I have to submit my list of keepers in one of my NL-only keeper leagues on Sunday and have several guys that are either borderline keepers or may be a few dollars overvalued. This is a 10-team, 5 x 5, $260 salary keeper league, where we get to keep a maximum of 10 players each year. You get to keep the player at his draft day salary for the first two years, then you can give the player a $5 raise for each subsequent year you keep them. Unlike some leagues, there are no long term contracts in this league. You get the freedom of raising the player $5 after each season.
That leads me to my dilemma. I have several players with salaries in the $20-30 range that I am considering keeping. What makes my decision tough is that in this league, we have a waiver draft after everyone submits their keeper lists. The waiver draft gives every owner who has less than 10 keepers to draft guys from the list of players dropped by other teams. This makes my decision tougher because two of the players who are borderline could be drafted in the waiver draft.
My player list is after the jump:
Here is my list of retainable players:
Ramon Hernandez - $7
Ty Wigginton - $8
Dan Uggla - $27
Martin Prado - $20
Jason Heyward - $23
Matt Kemp - $38
Andrew McCutchen - $29
Chris Young - $20
Alfonso Soriano - $14
Cole Hamels - $29
Tim Lincecum - $33
Tim Hudson - $17
Jordan Zimmermann - $6
Jonathan Niese - $5
I don't like paying more than $20 for a starting pitcher, so guys like Cole Hamels and Tim Lincecum will be thrown back, as will Tim Hudson, as he is expected to start the season on the disabled list. I am keeping Jordan Zimmermann and Jonathan Niese as I think they are either fairly valued or undervalued, and think both could have a solid 2012 season.
From my list of hitters I am keeping Matt Kemp at $38, Chris Young at $20 and Alfonso Soriano at $14. I will also keep Ramon Hernandez at $7, but am on the fence with the Dan Uggla at $27 and Andrew McCutchen at $29. I know McCutchen went for $33 in the LABR NL-Only experts league draft, and I love him as a player, but wonder if $29 is too much to pay for him. I will probably keep him as I think he can put up a 20-30 season with a .285-290 batting average.
I am also on the fence with Uggla's teammate Jason Heyward. I drafted Heyward two years ago at $18 and now have to decide whether to keep him at $23. He still has potential, but he has proven to be a serious ground ball machine at the plate. He was auctioned at $25 in the LABR NL-only league draft a few weeks ago, so that opened my eyes a bit. Before that draft, I was planning on dropping Heyward, but now, not so much.
Is $27 too much to pay for Uggla? I am leaning toward keeping him as I think he has one more 30 home run season in him, but worry that last year's first half swoon was the start of his downslide as a major league hitter. There is a lot of swing and miss in his bat and he needed a 30+ game hitting streak to get back to .233. His power is valuable, especially at second base, but his batting average can do some damage your team batting average. He was drafted at $27 in the LABR NL-Only league draft so I am leaning toward keeping him along with McCutchen.
With all this said, I have given thought to going with a strategy of spending around $220 on hitting and $40 on pitching, so I may keep Heyward as well. I think I can draft some decent, not great, starting pitchers and grab a closer with the remaining $29 I have budgeted for pitching.
I love to try different strategies and am interested in seeing how this strategy works out. Doug Dennis from Baseball HQ won the LABR NL-Only league last season with a similar strategy, so I am willing to give it a shot. It will take paying plenty of attention to the waiver wire for pitchers on the rise, along with drafting a few cheap closers in waiting to be successful.