Mike Trout is a stud. No question about it. At 20 years old, the Angels outfielder has taken MLB by storm with a .341/.397/.562 slash line that comes with 12 home runs, 40 RBI, 57 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. He’s delivered all of that and, mind you, he was in the minors for the first month of the season. The production has been phenomenal and as an owner of Trout in my primary keeper league, the smile is so wide, it makes the Kool-Aid guy look like a crying fool. But while the old adage is not being able to see the forest through the trees, so many keeper league owners are so hell-bent on building up their future that they fail to see the season at hand and are so willing to dismantle their entire squad simply to acquire Trout and hand me the league this year.
Do I do the honorable thing and turn down trades that I believe to be so far out of whack that they could mess with league integrity or because nearly everyone is making me such ridiculous offers, do I just accept one because, if so many are doing it, who could complain about me just picking the one I like best? And the offers are quite ridiculous, actually. We’re looking at a minimum of a 4-for-1 that would upgrade me all over the place with high-quality players who, in fact, are probably borderline protects as well. They’re not just offering me a bunch of over-achieving hacks here. Some of these offers are coming with names like Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn, and Colby Rasmus. Sure, I lose out on Trout, but to be able to acquire such an array of talent and still have options for next year, the temptation is growing.
But here’s the funny part — no one is asking for my Adrian Beltre or my Curtis Granderson and believe it or not, there hasn’t been a single offer for my Miguel Cabrera. Not only are people trying to stock me with quality players this year, but they’re also leaving me with a number of stud protects for next year as well. I can win the league this year with a single trade of a guy who has yet to play a full season in the majors and can still build around a sick core of keepers next year. Does no one see that? Yes, he’s a stud and yes, I believe he will have success for years to come, but I can still win without him, can’t I?
Not only has the temptation to make one of these deals grown so great that I am at least 85% sure I’m going to pick one and run away with the top prize at the end of the season, but now I’m realizing that I should probably alter my strategy each and every year with these guys. Build a core of middle-aged (for baseball) proven talent that everyone seems to bypass because they’re so hung up on trying to find the next big thing in baseball, target and draft one superstar up-and-comer, and as my competitive team of “old guys” carry me to a top five position, trade my up-and-comer, and win the league again. Rinse and repeat.
It may not be the most successful strategy each and every year, but with owners so obsessed with the future, the present day championships seem pretty ripe for the picking on a regular basis. Of course I’d like to keep owning some of these young studs that everyone is ooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing about, but personally, I’d rather finish in the money for the next three to five years and possibly more beyond that. I’m more than happy to draft a veteran like Nick Swisher who hits 20-plus home runs, year in and year out, while you clutch your Manny Machado wait patiently for three years until he comes up. I’ll win now and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
So yes….take my Mike Trout, please!