Phantasy Philes: The Keepers

Finally somewhat recovered from Monday night's Eagles loss, I decided now would be a good time to look toward the future. With the end of the fantasy baseball season nearing closer, now is the time when owners in keeper leagues start to think about which guys they'll take into next year, and which they'll release into the wild. So, in this week's edition of the Philes, we'll take a look at a few Phillies worth holding onto for 2004 and beyond.

Perhaps the most obvious keeper pick from the Phillies' roster, despite the fact that he's starting to get up there in age, is Jim Thome. Sure, power hitting first basemen are a dime a dozen, buts it's rare to find one as consistent as Jimmy is from year to year. Thome has hit at least 30 homers in each of the last eight years, and at least 37 in each of the last four. Combine that with the 100 or more RBIs he's had over the same eight year span, with exception to 1998 where he only play in 123 games, and you have a pretty darn reliable power bat. The batting average on the other hand has been hard to pin down to one consistent range. Though his current average of .265 this season would be his lowest in 10 years, should he end the season there, Jim has hit above .290 five times in the last eight years. So, expectations of a .300/35/100 season in the near future are not out of reach.

Though Bobby Abreu doesn't really put up huge numbers in any one category, his ability to contribute across the board puts him near the top of just about any owner's keeper list. Over his career, Bob has averaged a line of .306/22/92/28 per 162 games played, which is pretty much reason enough to add him to that keeper list. Another thing to keep in mind with Abreu is that he's just 29, and already has five season within or near that previously mentioned stat line, which is both impressive and encouraging. The bottom line here is simple, having Bob on your keeper list not only gives you a guy who is very predictable, in a good way, but he also provides your club with a nice head start in just about every offensive category imaginable.

When it comes to picking which starters to keep, if any, fantasy owners are faced with a much tougher decision. With exception to a guy like Pedro Martinez, starters tend to me more of a gamble from year to year. A perfect example would be the Phillies' own Kevin Millwood. Back in 1999, a 24-year-old Millwood took many baseball fans and fantasy owners off guard with an amazing season of 18 wins, a 2.68 ERA, and a miniscule 0.99 WHIP, not to mention 205 strikeouts. Who wouldn't decide to keep such a young guy after such a great season? I doubt anyone would have passed him up, in anticipation of many more seasons of Pedro-like numbers. Well, in reality Millwood followed up his fantastic '99 stats with back-to-back mediocre years with ERAs in the mid 4.00s and a major injury to top things off. Now, in the long run Kevin has turned things back around and started pitching well again, but in a three year keeper league those two years would have been killers. So, the morale of this story is to choose your starters wisely when it comes to making keeper lists, or if you really want to play it safe, toss anyone back in the pool not named Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling.

One starter that I would keep outside of the top-flight names is the Phillies' own Randy Wolf. At 27, Wolf still has many good baseball years ahead of him that fantasy owners should benefit from greatly. Until August of this year, Randy saw a continuing trend that had his ERA decreasing in each of his four plus seasons in the majors. Often a hard luck loser, Wolf has already set a career high with 14 wins this season, but with a little more offensive consistency, that number should continue to rise in future season. Randy is still young enough where he still might have a ways to go before maxing out his potential, which should make him an intriguing option for those in keeper leagues. Adding to the usually solid ERA and WHIP numbers is a consistently solid strikeout total from year to year, which really should reach 200 or more one season soon.

That'll do it for this week folks. If you have any questions or comments for me, be sure to send them to with "PBN" in the subject line and I'll get right back to you. Until next time, I'm out like Brian Dawkins.

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