Trade: Hustle Loyalty Respect | Capital City Ironmen

Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: C Tyler Flowers ($5)
Capital City Ironmen sends: LF/CF/RF DJ Peters (minors)

Andrew’s Thoughts: What an exhilarating¬†first trade of the offseason.

In this one, the Defending Points and League Champion¬†ūüŹÜ¬†adds an okay catcher with a cheap salary whose downside is that he doesn’t start every day. But maybe that’s not so terrible! Across the last two seasons, of catchers with a minimum of 650 plate appearances, only three catchers have a better wOBA than Tyler Flowers: Gary Sanchez, Willson Contreras, and Buster Posey. Elite company! Also, while Flowers notoriously demolishes left handed pitching, last year he had a .356 wOBA against righties. Yay!

I didn’t want to trade away DJ Peters, because all of the scouting reports about him draw comparisons to Jayson Werth — and I love Jayson Werth. But when you have a chance to trade away “possible Jayson Werth” for “basically Buster Posey,” well, you just have to do it.

I doubt Hustle was keeping Flowers even as a cheap back-up. That’s fine. Maybe I won’t even end up keeping him. It’s November. Who knows? So getting a prospect that he likes for a guy he probably wasn’t keeping seems like good maneuvering to me.

But mainly we just wanted to do a trade because we’re bored (fantasy football is not fun) and we wanted to light a fire under everyone else.

Hustle’s Thoughts:¬†¬†I put a cheap useful player on the block, and surprisingly only Bailey showed interest. It was the same level of surprise to discover we had a champions page on dynastygrinders.com only after Bailey won a championship, but I digress.

Tyler Flowers was pretty damn good last year and only cost $5. Problem for me is I almost always started Realmuto over him, and there were plenty of days when they shared days off. Kurt Suzuki got a lot of playing time down the stretch and I see this as a time share.¬† With a healthy Realmuto, the best case for me is starting Flowers on Realmuto rest days or days Realmuto is facing Kershaw, Strasburg, or someone elite.¬† For me, that’s replaceable.¬† The worst case is he’s not as good and he coincidentally isn’t in those lineups those days. Maybe I will have trouble finding a 2nd catcher next year, but it seems not too hard to find a decent guy as the season moves along. Flowers, Hicks, Avila, and Pina were just some of the useful bums at catcher that could have been free last year and I imagine some new ones will be on the street come April.

I rather take a shot on a back end top 100 guy on some lists, and a guy I particularly liked… even if it’s mostly because he homered twice of Bumgarner in one inning

Also, I really just need a prospect from Bailey to hold on to on the hope that I recoup some of that Dinelson Lamet debacle. Ugh.

#NovemberFantasyBaseballTrades

Trade: Team Hydra | In Line 4 the Win

Team Hydra sends: C Jonathan Lucroy ($25), SP Rich Hill ($11)
In Line 4 the Win sends: 1B Freddie Freeman ($41), C Josh Phegley (FA), 2017 3rd Round Pick

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†This deal on paper makes a lot of sense. Hydra was dying for a first baseman, the unluckiest team in the league could use an upgrade at catcher and pitchers are always useful. After sitting on the trade for a couple hours I think both teams improved themselves in this trade.

Freddie Freeman is nearing enigma status. In my head a keeper at $40 makes complete sense. FanGraphs projections has him hitting 1.41 PPPA going forward. That’s pretty legit. Based on how things have been going, IL4W has really improved the team in a lot of ways. Based on projections, it appears to be more of a lateral move. I still love it for them.

For HYDRA I love the deal as well. Lucroy was not really doing enough for them. Freeman, as I said, projects to be better. That’s a pretty significant upgrade. Selling depth for a significant upgrade with easy keep-ability makes total sense.

It’s actually kind of hard to break down a trade like this. I think both teams win. Based on projections Team Hydra significantly improved their team. Based on past results, IL4W has significantly improved their team. At the worst in either direction, they didn’t hurt their respective teams. It’s a win-win.

Andrew’s thoughts: I guess the simplest way of putting it would be this: I’d rather be the side getting Lucroy and Hill.

I’ve given Alex from Team Hydra a hard time before about Lucroy, but the truth is, he’s a really good player and $25 isn’t bad for the second best catcher behind Buster Posey. I’m just not personally into paying premiums for catchers and whenever he and I spoke about a move involving Lucroy, I felt like that’s what I’d be doing. I didn’t really believe Lucroy was keepable at $27 next year, but there’s a good chance I was wrong about that.

