Thursday, July 12, 2007

Halfway Point

Well, we are at the halfway point so I figurd I better post on the first half for the Fargo Highlife. In sum, given the start I had, I am very very pleased to be sitting at .500 halfway through.

My season seemed to spiral out of control early, as I started 0-4. This start was attributable to many factors, including my failure to sign one of the few big bats available in the FAB, injuries to Wang and Matsui, and the absolute lack of production from my two 1B (Delgado and Thomas) and OF.

However, I was able to turn around my season using three tactics that have served me well through my two years of GDR: not spending all my money in the FAB, signing cheaper "sleepers" during the FAB and afterwards, and aggressively looking to trade during the season.

While most teams' strategy is to spend the entire $100M in the FAB, I tend to typically have at least 5-6 million left over. Add this to the $10M available post-FAB, and I have significant cash to make waves during the season. Now this is not always planned; sometimes it occurs because I simply missed out on a player I targeted in the FAB. Regardless, I like having this extra money because I am a big believer in actively picking (and dropping) players throughout the season.

This year I was able to use that money to sign (among others) Gil Meche, David Weathers, Tim Lincecum, Dan Johnson, and, perhaps most importantly, JJ Hardy. All these players have made a difference for me during the season. It has also made it possible for me to make trades where I could absorb large contracts or trade away cash.

Second, I tend to sign a lot of younger "sleeper" players in the FAB, with the hopes they can either be useful on my team or as trade chips. This year I signed guys like Tom Gorzellany (1.5M, averaging 16.7pts/gm), Andrew Miller (1.5M/3 yrs, averaging 15.8 pts/gm), and Brad Hawpe (1M/1yr, averaging 2.9 pts/gm). All these guys have paid dividends. Of course, I also signed guys like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Anthony Reyes to long-term deals which are not currently looking good, so it is clearly hit and miss.

However, signing players like these can be very helpful when trying to trade. I always try to stay active in the trade market. Frankly, I have been disappointed in the lack of trades this year as I expected more from a Champions League, but to each their own. Thus far I have made two trades that helped address my team's weaknesses.

First, I dealt Dontrelle Willis and 2.5M in cash for Justin Morneau, to help resolve my putrid 1B play caused by Delgado and Thomas. The trade was possible due to my pitching depth (Bedard, Young, Meche, Wang, Andrew Miller, Gorzellany, etc) and my additional cash.

Second, I dealt Gorzellany and Lincecum for Andruw Jones. Jones is (finally) starting to pick it up and should help me with a potential lack of production in the OF (albeit not as much of a problem since Matsui came back and Hawpe's emergence). This deal was solely possible due to the first two factors noted above. I had the cash to not only sign Lincecum once he became OTM, but also the cash to absorb Jones's large contract. In addition, my willingness to take a chance on Gorz before the season was obviously necessary to get the assets necessary to acquire a big bat. Of course it is likely that both Gorz and Lincecum will be solid SPs throughout the year, but you have to give up something to get something; I was willing to deal them given my pitching depth and need for hitting.

So there ya go - from 0-4 to 7-7 at the break. Guess the point of this post is to encourage owners to think beyond the FAB and be proactive throughout the year. FAB strategies like whether to spend big on relievers or pay top-money for guys like Pujols are irrelevant after the FAB. You need to realize it is a long season and build your teams to adapt for the various contingenices that will inevitably come your way during the year. And, oh yeah, respond to trade offers via email when's a simple move that is a welcome courtesy.

Fargo Highlife

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