Here’s an early prediction of which players each team may designate as a keeper for the 2010 season. Some are pretty much guaranteed (ie: Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols, etc…), but there are some teams that have a tough choice or two to make.
These are entirely based on my prediction and/or vibes I’ve received from owners. Keepers aren’t by any means greatly protected secrets, so don’t think that I’m revealing anything hidden behind the curtain here.
2009 Teams In Order of Playoff Finish:
Tim Lincecum – SP – SF
Chase Utley – 2B – PHI
Jose Reyes – SS – NYM
Victor Martinez – C/1B – BOS
Grant is taking over for Travis just months removed from Travis’ first Salmon League Championship. There is a lot of intrigue surrounding Grant’s ascension to power in the Salmon League.
Grant last participated in SLB in 2003 with an uninspiring tenth place finish and only made six moves all season.
Many are wondering if he’ll dismantle the juggernaut that Travis has created or if the former-Captain Jack Sparrow club will remain successful with a new Cap’n at the wheel.
Update: With last night’s announcement that Jose Reyes is expected to be benched for 2-8 weeks before resuming baseball activities, I’ve got a hard time imagining Grant keeps him on the roster. As such, I’ve taken a deeper look at his roster and narrowed potential alternative keepers down to three names (assuming he doesn’t keep a second pitcher, which is entirely possible) those names are Victor Martinez, Kendry Morales, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
After much deliberation, I’ve decided that Victor Martinez is probably the go-to in this case. Ellsbury offers top-notch speed, but figures to be available in middle rounds. Morales is coming off a breakout season, but could be due for a slight regression. Martinez is a consistent threat, raked in the move to Fenway Park last season, and should be entrenched in the heart of a solid Boston lineup. Additionally, he plays one razor-thin position and one top-heavy position.
Jonathan Broxton – CL – LAD
Ian Kinsler – 2B – TEX
Evan Longoria – 3B – TB
Mike is a consummate competitor in the Salmon League. Since rededicating himself to the league a few years back, Mike has finished at or near the top of the league every year.
He is two short years removed from earning his second SLB Championship and was in the championship game last year before falling short against Travis’ powerful pitching rotation.
Mike’s offensive keepers seem to be almost set in stone, barring a major change between now and keeper announcement day (March 27th). On the other side of the ball, he has a few options at pitcher, but could take the gamble and keep a closer this time around.
Genies in a Bottle
Johan Santana – SP – NYM
Hanley Ramirez – SS – FLA
David Wright – 3B – NYM
The Genies enter the 2010 season with what I can only assume is the best winning percentage in league history, the most regular season pennants and absolutely zero championships.
The club doesn’t have the usual fortified roster of numerous keeper-worthy players this season, however, after numerous late season trades as the team shifted to win-now mode.
Santana figures to be a lock, barring any setbacks and both Ramirez and Wright should be in for big years.
Cliff Lee – SP – SEA
Albert Pujols – 1B – STL
Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – WAS
In his debut season, Collin proved to be a great addition to the Salmon League ranks. After a draft day decision to keep Dustin Pedroia over Jimmy Rollins proved to be the right moves, the rest of the league promptly cut the kid some slack.
Throughout the year many questioned some of his moves, but time and again these moves that seemed so lopsided on paper would work out in his favor. Collin is a legitimate threat to win this league at any point and as a true student of the game should be revered for his knowledge of the trade market.
Lee and Pujols seem like easy choices. Zimmerman, coming off a breakout season could be in for a slight regression, but Collin has other steady choices in the aforementioned Pedroia, Jayson Werth, and speed-demon Carl “I’m Gonna Be a Yankee” Crawford.
Roy Halladay – SP – PHI
Ryan Braun – OF – MIL
Alex Rodriguez – 3B – NYY
Jay is just one year removed from winning his second SLB Championship and given the stud stable or pitchers he acquired last season, could have been in line for this third. Things didn’t quite work out that way for Jay and he finished in the middle of the pack.
Braun and A-Rod figure to be locks unless Jay decides to lock up shortstop Troy Tulowitzki who is rapidly working his way to the upper echelon of shortstops in baseball.
On the other side of the ball, Jay has a tough choice with Roy Halladay, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, and Josh Johnson all lurking on his roster. I went with my gut on this one and assumed Jay would stick by his old Toronto-lovin’ routes and stick with the former Blue Jays hurler.
Jon Lester – SP – BOS
Kevin Youkilis – 1B/3B – BOS
Justin Morneau – 1B – MIN
Justin is almost always in the mix in the Salmon League and this year figures to be no different. He doesn’t, however, have the most attractive crop of keepers to choose from. He appears to have a team that largely consists of early-round types, but few—if any—legit, no-doubt-about-it keepers.