Of course, this deal makes fundamental sense for both sides. Team Hydra has Posey, so Lucroy is a tad redundant at catcher. They also have Prince Fielder disappointing at first, so there’s an apparent hole there. In Line 4 the Win, meanwhile, has Anthony Rizzo at 1B but had been plodding along with Jason Castro, so you see where the pieces fit.

Anyway, I’m a big proponent of playing players in the position where they are most valuable. Posey, obviously, is more valuable at catcher. But in this case, I think I’d rather just shift Posey to 1B and play Lucroy at catcher than bring in Freeman to man first until Lucroy logs two more games at first, at which point he’ll have unlocked that position.

As of today, Lucroy has a higher wOBA by .028 points and ZiPS sees Freeman playing out the year with a .023 edge there. I’m not really sure I see a huge performance gap between Lucroy and Freeman heads up. These two guys are close enough that it probably didn’t warrant dumping Hill, a 30+ point per game starter at this juncture, just because Team Hydra has an abundance of pitching. Getting Hill as essentially a throw in is just good work by IL4W. Too much pitching is a gift, not a curse.

The other pieces involved are negligible. Phegley is an okay lefty mashing catcher, but he’s hurt and because he really only hits lefties, he won’t be playable most days. And even when he’s facing a Southpaw, you won’t bench Posey for him. He’s being viewed as depth though (he’s Hydra’s only other catcher now), I’m sure, so he’s fine. And the third round pick is an alright bonus too, just not a piece that really factors in much.

Musing on positional scarcity and age…

I always feel compelled at the beginning of these posts to remind the rest of the league: I swear, I’m not trying to sway your personal valuations or opinions. I just want to riff on fantasy baseball. If I happen to use a player on your team as an example and view him unfavorably, oops. I would hope we’re all capable of coming to our own conclusions. It’d be pretty boring if we all had exactly the same valuations.

So, having said that…¬†how valuable are good-not-great¬†players at super top heavy positions? Or positions that aren’t even top heavy, but rather mediocre all throughout?

Two positions immediately jump to mind here, and that is catcher and shortstop. Let’s look at¬†shortstops.

Through nearly three full weeks, here are your top five overall scorers with the salary they went for at auction:

shortstops
Carlos Correa was our league’s highest paid shortstop at $81, so it’s nice that he’s pictured here. He was also the fourth highest paid hitter in the league, which means he’s being paid to be an absolutely, unquestioned transcendent talent and fantasy producer.

The obvious thing that jumps out is that four shortstops who were practically free either at auction or in our minor league draft currently sit atop the landscape at the position. In fact, Trevor Story, Jean Segura, Aledmys Diaz, and Eugenio Suarez cost just 11.1% of what Correa costs combined.

Granted, we’re only 19 days into our fantasy schedule. But our regular season is 148 days long, so we’re already over 12% of the way through the season. No one would be surprised if Correa ends up as his position’s best producer by the end of the season, but what we have so far shines an interesting¬†light on the shortstop group. It has paid to not pay for these guys.

Behind Correa in terms of salary at shortstop are Xander Bogaerts ($58), Corey Seager ($54), and Troy Tulowitzki ($46). Bogaerts ranks ninth in scoring, Seager ranks 28th, and Tulowitzki is 29th.

For the sake of argument, let’s just look at those three guys, whose average salary is $52.70, or $53 to simplify.¬†Of course, no one went for $53 at auction, but we did have¬†Francisco Liriano go for $54 and a couple¬†go for $52: Kyle Schwarber and Edwin Encarnacion. Some big names and reliable fantasy producers that cost in the mid-to-high¬†$40 range: Cole Hamels, Justin Upton, George Springer, Sonny Gray, Chris Davis, Jose Altuve.

Hypothetically, if that list of players played the same position as Bogaerts, Seager, and Tulowitzki, would they have gone for less? I’d argue not. There are pitchers mixed in, so the positional view is wonky, but what if the shortstops were left fielders instead? Is Seager getting $54 to play the outfield? Hell, right fielder Matt Kemp cost $11. If Seager played the same spot, are you really paying him $43 more? Go look at Kemp’s last two years worth of stats before answering, because they’re¬†likely to be better than you think.

In terms of having ever accomplished anything worth banking on, only Tulo has done it out of this group for more than a single season, but his age and injury concerns chew up some of his value.

