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Pittsburgh Crawfords: Putting a Team Around Vladito

I inherited this team from someone in the fantasy Twitterverse who did not have time to continue. There were four teams available in the league, and this one had Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on it, so it is the one I picked when the team draft came around to me. Being quick to decide to join a league can be an advantage. Commissioners have problems to solve and often confer benefits on the people who help solve them. I picked first because I agreed to play first.

The team was also filled with top prospects in the lower minors. I try to play aggressive fantasy baseball. I'd rather lose because I made mistakes than because I failed to act, so I decided to field a team around Vladdy. The outfield was weak in at-bats, so I started there. I contacted the other new league members, figuring they wanted to start putting their stamps on their new teams. I quickly was able to move Rowdy Tellez for Victor Robles. I wanted a low-level deal while I got to know the landscape, and my roster was littered with first basemen: Vladdy, Pete Alonso, CJ Cron, and Rowdy Tellez. The league doesn't play a CI and only has two UT spots, so Rowdy didn't have a home on my team. If Robles plays most days in center field for the Nats, bats ninth, and swipes some bags, he will add more to the team than Rowdy.

My next goal was to continue to add to the outfield and make Gio Urshela a bench piece instead of my everyday 3B. But I waited through the holidays to see what people were doing. I found a clearly in rebuild mode team and did something a little dramatic: I traded Macro Luciano for Adolis Garcia and Cesar Hernandez. I could greatly regret this one in a few years, especially since Brandon Crawford is my current starting SS. However, I have a lot of SS prospects (Oswald Peraza, Masyn Wynn, Geraldo Perdomo, Ezequiel Duran, Jeremy Pena, Carlos Comenarez, and Wilman Diaz) so I still feel covered. Hernandez allows me to move Ryan McMahon over to 3rd and put Urshela on the bench, and Garcia gives me more OF at-bats. Luciano has warts. He struck out 37% of the time at High A. The big problem with Garcia is he struck out 32% of the time in the Majors. Hitting in MLB is harder than High A. So I took production now. I also chummed the water; owners were now very interested in talking to me. In a 20 team setting, I think having guys who play is essential. I may not compete for a championship, but 3rd place triples my money and helps pay for league fees and subscriptions. Fifth place gets my money back. Those costs can add up.

I found another team in rebuild mode and made another aggressive deal, moving Robert Hassell and Michael Harris for Dylan Carlson. Again, I'm prioritizing the now, but this time I'm getting a 23-year-old coming off a solid year who plays the position I need to fill. The rebuilder was ecstatic to get two top prospects, and I got a guy who will play almost all of his prime with Vladdy.

After these moves, the starting lineup became:

Ryan Jeffers C - 24yo

Vladdy 1B - 22yo

Cesar Hernandez 2B - 31yo

Ryan McMahon 3B - 27yo

Brandon Crawford SS - 34yo

Dylan Carlson OF - 23yo

Adolis Garcia OF - 29yo

Victor Robles OF - 24yo

Jarren Duran OF - 25yo

Pete Alonso UT (1B) - 27yo

CJ Cron UT (1B) - 32yo

With these bench pieces:

Gio Urshela 3B/SS - 30yo

Kyle Isbel OF - 24yo

Jeremy Pena SS - 24yo

It might not be a world-beater, but it is a team. The bad news was I had no pitching.

League chat line strategy is rarely discussed, but it is foundational to dynasty leagues. I like to widely announce what I am looking for and what I have in general terms. In this case, I posted that I wanted SP and OF and had top 100 prospects to go. I like doing this because it sets the parameters of the negotiations before they begin. I don't have to field a bunch of offers for guys I don't want to trade. Having done something a little crazy, the sharks smelled blood in the water. The announcement makes the sharks bring you what in their quest for a meal. At this point, I had moved Luciano, Hassell, and Harris in 36 hours, so the league was paying attention and trying to figure out what pitcher they could sell me for their favorite prospect.

"You can get anything you want in this world if you help enough people get what they want." - Zig Ziglar, sales motivation speaker.

Going into the next flurry of moves, these players were projected to pitch in 2022 on my roster:

Luis Garcia 24yo

Framber Valdez 27yo

Darwin Hernandez, who cares how old?

End of list. I also only had 1st, 2nd, and 5th round picks in the five-round draft.

So the first guy to come calling had slip pickins: Ross Stripling, Garrett Richards and Spencer Turnbull. I asked him what he wanted for Stripling, and he asked for Tanner Burns. Done. Stripling has been suitable for stretches and will pitch in 2022.

The next guy wanted Heliot Ramos. I initially asked for Jose Urqidy or Cal Quantrill, which he declined. He offered Nestor Cortes and Kyle Muller twelve hours later, for Ramos and a 5th. Last-round picks are sort of fungible, so I thought he would switch how they went. I like last-round picks, especially in this situation, where I will use them to build my bullpen. Opportunity abounds when an asset is insignificant to your trading partner yet valuable to your situation. I countered Heliot for Cortes, Muller, and a 5th, and he accepted.

Then I went hunting. I found a team in a rebuild who had Zack Greinke. I need 2022 innings, and Grienke might pitch them, but he is 38 and unemployed, so he should be cheap. This player wanted Carlos Comenarez. A quick note on young Rays prospects: fuck 'em. Carlos is 18. The Rays won't play him until he is at least 21 and possibly 24. When he does play in three to six years, he has a high probability of getting platooned. But I can't move him for Greinke alone, so I got a 2nd and 5th. I think I can get a prospect that will play well before Carlos with the 2nd, and the 5th is sort of free. Plus, I get whatever Grienke has left in his arm.

Now the 2022 IP list includes

Luis Garcia 24yo

Framber Valdez 27yo

Darwin Hernandez, who cares how old?

Zack Greinke 38yo

Nestor Cortes 27yo

Kyle Muller 24yo

I'll use my three fifth-round picks to build a bullpen.

Another non-world beating or even contending team, but if I find a way to tack an ace above Luis Garcia and add another number three type dude plus a Wade Miley sort of guy, I'm getting somewhere. Pitching tends to emerge throughout the season. I'm an opportunistic player.

I don't know how this will all work out, but I'd rather lose by building around Vladdy than wait for years for guys to matriculate from high A and join him in 2025. Here we go.

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