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Reality Trumps Fantasy So Trade Now for Next Year

The Swinging Friar, the mascot for the San Die...
The Swinging Friar, the mascot for the San Diego Padres. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sure, both the Padres and yours truly will have decent keepers, but the advantage goes to the real Major League team because they now have brand new owners and never ending revenue streams. Meanwhile, I remain the sole owner of my fantasy squad with no plans of selling out and stuck with a salary cap. Even selling beer and peanuts on draft day doesn’t increase my fantasy player payroll.

And thanks to the O’Malley family of Dodgers fame, champion golfer Phil Mickelson (a San Diegan), and an extremely wealthy beer and bottled water distributor, the National League franchise in San Diego is expected to soon sport a significantly larger budget. New owners, of course, typically try to impress their fans by increasing player payroll, especially during the first couple of seasons.

Me, I’m stuck with a $260 salary cap, like countless others cavorting in fantasyland. No additional revenue streams for player payroll. Just the draft day play money. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, keeper leagues such as mine provide motivators to play for the next season. The key: trade now for next year. Unload expensive, proven studs in exchange for bargain-priced players that contenders are willing to part with in their quest for the holy grail. In short, the contenders are all about seizing the moment. Next season is barely on their radar.

And what about the apparent bargains you just acquired? In most cases, these guys are not studs, but they are the kind of ballplayers that rack up solid numbers in multiple categories. Better yet, fantasy contenders may be willing to give up a cheaply-priced studs because they perceive a way to pick up ground in categories they are lagging in.

Remember, at season’s end, it’s all about the points.

In our league, there is another motivator for late season cellar dwellers: categories. We award pay outs to those who win categories. In our league, we have 6 offensive and 6 pitching categories. Currently, I’m in a hotly contested race to capture the Holds category. Doesn’t matter that I’m next to last overall.

You can also mine the free agent pool for top players who are out for most or rest of the season with injuries or PEDs suspensions. (Melky comes to mind.)

Bottom line, the overriding strategy is to head into next year’s draft with more money to spend, thus more opportunity to draft more quality guys.

In late July, I picked up Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner, who had been tossed back into the free agent pile after suffering what appeared to be a season-ending injury. Under our league rules, drafted players that are cut retain their draft day auction cost.

In speedster Gardner’s case, he was auctioned off at three bucks. With inflation, the stolen base stud will cost me only $4 to keep. Sure, he’s essentially a one-category guy, but he swiped 49 bags in 2011 and 47 in 2010. Plus the Yank is only 28 and shouldn’t inflict much damage to your team’s batting average.

Turning to snake leagues…Those of us in snake draft leagues that allow attaching draft pick to player trades also have considerable motivation to play for next season. I won a snake league championship back in the day when fantasy sports web sites did not exist.

To take first place, I spent the bulk of the prior season preparing. Traded away players in demand for lesser guys, but also made sure high draft pickswere included in the deal. Ended up with three Number One and Four Number Two picks, plus a couple of third and fourth rounders. Sweet.

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My roster was full about an hour while  some of the other league members were scrounging for promising platoon players. In 20 years of fantasy, that was my only championship year.

Yeah, playing for next year doesn’t even come close to contending right now, but we still find ways to have fun, right? Otherwise, why do those of us out of contention keep on swinging away?