This season has been maddening. Just when I think one of my teams is finally in a position to put together some wins, they go on an extended losing streak. Then at other times my teams put together a nice stretch with a lot of wins for no apparent reason. Here is what I’m talking about:
East Village Howlers (49-59, 12GB)
This team recently went through a horrendous 1-9 stretch. Then they recovered and went 7-2 in their next 9 games. I knew this team was not going to contend this year, so I was a seller. I traded closer Seung Hwan Oh for Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. I was also able to extend Carlos Correa’s contract though 2018. This team is a work in progress. The goal is to add players around Correa’s age so that they have a nice core group to build around. Besides Meadows the players that could be part of this core are Luke Weaver, Mike Foltynewicz, J.P. Crawford, and Alex Bregman. I’ve also hung onto Alex Cobb. He will be cheap as he tries to come back from Tommy John surgery next season.
Las Vega$ Chickabooms (54-54, 3GB)
This is my one team that is still in contention, which is inexplicable, other than the fact they are in a pretty weak division. This is an orphan team I took over halfway through last season when they were awful. They went 59-91 last year. I knew they would be a challenge to rebuild, which would be fun. I don’t consider them “rebuilt” by any means. They are just in a very weak division. I was actually a seller with this team as well again this season. I traded closer Kenley Janson for Yankees slugging prospect Greg Bird and young Brewers pitching prospect Luis Ortiz. Bird may be able to help next season and Ortiz maybe the season after that.
Like East Village, this team had a horrible stretch before rebounding. They recently lost seven in a row, then recovered and went 9-2 in their next 11 games to claw back into contention.
St. Louis Prefectos (52-56, 8GB)
This team had a six game winning streak followed by a seven game losing steak. Since then they’ve won three of four games. They are in the Experts League, and the division they are in is really hard. Their 52-56 record is good for last place. This team had a large amount of money to spend, and so I extended the contracts of eight players. They also have Greg Bird and Corey Spangenburg waiting in the wings, along with Marco Gonzalez and a few other decent prospects. The hope is that the young players combined with the eight with contract extensions will leave enough money to be able to re-sign Paul Goldschmidt and Max Scherzer, and still have enough left over to add a piece or two to the starting rotation. This team isn’t that far from being very good, especially if any of the other teams in the division mercifully take a step back next season.
California Whip (51-57, 10GB)
This is a team that went 88-62 last season and won their division by 11 games. The main reason for their decline is the fact that Dallas Keuchel and Jose Abreu went from star players last season to average players this season. They also have Max Scherzer. The declines in Abreu and Keuchel’s salaries should help me be able to re-sign Scherzer. This team is not that far from turning it around. If Abreu and Keuchel can rebound at all and become above average players again, and then if I can get good contributions form young players like Aledmys Diaz, Vincent Velasquez, Mike Foltynewicz, Luke Weaver and others, they could rebound next season. This team also had the recent seven game losing streak, which seems standard for my teams.
Pelee Island Pintails (53-55, 16GB)
A few weeks ago when I wrote about whether I was going to buy or sell with my various teams, I knew I should sell with this team. At the time, they were 41-31 and had the best record of any of my teams, but they were still seven games back in their division. Since then they’ve gone a horrendous 12-24. The bulk of the damage was done during a 12 game losing streak. Ouch.
Back when they were 41-31, I looked at this team’s hitting and pitching and I knew their record was largely due to luck and expected a drop off. I tried selling closers Brad Zeigler and Steve Cishek but could not find a buyer for them. Still, this team has a nice core to build around. I was able to extend the contracts of Rougned Odor and Mark Trumbo who are both having big seasons. Other nice pieces include Addison Russell, Aledmys Diaz, Michael Conforto, Vincent Velasquez, Mike Foltynewicz, Luke Weaver and Kyle Schwarber.
This team has been hurt by injuries, too. Brett Lawrie, Michael Pelfrey, Colby Lewis, Prince Fielder, Schwarber, among others. Some of these players are missed more than others obviously, but all of the injuries have resulted in this team getting stuck with a number of Benchwarmer subs. Read about how bad that is here.
Davenport Blue Sox (55-53, 9GB)
This is a team that I felt could take a step forward. I felt their record didn’t indicate how good they were. Back when I previously wrote about them they were 38-34 and 6GB. I was a buyer with this team, trading Michael Conforto, Brad Zeigler and Jurisckon Profar for Chris Sale and a handful of throw-in prospects. Starting pitching has been this team’s problem all season, like most of my teams. I was hoping Sale would solidify the rotation and give this team an ace, since Keuchel is not pitching like an ace this season. Unfortunately, this team has continued to flounder around .500. I should not have a huge problem re-signing Chris Sale for next season with this team. They too have a nice core group to work with – Christian Yelich, Rougned Odor, Addison Russell, Vincent Velasquez, Mike Foltynewicz, David Dahl, and Lewis Brinson.
What would I do differently?
As the season has progressed, these are a few strategic changes I plan to make for next season:
- Be more aggressive earlier in the season about cutting underperforming players. I had talked about this in previous posts. Early in the season, there are usually free agents available that no one has signed but who are starting to have a good season. Once you get to a certain point in the season, those players are gone. I waited too long to cut some of my underperforming players and missed out on be able to replace them with these kind of players. I kept hoping my players would rebound, but they never did.
- Use my minor league slots more for fill-in players. I have been carrying too many players who take too long to get to the majors. Sometimes it makes sense to carry a player for a couple seasons while they develop in the minors, if they are expected to be a star. It probably makes sense to carry 5 or 6 players that are pure prospects. You can carry up to 12 players though in the “minors” as long as they have a salary below 250. I need to use more of these slots on players who have graduated to the majors, even if they aren’t that great of a player. It will give me more depth. A few of my teams losing streaks coincided with injuries, and I got stuck with too many Benchwarmer subs.
- Have more cash on hand if at all possible. I kind of alluded to this in this previous post about contract extensions, but I suspect doing more than 5 or 6 contract extensions in a lot of cases is overkill. I signed 8 players to extensions with one of my teams but that was because they had so much money on hand ($12 million). I could have maybe cut that back to 7 extensions and still been OK. Regardless, I think having $3 million to $5 million cash on hand during the season, if you can pull it off, can be a big advantage.