Protected roster tips
Thursday, February 25, 1999
Roster cut-down time is coming soon so here are a few tips to make the right choices.
1. Consider your salary cap. Try to go into your draft with at least $10-$12 to spend per player. Do not protect too many high-dollar players. Try to protect players whose salaries are well below league market (not book) value. Remember that published dollar values are to be used only as a guide. Also, consider your salary position relative to the rest of the league. If you have a lot of money to spend and most of the other owners do not, then you should control the draft. If you fall in the middle or towards the bottom of the pack, then cut or trade some of your expensive players if you can.
2. Long-term contracts. Only sign hitters to long-term contracts that are bonafide yearly contributors in at least three categories that are not injury-prone and are undervalued. Exceptions include cheap stud starters and cheap stud closers. Even then, only give them 1-2 years without destroying your salary cap.
3. Consider team needs. Retain players at positions you are thin at but only if they are solid and reasonably priced. Basically, release the players whose salary is higher than your league's projected market value and retain those with lower value. Exceptions might be expensive power hitters and expensive closers that are critical to your team's success - if you can afford them.
4. Consider position scarcity. If you think that a certain position will be scarce going into the draft, then you might be forced to keep a player or two that is slightly overvalued. Be sure that he is a solid contributor though. Also, try to keep the DH position open if you can. It will give you more flexibility when bidding on players at the draft.
5. Saves are like gold. Unless your closers are way too expensive, keep them. If you have a closer prospect or a closer committeeman for a few bucks, consider retaining them too. Same could be said for stolen bases in some cases.
6. Be careful with starting pitching. Don't keep too many $10 starters unless they are rock solid. Don't gamble unless they are cheap. Don't retain too many young, unproven starters either unless you are convinced they are ready to break out.
7. Make a deal. If you have players you deem too expensive or even cheaper players that you are not interested in retaining, shop them around the league for cheaper talent. You never know until you try. Even if you don't make a trade, you might find out how the other owners feel about their players and whether or not they will retain them.
8. Project all the keeper lists. If you've been in a league with the same owners for a number of years, you should know how they think by now. Go through every roster and project what players each of them might protect - and sign long-term. This will give you an idea of what positions will be more available in the draft and what owners will be strapped for cash. Draft day lists from previous years can also help you determine what the other owners might do.
9. Study your rival owner's tendencies. Some might historically keep his/her power, speed, starting pitching and/or closer regardless of salary. Some might protect as many positions as possible. Some might protect as many categories as possible. Some might protect all pitchers or maybe a lot of safe middle relievers. Other might throw everybody back.
10. Signing long-term contracts. If you have a hitter at $10 and you think he's on the verge of a breakout, then sign him for a couple of more years. If that same player is basically a $10-$15 player at his peak, throw him back unless his position is thin. Or, you can let him play out his option (if his contract is up for renewal) saving $5+, and get him back next year. If the $10 players aren't likely to break out this year or next, don't sign them long-term. And remember there's always the chance of an injury. If you make a mistake, err on the side of caution. Conservative owners always have an extra few bucks to spend at the draft.
To sum up
In short, project the other owner's cuts (as best you can), list the number of players available at each position and determine how much each owner has to spend at the draft. Then, make your cuts based on your team's financial situation and your team and league's positional availability. If still in doubt, ask yourself: "If I throw this guy back, can I get him back any cheaper?" If the answer is yes, throw him back. And just because you do, there is no rule saying that you have to have him back.