two trades, adding five closers: Tony Watson, Santiago Casilla, Tony Cingrani, Fernando Rodney and Jeanmar Gomez. The starters I gave up included Garcia, Straily, Anderson, Nova, Thompson and an extra reliever, Enrique Burgos, I had picked up trying to chase saves.

As the trade deadline passed, my team makeover was complete.

At best, I thought I could make a run at Carty, and worst, I would finish third or fourth instead of second. The latter would be remembered only by me, anyway, so I went for it.

Less than two weeks in, early returns indicate that my plan has not taken hold. I have fallen into third, having lost one point in pitching. Worst of all, my offense, which I did not disturb, has dropped five.

There is still almost a month remaining in the season, so I am not panicking yet. Perhaps my six-closer approach just needs more time to click. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The trade deadline is past and I have made my bed.

No matter what happens, I will be fine with it. I saw no reasonable chance of winning and instead took a shot at a radical approach to make a difference. During a time of year when most of us are focusing on football, I took the time and effort to personally contact eight peer owners and made a pair of big trades. If I can somehow pull out a victory, it will be highly gratifying. And if not, I know I gave it my very best.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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