h2h Corner ~ Keep, Trade or Drop: Clay Buchholz, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz?

I really thought Neftali Feliz would be the keeper in this one, which means of course he isn’t. What do I find wrong with a 1.74 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and an 11.3 K/9 rate? Well, for starters, that came in only 31 major league IPs. It’s an incredibly small sample size that we can’t anoint as gospel just yet. What’s that you say? Oh, his minor league track record (276 IPs, 3.03 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10.6 K/9). Yes that is all well and good, but there is a chance Feliz ends up a reliever ala Papelbon. While Papelbon is certainly valuable in fantasy formats, he is no frontline starter.

Who I think can be a frontline fantasy starter down the line, you ask. How about Clay Buchholz? Everyone knows about the amazing 22 IPs in 2007 (22 Ks, 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) and about the relatively disastrous 2008 (72 Ks in 76 IPS, a 6.75 ERA and 1.76 WHIP). However, Buchholz was incredibly unlucky in 2008, having to deal with a .355 BAbip. That’s enough to drive any decent pitchers’ ratios sky high. When the BAbip came down to more normal levels in 2009 (.281), Buchholz delivered a decent season (4.21 ERA and 1.38 WHIP). What’s more, he has a minor league track record of dominance: 506 Ks in 443.1 IPs, a 2.42 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. The Sox also just got much better defensively, which will help a groundball pitcher like Buchholz.

So I am keeping Buccholz, trading Feliz, but I don’t want people to sneeze at Derek Holland. Lefties tend to stick in the majors, especially if they routinely hit and hold 93 – 96 mph on their fastballs. There is a long-term starting future for Holland once he matures and gains experience. He won’t be 24 until October. Still, looking at Derek Holland’s numbers last season (6.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP) wouldn’t lead anyone to tab him as a potential star. However there were some positives things about the 2009 campaign. He struck out 107 batters in 138.1 IPs, which isn’t a bad ratio (about 7 Ks per nine). I’d also point out his amazing July: 28.1 IPs, 25 Ks, 4.45 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Sure, he followed that up with two bad months, but we know Holland can have success. It really is just a matter of time for the 23-yeard-old.

Keep: Clay Buccholz
Trade: Neftali Feliz
Drop: Derek Holland

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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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