Roster Doctor – 3/25/09

Player pool: Mixed
No. of teams: 12
Categories: Head 2 Head
C: Mike Napoli
1B: Carlos Delgado
2B: Kaz Matsui
3B: Adrian Beltre
SS: Ryan Theriot
OF: Raul Ibanez
OF: Chris Young
OF: Johnny Damon
OF: Nelson Cruz
BN: Cameron Maybin (OF)
BN: Coco Crisp
BN: Melvin Mora

SP: Johan Santana
SP: Javier Vazquez
RP: Francisco Rodriguez
RP: Mariano Rivera
P: Cole Hamels
P: Jake Peavy
P: Dan Haren
BN: Jered Weaver (SP)
BN: Joe Blanton (SP)

This request comes from Angel, who looks to be in a standard Yahoo league, and I’m guessing the fourth outfield spot is actually the lone default Util spot. I chose this Roster Doctor request because I’m also in a Yahoo head-to-head standard league, and it looks like Angel and I followed pretty similar strategies.

Right off the bat, this is obviously a pitching-centric team. It looks like a draft where a lot of prime picks were spent on pitchers (maybe as many as the top six picks?), which can sometimes be disastrous. However, the pitchers chosen are not the Rich Harden type; rather, all of these guys project to be fairly durable. In addition, I’d say at least half of the hitters are players that I had identified pre-draft as good values versus their average Yahoo draft positions (Damon, Cruz, Ibanez, Beltre, Delgado). I don’t know why Damon doesn’t go higher, but he’s been consistently undervalued over the last few years; intelligence isn’t a 5×5 category, so I expect him to produce pretty well in all five stats. Nelson Cruz is the official 2009 “sleeper-that-everyone-knew-about,” and he’s won a full-time OF job and likely a pretty prime spot in the batting order this spring. Ibanez is going from Seattle for 81 games a year to Philly for 81 games, and he’s going to face NL pitching every day! I’m excited about him this year. Beltre’s another guy who seems to be underrated each year; perhaps residual bitterness that he’s never going to return to his contract year power? Delgado is old but managed a solid season last year. I don’t mean to say I expect big things from him this year, but when he’s going 160th in a draft, he’s underrated.

As far as changes go, I think the first thing you need to do is replace Napoli if his shoulder prevents him from playing full time. Kurt Suzuki is actually a reasonable option here, or A.J. Pierzynski if he’s still available in your league. I don’t like Kaz Matsui at all at second base; I’d take Rickie Weeks if you can. Or if Ian Stewart is undrafted, maybe grab him and see if he can win a full-time spot at 2B. If he does, he’ll be a top-10 second baseman this year for sure.

I’ll make one point about your pitching that I think apply to a lot of teams. In Yahoo leagues, often times weeks are won in Wins and Ks based on how many starters a team has; not how good they are. So while you have some great pitchers, including Vazquez and Weaver—both of whom go way too late this year—you may lose those categories to a manager who simply out-starts you. To that end, I’d suggest trading at least one pitcher for a good bat. Drop your bench hitters, and in their place pick up one guy with a bunch of positional options (I call these guys “Mark DeRosas”) and hope you can put him in your lineup for guys who have Monday or Thursday off. And with the other two slots, pick up some SPs with good K/BB ratios. That way, no one will be able to out-start you, and your talent advantage from your remaining star pitchers will certainly give you a great shot at sweeping W, K, ERA, and WHIP.

Your closer situation looks great, assuming you can pick up one more guy who earns saves; Mike Gonzalez may still be available in your league, or maybe Jason Motte. These guys have good peripherals and I have confidence that if they’re given the closer role to begin the season, they’ll have a great shot at holding it for the year.

