Trade: Capital City Ironmen | In Line 4 the Win

Capital City Ironmen sends: C Jorge Alfaro
In Line 4 the Win sends: 2B/LF/RF Chris Coghlan ($4)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†-This move struck me as a curious one when I first saw it. I’m not super familiar with Alfaro, but catching prospects are the lowest form of prospects available. So the cost is pretty low. I like players like Chris Coghlan. He covers you at three positions and if he’s facing off vs a lefty, he’s good enough to stick at utility on a daily basis. I like this deal a lot for Capital City they gain a low risk medium reward bench player for a prospect. it’s a win.

Andrew’s thoughts: I like Chris Coghlan a lot. Coming into 2016, he had a .358 wOBA against right-handed pitching over his previous 781 at-bats. That’s, like, really good. Particularly from a 2B. The bonus with Coghlan is that he’s also got LF/RF eligibility and has started a game at 3B this year, which means four more and he’ll have that unlocked. I’ve got a few decent outfielders that each qualify at just one corner spot, which means having to spend extra roster spaces on back-ups. It may not happen immediately, but adding Coghlan at least opens up some better opportunities for flexibility as the season goes on.

Meanwhile, Jorge Alfaro is a guy that just sort of fell into my lap on draft day, so I didn’t feel super connected to him. And obviously I don’t place a ton of value on catchers. His power and K’s profile makes him risky, but all prospects are. If he can make it to the majors without being converted to the outfield, the power alone could make him a league average catcher, which is valuable given that he’ll have cost control status.

The Call Up: Our league’s first cost controlled minor leaguer has been promoted

One of interesting details of this league are cost controlled minor leaguers.  In a nutshell:

Cost Controlled Keepers:

All players acquired through the minor league draft are cost controlled eligible. They are free to keep until after their first MLB season.

1st off-season: $1
2nd off-season: 20% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value
3rd off-season: 40% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value (or +$2 whichever is greater)
4th off-season: 60% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value (or +$2 whichever is greater)
5th off-season: 80% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value
6th off-season: Graduate to Major League Keeper eligibility.

In the fifth round of this year’s inaugural minor league draft, following a trade with Beach Bum, I took Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. He was my primary target at the time of the trade for reasons I’ll get to, but I thought I could trade down, add a higher pick later, and still get my guy. Luckily, I did. Anyway, he’s an interesting prospect in an even more interesting situation.

In short, Story’s¬†a power hitter with a whole lot of swing and miss in his game. He’s a bit like Ian Desmond in that regard. He¬†plays a tough position to fill¬†too, and now that he’s won the starting gig, plays in the most favorable fantasy park in the game. The guy presumed ahead of him, Jose Reyes, is likely to be suspended and even if he’s not, he’s yet to join the team. And the Rockies didn’t seem to like Reyes too much anyway.

When I drafted him, I did so gambling that a few dominoes would fall. First and most importantly, that he’d earn playing time. With Reyes’ legal issues, I knew he’d be mostly out of the way through spring training and the Rockies didn’t look to me like a team plentiful with options. They could’ve signed Desmond, but that never felt like a viable fit to me. So first, I picked him hoping he’d get ABs sooner rather than later.

Next, I obviously love the park. Who doesn’t want their fantasy players taking the field 81 times at altitude, where pitchers can only serve them meaty fastballs? My logic was that at the absolute worst, Story’s skill set lends him to being roughly average at home. Unless you have an elite shortstop, average is valuable. And because he’d cost me nothing in 2016 and a buck in 2017, an average starting shortstop meant I could punt the position at auction (which I obviously did).

The last thing that led me to Story in our draft was his projections, specifically how ZiPS pegged him. ZiPS generously projected him for a .244/.308/.441 slash line with 18 homers and a .322 wOBA. That’s pretty good at a weak position. To lend that some context, here are the qualified shortstops who had higher wOBAs in 2015: Xander Bogarts, Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Crawford, Jhonny Peralta (also on my team!). That’s it.

In 2014, only Hanley Ramirez (no longer a shortstop), Peralta, and Starlin Castro and Ian Desmond, whose shortstop eligibility expiration date is rapidly approaching, had higher wOBAs.

So basically, I saw a guy¬†that ZiPS was projecting as a top four or five player at a weak position. Admittedly, I viewed these projections as optimistic. But even if you take some of the helium out, you’re looking at a serviceable player. Marry that to the other stuff — limited competition, opportunity, ETA, a dream of a ballpark — and this was a very enticing player at draft.

That brings us to this past Monday.

Trevor Story

With these cost control guys, there’s an advantage to letting them season in the minors. Of course you’d like to siphon as much value from them as possible while their cost is nil.¬†But most prospects don’t hit the ground running, and adding a sub-par, developing player to your major league roster means effectively playing a guy short. Which in itself is something to consider. If you promote your prospect, what’s the opportunity cost of adding a viable major leaguer? In more cases than not, I don’t think promoting a guy in this league is as simple as “well he got called up by his major league team.”

