Trade: TBD | In Shorter Line 4 the Win

TBD sends: 3B Yoan Moncada ($1), SP Michael Kopech (minors), SP Cal Quantrill (minors), two 2018 1st Round Picks
In Shorter Line 4 the Win sends: SP Noah Syndergaard ($82)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This trade occurred on April 26 and¬†immediately became a disaster for TBD.

Syndergaard was supposed to take the mound on the day this trade was processed, but that start got pushed to the next day. On the 27th, he was scratched from a start due to “biceps tendinitis.” Then, he started on Sunday, April 30. In that start, he promptly got knocked around by the Nationals — five hits and two walks in 1.1 IP — before injuring himself on a pitch to Bryce Harper. He came out of the game having scored -4.5 fantasy points. Turns out,¬†he has a partial tear in his lat. He’ll be on the shelf for three months or so.¬†Just horrible, horrible luck for TBD. Like… if Syndergaard misses the year, which seems well within the range of possible outcomes here, how do you keep him at $82 next year? Or if he comes back but is rusty and struggles, or re-injures himself, or displays any sign of long-term volatility, how do you not send him back to auction? It’s totally possible that TBD spent three very good prospects and two premium draft picks to get -4.5 fantasy points.

Hindsight here is 20/20 but man, this just sucks for TBD. Ultimately, because they dealt picks and prospects, their already very good team is mostly unaffected. But they’re now down a lot of trade chips.

Before¬†the injury though, I thought this swap was¬†okay for both squads. I would rather have healthy Syndergaard than all the stuff IL4W got, but I understand why, if your team isn’t scoring points and is sitting at the bottom of the standings, you’d do this. Pitchers are time bombs. Obviously. So Aaron and his cohorts at IL4W mitigated some risk, took on a bunch of young, cheap talent with upside, and gave themselves a few more paths to being good down the road. Even if only two of the five pieces they got become useful, they’ll be useful and cheap. But pitchers are also a big part of winning games in this league (especially in 2017 when all the pitchers stink) and Syndergaard has essentially been Clayton Kershaw Lite since last year. To me, Kershaw is the type of talent you empty the chambers for. Syndergaard is that same type of talent.

If I’m TBD, I pull this trigger too. Not now, of course. But at the time they did it. Clearly¬†they couldn’t have predicted the injury. And yeah, they surrendered Corey Kluber and Dellin Bettances in the midst of a pennant race just last year for Moncada alone. But trade markets aren’t static and, again, that was a late season deal. You pay more earlier. Go look at last year’s trade log, you’ll see. I don’t have a huge problem with the seemingly faulty logic of trading an ace for a prospect, then later on trading that prospect plus a bunch of other prospects for a different ace. Stuff changes. I also think if you get the opportunity to land a transcendent talent¬†and really want to take it, well, take it, even if it means forking over a bunch of your best lottery tickets.

As arguably the best team in the league with or without Syndergaard, I really like the killer instinct and the aggressiveness it takes to get a deal like this done. And hey, it’s conceivable that TBD gets Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner back in time for the playoffs. I’d argue the potential of that is worth the same, if not more, than the potential that Moncada becomes¬†a dirt cheap version of 2016 Jonathan Villar*.

* So… we realize Moncada’s clock started last year and so he’s in his $1 season, in which IL4W seems unlikely to compete, right? Next year he’s $3 minimum, more if his projections are good. Three bucks is nothing if he becomes 2016 Villar or even Anthony Rendon or whoever. But the point is, the two most valuable years of a player’s cost control status are the year they’re first promoted¬†($0) and their sophomore season ($1). IL4W is effectively getting zero tangible benefit from those two years from Moncada. If Moncada kills it for them in his $1 season, that’s cool and all, but IL4W still probably isn’t making headway as a team and the better his stats are this year, the better his projections will be next year, and the higher that salary will jump. This certainly isn’t a huge knock to Moncada’s future value, but is something to keep in mind, I think.

Speaking to Moncada specifically though, I do wonder just how amazing he can be here. He strikes out a ton, which I don’t think will matter, because when he makes contact it’s really, really good contact. But the stolen bases aren’t big factors in our scoring like they are in a 5×5¬†and if he’s whiffing more than 30% of the time against Triple-A pitchers, what happens when he steps into an American League with Sale, Verlander, Carrasco, Kluber, Darvish, Keuchel, etc? It’s not like he’ll get to tee off against Mike Fiers every day, y’know?

For IL4W though, I can speak from experience that the decision to start selling sucks. It means your team is poop emoji. But aside from the super lucky timing, I like that they recognized not just a poor win/loss record, but also a deep deficit in points, and went ahead and made that call early. By doing so, they didn’t have to compete with any other teams, could set their own market, and could come away with the assets they wanted. And I actually think they still have a decent roster and can win some weeks this year, even if their playoff odds aren’t particularly good.

