Trade: TBD | Who’s Your Haddy?

Who’s Your Haddy? sends:¬†CF AJ Pollock ($54), CF Lewis Brinson (minors), 2017 2nd Round Pick
TBD sends: SP Zack Greinke ($80), SS Willy Adames (minors), 2017 4th Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†I don’t love Greinke at his price or Pollock at his, but their track records are certainly cause for optimism. But man… was Greinke even getting kept? TBD was tight against their budget, he’s really expensive, and he’s coming off a discouraging year. I think it was like 60/40 he was getting sent to auction. So trading Pollock, a top-25-ish fantasy prospect, and a pick upgrade for him is a lot given that so many players that were going to end up cut seem to have been dealt at discount prices. I mean, within this same off-season, Greinke was already dealt straight up for David Peralta. So this looks like a really great short term investment for TBD.

The difficulty¬†with Greinke or any $80 player, really, is that they have to be elite to return value. And I love Greinke historically. I’d rather gamble $80 on him than some other guys and I think every now and then you have to roll the dice on guys that have been great year in and year out. But still, it’s a big gamble.

And I sort of hate to do it, but because it was such a hot button deal when it went down, I have to circle back to it: Pollock was originally acquired, along with David Dahl, for Mookie Betts. Remember that? Pollock was hurt and Betts at $61 seems totally reasonable, so at the time, everyone was just so taken aback. It looked so much like a deal to save some cash and turn attention to 2017, which is fine. But here we are, and now Pollock got swapped for Greinke, who is $10 more costly than Betts. It’s just really hard not to connect these two. It’d be different if Pollock was healthy at the time, but his arm was broke and he was effectively done for the year, so there was no other way to look at it then “eyeing 2017.” Dahl still came of that deal, and with Coors setting his floor, he looks like he’ll be solid. But Brinson’s a similar prospect, right? Worse park, obviously. But a year or two from now, might Brinson and Dahl be interchangeable? Maybe, maybe not. The point is, including Brinson kinda chews into some of the value of Dahl from that original deal.

But that’s a totally different trade. For this one… I just really prefer the TBD side. Their pitching can absorb not having to take the Greinke gamble. Pollock should be good. Brinson should be decent at some point. I like Willy Adames, but shortstop isn’t as weak as it once was, so how much is his playing there really worth? And jumping up two rounds in the draft is just a nice bonus.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Haddy gets another play that I really enjoy and like. Greinke. He’s awesome. But, what in the fuck are you doing here man? I believe Greinke bounces back, but Pollock should too right? There’s just something going on here. What does Haddy know that I’m not seeing? I’m lost.

Is Willy Adames the secret? Is his stock rising or something? Guh.

Trade: TBD | Rocky Mtn Oysters

TBD sends: RF David Peralta ($19)
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: SP Zack Greinke ($80)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Coming into the 2016 season, David Peralta was one of my favorite players. He broke out in a massive way the season prior, posting a .380 wOBA, which was good for a 12th in all of baseball. He only had a .299 wOBA against LHP, so he was still a platoon option, but at least he was destroying RHP. His batted ball profile also looked great: a meager 13.3% soft hit rate flanked by a 35.4% hard hit rate. Only 30 players hit balls harder than Peralta in 2015.

All that said, 2016 was a disaster. He came to the plate only 183 times and his wOBA dipped to a replacement level-like .308. Worse, while he got it up to .306 against LHP, his wOBA versus RHP plummeted to .309. But most of his pitfalls last year can be attributed to injury. His wrist ailed him all year and he eventually had surgery in August, which is the easiest explanation of what went wrong.

As a $19 bet for 2019, you could do a lot worse than Peralta. That salary is obviously way too much for a guy¬†with a wRC+ of 84, as he hit last year. But a wRC+ of 137 like he did in 2015? Or even a 109 like he had in 2014? For $19, you’ll take it.

DrivingTheBus

But while Peralta has easy excuses for his poor 2016, Zack Greinke really doesn’t. He had the oblique injury, but he did his DL stint and came back from it. He moved from Los Angeles to Arizona and that obviously hurt him. At home last year, Greinke pitched to a 4.35 FIP, a 4.54 xFIP, and had a K-BB% of 8.9%. Peralta’s injuries can heal. Only a trade can rescue Greinke from hitter’s park purgatory.

But even away from home, Greinke wasn’t his usual self. His road FIP was 3.88 and he gave up bombs at a 1.46 HR/9 clip. You put all these things together and you’re looking at a replacement level type pitcher.

Prior to 2016 though, Greinke was one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball. His $78 salary last year was perfectly fine. He’d had seven straight seasons where he posted a FIP of 3.34 or lower. So in trading for an $80 pitcher with Greinke’s history, TBD is taking a rather expensive gamble that last year was a fluke. And I don’t hate that gamble.

Even as bad as Greinke’s numbers looked, he still averaged 24.81 fantasy points per start. This is because he’s on the depth chart as an ace, he’s paid to be an ace, and so he’s managed like an ace. A rotation’s fourth starter may struggle through four or five innings and get pulled, but that won’t happen to Greinke often. He’ll stay in and grind through six or seven innings. His floor is pretty safe.

