Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Like a broken marriage, the fantasy baseball league I'm in has fallen on some hard times.
Let me explain.
If we're using sitcom metaphors (which obviously we are) I'd compare our league dynamic to Jim and Pam Halpert on the ninth season of The Office.
Just like Jim and Pam, the eight players in our league (myself included) have become predictable.
There's nothing new to look forward to anymore. Been there, done that. It's all just boring and stale.
I'm not saying that our league needs marriage counseling (though a fantasy group therapy session is a pretty hilarious premise). We all get along great.
I just think it's time for us to try something different.
So here's my idea. Well, not really my idea. I stole it from another sitcom, The League on FX.
Anyway, in season three of The League, disaster struck when the diabolical Dirty Randy (don't ask) locked everyone out of Andre's apartment on draft day. The computer went into auto-draft mode and nobody was too thrilled with the results.
Pete, or Saint Pete as he sometimes refers to himself, salvaged the league by orchestrating an elaborate eight-way trade between all its members. Order was restored and Pete, as usual, was the hero.
Now it's time for me to do my best Saint Pete impression and save my league. Here goes nothing, guys.
Let's start off by establishing some of the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
Aaron: Currently tied for fourth (with me), Aaron's team is built on speed and power. He's tied for first in RBI and is second in stolen bases. However, his batting average (.250) is the lowest in the league while his team ERA (4.04) is the highest. The goal here is to flip a couple of home run hitters for a decent starter and someone who hits for a high average.
Benson: Benson sits in second place thanks to his dominant starting pitching. His squad has the second-lowest ERA in the league (2.99) and leads the league in wins and strikeouts. He's also way ahead in batting average (.292).
Benson's flaw is that his team doesn't hit for much power. His squad ranks last in home runs and RBI. He can probably swap a starter or two for a couple of power hitters.
Jesse (that's me!): I'm in the top half of most pitching categories and the bottom half of most hitting statistics. I'm really struggling in stolen bases right now and I don't have many guys who can hit the long ball. I'm hoping to gain some speed in this trade and maybe a 30-home run guy. Obviously, I'll need to give up some pitching to make that happen.
Marty: Marty's team can run with the best of them (second in stolen bases). Unfortunately, the rest of his lineup is full of holes including a very thin starting rotation. Pitching is going to be Marty's top priority in this trade.
PJ: PJ's offense has performed incredibly well but his closers have underachieved (last in saves). He isn't blowing anyone away on the base paths either (second-fewest steals in the league). A speedy outfielder and a solid reliever should be enough to turn things around.
Trey: Trey's team doesn't need much help. He already leads the league in steals and runs scored. He's also second in ERA and saves. We're nitpicking here but if there is a way to improve Trey's roster, he could use another power bat. No overhaul necessary. A tweak here or there ought to do the trick.
Tim: Tim's biggest problem is that he's out of the country and hasn't been able to check his lineup every day. Given the circumstances, he's actually performed pretty well this year. His team has hit for a high average and run production hasn't been an issue for him. He'll definitely be in the market for some starting pitching.
Tom: For about the hundredth year in a row, Tom is leading the league in home runs. That seems to be his calling card. Tom's pitching staff has also been solid this season (2.85 ERA). However, he's barely made a dent in the stolen base category (last place) and that's probably going to be his focus heading into this trade.
That's enough of that. Here's is my proposed Trade-a-Palooza.
Aaron trades OF Nate McLouth and 1B Mark Reynolds for 1B Allen Craig and SP Jon Lester: Craig (.291, 1 HR, 25 RBI) doesn't have as much power as Reynolds but he'll definitely help Aaron as he tries to make up ground in batting average. Lester (4-0, 3.30 ERA) will help in ERA and Aaron has plenty of outfield depth so McLouth won't be hard to replace.
Benson trades OF Austin Jackson and SP Max Scherzer for 3B Chase Headley and 1B Mark Reynolds: Benson needed some power and Reynolds is basically a lock for 30 homers, so this works out well. As good as Scherzer has been (4-0, 3.43 ERA), Benson's pitching will still be fine without him.
Jesse trades SP Ryan Dempster and RP Jim Johnson for OF Dexter Fowler and 2B Jason Kipnis: Fowler (.295, 8 HR, 15 RBI, 4 SB) brings a nice combination of speed and power to the lineup while Kipnis could be a threat to steal 40 bases. I still have plenty of closers so losing Johnson (11 saves) isn't the end of the world.
Marty trades OF Jacoby Ellsbury and 3B Chase Headley for SP Max Scherzer and SP Jordan Zimmermann: Ellsbury and Headley is a lot to give up but Marty needed pitching and Scherzer and Zimmermann (5-1, 1.64 ERA) have looked like Cy Young winners so far in 2013. Marty already has David Wright at third so Headley was expendable. This doesn't fix all of Marty's issues but it's a good place to start.
PJ trades OF Allen Craig and SP Hyun-Jin Ryu for OF Jacoby Ellsbury and RP Jim Johnson: PJ needed a closer and few ninth inning men have been better than Johnson over the last two seasons. PJ's other need was speed. I'd say adding Ellsbury, MLB's stolen base leader, is a pretty drastic improvement. Well done.
Trey trades OF Dexter Fowler and SP Jon Lester for 1B Billy Butler and OF Austin Jackson: This trade doesn't necessarily make Trey's team better but it definitely doesn't make it worse. Fowler was wasting away on his bench anyway so Trey could certainly afford to give him up. Butler and Jackson are perennial .300 hitters and you can never have enough of those on your team.
Tim trades 1B Billy Butler and SS Jean Segura for SP Ryan Dempster and SP Hyun-Jin Ryu: This trade was a little difficult to facilitate because Tim didn't have many trade pieces. Dempster (2-2, 3.00 ERA, 47 K's) and Ryu (3-2, 3.71 ERA, 48 K's) are both among the league leaders in strikeouts, a category that Tim has neglected so far. Giancarlo Stanton will slide into Butler's utility slot as soon as he comes off the DL.
Tom trades 2B Jason Kipnis and SP Jordan Zimmermann for OF Nate McLouth and SS Jean Segura: McLouth (9 SB) and Segura (8 SB) have been stealing like crazy and that's exactly what this team needs. Even without Zimmermann, Tom still has Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.56 ERA) and A.J. Burnett (3-2, 2.57 ERA) to anchor his starting rotation. This deal should help Tom in the long run.
And just like that, the fantasy baseball Rubik's cube has been solved.