Trade: We Talk Fantasy Sports | Hustle Loyalty Respect

We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP Robbie Ray ($6), SP Ivan Nova ($5)
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: 1B CJ Cron ($4)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Here’s a full list of qualified starting pitchers with better K/9 rates than Robbie Ray last year: Jose Fernandez (RIP). There. That’s it. That’s the list.

Yes, Ray struck out more batters per nine innings than Scherzer, Syndergaard, Bumgarner, and Archer. Clayton Kershaw didn’t pitch enough innings to qualify, but yes, he struck out more batters per nine innings than him too.

Ray’s problem was walks and homers. He issued 3.67 walks per nine and allowed 1.24 homers per nine. That’s rather bad. But the strikeouts are just insane, and his 3.76 FIP is tolerable either way. His 3.45 xFIP, a number that tries to normalize HR rates to league average, ranked eighth among all starters, which basically says if he can figure out how to give up a few less dingers (easier said than done, I know), there’s front line SP potential here. I mean, he had a .352 BABIP against last year, the worst in baseball among that same qualified SP group. That’s just bad luck. By virtue of sheer luck regression, he should show improvement. If the strikeouts stick, oh boy.

If you look back through his month to month splits, also, he had a 5.08 FIP in March/April and a 5.02 in September/October. Every other month, his FIP/xFIP numbers look great. In those months, his HR/9 rates were 1.42 and 1.84, which are just too high. Those’ll come down. Those two months jacked up his overall HR/9. In June, July, and August he was at 1.05, 0.94, and 0.90. Couple that with the K’s, and you’ve got yourself a #2 starter? Maybe better? He’s a young pitcher, so starting slow and ending weak isn’t alarming at all. I actually think it’s cause for optimism, because young pitchers can adjust and develop endurance, etc.

(Ray did have an ugly 4.90 ERA last year, which was fifth-worst among that pitcher group. But guess what? ERA is a highly flawed stat and we don’t score based off of it. It’s useless for our purposes.)

With any breakout guy, there’s skepticism. I’m not 100% convinced Ray’s the next Archer or whoever. Was it fake? Was it real? If it was real, is it sustainable? Is there more? I tend to dismiss these guys more often than not, which is dumb on my part, because the reward usually way outweighs the risk and if you dismiss them and they are for real, you’ll likely never get another chance to buy on them again. But he did enough last year to warrant giving up a $4 replacement level 1B. Even in 2015, Ray posted an 8.39 K/9, 0.63 H/9, and 3.53 FIP. Guess what? That’s really valuable! It’s actually shocking, in retrospect, he only went for $4 in our initial auction.

In over 1,000 career plate appearances, CJ Cron has a .327 wOBA. That’s alright. Of 1B’s with 800+ PAs from 2015-16, he ranks 23rd in wOBA. So he’s definitely useful, but he’s a back-up right now. He’s 27 though and doesn’t strike out a ton like a lot of the power hitting 1B’s do, so there’s certainly room for growth with him.

All of that is to say, I love this deal for HLR. I didn’t even mention Ivan Nova, who is a decent, cheap depth pitcher that rolled out a 3.39 FIP and 3.54 xFIP in the second half last year. Say it again: that’s valuable! I think this trade represents silly value for HLR¬†and even if both the pitchers fizzle out, the bet he placed on them being legit here was tiny enough¬†that it won’t really hurt him.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Honestly I was surprised to wake up to the commotion over this trade even after looking at it. Bailey does a great job of summing up this deal.

Using the FanGraphs Auction Calculator that Dan Beachler took time out of his life to tune to the league (its not perfect, but its probably right enough that I’m not challenging him) you can see that Ray is worth something like $30 this year. Nova is at the $18 level. That’s two very valuable pieces. You could truly argue that either piece (clearly more so Robbie Ray) with that kind of value discrepancy already built in, plus Bailey’s arguments for their possible improvements, these guys are as valuable (if not more so) than the top minor leaguers in our league.

What did that return? Cron. Well Steamers says he is worth $14, so he’s coming at a value as well. If this deal was Cron for Nova, sure great whatever. Adding in Robbie Ray is just incredible.

Seven Starts – Choose Wisely

We have now played 10 weeks, and things are clear – pitching is VERY important. Not only do you need to make sure you can get seven starts out of your roster, but you need to choose the RIGHT seven starts.

Take us for instance – we acquired Colby Lewis, Mike Leake and Collin McHugh in the last couple of days and saw Anthony DeSclafani make his season debut. Add that to Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Kennedy and Michael Pineda and that is seven starters. We also have Robbie Ray and Chase Anderson as insurance.

We had to make tough decisions to choose just seven of the 13 starts our rotation had this week. Unfortunately, we picked nearly all the wrong ones.

