Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cheap Fantasy Baseball Keeper League Moves

Now that my league has drafted, it's time to share secrets for you deep leaguers... especially those of you who are looking for value in 2013. Thinking ahead will get you past many win now types...

1) Take Victor Martinez in the end game. He has the very real possibility of coming back next year to a better hitting environment, with catcher eligibility while serving as a full-time, reasonably effective DH. Since he's hurt and out for the year, a lot of owners have forgotten about him. You could be grabbing a top-3 catcher in 2013 for, well, next to nothing.

2) Oakland's Josh Donaldson should go ahead of Kurt Suzuki. Another cheap catcher move. Donaldson could play 120 games at third, and provide a tolerable enough 12 HR / 60 RBI / .340 on base percentage line... which is to say, about what Scott Sizemore did last year. Suzuki isn't going to get there, especially not on the percentages, and while that line I just quoted doesn't sound very exciting, it would give you equivalent value to 2011's Geovany Soto, Yadier Molina, Russell Martin or Wilson Ramos... which is to say a very good second catcher, or a thoroughly tolerable single catcher drafted for peanuts. Plus, Donaldson's young enough that he might actually hit, and if that happens, Billy Beane will move him for canned goods he can use in 2024, when the A's get to emerge from their bunker and try to win games again. And every park is better than Oakland's for hitting.

3) Let someone else pay full price for pitching phenoms. Yu Darvish, Matt Moore and Stephen Strasburg are sexy fantasy names... that aren't going to win their owners money this year. Why not? Because even if they are as effective as predicted, they are still going to be capped on innings by paranoid clubs with long-term commitments, and for where you need to draft them, they are going against boring guys who will actually work the whole damn year. This isn't about making picks on draft day that impresses the room; it's about winning money.

4) Don't pay for speed. 61 to 26; that's the variance between the #1 steal guy in 2011 (Michael Bourn) and the 25th guy. 25 more guys stole 20, and 25 more after that got 14 or more.

You know what happens when you own Bourn? You neglect speed on the rest of your roster... and then he gets hurt, or doesn't hit or run for a few weeks, and you are hosed. It's far, far better to either trust your speed on the waiver wire draw for the Eric Youngs of the world, or to spread the risk around with true multi-category providers. The stolen base savant runs you out of the money.

5) Accept that all saves are transitory. Guys that drafted a few weeks ago are already looking at new names in Tampa, Boston, Washington, Cincy and more, and another half dozen teams are going to go here within a month. (Where? Potentially everywhere, assuming they don't employ Vampire Rivera. Moving on.)

I get that chasing saves is really annoying and a timesuck, and that it's far more fun to just lock down a few fireballers and watch every other owner scramble through the leftover pile... but for every Rivera, there's literally six guys who can't hold the job, stay healthy, or not get moved. It's going to get ugly out there, folks.

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