Time for the latest edition of the game show that is sweeping America like Who Wants to be a Millionaire did back in 1999, the year of Ivan Rodriguez, the New York Yankees and Livin’ La Vida Loca. You guessed it, Keep Trade or Drop.
Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier or Hunter Pence?
I ranked Hunter Pence as the 58th best hitter, Andre Ethier as the 59th best hitter and Jay Bruce as the 155th ranked hitter. Much like Chris Davis, the hype machine has taken over for Jay Bruce. I’ll trade Bruce without thinking about it – he’ll mistakenly bring more than either of the others. He could outperform them, but most players experience growing pains (you know the whole genesis behind sophomore slump), just look at Pence’s 2008. This means that, while I think he’ll outperform Bruce, I have to drop Ethier. So I’m going to roll with Hunter Pence. He will hit in the .270 – .285 range with upside, score 75+ runs, hit at least 25 home runs and knock in near 100. Pence could be a 20-20 player, if not a 30-15 player. That’s not bad value in the 7th round or so.
Assuming that, in all these scenarios, the leagues are keeper leagues, I would say Keep Bruce, drop Pence, Trade Ethier. As usual, this isn’t an easy call. Pence was highly rated going into last year and so likely must be kept at a round where he’s not guaranteed to be a great value. Because Bruce didn’t get called up until later, his value should be very high relative to the round he will be kept at, as he is extremely talented. I like Andre Ethier, but I think what you see right now is the best you will get and you can probably find some other owner out there who believes he’s going to improve into a true all-star, thus his trade value is very high. Then again, if you can find the same with Pence, trade him. Either way, I’m keeping Bruce.
Keep Bruce: there is potential for increased power output and possible adjustments in second season.
Trade Pence: people expect 20/20 but may not be that type of player, at least not yet, but still valued like he is.
Drop Ethier: Talented, but a few years away.
This is tough. All of these guys are young enough that they could still do great things. Or they could flop tremendously. I would keep Ethier, drop pence and trade Bruce. I’m keeping Ethier because I like his bat, and I like him playing out in Los Angeles. I think they’re going to sign Manny soon (seriously Manny, are you squabbling over $3M? No one else wants/can afford you), and you put Manny in that lineup, its tremendous support. Manny sees a ton of pitches, and pitchers worry about him, which might make life a bit easier for Ethier. Even without Manny, Ethier really took a step last year in terms of power and average. The fact that both of those went up makes me think he’s moving in the right direction. Hunter Pence, I dunno, he’s good, but I just don’t have him in the same category as the other two. I think we know what he is (they are what we thought they were!). And its good, but it’s not Ethier, which gets us to Jay Bruce (the mystery man). Bruce has tremendous upside and playing in Cincy, I mean, think of the things that he could do. He could also flop like hell (remember how good Jack Cust was supposed to be). Anyway, I think that Bruce has the best trade value of the three, and given that he’s the least known quantity of the three, I’d send him off for the right package.
Jonathan Paplebon, Francisco Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera
In my not off-the-presses pitcher rankings, I rank Paplebon as the 30th best pitcher (and I hate closers). I have Rivera at 46 and K-Rod at 54. I don’t think this decision, though, is cut and dry. I’m actually going to keep Mariano Rivera, and believe me it hurts to say this because of a certain 12-year old boy. Mariano will give you at least 35 saves, a 2.00 ERA and a WHIP in the low 1.0. While I hate to say this, he is somewhat underrated. In addition to my Yankee disdain, I also kind of hate Boston because of this game. Still, Jonathan Paplebon will fetch the most in a trade, so I’m dealing him for a good hitter. Saves are saves, they come from everywhere, so I’ll trade the closer that will get me the most. K-Rod is neither as good nor as dependable as Rivera, so I’m tossing him back to the pool.
K-Rod is the easy drop call here. Though he’s still good, his peripheral numbers have been in a steady decline for a while, and the way the Angels limited their use of him last year hints that they felt he was an injury waiting to happen. As for Paplebon and Rivera, it really depends on where you drafted them. As much as I hate to admit it (being a Yankees fan), Paplebon is extremely talented and may be worth keeping over Rivera, if only because of some questions about Rivera’s off-season (minor) shoulder surgery and his age. However, it’s worth nothing that Rivera is coming off of one of his best seasons and has been nothing short of the best reliever ever. Also, I’ve had some issues with the fact that Paplebon seems reluctant to throw his nasty splitter, which could be indicative of arm trouble (or just that Varitek isn’t quite the game calling genius everyone thinks he is). I’m gonna say Keep Rivera and trade Paplebon, if only because Papelbon’s trade value is higher as a result of his youth and Rivera’s recent surgery.
