Keeper League Mailbag: Question No. 5

Jameson is in a 12-team, 10-category OBP league. He may select any six keepers. They cost the average round they were selected in the previous year. His roster is as follows:

Mike Napoli
Derrek Lee
Ben Zobrist
David Wright
Hanley Ramirez
Ryan Braun
Matt Kemp
BJ Upton
Jason Heyward

Bench Mike Stanton
DL Carlos Santana

Matt Cain
Wandy Rodriguez
Andrew Bailey
Jonathan Broxton
Billy Wagner

Bench Chad Billingsley
Bench Brian Duensing
Bench Colby Lewis
Bench Ted Lilly
DL Stephen Strasburg

First let’s tackle the easy part, who’s worth keeping and/or trading? Listed in parenthesis is the player’s expected draft round cost. Hanley Ramirez (1st), David Wright (2nd), Ryan Braun (1st), Matt Kemp (1st) , Jason Heyward (19), Mike Stanton (last), and Carlos Santana (last) are the seven guys that I think are very good keeper options. Matt Cain (8th) should be fairly marketable depending on the league. Personally, I would avoid pitchers as keepers unless a particularly good and cheap option floats your way.

Positional scarcity is probably my No. 1 concern when selecting keepers in a format like this. You’re in a great position on that front. Hanley Ramirez, David Wright and Carlos Santana adequately fill three of four “scarce” positions.

I’m probably not saying anything unexpected when I tell you that Ramirez should go nowhere. I doubt any collection of talent is worth the downgrade from Hanley to whoever is available in the draft. And while Carlos Santana is not without risk, he’ll only be costing your last pick and likely will be a top-four catcher. Again, I’d be happy to count him as a keeper, although if you’re particularly risk averse you can tinker with trying to acquire Joe Mauer (1st) or Buster Posey (28th). With Wright, I would first look into acquiring Evan Longoria (1st) before settling for him. It’s only a minor upgrade, but worth it if you’re dealing a guy you would have cut anyway.

None of that was particularly enlightening advice. Now we’re at the tricky part. You have Kemp, Braun, Heyward, and Stanton and only three keeps remaining. My first recommendation is to contact the owners of Robinson Cano and Chase Utley to see if either player can be acquired. Who to use in such a trade depends on those owners. First, allow me to digress.

I like Heyward and Stanton a lot as value keepers. However, the keeper rules in your league effectively limit that value because neither player is really a multi-year option at this point. Heyward in his brief tenure with the Braves has demonstrated great talent and questionable durability. He’s a great value in 2011 but might not be a keeper in 2012. If an owner values him as a top-15 OF, you’re getting enough value to consider trading him. With Stanton, I expect to see similar performance to this year, large peaks and valleys in his production. You’re probably going to have a shot at several players over the waiver wire who will have similar seasons (recognizing them when they’re available is a different matter). Again, if an owner really likes him, don’t be afraid to deal him. You can encourage that by talking him up and feigning an unwillingness to trade him. Both players are likely to have an early average draft round in 2011 relative to their talent. Kemp and Braun on the other hand are likely to remain first-round-quality talent and can be kept for the remainder of their prime.

If you’re finding that owners aren’t willing to offer up a ton of value for Heyward, Stanton, Johan, and Cain, you can try marketing Kemp and Braun. The latter remains the first outfielder on my draft board, so if you do market him, aim high. I would be willing to part with Braun for Utley or Cano straight up; otherwise I might turn my nose up. And don’t open with that! That’s a last resort offer. You’re going to find that people are down on Kemp after a merely decent season. He’s still a nice outfielder to have and since we’re talking about keeping Hanley, Wright, and Braun, he effectively costs you a fourth-round pick, not too shabby.

What you do with those four outfielders really depends on what your options are in the trade market. If you can grab a top second baseman, do so. Otherwise do your best to trade up a little. Any of Braun, Kemp, Heyward, and Stanton are nice options. If you had to choose today, I’d leave out Stanton and settle for the established elite guys.

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  1. rob said...

    I like reading these articles not only for the info on the players and strategy, but also to see the rules that other leagues play under. 
    Having said that, I’m confused – How can he keep Hanley and Braun if both will cost a 1st round pick?

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    Typically when an owner has two (or more) players that would cost a 1st round pick, they then lose their first and second round pick. Every league I’ve done with this form of cost has similar rules although there are probably some out there that don’t let you keep multiples from the same round. This is similar to what real clubs face when signing Type A free agents. The Yankees can still sign CC, Teixiera, and Burnett even though they don’t have 3 first round picks to lose via compensation. They instead lose picks 1-3.

  3. rob said...

    Thanks for the info…  It would just be better if every league moved to an auction.  Then I wouldn’t have to ask those questions :-0…

  4. Brad Johnson said...

    The downside to auctions is that they require a lot more leg work ahead of time. I spend a good 10 hours prepping for every auction I do (assuming money is on the line). I usually spend 10 or 20 minutes prepping for a snake draft. It’s a much friendlier format for those who don’t want to invest a ton of effort.

    But yes, auctions are the best.

  5. Jameson said...


    Thanks for the analysis.  In my ESPN league Heyward went on average in the 10th round, making him less valuable. Since it is an OBP league, he’s still ranked 46th overall using player rater.  I’m also on the fence about Upton.  As frustrating as he is to watch play with his apparent attitude issues and general lack of hustle in the outfield, he keeps showing glimpses of a potential 30/50 season.

  6. Brad Johnson said...


    Upton isn’t a bad risk play. We’ve been waiting for that huge season for awhile now. As of today, I think he’s firmly behind Braun, Kemp, and Heyward on your OF depth chart and with Stanton likely costing a last round pick, probably behind him too.

    That said, Upton gives you some nice flexibility. Let’s suspend reality and imagine for a moment that you trade Wright and Cain for Longoria and Kemp and Heyward for Cano. Now you’re looking at keeping Hanley, C Santana, Longoria, Cano, and Braun. You get to decide between Upton and Stanton for that last pick. If you feel your team needs more speed and certainty you can hang onto Upton. If you want to preserve an extra early-ish pick and want power, Stanton is your man.

    Keep in mind, even in this scenario there’s a good chance you’ll be able to re-draft Upton.

  7. hardball said...

    Stanton are nice options. If you had to choose today, I’d leave out Stanton and settle for the established elite guys.

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