What’s Going On Down in the Minors?

We are getting close to the Super Two deadline, which FanGraphs explains here.  That means that teams will start calling up some of their more talented prospects from the minor leagues.  I went and got all the stats from MILB.com from all AA and AAA leagues and used our scoring system to calculate which players were having the best seasons.  I then downloaded the list of all players from Fantrax to see which of these players were owned and by who (whom?).

Starting Pitchers

There are 46 pitchers with at least 300 points scored between AA/AA compared to 39 MLB pitchers. Beach Bum (Daniel Mengden, Zach Eflin, Josh Hader -67th pick in rookie draft) and Long Ball to LF (Jameson Taillon – 28th, Chad Kuhl, Joe Musgrove – 69th) each had three minor league pitchers make the list

Teams With 2

Teams With 1

Musgrove, Mengden, Herrera, Jason Wheeler, Ben Lively and Aaron Wilkerson have been impressive in both AA and AAA.

milbArms1 milbArms3 milbArms4 milbArms5

Batters

Making 300 points the cutoff again, I found 34 hitters in the Minor Leagues compared to 57 in the Majors. TBD owns four of the top 36 bats – Peter O’Brien, Tyler O’Neill – 187th, Willy Adames – 115th and Matt Chapman – 130th.

Teams With 2

Teams With 1

Healy, Mancini, Nicky Delmonico, David Washington, Hunter Dozier and Mike Yastrzemski have had success in both AA and AAA this year.

milbBats1 milbBats2 milbBats3

Trade: We Talk Fantasy Sports | Rocky Mtn Oysters

We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP Kyle Hendricks ($18), 2017 5th Round Pick
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: CF Byron Buxton ($32), 2017 2nd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: What a great, great deal for Dusty’s Oysters.

First of all: I love Kyle Hendricks. You can ask Jordan, I privately gushed about him leading up to the season. I still ended up with no shares of him, but that’s fine. Here’s why I liked him so much: between 2014 and 2015, Hendricks posted a 3.34¬†FIP and a¬†0.73 HR/9.¬†In our format and in the real world, those are some pretty fantastic peripherals. After striking out barely anyone in 2014, he K’d more than eight batters per nine innings last year, which showed growth and the promise for more.

I also loved that Hendricks came into this season largely underrated. In fact, I remember reading debates about whether he or Adam Warren would win a spot in the rotation. He’s responded to the tune of a 2.89 FIP and a 0.39 HR/9¬†rate. For comparison’s sake, Jake Arrieta is currently putting up a 2.47 FIP and a 0.29 HR/9 rate. Arrieta is striking out more guys and going deeper into games, but those numbers are otherwise interchangeable. Hendricks is really, really good. On a points per game basis, he’s SP28. He’s basically a team’s number two starter.

As proof that the 26-year-old (he’s super young, too!) Hendricks was being undervalued, I present this: he went for $18 at auction. Eighteen! I’m embarrassed not to have him at a price that low. Even with a $2 raise and every team slapping him with their greed buck, he’s still a good value a year from now. And beyond, probably. Given that every single team competing in this league has been actively pursuing pitching, it’s not a stretch to suggest Hendricks as one of the league’s ten or so best values.

And then there’s Byron Buxton.

Just to lay some groundwork, here are some centerfielders paid comparably to Buxton and what they’ve done this year:

Yoenis Cespedes: $32, 334.4 points, 8.36 PPG, 2.03 PT/PA

Christian Yelich: $24, 299.1 points, 7.12 PPG, 1.71 PT/PA

Charlie Blackmon: $27, 169.9 points, 5.66 PPG, 1.32 PT/PA

You know what, I need to just stop there. Because there are so many productive centerfielders that went for so, so much less than Buxton did at auction that I’d be doing this all day. Adam Eaton went for $15, Jackie Bradley Jr. went for $3, Dexter Fowler went for $12, Charlie Blackmon went for $27, Brett Gardner went for $14, Odubel Herrera went for $2, Denard Span went for $4, Colby Rasmus went for $7, Marcell Ozuna went for $14. You get the point. There are a bunch of nicely priced centerfielders.

And then… there’s Buxton.