But with Story, it sort of was that simple. I drafted him for this exact situation. I like Marwin Gonzalez and Wilmer Flores just fine — in fact, they’re bad asses against lefties — but these aren’t every day guys. How bad would Story have to be to be worse than a guy that isn’t in the lineup that day?

So I called him up and put him in my lineup. For the first time in the very young history of our league, a player drafted as a minor leaguer was in a starting lineup.

And he hit two homers. And another the next day. And another the day after that. For a player that costs nothing, it’s been a fun half week.

But it’s still just a half of a week. It’s totally conceivable that he stops laying into hangers and starts striking out at a 35% clip. There’s always a hitter that tears through the league for a week, then descends back into anonymity.

For now at least, the plan is unfolding about as well as I could’ve wanted. I wanted this player and got him, and the dominoes that needed to fall have fallen. Now I just need the toppling to continue for another five or six months.

Trade: Capital City Ironmen | BetterNameLater

Capital City Ironmen send: 3B Yunel Escobar ($3)
BetterNameLater send: SP Jorge de la Rosa ($1)

Jordan‚Äôs thoughts:¬†Recently I may some data available to myself. Jorge de la Rosa was a case study I used, so I’ll share it here.

1 – 50+
6 –¬†30-50
3 – 20-30
4 – <20

Those are Jorge de la Rosa‘s numbers on the road by start. Any normal starter with those distributions went for $30 or more in the auction.¬†Our Rockies pitcher¬†at home was not quite as good, as his ceiling was much lower, and half of his home starts were below average. But, his floor is pretty high.

So why does de la Rosa go for $1, or get swapped for a decent, but not awesome third baseman? Well, projections have their limitations and guys like de la Rosa fall into these pits of despair. As a whole he’s projected to be a 23 points per start pitcher. That’s below average, his upside does not appear to exist and he is quite easy to ignore.

But, there’s value here. This is one of those guys where you dig deep, and there’s value. The context matters. You cannot rely on de la Rosa on a week to week basis, sure. But, if you blindly start him on the road, you’re going to be fine. If you’re forced to use him in a week where you’re short on starts for any reason, he’s not anymore likely to kill your staff than anyone else even in Coors.

The simulator needle does not really move for either team in this trade. Neither team really lost anything in the players they gave away, and only BNL improved slightly by replacing some back end at bats with Escobar’s slighly better projection line.

But, do not be surprised when team CAP turns ten starts from de la Rosa this year into 300 points for his team. They might seem small, but it is potentially a huge win.

Andrew‚Äôs thoughts: It’s kind of dumb to review my own trade, but we’re really just killing time until the season starts here, right?

For me, I just wanted another starting pitcher and Jorge de la Rosa is serviceable. He had three negative starts¬†and three positive starts of less than 10 points last season, of which four came at Coors Field. He had a -1 pointer and a 1 pointer on the road. Otherwise, he had 16 starts of 23 points or more. As a back-end, emergency type, that’s¬†useful. If for the sake of argument you say 25 points is an “average start,” de la Rosa had 14 of those. Good enough. If on a week-to-week basis your sixth and/or seventh start is getting you 25 points, you’ll probably be happy.

Yunel Escobar, meanwhile, is a nice, cheap get for BetterNameLater, who needed a back-up to Manny Machado. Last year, Escobar had 16 weeks between 12.3 and 35.3 points. He had five weeks better than that and only one bad week, where he got just 2.4 points. He’s sort of the definition of average — all floor, very little ceiling — but for $3, average can be really valuable. He was more valuable last year because he had shortstop eligibility and FanGraphs says 2015 was his best offensive year since 2011, so more blip than breakthrough maybe for the 33-year-old. But the cost is negligible, the risk is nil, and a void gets filled.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Team Canada

Rocky Mtn Oysters send: SP James Shields ($28)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: OF Jayson Werth ($6)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†It appears Dusty woke up this morning and decided to sell James Shields. And when Dusty decides to sell a player, you can better your bottom dollar that he will. As quickly as possible.

If you can’t tell from my tone, I strongly dislike this move for the Rocky Mtn Oysters, who hastily sent a quality pitcher packing in order to get a little bit¬†better on offense. And Jayson Werth is one of my favorite baseball players. I like him a ton. He’s most usually underrated. But this¬†reeks of a rush job.

I wrote just this morning that the Oysters needed to flip pitching for hitting,¬†so good job on that. If a healthy Werth gets back to his pre-2015 self (and gets the opportunity to do so in a crowded Nationals outfield), he’s a valuable piece. And the Oysters were flush with pitching before this, so he could afford to lose one.

Of course, just because you have a surplus somewhere doesn’t mean you should sell yourself short. Said it earlier: I can’t imagine no other team would, at any point between now and when games start (or even a week or two into the season once more teams are actively perusing the market), have been interested in Shields. Lots of teams here want/need pitching. But what I imagine happened is, Dusty shipped out a bunch of blind offers of varying valuations and someone bit. Repeat that enough times and it will come back to bite you.

On a macro level, the Oysters are likely a tad better because he bumps either Byron Buxton or Ryan Howard out of starting position¬†and Shields wasn’t a key cog. Team Canada is improved because Werth was a bench player and Shields projects to be their third or fourth best pitcher. The trade is functionally fine. The problem is with, again, the rush job nature of the transaction and the way in which it appears simply getting a trade done was prioritized over getting the best possible trade done.

