h2h Corner ~ Keep, Trade or Drop

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.

Kelly Johnson, Alexei Ramirez, Robinson Cano?

Albert Lang:
I have Alexei Ramirez as the 88th ranked hitter, Kelly Johnson as the 101st and Robinson Cano as the 106th. I view rankings as predicting who is most likely to have a better year, so I tend to devalue “upside” in my rankings. That doesn’t mean you should devalue upside in the later rounds of your draft, though. As much as this pains me, that means I’m keeping Robinson Cano as he represents the biggest value and a great chance to put up to top seven second baseman numbers. Everyone knows about his splits, but he can put it together and give you a .300 average, with upside to .320. He could also tally 80-100 runs, 15-20 HRs and at least 70 RBIs. I’m shopping Alexei Ramirez, a.k.a. the second coming of Alfonso Soriano. I think you find that one guy in your league who believes the hype that he is a 5th/6th rounder and take back a similar player like Adrian Gonzalez (who I love), Ellsbury, Carlos Quentin, or Bobby Abreu. I’m dropping Kelly Johnson, through no fault of his own. He simply isn’t worth a roll of the dice and his ADP (explanation), 192, indicates that. He will always be there if Cano continues to struggle.

Andrew Bloom:
1) keep- Alexei Ramirez. When comparing relative talent, when the top tier players are already off the board, drafting on upside is a good strategy. Ramirez offers 20/20 potential in a full season, and his ceiling may be higher than that
2) trade-Robinson Cano. Solid run producer, in a good lineup but overvalued by many b/c of name recognition – probably not much better than 85-20-84-300. Still, nothing wrong with that.
3) drop- Kelly Johnson. Can find equivalent talent on the waiver wire, other guys have higher ceilings.

Dan Harrow:
Kelly Johnson: wow this is a hard one. I’m going to have to go with drop here just because Kelly Johnson has never shown he’s really worth keeping. Yes he’s got talent, but not top end talent, and yes he’s put up borderline numbers before, but not really good ones. In the end, I take the other two players over him just because they’ve been valuable before. Alexei Ramirez: This one depends in part on your league. In my big money league, we recently moved to OBP, which severely devalues Alexei (I’m not sure he’s aware that he gets on base after taking four balls). However, he does make good contact with good power and speed potential, so if you’re in a batting average league, he’s your keeper. If you’re not, trade him because you are sure to find someone who doesn’t realize how he has shown no ability to work the count, and thus likely will never be a high OBP guy. Robinson Cano: I love the Yankees, so Robby has really frustrated me. The guy has a ton of talent. He could win a batting title and hit 30 home runs. Think Utley type numbers from second. He is a head case, however, as is evidenced both on offense in his streakiness and on defense in his regression from top defender at 2nd in 2007 to poor defender in 2008. Clearly the ability is there, and the big name and fact that he’s a Yankee means you should be able to trade him for something of value. I’m trading Robby, and the only time I keep him over Ramirez is if it’s an OBP league because Cano can work a walk and has more potential at the plate. Even then, Ramirez’s speed potential makes it a tough call.

Dan Kane
Bret Boone juiced out of his mind none of these second basemen are. That said, I’m keeping Ramirez, trading Cano and dropping Johnson.

Cano had a down year last year, but I think he still retains a fair bit of value. He’s playing for a loaded Yankees team, and he’s not going to be asked to do too much. If he can round back into his ’06/’07 form, he’ll be a steal for somebody. Now, I’m not entirely sure that I believe he will, but there are enough Yankees’ fans out there that I think he brings back the best value.

Dropping Johnson is a tough call here because of his steady improvement since he entered the bigs. I think he’s probably around his peak in terms of ability, so there’s not a tremendous amount of upside. Also, he plays for the Braves. I’m not entirely sure how that plays into it, but it (for some reason) affects my thinking on him.

Keeping Ramirez is the high risk/high reward play here. He had a great year last year, but there’s a decent chance that he never replicates it. Or, that he’s five years older than he says he is. I’m betting against the odds and thinking that, even if he doesn’t replicate it, he’ll have the opportunity to come close. The fact that he’s playing in the central helps things too, as the pitching of the twins and the tigers and the royals isn’t as fearsome as it might be in another division.

Matt Kemp, Alex Rios, or Jason Bay?

Albert Lang:
I love all of these hitters. Kemp is at 21, Rios at 22 and Bay at 23 in my hitter rankings. So you can see why I wanted to gain a little intelligence before my drafts. Their ADPs are similar as well at 33 (Kemp), 47 (Rios) and 38 (Bay). While this is an extremely difficult exercise, you can use ADP (as I’ve outlined in these columns) to get the best value. Looking at the ADPs and where I have these players ranked, Rios is my best value guy, so I’m keeping him. I’m trading Kemp (unless there is a gluttony of Boston guys in my league – don’t devalue this, Mets fans love to overpay for Beltran, Reyes, Santana, K-Rod, etc.). I believe Jason Bay will have an amazing year, and I’ve ranked him as such. However, I have to toss him back into that large body of water known as the player pool. I think Rios will be a hair better and give me better value in relation to his draft round because drafts are all about maximizing every pick.

