Roster Doctor: 4/22/09

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Player Pool: Mixed
No. of Teams: 13
Categories: Traditional 5×5
Scoring Type: Roto

C – Pablo Sandoval
1B – Adrian Gonzalez
2B – Dan Uggla
3B – Chipper Jones
SS – Jimmy Rollins
OF – Jason Bay
OF – Matt Kemp
OF – Raul Ibanez
UTIL – Elijah Dukes
BN – Chris Young (Ari)
BN – Randy Winn

SP – Tim Lincecum
SP – Edinson Volquez
SP – Justin Verlander
RP – Francisco Rodriguez
RP – Kevin Gregg
RP – Manny Corpas
RP – Carlos Villanueva
BN – Daisuke Matsuzaka
BN – Chris Carpenter
BN – John Smoltz
DL – Trevor Hoffman

This roster comes with an owner worried about the injuries to his pitching, and rightly so. Let’s focus on the hitting for a moment, though. This is a very strong lineup at each position, with a number of hitters that I’d imagine came at a bargain price; Uggla, Jones, Ibanez, and Bay have all been falling in drafts to some pretty enticing positions. Additionally, Sandoval is not only a good hitter, but an everyday hitter. I think owners of him in leagues where he has catcher eligibility will be quite happy with his production this year. The weakest spot is actually the Util position, which is a great sign. This owner will be able to throw a waiver claim at any player that’s dropped before he should be. In my own league, Derrek Lee has already been dropped, and I’d absolutely pick him up for the Util here if possible. He’s off to a slow start, but he’s in the heart of a strong lineup and that’s enough to get a surprising amount of production. This isn’t to say that Lee will be available in every league, but more that panic moves do happen, and having a replacement-level Util hitter that you don’t mind dropping is the best way to capitalize on this.

My one complaint about the hitting is the two OF in bench spots. In Rotisserie, you need to get as close as possible to getting 162 games out of each position. To this end, I’d suggest dropping your two least favorite out of Young, Winn, and Dukes, and then keeping one at Util and picking up a true utility player like Mark DeRosa. In fact, with your lineup, you may even want two of them. If you’re vigilant about knowing when Chipper will start, and when he will take a day off with whatever is bothering him lately, you can plug someone in that hole and at least assure you have a better than nil chance of getting some runs or RBIs.

As for pitching, there’s definitely a lot of trouble here. Carpenter looked amazing so far but is out for a couple months. Daisuke looked like his 2008 self (high strikeouts and walks), minus the luck that got him such an outrageous ERA and W-L record, but is now on the shelf with a tired arm. Smoltz isn’t due back until late May or early June, and Volquez is proving that last year was largely a fluke.

Given that this is a rotisserie, you’ll want to take a look at your IP limit for the season and figure out how you might get as close to it as possible. I’d advise dropping Smoltz in favor of someone who is pitching now. Smoltz is a gamble; he’s an old guy with great stuff and great NL numbers, but he’s coming off major surgery and moving into the AL East. And given the depth of the Red Sox pitching staff, he may initially come back as a relief pitcher. I’d also drop two bench hitters and pick up one multi-position player in their place and one starting pitcher. If this gives you too many innings and you think you’ll hit the cap, drop your worst starter in favor of a setup man with great ERA and WHIP numbers like Takashi Saito. Carpenter is a very tough call. He injured a large muscle group, which is great news as compared to injuring something like a small tendon. His strikeouts and walks so far make it look like he’s not lost a step since his glory years, so when he does come back, he’ll likely be pitching at an All-Star level. If you think you can hit the IP maximum with him or Hoffman on your bench until one of them comes back, then I’d say keep him. If your league has a high IP limit, however (say, 1500 or more), then I’d advise dropping him in favor of production.

In roto, it’s hard to survive with weak hitting. It looks like you followed this rule with the lineup you have, so the most important thing is for you to use your managerial skills to maximize your pitching points. You’re going to want to closely monitor your path to the innings pitched limit, and if you hit it you’ll likely be first in strikeouts, near the top in wins, and you’ll have a reasonable shot at being above-average in ERA and WHIP. Combined with what I’d guess is one of the top three or four batting lineups in your 13-team league, and I’d say you’re at least a contender for your league’s title. Perhaps even a favorite.

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I fully agree with keeping a utility player to cover off days and injuries.  I drafted Felipe Lopez in the last round and he has 2B/3B/SS/OF eligibility in Yahoo leagues not to mention he’s been hitting 1st or 3rd in an admittedly weak lineup.

Derek Carty
Derek Carty

My two cents: I really like Elijah Dukes.  I’d hold onto him.  The league is somewhat shallow so he doesn’t have quite as much value as in others, but I think he’s a very good player for as long as he stays in the lineup.  I like Winn the least of him, Dukes, and Young.