Draft Day Manifesto: Thank You, Former Studs, But No Thanks

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2010

PHOENIX - AUGUST 30:  Carlos Lee #45 of the Houston Astros bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on August 30, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Astros 4-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The other day, I was watching the cartoon Wow Wow Wubbzy with my five-year-old daughter.

If “watching” is the right word.

I was more glancing at the TV while wondering what ever happened to children’s entertainment in the past 20 years.

How in the world did we go from He-Man , Thundercats , Voltron and even The Smurfs   to Wow Wow Wubbzy , Yo Gabba Gabba! and Zoboomafu?

Ask me what my favorite TV show is of all time, and you won’t hear House (although it is fun to watch) or Law and Order or Survivor . It was a show from the '80s called Quantum Leap . Like it or not, there is a conservative streak in all of us. A part that latches on to the old and struggles to embrace the new.

Fantasy baseball managers are not exempt from this phenomenon.

But if you want to be successful in 2010, be cautious with these old statistical studs who have seen their value drop closer to that of a soggy tuna fish sandwich than a first-round sure-fire draftee. (go to www.chinstrapninjas.com for the full story).

Johan Santana, SP, Mets

Many of us remember when Johan was the best pitcher in baseball. How he buoyed the Minnesota Twins into contenders and won two Cy Young awards with the NL Central squad. When he was a first or second-round draft pick.

However, welcome to 2010, Mr. Santana. The elbow surgery that ended Johan’s 2009 season is only the tip of the iceberg. Santana’s velocity has declined each season since 2006. His strikeouts dropped off considerably after moving to the National League. His slider has become almost nonexistent.

Sure, some will look at his 2.78 ERA from last season before the injury and feel that he is a bounce back candidate. However, Santana is not the same hurler you remember, especially on a team that’s becoming the MLB’s version of the Oakland Raiders. Don’t overpay for him in your draft based only on happy memories from days gone by.


Vladimir Guerrero, OF, Rangers

Remember this fantasy first-round draftee? His star has fallen so far as to be dropped from the Angels roster. He’s now with Texas. Sure he still raked when healthy last year, but those periods have become fewer and farther between lately for this falling star.

One statistic to consider was his .334 on-base percentage from last season, a major dropoff from the .403 just two years before. As with Santana and others on this list, Vlad will have some big games during 2010, but not enough to justify anything more than a late-round draft pick in most league settings.


Pedro Martinez, SP, Phillies

In nine regular-season games with Philadelphia last season, Pedro was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA and 37 strikeouts. Hard to argue against those statistics...except that Martinez would never be able to maintain that streak during the entire season. His velocity is down—it takes a very good day for him to even near the 90 mph plateau—and his three-year average gives a more realistic statline for this once-great pitcher: 11 starts, 4.67 ERA, 52 Ks. There will be people reaching for Pedro on draft day, especially how he came on at the end of last season. Don’t be one of them.


Carlos Lee, OF, Astros

Perhaps not as flashy a name as others on this list, Lee has been a fantasy staple for years now. His combination of power and speed on the base paths helped redefine the concept of a multi-category fantasy player. However, Lee is no longer a guy who can anchor your fantasy outfield.

Lee averaged 14 stolen bases between 2003-2007. Last year, he had five. In 2007, Lee scored 93 runs. The past two seasons, Lee was limited to the 60s (61 in 2008, 65 in 2009). His home runs have slowly declined since 2007, too (32, 28, 26). Sure, he offers power and still hovers around .300 in batting average, but that doesn’t help much when surrounded by mostly mediocre talent in the Astros starting lineup.

If I was going to draft a player on a struggling team, I’d wait a round or two or more and snag someone like Andrew McCutchen with the Pirates.


Todd Helton, 1b, Rockies

It hurts me to put him on this list because he’s been one of my favorite players for quite a while, but it is time to tread cautiously when drafting Helton. After a mediocre 2008 with a .264 batting average and only seven home runs, Helton bounced back somewhat last season with 15 round-trippers and a more typical .325 showing at the plate.

However, looking closer at the numbers, only one-third of Helton’s home runs came after the All-Star break. It’s apparent that at 37, Helton can’t hold up as well as he used to. Remember that on draft day.

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