As for that suggestion on trading starting pitching talent for hitting, your weakest lineup spots seem to be SS and 2B. If Chase Utley‘s hip looks good, perhaps Santana for Utley. How late did Pablo Sandoval fall in your draft? Yahoo has him at an average auction position of 185 or so, but as a full-time player with catcher eligibility, he’s probably a top-100 player. Haren is probably a little too much to give up for Sandoval, but perhaps a 2-for-2? Getting 1B numbers out of the catcher position will go a long way toward putting your low-cost, high-value hitters in a position to compete each week with the teams who spent their first five or six picks on hitters.

Overall, I think this looks like a solid draft. I think you had a strategy and stuck with it; your success this season is going to depend a little bit on improving some of your hitter spots via free agent pickups (you have a few replacement-level type hitters), and a fair bit on turning some SP talent into hitting talent. Don’t panic; by May 1, there will definitely be a couple owners in your league who are desperate for better starting pitching. From the looks of things, you may be the only place they can turn to for it!

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  1. NoPepperGames said...

    “Ibanez is going from Seattle for 81 games a year to Philly for 81 games, and he’s going to face NL pitching every day! I’m excited about him this year.”

    This doesn’t make a lick of sense.  Not only is he going to face NL pitching (which is on its face better than AL pitching), he’s going to be seeing NL East pitching, which is the cream of the crop.  That, and he’s 37 years old!  Ibanez is a terrible pick this year.

  2. Michael Lerra said...

    We may have to agree to disagree on this one.  Have you seen this article from this site:

    It’s got Philly at 105 and Seattle at 93 (this is without wind).  If you want to argue that Seattle’s RF is similar to Philly’s RF, and therefore Ibanez won’t gain much in Philly, then sure.  I can accept that.

    As for the quality of pitching… what makes you believe that NL pitching as a whole is worse than AL pitching?  Last I knew, NL players were on average about a half-win worse than AL players.  So if NL pitchers are better than AL pitchers, the NL hitters must be really really subpar.

  3. Charles said...

    What do you think about Mathis as a replacement for Napoli? He’s been hitting pretty well this spring, so would it be worth hoping that he can stay hot until Napoli comes back?

  4. Alireza said...

    I also agree that having a guy with multi-position eligibility is a great hedge against injury and off-days.  I had Chone Figgins in that role last year (too bad he didn’t play any OF in 2008) and have Mark DeRosa for it this year. 

    Here is a question though.  Given that I have DeRosa, is it better to keep Elijah Dukes who will surely be OF only or should I dump him for Skip Schumaker, who will be OF/2B after the first week of the season?  (Yahoo! League)

  5. Chad Burke said...

    If he gets more at bats this year Dukes is a 20-20 player.  Schumaker last year was pretty much good for runs and that’s about it.

  6. Michael Lerra said...

    I’m starting to think Napoli might actually be ready in time.  Mathis is just such a killer on BA though – even worse than Napoli.  I saw a study a while back about spring training stats that said the only stat that had some meaningful predictive ability on the upcoming season was Isolated Power.  So if Mathis’ ISO is up, then maybe there’s a legitimate talent change going on – he’s a young guy on the upswing of his career.  If you’re talking BA, I just don’t see someone who K’s as much as him ever hitting over .230 or .250, even if he manages to stop whiffing so much.

    I’d stick with Dukes.  Having DeRosa already, how much is the extra position going to impact Schumaker’s ability to fill spots on your team?  I just don’t see the use for a second super-utility guy, especially one whose utility would only be in two positions.  In Schumaker’s favor though is his SB numbers last year – small sample size, but he had an 80% success rate.  He may run a little more this year.

  7. Laughing AL Fan said...

    “This doesn’t make a lick of sense.  Not only is he going to face NL pitching (which is on its face better than AL pitching)…”

    In what bizarro universe is this true…?

    I guess NL pitchers lose a half a run going the AL every year because they get bored pitching to such inferior batters, too!

  8. Derek Carty said...

    Just wanted to throw out there that I love Ibanez this year.  He’s as consistent as they come, has very good skills, and moving from the AL to the NL definitely helps a player’s stats.  I’ve gotten him in a few leagues already.

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