Monday, May 31, 2010

NL King - Memorial Day Special - The Ultimate Rebuilding Game Plan - Part 2

I want to start off by saying thank you to the men and woman who currently serve our country and have served our country in the past, making the ultimate sacrifice by giving up their lives for this country. I can't say enough about our people in our armed forces both past and present.

Well, after reading part 1 of the Memorial Day Weekend Special article, part 2 focuses on rebuilding. After reviewing everything you have decided that your team needs to go through the rebuilding process. While it's not what you wanted for this season but this process can be a lot of fun as you try to shape together a keeper list that will be the envy of every team going into next season. Obviously, you will be talking a lot of trades with teams hoping for big success from the current season and maybe you can get those teams in a bidding war for your players. Here are the key points in putting together a rebuilding plan.

- What are the rules of your league? How many players can you keep up to? Does your league have minor leaguers & can you trade for them? Are there any kind of restrictions you need to know about? These are key questions especially how many players you can keep. For instance, in my league every team can keep anywhere from 0 to 10 players for the draft (minor leaguers are not available in my league). So keeping that in mind you want to focus on quality over quantity although once you decide to rebuild you goal should be to get as many good players under valued as possible. Remember even if you go over the maximum amount of keepers in your league, you still have your league's off-season where you can trade your depth in 2 for 1 or even 3 for 1 deals.

- The players you should look to trade - Depending on how your league works you should first look to trade players who can bring back keeper players who are either going to be a free agent in your league (if your league has contracts) after this season or their contracts are above their market value. Important to note is you do not have to trade everyone. Remember, a top team is a balanced team so if you have a proven player like a Shane Victorino for instance and he is a little below market value in terms of his contract, you should not look to trade someone like that. Now, if another owner steps up and offers you a tremendous keeper in a deal where Victorino has to be included that's different. Short of that, players who you would keep you should not look to trade unless you get great value back. So you need to focus on guys who wouldn't be on your keeper list for next season.

- Its all about values - You want to go over every single team in your league and highlight the players who are way under valued. Obviously the more proven of a player the better. Ideally, I would not be looking at older players even if they went for a good price in this past draft. There are no set rules here everything is on a case by case basis, but, your goal is landing as many high quality keepers as possible. The ideal type of player is one who is at a low contract with big upside. You need to do your homework on all these players you highlight on each team. Then after making a shopping list and contacting each owner and start a dialogue and try to figure out what's it going to take to land that player. Now if one is rebuilding it's 99.9% of the time because you don't have that many players having good to great years. So you maybe be limited on what big keepers you can trade for. Teams may want the same big players of your team for their big time keeper players so you are going to have to figure out which keeper you want the most. In a perfect world when you are done with you're rebuilding trades you would like to have a good blend of hitters both in power & speed, starting pitchers and relievers. But it may not shake out that way the number one thing is for you to get as many best valued players you can in a keeper sense.

- Go after killer keepers - Ideally you would love to add two anchors as I call them in this rebuilding phase. The last time I rebuilt was the 2007 season where I landed Hanley Ramirez who was signed for one more season at $14 & JJ Hardy at $1(had a big 1st half in 07 and had overall a really good year in 07 probably close to a $20 year). These were my anchors in terms of trading for big keeper players.

- Always get a sleeper thrown in - Two examples to illustrate the point. In 2007 when I rebuilt, I had just about a done deal where I traded Rafael Furcal, Ben Sheets & Ryan Dempster (a closer then) for Hanley Ramirez at $14. All 3 guys I traded were going back into the draft day pool the following season. Back then, our league allowed you to have minor leaguers and we allowed each team to have up to 5 players in what we called our farm system. The person I made the trade with had Clayton Kershaw in their farm system at $1. Now keep in mind I believe he was 19 at that time and by most accounts he was not supposed to be up until at least the 2009 season. However I also read how he was skyrocketing through the Dodger system and it was very possible he could be up as early as June 2008 (which he was). So I got that owner to put Kershaw in the deal to go with Hanley. I then used Kershaw as a trading chip that following off-season to help me get another player.A more recent example is where I was the buyer was in 2008 (I won my league that year). I was on the verge of a mega deal that gave me a great chance to win my league. I was in 1st place and I was either going to finish 1st or 2nd that year. I wanted to seize the day so I had on the table Edison Volzquez (1), Andrew McCutchen (1) & Chris Perez (1 - now with the Indians) for Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Derek Lowe. All 3 players I was getting were going back into the draft day pool after the season and at the time Fielder was off to a slow start and Lowe was off to a bad start but I believed in those players. While my friend liked the deal he felt he needed a little bit more to get the deal done. I told him that in early April I picked up through our free agency Josh Johnson at $2. My friend said he is hurt and been out since last summer with shoulder problems. I told him that was correct but his rehab was going great, the Marlins felt he would be better than every and that he should be up with them come that summer. I said look, Josh Johnson has already proven he can be a really good pitcher at the major league level, he just needs to stay healthy. Plus, he was a sweetener or a throw in if you will to get the deal over the finish line. My friend agreed and we got the deal done. Those players helped me win a championship and my friend got some great keepers.

