With only a few weeks left in the season, its time for me to look back and dissect one of the most important franchises in baseball. Where did they go wrong? How can a whole team simultaneously slump? When is it ever a good time to say goodbye to an fan favorite? In short, where did I go wrong with my fantasy team, "The Lugnuts"?

Over the past seven seasons, the Lugnuts continually hover around .500 baseball. They sneaked into the playoffs last year, but were crushed in the second round. In the seven years of existence, they've only won one Yahoo Championship. Considering the fact that I've been around the game since I was four, I should be able to build a winning team, right? Guess not. In a shameful look back on a dismal season, here are some reasons why the Lugnuts (and possibly your team) didn't do as well as planned.

1. Draft Day Jitters: Things were not looking good from the very beginning. Somehow I landed the number eight pick of the draft, a damning position in any fantasy league draft. David Wright somehow landed into my lap, and I grabbed Manny Ramirez followed with the 18th pick. Joe Mauer seemed like a sensible third round pick, but things quickly went south. Nick Swisher, Carlos Zambrano, Scott Kazmir, Takashi Saito, Barry Zito, Prince Fielder, and Ian Kennedy round out the top 12. They weren't bad moves at the time, but looking back, I overpaid for Swisher, Mauer, and Kennedy. Things started to unravel after my pre-draft day plans looked like a rorschach test.

2. Loyalty: This can kill any fantasy league player. One guy performs and carries your team in previous years, and you ultimately wind up overpaying and riding on wishes and fairy dust for the rest of the season. To date, Nick Swisher, (my hero, my rock that I built the team around, my player least likely to be back in Lugnuts uniform next season) has stats unbecoming of an outfielder: AVG: .269 R: 65 HR: 17 RBI: 63 SB: 2

3. Mediocrity and Slow Starts: It took Zambrano and Kazmir forever to get going and Zito has been hot and cold every other start. By the time the front four of my rotation got going, I was floundering at the bottom of my league. Picking up Tom Gorzelanny and Joe Blanton helped, but it was too little too late.

4. Injuries: I know, every team has to deal with injuries, but this season, I felt like I should have drafted a medic instead of a corner infielder. Ian Kinsler (after a dominating April) lands on the DL for the majority of the season. Nick Swisher and Carlos Beltran (acquired via May trade) are banged up before the All Star Break. The worst injury (as a close friend put it "When I found out the news, it was like a family member died".) was when Chase Utley went down with a broken hand. No sooner does he start to show some positive signs, does Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels plop themselves down on injury lane. Oh yeah, and Joe Mauer, he got hurt too.

Looking Towards the Future
This was the first time our league decided to join ESPNs Keeper League. I was able to make some trades (Acquired Chase Utley and Carlos Beltran via trade, Ryan Zimmerman via Coup d'├ętat) and plucked Prince Fielder out of the draft in the 20th round (Thank YOU, Starbucks!)
So my keepers look like Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Prince Fielder, which are not a bad three to build your team around. They're all young, and each does something that the other doesn't, so it looks like I've got all the bases covered. Now, if I can just resist the urge to draft Swisher next season.....