h2h Corner ~ (an impromptu) Keep, Trade or Drop: Cole Hamels, Johan Santana, Javy Vazquez?

Many thanks to diligent and awesome reader James Chang for the following Keep, Trade, or Drop. He posted in FB101’s comments section and we answered. What do you guys think?

Cole Hamels was incredibly unlucky last year. All non-luck driven numbers were basically the same as 2008:

2008 Stats: 3.09 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 196 Ks, .262 BAbip, 7.8 K/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9

2009 Stats: 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 168 Ks, .321 BAbip, 7.8 K/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9

His 2009 BAbip was just crazy. Cole is still only 26 (b-day in December), so he is relatively young. So what can we expect in 2010? Expectations and pitching and baseball don’t mix, but we’d like to assume that his BAbip will be closer to .300, which should drive his ERA/WHIP down. If that is the case, (the royal) we could see an average of his 2008 and 2009 numbers, maybe a 3.60 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.

Johan Santana is a question mark at the moment (not quite as big a Q as Reyes but still a Q). There is a lot of concern with a pitcher coming off injury issues who hasn’t had his full off-season regimen. He’ll also be 31 on my birthday (March 13 for those of you planning to send presents). How many durable years does he have left?

As for Javy Vazquez (my top-10 sleeper pitcher from last year), I love him but not in the Bronx. I don’t think he’ll have as bad a 2010 as his second half of 2004 was (his only year in NYY). However, going to a hitter’s park in the toughest division of the toughest league with a DH will cause his ratios to go up a bit and his Ks to go down. He’ll also be 34 in July, so he is likely getting toward the end of his career. In addition, as I mentioned in my column about the Vazquez trade, “this trade introduces a number of new question marks that did not exist with Vazquez yesterday (but did exist with him in 2004 when the Yankees shipped him to Arizona after the season). Vazquez can pitch and he will strike batters out, but can he do it as consistently as he did last season as a Brave, without a pitcher in the line-up?” The big finish:

“I’m saying no. This doesn’t mean Vazquez is unownable or useless; it does mean that he probably won’t crack my top 20 pitchers and should be more of mid round selection. If you are a gambling man, roll the dice and snag him a few rounds before his ADP. Off the cuff, I see his ADP being around guys like Josh Johnson, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and Chad Billingsley.”

If I’m not poised to win this year, I’m keeping Cole Hamels, trading Johan (still think he is worth more than Javy) and dropping Vazquez. If I think I am poised to win and have some reliable keepers, I’d roll the dice on Johan. In keeper leagues, I think you have to go for it when you have a chance — always planning for next year leaves you never winning (ask the Orioles).

Keep: Cole Hamels
Trade: Johan Santana
Drop: Javier Vazquez

_______________________________

Reading this column guarantees that you will achieve fabulous wealth and success in your fantasy baseball league. That’s right, you guessed it: it’s time to debate Keep Trade or Drop (KTD).

While there are tons of player rankings available, they are all for 2010 and nothing more. So, if you are drafting in a start-up keeper league, how do you decide who to take? For example, if they’re both on the board, do you go for tried and true Carl Crawford, or do you roll the dice (but only barely) and select the slightly less proven Justin Upton. Read enough of these columns and you might just get your answer.

The KTD series focuses solely on giving keeper league advice. It poses the question: if you are in a keeper league, which player would you rather keep, which would you rather trade and which would you be forced to drop. Rarely is the decision easy to make, but it might just decide whether you compete and win your championship, not just this year, but for years down the road as well. It will also help you make a snap decision when three similar players are on the board and the clock is ticking.

If you want other KTDs, please let me know. Also, feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner)/Facebook pages.

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