Youkilis offers positional flexibility—always a plus in the draft—and should hit in the middle of an incredible underrated Boston offense. Morneau, coming back from injury is a tough choice here especially with Ben Zobrist, Andre Ethier, and Pablo Sandoval all coming off breakout seasons.
On the hill, Jon Lester is an easy choice. The dude is my dark horse to win the AL Cy Young and undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in the game today. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him shake off his usual early-seasons struggles and win 20 games with 250+ K in 2010.
Felix Hernandez – SP – SEA
Mark Reynolds – 3B/1B – ARZ
Prince Fielder – 1B – MIL
Ah Steven, what can I say about Steven that I haven’t said in a mocking tone for the better part of the last three years?! Steven is on a good run of bad luck. He’s made some poor draft decisions, some even poorer in-season trades, and has been unable to get his once proud franchise back on track.
Steven has two SLB trophies sitting on his mantle (or by his big screen) and could easily earn a third with a bounce-back season. He finally has a legitimate ace, something he hasn’t really had since trading away Johan Santana (twice) and he has two major mashers to anchor his lineup.
Steven has been pretty clear since—well—last August that these three were his keepers, so barring any major changes or injuries between now and then, expect to see these three penciled into Steven’s draft sheet on April 3rd.
Sea Bass v5.0
Josh Beckett – SP – BOS
Joe Mauer – C – MIN
Mark Teixeira – 1B – NYY
Craiggers is a wild card. That’s really the only way to describe this kid. He’s finished in the championship game, he’s finished in last place, and he’s hovered around the middle of the pack. He’s drafted injured superstars, he’s drafted two catchers, and he’s made some of most heavily-criticized roster moves in league history.
He is, however, still a threat to win the league. He has a solid core of keepers to choose from including the cats mentioned above and Matt Holliday, Derrek Lee, and Brandon Webb among others.
Craiggers figures to debate the Webb vs Beckett choice down to the wire (just like last year), but the other two figure to be locks. Expect Craiggers to bust out a brand-new (read: classic) draft strategy this year.
Also, it never hurts to assume that he’ll just create a virus that’ll wipe out your teams.
Dan Haren – SP – ARZ
Ryan Howard – 1B – PHI
Adam Dunn – 1B/OF – WAS
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny…what can be said about this kid?! After taking home the inaugural Salmon League Championship, Johnny has vanished into fantasy baseball obscurity. He’s like a reclusive author who writes a masterpiece and disappears from the world.
He drafted a solid team—again—last year and coupled with his usually very-talented crop of keepers seemed poised for a return to glory and dominance. It was then that apathy set in. Johnny’s biggest enemies during the season are his bubbling social life and his apathy toward the league.
If Johnny is focused—even remotely—on the league this year, he could do some serious damage. The dude knows his shit when it comes to this game—as evidenced by last year’s drunken, yet solid draft—and with even 50% effort could be a monster in the SLB.
CC Sabathia – SP – NYY
Miguel Cabrera – 1B – DET
Grady Sizemore – OF – CLE
G-Doggy, much like Johnny suffers mostly due to his lack of interaction. He also drafted like an asshat last year. The dude took five closers. Five f-ing closers! Making matters worse, when he finally realized no one trades for closers in a ten team league, he had to drop some of them and he chose the wrong ones. *sigh*
If he can get his hands on a computer more than once a week, G-Doggy could be competitive. He’s generally in the mix for a playoff berth. He’ll need an improved draft strategy.
His keepers figure to be as good as locked in. I expect he’ll swap out the injured and aging Carlos Beltran for the younger, version in Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore.
I’m not sure what order Morgan and Adam will go in for their keeper picks—that’ll be determined on draft day when they actually pick their keepers—so for the sake of this entry, I flipped a coin and chose the best player available according to Yahoo! for each team.
38 MPH Heaters
Zack Greinke – SP – KC
Troy Tulowitzki – SS – COL
Matt Holliday – OF – STL
Based on the coin-toss, Morgan won the rights to the first pick in the expansion draft—mini-snake draft, three rounds—and selected the highest-ranked pitcher on the board, Zack Greinke. When the picks came back to him, he went with two solid picks in shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Matt Holliday.
Justin Verlander – SP – DET
Matt Kemp – OF – LAD
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – SD
Adam missed out on the first pick, but benefitted from having picks two and three back-to-back and gobbled up strikeout machine Justin Verlander and the man the media would like you to believe is Willie Mays, Matt Kemp. After missing out on a shortstop like Tulo, Adam went ahead and snagged an infielder by landing slugging first baseman and gigantic piece of trade bait, Adrian Gonzalez.