Jordan’s thoughts: – I mean when I put both changes into the line up simulator, both teams improved. Its clear why one¬†side¬†did. I guess it makes sense for Dusty then? Congrats? He gets some depth he needs, but he probably could have picked a better and more dependable player. He traded away an asset he doesn’t hopefully need, but he likely will. Whatever. Team Canada dumps a piece they could use, but will get over losing for a pitcher who slides into their #3 role with grace and ease.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses

Rocky Mtn Oysters send: OF George Springer ($49), SP Anderson Espinoza, 2017 1st Round Pick
The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses send: SP Jake Arrieta ($84), 2017 5th Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†In my opinion, this is a big win for the Rocky Mtn Oysters.

For The Fighting Diabeetuses, the objective here was obviously to shed some starting pitcher salary — this is a team paying Jose Fernandez and Madison Bumgarner too — and so I get the logic. In George Springer, you get a young batter with a proven major league track record, room to get even better, and a palatable salary, all the while freeing up space.

The problem is that budget space right now is not really a thing. We can go over budget in season here, so WBFD effectively had a year to wiggle around and get set for 2017. To me, this is just too preemptive a move. I was somewhat in on Arrieta myself but still didn’t understand that aspect of it. This team is now way under budget and can probably keep the majority of the roster in tact next year, which is neat, but I’m not convinced that’s worth much.¬†The offense is better today, sure. But I’m also not sure adding Springer changes it dramatically. “Better” is a relative term. I would’ve much rather held my three high paid pitchers and seen if they could carry me through the first several weeks of baseball.

Getting Anderson Espinoza and that pick are helpful, I suppose, but again, adding them doesn’t offset the wonky timing for me. I’d rather have Espinoza than my 15th best minor leaguer, but I’m not rushing to give up one of the 10 most valuable players in our league to get him.

For the Oysters, being able to pair Arrieta with Max Scherzer should provide a huge weekly advantage. The offense takes another hit and actually looks quite rough to me now, but there’s no reason someone won’t fork over a hitter for Luis Severino, Kenta Maeda, or¬†Collin McHugh, guys that are now¬†a whole lot more expendable. Of course, a savvy trade owner might look at his team, recognize Dusty’s need to flip one of those starters for hitting is greater than their own need to do the opposite, and gauge him a little on price.

Dusty’s team sits way over budget for 2017 now. He’s looking at having to shed $104 or so (remember, he bought himself $20 of auction budget), but that’s not a bridge he needs to cross today and his worst case scenario might just be dumping all but his best five or six guys, which might not even be such a bad thing.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Right off the bat, this trade just confuses the hell out of me.¬†According to my line up projection simulator, both teams were neck and neck in the bottom half of projections. Not a enviable place for anyone to be. Prior to the trade the Oysters were projected for roughly 569. points per week. The Diabeetuses were projected for 567.1 points per week. Bad Good enough to¬†rank 11th and 12th respectively.

The trade for the Oysters looks pretty decent. They get the better player at a decent value. Anytime you can add another ace you have to do it. Springer does hurt the offense as Bailey stated above. I also agree with Bailey’s assessment that now Dusty has at least two solid pitching bullets to trade for hitting. Which if timed right, and a little luck sprinkled in, could be a huge positive swing.

All that being said, as it stands right now, Dusty did improve his weekly projected output to 572.3, but now ranks in the same 11th place compared to the entire league. But, for Dusty to take that jump into the next level he needs to make better use of his now stack of assets in the rotation. My simulator sees it as a waste, but I have yet to configure my simulator with the “Dusty factor” Although I’m not certain there’s an algorithm capable of figuring out Dusty.

Was the blood sugar low again for the Fighting Diabeetuses? Before jumping into the numbers, a qualitative look can say, well when you have Martinez, Bumgarner, and Fernandez, you can stand to lose Arrieta. That is mostly right. However, George Springer, while being a huge addition as the best projected hitter on this team in 2016, is not really enough to compensate the loss of Arrieta.

What the Diabeetuses are missing to make this deal alright, is starting pitching depth on the back end. Nate Karns has not won the job yet in Seattle, Roenis Elias will likely spend more time in the bullpen this season, and Tanner Roark was not a starter last year which means even though he should be a starter this year, his innings may be reduced.

All that said, my projection simulator now has the Diabeetuses suffering through 22 replacement starts. Nearly one a week. That’s too many, they now NEED another full time starting pitcher, probably two.

Springer does make the entire hitting core better. Springer slots into the CF position, flanked by Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty. Jackie Bradley Jr now gets to back them all up nicely and fill in at utility when needed. That’s great. Hitting depth matters too and now they have it.

The cost was just too damn high. The Diabeetuses tumble down to the 16th projected line up in Dynasty Grinders. Dipping to 556 points per week was a huge hit to their total. It’s hard to fall in love with a trade like this. As a commissioner it is great to see the league ready to move big pieces and create some stir, but baseball is a long year and I think what we saw here on both ends was a overlooking of what depth really is.

