September is finally here, and that means it's time for those in keeper leagues to do their homework, regardless of their rank in the standings. In a four-part September series, If You're Hardcore helps you break down all the callups, especially potential 2009 keepers and players who might see enough at-bats to make an impact down the stretch. Each player has been assigned a letter grade for each of three factors: his ability to contribute this September, his chance of being useful in 2009 and his long-term outlook as a prospect.
A lot can change between now and the end of spring training next year, so those in keeper leagues should primarily target talent in September, and let roles and playing time fall where they may. For owners needing a last-minute boost in the standings, it's a bit more complicated. There is a big difference in the way contending teams and also-rans use September roster expansion, and many players added to the rosters won't see enough playing time to make a difference down the stretch. For a great discussion of all the factors involved, check out ESPN minor league authority Jason Grey's Minor Achievements column of Aug. 28.