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Plans And The Auctions That Change Them

I finished last in 2012 in the FanGraphs Experts League on the ottoneu platform. There’s a lot of shame in that for me — I played hard all the way to the end and rarely have teams that finish at the bottom of the table, this team was fourth in the inaugural season, and finishing last changed the meaning of the team name in a bad way (Eno’s Slaughter). I may argue with Dave Cameron that more major league teams should do full rebuilds, but when it comes to my own dynasty teams, I usually try to remain competitive every year. Especially if there are prizes at stake. Cause, hey, you never know.

The process I went through with this team might represent, for me, a new understanding of how best to treat a bad team. I think I’d recommend it for real-life teams, even. While I maintain that the Mets should have traded Jose Reyes, maybe there’s room for them to sign David Wright in order to keep building for the future. Prospects aren’t the only way out of the basement, in other words.

When it came to appraising my team before the cut deadline, I became frustrated that there weren’t more players to cut, or more obvious trades to peruse. What I had to keep reminding myself was that this team was not the same team that started 2012 so poorly. I had jettisoned most of the players that I would cut, in order to bring in prospects that I would keep. Here some important moves I made as I realized my team needed to look forward:

My $6 Justin Morneau for Jack Moore’s $3 Roy Oswalt and $1 Matt Harvey
Add $1 Yasiel Puig, cut $2 Juan Nicasio
My $33 Nelson Cruz, $12 Wandy Rodriguez and $1 Matt Harvey for Andrew Fiorentino’s $5 Brandon Beachy and $1 Drew Smyly
My $54 Justin Upton and $3 Roy Oswalt for Mike Newman’s $1 Trevor Story and $1 Leonys Martin
Add $1 Josh Rutledge, cut $1 Gaby Sanchez
My $24 Mat Latos and $3 Grant Green for Chad Young’s $17 Jeremy Hellickson and $9 Alejandro De Aza
Add $1 Andy Dirks, cut $2 Justin Smoak
Add $3 Addison Russell, cut $3 Erik Bedard

So when I went into the draft targeting a first baseman, a middle infielder, an outfielder and a reliever or two with my $125, I wasn’t trying to make a last place team a first place team in one fell swoop. Basically, as soon as I knew that I was in trouble in 2012, I started selling off my overpriced assets in an effort to get younger and cheaper.

There were regrets, of course — if only I had held on to Matt Harvey after lucking into him in the first place, and why didn’t I cut Jemile Weeks and Drew Smyly — but they were mild regrets, really. Not like that 18-team Keep-20 where I rostered Kris Medlen to start the season and dropped him when I needed a starter (Ryan Vogelsong). In any case, I knew that this team had batting average issues last year, and could use some power, but it also wasn’t quite the same team any more.

Going into the draft, I targeted Adrian Gonzalez as a $25 first baseman — the $27 price tag that Chad Young’s auction values had listed for him was based on Bill James‘ values that I thought most of us would agree were a little power-heavy for a guy that has now spend a season and a half without hitting the ball as hard as he used to — and thought I’d get in on Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Upton, or Matt Kemp to fill out my outfield. There you go with some power and batting average at tough positions. I’d find a middle infielder to pair with Jed Lowrie along the way. And take a shot at a starter.

Adrian Gonzalez went for $37. Matt Kemp went for $48 and everyone lauded the pick. I knew I had to change my targets and be more flexible.

On Ray Flowers‘ radio show this weekend, I admitted to a general philosophy that you might recognize. Generally, I don’t want to pay for the elite-elite players because I don’t want to pay top dollar for anyone. Really, I don’t want to pay market price for anyone — I want to pay below-market price. So if the market sets a peak value with a top-three pick, I want to pay much less for someone that could be almost as good.

So anyway, that’s how I ended up with a $38 Albert Pujols as my big acquisition.

For a team that ended up finishing last, this squad doesn’t look terrible, at least not to me. The draft-acquired players are in italics. Looks like I need to go looking for a fifth reliever once my injured players get shifted to the disabled list, but that’s not a big deal. The biggest need is probably starting pitching, but with down-roster players like Brandon Beachy, Shelby Miller and Danny Duffy, there’s some star-level upside on the bench. And at least the staff is deep, with Derek Holland and Jaime Garcia as decent SP6 and SP7 guys.

Once again, there are a few regrets. Maybe a $9 Brian McCann was silly — at least I have a $1 Wilson Ramos as an insurance policy. Andre Ethier at $15 seems too much — at least ottoneu’s deep benches make platoon players more attractive. Even if I have hope that Tim Lincecum (who still gets whiffs) can be better this year, maybe I should have saved my money for the younger Max Scherzer, who ended up going for $22. Maybe this team is a little prospect-lite — you’ll see that I have “BNpr” next to some players that aren’t really prospects, meaning my plans and results didn’t quite match up — but there are some young major league players that could break out on this squad. And maybe it’s a little old, still, but it’s not old throughout.

What do you think? Does selling obvious pieces while keeping and adding reasonably-priced veterans look like a good plan? Or should I have sold Mike Trout before arbitration blew up his price, and sold everybody that wasn’t pre-peak and cheap? Should I have gone more Marlins than Mets with my rebuild plan?

Ottoneu Experts
C Mike Napoli 23 SP Jeremy Hellickson 17
C Brian McCann 9 SP Tim Lincecum 17
1b Albert Pujols 38 SP R.A. Dickey 8
2b Josh Rutledge 3 SP Jarrod Parker 6
SS Elvis Andrus 22 SP Brett Anderson 5
MI Neil Walker 18 RP J.J. Putz 14
3B Aramis Ramirez 17 RP David Hernandez 5
OF Mike Trout 38 RP Tom Wilhelmsen 3
OF Jay Bruce 34 RP Jose Veras 12
OF Alejandro De Aza 9 RP Brian Wilson 3
OF Andre Ethier 15 BNSP Derek Holland 5
OF Andy Dirks 3 BNSP Jaime Garcia 7
UT Brandon Belt 8 BNSP Brandon Beachy 7
BNMI Jed Lowrie 13 BNSP Drew Smyly 3
BNOF Leonys Martin 3 BNSP Shelby Miller 4
BNOF Domonic Brown 6 BNpr Danny Duffy 1
BNpr Wilson Ramos 1 Total 117
BNpr Jemile Weeks 5
BNpr Addison Russell 4 Both: 396
BNpr Trevor Story 2
BNpr Jake Marisnick 2
BNpr Gregory Polanco 1
BNpr Nick Franklin 3
BNpr Yasiel Puig 2
Total 279