I can’t help but think, what if McHugh and Rusney Castillo switched teams in this deal as well. Maybe something else in the deal has to happen to make that work out, but both teams would have benefited more from that switch. Perhaps both teams have future moves on the table ready to move up or down.

This trade as a whole, I have to call it a win for Dusty, slightly, his team does improve, having more aces is better than not, but he went from relying on Buxton to coming through to desperately depending on him. It could work out. For Josh, well I see why he did it. I just think the reasons may be misguided. If George Springer breaks out as a top 10 fantasy hitter, this clearly works out for him, but…

Fun with similar price points…

It’s weird comparing player values — particularly the lower dollar guys — post-auction. Just for the heck of it, I went into Fantrax, searched all owned players, and went looking for guys priced similarly whose values I think are way off. For this exercise, I just picked three pairs to look at.

Here we go…

Matt Kemp ($11) vs. Max Kepler ($10)

This, to me, is a great example of how nomination order can influence a player’s value. Max Kepler, a top-50 or so prospect depending on whose opinion you buy, was the fourth player nominated overall and went off the board for $10. I like Kepler a lot. I have him in my minors in my other dynasty league. But I was not in the Kepler market at $10.

Strategically, I think you’re better off drafting/adding prospects, stashing them in your minors, and hoping they can develop and you can cash in on their cost controlled status. I mean, if you can get Kepler for a buck, sure. But $10 is a pretty hefty price tag. And you’re not really buying him for his 2016. I suppose if he’s completely over-matched, you could cut bait after the year at no real detriment. But if you’re buying a player with this profile for $10, you’re hoping for some long term gains. So you’re looking at a $12 (minimum) player in 2017 before you can realistically hope for profit and you sort of have to ride him out until then, because if you bought him for $10, cut him because he disappoints as a rookie (plenty of rookies do), then breaks out as a soph, you’ll feel silly.

Matt Kemp, meanwhile, went for a buck more. The Padre outfielder has averaged 623.5 plate appearances over the last two years, so while he’ll always be an injury risk, it seems fair to say that he’s defied his reputation over our most recent and relevant sample. He finished as the 43rd highest scoring OF in 2015 and in 2014 he was 13th. In a start-up league, this is production in line with a team’s third or fourth best hitter.

And for the same price as a player with seven plate appearances to his name.

Kemp’s best years are behind him and Kepler’s are likely ahead of him, so I get why you’d be inclined to invest a little heavier in one than in the other. But for 2016? Or the next two years? It’s tough to imagine Kepler out-producing Kemp. It’s certainly not impossible. But it’s tough.

Trevor Bauer ($6) vs. Bud Norris ($6)

Again, nomination order had some impact here. Bud Norris, who I guess is going to make the Braves pitching staff (?), came up seventh overall and Trevor Bauer‘s name didn’t show up until nomination #361. Huge gap.

Having said that, I think it’s tough to justify Norris under any circumstances for more than a dollar. He’s just not any good. It’s totally within the realm of possibility that the Braves coach him up, squeeze value out of him a la Aaron Harang, and as a result you have a league average or slightly better pitcher until sometime in July when a desperate contender with a worse coaching acumen trades for him. And that’s valuable.

And look, I don’t particularly¬†like Bauer. The strikeouts are awesome, but he walks everybody and serves up a ton of home runs. But he’s also just 25-years-old and is in one of the best organizations in baseball as far as developing pitching talent. And he’s super talented. Guys that aren’t don’t have 8.47 K/9 rates at the big league level.

I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest the floor for both of these guys is pretty similar. Norris has the same flaws as Bauer but without the strikeouts. He’s also six years older and I’m not sure you can argue there’s much more untapped potential in that arm. For that reason, if you’re dropping $6 on a guy whose best case is league average-ish, you may as well just drop it on the younger, more talented guy who could be an adjustment away from being a Tier 2 type. I mean, if Bauer gets that HR/9 rate under 1.00 and shaves a walk per nine, is he not suddenly a very valuable piece?

Matt Holliday ($8) vs. Billy Hamilton ($8)

Other than “he’s old,” what’s the knock on Matt Holliday?¬†Even last year when he was hurt, he put up a .351 wOBA. He has a .389 career mark. Sure, some of that is padded from his time in Colorado, but he’s done enough in Oakland and St. Louis to dismiss any Coors effect out of hand.

Holliday is awesome. He walks a ton, he gets on base a ton (.386 career clip), and he’s always at or above 15 homers. He may also be unlocking first base eligibility too, which isn’t super valuable, but it’s better to have than not. If he plays a healthy season, even with the expected regression for a 38-year-old, he’s arguably a top-25 overall outfielder and a team’s third best hitter. For $8, that’s pretty incredible. Please trade him to me, whoever owns him (Dan?).

Billy Hamilton, meanwhile, is a guy we’ve discussed a bunch. In real life, he’s defensively valuable, a nightmare on the base paths, and just generally a fun guy to watch. But his sabermetric stats mostly stink.