We all know who this guy is and what he represents. He’s a stud prospect that some have boldly compared to Mike Trout (uh, okay). He’s got all the skill in the world: speed, gap power, and athleticism to burn. He’s raked at every minor league stop. The one thing he does not have — not even a little bit — is Major League production.

Over Buxton’s first 187 plate appearances, he’s put up 117.5 points*. So he’s hitting thus far in his young career at a 0.62 points per plate appearance clip. To put that futility of inefficiency into perspective: Billy Hamilton, who can steal bases and do nothing else offensively, is hitting at a 0.91 PT/PA rate through 124 PAs this year.¬†Jeff Francoeur has had 98 plate appearances this year and has scored at a 0.83 rate. It’s only 187 plate appearances, so take it for what it is, but the point is that Buxton has been arguably the worst possible hitter on the planet in those opportunities. Factor in his salary, and he’s just been an absolute vortex of suck.

*Let the record show that in 2011, Trout debuted and had 135 plate appearances. He slashed .220/.281/.390, so he was quite bad in his first taste of the big leagues. He amassed 141.1 points, meaning he hit at a 1.04 PT/PA rate. So while Trout was bad, he was 67.7% more productive¬†over his first 135 times in the batter’s box than¬†Buxton in his first 187.

This is a good time to point out that Buxton is still a phenomenal talent that was likely rushed to the majors and then mishandled by the Twins (who buries their elite prospect ninth every day?). He could be special. He could be called back up this week and suddenly hit everything thrown his way. Two years from now, he could be a top three or five centerfielder. There’s really no ceiling to what this guy could do. I still like him a whole lot as a prospect, but the underlying theme here is that he is paid like a regular in your lineup, not like a prospect.

He’s being compensated¬†$32 to be a question mark. (Might be totally irrelevant but since our league is comparable to FanGraphs’ Ottoneu, I was curious so I looked it up: across all Ottoneu leagues, Buxton’s average salary is $11.54.) Technically, since we have no in-season cap, he’s being paid nothing and WTFS can sit on him for 2016 before making a decision leading into 2017.¬†This move is obviously WTFS’ way of looking ahead to¬†next season, but he’ll cost $34 minimum on Opening Day. Buxton is also a great target for every team’s greed. You want to make risky players like him more expensive to either force a decision from that team’s owner or make their risk even tougher to pay off. It’s conceivable that Buxton costs $40 heading into 2017 on the glimmer of hope that he becomes Trout (uh, okay), all the while getting out-produced by lesser paid players. Guys like Fowler and Span are “boring” and “old,” maybe,¬†but I’d rather have boring, old, productive, and cheap than possibly exciting, young, unproductive, and expensive.

I guess what it boils down to is that on the spectrum of good and bad values, Hendricks is one extreme and Buxton the other. Hendricks at his current rate of production won’t be priced out by raises and greed (assuming teams even hit him with greed) for two or three seasons minimum. He’s young and he plays a position that’s coveted. Every pitcher is risky, but it’s just great process on Dusty’s part to flip someone he probably would’ve had to cut for someone that will make an impact for his team now and that he can plan to keep at a good rate going forward. Hendricks’ price and production dictate that you make cuts to accommodate keeping him, not the other way around.

Buxton, meanwhile, appears at this moment in time to be unkeepable¬†into next year at $34+, and acquiring him at that price is not particularly good process. Again, maybe he hits. Maybe he emerges. It’s just that he has to hit at such a level to be worth the bloated salary he’s already getting, and then even more¬†to provide surplus value, especially when compared to his centerfield peers, most of whom are already producing and many of which are doing so at a significantly lower cost.

Jordan’s thoughts: ((picks mic off the floor))

Holy shit Bailey how do you really feel? Good lord that’s a lot to dig through and it’s about a player who offers very little for his value. I think Kyle Hendricks offers quite a bit of value to about any team in DG. So far in 2016 Hendricks has been one of the more reliable starters in the league:

h2016

This shouldn’t surprise anyone as Bailey already said, here’s what he did in 2015:

h2015

So far he’s avoided the “awful” starts, and been pretty damn good this season. I don’t need to pile on what Buxton’s worth. I think for Buxton to be worth keeping for me next season, he needs to be something sort of a top 30 hitter from the All-Star break on. I don’t believe he’s that good period, so he’s not worth keeping around.

