Updated: Oct 27, 2019
In the winter of 2018/19 I decided I would try my hand at rebuilding a MLB franchise....albeit a fantasy one. Having inherited the worst fantasy team arguably ever complied, follow my progress of rebuilding the St Louis Cardinals within a 24 team Fantrax league. I have no idea if this team will ever see the light of competing ever again but what I do know is that Cockney Theo will leave absolutely no stone un-turned in trying to win a championship. Here is to a fun diary entry style series. Follow its progress on twitter - @JoelFourBases
Sunday 28th July
St Louis Cardinals Receive:
· Seattle Mariners 2019 1st year draft – 2nd Round Pick
Seattle Mariners Receive:
· Kolten Wong (2B – St. Louis Cardinals)
With Trea Turner my current starting shortstop and Kevin Newman swinging a hot bat at second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I didn’t have a pressing need or starting spot for Kolten Wong. Whilst he is in the middle of a Cardinals team in search of a playoff berth, Wong held some trade value,
I did some league research and found a couple of teams in playoff contention who were a little light at second base. After whittling it down to three or four, I sent over trade requests for their second round pick in the 2020 first year player draft. I personally deemed it a steep price for Wong and was surprised when the Mariners agreed to it and sent me their 2nd round pick.
The 2nd round pick allows me to have a pick in the second round draft as I moved my own draft pick to the Texas Rangers within the Carlos Martinez & Alex Colome trade, a package which saw me land my second first round pick in the draft.
Monday 29th July
Yasmany Tomas (OF - Arizona Diamondbacks)
Mike Zunino (C- Tampa Bay Rays)
With Mike Zunino struggling at the plate and a surplus of catchers following Andrew Knizner’s promotion to the MLB, Zunino was surplus to my requirements. Having traded away Adam Frazier to the Pittsburgh Pirates, I needed to pick up a MLB outfielder. Within a 24 team dynasty league, the options are relatively slim in the free agency pool, however Yasmany Tomas should be capable of providing a little bit of pop from one of my OF roster spots. I expect Tomas will be one of the first names to be cut or DFA’d should any of my outfield prospects get promoted.
Thursday 1st August
St. Louis Cardinals Receive:
o Nick Anderson (RP- Tampa Bay Rays)
Cleveland Indians Receive:
o Raimel Tapia (OF- Colorado Rockies)
Following a season where the Rays shocked the baseball world in 2018 playing well above their minuet payroll, Tampa Bay have continued to punch with the American League juggernauts in 2019. Approaching the trade deadline the Rays were in the market for a reliever who could operate in multiple roles and situations late in ballgames. The answer was Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards from the Miami Marlins in exchange for Ryne Stanek, the original ‘opener’ and highly touted prospect- Jesus Sanchez.
Given Ryne Stanek’s integral value to the Rays via his invaluable role in opening games (27 prior to the deadline) and Jesus Sanchez’ highly touted bat- I am willing to tout that the Rays have seen something in both Anderson and Richards that maybe the Marlins had not. With a 96mph fastball and a 2.72 FIP – I quietly like the chances of Anderson being in line for save opportunities in Tampa and throwing his hat in the ring for the job permanently. His 14.2 K/9 should provide me with some considerably stronger than average strikeout numbers for a relief pitcher.
In an ideal world, I will look to move Alex Colome in the coming days to a contender in need of a closer. In return if I can pick up a premier prospect or major league ready talent, then I am hopeful of transferring a below average outfielder into a closer and my closer into an above average offensive talent.
Having originally acquired Tapia as an extra in the trade where I acquired Kevin Newman for Nelson Cruz, I am absolutely fine in letting Tapia go. With an OBP of only .309 and 7HRs at the hitter friendly Coors Field, Tapia was never in my long term outfield plans. I recently added Yasmany Tomas (OF- Arizona Diamondbacks) from free agency so he will be become one of my every day outfielders in the interim.
