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What Just Happened? A Trade Deadline Cautionary Tale

I committed a cardinal sin this week. Please allow me a moment to vent.

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

July 30th, 2014 9:00 AM: Dear Diary, today is the beginning of a new era. Currently in 10th place (out of 20) in the FakeTeams Dynasty League, I have Johnny Cueto, Nelson Cruz, and Jose Reyes all on 2 year contracts and ready to net me a formidable prospect package prior to this evening's trade deadline. I have David Price, Bryce Harper, and Carlos Santana on deals of 3+ years and should be ready to compete around 2016. Let the youth movement begin!

13 hours go bye...

July 30th, 2014, 10:00 PM: Dear Diary, why does everybody hate me? I'm going to need to make a big move or two this off-season to make a championship run in 2015 before I lose Cueto and Cruz to free agency.

The following is a cautionary tale; a reminder that purgatory exists in dynasty leagues and cannot be overcome without a plan.

The trade deadline in our 20-team, roto FakeTeams Dynasty League was this Wednesday, July 30th and I was a seller. Sitting roughly 40 points out of first place, and with few long-term assets at the major league level, I figured it was best to blow it up and start playing for the 2016 or 2017 seasons. I had some Top 25 players in Cueto and Nelson Cruz that I could deal, as well as the eternal tease that is Jose Reyes. At the very least, I was going to add 3 or 4 Top 100 prospects and clear some cap for next season.

The day began exactly where I wanted. I sent an e-mail to the league as to the availability of Reyes, Cruz, and Cueto and there were a ton of bites, particularly on Cueto and Cruz. Teams currently in the top 5 of the standings wanted one or both guys and some of those teams had deep farm systems. Players like Addison Russell, Austin Meadows, Tim Anderson, Rafael Montero, and more were parts of various packages in discussion. A late run at Kris Bryant was even discussed with the inclusion of David Price in a trade. Now, I won't blather on and on about my specific league details, but I want to set the stage that I had a plan, the plan was coming together, and before I knew it everything was blown to pieces.

I traded Reyes for Erik Johnson and Chris Taylor, but after the manager wanting Cueto was able to acquire Alfredo Simon for much cheaper than what I was asking, I was caught with my pants down and nowhere to move my prized veteran studs. I had partially started my sell-off, but was not fully able to execute leaving me in dynasty league purgatory - somewhere between heaven (contender) and hell (re-build mode). With a few hours before the deadline left, I started to shift gears. I gave up on the re-build and started figuring out how to position myself for a run in 2015. I lost sight of my goal and refused to overcome the hardest part in any journey - the first hurdle.

"This mountain is so formed that it is always wearisome when one begins the ascent, but becomes easier the higher one climbs." 
Dante AlighieriPurgatorio

These words ring true for us fantasy owners as we undergo any roster transformation. I had deals on the table for all players I was looking to trade that day, but in a search for maximizing value, I lost my shot at every trade outside of a questionable deal for Jose Reyes. The lesson I want to share with you is that in fantasy sports (as well as life, for what it's worth) overcoming inertia and getting the ball rolling tends to be the hardest part. Do whatever it takes to make that first step. Things have a funny way of falling into place, so don't be overly concerned with trying to complete a re-build in one move or even in one day.

Do me a favor and have a plan going into your trade deadlines this year. When your plan is in place, please please please make a move to begin executing on your plan. No matter how small. Have confidence in your approach. If it doesn't work out, at least you went down on your own terms and didn't let the decisions of other managers dictate how you view your team. My team will likely suffer from this day for another year or two. Let this be your cautionary tale.