He only walks about 6% of the time. He has a career .287 on-base percentage and his wOBA is even worse because he lacks power. So yeah, he steals a ton of bases, but that skill is really only useful — or valuable in this league — if he’s getting on base.

Realistically, I think in order for Hamilton to be worthy of being on a roster in Dynasty Grinders, he has to get on base at a .300 clip minimum. That means he needs to be .026 better than he was last year. That’s a fairly significant growth requirement. And even then, because he’s not launching homers or lashing liners, he’s not overly valuable. I think his best case scenario might be a reserve centerfielder worth a dollar or two.

So while Holliday and Hamilton went for the same price, their values are worlds apart. The only way Holliday gets cut postseason is if he retires, gets hurt, or age rears its ugly head. Even with a $2 raise, he’s a guy you probably want around for $10 in his age 39 season. Hamilton may not¬†be on a roster past June.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Preseason Double Stuffs

Rocky Mtn Oysters send: OF Bryce Harper ($109)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: SP Max Scherzer ($86)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This is almost too surprising to wrap my head around, but I think my knee-jerk reaction is that I don’t love it for either squad but I prefer it from the Double Stuffs’ end.

Ferns and Chris still have a formidable rotation with Chris Archer at the top, and now they’ve got a transcendent hitter to plug into their lineup and slug¬†from Day 1. Their offense went from a bunch of question marks to a bunch of question marks surrounded by a stud. Any time you can flip a player that cost $23 less than another player at auction before any games have been played,¬†you’re probably feeling good.

Of course, Bryce is super expensive. If you’re the Oreos, $109 is a lot. It won’t matter in 2016, but I can see future seasons having to make some serious cuts to accommodate keeping this one guy. That’s the problem paying young guys tons and tons of budget. You feel some sense of obligation to keep them long term, but it’ll hurt your roster elsewhere.

For Dusty’s Oysters, I don’t get it at all. Why swing deals to get extra budget cash, splurge on the highest paid hitter, then trade him? The benefit of those previous deals is now eroded. Given that there’s no in-season budget, he effectively spent $109 on Scherzer which, if the strategy all along was to buy a hitter to flip for a pitcher, why not just pony up for Clayton Kershaw at auction? I love Max Scherzer, so getting him for¬†the top of your rotation is awesome. But I don’t think I’m trading Bryce straight up for any player not named Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout (and you guys know I heart pitchers), so I can’t help but feel like simply waiting instead of rushing to make a splash may have paid off better.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Holy Cow! The first giant and meaningful trade of Dynasty Grinders is a big one. My favorite non-Mariner for an awesome pitcher. This has many implications, but this appears to be a classic case of I drafted a lot of this, you drafted a lot of this, we both need the other thing, lets switch. Bryce comes with crazy potential, but his keeper value is diminished at over 20% of your normal budget. Scherzer is under that 20% mark, but not by much. Enough of that, how did that change their teams now in the pre-season.

I have my handy dandy team projection calculator using FanGraphs’s Depth Charts Projections. Prior to this trade The Oysters were ranked 8th which a projected score of roughly 576 fantasy points per week. The Double Stuffs were considerably behind scoring 563 fantasy points per week, ranked 14th of 16 Dynasty Grinders clubs. Let’s calculate the difference!

Oysters -> 565.7 Points Per Week | Net -11.3 Rank 12
Stuffs -> 564.6 Points Per Week | Net +1.6 Rank 14

Wow. How does that work? Well…

Oysters replace Bryce with George Springer just fine. But George Springer who was filling the utility spot is now replaced by Danny Espinosa, James McCann, and there’s still 300 or so replacement at bats. Dusty had a glut at right field, but doesn’t currently have the utility depth.

On the pitching side he adds 34 Max Scherzer starts to replace Luis Severino and Jake Peavy starts. Severino and Peavy are not all-stars, but they were no slouches at a projected 26 points per start each. Max’s 37 points per start is nice, but not at this cost.

I’m sorry Dusty, I don’t like this move.

For the Stuffs, they insert Harper into the CF/RF slot which essentially moves Carlos Gomez to the 4th OF and Utility role. This is a huge improvement for a variety of reasons. They took utility at bats away from Yasmany Tomas, Eduardo Escobar and Cesar Hernandez. Awesome.

On the pitching side, they lose Max, and replace him with Ian Kennedy and Jerad Eickhoff. They turned from a 37 point per game starter and handed those starts to two guys who are below average at 22 and 23 points per game projected. Ouch!

For the Double Stuffs I don’t hate the move, but I don’t love it either. I love depth as much as anyone and they both sold off on it for a marginal gain and a potential huge loss. Count me out.

Some thoughts about my team…

A few¬†days¬†have passed since our auction draft and I’m still not settled on how I feel about my team overall. Some things I like, some I don’t.

So I’m going to write some words and think this thing through a little. Sometimes writing helps to clarify.

You can also read Jordan’s thoughts on my team here.

As an aside: you can probably tell by now that I don’t care too much about talking about my team publicly. Some owners are tight-lipped. Personally, I don’t think sharing my thought processes gives away any competitive advantage. If I have a thought that I think becoming public does compromise some advantage then, well, I just won’t share it publicly. Simple enough.

