Saturday, October 16, 2010

UPL Wrap-Up: Where I Went Wrong

The UPL baseball season wrapped up earlier this month. Here are the final standings:

I went back and looked at what the standings were during the All-Star break and there wasn't much movement for the most part. Although, that's not to say that the season didn't have a dramatic finish. On the final day Phatsnapper managed to sneak past Hats for Bats to take the crown. I don't think we've ever had that happen on the last day in UPL Baseball before. (One year we did have a tie, though.)

Congratulations to Rupert (Phatsnapper) on his championship season! And I also should point out that both Pauly (Hats for Bats) and CJ (JimmyDix) both had remarkable turnaround seasons. Pauly's team played well enough to take the crown, but it just wasn't meant to be.

After my 6th place finish, I'm left trying to pick up the pieces. Going into this season, I listed most of my strategy for this keeper league. But there was one 800-pound gorilla in the room that I didn't want to talk about. I might as well talk about that now.

If you look at the history of warfare, armies have a tendency to fight the "previous war." Basically, military planners most carefully study the past war, what went wrong and what went right - and more importantly, what they could have done better. And so what happens is that when a new war breaks out, a seemingly solid strategy is to see how your current environment is similar to a past environment, then apply what was learned from that experience in order to best perform in the current war. It's not a bad strategy. In fact, it's probably a necessary component to any great strategy. But if you rely too much on what would have been a seemingly perfect strategy for the previous war, you can end up in big trouble.

In the UPL, we get to keep 18 players from season to season. For a team at the top of the pack, this sounds like a great deal. But it's really a double-edged sword. Things can change quite a bit from season to season, and in a non-keeper format you can change your roster swiftly with the times. When you have to keep 18 players, it can sort of feel like you're stuck in a quagmire.

Granted, my team had plenty of talent heading into this season. And I made some blunders along the way. But if I look at my top 4 picks from 2009, three of them heading into 2010 wouldn't have rated worthy of top 4 picks in my book (Carlos Beltran, Aramis Ramirez, Manny Ramirez) due to their problems with missing significant playing time the previous season. If we had done a complete re-draft, I think there would have been many opportunities to upgrade my team.

But I can't complain. I knew the rules ahead of time and made my own bed. Here are my top three regrets for this season, and they all boil down to not being aggressive enough:
1) Not getting more value for the #3 pick (in essentially the 19th round). I drafted Octavio Dotel to address my closer situation, but in hindsight, there was more league-wide demand for Aroldis Chapman than I realized. I had assumed that after Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg, there weren't any rookies who people were willing to trade away value to get. But I think I was wrong there. Had I drafted Chapman (or just  traded away the pick pre-draft), I could have probably gotten something better than Dotel.
2) Not addressing shortstop. I went into the year hoping that Jason Bartlett would have a .390 OBP with 30 steals. That would have been nice. But it didn't happen, and my backup plans for SS didn't work out either. At one point I thought about trying to trade for Troy Tulowitzki, and maybe I should have. But I kept thinking that a viable option at SS would just fall into my lap. It never happened.
3) Not fixing my starting rotation sooner. Part of this is bad luck. I mean, my starting pitchers were absolutely brutal the first month of the season. It's impossible to predict something like that. However, I could have done a better job of holding pitchers out of the lineup and searching the waiver wire for better short-term, and possibly long-term, solutions.

My goal was to win the league again this year, but at the very least I wanted to finish on the podium. So a 6th place finish is disappointing. The past 5 or so years I've been bouncing between first and middle of the pack. I still have a long way to go if I'm to field a contender year in and year out. The Chairman (O.N. Thugs) has made a habit of this, and really, so has C-Lauff (IamJabrone).

It was a fun season. Looking ahead to next year, I'll have to refine my strategy a bit. But then again, that part never ends.


Chairman said...

I don't know if any of these things that you mentioned were exactly state secrets. If you recall, on March 13, I wrote about the '90 Reds, and I think that I covered most of these issues :-)

Though, I have to confess that at the time, I didn't realize that you'd bone things up with Dotel at #3 :-)

Greg McConnell said...

I just went back now and read your March 13 post. Much of your assessment was spot on. Lots of my guys who had career years in 2009 ended up swinging the pendulum the other way in 2010.