Lewis was brutal on Monday, with a 14.5 point start, but rebounded nicely on Saturday with a 43 point day. Unfortunately, by Saturday, we had used up all of our starts.

Leake was even worse in his first start of the week, posted 7.5 solid points. But wouldn’t you know it, on Sunday he pitches a 49.5 point gem, that we could not use.

McHugh was just brutal on Thursday, failing to complete four innings and earning just 6.5 points.

DeSclafani’s debut wasn’t great, as he earned just 4.5 points.¬† The only run scored was on a solo HR, but he allowed 11 runners to reach base in six innings, walking three with just 2 strikeouts.

Zimmermann went negative on Wednesday night, as the Blue Jays hit two home runs off him in less than 5 innings. It was the first time Zimm went negative all year.

Kennedy was at his worst, allowing four home runs to the White Sox and posting a season low -34 fantasy points.

Pineda was our only good pitcher that counted this week, earning 72 points across two starts. However, we only saw 32 of those points from his first start.

We missed out on a 53 points gem from Anderson and a 59 point night from Ray.

Needless to say, it was a tough week.

On a more positive note, here are the top 10 pitchers through 10 weeks and the graph shows their weekly point totals.

spTop10

Jon Lester is the only pitcher in the top 10 to have had a negative week.

Clayton Kershaw has been the weeks top pitcher three times, while Jose Fernandez has done so twice.

Despite being the 2nd best pitcher in the league through 10 weeks, Johnny Cueto has two of the lowest weekly point totals among the top 10 pitchers.

TC (Cueto, Strasburg), IL4W (Syndergaard, Quintana) & TBD (Kluber, Bumgarner) each own two of the top 10 starters.

Trade: The Foundation | Senior Squids

The Foundation sends: 1B/CF Wil Myers ($12), SP James Paxton ($3), LF Jesse Winker (minors), C Mike Zunino (FA)
Senior Squids send: CF/RF Bryce Harper ($109), SP Jaime Garcia ($16)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Independent of all else, I like the three-headed package of Wil Myers, Jesse Winker, and James Paxton. I’m a pretty big Myers fan and as he’s just 25-years-old and in the midst of what appears to be his breakout season (he’s very quietly a top-40 overall fantasy hitter), see him as a better bet than¬†most any prospect. He’s $12, but that’s really a fantastic¬†price for what he’s doing and the potential he has. His only big question marks¬†are¬†his ability to stay healthy and how much appeal he loses after this season, when centerfield eligibility is gone and he may only be able to slot in at 1B. There are positive question marks too though.¬†If the San Diego Padres opt to blow their team up — and they should — Myers is their one big chip. They’re more likely to try to build around him, but their roster is so bad that odds aren’t good they can re-build it in time to compete with him still on it. If he gets moved to any other ballpark, he ticks up.

Winker’s a nice piece whose bat should play up at Great American Ballpark, which may as well be the Midwest’s Coors Field. I’m only slightly down on him because he’s likely a left fielder only, and LF might be the easiest position to fill. That’s nitpicky. And Paxton is, to me, a fine dice roll as part of a package heading to a rebuilding team. He costs $3 now and $5 into 2017, which is basically nothing, and does have some track record of MLB success.

Having said all that, I don’t think it’d be unrealistic to see those three players swapped for $16 Jaime Garcia alone. Granted, I’m a big Garcia fan. I’m likely the high guy on him in our league. And I know he’s super prone to injury and has scuffled over his last four or five starts. I’m not saying Myers/Winker/Paxton for Garcia is perfectly even, but if that trade gets consummated, I’m not really scratching my head. You might see where I’m going with this.

I haven’t gotten to Bryce Harper yet.

To me, this is another example of Harper being undersold. I just don’t think there are enough pieces. Or maybe there are too many pieces, with Garcia being the superfluous one. Obviously, if I think the return¬†(I’m considering Zunino a throw-in and nothing more) is a fair trade for just the guy being included with Harper, I can’t justify saying the package is good enough for Harper alone, much less Harper and a 27 point per game starting pitcher that only costs $16.

Maybe Myers/Winker/Paxton is an okay baseline for Harper, all factors considered. It just looks, to me at least, like Garcia was dumped in here for free.

Again, I don’t think Myers/Winker/Paxton is a bad¬†starting point. Maybe there are so few pieces so as to keep negotiations simple. But I once again think Harper was sold without the seller sapping every possible morsel of value. I don’t care that Harper costs $109 now and will be $111 next year. He’s so transcendent a talent, you can make that work. I also look at Squids’ roster and see plenty of easy cuts that could be made to keep Harper (with $2 raises, the combined salaries of Revere, Parra, Martin, Grichuk, Inciarte, and Colabello will be $108 in 2017, or $3 less than just Harper), so it’s not like — especially in June — clearing his salary was an urgent matter.

