In the XFL, Xperts Fantasy League, I have a roster that features an appealing mix of young, cheap keepers and veteran headliners. As in recent seasons, my team should be good enough to be in the top tier of the 15 competitors, but it is unclear whether there is enough material to reach the top.
As a point of reference, the annual XFL draft occurs in late October or early November during the First Pitch Arizona conference. My lofty 2011 hopes were dashed during spring training camp when Adam Wainwright required Tommy John surgery. Thoughts quickly turned to waiting and planning for 2012.
Serving as co-ace of my staff with Justin Verlander, Wainwright has been a fixture on my roster as a +$3 player since my first year in the league. I acquired both players when in farm status, so their annual price grows at $3 increments instead of $5.
Ready for another run at the title in 2012, I figured Wainwright would provide a considerable boost to my club. Instead, the right-hander’s return from surgery has been rocky.
Now, I am waiting on the Cardinals starter again. Will Wainwright return to past glory? One has to wonder.
The Cardinals have lost all four of Wainwright’s starts this season. Though in fairness to the hurler, it should be noted that the Cardinals’ normally high-scoring offense gave him just ten total runs with which to work.
On Tuesday in his last start, Wainwright did show signs of life, allowing just one run in six innings at Wrigley Field. The right-hander fanned seven and walked just one.
If he does fully recover, I may decide to join the annual rites in this league of dealing prospects for proven rest-of-season performers to augment my roster. This is a “keeping up with the Joneses” approach that is almost mandatory to follow as the scoring bar is raised by competing clubs during every summer. (For more on this subject, please remember to check this coming Monday’s installment of Lord Zola’s Fantasy Roundtable, Mastersball content exclusively at our partner, KFFL.)
The last time I tried this trading prospects for stars, three or four years ago, I failed. At the time, it seemed like adding Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez would offer just what my offense needed. It didn’t work out that way.
Even though it is irrational, I still hate seeing my former prospects such as Jason Heyward, Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata succeed on other rosters. Despite past failings, I know I shouldn’t be gun shy to try again – if the conditions are right.
If Wainwright doesn’t turn it around, however, a reprise of 2012 may be necessary. In other words, regrouping for 2013 would not be out of the realm of possibility.
Since the start of the season, I had been waiting for another player on my XFL roster, as well, though for a different reason. XFL rules indicate a player must appear in at least five games to qualify at a position.
The day this week Jesus Montero became eligible behind the plate was a day of celebration, for me and many fantasy owners. The Seattle youngster will provide an instant boost for my club. I can move him to catcher and backfill my DH spot with a better hitter than my second catcher today.
With the Yankees in 2012, Montero served only at designated hitter. In a fortunate twist, that is what enabled him to join my roster in the first place. Another owner was in a bind in that he owned two DH-only eligible players in Montero and Billy Butler, but could keep just one heading into our 2012 draft. Creating a sense of urgency was the reality that keepers were due to be submitted that evening.
I sent Pablo Sandoval in the other direction in a trade that has been great for my partner so far this season. It should also pay me dividends for years to come as Montero is a +$3 player.
To keep my second catcher position occupied temporarily, I drafted Cleveland’s Lou Marson as a fill in only. Going forward, I should have Montero and Carlos Santana (also a +$3 player) as twin towers, manning my two backstop spots for years to come. That is most comforting.
Still, I wonder when I will feel I am positioned to actually win and why Wainwright always seems to be the key?
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.