Looking back to the start of July, right around when I was preparing for my month of craziness, I was sitting in fourth place, a nice cushion over fifth and only a couple points from the top. Very quickly I popped up to second and then spent most of the month fighting for second, before fading late in July and finding myself where I am now - solidly in the money, but with a serious uphill battle to claim a bigger share.
Right now, I think my team is in pretty solid shape and I am not sure there is a ton I can do to improve my chances for this year. I need my pitching to improve, and I could move some youngsters for an arm, but as long as my current guys stop imploding (see CJ Wilson, yesterday), I should be okay on that front. My Weaver, Wilson, Zimmermann, Beckett, Garza, Zambrano rotation seems to be okay, especially with a solid seven-man bullpen. And while my offense is my weak spot right now, I don't see any positions that need clear improvement.
My daily lineup:
C - Miguel Montero/David Ross
1B - Prince Fielder
2B - Chase Utley
SS - JJ Hardy
MI - Martin Prado
3B - Ryan Zimmerman
OF - Jose Bautista, Hunter Pence, Nick Swisher, Marlon Byrd, Matt Joyce
Util - Paul Konerko
Bench Guys Who Get Some Run - Garrett Jones (against righties, on occasion), Jason Kipnis (when Byrd or Joyce has a bad matchup and Prado moves to the OF), Scott Sizemore (same), Mark Ellis (only in Colorado and only on occasion), BJ Upton (to fill games in OF when other guys are not playing).
I could improve the OF (and just did actually - Swish was a recent add, and a trade recap post is coming soon), but really, my biggest issue is that I dug a hole for myself while Utley, Prado, Zimmerman, and others were hurt, and while playing Morneau before I added Prince. I should get a little boost when Allen Craig and (maybe) Luke Scott return from injuries - at the very least I get some valuable depth.
But all in all, I think I basically stand pat. I don't have a ton of tradable assets (four minor leaguers - Jaff Decker, Michael Choice, Travis Wood, Andy Oliver - and a few young MLB guys - Sizemore, Kipnis, Chris Nelson - but nothing crazy). I could move Prado, since I have such MI depth among my young guys - would be a bit risky, but nothing out of the question. But really, I think I am going to have to stick with the team I have. If anyone thinks I should be making a move, let me know what I should target.
Far more interesting than my team, though, is that of Overpaid Scrubs. The Scrubs, currently sitting in 5th and having lost ground the last week or so, started the season with little hope of placing, but with one hell of a farm system. Moustakas, Hosmer, Montero, Trout, and more.
Then, starting in Mid-May, this owner went on a buying binge, moving most of his prospects in an effort to fight his way back into contention. Here is a complete list of the trades he made:
-Jaime Garcia for Nelson Cruz
-Matt Moore, Justin Smoak, Brian Matusz, Jameson Taillon for Lincecum, Mike Morse, Joaquin Benoit, Miguel Cabrera
-Randall Delgado, Alexander Torres, Mike Trout, Carlos Martinez for David Price, Brian Wilson, Drew Stubbs
-Juan Nicasio for Brandon Philips
-Drew Stubbs, Nelson Cruz, Jeurys Familia for Verlander and Hamels
-Brent Lillibridge, Jesus Montero, Brandon Morrow, Mike Moustakas, Josh Collmenter for Carlos Beltran, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera
-Fernando Salas, Zach Stewart, Eric Hosmer, Dee Gordon for Ethier, Dunn, Ubaldo and Shin-Soo Choo
An awful lot of trades, and an awful lot of lost prospects. He went from being a team that was poised to be quite good in 2012 or 2013 to a team that is in a pure win-now mode. The aggressive trading has helped him climb from the cellar to the first division, but, as you can see from the graph above, he seems to have stagnated, and has not stagnated in first or second or even third, but in fifth.
So the question is, what does Overpaid Scrubs do? He still has a few prospects (Michael Montgomery, Jorge Vazquez, Nick Castellanos) and some cheap talent ($2 Laynce Nix, $2 Tyler Clippard, $3 Asdrubal Cabrera, among others) who he could move for overpriced rentals. On the other hand, he is way over the cap and has an awful lot of talent he could trade away to rebuild his farm system before the off-season (Lincecum, Miggy, Verlander, Latos, CarGo, Cano, Hamels, Ubaldo, Price, Choo and Ethier are all over $25, and considering his $722 in salary, he will be forced to cut most of these guys in the off-season anyway).
So what do you do? Is another arm or bat going to push him forward? Or should he cut his losses now? I am a bit biased in this - I would love to add one of his pitchers, maybe one of his OF, so seeing him sell seems ideal to me - but is that really the right move for him?