A whopping third of the keepers are in leading towards Saturday’s keeper deadline (way to get out in front of things guys). The story so far, this might be the first year in the modern history of the JFBL where no pre-draft trades are made at all. With just a couple of days to go, that’s feeling more and more unlikely to change. Before I get sidetracked and start talking about something that has nothing to do with anything as I often do, here are Trombone, Softness, and C-Lion’s keepers and some brief thoughts:
Trombone: Paul Goldschmidt, Billy Hamilton, Chris Davis, David Price, Jose Fernandez
Some calculated risks with this crop of keepers but Trombone probably boasts the safest collection of the managers posted here. Billy Hamilton is a SB machine, even if he’s essentially a one category contributor. Jose Fernandez, coming off of Tommy John surgery, should be rounding into form sometime in the second half of the season and, hopefully, picks up where he left off prior to his injury. His youth, and the fact that Tommy John surgery is basically a right of passage for young pitchers at this point, are working in his favor. Paul Goldschmidt and David Price are steady as they come and are seemingly immune to prolonged periods of ineffectiveness. In the pseudo-deadball era that’s overtaken baseball, Chris Davis has plenty of power at a premium position (3B) but is the homerun version of Billy Hamilton. Regardless, these keepers don’t hurt Trombone in his pursuit of a title, but don’t really project to give him an advantage heading into the season either. The safe middle, though, isn’t a bad place to be at this stage at all.
Softness: Ryan Braun, Russ Springer, Jorge Soler, Jon Lester, Masahiro Tanaka
Softness, on the other hand, has a ton of boom/bust potential. Ryan Braun and Jon Lester are solid contributors. In fact, with a year to adjust to not being roided out of his mind, I expect Braun to return to form a little further this season. Both players are great to plug into any lineup and will provide dependable production. Springer and Soler, on the other hand, are promising young players who could really go in any direction. If either player, or both, realizes the potential suggested by their physical tools, Softness will have done extremely well for himself in keeping them. The fact that they fill 2/3 of his outfield is a plus as well since OF can become scarce after the early rounds of the draft. Stardom is possible for both Springer and Soler, but so is mediocrity or worse. If either or both fail to realize their potential or take a step back this season, which is exceedingly possible, Softness is in a world of trouble as up to 2/3 of his outfield will be lacking productivity not to mention the opportunity cost of keeping 2 duds among his 5 keepers. This risk of any keeper falling short exists of course, it’s just a little higher with young projectable players with no track record of prolonged success (Dallas McPherson, Jeremy Hermida, J.D. Drew, Brett Lawrie, Gordon Beckham, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, the list goes on and on). Tanaka presents another risk altogether. Players returning from injury are often devalued at draft time due to uncertainty about their health. Having said that, I put Tanaka on the safer end of recovery than many players due to his age, track record, and early reports suggesting he has progressed very well to this point. Bottom line, Softness might have excellent keepers, he might have a mixed bag, we’re not going to really know until June or July.
C-Lion: Jose Altuve, Matt Holliday, Hanley Ramirez, Corey Kluber, Cliff Lee
Offensively, this is a win for C-Lion. Altuve, Holliday, and Ramirez will provide solid and consistent production. The fact that Altuve and Ramirez will do so at premium positions is beyond a plus. It allows C-Lion to truly execute a best player available strategy throughout the draft. Of the three, Altuve is the riskiest since his production last season was a bit of an outlier. Regardless, it’s a no-brainer risk as even 80% of his production last season makes him a top 3 2B. In terms of pitching the picture is a little murkier. Kluber has some serious dropoff potential as he threw 235 innings after previously topping out at just under 150. While he has demonstrated steady improvement over his 4 year career, the soon to be 29 year old saw a significant spike in his production last year that was, frankly, unexpected based upon his pedigree. Did we see the real Kluber or was that an outlier? The truth may lie somewhere in between which is still not necessarily a bad place to be. My sense is that Kluber is the guy you have to keep but probably don’t feel great about it (like a less risky R.A. Dickey from a few years ago). Everything I said about Tanaka’s likelihood of recovery from an injury, apply the opposite to Cliff Lee. He’s 10 years older than the young import, was ineffective leading to being shut down last season, and feels like Roy Halladay 2.0 to a weary Phillies fan such as myself. While the reward is massively huge if Lee returns to form, his selection as a keeper is little more than a lottery ticket for the Lion which, for a 5th keeper, is perfectly ok.
I’ll include a little position chart with each of these posts to make life a little easier for the draft prognosticators out there. So far the breakdown is:
Bottom line, while it’s too early to start drawing conclusions about the way the draft pool will be constituted, we have balance for days at this point. That will matter less in the first 2 rounds as there are approximately 3 elite players followed by another 12 or so members of the tier below them available and they should all be gone by the time round 2 ends. However, if the balanced trend continues we’ll likely see the closest approximation of a “best player available” draft as you can have in a keeper league where keeper decisions necessarily impact the way individual managers draft.
When the rest of you bozos dump your keepers on me all at the same time, feel free to expect far less analysis.