Thought #1: I kinda wish I hadn’t won BOTH Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera.

Coming into the auction, I hoped to get two cornerstone hitters and go from there. I did not plan for them to both play the same position.

To be clear, I love both these guys. I’m not upset that I have them. But I do wish I would’ve spent the cash — $70 went to Votto, $71 to Miggy — from one of these guys on a player from a different position.¬†Like, say, Josh Donaldson ($68), Andrew McCutchen ($69), or Jose Bautista ($62).

In a vacuum, I’ll take Miggy or Votto over all three of those guys. But given positional need and roster flexibility, I painted myself into a corner taking two top tier first basemen.

Thought #2: Alex Rodriguez is kind of an obstacle.

I don’t think $21 for A-Rod is too much. Jordan looked at some values using the FanGraphs auction calculator suggesting A-Rod is a $1 player, meaning I overpaid by $20 and cost myself significant value.¬†I think the calculator is wrong.

Zips has a .336 wOBA for A-Rod in 2016. Steamer is much cooler on him. According to Steamer, he’ll be only the 105th best hitter. Fantrax, whose projections aren’t worth much, has him as the 71st best hitter. He was the 31st highest scoring hitter a year ago in a renaissance season.

No matter how you slice it, this is not a $1 player. Truthfully, $21 probably is a few bucks too much, but that’s true of a bunch of players. David Ortiz, who is A-Rod’s mirror image in a lot of ways (age, risk, production, position eligibility), went for $30. At 40, anything can happen with A-Rod. But I feel like I’ll get good numbers from him.

The problem is, he’s a utility-only hitter. And one of Miggy or Votto is plugged into that other spot, which leaves my options slim. I tend to try to accumulate talent first and worry about lineup composition later, but in this case I wish I hadn’t.

Thought #3: Patrick Corbin and Nick Markakis are a couple of my favorite values.

I love Patrick Corbin. (You love him too, given all the inquiries I’ve had for him already.) In his only full season in 2013, he posted a 3.43 FIP. Last year, in 16 games coming back from Tommy John, he picked up right where he left off with a 3.35 FIP. Oh, and he improved his strikeout and walk rates. He got swinging strikes on his slider 24% of the time.

The risk with him is clear. He could get hurt again,¬†the track record is short, and he could be on an innings cap in 2016. I guess his home park is less than ideal too. But he’s also just 26 and has posted the kind of numbers most teams will seek from their SP2 or SP3.

And for $16. Marcus Stroman, who I like a lot, went for twice as much. I’ll take my $16 Corbin over a $41 Michael Wacha or $30 Masahiro Tanaka, for example.¬†Off-season fantasy darling Raisel Iglesias, who I also like a lot, went for $29. Corbin struck out about a batter and a half less per nine, but also walked fewer and posted better FIP, xFIP, and HR/9 despite a¬†BABIP that was higher by .041. I’m not saying Iglesias won’t be superior (because “upside!” or whatever). But $13 better? All I’m saying is I like this particular player at his particular price.

Markakis, meanwhile, is just an old favorite of mine from his time with the Orioles. Four bucks for a career .291/.359/.429 hitter makes me happy.

Of course, the “upside” here is nil and the power numbers last year were sobering. He hit three home runs all year with a .080 ISO. But in 2013, he hit 10 homers with a slightly better .085 ISO. He had a 2.1% HR/FB rate a year ago. Of players with 500 or more plate appearances, only noodle bats Alcides Escobar, Ben Revere, and Angel Pagan got less of their fly balls into the seats. Escobar went for $3 and Revere for $6, for whatever that’s worth. I don’t think getting back to double digit bombs is unrealistic — I think it’s likely, in fact — and if he does that (and frankly, even if he doesn’t) he will be a very solid starting outfielder at practically no cost.

Thought #4: I left too much money on the table.

I came in $10 short of our $500 auction budget¬†due to trades,¬†then proceeded to leave $21 in my pocket at draft’s end. That was very stupid.

Here’s what happened: after starting slowly, I quickly piled up some big dollar players. My first three players cost me $70, $71, and $71. Then I added a $21 A-Rod and $60 Johnny Cueto. My next two players, Sonny Gray and Tyson Ross, were had for $96 total. That was my setup through the first 98¬†nominees.

From there, I hybernated. I eventually grabbed Martin Prado ($4) at the 179th nomination spot. Going 81 spots and almost two hours without adding a player is a long time. The wait was deliberate. My cash was much lower than most everyone else’s, so I decided unless a player I really coveted came up, I’d sit back and let other teams spend, hopefully opening some holes for me later.

It worked, but I failed to hit those holes.

I sometimes undervalue hitters and/or overvalue my own ability to squeeze points out of lesser hitters. That cost me. I just waited and waited, and eventually the players worth spending on ran out and I was left with $21. I feel a lot better about my offense today if I’ve got an Alex Gordon ($17) or Matt Kemp ($11) to plug in. Or I could have, you know, taken that extra $21 plus the $21 spent on A-Rod and allocated it better. That’s enough to have bought a Starling Marte, Robinson Cano, Yasiel Puig, or JD Martinez, just to rattle off a few.