Friday 2nd August
St. Louis Cardinals Receive:
• Jose Martinez (1B/OF – St. Louis Cardinals)
• Justin Dunn (SP- Seattle Mariners)
• Sam Huff (C- Texas Rangers)
• Texas Rangers 2019 1st year draft – 1st Round Pick
Texas Rangers Receive:
• Carlos Martinez (SP/RP- St. Louis Cardinals)
• Alex Colome (RP-Chicago White Sox)
• St. Louis Cardinals 2019 1st year draft – 2nd Round Pick
Carlos Martinez and Alex Colome were two of my three big pitching trade pieces (Dallas Keuchel being the third). With Keuchel pitching well for the Braves, he should retain his trade value well into the off-season when he tests free agency for a consecutive winter. Unwilling to budge on a relatively high price of a major league ready talent or a premier prospect, I was happy to balk at any proposed trades if the price wasn’t right.
Instead- I opted to deal Carlos Martinez, a guy whose career has somewhat stuttered from bouncing between the bullpen and the rotation and Alex Colome, the White Sox closer. I wanted to hold Colome until the trade deadline had passed and I could be assured that he wouldn’t be in line for a significant rise in save opportunities by playing for a competitor. Instead, he stayed with the South Siders and left pitching in high leverage situations for a below average ball club.
I have always liked Jose Martinez from the Cardinals and was keen to get him onto my team as part of this deal. Arguably a little unlucky in getting regular at bats for St. Louis, I hold some hope that the Cardinals may deal him in the offseason to an American League team allowing him to hit from the DH spot. Having hit .300 in both 2017 and 2018, I have every faith that Martinez can be a 30 HR .300 hitter, something he has always promised to be.
The first of the premier prospects I acquired was, Justin Dunn. Originally drafted out of Boston College by the Mets in the 1st round, Dunn worked his way from the Florida State League to AA in 2018. When the Mets wanted Cano & Diaz, the price had to contain both Dunn and Jared Kelenic.
With a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a pair of off speed breaking balls and the chances of Dunn being called up within the next year, I like the chances of Dunn being able to significantly improve my pitching of the future. He will join a rotation of the future including Brendan McKay (Tampa Bay), Alex Faedo (Detroit Tigers) and Triston McKenzie (Cleveland Indians).
The second prospect I acquired was Sam Huff from the Texas Rangers, Originally drafted out of high school in 2016, Huff has since won slugged his way through the minor leagues picking up MVP Honours at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Despite having Andrew Knizner on my roster, the guy touted as the long term replacement for Yadier Molina for the Cardinals, Huff offered too much talent to pass up on. Currently ranked as the 74th best prospect in the country, Huff’s 6-4 frame may end up steering him from behind the plate to 1st base, something which could hold significance in his fantasy value. Described by MLB Pipeline as having an “ultra-aggressive approach that yields lots of strikeouts and few walks” I like the chances of Huff succeeding in the fly ball era at a particularly hitter friendly, something supported by Pipelines quote – “If he reaches his ceiling, he'll produce 30 homers on an annual basis while providing solid defence behind the plate”.
The final part of the deal was an exchange of draft picks. With the Texas Rangers likely to be one of the contenders at the end of the season and their first pick likely to be very late in the 1st round and my picks likely to be a contrasting very early pick. I proposed swapping my 2nd round pick for his 1st rounder as a sweetener in the trade. The swap of picks was designed to get me back into 1st round of the first year player draft. All it cost the Rangers was dropping down a likely three or four pick slots.
Currently, I am unsure what I will do with the additional 1st rounder. In my head I have 2 options - hold tight and pick a premier prospect for 3 years down the line or whether I can speed up my rebuild and trade a very marketable 1st round pick for a more Major League ready talent. The answer is likely to be one found in the off-season once I can assess the market and find someone who can make an instant impact.
Off the back of this- something I will pay very close attention too, are the teams who have traded their 1st round pick in search of competing this year. I will certainly be looking at teams who have traded out of the 1st round, to see if I can prize them back into it.
Follow the journey: