Monday, February 8, 2010

Minor league keepers

In the bgal (AL only, 10 team, 4x4 roto keeper league with a $50.00 budget), we get to keep up to four minor leaguers. To be eligible as a minor league, the player has to have been in the minor leagues (and not just on an injury rehab stint) on August 31 last season. In other words, a September call-up doesn't lose his minor league eligibility. Right now, I only have four guys eligible, so deciding which four to keep is easy unless I make a trade. The point of this post is to solicit opinion on whether I should stand pat with the four I have or try and make a trade to upgrade my minor league squad. You should know that we will have a four-round minor league draft prior to our major league auction, so in addition to the four I keep, I'll have three more on the squad when the season starts (I traded my fourth round pick). This comes into play knowing that next year I can again only keep four. So I have to have some guys graduate to the majors, or risk losing them next year. (In other words, if I go into next season with more than four eligible, I'll lose some of them.) Of Course, minor leaguers are always good trade bait (which is why I only have four right now).

I have Brian Matusz but because he was called up on August 4, he's not minor-league eligible. Like I said above, this can be good. If he were eligible, I would have 5 and have to cut some one (or make a trade). I first saw Matusz in the 2008 Arizona Fall league and was very impressed. He seemed top-notch, but I really did not expect him to be called up so soon. He's almost a lock for the O's rotation from the get go, unless he completely blows it this spring. I can keep him on my major league roster for $1.00 which I certainly will do.

My current minor leaguers are Lars Anderson, Aaron Hicks, Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak. Montero and Smoak are no-brainers. I picked Smoak last year over Eric Hosmer, mostly because I saw Smoak play in Arizona; so that was my tie-breaker. I got luck in that he had a way better year than Hosmer. I wanted Carlos Santana for my catching prospect but he went right before I got to pick (third round, I had already taken Matusz and Smoak) so I took Montero. Not a terrible consolation pick, but Montero may not stick at catcher which would impact a large chunk of his value.

That leaves Hicks, who I picked in the fourth round last year as a deep sleeper pick, and Anderson, who I got in a '08 season trade and kept last year. Anderson had a terrible year last year, going from a .934 OPS in '08 between A and AA to a .673 OPS in AA. He's my weakest keeper. Hicks on the other hand is now the Twins' top prospect.

So Hicks is now a top guy and Smoak and Montero are no-brainers. The only issue with Hicks is that he's very unlikely to make the Twins before 9/1/10. So if I keep him this year, I'll probably have to keep him next year, too. So I would be counting on a couple guys to make it in the bigs before 9/1. Smoak seems like a good candidate, but I don't see the Yanks and Sox promoting Montero and Anderson. So that's three keepers for next year before I've even drafted for next year. So I think the thing to do is to keep the four and see if Anderson rebounds. Then decide whether to keep him. And maybe try to trade Hicks during the season when I'm making a late-year title run (or at least a move to make it to the money).

But I could try and trade one now and go into the year with only three (plus my three picks this year) and keep the best four next year or hope at least two graduate. Another possibility is to make runs at guys in this year's draft that are minor league eligible and likely to play this year, like Scott Sizemore or Brett Wallace. That would cut down on any keeper angst next year. Or, finally, I could try and trade for an upgrade on my four current guys. That would probably be a top major league guy, though, to pry away a minor-league keeper that's better than what I already have.

I'll have a post up on my major league keepers closer to the deadline, which will require a lot more work, but I wanted to get the minor leaguers out there so that any one that wants to can comment.

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