Deep League Dumpster Diving

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a team from worst to first, via the trade.

In the fantasy offseason, managers shuffle in and out of leagues for a variety of reasons. For those of us needing a challenge, we take on teams that have been thrown in the garbage in an attempt to make a diamond out of coal. We are manager-medics who can't help but to take the plunge into the carnage of last-place teams and turn them into champions.

I am known by my league mates as the guy with the itchy trigger finger, and the guy that gets it done. I'm usually leading the league in moves made and trades completed by the end of the year. When you tinker with your roster as much as I do, you will make mistakes along the way but you can also reap big rewards. This series will focus on how you can transform a team via the trade.

Near the end of last season (2013) I was asked to join a 20-team mixed, H2H league on Yahoo. Craig Goldstein (@cdgoldstein) wrote about it a few times in a series entitled "Going Deep" while he was here at Fake Teams. The league has 25-man rosters (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util, Util, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P, P, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, DL, DL, DL, DL), along with a 15-man farm that we administer off-site. It's a 6x6 scoring system with OPS and Holds added for hitters and pitchers respectively. We control lineups daily, have 100 maximum moves for the year, and have a 20-inning minimum for pitchers every week.

I was asked to take over a team that currently sat in 17th place when I took over. My roster looked like this:

MLB Roster MiLB Roster
C AJ Pierzynski SP Kyle Lohse 1 Bradley, Jr. Jackie CF-BOS
1B Juan Francisco SP Felix Doubront 2 Castellanos, Nick 3B/LF-DET
2B Daniel Descalso RP Vinnie Pestano 3 Castro, Simon P-CHW
3B Michael Young RP Rafael Betancourt 4 Catricala, Vincent 1B/3B/OF-SEA
SS Zack Cozart P Jordan Walden 5 Davis, D.J. OF-TOR
LF Carlos Gonzalez P Homer Bailey 6 Gallo, Joey 3B-TEX
CF Michael Bourn P Justin Verlander 7 McNutt, Trey P-CHC
RF Nick Markakis P Kyle Kendrick 8 Mitchell, Jared OF-CHW
UT Ichiro Suzuki BN Jerome Williams 9 Pederson, Joc OF-LAD
UT Victor Martinez DL Mike Adams 10 Romero, Ricky DEMOTED
BN Ike Davis DL Josh Beckett 11 Seager, Corey SS-LAD
BN Derek Jeter (DL) DL Johan Santana 12 Spangengerg, Corey 2B-SD
BN Lyle Overbay 13 Vizcaino, Arodys P-CHC
BN Pedro Ciriaco 14 Withrow, Chris P-LAD
BN Gregor Blanco 15 EMPTY
BN Seth Smith
DL Neil Walker

It was apparent to me upon inspection (and introspection) that this team was going nowhere as currently constructed. I love CarGo and Verlander, but even with the talent I had coming up from the farm it probably wasn't going to be enough to get it done long term. By the time I'd be competitive CarGo and Verlander would be well past 30 and I'd be struggling to sell off pieces. CarGo's value was at an all-time high and although he was banged up, he still hadn't hit the DL. So, I figured, it was time to blow this thing up and start over.

Another thing about me. I love to trade. I love the analysis, the haggling, the challenge, the shame of defeat, and the victory that comes with trading. So, while I won't bore you with every add/drop transaction I made, this post will analyze my trades and show you my new (and hopefully improved) roster for 2014:

Trade 1

My Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Verlander, and Joey Gallo

for his Jurickson Profar, Francisco Lindor, Mike Moustakas, Jorge Soler, Kyle Blanks, Jesse Biddle

Widely panned by my fellow league mates, certainly upon reflection it looks like I got fleeced here. Wait a minute, though. You have to realize that people weren't actually beating down my door to make a deal for EITHER guy. Furthermore, there were few teams trying to make the playoffs and who had the appropriate depth to deal from. Sometimes you have to take what's offered. For me, I solidified my MI (my biggest need), took a flier on a young 3b who I haven't given up on yet, a couple power bats, and a nice, mid-rotation arm. I sacrificed a lot here, and giving up Gallo (he of the 37% K-rate) wasn't easy, but I think Profar could be a 20/20 contributor down the road.

Trade 2

My Ike Davis

for his Josh Bell, Bruce Chen, and 2nd round FA pick 2014

I'm no believer in Ike. At that point, he'd disappointed two years in a row and I couldn't see continuing to hope and pray for his power to come back. Josh Bell was an under-the-radar pickup because was just coming back from injury this year. He did well in A ball with a .279/.353/.453 slash with a .369 wOBA. Nice. Chen provided some depth down the stretch and actually gave me a few good starts.

Trade 3

My Junior Lake

for his Chris Carter

Yes, please. I snagged Lake off of waivers and turned him into a 30-HR power 1b, which helped after jettisoning Ike. Lake was going through a great stretch after a call up and, for some reason, this owner was hot to get him. I think Carter has room to grow, and I'd be happy if he just hit .250 next year--don't sleep on him.

Trade 4

My Kyle Lohse and Rafael Betancourt

for his Chris Stratton, Kyle Parker, and 1st round FA pick 2014

Lohse has been underrated for a couple of years now. He's an innings-eating machine but didn't fit into my long-term plans. Betancourt was getting ready to come off the DL but I saw the writing on the wall with Brothers filling in admirably while he was shelved (I don't think Betancourt saved another game after this trade). Stratton is another nice mid-rotation guy whose stuff could play up given the player development of pitching in SF. Parker has an outside shot at a starting gig in 2014 for COL, and in a league this deep, he's a good guy to have on the farm.

