MASTER NOTES: Time to assess that keeper league rebuild

If you’re still among your deep keeper league’s bottom feeders now on July 4 weekend, you probably aren’t moving up. Particularly if you haven’t done anything significant about your predicament (and if you haven’t, it’s time). But before you make any decisions, some questions and self-assessment are necessary to stop you from repeating some of the mistakes that may have led to your current situation. 

1) First and foremost, are you enjoying yourself? As Ron Shandler noted earlier in this series, the reality of a six-month game is that winning takes an incredible amount of effort, and losing can be a drag.

 If you aren’t enjoying your current plight, continue reading. Otherwise, if simply owning a team, following along with the game and staying in touch with friends meets your satisfaction threshold, then very few leagues wouldn’t welcome you. You don’t need to change or rebuild anything. 

2) Do you relish the challenge of—and have the requisite time for—what could be a long rebuild? If not, perhaps your current keeper league format or competition level isn’t a good match. Depending on your tolerance, rules, league depth and competition, a keeper / dynasty league can be extremely unforgiving.

For example, if you have regular time constraints that prevent you from keeping a decent grasp of minor league talent on the rise, then perhaps you’re better off in a year-to-year re-draft league—or even one of the monthly leagues that Ron is putting together. If you find yourself nodding your head to this, read no further. 

3) How long and how often have you dwelled among the also-rans or second division of your league? If it’s been three seasons or longer, what is your prognosis for next year? If you aren’t optimistic and particularly if losing grinds at you, go back to the beginning of this question list. If you land here again, resolve to make some changes and continue reading. 

4) If you’re still with us, assess why your team is where it is, the past decisions you’ve made, what you need, and how long the rebuild might take. Run this by another league owner or two. 

If an honest evaluation is difficult to come by, get one—or two—from outsiders, the more honest and brutal the better. (Our subscriber forums are great for this!) If your answers differ dramatically from the others you solicit, you may have other issues. If there have been large swaths of time during which you’ve paid zero attention to your team, return to 2). 

5) Review your current roster, identify your rock-solid holds and the players you’re willing to give up who could help other teams. And identify your dead weight and immediate cuts. If you think you have none of the latter, stop reading, because we probably can’t help you. 

Then remove the “untouchable” label from your rock-solid holds, because in your position, “no one is untouchable”. Repeat this last phrase often, because this is your new trade mantra. Obviously this isn’t to say that you’ll deal Bryce Harper’s future for a handful of limited-ceiling guys in a quality-for-quantity deal, but you need to be flexible. 

6) Assess your MLB free agent list and how it can help you remove your roster dead weight immediately. 

If you see nothing of interest in potential free agent names like Hank Conger, Ryan Cook or Randall Delgado – or if this has already taken up too much of your time – consider it warning sign, and return to the start. 

7) Assess players who have fallen off the radar for various reasons (performance, expired prospect status, season-long injuries etc.). Research injury dates, get a current update and determine return timeframes. 

Remember that Kendrys Morales took two seasons off, but is now back earning double-digit dollars. If you aren’t familiar with the status of names like Cory Luebke or Rubby De La Rosa, you’ve got more work to do. 

8) Assess your minor league free agent list, and how it can address both your long and short term needs. By all means,  check the pre-season Top 100 lists to identify overlooked / unattached players. But also check out the mid-season top prospect lists and June amateur draft as well. Because a half-season has passed and a lot has changed since you last took inventory. Are you familiar with Maikel Franco or Kris Bryant? If not, get busy. 

9) Assess the current championship race in your league, and what you can offer the contenders. Fully engage contenders who are active traders, and let those who aren’t know you’re engaging them. Remind both that one has to give in order to get. 

Have you been an active trader? If so, this this may be part of your problem, and you may need to slow that part of your game down. If not, get to know your active traders. Trade with your league’s contenders, but respect your league race. 

10) And finally, re-assess your tools, favorite websites, and daily routines. 

There you have it. No quick fixes here; that’s not in the deep keeper league lexicon. You’ll always have work to do, but remember, as we noted first and foremost, that it needs to be a labor of love.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.