Keep Paplebon: Lock for 40+ saves and least chance of injury
Trade K-Rod: He is bound to regress from career year last year. He is in a new league, and there might be some adjustment. Still, probably considered “the best” right now so should pull significant trade value.
Drop Rivera: as a Yankees fan, this is difficult, but gotta drop Mo of these three. He is coming off surgery. If he ever had questions, this is the year.
Boston v. two NY guys. is there any question who I’m keeping? I love Paps not only for his skill, but b/c you know he wants to be at the end shutting games down. The Sox are going to be good, so you know he’s going to get his chances, and, for the most part, he’ll convert. Out of the three, I think he has the most trade value, but I think he also has the most value on a team – plus, you can’t discount that clubhouse factor (you want to keep your fantasy team loose). In terms of dropping, this is a bit nuts I know, but I’m dropping K-Rod. The single season save champ is good, though I wonder how he’ll do in New York. They’ve got Putz to work the 8th for him, so he should be able to get the Scioscia treatment where he doesn’t have to work more than an inning at a time. That said, something about him, I just don’t trust. And there’s Rivera. God I hate him. He’s been so consistently good, and he should be good again this season. The consistency, and the Yankee homerism (plus the fact that he’s going to get his chances) should make him a good trade target. I don’t think he gets as much back as you’d get for Paps, but I think you get enough.
Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Lance Berkman?
I’m trading Mark Teixeira, my 13th ranked hitter. He will by far bring back the most value. However, did you know he hasn’t hit 35 home runs in a season since 2005? The RBIs will be there, but his power upside isn’t that of Ryan Howard. My h2h philosophy is to worry about the counting stats and somewhat ignore the ratios (i.e. batting average). That means I’m keeping Ryan Howard, my 10th ranked hitter. In three full season, his lowest home run total was 47. Teixeira has never hit that many, and topped out at 43 in 2005. Howard will likely hit 10-15 more home runs and can out produce Tex in RBIs. I’d rather win HRs, Runs and RBIs then worry about batting average (which can vary dramatically week-to-week). This means I’m throwing the big fish Lance Berkman back into the sea, even though he had a phenomenal year. I’ll take what I can get for Tex and ride Ryan Howard to three category dominance.
I’m trading Ryan Howard, keeping Mark Teixeira, and dropping Lance Berkman. I think Ryan Howard is extremely overrated. He has prodigious power, that’s for sure, but too many people point to his RBI totals without understanding that it’s a stat that heavily relies on his teammates. He’s poor at making contact, he has regressed in the past few years, he has a terrible body which will likely mean an early decline age wise compared to Teixeira, and he doesn’t hit lefties well, especially if they throw a slider. The Phillies are definitely a great team for run producers, but I think that Mark Teixeira’s move from the Angels (a poor OBP team) to the Yankees (an excellent OBP team) should narrow, if not eliminate the gap in their RBI production. Because of this misunderstanding by many managers, Howard’s value is extremely high still and thus can bring back a lot in a trade. I still like Lance Berkman, but over his career he has been injury prone, and his late season collapse doesn’t help his trade value. Teixeira is an excellent hitter in a great lineup and in his prime. He’s definitely the keeper.
Probably depends on your league settings for this one (i.e. do k’s count?), but if not:
Keep Howard: still pre-eminent power hitter in the game.
Trade Tex: name recognition from signing the big contract. He could have a huge year in NY lineup. Still, you can’t really go wrong with either of them. If k’s count, it is Tex over Howard.
Drop Berkman- slightly older than the others, but really no downside here either. Numbers, and steals, will probably regress slightly after a career year.
I think this is a decision that you make looking at your roster as a total. If you need a big homerun guy, you go Howard. If you need general consistency, you go Teixeira or Berkman. I tend to think that big homerun guys are a bit harder to find. For that reason I’m taking Howard. Will the new extension make him lazy? I don’t think so. I think he continues to mash and should hit 50+ again. I don’t really like his average much, but that’s why you pick up other guys to fix that up. Solid homerun guys are not as easy to find, so you shouldn’t give up on those that are there. Out of Teixeira and Berkman, I think Tex has greater trade value. He’s younger, he appears to be getting better (or at least staying consistent), and he just signed a mammoth new contract for a team that should score tons of runs. There should be no trouble finding a taker for him. I like Berkman, but every year I worry that he’s going to fall off the map. Is this the year? I don’t know. But out of these three, I’m dropping him.