h2h Corner ~ Keep, Trade or Drop: Mike Napoli, Miguel Montero, Geo Soto?

Entering 2009, lots of folks projected a break-out year for Mike Napoli for one simple reason: he only received 227 ABs in 2008, yet blasted 20 HRs. The logic went that if he could get some more ABs, he’d hit more HRs. Well, he got more ABs 9382), yet hit exactly 20 HRs. Still, unlike some catchers, he didn’t kill your ratios (.272 AVE and .350 OBP). It seems Napoli is settling into his prime (he is 28) as a .270 hitter with 25 HR upside. He is someone you can ride to his early 30s, giving you probably three more years of productive ownership.

Geo Soto was my sleeper catcher going into 2008. His season (23 HRs, 86 RBIs, a .285 AVE and a .364 OBP) proved many to be Nostradamuses. However, he came crashing back to earth in 2009 (just 331 ABs, a .218 AVE and a .321 OBP). Soto is 27, so while he seems much younger than Napoli, he really isn’t. The trick with Soto is figuring out which seasons to believe in. Until 2007, Soto’s minor league numbers never suggested that he would have much of a bat in the majors. In 2007, however, Soto hit .353, posted a .424 OBP and swatted 26 HRs in 110 minor league games. He followed that with his great 2008 season in the show. Nevertheless, his bat and health were horrible last year, leading to his production being essentially halved across the board while his average dropped to .218. Still, it is hard to ignore the success he experienced from 2007 – 2008.

Miguel Montero hit .294 last year with 16 HRs, while posting a .355 OBP. He did most of his damage in the second half (.316 AVE, .366 OBP and 11 HRs), which suggests one of two things: he finally matured as a ballplayer at age 25, or he had a flukey second half in the warm desert. Though his numbers from last season provide a small sample size, he does have 1,889 minor league at bats to parse. In those at bats, Montero posted a .291/.360 AVE/OBP and swatted 62 HRs. I’m not saying Montero is the bee’s knees or anything, but he’ll be a serviceable backstop that you can wait on. As a point of comparison, I think his numbers should be comparable to Brian McCann (.281 AVE, .349 OBP and 21 HRs last season). Montero will be 27 in July, which doesn’t give him much advantage over the other guys.

I like the idea of keeping Miguel Montero, but I’ll have to go with Mike Napoli here. The age really is a wash, so I’ll take the proven track record over the limited upside of Soto/Montero. I am more comfortable with Montero and I think people will value him more (as they should) than Soto, so I’m recommending you trade Montero.

Keep: Mike Napoli
Trade: Miguel Montero
Drop: Geovany Soto

_________________________

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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