2009 Sleeper Preview (Fantasy Style)

Kip ArneyCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2009

This piece is the first installment of a major project as I'm going to cover my fantasy baseball team as a beat writer and provide nightly recaps (once the season starts) of my players and how they're doing. I don't expect much of an audience, but this is more for me than anyone else. However if you feel like the need to comment, go ahead and do so.

The 2009 Sleeper organization looks to rebound from a loss in the championship game last year and return to 2007 form, when they took the title themselves for the first time in league history. In a 12-team head-to-head keeper league where seven players are kept from year to year, Sleeper has proven to be a force to be reckoned with as year after year they finish in the top half of the league with a chance to take the title.

The Sleeper GM will have to make some decisions on who to keep before the March 14 draft. Here are some of the players that Sleeper has to choose from who are under consideration to make the squad.

C—Brian McCann

1B—Garrett Atkins

1B/3B—Aubrey Huff

2B—Brandon Phillips

SS—Troy Tulowitzki

SS—Miguel Tejada

SS—Yunel Escobar

OF—Grady Sizemore

OF—Carlos Quentin

SP—Tim Lincecum

SP—Roy Halladay

SP—Brandon Morrow

SP—Matt Garza

Some players seem like locks to make the squad next year such as reigning NL CY Young winner Lincecum, and overwhelming top fantasy outfielder Sizemore. But no one has been given the thumbs up to their future.

I was able to pull the Sleeper GM aside for a few questions during the winter meetings.

Kip Arney: How would you describe your team's style of play?

GM: On the offensive side it's a little bit of speed mixed in with some power. Last year down the stretch, losing Quentin and Phillips to injuries really hurt us. On the pitching side, I don't regard closers as highly as others to. Saves is just one category in a league where 21 categories are tallied. Our pitching is strong. If we can grab three front of the rotation guys and sprinkle in a few inning eaters behind them, we'll be OK.

KA: You mentioned 21 categories you're playing for each week. What are those?

GM: On the offensive side we have, Runs, Hits, Home Runs, RBIs, Stolen Bases, Walks, K's, Total Bases, Fielding Percentage, Batting Average, and On-Base Percentage. Pitching-wise we've got Innings Pitched, Wins, Losses, Saves, Walks, K's, Holds, Total Bases, ERA, and WHIP.

KA: If you could pick one or two categories that you focus on building your team around in both hitting and pitching, what would it be?

GM: On the hitting side, I think average is a big key because it means you're getting on base and either scoring or driving in runs. Home runs don't define us and I don't go for the heavy hitters because they tend to strike out more often and that slows a team down.

Pitching is all about the holds category. I'm a big believer of having top line set up men because they can provide you with more appearances and opportunities for wins along with holding down the lead for our closer to end it. And the great thing about holds is that you only have to record one out or just face one batter on some occasions to get the statistic. As a closer, you're required to get three outs, which is obviously more difficult.

KA: Anybody not on your team that you're hoping to snag in the draft in March?

GM: Hard to say, other teams haven't released their rosters yet which they must do two weeks before the draft so once that deadline hits and I see who's out there, then I'll begin to work my strategy. Not to say though, there are young prospects we have our scouts looking at.

KA: With Miguel Tejada pleading guilty to lying to Congress, will that impact your decision on bringing him back?

GM: Miguel was a great player for us last year and we'll just wait and see how this whole deal sorts out before making any decisions.

With just over a month before the draft, the Sleeper GM has some tough decisions to make with his roster and believes that those who come back will be the core of another team poised to make a run at the championship.