Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Have Some Keepers - Naterade

Naterade will have a few tough decisions to make regarding his keepers for 2009.  He has compiled a lot of touted prospects who could take the next step to fantasy stardom in a year or two.  Naterade finished a close second in the regular season, but lost in the semifinals to the Macafeys.  I predict he’ll be in the playoffs again this year ­­— how far he’ll go will depend on the growth of his young players.  Let’s look at the roster.


Blake DeWitt (LAD - 2B,3B)           

Mike Jacobs (KC - 1B)          

Howie Kendrick (LAA - 2B)

Evan Longoria (TB - 3B)       

Ryan Ludwick (StL - OF)     

Nick Markakis (Bal - OF)      

Russell Martin (LAD - C,3B)

Cameron Maybin (Fla - OF)  

Lastings Milledge (Was - OF)           

Justin Morneau (Min - 1B)     

Alexei Ramírez (CWS - 2B,SS,OF)  

Justin Upton (Ari - OF)         

Kevin Youkilis (Bos - 1B,3B)           

Delmon Young (Min - OF)    

Chad Billingsley (LAD - SP,RP)       

Matt Garza (TB - SP) 

Mike González (Atl - RP)      

Félix Hernández (Sea - SP)    

Matt Lindstrom (Fla - RP)     

Francisco Liriano (Min - SP)  

Rafael Pérez (Cle - RP)          

Francisco Rodríguez (NYM - RP)     

George Sherrill (Bal - RP)      

James Shields (TB - SP)         

Cory Wade (LAD - RP)        

I really did not think that Justin Morneau had it in him to hit .300 again, but he proved me wrong.  I like that he cut down on his strikeout numbers this year, and I think his power numbers will return as his slugging percentage was similar to last year’s and his home run per fly ball ratio was lower than his normal rate, indicating that he may have been a little unlucky last year, which would explain why so many of his hits went for doubles.  Morneau should provide solid value at first base this season.

I like Nick Markakis for this season.  He’ll be 25 this season, he hits a lot of line drives, gets on base, and is showing some power growth.  I don’t think Markakis will be the 20/20 player that we hoped, as he did not run as much last year and he wasn’t as successful at it when he did run.  I think he’ll continue to develop into a solid middle-of-the-order hitter, but much of his value will depend on his power growth and his ability to hit for average. 

Evan Longoria didn’t quite put up Ryan Braun numbers in his rookie year, but I don’t think there’s any way you can’t consider him as a keeper with the numbers he put up in 122 games last year and the potential that his minor league numbers suggest.  I think he can be a .300 hitter at some point, but he’ll need to work on his numbers against left-handed pitchers.  I think he’ll threaten 30 HR this year.  He hits in a great lineup, so he should improve on his RBI and Runs totals from last year.

Russell Martin has a hot girlfriend.  Hopefully she won’t hurt his stamina during the season, as he had trouble staying productive in the second half last year, probably due to the high number of plate appearances he averages every year.  If the Dodgers can spell Martin more often, I think his batting average and power numbers will rebound.  As it is, he’s still provides great SB totals for a catcher, and he’s just entering his prime.  One of the top three catchers in fantasy.

It feels like Felix Hernandez has been around forever, mainly because he was so highly touted when he made his first major league start in 2005 as a 19 year-old.  He has yet to become the elite pitcher that everyone projected, but he’ll be 23 in April and there’s still a lot to like about him.  Hernandez stuck out 7.8 batters per 9 innings and induced hitters into hitting groundballs 52% of the time last year.  These numbers put him in the company of aces like Brandon Webb, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt.  By keeping the ball on the ground and striking out so many hitters, Hernandez limits the chances of giving up a big inning due to home runs.  I think Hernandez will continue to grow into an ace.  Naterade can’t give up on him yet.

For these last two picks, I’m going to go with upside.  Chad Billingsley needs to cut down on his walks, but I think we have an ace in the making.  He struck out an elite 9.02 batters per nine innings last year, and he showed consistency throughout the season.  He did break his leg in the offseason, but he should be fine by Opening Day, and the broken leg should have no affect on his pitching ability.  In the last spot, I think we have to take Justin Upton.  Upton showed incredible improvements in the second-half last year, with an OPS of .927.  He’ll still have trouble with strikeouts, but this guy will have major power as he continues to get older.  He’s only 21, so expect some inconsistency, but be prepared to reap the benefits of his upside as early as this year.

I felt bad about not keeping Francisco Liriano and James Shields on this team.  Both are solid pitchers, especially Liriano, who could be an ace soon.  I think Liriano will be good this year, but I’m not completely sold on him being an elite pitcher after he missed 2007 due to Tommy John surgery.  Let someone else spend a high draft pick on him.  Shields his also very good, but I don’t like how his K/9 rate dropped last year.  Try to pick him up in the draft if you can.  Kevin Youkilis is a player that I really felt like keeping over Billingsley, but I’m not sold on his power from last year.  He’s 30 this year, and I kind of think that what you see is what you get — a corner infielder who will give you a good average and good RBI and Run totals because of the offense surrounding him, but only adequate power numbers.  Save him for the draft.  Alexei Ramirez shows good promise for a second baseman, but I’m not ready to take him over any of these seven keepers based on one season.  I really like Cameron Maybin and Lastings Milledge for their potential (Milledge more than Maybin for this year), but I don’t think I can justify taking them over any of the other players on this list because of how raw they are at this stage of their careers.  Both are players to try to draft if you can.

A lot of these keepers are young, and this team could struggle this year if these keepers don’t improve quickly enough, but I think the risk is worthwhile and manageable through smart drafting. 

Tell me what you think.


Anonymous said...

good stuff - this is pretty much what i am thinking, although I have to admit that I am still trying to justify delmon young to myself

Anonymous said...

also no shout out for k-rod? i'm not keeping him but he was awesome last year

Anonymous said...

also no shout out for k-rod? i'm not keeping him but he was awesome last year

Anonymous said...

also no shout out for k-rod? i'm not keeping him but he was awesome last year

Ben Westrup said...

I meant to comment on Young and K-Rod, but somehow I forgot. These things slip my mind sometimes. I think you have to give up on Delmon Young. He doesn't seem to have made any advances, and I feel that he's been passed up by the other prospects on your team. K-Rod set the saves record last year, but so much of his value was tied up in those saves that it will be hard for him to replicate that this year. He didn't pitch that great compared to closers like Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon and Joakim Soria. The amount of save chances he got with the Angels was a fluke, he gets 40 at the most with the Mets. There's value, but last year's saves make him overrated.

Anonymous said...

Yeah - I agree on k-rod I just thought he deserved a mention. i dont know about delmon young though, its basically going to be 2 out of felix hernandez, bills, and delmon young.

plus I have kept him the last two years and I feel a sense of loyalty

Ben Westrup said...

I know what you mean about feeling loyalty, I feel the same way about Ryan Zimmerman.