Andrew Bloom:
1) Matt Keep– keep- 30/30 potential (Kemp has even said 40/40 is attainable). Only in his second full season, is still on the rise.
2) Jason Bay-trade (though I would like to keep him to). Produced down the stretch in a solid red Sox lineup, but questionable whether he can keep it up for a full season. Some will pay for red Sox name
3) Alex Rios-drop- not as much upside as Kemp, not as consistent as Bay.

Dan Harrow:
Matt Kemp: I love Matt Kemp. He has all the talent to be a superstar fantasy player (and real life player considering his defense at a premier position). Imagining this is a keeper league, however, this could be a tough call. Jason Bay didn’t exactly have a stellar season in 2007 and so he may have been drafted very late in your league. If so, he might be the one to keep here since he’s shown he can handle Fenway and has proven in the past to be a great hitter. I know a lot of people were high on Kemp coming into last year, so may have been drafted early, hurting his keeper value. If you didn’t draft him too high last year, keep Kemp because he has the potential to put up the same numbers as Bay plus a whole bunch of stolen bases. Alex Rios: I’m dropping Alex Rios, not because I don’t like him, but because I like Kemp and Bay more. I’m not convinced he will ever develop the power people said he will, and though he stole over 30 bases last year, they were significantly more than he had in the past and I wouldn’t want to bet on a repeat performance, especially since he’s starting to get older (for a base stealer, that is). Twenty-eight is a great age for hitters, however, so if you are a big Rios fan go ahead and keep him. I just think he’s the clear 3rd of this group so I’m dropping him. I could envision a situation where Rios is valued higher by the other owners in the league and so you should trade him, but as a Yankees fan my mind is constantly paying attention to the Red Sox, so I know how good Bay is, and I was never a huge Rios fan. Jason Bay: As I said earlier, trade Bay unless you got a great value on him last year. He doesn’t steal the bases that Kemp does, and the fact that he plays for the Red Sox and played well last year for them should create some buzz around him. There is plenty of buzz around Kemp to trade him as well, but all things being equal, I don’t think the gap in their trade value is big enough such that trading the more promising player in Kemp is worth it. Again, if you think you can find an owner who values Rios more than Bay then drop Bay, but if you do find that guy, it won’t be me.

Dan Kane
I’m keeping Bay, dropping Rios and trading Kemp. This is a tough one, particularly because I have been the proud owner of Alex Rios in numerous leagues the last few years. He’s a good kid, great clubhouse presence. Its not easy to see him go.

The reasoning here is pretty simple. I ascribe to Albert’s theory on Bay. I think the opportunity to play at Fenway, in the Red Sox lineup for 162 games is going to do wonders to his game. Plus, he’s in a walk year. And while he doesn’t strike me as the type of guy that will play THAT much better before free agency, it has to be taken into account. Also, I’m a dead homer for sox players.

Trading Kemp is also pretty simple. Here is a young outfielder that has the opportunity to be somewhere between very good and great. He’s got the tools and he’s got the playing time. Also, he’s got Manny Ramirez hitting in his lineup. He’s going to see a lot of pitches and learn from one of the best hitters in the game. If I had the opportunity to trade for him (w/o killing my team) I’d do it. I wouldn’t trade Bay for him, but I’d listen on most others.

Alex Rios is really just a victim of circumstances here. He’s a very good player, though I don’t group him with the elite players. And while I think he has the potential to put in a very good season, I don’t see him taking the leap to become a great player. It could definitely happen. But I think he’s carved out a very nice niche as a good outfielder, and I don’t see him driving himself to become a great ballplayer.

Gil Meche, Derek Lowe, Justin Verlander?

Albert Lang:
This is a very tough one, Gil is my 39th best pitcher, but that is based on a 2008 K-rate that he has never duplicated in his career. If he can keep it up, he is your player – so he represents the most, say it with me Jay Bilas, upside. I have Derek Lowe at 41. He is a kind of steady as you go player. However, he did post lower ERAs and WHIPs in 2008 than he normally does. I have Verlander at 44, which seems high to me, but he did strikeout 183 people in 2007 and 163 last year. In 2008, his WHIP ballooned to 1.40 from 1.23, and his ERA followed (3.66 to 4.84). I think Derek Lowe gets me the best value back in a trade, given his slightly out of whack 2008 higher ratio performance and his big contract; people are probably willing to pay more. I’ll toss Meche and hope that his strikeouts do not continue. Meche has struckout at least 156 the last three years, while posting WHIPs from 1.29 to 1.43. So, I’m keeping Verlander. If you’re picking a pitcher late, go with upside because what is the downside really? You can grab a similar match-up type pitcher from the waiver wire if Verlander continues to post astronomical ratios. However, if you hit the jackpot (what till you recognize who that is), you’ll get your hands on guy that is capable of 180+ Ks, a 3.7 ERA and 1.3.