Over the next three seasons, The Foundation has six second-round picks and a first-round pick in 2019. If I’m Squids, I want to tap into¬†those. I want Jeff Hoffman, a cost-controlled pitching prospect with enormous talent who will have to throw in an admittedly crappy home park, too. I probably want Brett Anderson, a perpetually injured $2 pitcher that can be safely stashed on the DL and decided on later. I want Zach Davies, a decent $2 flier that could provide depth to my rotation. I’d like to snare one more prospect piece as well, maybe Braves’ minor league shortstop Ozzie Albies, who reached Triple-A at just 19-years-old. Squids is also down $20 of auction budget next year. Why not ask for The Foundation to reimburse some of that?

The point is, I think once you’ve got the key components of a Bryce deal ironed out (Myers/Winker/Paxton), you can probably ask for all or most of those things and get them included without it grinding all the gears to a halt. That’s not nickel and diming. Most of those things listed above aren’t hot commodities that would’ve hurt Jordan to part with. But if you’re selling one of the most prized pieces in the game (plus a solidly above average pitcher!), you need as many potentially useful pieces as possible. I wouldn’t necessarily advocate holding out for every last drop every time you make a trade, but when you’re trading Bryce, or Mike Trout, or Clayton Kershaw, etc, then yeah.

Interesting to note: to date, Harper, who like Myers will also likely lose CF eligibility after this year, has been worth just 43.2 more points than Myers. Come the end of the year, I expect that gap to be significantly larger and I realize that using just net points is a rather dumb measure of anything. But¬†Monday morning we’ll be exactly halfway through the regular season and barring a monster weekend, Harper will only be something like 4-5 points/week better than Myers, but¬†with a salary $97 higher. Just interesting, is all. I guess the point is that Myers is really quite a valuable asset.

Every team’s most valuable one dollar player

Clayton Kershaw went for $117 — or 23.4% of a total team budget– at auction and was totally worth it. He’s that good. But there are a bunch of other players on the opposite end of the cost spectrum who have been good as well. Not Kershaw good, but good. And at $1, they’ve proven to be steals.

The cool thing about dollar players is that the team who nominated them can bask in all the credit. It’s not like a $20 player where five teams were in on the bidding but only one won and gets to look smart.

Here’s a quick look at each team’s best currently-rostered $1 player, starting from the top of our current standings and working down…

TEAM CANADA: SP Martin Perez – 273.5 points, SP53

Getting a borderline top-50 starting pitcher for a buck is just unreal value. His numbers aren’t particularly good though. He’s striking out just 5.43 batters per nine, walking 4.21, and has posted a FIP/xFIP slash of 4.39/4.59. Basically, he’s been super lucky and he’s getting by without particularly good stuff.

But hey, he costs a buck! As of this post, first place Team Canada has only started him three times, so he’s clearly not being relied on too heavily, which is exactly what you want for a guy like Perez.

HUSTLE LOYALTY RESPECT: LF/RF Seth Smith, 228.5 points, OF62

The Mariners’ platoon outfielder was the fourth-to-last player auctioned and at just $1, has rewarded Hustle Loyalty Respect handsomely. Smith has been in HLR’s lineup 14 times to date and has hit at a rate of 4.88 points per game in those opportunities, which is a better than league average clip. He’s a really good bench option.

TRUMPA LOOMPAS: 2B/3B/LF/RF Brandon Drury, 244.4 points, 2B18/3B22

Brandon Drury has thus far been one of the best values in the league. Not only has he hit the hell out of the ball, but he can play three positions. At the absolute worst, he’s a flexible bench player capable of being deployed on days where better players are out. But¬†the Loomps have started him 30 times this year, so he’s played his way into a key role.

Having said that, he’s only hit at a 2.68 points per game rate over the last two weeks. Even if he cools though, he’s still been worth every bit of that dollar investment and with all that positional eligibility, he can still deliver value even if he hits at right around replacement levels.

TBD: 3B Jake Lamb, 312 points, 3B11

Jake Lamb has been on my prospect radar for a while now, so it’s cool to see him getting playing time and making the most of it. For just a buck, TBD has gotten an every day third baseman that is currently outscoring Todd Frazier, Miguel Sano, Adrian Beltre, and Evan Longoria.

Like his Diamondbacks teammate Drury above, Lamb is certainly one of the best $1 buys and one of the better values of any dollar amount leaguewide.

TEAM HYDRA: SS Zack Cozart, 235.3 points, SS13

The shortstop position is no longer as weak as it was, so coming into this year there were a few savvy teams who opted to punt the position knowing that they could come away with a good option for cheap instead of paying a position premium. Hydra didn’t necessarily do that, as they dropped $23 on Marcus Semien at auction, but Cozart made him expendable and their team is better for it.