Thought #5: I should’ve kept pushing for Max Scherzer.

This sort of rolls into #1 and #4.

I bid Scherzer up to $85, then he went to Ferns¬†for $86. There’s no telling how high the bidding might have gone if I’d kept pushing, but I wish I’d found out. If I land Scherzer, I almost definitely don’t get both Miggy and Votto.

I’m also not totally comfortable with Carlos Carrasco ($71) as my SP1, though I don’t mind his price. In other words, getting Scherzer would’ve likely took me out of the market for one of the hitters, but not Carrasco. Penciling him in as my SP2 behind Mad Max would’ve been fun.

Thought #6: Speaking of Carlos Carrasco

Someone commented in the auction room after Carrasco went off the board that the winning bid¬†was influenced by “hype.” To which I say: when a guy finishes as the 17th highest scorer on only 30 starts, the ninth best FIP, the fourth best xFIP, and the fifth best K/9 rate,¬†the hype has some merit behind it. And he did all that with a high, unfortunate BABIP and elevated HR/FB rate.

I get the risks here. He’s gone over 100 innings in his big league career just thrice and has maxed out at 183.2. That’s on my radar. I won’t sleep easy knowing this. But he’s paid as a top 12-13 pitcher and all indicators are that, if healthy (a caveat that applies to every pitcher), he should produce right in that range.

Thought #7: I won’t have trouble rooting for my guys.

I don’t really believe in targeting players I “like” as in, hey, so and so is¬†fun to watch on TV, so I should do something totally irrational to get him. It’s a tiebreaker for me when choosing between similar players. But I ended up coming out of this auction with a bunch of unheralded guys that I generally like beyond just fantasy stuff. Mike Napoli ($4), Nori Aoki ($1), Denard Span ($4), and Johnny Cueto ($60). The latter isn’t “unheralded” but I wanted to mention him so that I could link to that photo.

I remember a few years ago — I think 2011, but I’m not sure — I had Aoki on my MLB The Show team. Except I had no idea he was a real player. I thought he was one of the random minor leaguers or a fictitious rookie the game created. But he was awesome in the game. He was a slap hitter kind of like Ichiro, lashing line drives all over the place. He was fast, too. In video game baseball, I attempt a million steals. As soon as I realized he actually existed, I liked him even more and have been fond of him ever since.

Thought #8: Please stay healthy, Corey Dickerson.

I didn’t actually mean to win Dickerson. I was sort of half bidding him up, half interested in him at a bargain basement price. But I accidentally clicked him for the $10 winning bid which, actually, you know, might¬†end up working out quite nicely.

This is a guy with perpetual health issues who is obviously going from a hitter’s park so favorable that calling it simply a “hitter’s park” isn’t enough. His perceived value is way down. But he’s still just 26 years old and has posted some remarkable offensive numbers. Of batters with 600+ plate appearance since the beginning of 2014, he has the 23rd best WRC+ (133). Because park factors play so vividly in how Dickerson’s viewed, I used WRC+ because it’s a park adjusted stat. wOBA (.390), which is not park adjusted, ranks him 11th in all of baseball under those same criteria.

Neither Zips or Steamer expect him to continue hitting so torridly, nor do they expect him to play a full slate of games. Maybe both are true. Maybe I’m trying to talk myself into the player. I mean, Max Kepler, who has logged a grand total of seven MLB at-bats, went for the same price. Depending on your lens, Dickerson at $10 is a bargain.

Closing thoughts…

Overall, I¬†expect this team to compete. But the path¬†will be tougher than it should’ve been, and that’s my own fault. I’m excited for the challenge.

Not that in anyone in Grinders should or does care, but I took the salaries players went for here and applied them to my team in the Dy-Nasty league you’ve heard us mention on a few podcasts, which uses pretty much identical scoring. My 25-man roster over there went for $792 total here. I’ve got another seven guys in my minors there that were auctioned off here and aren’t included in that total.

The roster I’m starting with is going to require a lot more effort and attention on my part. The margin for error is smaller. My offense is going to require patience and caffeine, because while there are quality players all over (I can’t wait until those of you who are new to this depth/scoring start seeing the types of players that become valuable), it’s a unit about as exciting as flossing your teeth.

But navigating that stuff is part of the fun, and I doubt anyone is looking at their team post-auction and seeing perfection. Everyone has work to do. I’m ready to get started.

Trade: Beach Bum | Rocky Mtn Oysters

Beach Bum send: 1B Mark Teixeira ($17)
Rocky Mtn Oysters send: UT David Ortiz ($30)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This is a perfectly fair swap for both sides that I like a tad more¬†for the Beach Bums, a team that already looked to be over budget next year who now gets a superior hitter for 2016 and an easy cut in the off-season. With Albert Pujols, Adam Lind, and Joe Mauer already rostered, Beach Bums didn’t really need a fourth 1B. Granted, Big Papi is going to block off one of his two starting UT spots, but so what? Papi’s a better hitter. He looked cooked early in 2015 and still finished as the 18th highest scoring hitter.