The fact that Dusty got something for a mirage, bravo. Even if Buxton does come back and blow through and create some sentiment of an argument, great. You hit the 5% projection. Bad bets still hit.

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.

After five weeks, a reflection on the projections

What the hell are projections good for anyway? Every year before the season starts, for a few baseball fans words like ZiPS and STEAMER and PECOTA among others become very popular. And then April happens and we forget all about them.

Before the season started I created a document using the Depth Charts Projections from FanGraphs. This document took the best possible line ups based on those projections for each team and spit out a best case scenario of what teams could expect to end up finishing. I used this for my post-draft analysis.

We are now five weeks finished, 25% of the of the regular season done. How have those projections done?

Projected Finish Team After 5 Weeks
9th TC  1st
5th TL 2nd
2nd BB 3rd
13th IL4W 4th
6th HLR 5th
1st FND 6th
10th HYDRA 7th
15th LB 8th
16th TBD 9th
8th RMO 10th
12th WBFD 11th
4th HADDY 12th
7th WTFS 13th
14th PRE 14th
11th SQUIDS 15th
3rd CAP 16th

Most notable takeaways: Capital City has had some awful luck with Carlos Carrasco and Tyson Ross going down. Haddy’s team is awfully under performing, Team Canada has a lot of things going right, and despite not winning any weeks, In Line 4 the Win has been way better than advertised.

It’s been five weeks, projections tend to be what they are, but it is pretty interesting. It doesn’t really mean anything, we play in a head to head weekly league so results vary even more. But, I think its important to note that in just five weeks the best looking teams can get ugly and vice versa.

So FanGraphs depth charts projections do daily Rest of Season updates. This is awesome. Using the same tool as I did at the beginning of the year, here’s where teams line up going forward:

1 – Trumpa Loompas (3-2)
2 – Team Canada (5-0)
3 – Beach Bum (3-2)
4 – The Foundation (3-2)
5 – Capital City Ironmen (1-4)
6 – Rocky Mtn Oysters (2-3)
7 – Team Hydra (2-3)
8 – Longball to LF (2-3)
9 – Who’s Your Haddy? (1-4)
10 – In Line 4 the Win (1-4)
11 – We Talk Fantasy Sports (3-2)
12 – TBD (3-2)
13 – Hustle Loyalty Resepect (4-1)
14 – Senior Squids (1-4)
15 – Preseason Double Stuffs (2-3)
16 – The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses (3-2)

I think what we can take from this is that we’re so far from started, not near being over. The question has come up: when will the first team bail? I think in another five weeks, the standings could be a bigger mess. I would stick it out.

Trade: The Foundation | Capital City Ironmen

The Foundation sends: RP Cody Allen ($10), 2017 3rd Round Pick
Capital City Ironmen send: SP Mat Latos ($1), 2017 5th Round Pick

Alex’s (Team Hydra) thoughts: With how the two players involved in the trade are currently performing, this is an incredibly unsexy challenge trade with each team hoping that the guy they added can turn it around. ¬†Just looking at the names involved, Allen seems like the guy most likely to do that. ¬†He’s coming off 3 straight seasons of an 11 K/9 or better with his ERA and FIP under 3.00 in each year. ¬†Latos, on the other hand is coming off a season where his ERA was 4.95 and he hasn’t had a K/9 over 8 since 2011.

Both have struggled this season. ¬†Despite recording 8 saves, Allen has only averaged 1.63 P/PG but this low score is weighed down from 4 negative outings which were 4 of only 5 appearances where he’s allowed an earned run. ¬†The bigger problem, at least from a fantasy perspective, is that only 2 of his 13 appearances have resulted in a score of more than 6 points which has prevented him from making up for the negative points. ¬†Steamer projects his rest of season numbers to result in the worst K/9, BB/9 and ERA since 2012 but still result in a nice bounce back from where he is now.