Andrew Bloom:
1) Keep- Derek Lowe– solid performer, solid team
2) Trade – Justin Verlander– people may pay for 2007 numbers, but he still has something to prove for me and never comfortable drafting pitchers with questionable arms
3) Drop- Gil Meche–  good pitcher, but not that much better than the other 2 guys, and on the worse team. Ks were inflated last year over career stats

Dan Harrow
Gil Meche: This is a tough one, too. I’m keeping Meche because he doesn’t have much trade value as his efforts last year went a bit under appreciated. With the exception of the first month, he posted great ERA’s every month, and nobody seemed to notice. Unless you drafted him real high last year, he’s probably worth keeping. Derek Lowe: I would trade Lowe because the entire buzz coming from his solid season and his free agent signing has brought his name to the forefront, and he presents the best trade value. He should be solid again in Atlanta, but he doesn’t strike many people out (fewer than Meche) and his WHIP last year was a good bit lower than it has been recently. I wouldn’t bet on that low WHIP to continue when he may bring back more than he’s worth merely due to off-season headlines. Justin Verlander: I’ll admit it, I was huge on Verlander going into last season. Sure his fastball looked a little flat, but he was hitting 99 on the gun consistently and have you seen that curve ball? Well, unfortunately he wasn’t so healthy last year and his flat 99mph fastball became a flat low 90s fastball, and we all know what major league hitters do with those. Given his slight frame, I wouldn’t bet on his health bouncing back. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up being the best pitcher of the three, but the risk outweighs the upside. Also hurting him in this scenario is that he was likely drafted high last year and so must be kept at a high spot that he is surely not worth. I’ve also heard it’s difficult to trade pitchers with ERAs up around 5. Verlander is the clear drop.

Dane Kane
This is an interesting grouping of players. They all have the potential to put up solid stats this year, or they could all flop miserably. I for one think that Verlander will rebound after a horrendous 2008. I think Lowe will continue to be effective in a ballpark not nearly as cavernous as Dodger Stadium. And with Meche, well I think he’s gonna strike some guys out. That all said, I’m keeping Verlander, I’m trading Meche and I’m dropping Lowe.

This isn’t an easy call for me. Me and Derek Lowe have a history. He won my boys a World Series in 2004 (all three clinching games. Game 7 at Yankee Stadium on 3 days rest…but I digress). Ultimately though, the move to the NL East worries me a bit. The Phillies and Mets are great teams, and having to face them a combined 38 times over the season (roughly 10 games started against them total) is much different than getting the padres and giants. Lowe’s a sinker ball/ground ball pitcher, so its very likely that he’ll continue to thrive. The uncertainty is just too much though.

I’m trading Meche because of his strikeouts. That’s a known quantity, and short of a drop in velocity, its not likely to drop off too much. He should bring back some decent value.

I’m keeping Verlander for the upside. I think he rounds back into form. He’s got good velocity and placement, so his strikeouts should be there, and his WHIP and ERA should come a bit more under control.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mike Whaley on March 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I love this site and was wondering if you offer email updates whenever new stuff is posted. Sign me up if so.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Evan on March 28, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Mike –

    If you go to the top right of the homepage you will see the words “RSS” on the chalkboard. Click on that and it will email you updates everytime there’s a new post. Thanks for your support and interest.

    Reply

  3. […] I like to write columns in series, (Keep, Trade Drop, Impact Prospects, ADP values), and this will be no exception. I had always planned on penning […]

    Reply

  4. […] KTD.I (Kelly Johnson, Alexei Ramirez, or Robinson Cano & Matt Kemp, Alex Rios or Jason Bay & Gil Meche, Derek Lowe or Justin Verlander) […]

    Reply

  5. […] so far: KTD.1 (Kelly Johnson, Alexei Ramirez, or Robinson Cano & Matt Kemp, Alex Rios or Jason Bay & Gil […]

    Reply

  6. […] so far: KTD.1 (Kelly Johnson, Alexei Ramirez, or Robinson Cano & Matt Kemp, Alex Rios or Jason Bay & Gil […]

    Reply

  7. […] so far: KTD.1 (Kelly Johnson, Alexei Ramirez, or Robinson Cano & Matt Kemp, Alex Rios or Jason Bay & Gil […]

    Reply

  8. […] didn’t love Alexei Ramirez going into last year. Still, he wasn’t really that bad, or at least not as bad you would think. Ramirez had a highly […]

    Reply

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