Unfortunately, you can't win your league everyyear. Web sites such as this one and others on the net have opened the world ofinformation to virtually every player. In the pre-internet days, one could gainan advantage by subscribing to newsletters or heavy reading of all themagazines available. The newsletters were not widely known, and many did nothave resources to buy all the magazines nor time to read them. So if you did,you had an advantage and usually did well from year to year.
Today, almost all players have access to tons ofinfo. The result has been leagues more competitive than ever. As a result, topteams trade for players to put them over the top. Others trade for "nextyear" better known as "dumping." Because of this it is almostimpossible to stay on top year in and year out in keeper leagues. So below aresome strategies to build for next year, if this isn't your year!
Teams that are in the hunt will want to keep fulltime players in the line-up. So often times they will waive a prospect for aveteran starter. This happens most, two times a year. One is the week after theall-star break as many DL players are activated. The second is in Septemberafter roster expansion as owners jockey to get the best line-up possible forthe stretch.
Be very active and watch what players becomeavailable. This is the prime time to get young players because other owners outof the race are getting focused on their football draft and won't pay attention.
Depending on your league rules, you can use FAAB(Free Agent Acquisition Budget) dollars to get players. Many teams in the racehave used up their supply of dollars. Therefore, you may be able to getSeptember call-ups at a low dollar price. In leagues that use waivers and FAAB,a waived player claimed has a salary of ten. Under FAAB, you can pick up aplayer for as little as one.
It would be worth your while to bid on some youngplayers that may get a chance to play next year. Get them now, before everyoneknows who they are and if they have a job because once everyone knows, theirprice will go up. Snag, or steal them now.
Monopolize a Category
In keeper leagues you always face the fact that youcan get closed out of a category after the freeze lists are announced. Tocounter this possibility, try to acquire players to give you an advantage inone category. That way, you can trade your surplus in a category to make up forany shortfalls. Saves and steals are my favorites to do this with.
Trade your high priced players you are not going tokeep and players in the final year of their contract. I traded Mariano Riverafor Bobby Howry in '99. Would you make this trade? Not on the surface, but whenyou find out that Rivera went back into the draft the following year and Howrywas 10 in his second year it becomes a good deal. It's a good deal because Igot Howry for nothing. Rivera is gone at the end of the year and the standingsare set without any chances in points likely.
A few years ago I traded Jose Cruz Jr. for the sameone dollar Mariano Rivera. I was out of the race looking to pick up players forcheap for the next season. Rivera was the set-up man, but Wetteland was a freeagent. I made the trade hoping Wetteland would sign elsewhere. He did and my $1closer saved 45 games a year. This brings me to my next tip.
When trading a player that goes back in the draft,or his value is so high you won't keep him, gamble. My trade for Rivera was agamble that paid off.
Finally, hold on to players that possess skillsthat are hard to come by. Saves and Steals are the hardest to get. So if itlooks that there will be a few available at next year's draft, keep the onesyou have even if they are overpriced. You can make up for the salary elsewhere.I have a tough decision to make. It is better to have good players at a highprice than a bunch of low priced part time or mediocre players.
So there are several ways you canhelp yourself to bounce back next year. Just remember to start now and not towait until the spring to get started.
R. Gregory Scalf is aformer division I baseball player and associate scout for the Kansas CityRoyals. He currently is the webmaster at Fantasy Baseball Central and theassistant webmaster at John Mosey's Fantasy baseball Home Page.