Looking to 2008: Getting your league together

This is one of the best days of the year for fantasy baseball owners. It has a much different feel than draft day, but it’s definitely a day I look forward to each year. League standings are now official, and those who have won their leagues are beginning to celebrate. For those who didn’t win, the day can be still be a good one. This is because the 2007 season is now in the books, and it is time to look towards 2008.

The first step in this process is improving your current league or starting a new one altogether. While this often takes the back seat to things like draft preparation and sleeper projection, it shouldn’t. The most successful draft in the world will quickly feel tarnished if there are fundamental flaws in your league setup. Even though I was the champion of one particular league this year, the win didn’t mean very much because half of the league stopped paying attention in June. If this sounds similar to your league, now is the time to make sure 2008 goes better for you.

I would rather come in third in an ultra-competitive league than first in one with no competition at all. Of course, I’d rather come in first in the ultra-competitive league and would be pretty disappointed with third, but that’s besides the point. The point is that we all have a fresh start now and that we can all have successful leagues next year if we put the time in.

At this juncture, you are capable of making any number of changes to your league. There are no limits, and that’s what is so great about this day. The possibilities are endless. You remember the inactive league I talked about last month? I am actually salivating over how amazing that league is going to be next year. Changes are being made, new members are being recruited, and the competition (and attention paid to the league) should be excellent.

Changes to the “inactive league”

If you’re curious about the direction we’re going, here’s a quick breakdown of how we’re thinking about setting the league up. Oh, and a quick “thank you” to Patrick DiCaprio, whose high stakes league was the model for a lot of our rules.

League type: Auction-based keeper league.
Keeper rules: Each year, all teams have the option of keeping as many players as they would like. The year after being drafted, players can be signed to extensions of unlimited length. For every year the player is extended, $5 is added to his salary. So if you extend a $20 player for 4 years, he will cost you $40 each year. Once the extension runs out, you can keep him for an additional year if you add $10 to his salary. Players added through free agency are given a salary of $7 at the end of the season in order to determine keeper-eligibility.
Minor league system: After the auction and reserve draft, a minor league draft with unlimited rounds will be held and will end only when all owners are satisfied. Teams can own as many minor league players as they wish throughout the season, but at the end of the season can only keep 10 of them. Players can be added after the minor league draft.

Once a minor leaguer reaches a certain number of major league plate appearances or innings pitched (numbers to be decided) he must either be called up by his fantasy owner or released. If his big league team sends him back down to the minors, his fantasy owner can do the same but is obligated to recall him or release him if his big league club calls him back up before September 1.

Any player who reaches these benchmarks (regardless of whether or not they were sent back down) is given a $7 salary at the end of the season to determine keeper-eligibility. Any who do not meet the benchmarks are eligible to be one of the 10 allotted minor league keepers each year. If a team decides to keep less than 10 players, they will be rewarded with supplemental picks in that year’s minor league draft.

Of course we’re still working the bugs out, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. We’ve also added a bunch of smaller rules that should maximize the need for good strategizing. The extra complexity should add a new level of competition to the league, and adding a flexible keeper system should keep everyone interested throughout the season.

Concluding thoughts

Hopefully this gets you thinking a little bit about your league next year. Even if there aren’t fundamental problems with your league, it still might be a good idea to talk with the other owners and see if there are any smaller changes to be made.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a player profile or two. If you guys have any particular players you want me to look at, feel free to shoot me an email. I’ve already gotten a few of these, and I’ll do my best to go over everyone you want me to, at the very least sending you an email back with an abridged analysis.

I’m looking forward to a fruitful off-season, ultimately leading up to an excellent draft or auction for you guys (and myself, too)!

P.S. If you’re a Mets fan, like myself, feel free to wait a few days before getting in contact with the rest of your league. Even if you won, I doubt that would stop them from bringing up the second worst collapse in baseball history. I want to say something about the Mets, but I just can’t bring myself to do it right now. Still too depressed.

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