Trade 5

My Derek Jeter

for his Mike Leake, 1st round FA pick 2014

As you can see, at this point I'm racking up FA picks. I don't put much stock in them but you never know who you might snag. At any rate, I don't believe that Leake is much more than what he showed this year, but he's young, and if there's some way he can bump up his K-rate a bit he'd be approaching Bret Sayer's holy trinity of pitching (7.0 K/9, <2.5 BB/9, and 50% or higher GB%). Leake's numbers this year (6.0 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 48.7% GB-rate). Jeter came back briefly from the DL and went right back on. No, thank you.

Trade 6

My Victor Martinez and Ichiro Suzuki

for his Brandon Morrow, Dan Straily, and Edward Salcedo

For me, this was about getting rid of aging vets and getting SP depth (of which I had little). I'm hoping Morrow comes back healthy next year, and I've always thought Straily was underrated. The owner who got these guys was needing to make the playoffs (always a good time to trade the vets incidentally).

Trade 7

My Michael Bourn

for his Salvador Perez and Tyler Thornburg

This is the one place where Craig Goldstein and I intersected. Here's his thoughts on the trade. He was desperate for a CF, and I couldn't wait to oblige. I was able to pick between Lucroy and Perez, and I went with the younger C, who was just heating up and has a bright future. I like Thornburg for the back of my rotation for next year, and I filled my catching void after letting V-Mart go.

Trade 8

My Michael Young

for his Adeiny Hecheverria, 1st round FA pick 2014

Yawn. Anybody want Michael Young...anyone, anyone...

Trade 9

My Homer Bailey

for his Lucas Giolito and Alex Wood

This, for me, was a high risk/high reward endeavor. Bailey is still relatively young and seemed to finally begun living up to his prospect hype back in the day. Given another chance I may not have done the deal again, but what I really lacked on both of my rosters was a clear #1 ace. If Giolito was not rehabbing from TJ and just getting ready to start throwing, he's probably not available. Wood was pitching quite well at the time, but I think he's destined for the bullpen (what a weird delivery). At any rate, if Giolito post-TJ can live up to his hype I will win this one. If not, then I'm just dumb.

Trade 10

My A.J. Pierzynski

for his 2nd round FA pick

I had Perez. I shopped AJ to everyone I could think of who needed a catcher. This was the best, (uh) only offer I received. On principle I should've said no, but I would have dropped him at some point anyway.

Trade 11

My Dan Straily

for his Ben Revere

While I like Straily, and some think he could be a top 30 SP next year, my team sorely lacked speed. Revere was obviously DL'd and, when healthy, could carry my team in that category.

Trade 12

My Alex Wood

for his Robert Osuna and Brandon Jacobs

It's not that I don't like Wood, but I just don't see him getting a rotation spot in ATL. I'd rather take the chance on some young upside in Osuna who could help me down the road. Jacobs was a throw in, but his trade to the South Side (of Chicago) could help open up some playing time sooner rather than later.

Trade 13

My Francisco Lindor

for his Archie Bradley

Lindor has a bright real-baseball future but to me he's a glove-first fantasy player. I was delighted to get a potential #1 ace back in return who I may be able to plug in as early as next season. Between Bradley and Giolito I feel good about my long-term SP nucleus.

Trade 14 (offseason)

My Charlie Morton

for his Jonathan Schoop

So, I'm a sucker for middle infielders. Schoop has an edge to get a starting gig this year and did nothing during his cup of coffee to dissuade ownership from giving him a shot. I picked up Morton off of waivers, so anytime you can turn an aging pitcher into a young positional player with upside, you do it and don't look back.

When all was said and done I finished 19 out of 20 for the year (not strange considering I traded all my best MLB talent). I will get the #2 overall selection in the farm draft this year and still don't know who I'll select. My roster, as currently constructed, looks like this:

MLB Roster MiLB Roster
C Salvador Perez SP Brandon Morrow 1 Bell, Josh OF-PIT
1B Chris Carter SP Josh Beckett 2 Biddle, Jesse P-PHI
2B Neil Walker SP Mike Leake 3 Bradley, Archie P-ARI
3B Mike Moustakas SP Kyle Kendrick 4 Davis, D.J. OF-TOR
SS Jurickson Profar SP Tyler Thornburg 5 Giolito, Lucas P-WAS
LF Khris Davis RP Pedro Strop 6 Jacobs, Brandon OF-CHW
CF Ben Revere RP Chris Withrow 7 Osuna, Robert P-TOR
RF Kole Calhoun P Felix Doubront 8 Parker, Kyle OF-COL
UT Nick Markakis P Jordan Walden 9 Pederson, Joc OF-LAD
UT Nick Castellanos P Erik Johnson 10 Salcedo, Edward 3B-ATL
BN Jackie Bradley P 11 Schoop, Jonathan 2B-BAL
BN Kyle Blanks 12 Seager, Corey SS-LAD
13 Soler, Jorge OF-CHC
14 Spangengerg, Corey 2B-SD
15 Stratton, Chris P-SF

So, where did I hit and miss FT readers? Where do you think I end up at the end of this year? Who would you take #2 overall in the farm draft? I already have a few offers out there this offseason...we'll see what happens.

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