I went in with 8 guys I thought were keepable. Brain Roberts, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro, Brandon Webb, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Adam Dunn, and Albert Pujols.
I traded Roberts and Verlander for the #2 non-keeper pick, and the 2nd pick in the 3rd round. I gave back a 6th rounder and the last pick int he draft to even picks up. I felt the trade was fair and that it is going to help me significantly in the draft. I won the league last year so i have the last pick in the draft. With the trade I will have 6 of the first 37 picks however. I put myself in a good position as I got into the beginning of the 2 rounds I had the last pick in. Now I have the 2nd and last picks of the 1st and 3rd rounds.
Trading was sparse this year so i wasn't able to trade away one of my 6 remaining keepers. I could have, but I wasn't willing to trade them for a mid round pick. Having the #2 overall pick and so many early picks there was no reason to. The deeper the draft is the better for me considering I have so many early picks. Another 3rd or 4th rounder, or another keeper worth player in the draft? I'll take the latter every time.
Some people would disagree with my keepers, but I'll explain why I kept the guys I did.
Albert Pujols-I cannot drop him. I don't care what the constant injury reports say. Even if he gets injured at some point this year his value is high enough that I can trade him to a team that is out of it. My plan is to stack my team enough that even if he does I can keep him for next year.
The other 4:
You could make a good argument as to whether I should have kept Webb, or CC, or both. When it came down to it, there was no way i was going to keep 2 pitchers. In fact I didn't even want to keep one. Most teams don't keep pitching anyways so there are plenty in the draft. We never know what pitching will give us either so odds are pitchers are going to kill you if you keep them. I kept CC because he has a higher K rate, and we use K/9 and Ks in our league. He is also in a contract year. They are very comparable and Webb will never have a scoreless innings run like he had last year. Both play for teams that should give them close to 20 wins. I suppose you can argue that CC has much tougher competition, and that being in the AL should automatically disqualify him, but I disagree when I look at the Ks that I need and almost everything else being virtually equal.
Manny, Dunn, Ichiro-Two of these guys are getting older. I do not care. They still produce. They always produce. They aren't that old. Let me let you in on a championship caliber team fantasy secret for continued dominance in fantasy leagues. I believe this is the #1 secret to keeper leagues in fantasy baseball.
Fantasy Secret #1:
Young players with potential are not as good as proven vets that produce and a bunch of draft picks. Even in the draft there is no reason to waste your early picks on guys with 1 great year because it is a keeper league. You can pick others up with later picks and take risks, or pull guys off the free agent pool when they get called up and hope to strike gold. They come along every year. 3 years sustained production should be your minimal criteria for drafting a guy early in a keeper league. Not youth.
I never keep a player more than a couple years anyways. Why would I waste a keeper spot on a guy that I am not sure will produce? I don't. Braun would never be on a keeper team of mine this year. I'd rather have Aramis Ramirez. I know he will produce. I'm not so sure about Braun. Besides that I can get Aramis for much less and probably another player on top of that who will produce a significant amount as well in a deal if I traded Braun away because Braun is ranked ridiculously high. People actually go by ranks that likely don't even base themselves on YOUR LEAGUE STATS. That means my team is stronger overall and I either have more players that are keepable, or more draft picks to build a CHAMPIONSHIP team. Not a few nice young players who could be total busts, and a bunch of mediocre players because I took a ton of risks while passing on sure things.
If you do strike gold with a 3 month youth wonder in free agency in a keeper league. Trade them for veteran keepers and rape those that think that youth is the way to win. You will have more keepers to trade in the off season, more draft picks, and a much stronger overall team that you know will produce. Don't fall into the youth trap. A 30 year old stud with 5 years of production is going to win 9 times out of 10 compared to a 23 year old who played a monster 2nd half last year. They say sophomore slump for a reason. This is why.
Ichiro is a slow starter. Don't go by his spring. If you can trade for him early, do it. He always gets hot about 2 months in. You can steal him almost every year.
Manny came into camp early? No way. Good shape? No way. Team option to get paid again? Yes way. That means it is as close to a contract year as Manny can get. Last thing he wants is to hit free agency when he has the monster option with the Red Sox. Even if they don't exercise it he needs to have a monster year to get re-upped. Manny is Manny anyways. He's cheap this year too I'd imagine. Laugh at people who take lesser Flavor of the Month players in the draft. Same goes for guys like Sheffield, Magglio, and many others. Don't be a youth idiot. Especially in single season leagues.
Dunn may strike out a lot, and have a low BA, but we use 10 categories. OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, Runs more than make up for the couple of stats he doesn't get me. Besides hitters are harder to get than pitchers. Outfield is the most kept position every year so if you don't keep it you won't get this kind of production. The IF positions are much nicer to have if you have the monsters, but if you break it down the difference between the top 1-2 players there and everyone else is huge. After that not so much. People don't trade away those Top1-2 guys either so you stack whatever you can elsewhere on the offensive side.