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Ask the Juice: Chase Utley for Ryan Braun in a Keeper League?
Cody Crosby,

I was offered Chase Utley and Erik Bedard for Ryan Braun.

It's a keeper league and we keep 3 off and 3 pitchers and 1 flex of either. My other keepers as of right now are Ryan Braun,Ryan Howard,Josh Hamilton and Grady Sizemore. On the pitcher end, I have Liriano,Rich Harden and Adam Wainwright.

Thanks for any insight.

Ryan - Colorado


Thanks for your question. We love pondering these sorts of deals for our readers.

First off, let's look at the numbers for each player in 2008:

Ryan Braun (OF): 92 Runs, 37 HR, 106 RBI, 14 SB, .285 AVG

Chase Utley (2B): 113 Runs, 33 HR, 104 RBI, 14 SB, .292 AVG

Erik Bedard (SP): 6 wins, 72 Ks, 3.67 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

There are four metrics that I look for when judging the value of players when in a keeper league: 1) Stats, 2) Position, 3) Team Needs, 4) Age.

1. Stats - Looking at 2008's numbers, Utley and Braun are very close. Utley has a few more runs and a slightly better AVG. Braun hit more home runs and knocked in two more. Their numbers are so close that, during a long season, the difference won't matter much.

Utley plays on a better team so I like his chances of scoring more runs. The only issue with Utley at this point is his lingering injury. My guess is that your leaguemate believes Utleyís injury is worse than reported. That being said, this is a keeper league so it doesnít really matter in the long run if Utley misses a month next season.

2. Position - Chase Utley, at second base, plays at a premium position where he and a few others reign supreme over their counter parts. The experts at FantasyJuice have Utley ranked as the top second baseman coming into 2009.

Looking at your current offensive keepers you have three outfielders in your possession. Outfield is a rather deep position in fantasy baseball so there is no point in keeping three outfielders on your team.

There were 11 outfielders who hit at least 31 home runs last season. Compare that to just 2 second baseman. Having Utley will give you a huge lead over your leaguemates in homeruns. Utley was also the ONLY second baseman to record 100 RBI last season, while 13 outfielders had at least that many.

The goal in keeping players from year to year should be to fill positions that are not strong. Doing this gives you an advantage over your leaguemates since they will have to draft from a lesser pool.

3. Team Needs - You obviously need some more infielders on your team. You are hoarding outfielders, which is a bad idea since it is the deepest position in fantasy baseball. Adding Utley, as was stated above, will give you a way above average 2B at an extremely weak position.

4. Age - Yes, Utley, at 30 years old, is an old geezer compared to Braun (25). This will only make a difference if your league is planning on staying around past Utley's prime years. I give Utley at least 4 more years ranked as a top 3 second basemen. After that, his stats will still be good but by that time you might have been able to add a top 2B prospect in one of your drafts.

Also, is it even feasible that your keeper league will last another 4 years? Most keeper leagues dissolve after a few seasons for various reasons. You should be looking in the long-run but be reasonable about it.

As for Bedard in this equation, there isn't really much to say. He could be a stud once again or he could be a complete bust. He adds no value to this trade other than the fact that you get an extra pitcher. I would still do this trade even if it were Utley for Braun, straight-up.

Cody Crosby

Hey Ryan,

First off, great question! I agree with what Cody said in that you should take the deal but I would also look at his rotation and see if there is any way you can add on one of your pitchers to upgrade from Bedard, whom I donít feel is worth keeping regardless.

Whether you make the trade or not, you are extremely deep at hitting, with four players that would be picked by the middle of the second round in most drafts but your pitching is quite weak. I havenít finished my pre-season pitcher rankings yet but I donít envision any of your pitchers making the top 20 for my rankings so I would look into trading a bat for a top arm.

My choice would be to trade Ryan Howard, due to his deep position at first base and because he kills you in two categories (average and stolen bases). Having Ryan Howard on your team means that you have to compensate for his terrible average and inability to steal a base with the rest of your picks and I just donít feel that the benefits outweigh the costs with him.

With Utley, Sizemore and Hamilton you would have a solid core for all five categories to build upon and not feel pressed to have to make up in any one category, meaning that you will have a lot of flexibility in the rest of your draft.

I think that Howard should be able to net you a top pitcher to lead the rest of your average staff. I would target owners who are weak at the first base position and/or are weak in the power department as they would most likely be the most willing to pay for Howard.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Michael Ryan

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