SkyKing162's Baseblog

A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.


I was just having an IM conversation with a guy in my NL 5x5 roto league about minor league keepers. In our league, you can draft minor leaguers in any of the 8 reserve rounds for between $8 and $1. Then, in addition to the limit of 10 keepers of any kind (possibly including minor leaguers), you can keep 5 additional minor leaguer players. The only stipulation is that the minor league players still have MLB rookie status and were not active in our roto league the previous year. Their salary is not deducted from the $260 auction budget, which is key.

I don't place a lot of value on MLB performance three years down the road, when talking about guys who haven't played much, if at all, in the bigs. Yes, you should think about it. Yes, MLB teams need to occassionally rebuild and should focus on three years down the road. Yes, there are hotshot minor leaguers who turn out to be studs in MLB. But, a large percentage of the time, the guys who get the hype end up not deserving the hype. So many things can happen in three years that counting on one specific player to carry your team is foolish. The best strategies, MLB-wise, are hoarding lots of prospects and being happy that some of them turn out (play the percentages), or to trade prospects for more established players. I'm not advocating trading a 2002 Hank Blalock for middle relief help, but there's nothing wrong with traded a couple single-A pitchers for a Carlos Lee to replace Jermaine Dye in a season where you plan to compete for the playoffs. Acquiring a known talent for unknown talent is often a smart move, even if the unknown talent has a higher ceiling. The unknown talent also has a lower floor.

In roto, I know a lot of people that trade for a $3 double-A player with a 2006 ETA. Sure, there are times when this might be good (like when you're completely out of it and just want to get something for that $68 FAABed Shea Hillenbrand), but in general, don't do it. Get more, or get a player that will have a more immediate impact. If your league rules are similar to those I outlined above, here's my advice:

Without overpaying, or during a year when you're rebuilding, acquire a bunch of minor leaguers that are all likely to hit the big show next year. Keep these minor leaguers (hopefully along with some solid MLB keepers) to take the place of a few $1 duds you buy in the auction. You don't even care that the minor league keepers have expensive price tags ($8 max in my league). Most people like the really cheap keepers, so trade the cheapies to those people for quantity. If you have five minor league players that all earn $5, you've just gotten twenty free dollars when you put them in your active lineup, replacing 5 of the $1 duds. I absolutely love the loophole that lets you keep some players, who will earn a significant amount of money, for free. You'll lose out on the occasional diamond in the rough that you first paid $2 for and becomes a perennial All-Star. But while you wait for him, three years have gone by and you haven't won your league. Use minor leaguers as freely kept talent. If they eventually turn out to be perennial keepers, great. If not, they were still useful.

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