Roster Doctor

The Roster Doctor is back in town after a winter’s hibernation with a keeper question about closers.

10 team AL-only keeper league, you can keep up to 10 players.

I have the following players (prices in parentheses):
Chris Perez (1); David Price (13); Jeremy Hellickson (2); Colby Lewis (5); Frank Francisco (1); Kevin Gregg (3); Koji Uehara (1); Nick Swisher (8); Mike Napoli (7); Shin-Soo Choo (23); Dustin Pedroia (25); Miguel Cabrera (41); Justin Smoak (2).

Perez, Price, Hellickson and Lewis are no-brainers, as is Francisco if he’s officially closing in Toronto. Gregg or Uehara would be fantastic if either had the Baltimore job locked up. My problem is this: Do I keep Perez, Price, Hellickson, Lewis, Francisco, Uehara and Gregg? That would be seven pitchers and only three hitters. Any input would be appreciated.



Unlike in mixed leagues, all closers or potential closers are precious commodities in AL/NL-only leagues. Your temptation to keep as many as possible is understandably strong, given that the same pitcher on the open auction market might cost you much more if/when he’s given the closer role. Here are some factors you should consider before making your decision:

– When do you have to declare your keepers?

– When is the auction?

Why do these dates matter? The longer you can wait to declare, the more time you have to see if one of either Gregg or Uehara locks down the job. The earlier the auction, is the less valuable Gregg is on the open market (since there’ll still be a lot of uncertainty over his role) in an auction and thus the lower his keeper value is, too.

It seems like the closer’s job is Uehara’s to lose, and baring injury or a Frank Francisco 2010-type bad spell to open the season, he should keep it. Plus, with Mike Gonzalez and others lurking deeper in the Orioles’ pen, Gregg himself might lose runner-up status if he has a bad spell. Also, for $3, or not much more, you should be able to land another backup with better skills or better prospects or both. Take a look at Grant Balfour in Oakland or Jake McGee in Tampa Bay or whichever one of Brandon League or David Aardsma seems undervalued by your league-mates.

The reason to not risk keeping Gregg is I think you have at least four hitters worth keeping. Swisher, Napoli and Choo are absolute musts at their keeper prices. Pedroia isn’t super cheap and he carries some injury risk still, but it is risk probably worth bearing in an AL-only league.

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Thanks, Jonathan. We have to declare our keepers on March 4, with our auction 10 days later.

What are your thoughts on Smoak vs. Pedroia? I’m planning to throw Cabrera back.