Friday, August 07, 2009

Get Ready for Rookies, Rookies Everywhere

posted by Jon Williams
As more and more Major League Baseball teams reshape their team-building philosophies from "sign free agents and trade minor leaguers" to more development-centric methods, we will see a greater and greater number of rookies and young players making rosters out of spring training. Rookies will be given longer chances and more opportunities to contribute than we are used to seeing from most teams. Conversely we are going to start to see older veterans, who have begun to fade, shuffled out of the majors sooner than was once the case.

For fantasy owners this is both good and bad news. The good news is this will mean that there are lots of interesting new players available on an annual basis. Rather than filling out the ends of your rosters with the Shawn Dunston, Omar Vizquel, and Ken Griffey Jr types, you will find yourself drafting more Daniel Murphy, Justin Masterson, and Ben Zobrist types. These are players whose upside has often been higher than their initial roles might indicate. Insouciant owners who continue to waste their endgame picks on old guys will be far less effective.

The bad news is this means more work for fantasy owners. You will have to work hard to gain an edge. That geek in your league (it could be you) that reads every page of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook and the Baseball Prospectus will suddenly be more of a contender than he was before. Sure there are many websites that publish Top 100 lists but they won't help you much if you don't understand why a player is ranked the way he is. You need to immerse yourself into reading the work of writers like Kevin Goldstein of BaseballProspectus.com, John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com, Adam Foster and his extremely talented staff at ProjectProspect.com (a lot of their focus is on gathering and filtering information for people who play in deep fantasy baseball leagues, so they can help you quite a bit), or any of the talented guys like Jim Callis and John Manuel at Baseball America, the standard for tracking minor leagues and top prospects. If you just commit to reading the work of these writers you will be way ahead of the curve of the changes coming to baseball's player population.

This happens to be the start of that point in the season where you start to see rookies added to the major league roster of contending teams. The trade deadline has passed and the stretch run has begun. Every team wants their best hands on deck. Sure, you will see even more rookies added in September but they will be there to watch and learn on the contending teams. This is when you should be using low FAAB bids to acquire players, especially if you can reserve them or you are not really in contention for a title. They may be very useful next season.

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