Cozart won’t wow you most weeks, but at such a negligible cost, he’s proved a really valuable piece to a team vying for a playoff spot.

BEACH BUM: 1B/LF, Hyun Soo Kim, 96.9 points, 1B62

Okay, I realize this looks bad. The Orioles’ international signee has barely played and, in fact, Dan just scooped him up from free agency after the owner who won him at auction opted to cut bait. But the reason he’s here is twofold.

First, there isn’t really a better option on this team. And second, if there’s one owner in this league who I think is capable of recognizing a potentially valuable player that can be had for free and then have the patience to sit on him, it’s Dan. Kim hits when he plays, it’s just a matter of opportunities. On this roster, there’s a good chance he’ll just linger until those opportunities present themselves, at which point value should follow.

THE WILFRED BRIMLEY FIGHTING DIABEETUSES: 2B/3B/SS Danny Espinosa, 172.9 points, SS27

Nothing to see here, move along.

THE FOUNDATION: SS Jean Segura, 298.3 points, SS8

Jean Segura has cooled off considerably from his hot start. Over the last 21 days, he’s been only the 31st ranked shortstop and is hitting at a below replacement level points per game clip. But the first few weeks to his season were insane, illustrating the potential that’s here. You could argue that Segura is the biggest reason The Foundation is 4-4 and not below .500, and in that regard he was definitely a dollar well spent.

WE TALK FANTASY SPORTS: SP Ubaldo Jimenez, 154 points, SP125

 

 


WHO’S YOUR HADDY?: RP Addison Reed, 81.7 points, RP24

Admittedly, it’s weird choosing a reliever. But the only other viable option here was Lonnie Chisenhall, and I actually like Reed more. I’m not a big believer in spending big to build a bullpen, so Reed is pretty much exactly what you want: a cheap guy that performs comparably to guys who are paid well. As a top-25 reliever, he’s tremendous value at a position where spending a lot doesn’t seem advisable.

LONG BALL TO LF: SP Mike Foltynewicz, 116 points, SP143

Mike Foltynewicz has only started six games and he hasn’t been particularly good overall, but four of those starts were quite good. Two of them were toxic. The former top prospect is young and still developing, so you need to be cautious about deploying him. In other words, if you’re using him as anything more than your emergency seventh starter, you’re probably not going to fare too well. But for a buck, I really like the risk and the potential for reward.

ROCKY MTN OYSTERS: 3B/LF Adonis Garcia, 91.1 points, 3B58

Nope.

CAPITAL CITY IRONMEN: LF/RF Michael Saunders, 304.1 points, OF24

Finally, it appears Michael Saunders is healthy. That’s always been his bugaboo. When on the field, he’s always performed well, though right now he’s experiencing a true renaissance. And at just 29-years-old, his low cost and great production suggests plenty of future surplus value as well.

IN LINE 4 THE WIN: N/A

This team does not have a single $1 player on it. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any good values. Just no good values for a buck.

SENIOR SQUIDS: N/A

Um… is this a trend? Remember, we’re going in standings order. Suffice to say, if you do not have a $1 player on your roster, period, you will lose. Let this be a lesson to you.

PRESEASON DOUBLE STUFFS: 1B John Jaso, 235.6 points, 1B29

John Jaso rules. Like Saunders above, he’s always been a really good player, he’s just struggled to stay healthy and put full seasons together. To date, his on-base percentage is a cool .369 and he’s a .362 guy for his career, so he’s basically just doing what he does. He lacks the power you want at 1B, probably, but when you’re walking a lot and barreling up base hits, you’ll take it. In fact, it’s the lack of power that makes guys like Jaso sneaky valuable in this league.

While teams are targeting the big home run hitters because they’re capable of dropping 30 point games, guys like Jaso, who will just quietly put up above average weeks without the long balls, will slip through the cracks.

The first big “sell”…

Yesterday, I pulled the trigger on a 14-piece trade that could succinctly be described as the first “sell” move of 2016. That is to say, the first trade aimed toward improving a team in the future more so than the present.

The deal, agreed to with the Preseason Double Stuffs, is outlined and analyzed by third parties right here.

First things first: though there are a bunch of pieces in this trade, many of them are superfluous. Some guys went to the Double Stuffs that would have been cut from my end to make room for new guys and I received one player back that they would have cut. In my mind, the deal was this:

I sent 1B Miguel Cabrera ($71), SP Sonny Gray ($49), SP Nick Tropeano ($1), C Carlos Ruiz (free agent) and a third round pick in 2017 for LF/RF Jorge Soler ($14), prospects CF Brett Phillips, CF/RF Ian Happ, 1B Cody Bellinger, and a first round pick in 2017.

