Mailbag: Pablo Position and Fantasy Keepers

Santa is not the only one with an overflowing mailbag this time of year. Let’s answer two questions in this version.

Question #1: JMB asks:

Do you see Pablo Sandoval gaining catcher eligibility if the Giants go with Buster Posey behind the plate? I’m in a keeper league where I traded away Sandoval last season, but I’d love to have him back if I can exploit that angle. Posey obviously can’t catch 162 games. Will the Giants go to another backup trying to protect Sandoval’s elbow, or do you see him calling some games? Thanks for your help!

Unfortunately, I think the ship has sailed for Sandoval as a catcher. I think he did decent work behind the plate in his brief time as a catcher in the majors. But Sandoval caught only three games in 2009, with his last game behind the plate coming on May 8.

As you alluded to, in the third week of May, Sandoval suffered an arm injury when he strained his right elbow making a throw from third base during an Interleague game against the Mariners. He missed four games and the injury lingered a little after that, too. Perhaps the Giants had already made their decision to move Sandoval permanently off catcher prior to the injury, but it is noticeable that he did not do it again afterwards.

You did not mention the eligibility requirements for your league but it is very difficult to imagine him playing 20 games behind the plate. Even 10 games at catcher for Sandoval seems unattainable. Perhaps if your league requires only one game during the regular season to become eligible it becomes a possibility but I would not want to even wager on that chance.

Finally, do not expect Posey to open the year in San Francisco. In an article dated December 5, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “General manager Brian Sabean said the front office had a ‘raging debate’ over whether Posey would be the No. 1 catcher, adding, ‘We came to the overall conclusion it would be a tall order to ask him to do that. He just hasn’t played a lot.’”

Question #2: KE asks:

I have a keeper deadline on 12/31, and I’m struggling with who to keep for my last position. I’m in a 12 team auction league where the longer you keep a player the more you pay. My budget for next year is $285. The hitting categories are: R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, net SB, K, BB, Avg. I’m looking for a 1-year deal and trying to decide between:

Todd Helton ($2)
Bobby Abreu ($20)
Miguel Cabrera ($39)

My other keepers are: Pedroia ($19 for 5 years), S. Drew ($4 for 2 years), Choo ($13 for 3 years), Adam Jones ($13 for 3 years), Victorino ($14 for 1 year), Carpenter ($8 for 1 year) and Tommy Hanson ($8 for 3 years). We start 2C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 5 OF, 1B/3B, 2B/SS, Util.

The numbers tell me to keep Helton as a good value, but I’m concerned about walking into the draft without a 1st round talent (well, Pedroia rates out as a 1st rounder in our scoring system).

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

I would not worry at all about having keepers with first-round talent. Instead, focus on how much value is on your roster and how much of a budget you and your fellow owners will bring to the auction.

Because of the net steals category, Abreu probably creates the most raw dollar value of the three, followed by Cabrera then Helton. But they are likely all within a few dollars of each other, making Helton the choice due to the large dollar discrepancy among their contracts.

Helton bounced back nicely from the back problems that plagued him during the 2008 season and turned in a fantasy season that fit in well with what he produced from 2005-2007. It may be that 2009 is the top end of what Helton can produce next season (his .355 BABIP was his highest since 2004) but even if he misses substantial time with injury a-la 2008, he is likely to exceed $2 in value. And if he plays in 150 games again, you will easily wind up with double-digit dollar value, an excellent return and a great building block for a money finish for you.

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Thanks for the thoughts Mr. Joura. Our league does have some pretty low eligibility requirements (5starts or 10 appearances), but I will not be expecting Pablo to reach that.