- Play one team against another if you can - Whenever possible to extract as much as you can, try talking with all the top teams and have them bid against each other. Tell the team in 1st hey I am talking with the team in 2nd if I pull off this trade with them and they land Prince Fielder that's going to really help them and maybe surpass you. That might you get the player or players you want most of all from the team in first. Keep in mind when doing this do it in a nice way don't be a jerk. Don't say you better make a deal with me or your in big trouble. Tell them hey I am talking with the 2nd place team and ideally I would like to get your players however if we can't get a deal done the 2nd place team has already told me he will trade me the following keepers and that's the direction I am going to have to go in if we can't get a deal done. As the late great Patrick Swayze said in the movie classic Road House - "Be Nice. Ask him to leave the bar but be nice."

- Be Careful when trading for minor leaguers - If your league allows it there is nothing wrong for trading for minor leaguers as part of you're rebuilding process. However you want to be trading for prospects who are very close to be getting called up ideally some time the current season and who will definitely have a starting job come opening day next season. You do not want to load up and have most of you're rebuilding process tied to prospects. One or two are fine I wouldn't go beyond that. Also keep in mind some top prospects get called up and are tremendous right away and stay that way. Tim Lincecum & Albert Pujols are examples of that. However other players they really struggle in the beginning and even might have to be sent back down again to work things out in order to reach their potential. Roy Halladay is an example of that. Top minor leaguers can help you the following year and beyond just don't put all your eggs in the prospect basket.

- When in doubt best values even if you are not sold on player - Like I stated above, the last time I rebuilt was the 2007 season. After, I landed Hanley Ramirez based on what I had left I would be able to make one major trade. The best keeper player value I could get was JJ Hardy who was at $1 and had a very big 1st half. Now I was not sold on Hardy as he had 2 seasons prior to the 07 season where he wasn't worth much but then came 2007. However, he was the best value I could get I was trading players who would be thrown back in the draft pool the following season. So I made the deal for Hardy and in the off-season I used Hardy as a major chip in a package I gave up to land Adam Wainwright who was at just $6 for the 2008 season. I couldn't get Wainwright at the time when I was rebuilding as much as I wanted to but I was able to use Hardy to get the guy I wanted in the off-season and at the end of the day I landed my guy before draft day which is all I cared about.

- After trading, your work still isn't done, must monitor free agency & waiver wire - After you have completed all of you're rebuilding trades one might say let me put my feet up for the rest of the season I am done I can take a vacation from fantasy baseball. The answer to that is a big no. During the summer of 2007 after my rebuilding trades I kept an eye on my leagues free agency and to make a long story short during that time I acquired via the free agency - waiver wire - Ubaldo Jimenez at $2, Brian Wilson at $1, Carlos Marmol at $8 and Jonathan Sanchez at $1. Now all look great as of today but I was researching in the summer these players potential, opportunities and quite frankly can they help me in 2008. Jimenez was good in 2008 for me, Wilson was great in saves (41 that year), Marmol I used as a chip in the Adam Wainwright off- season deal I talked above and Sanchez wasn't ready for prime time quite yet. But my point being you should be doing the same thing looking at guys who have potential & opportunity for the following season.

- My last rebuilding job in 2007 - Just to use my rebuilding job in 2007 as an example as it help me set my team up for a championship in 2008 I landed Hanley Ramirez (14), JJ Hardy (1), Mike Pelfrey (6), Justin Upton (5), Clayton Kershaw (1), Mark DeRosa (5) & Matt Harrison (1) in rebuilding trades. As stated above I also added via free agency Ubaldo Jimenez (2), Brian Wilson (1), Carlos Marmol (8) & Jonathan Sanchez (1). I also had a couple of great keepers at that point time already before my rebuilding trades in Russell Martin (8) & Hunter Pence (11). In the winter I used my depth in keepers and landed Adam Wainwright (6) & Ted Lilly (15). After the entire process heading into the draft I had a killer keeper list which is the goal of any rebuilding plan. A killer keeper list gives you a great chance to win your league.

Happy Memorial Day

NL King - C.Lizza

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