Right out of the gate, my decision to sell was really pretty simple: my team is last in record, last in points, and has two major injuries (Carlos Carrasco and Tyson Ross) that make digging out of that hole extremely difficult. If those two guys are healthy, I’m not selling yet (and frankly, my team is probably significantly better¬†to the point that selling parts hasn’t even entered my head).

Our championship bracket allows only four teams in, so I saw my team as being in a deep hole five plus weeks in and needing to jump 12 teams to get into that bracket.¬†That’s a tall order, particularly without the pitchers I mentioned before for at least a few more weeks (I’m not sure Ross makes it back this year, but who knows?).

When I ultimately decided to sell and set out to do so, I’m pretty sure I told everyone I spoke to that I wanted multiple pieces for any of my impact players. And my preference was to check multiple boxes. By that, I mean a minor league piece, a major league piece, a draft pick piece, and/or an auction cash piece. I didn’t need all four, but I wanted a multi-faceted return.

Without divulging private conversations, I can tell you that almost every team I spoke to was balking at that. Draft picks were being viewed at a premium and most teams seemed unwilling to offer more than one prospect in return.

The obvious question is: does waiting a while longer change that? If in the next month a contending team suffers a few injuries, do negotiations change? Probably. The flip side of that is, with Gray coming off three rough starts, he could conceivably just be broken and worth nothing in a month’s time. He’s suffered some velocity decreases recently and he’s a little guy, so that’s worrying. Personally, I think he’ll be fine. He’s a top-20 pitcher two years running and $49 for that type of performer is a bargain. But still, there’s a chance that he’s broken and the risk of waiting to find out just didn’t seem worth it.

Side note with regards to approaching Gray with trepidation: I don’t trust a word Billy Beane says and if Gray does end up getting traded this season, I think most logical destinations sting his value. Going to the Dodgers isn’t so bad, but the Red Sox? I don’t like that.

It’s also possible that a month from now, two or three other teams see the walls close in on their 2016 and enter the market. I’d rather just be the first buyer.

Anyway…

I look at this deal as getting five pieces back that check three boxes: minor league piece(s), major league piece, draft pick piece.

In Phillips, Happ, and Bellinger, I see three top-100 prospects — Phillips and Happ are, at least in my mind, top-50 types — that are relatively close to the majors. In our minor league draft, these guys went 25th, 57th, and 104th overall. MLB.com ranks them 29th, 72nd, and 97th on their prospect list. Baseball America says 57th, 87th, and has Bellinger way up at 54th.¬†Lists are what they are. Take them or leave them, whatever.

I don’t need these guys this year, so not debuting until 2017 is fine. Coupled with my recent addition of Clint Frazier, it’s conceivable that I have an entire outfield in 2017-18 that costs essentially nothing.

The low cost of prospects and the freeing up of over $100 of budget is an added bonus of this deal. In that sense, I could argue that my fourth box, auction cash, was checked as well. The Preseason Double Stuffs are now well over budget for 2017, which means there’s $100+ worth of cuts floating out there. Look at the Rocky Mountain Oysters as well. That team is also well over budget for 2017. It’s too early to put too much stock in future budgets, I think, but what I’m getting at¬†is, next year, I could have a shot at buying Miggy back, or at least buying back a few players that add up to Miggy because other teams will be in a position where they’re forced to make drastic cuts to keep those high salaried players.

As for Soler, he’s still just 24 years old and ZiPS/Steamer project him for a .322/.319 wOBA the rest of the season. Coming into the year, ZiPS pegged him¬†for a .333 wOBA and 17 homers. Playing time is a major concern for him, obviously, but a player with those numbers is useful. Maybe he gets sent down to AAA to get regular at-bats, maybe he gets traded, who knows? I think he’s a gamble worth taking. As Jonny pointed out in reviewing this deal, if we did our auction a year earlier, Soler likely goes for $30-$40 based on his performance the year prior, age, and upside. I mean, Byron Buxton went for $32 and his wOBA at the major league level is .066 points lower than Soler’s (small sample size, I know).

The last piece coming my way is a first round draft pick which, if the season ended today, would be fifth overall. Of course, adding Cabrera, Gray, and even Ruiz to improve the catching situation a bit likely improves the Preseason Double Stuffs enough to worsen that pick — perhaps¬†significantly. The pick could end up anywhere. Either way, I’ve now secured myself two picks in the top-16 and four in the top-32, so when our minor leagues expand by five slots, I’m in a¬†more favorable position. (Aside: I’ve got a 3rd rounder that I’d like to attach a useful player to in exchange for a 1st or possibly 2nd rounder, so get in touch if that’s something that might interest you.)

So where does my team go from here?