The argument I’m making is that Bogaerts and Seager had “being a shortstop” baked pretty heavily into their price. Age was baked in there too, I’m sure, but whatever. Bogaerts was the top scoring shortstop in our format a year ago, so good for him and all, but Jhonny Peralta ($7) was number two and Brandon Crawford ($14) was number three. Peralta being hurt to start the year is a wrinkle, but those guys got pretty heavily punished for not being 23-years-old and presumably keepable for a decade. Maybe age was an even bigger factor than position?

Speaking of Bogaerts and 2015: he scored 810.5 points last year and yes, he led the way for shortstops. But compared to all other hitters, he ranked 55th. The two guys below him: Nick Markakis ($4) and Brandon Belt ($12). The two guys above him: Evan Longoria ($20) and David Peralta ($17).

So you could have literally bought the four hitters directly surrounding Bogaerts in 2015 net points and still had $5 left over!

Also, while Bogaerts was the 55th highest scoring hitter last year, he’s the 17th highest paid hitter this year. He’s also not priced to be immune from greed and his salary is going to grow by $2 a year. So… yikes.

Just as easily as it is to envision that $81 Correa being tops at short in August, it’s not crazy to see Bogaerts and Seager in the top five or even three. But it also seems fair to suggest that even if these guys lead the charge at their position, they’ll come out behind in the greater landscape of hitters at large.

Last year, Bogaerts averaged 40.525 points per week as the top shortstop. The 16th highest scoring shortstop, Erick Aybar ($3), averaged 27.325 points per week. So a 13.2 weekly edge between the best possible “starting” shortstop and the worst. (I grant you, this is a bit primitive. It assumes the top 16 scorers are spread across each of the 16 teams, it ignores platoons, guys got hurt and that screws up their net output, etc. I get it.)

Crush Davis, who you’ll recall went for less money and was just the second best right fielder (but also has 1B eligibility) behind MVP Bryce Harper, averaged 55.835 points per week. Kole¬†Calhoun ($10), the 16th best RF, averaged 38.805 points per week, a difference of 17.03 between second best and 16th.

So, through that lens, you’re better off just having the better overall player in Davis than you are having the top guy at a weak position. Having Davis instead of Bogaerts, again in this admittedly simplified example, gives you a 4+ point weekly edge over the worst possible starter at each¬†position.

Starting Davis/Aybar gets you 83.16 a week. Starting Bogaerts/Calhoun gets you 79.33. Also, the total cost of Davis and Aybar is lower than the cost of Bogaerts and Calhoun by $19, meaning that, at least theoretically, not overpaying for perceived positional scarcity affords you more resources to help your team.

Personally, I like to view players across their broader peer groups: pitchers against other pitchers, hitters against other hitters. Yes, a player may be the third best shortstop or the fifth best catcher, but that ranking is not interchangeable across positions.

Buster Posey is so good, he does not have a peer group at the catcher¬†position. He is a tier, the two tiers below him are filled with chirping crickets and sawdust, and then other guys start falling in line after that. Yeah, you’d like to have whoever is second or third best, but if you have to settle for that 16th guy, it probably won’t be overly painful.¬†The difference is negligible.

Trade: Hustle Loyalty Respect | Rocky Mountain Oysters

Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: C Blake Swihart ($14)
Rocky Mountain Oysters sends: C JT Realmuto ($9)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Deals like this just do not seem to happen very often. HLR dealt with the news of Swihart being sent down to the minors by shipping him off to another team. He replaces his backup catcher with a guy who in pre-season was projected to be a borderline fantasy starter. There¬†is no real reason to love Realmuto. There¬†is no real reason to dislike him. He’s an everyday catcher who does okay.

Swihart in 6 games this year went 5/18 with no extra base hits, but did add 4 walks. Getting sent down does not help Swihart’s case for future stardom. In the draft both of these catchers were likely overpays, and both do not appear keep-able in any real sense. With that said, does Swihart now being green flagged, does that change anything?

RMO can probably afford to drop their 15th prospect and cross their fingers. Perhaps Swihart comes back and has a great finish to this 2016 campaign. But its a two edged sword. He’s $14 going on $16 to keep. If he gets ridiculously hot, he’s a easy target for greed dollars. $16 would put him in to top 7 for paid catchers. There is just likely better options, and while HLR did not get much in return for him, I do not think he lost anything either.

