My primary keeper league is a 15-team, mixed roto league where we start two guys at each position with six outfielders and nine pitchers. We draft our starting roster and then have just two opportunities — the final week of April and mid-May — to fill out a 10-player bench from the free agent player pool. That’s it. No other time. There’s no streaming of pitchers throughout the year unless you roster a few on your bench and there’s no waiting to pounce on a rookie on the waiver wire once he gets called up. You need to know in March who is going to get called up, regardless of whether it’s mid-season or September. The first month and a half is all about knowledge and foresight.
So because it’s a keeper league, I like to target a group of rookies who I think will, not only be fantastic long-term keeper options, but who will also make an impact this season. It’s a win-now mentality while also preparing for my team’s immediate future. I don’t worry about the Manny Machcado’s or the Dylan Bundy’s. They may be great at some point, but they’re too far off to stash away as bench spots are too important to the present season and with wacky pricing for protects, they’d be too expensive to hold all that time. I go for the guys who have a sweet-looking path to the majors this year and will be highly coveted major-leaguers by the end of the season.
But while planning for the future is great, it can also be incredibly frustrating when you have to sit and wait for an organization to make a call that you believe to be so easy and so obvious. I lose the ability to maneuver players in and out of my active roster because I have this one group of guys just sitting on my bench laying in wait. Can’t do anything with them, can’t drop them. And my patience is wearing thin. They are ready to be called up. Everyone knows it. And the longer an organization waits, the worse off I am for this year.
Why is Anthony Rizzo still down in Triple-A? What more does he have to do right now? Are 13 home runs and a 1.125 OPS through 157 plate appearances not enough? Sure, his cup of coffee last year with the Padres was a disaster, but he needs to get the opportunity to try again. There’s nothing left for him to do down there. I know Bryan LaHair is raking right now, but are you getting that great of production from your corner outfielders that you can’t move one out, slide LaHair to the outfield and put Rizzo at first? You can’t tell me that it’s Alfonso Soriano’s defense that is keeping him there, can you? Make a move, Cubs!! You’re killing me here.
And what about this lame duck effort the Rockies are getting at third base these days? Jordan Pacheco has a slash line of .250/.286/.375 and Jonathan Herrera’s is .246/.292/.393. Combined, they have two home runs and six RBI and defensively, there’s nothing special about either. Where’s my Nolan Arenado? He plays some solid defense and has a bat that easily surpasses either of these two tomato cans. True, he’s only batting .290 with a .348 on-base percentage down in Double-A, but with just a 15.3% strikeout rate, solid plate discipline, and ISO numbers that scream potential, he needs to start advancing. We’ve seen guys make the jump from Double-A before, Colorado. Stop settling for mediocrity when you can have one of the hottest young up-and-comers rocking the hot corner for you!
Hey Arizona! Don’t walk away from me here! You sure about that back-end of the rotation? Wade Miley might look okay for now, but where is he going to go once that BABIP shoots north where it belongs and he starts giving up the long ball again? Patrick Corbin? He’s throwing junk out there and it’s just a matter of one or two more starts before that 5.73 ERA starts to balloon. And don’t even say the name Josh Collmenter. Give me some Trevor Bauer and that tasty 11.17 K/9! I mean, more ground ball outs than fly ball outs and 60 strikeouts in 48 innings? Dance that out onto the main stage for me and show me a good time.
Or how about my most recent pick-up, third baseman Josh Bell? Yeah, still looking at you Arizona. He’s ripping it up in Triple-A right now with a .398/.443/.627 slash line, just a 15.5% strikeout rate and a solid 9.3% walk rate. Oh yeah, and how about a fat ol’ .229 ISO which is right in line with what he’s done in the past? Ryan Roberts was a one-hit wonder and come on….Cody Ransom? How long do you think that’s going to last? He’s Cody freakin’ Ransom! The future is now my friends. Opportunity is knocking and you’re still asking, “Who is it?”
It’s time to infuse the big leagues with more youth. If the success of players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout isn’t enough to convince you, then I don’t know what more you want. I don’t care if I sound like Veruca Salt clamoring for my golden goose right now. You won’t be referring to me as the petulant child if I’m right, will you? Well guess what? I’m ready for you to prove me wrong. Bring them up already and we’ll find out together. In the meantime, all this dragging your feet that you’re doing is killing my chances in this league right now.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org