Fantasy Mailbag: Three Questions

It’s a rather short mailbag this week, with one keeper question and two trade questions. If you need advice on your own fantasy problems, don’t hesitate to e-mail me. Even if I don’t use your question in a mailbag, I’ll try to answer you as quickly as possible. As always, be sure to include your full name, city and state.

I’m in a 15 team, mixed AL/NL, 5×5, roto keeper league. I’m in first place by a little bit right now, but am also trying to start thinking about next year too. We are able to keep 5 guys, and keepers can be kept for 3 years, though there has been some talk of revamping the keeper system in the offseason. My keeper quality players are the following: Hitters – Victor Martinez, Aubrey Huff, Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, and perhaps JD Drew or Chipper Jones(?). Pitchers – Mark Mulder, Johan Santana, Mike Mussina, Joel Pineiro. Barring any dramatic changes over the rest of the year, it seems to me that the definites are Soriano, Mulder, and Santana. But after that I have more trouble deciding, I’m probably leaning, in order, toward Martinez, Huff, Bonds, and Kent (we have a MI position). Would I be nuts not to keep Bonds? Or to not keep Huff with his 3b eligibility? Should I really think about keeping a catcher? What 5 would you keep from the first two lists? Or should I try to trade a pair of guys at the end of the season to upgrade?Gabriel Kasper

Well, Santana and Mulder are both definites in my eyes. Santana’s one of the three or four best fantasy pitchers this year despite the fact that he was terrible the first two months of the season, and Mulder’s been consistently good and occasionally excellent for four years now.

The next definite on your list is Martinez. He’s only 25 years old and he’s already one of the top two fantasy players at the thinnest position around. Even if he doesn’t get any better, he’s worth keeping. If he continues to improve, he might become one of the 10 most valuable fantasy properties.

As you’ve noticed, I skipped over Soriano. He was having a down year already, but his recent slump has turned this into an awful season for him, both in fantasy and in real life. Yes, a second baseman with a .780 OPS is nice, even when that OPS is low on on-base percentage.

However, he’s been helped greatly by his home park, where he’s hitting .340/.371/.557. On the road, he’s turned into Neifi Perez with a little power. Even more worrisome than his bat, for fantasy purposes, is that his steals have declined significantly this season.

It might make sense for some people to hang onto him, but I think Soriano is a very risky keeper. There’s a chance that he could bounce back with another great season, but I think it’s more likely that he’ll continue to decline. If you can package him with Huff or Drew for a safer and/or better keeper, I would definitely do so.

And for your fifth keeper, I’d go with Bonds. He’s not getting any younger, but he’s not getting any worse either. Logic says that he has to slow down at some point, but it seems like he doesn’t care too much about logic. It just doesn’t seem right to expect that somebody with a .600 OBP isn’t going to be good next year.

So, that’s my advice. Keep Santana, Mulder, Martinez and Bonds and try to package Soriano in a trade for a better fifth keeper. If you can’t work out a good trade, I’d consider keeping Huff instead of Soriano, but what they each do over the next two months would have a big impact on that.

I’m in a 12 team 5X5 roto league and I have just been offered Jason Kendall and Trevor Hoffman for Jorge Posada and Jake Westbrook. I’m doing OK in offensive categories but not that well in ERA and WHIP and am currently in 5th place. The rest of my team consists of Delgado, Boone, Chavez, Reyes, Cabrera, Burnitz, Crawford, Lee, and Burrell on offense and Peavy, Glavine, Beckett, Millwood, Milton, Contreras, Lidge, Dotel, and Julio as pitching. I was wondering if you think I should pull the trigger on this trade or not.Adam Engelhardt, Roseville, Minnesota

Unless you specifically need wins, home runs and RBIs, I’d probably make this trade. Kendall is going to hit for a better batting average, score more runs and steal more bases and Posada’s going to hit more home runs and drive in more runs. Overall, unless you have a specific need in one of those categories, Kendall might be slightly more valuable.

From the pitching side, Hoffman would give you three good-to-excellent closers, but you’re rotation would definitely be thin with just Peavy, Glavine, Beckett, Millwood, Milton and Contreras. Any of those six pitchers could have a great two months, but none of them are sure things as Glavine’s struggled recently, Peavy’s ERA isn’t in line with his WHIP and the other four have been inconsistent or just bad all year.

The thing is, I’m not sure Westbrook’s much better than any of them. Yeah, he has nine wins, a 3.37 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, but his ERA’s gone up more than half a run over his last eight starts. In that stretch, he has a 4.33 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. It will very much surprise me if he finishes the season with an ERA below 3.50. More likely, it’ll be between 3.75 and 4.00.

So, if you’re able to slightly improve you catching position, greatly improve your set of closers and not significantly hurt your starting rotation, I don’t see why you wouldn’t do it. The improvement from Posada to Kendall and Julio to Hoffman should more than offset the drop from Westbrook to whichever starter you pick to take his place.

What I give up: C. Guzman, J. Nathan, R. Halladay. What I get: E. Renteria, K. Foulke, K. Brown Also, I think I can get C. Pavano out of it too because he is going to drop him after the trade. I am liking this trade, plus I need to make a move because if I don’t change something, I will get my beat pretty bad in playoffs. Do you make this trade? Should I try to get Pavano too?Max Bader

You got right to the point, so I’ll get right to the point also. Yes, you should definitely make this trade.

Exchanging Nathan for Foulke is a downgrade based on the first four months, but Foulke has pitched well and was expected to be better before the season started. It wouldn’t be the surprise of the century if he’s better than Nathan over the last two months.

As for the other parts of the trade… Renteria has been better in every category than Guzman, and I expect him to be better in every category for the next two months as well. And while Brown hasn’t pitched that well this year, he seems healthy now and could dominate the next two months, while Halladay’s not even pitching.

So, you’ve got one position your downgrading from somebody who’s been lights out to somebody who’s been lights out, but at the wrong times. You’ve got another position where you’re upgrading in every category. And you’ve got a third position where you’re upgrading from an injured player to a potentially great player.

If you can somehow also nab a pitcher who’s 11-4 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, then yeah, you should probably do that as well.

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