And while ideally, yes, you want $80 of value or more from a guy you’re paying $80 to, TBD can sort of justify Greinke just being an expensive safety valve with colossal upside when they’ve also got a $4 Tanner Roark, a $8 Jon Gray, and a $5 Steven Wright. Looking at it through that lens, you’re investing $97 in four pitchers ($24.25/each). ¬†And if Greinke struggles against in 2017, oh well, just cut him next year. For the short term though, I count six players, including Greinke, with $409 worth of salary — and that’s pre-greed allocation. So this is setting up be the stars-iest and scrubs-iest roster of them all.

I think this trade makes sense for both sides. Dusty absolutely had to dump salary and I can’t imagine many teams willing to give up anything significant for Greinke. TBD had been trying to sell Peralta for months, so clearly the market for him wasn’t strong. It’s very obvious that both of these players, given their 2016 seasons, are big time risks at their current salaries. So I also think you could very easily argue that both players should just be cut and sent back to auction.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†My early projections still had Dusty keeping Greinke despite his poor 2016 campaign. Zack dipped down to his 2010-2011 levels of mediocre pitching. He has a well documented case of issues that aren’t related to his physical health which could be coming into to play here. He also has 2200 innings under his belt and could just be beginning his decline.

There’s a lot of if’s surrounding Grienke. I still like him to bounce back to the good, but perhaps not great level of performance. He does seem to stay mostly healthy, so you should be able to count on him starting all season. If you can get 28 fantasy starts of 27 points per start out of a reliable starting pitcher, $80 isn’t really that much to ask. A high price sure, but not a terrible one.

Giving up David Peralta here is not hard to do. He’s keepable at that salary, but its not a fun keeper in my opinion. Depending on how big the free agent auction pool will end up being this March, he could have probably gone for less than $10 or ¬†more than $30. Supply and demand is going to be an interesting experiment this off-season.

I don’t love or hate this deal for either team. Fun trade!

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.

2016 Auction Review – TBD

TBD

tbd

Is their team name to be determined, or does TBD stand for something else? We may never know. Anyway during the auction draft do you know that moment when you are kind of poking around looking at the other team to see where they’re at. TBD looks great looking at that list top down. Until you go down. They punted pitchers so hard that I had to take several looks. There’s a lot here to discuss, probably the most fun roster to look at.

Hitters – Outstanding

Yep, I had to give it to someone. 1-10 the hitters here are just outstanding. Now, Matt Wieters had not been flagged for a wuss injury again at the time of the draft so we will pretend he’s okay. Warning, fantasy all-star list incoming: Eric Hosmer, Jose Altuve, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager, Troy Tulowitzki, David Peralta, JD Martinez, Miguel Sano, phew. Power, walks, contact, everything. The floor with this line up is so damn high that its impossible to ignore. If you have to nitpick, I can say that I don’t love Pillar in centerfield, but I have a feeling that will be solved at some point. Perhaps Pillar turns into a fantasy starter. Either way, I also don’t love spending $100 on short stops, but it¬†looks like it could work out well here. There’s a chance that Sano ends up finding a position which helps this line up even more.

Pitchers –¬†Whoops

Oh Christ. Really? I mean Phil Hughes is probably the most reliable starter here. Every other guy in that long list of eleven pitchers is someone I’m starting and praying each time. That’s a lot of prayers. Lets imagine that we are¬†in a bar and talking with a buddy who knows enough about sports to not be a complete dumb ass and you are going over roster? Andrew Heaney… Yeah he could be good this year. Jimmy Nelson, yeah he seems like he could be good this year. Edinson Volquez, I mean he’s probably alright. Hyun-jin Ryu, he’s still pitching? Oh he’s recovering from injury? Is he healthy? Well I guess if he’s healthy he’s probably good. Jonathan Gray, well when he’s not pitching in Colorado. You see where I’m going here? I’m not sure Derek Holland, Jorge Lopez, Hector Santiago, Wily Peralta, and Chris Heston are recognizable to your bar buddy so we won’t ask. I’m afraid that if TBD got three above average starters from this group, it would have to be considered a raging success, and that’s not good enough. Maybe there is something in the bullpen…Well TBD¬†drafted three relievers I guess.

Depth –¬†Uh-oh

Well, first off, those four right fielders only qualify for right field. Two of them are rookies. Tulo has to be slotted for the utility slot so his short stop advantage gets washed away. Enrique Hernandez covers a lot of spots, but he does not start daily for the Dodgers. I like Chris Carter, but not enough. The pitching depth doesn’t exist. There’s plenty of bullets to grab depth on this roster, but right now it is ugly as sin.

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

Thigns are ugly if any less than two starting pitchers are viable from the group. If they don’t find three regular SPs, TBD’s¬†season is over. If Kris Bryant isn’t worth $75, or if both short stops fail to be transcendent hitters. The season is just over. They went all in on the hitters, I love them, but they have to show up. There is a real threat for this pitching staff to score below 100 points on a weekly basis. Considering a good weekly score should be above 500 or 600. That’s way to much to ask of any line up.

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

Luck will happen here, before April seven or eight of the starters show their competency and have reliable roles. TBD then is able to trade one of them to someone else desperate for pitching and get a nice piece. TBD then is also able to cut the others to pick up depth elsewhere. Meanwhile Seager and Tulo end up being top 30 hitters overall. Kris Bryant challenges for MVP because of his bat. The hitters can hit the ceiling easily enough, just a matter of the pitchers climbing from the mud.