Latos’ value is much harder to pinpoint. ¬†Between 2013 and the half season he played in 2014, Latos put up 24 starts of over 30 points. ¬†Last year he only put up 8 such starts. ¬†He then started 2016 with 3 straight starts of 40+ points before posting 13, -14 and 9.5. ¬†Latos currently has an ERA of 2.62 but a FIP of 4.44 an ugly K/9 of 4.98 and after making big cuts to his HR rate in 2013 and 2014, it jumped up to over 1 HR/9 last year and has climbed a bit higher so far this season. ¬†Most concerning is that Steamer projects the HR rate to get noticeably worse (1.26 HR/9) while basically every one of his stats is worse than his 2015 season.

So now that I’ve proven I can copy stats off of Fangraphs, what’s all this mean? ¬†Well it’s easy to see Jordan’s thinking in making the move for Latos. ¬†Jordan has a solid bullpen already and with our league’s scoring, the best RP (Andrew Miller) has 68 points while the 30th best RP (Kyle Barraclough) – who isn’t even on a team right now – has 48 points. ¬†That’s an advantage of only 4 points per week between the best and a middle of the road RP. ¬†So Jordan could either hold on to Allen with the hopes that he regains form and either gives him a small advantage or allows him to trade him away at a high point. ¬†However we have no established trade market for RPs and as more people realize something that a few teams have known since the draft – spending money for RPs in this league makes no sense – Jordan’s decision to sell Allen seems like a smart move. ¬†The question is really, does Latos give him any advantage at all. ¬†He’s only Jordan’s 8th SP so he could use the depth and if Latos can find a glimpse of 2013/2014, or Jordan can accurately find those 5 or so 30+ point starts, then sure why not!

For Bailey, I’m not as big a fan of the move. ¬†Bailey’s team is currently last in the league in points scored which means any moves Bailey makes need to be big improvements this season or ones that focus on the future. ¬†Now Latos is not the future, even at $1, so trading him away is fine. ¬†And turning a 5th round pick into a 3rd round pick is great but a 3rd round pick isn’t really worth much. ¬†My bigger issue with the deal is that getting Cody Allen, even if he becomes 2015 Cody Allen, isn’t going to be a move that really does much for Bailey this season and as I’ve said, who knows that the trade market is for RPs. ¬†So grabbing him with the hope of flipping him seems ill advised. Allen was also $10 which wasn’t a bad price in the draft but at $12 next year, Allen would really have to go back to being elite to even be worth considering holding on to and even then, I firmly believe paying for RP is a mistake. ¬†Right now, it’s possible that Allen was all Bailey could get for Latos but if Bailey really is looking towards the future, he has all season to make these deals and selling Latos after 3 very poor starts for a struggling RP seems like a move just to make a move. ¬†If there’s one thing I learned in this league it’s that someone will always pay for SP so waiting for him to put together a few good outings and trying to sell for essentially anything besides a RP seems like the better play.

At the end of the day, I just wrote 800 words about two players who probably won’t have much of an impact in any way so I think I’m the one who lost this deal!

Baseball’s Best Leadoff HItters

Having a reliable leadoff hitter is important once a game. But these guys also get the most opportunities at the plate so you better make sure that guy can hit in any situation, as well as being a spark plug in the 1st inning. Every team has a different approach with their leadoff hitter.  Some managers just slot their fastest player at the top of their lineup, while other managers make sure whoever is leading off, has a high on base percentage.

You will have a hard time finding any fantasy baseball scoring system that ranks anyone above the Houston Astros Jose Altuve.  His .305/.400/.611 slash has let to 20 runs scored, 13 RBI and 9 stolen bases after just one month.  On top of that, he has 17 XBH, including six home runs.

Right behind Altuve, you find Dexter Fowler hitting .347 to begin the season with 13 XBH. ¬†Fowler’s 17 walks drawn has led to a .474 OBP.

Mookie Betts has been a bit of a disappointment, owning a .266 BA and just 5 walks drawn, but he has managed to score 19 runs while driving in 17.

Ian Kinsler and Jean Segura are the only leadoff hitters with 30+ hits, but Kinsler’s has yet to find his power with just 8 XBH (4 HRs) while Segura’s Diamondbacks teammates have struggled to knock him home as he has crossed the plate just 12 times, including four home runs.

Over his last 10 games, Logan Forsythe has seen his BA rise from .250 up to .341 thanks to three 3 hit games, and three 2 hit games.

dgLeadoff

Stats via FanGraphs

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 | 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.