Offensively, a week from now I get Alex Rodriguez back and he slides into a UT spot, effectively replacing Cabrera in my lineup. He’s a lesser hitter, but I’m not sure the gap between them is going to be super noticeable given our head-to-head format. ZiPS says there’s a .042 difference in wOBA between them the rest of the way, which is significant but not disastrous.

My offense has a lot of similar, productive players — Nick Markakis, Corey Dickerson, Michael Saunders, Mike Napoli — that have made choosing a daily lineup difficult. I’ve had points on my bench instead of in my lineup a few times just from the coin falling on heads instead of tails, essentially. A fringe benefit now, I suppose, is having fewer choices and being able to just ride a core group of players. I’m only thinking of this now, it certainly wasn’t a driving force in doing a deal.

My pitching, which was supposed to be my strength, is probably going to suck, but it has sucked already anyway. As of today, I’ve lost more points to home runs allowed than any other team and I’m dead last in net pitching points by more than 100. Eventually Carrasco and hopefully Ross return and there’s a lot of positive regression due — the last I checked, my SPs’ HR/9 was somewhere north of 1.70 which just isn’t a thing that happens — but ouch.

Like I said, I do expect Gray to get it together, so not having him around when/if that happens will sting some. Tropeano would have been useful, but he was still likely a match-up play, as his 4.90 FIP and 1.71 HR/9 (with just a 13% HR/FB rate) alludes. And hopefully one or both of Blake Snell and Jake Thompson find their way into a major league rotation this summer anyway.

I’m also not sure at this juncture if there’s another big move in the pipeline. And by that, I mean whether or not Johnny Cueto ($60) or Joey Votto ($70) will get moved.

On Votto, I suspect he will not. He is available, but I never had it in my plans to purge both he and Miggy, so the offer would have to be compelling. He’s greed¬†protected in 2017 by virtue of being one of the 30 highest paid players, so he’ll get his $2 raise to $72 and be perfectly keepable as an offensive anchor.

Selling Cueto, on the other hand, is a more likely option, if only because pitchers are pitchers and in the sense that they are all ticking time bombs, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for them to get closer and closer to going off on a roster that isn’t competing. But I really don’t like losing. I want to keep competing. With Cueto, who is the 7th best starting pitcher based on points per start as of this morning, my team¬†can at least compete weekly, even if it’s futile in the grand scheme of things. Without him, my pitching floor is terrifyingly low until Carrasco comes back. And I’d absolutely love to have him back as a staff ace in 2017.

(So as I was looking up Cueto’s points, I noticed that he’s second overall in points for starting pitchers. He’s also started eight games, while most have started just seven. Anyway, Clayton Kershaw is predictably number one. He’s also started eight games. But get this: Kershaw has 128 more points than Cueto. 128! In the same number of starts! Jose Altuve is the top scoring hitter and he’s 113.4 points behind the Dodgers’ ace. My goodness, Clayton Kershaw is not of this Earth. He is so good that I am going to end this post that has absolutely nothing to do with him on a note about him.)

Overreaction Thursday, you paid what for this?!

Welcome to Overreaction Thursday! Today we are looking into the first half of Week One and overreacting to how the star players have performed already. For some of these guys, the weekend cannot get here soon enough.

$117 Clayton Kershaw – 65 points.

Good lord I told you guys he was good. How in the hell did he go for JUST one hundred and seventeen dollars!? He’s worth two hundred at least! We are all idiots for allowing BetterNameLater (by the way, when it that better name coming?) to rob us blind like this.

$109 Bryce Harper – 23.1 Points

You’re the highest paid hitter and you are getting out scored by CHRIS IANETTTA! What in the world is going on here. Just one home run? Trevor Story has four! He’s two months younger than you, you’re getting old son.

$95 Mike Trout – -8 points

This is some serious bullshit. Negative points? The could-have-been four time reigning American League MVP has negative eight points? Sucks to suck, Who’s Your Haddy’s?. You bought a complete shit bowl of a player. He’s awful. Add him to the waiver wire and pick up Leonys Martin.

$93 Chris Sale – 48 Points

For being just $24 cheaper than Kershaw, you have no reason being 17 points worse than him too. You faced the Oakland Athletics who are due for contraction sometime soon. Just eight strikeouts? The 18 swinging strikes are really nice, but Jeremy Hellickson beat you by 1.5 points. Loser.

$88 Paul Goldschmidt – 30.3 points

I bet you want me to be proud of your 10.1 points per game, huh? Well I’m not. You should be scoring 100 point weeks. You’re behind pace. Do you know who’s outscored you this week, Paul? DJ LeMahieu! We’re not even certain that guy is a real person. But, he has more points than you do. Get with it.

