Roster Doctor

Dan writes in:

I’m in a 12-team 5×5 keeper with the typical categories. League rules on keepers are that each team keeps five plus a minors spot, with the cost being the pick it took to get a guy (free agents are a last-round pick) moving one pick closer to round one each offseason. Finally, any player chosen in the first five rounds cannot be kept.

I have some easy choices: Hanley Ramirez costing me a 21, Clay Buchholz costing me a 22, Josh Johnson costing me a 7, and Matt Cain costing me a 12. I have Michael Pineda as my minors keeper. (We started the league in 2006 and not everyone figured out the importance of keepers right away, so Hanley was a free agent to begin ’06.)

Here’s my dilemma: I took Colby Rasmus in round 10, so I can keep him for my tenth rounder this year, and I have Brian Matusz who was my minors keeper from the end of 2009, so he’ll be a last/very-late-round pick sacrifice. I like the idea of having four good SPs, allowing me to build my offense through the draft, but I’m high on Rasmus’ potential to take off this season.


You certainly have some great deals in Ramirez and Buchholz. Cain is worth giving up a 12th-round pick for, and Johnson is just barely worth a seventh-round selection. Johnson’s going around that round because of his late-season shoulder concerns so, if you want to keep him, you’re assuming some extra injury risk, but at least being paid to do so.

For what it is worth, Rasmus’ average draft position (ADP) at Mock Draft Central is 94 (which makes him the 89th-best player), and that was also his draft spot (89) in THT Fantasy Focus’ own expert mock draft. There seem to be quite a few folks that share your high opinion of Rasmus.

I am not one of them.

Rasmus suffers from twin risks: playing time and ability. In order for Rasmus to be worth an 89th pick, he has to perform better in all scoring categories than he did last season. Most projections have him instead regressing or flat-lining in these categories—not surprising given his .354 BABIP last season and perennial high strikeout rate.

Rasmus also isn’t in his manager’s good graces, and if he starts the season poorly, he could easily lose some playing time to Jon Jay. Of course, if Lance Berkman gets injured again, there should be enough room in the Cardinals outfield to accommodate Rasmus on a full-time basis no matter what.

Given that Rasmus is only going to cost you a tenth-round pick, he may still be a decent value for you even if he isn’t worth an 89th pick. I’d personally prefer Shane Victorino or Carlos Lee, both of whom have worse ADPs.

Alas, Matusz is no great shakes, even in the last round. Depending on whether that’s a reserve round or not, Matusz is probably exactly worth the round he’d cost you. He has some upside, but, given that he pitches in hitter-friendly Camden Yards and in the slugger-loaded AL East, he poses a lot of risk to your stats nearly any week that you’d start him.

Depending on when your draft is, Matusz may not even be worth the risk of prematurely locking him onto your roster. But he does have upside potential, too, in that if he did somehow shine this year, it would be quite cheap to keep him again the next year. Rasmus isn’t as likely to keep offering you keeper value.

An incredibly important caveat to this advice is that your league may be so out of whack that typical ADPs do not apply. If many other teams have great keepers in ridiculously low rounds, a tenth-round pick is not like any other league’s tenth-round pick, but is actually worth much less. Thus, the keepers that you could keep for that pick are worth more.

Lastly, I definitely wouldn’t worry about having too few or too many of a certain kind of keeper. Keep the players that give you the best value, and there will be plenty of picks in the draft to repair any imbalance.

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  1. mymrbig said...

    Keeper inflation is the defining factor to me.  Because a decent number of early round picks (like Hanley and Cain) are being kept in late rounds, that makes a guy like Josh Johnson a little better as a keeper.  Maybe he’s normally a 7th rounder in a non-keeper league, but in this league format with some of the other elite pitchers undoubtedly kept in the later rounds, Josh Johnson is probably a 5th rounder guy (making him a good keeper in the 7th).

    As for Rasmus/Matusz, tough call.  I’d probably take Matusz, mainly because of if he does develop as hoped, he could be a great keeper for years to come.  I like Rasmus, but unless you think he can develop into a top 3 round OF, his longterm keeper potential is more limited.  But as a last rounder, Matusz has tons of future potential value, making him worth the risk (to me).

  2. Jacob Rothberg said...

    Word. I constantly feel like i’ve missed something with the amount of adoration that Rasmus gets. I can think of probably two dozen outfielders i’d rather have. I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

  3. Lou DiMenna said...

    I would def. keep Matusz over Rasmus.He should have a breakout year with the changes the Orioles made. They will catch and hit better and Buck will drive them hard. Until Rasmus wins a full time job and gets more consistent, it’s not close in my mind.

  4. Brad Johnson said...

    fwiw, I’m equally down on Rasmus but I’d still keep him at that cost over Matusz. Whichever player you do keep, talk him up a lot and then “grudgingly” trade him away. Seems like a lovely league to snag a Mike Trout.

  5. Dan said...

    Thanks for answering my question.  Basically, there are a lot of top picks as keepers who entered the scene after 06, so are great value keepers, such as Braun, Lincecum, Kemp, Hanley to name a few.  So it makes the draft pool pretty shallow, which is why JJ is a good option in R. 7.  So yes, the ADPs are not of much value in this league. I’m thinking more about ceiling this season and in the next few seasons for Rasmus and Matusz.

      Kevin, As far as getting lucky in FA, it’s an issue, But now that guys are starting to “get it” Trout is already on one guys roster. Harper will undoubtedly be taken pretty early in this years draft, etc, so some of the luck is gone, now its about getting guys when they are at the cusp or waiting out a longer term guy.

  6. Calogero said...

    Did you really just tell a guy in a keeper league that you’d rather have Carlos Lee or Victorino than Rasmus?

    A 24-year old who was the #3 overall prospect in 2009 who could stagnate and go 25-15 is not a bad guy to keep.  I’m not even high on him for this year, but the discussion is who the guy should keep and not how good Rasmus is in a vacuum.

    You also complete ignored the fact that the guy is keeping 3 SP already, plus Pineda who will come up at some point.  If Rasmus is his best hitting option, it’s a no-brainer.  There’s no chance he gets less PT than last year, and even some regression makes him a decent OF2 option with youth and upside, and thus trade value.

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