Roster Doctor – 4/8/09

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Player pool: Mixed
No. of teams: 10
Categories: Traditional 5×5
Scoring Type: Roto
C – Ryan Doumit
1B – Carlos Pena
2B – Howie Kendrick
3B – Melvin Mora
SS – JJ Hardy
2B/SS – Felipe Lopez
1B/3B – Conor Jackson
OF – Ryan Braun
OF – Matt Holliday
OF – Alex Rios
OF – Torii Hunter
OF – Delmon Young
UTIL – Carlos Gomez
Bench – Paul Konerko
Bench – Edwin Encarnacion

P – Roy Halladay
P – Roy Oswalt
P – Francisco Liriano
P – Matt Garza
P – Randy Johnson
P – Huston Street
P – Mike Gonzalez
P – George Sherrill
P – Chad Cordero
Bench – Aaron Harang

Here’s a very standard ESPN 10-team roto league, whose manager has been “the victim of the autopicker” due to having to miss the draft. Before we get to ideas for turning this team around, let’s start off with strengths. Ryan Braun was probably your first pick, and as long as you were picking 5th or later, I think the autodraft algorithm served you well. I’m not sure who your second pick was, so I’m guessing Halladay and/or Holliday were taken too highly (actually, both likely were). But Holliday, in my eyes, was going too low in most drafts. He was an interesting case this year; very unsophisticated managers would draft him too highly due to not accounting for the Coors effect. Somewhat sophisticated managers would put him too low on their board, assuming his road stats were indicative of his new production level. And those managers who took the next step—noting the impact of the humidor on Coors HR numbers, and the fact that most ballplayers hit better at home, bumped him up on their sheets more towards his previous status as a top-10 or early teen pick. I think Holliday is somewhere between the 20th- and 25th-best player going into this year. Edwin Encarnacion, Torii Hunter, and Delmon Young are constantly underrated this year, and JJ Hardy may be as well.

Your bullpen is excellent. Street just won the closer’s role, and should do fine. Sherrill has it for now, which is a sign of manager confidence given the spring he and Chris Ray have had. Mike Gonzalez has little to no competition for the role right now, and his peripherals indicate he should be a fine closer for Atlanta. On the SP side, Liriano is quite serviceable, even without his slider. Oswalt is remarkably consistent, and Harang is due for a bounceback year. Garza is overrated, in my eyes, but I could see Randy Johnson providing nice K totals, along with an ERA around 4.00 and a solid WHIP.

As for what to work on—I would say the starting and relief pitching is in a position of strength right now. I would dump two hitters on your bench in favor of a couple of starting pitchers. You should be able to get close to ESPN’s max IP, and most teams will have a hard time matching the stats your pitchers will put up. I think four closers is perfect; in a 10-team league, most teams will have three or two, so you’re likely looking at top three in saves.

As for hitting, you have five solid OF. The down side of this, however, is that if a free agent OF starts to perform above expectations, or gets moved into a more prime lineup spot, you’ve got nowhere to put him. I’d look to trade an OF for a better 1B or 1B/3B player. Could you deal Braun and one of your top SP for someone like Wright or Pujols? Or Braun for Miguel Cabrera straight-up?

I think you can absolutely do better than Howie Kendrick and Carlos Gomez. Try Kelly Johnson, if he’s still around, for 2B. And for your Util, I’d look for a Francoeur, or if you need speed, perhaps the Yankee’s new CF Brett Gardner. Gardner is batting ninth in the Yankees lineup, but with his speed he’ll often be in scoring position for the top of the lineup when Jeter and Damon are up.

All in all, I think you ended up with an above-average autodraft. You have solid pitching, which seems to be typical of autodraft teams, but you also have a solid closing corps, lucking out with Sherrill, Gonzalez, and Street. Put Chris Ray, Rafael Perez, and Manny Corpas in their place and all of a sudden you’re punting saves each week. The hitters could use some work, but in a 10-person league there’s a lot of value to be had in the free agent pool. Do your best to keep your Util spot open; someone always drops a player in April that they shouldn’t, due to a poor month and small sample size. Make sure you’re there to pick that person up and put them in your everyday lineup. And load up on some serviceable pitchers instead of those bench spots with hitters in them; Jered Weaver and Brad Penny are likely available in your league, and are underrated right now. That’ll give you the best shot at topping the board with Wins and Ks, while your aces give you a great shot at ERA and WHIP.

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