$86 Max Scherzer – 28 Points
$84 Jake Arrieta – 56.5 Points

$83 Jose Fernandez – 40.5 Points
$82 Corey Kluber – 9 Points
$81 Madison Bumgarner – -3 Points

It’s a God damn perfect bell curve from awesome to dog shit. Bumgarner¬†and Kluber dropped flaming bags of poo for their investment, while Arrieta and Fernandez both did alright. Max, my buddy, you’re better than that. C’s don’t get degrees here in Dynasty Grinders. Figure it out.

$81 Carlos Correa – 52.1 points

Have mercy on our souls. How in the hell did Alex Rodriguez clone himself into a younger and better version? This Correa kid is only being bested by some guy named Yasiel Puig. Correa is unlucky he cannot be bidded up for by a greed vote. He’d be rich, bitch!

You Won’t Believe Who’s #6 On This Cool Spring Breeze List of Hot Sizzling Pitchers

A few days ago we focused on hitters that have been known to get off to a hot start, and today we will focus on pitchers that we have come to rely on in April, in each of the past three MLB seasons.

topAprilpitchers

Just like with the bats, there is an arm (or two) in this list that really doesn’t belong.

Let’s start with Anibal Sanchez – prior to the start of the 2013 season, the Tigers handed him $80 mil. ¬†Looking at this list of pitchers, seems like that was a great signing. ¬†However, the first number of his ERA has increased in each of his three full seasons with Detroit, up to 4.99 last year.

That being said, we are only worried about April here.  In 2013 he won three of his five starts and finished with an ERA of 1.34, 1.04 WHIP and a 41:9 K:BB ratio across 33.2 iP.  That accounted for 47% of his April points scored over the last three years.

Only Madison Bumgarner (48% ’13) and Johnny Cueto (48% ’14) had one year (month) be such a factor in them making this list.

The other pitcher that “doesn’t belong” on this list is Jeff Samardzija.

Bias aside, he is a good example of why counting wins in fantasy baseball doesn’t really make sense. ¬†In April of 2014, Samardzija went 0-3 despite owning a 1.98 ERA across six starts (41 ip). ¬†Actually, he is just 2-9 in early baseball.

Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Aaron Harang each have two, 200 point Aprils in the last three years, but each had one year that prevented them for eclipsing 500 points.

2013
Remember when Yu Darvish was around striking out 13.7 batters per nine innings in April of 2013?

2014

Hey look, Adam Wainwright was the best pitcher in April for back to back years!

After just one pitcher reach 50 K in April of 2013, the MLB was falling in love with  Jose Fernandez, before Tommy John took him away, and saw Max Scherzer and Johnny Cueto have career years.

Stephen Strasburg also punched out 50 batters in April, but only lasted 34 innings – averaging less than six inning per start.

How did Nathan Eovaldi sneak in there?  The only other month he had an ERA below 4.00 was August, and still finished with an ERA over 5.00 after the All-Star Break.

2015

No pitchers struck out 50 batters last year in April, and only Clayton Kershaw and James Shields even struck out 40 batters Рand neither made this list.  Kershaw had an ERA nearing 4.00.  Both pitchers only lasted 31 innings over five starts.

Remember that start to the season Aaron Harang had last year?  He finished April with a WHIP under 1.00, and over 3.5 K/BB.

Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray, Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole all gave fantasy baseball a great year and are going to have live up to HIGH expectations in 2016.

Bryce vs Max part duex

Yesterday Bryce Harper was traded for Max Scherzer. Andrew and I both gave our two cents about the trade. While neither of us particularly loved the trade for various reasons. I believe we both came to the conclusion that they both felt the need to make the trade to move their post-draft depth and switch it into post-draft weaknesses.

For this post I want to ignore that context. Let’s look at Bryce Harper versus Max Scherzer. Last year in 2015, Bryce scored 1,407.4 fantasy points and Max scored 1,372.5 fantasy points.¬†Just a bit over a point a week difference. You know as well as I know, that not all weeks are treated equal.

So I built these two graphs comparing the 22-fantasy week season, comparing how each player did in those seven days stretches. Sometimes Max gets two starts in a week, sometimes he does not. Clearly sometimes Bryce plays 7 days in a week, or less. It happens. But, from your top players on your team its safe to assume, when they are available you are going to go with them, so we can compare these two players who play different positions with some reasonable expectations.

bryce

Max

This is similar to the charts I had a few weeks back, where I looked at Clayton Kershaw’s value because of his starts. These are a bit different as I stated. In 2015 each player recorded values in all 22 fantasy weeks. As you can see they’re quite similar.

Bryce was never awful, but they both had three weeks below average. Bryce was beyond outstanding five times to Max’s six. Really amazing.

They key to take from these two pictures. Is that basically two players were basically dead even.¬†When you remove the context of the draft, of how the teams will have to proceed with back-fill going forward, among other tiny details. Things look pretty good. Both parties seem quite content that both won the deal, and perhaps… maybe they’re both ahead.

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.