Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Keeper/Dump League Dilemma

Brett has a time sensitive question for me, so I'll get right to it.
I have to drop one of the following hitters tonight (5x5 AL-only league. We can keep players who move to the NL):

Michael Cuddyer
Derrek Lee
Vernon Wells
Vladimir Guerrero
Howie Kendrick

None of them are at keeper prices.
To an outsider looking in, this might sound like a decision that only mixed leaguers have to make. That's not always the case, though. In a league with a moderate to heavy amount of dump trades, you sometimes wind up with more hitters than you can keep once they all get healthy. It is actually good strategy to try and accumulate as many hitters as possible and worry about the roster crunch later. Your team might never be completely healthy, but even if it is it's a more sound strategy to play keep away from your competitors than it is to say "no thanks" to a team that's dumping.

When making this kind of decision, I'll look at the following factors, in this order:

1) Are there any injuries I should be aware of that might lead to these players being shut down?
2) Which categories do I need more help in than others?
3) Are any of these players at risk to lose playing time down the stretch?
4) Is anyone hot/cold?
5) If claimed or FAABed, will one of these players help my opponent catch me, either overall or in a specific category?

To start, Kendrick doesn't belong on this list (Brett does point this out in the full version of his question). He's slugging .545 over the last 30 days with seven HR. Only Cuddyer has put up comparable Roto numbers year-to-date.

Lee, Wells and Guerrero are the three weakest players in terms of YTD earnings. But Lee's earnings are depressed due to his recent injury, so based on this criterion he'd rank ahead of Wells and Guerrero.

Wells the only player in the group losing some playing time (to Mike Trout) right now. But he's still playing a good deal and is actually swinging a hotter bat than anyone in this group but Kendrick. Lee has also been swinging well in limited action.

Guerrero has done next to nothing in the last month. He could be wearing down. However, he's also been known to be a streaky hitter, so this could just be a down time for him. Vlad had a cold July/August last year before getting hot in September. There's obviously no guarantee that this will happen again, but it is something to consider.

Cuddyer has also been very bad as of late. Since August, he's hitting .203 in 79 at bats with two home runs. Normally, I'd just write this off as a mini-slump and chalk it up to small sample size. However, multiple reports have indicated that Cuddyer's injured wrist is still bothering him and that he's trying to play through the pain. If this is the case, then the production for Cuddyer is going to be in question down the stretch.

Given the known injury factor, I'd lean toward dropping Cuddyer. I think a case could be made for Wells or Vlad too, but I don't like what I have been hearing about Cuddyer's wrist. If the Twins were still in contention, I think a case could be made for keeping Cuddy, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Twins decided to shut him down in a week or so.

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