If you have not already been prepping for the 2012 MLB season, the time is now. By making the decision to participate in a keeper league you have committed yourself to a fantasy format that will require you to increase your level of offseason activity in order to compete at a high level. Below are some things you should be doing before your draft or auction in order to provide your league mates with the best competition possible.
First you should get up to speed on player movements whether they occur through draft signings, free agent acquisitions, or trades. We send out, each day, e-mail reports tracking all of this information and more. You can subscribe to these under your Account Info link at the top of our site home page. A few minutes each day should lend to keeping you in the know concerning player updates. Also looking over the Depth Charts link will reveal each team's plans for their new arrivals. These movements can directly impact players due to ballpark factors and organizational depth. It is nice to land a hot prospect but if he is blocked at his position in the organization it may take awhile for him to help your team (see: Brett Jackson). Yonder Alonso was certainly more appealing in Cincinnati but the move to San Diego will give him an opportunity to play regularly, but in a pitchers' park.
Next you should perform some level of analysis on what it will take to win your league by researching what it took to win each category the previous season (or seasons). You do not have to win every category but a goal of third place in each category while participating in a 12-team league is a method that has worked for me in the past. For instance in that 12-team mixed league that employed 13 hitters and a 1,500 innings cap, the following numbers would fit this criteria: R-1123, HR-278, RBI-1149, SB-180, BA-.275, W-100, SV-119, K-1374, ERA-3.45, WHIP-1.19. Remember almost every league is unique in some way and using your league's past history is your best guide.
Deciding your keepers and evaluating short comings will allow you to formulate a plan of attack in your preparation for the coming season. Our Cheat Sheets have been updated and should serve you well in helping you to rank your keepers. If you believe you have too many keepable players begin working on some two for one trades where your goal is to upgrade your keepers. Teams that finished poorly in your league the previous season sometimes do not have enough players deemed to be keeper worthy and can often be good trading partners if they can acquire two players in return for one.
As the season approaches check injured player's recovery status. Justin Morneau is a good example of someone that with one favorable health report could jump in projected value for the coming season. Some other injured players that could see a boost in value with a good report are Kendrys Morales, Brian Roberts, Grady Sizemore, Jason Heyward, Stephen Drew, and Josh Johnson.
I realize that none of us like the word "duty", but this is the hobby we have chosen to participate in and let's face it, we like to win or at least perform well in our endeavors. As one of my coaching friends continually tells his players, "Son, give yourself a chance".
In my home keeper league we have had one of our best off seasons to date. There have been numerous trades that have seemingly brought many owners out of their offseason hibernations and to the attention of their teams. If you are one of those keeper owners just now waking up, address these issues and get your team ready for a great 2012 season. As I preach to my son "There are no shortcuts to success."