As the season gets closer, I'll start to see more and more questions of this nature at the Discussion Forum at alexpatton.com
I am in a standard 4x4 AL only league, and I am having a tough time figuring out my last few keepers. Here are what I consider my locks:
F Hernandez 8
J Morneau 19
Nate Robertson 1
J Lackey 15
K Escobar 17
K Farnsworth 1
Now here are the rest for my last four spots:
R Betancourt 2
C Britton 1
C Crisp 20
J Damon 27
Dennys Reyes 1
J Uribe 13
J Vasquez 10
Ivan Rodriguez 15
Jose Lopez 16
This might be a bad example, because I'm not particularly sold on the idea that this owner has to keep all 10 players, which is the subject for a separate essay. But I have been in leagues with limited freezes, so I did want to look at strategies and tactics in leagues like this.
Let's assume for a second that you're in a league with 10 freezes and you have 12 players that you consider keepers. You have two obvious courses of action:
1) Trade your two weakest freezes and a good freeze to another owner for a superior freeze.
2) Throw back your two weakest freezes.
Too many owners believe that option #1 is the only reasonable course of action. This is a significant mistake. Don't make a rival stronger by handing him two additional freezes for only a modest upgrade on one of your freezes. There is nothing wrong with throwing back the 11th and 12th best guys on your team if you're not getting fair value. Making your opponents pay more for these guys through inflation will be inducement enough to make a fair trade for him but a steal for him.
Now, to review the situation above...
The six players listed above are all strong keeps, with the possible exception of Kelvim Escobar. I like Escobar when healthy, but there's the rub.
As far as the rest of those players, Pudge is the only one I'd definitely keep. Damon I'd probably keep as well. Crisp might earn $20 but given his spotty track record should go for less in auction.
The challenge this owner faces is that he's already committed to five pitchers. Britton, Betancourt and Reyes are all good freezes, but I'm not sure loading up on middle relievers is a good strategy. All three will likely earn more than $1, but so will a score of relievers who are in the auction and not on anyone's roster right now.
The best thing for this owner to do might be to trade pitching for hitting. There's an imbalance here that might be better addressed before the season starts.