For the Oysters, I understand not wanting to have to start Yonder Alonso at 1B. But ironically, if his roster remains unchanged, Alonso may just end up occupying one of the two UT spots Papi had cinched up¬†more often than not, in which case Alonso/Ortiz was flipped for Alonso/Teixeira, a likely marginal (probably negligible) downgrade. If Teixeira’s healthy, he’s good. Very good even. And he’s not planning on retiring any time soon, so he may give you something beyond this year where Papi will not.¬†Again, even trade, I just tilt in favor of Ortiz a little.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Its really easy to come out and say, hey just draft Teix and leave Papi alone. But, I know as well as anyone, sometimes drafts don’t go as planned. I think Dusty makes his team more flexible at a reasonable cost. Everyone probably would rather have Papi on their team then Teixeira, but moving Alonso to the utility/bench slot is worthy of making this deal.

A couple of “greed” allocation strategies…

Before I start spewing ideas, I should probably reiterate what “greed” is in our league.

Greed is kind of¬†a surrogate for arbitration. It’s a way of letting the market — our stable of owners — adjust the value of players league wide. Every offseason, each owner is given $1 to blindly add to a player from every other¬†roster. (This is in addition to a natural raise of $2 every major leaguer will receive.) The only players protected from this allocation process are minor league players who have cost control status and major leaguers whose salaries place them in the top-30 of the league ledger. (Read the official rules here.)

Now that that’s out of the way, how might¬†greed be applied?

The first, most obvious way to apply greed, is to slap it onto each opposing roster’s most underpaid player. Take AJ Pollock, for example. Coming into 2015, Pollock’s statistics suggested a break out may have been imminent, but he dealt with injuries and had no previous track record of sustained success. The Diamondbacks’ outfield appeared crowded. Hypothetically speaking, he may have been rostered for $5 as a reserve outfielder.

Obviously, he outplayed that number in a big way in 2015.

Based on our league settings and taking into account his monster 2015 campaign, the FanGraphs auction calculator projects him for $28 of value next season. Frankly, that’s conservative. The calculator doesn’t account for marketplace or the dynasty aspect of our league. But we’re dealing in examples here, so it’s fine.

Now, if Pollock cost $5 heading into 2015, he would by default cost $7 heading into 2016. He gets that $2 raise, y’know. At this point, he’s still projected to provide $21 of surplus value.

You fundamentally do not want your competing owners to have surplus value. So it makes sense that when applying your greed, you slap $1 on Pollock. Maybe other teams follow. For the sake of argument, let’s say nine¬†other owners see what a bargain Pollock is and hit him with their dollar as well. Suddenly, Pollock’s contract is $17.

He’s still a bargain at this price and you’re definitely keeping him, but let’s say he replicates his 2015 in 2016 and is again projected to produce $28 of value heading into 2017. A two dollar raise puts him at $19, and let’s say this year 12 total owners slap greed on him. Now he’s contracted at $31. Suddenly, the tide has shifted. If the projections hit exactly (and they pretty much never do, of course), in two offseasons your AJ Pollock has gone from a surplus boon to a -$3 valuation. He’s still a great player, so maybe that $3 isn’t a big deal and you hang onto him*, but you have a decision on your hands at this point.

* I’ve never played in an Ottoneu league but I’ve read up on it¬†and one strategy I see a lot is this: if a player is not providing surplus, he’s a cut. It seems simple enough, but I’m not sure how hard and fast a rule it should be. If you’re paying Clayton Kershaw $100 and he’s only providing you $95 of value, is he not still Clayton Kershaw? I understand cutting him and hoping to win him back at auction for less, but I can’t imagine every time the surplus scale tips even the teeniest bit dumping players is always the right answer.

I think in terms of options for placing greed, the Pollock scenario is the easiest to arrive at. But how about another example?

Let’s say first base was a black hole for you in 2015. Heading into 2016, you’d probably like to avoid¬†navigating¬†the same problem, but you’ve exhausted the trade market. You either need to hit on a free agent pick-up in-season, or you need your opponents to cut players that you can bid on at auction. That last part, you can sort of help.

Let’s say¬†you scour the league and find three guys on different teams — let’s just go with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Lind, and Mark Teixeira — who after their $2 raises are teetering between providing surplus value and being a cut. Well, you can tip that scale. You can add your dollar to each of these guys and while, sure, a dollar isn’t a lot, it could be enough to¬†make another owner’s decision for them. Maybe they were torn between a $12 Zimmerman and a — I don’t know — $7 Yonder Alonso or something as their reserve 1B, and Zimmerman suddenly jumping to $13 seals the deal. If you force even one of these guys into the free agent pool, you’ve given yourself an additional option at a position of need.

If you really hated your 1B situation from a year prior, you could put your $1 towards a 1B on every team and hope it pushes more than one guy out.

There are all kinds of ways you could go with your greed allocations. We touched on them in one of our podcasts and I’m sure we’ll go down that road again, particularly 10-11 months from now when greed allocation is upon us. But you may want to start churning those gears in your head now.