Andrew’s thoughts: This is sort of like trading two nickels for a dime. In the immediate sense, Realmuto’s clearly more valuable. He plays for a major league team, while Swihart… who knows. There are rumors he’ll be demoted, lose playing time, switch positions. It’s just a mess.

That’s the thing about young catchers. They almost all develop their defensive game first, then work on their hitting. So they rarely hit the majors capable of hanging with big league pitching. It takes a while before these guys do anything fantasy relevant. That development is part of the reason Swihart is getting sent back down — except it’s the opposite for him. His defense and game calling needs work. So basically, his offensive game thus far is at least somewhat indicative of what he is. And that is serviceable but mostly meh. His offensive production is fine for a catcher, but if he becomes an OF or 1B, he’s instantly worth next to nothing. Obviously his bat isn’t done developing either, but you get my drift.

I¬†agree with Jordan that neither of these guys have super attractive long-term prices and so yeah, give me Realmuto, who I can at least rely on today. Derek Norris went for $5 and Francisco Cervelli went for $7, and those guys were top six catchers a year ago. So that you’re already paying more for Swihart and Realmuto, I just… I don’t know what you’re paying for? I suppose with Swihart more so than Realmuto, you want him because “upside,” but I’m also not sure what that ceiling really is. Unless it’s Buster Posey, it probably doesn’t matter at the catcher position. The gap between catchers is so slim that whether you’re the second best catcher or eighth best catcher is almost negligible.

It’s a fair deal though. Or at least justifiable from both sides. There’s nothing wrong with it. Without an in-season cap you don’t have to do anything with Swihart until next season, but if he gets demoted, I’m not sure paying $16 next year is even an option at which point, why not just hold onto the 2016 contributor in Realmuto?

2016 Auction Review – Team Hydra

Team Hydra

hydra

Hail Hydra! Buster Posey could end up being the steal of the entire draft. A player who’s easy guess for the best player at their position, top 30 hitter and should get extra playing time compared to his peers, all for under $50. Awesome. But why the backup catcher? Silly. Hitting on this team is top notch, full of value. Pitching was left on the cutting room floor apparently, and what value that was gained, was overspent on some reaches.

Hitting – Very Good

Posey, Prince Fielder, Nolan Arenado, AJ Pollock and Nelson Cruz are a great core of hitters. That is not something many should be able to argue against. All of them except for Posey, because of his limited playing time, are candidates for 1,000 point seasons, and possible top ten hitters. It could happen that they all do. After that it becomes much more dicey. The extra money spent on Jonathan Lucroy to be a utility man hurts. DJ LeMahieu is alright, Domingo Santana seems like a reach. Marcus Semien was another guy I thought was special last year, less special this year. This line is going to be hard to deal with as an opponent as those homers fly over the fence.

Pitching – Not Quite

David Price! Yes you have your ace. The only bad things you can say about him is that he has been pitching forever, he just got paid, and now he’s in Boston. Lots of variables. Either way good buy. Your number 2 is. Your number 3 is. Your number 4 is Julio Terhran, Wei-Yin Chen, Rick Porcello, Jon Niese. Your number 5 is one of those guys. Your number 6 is Rich Hill, Kyle Gibson or JA Happ. Jason Hammel and Chris Tillman are sneaky interesting. ¬†Bullpen here is wet, sticky and hot garbage. All things aside. Hail Hydra bought high? low? on a slew of starting pitchers. I don’t particularly like any of them for the role they’re being asked to do.. This team is a solid #2 starter away from being a different story.

Depth – Very Good

I like the bench picks. Obviously Lucroy is unecessary but great insurance. Steve Pearce, Zack Cozart, Jose Peraza all seem poised to be good fillers on the infield. It should be easy enough to find a solid fourth outfielder, preferably moving Santana to that spot with an upgrade at left field. I love the pitching depth here. It goes on for days and they are all guys I covet like Scrooge McDuck covets gold coins.

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

If David Price goes down, things get hard really fast. If Prince Fielder cannot sleep and quits hitting again that’s a huge potential problem. Posey and Lucroy are both catchers with injury history, that¬†is¬†unfavorable. Was Nelson Cruz in Seattle last year something we see more of, or has the boom stick run dry? It really does not take a lot to punch holes in this roster full of good players only.

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

The hitters here will just crush a lot and the pitchers are all happily average. Not spinning 30 point starts but rarely going below 20. The narrative is clear to see, the staff is set for that kind of turnout. The hitters are locked and loaded. The team has pieces to move and could really bolster this roster without hurting this year, perhaps they do it.