Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Hustle Loyalty Respect

Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: 3B Matt Davidson (FA)
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: 1B Hanley Ramirez ($17)

Andrew’s thoughts: I see this as HLR cashing out a guy that was on waivers five days ago and only cost $1 of FAAB in exchange for a guy who was the 35th highest scoring hitter as recently as last year. That seems like good decision making to me.

As for Davidson, well, I don’t dislike him. I once had him in my minors in another league, so I liked him enough for that. Anyway, he’s currently rocking a 2.5% walk rate (awful!), 42.5% strikeout rate (Byron Buxton is the only player alive who thinks this is good), and a totally sustainable .556 BABIP.

I’m really not sure why you’d punt a player with Hanley’s track record of performance for a guy with 40 good plate appearances, particularly when the numbers behind those 40 plate appearances all scream regression. But hey, whatever.

EDIT: This review was written on April 25 and I forgot to publish it. But it has proved true so far. Since the 25th of April, Hanley has gone bonkers, scoring 77.6 points at a 9.7/game clip. Davidson, meanwhile, has -6.5 total points and six at-bats in his team’s last four games, seemingly becoming a bench option for the White Sox. HLR robbed on this one.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Preseason Double Stuffs

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu ($9)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: 1B Tommy Joseph ($5)

Andrew’s thoughts: At first glance, I thought I’d rather have Ryu on my team (particularly if I can get him for someone I’m going to cut), see if he’s healthy come February, and then if not, oh well, cut him. But I looked at some stuff and changed my mind.

Joseph posted a .342 wOBA last year in almost 350 plate appearances. Steamer projects him for a .334 next year. Fantrax projects him as a useful piece. I usually defer to the pitcher, but in this case, I’d rather roll the dice on Joseph. He’s a few bucks cheaper, hasn’t suffered through a million injuries, has a clear path to playing time, and is only 25-years-old. And Dusty’s offense looks very weak, so he could immediately be a contributor at UT and seems like a reasonable back-up at 1B for Hanley Ramirez.

I think I prefer this move from Dusty’s end. I imagine Ferns was going to cut Joseph, but I probably would’ve just kept him.

Trade: Rocky Mountain Oysters | Preseason Double Stuffs

Preseason Double Stuffs sends: 2B/3B/SS Cesar Hernandez ($3), 1B/OF Ben Paulsen ($3)
Rocky Mountain Oysters sends: SS Brandon Crawford ($14)

Jordan’s thoughts: Well when you get Francisco Lindor, clearly you don’t need Brandon Crawford anymore. So you give him away. Hernandez has some value from being a strong backup at three positions. Do not confuse him with actually being good. Paulsen is fine, he hits in Coors.

Double Stuff win themselves a likely top ten short stop candidate, even in a field that has risen to the occasion. If Crawford ends up just being top 16, they ended up paying two bench pieces for a starting player. It’s a winning deal. I doubt any of these players have any long term value.

Andrew’s thoughts: I like this one for the Double Stuffs. As Jordan said above, two utility bench players is worth it for a starter. I don’t like Crawford much at all, but for $14, he’s more valuable to a roster than Hernandez or Paulsen.

This is sort of a weird follow up to Dusty’s other deal. He basically bought someone here (Paulsen) who plays the same spots as Hanley Ramirez but not nearly as well, so he acquired someone his previous deal made superfluous, and downgraded his back-up to Francisco Lindor from Crawford to Hernandez.

Trade: Rocky Mountain Oysters | Long ball to LF

Long ball to LF sends: SS Francisco Lindor ($40) & 1B/LF Hanley Ramirez ($15)
Rocky Mountain Oysters sends: SP Kenta Maeda ($21)

Jordan’s thoughts: I really don’t like shipping off Kenta Maeda here. Five starts into his short MLB career so far, and he’s been better than advertised. 38 points per start. He’s efficient, able to get deep into games and strike hitters out. He also is quite fun to watch, which probably has less value in fantasy that I give it for.

Maeda just had his worst start where he finished with 27 points. His pitch counts have been well managed and there’s just so much to like about him. Even if Maeda gets hammered by greed dollars, he’s still keepable at under $50. I hate sending him away for anything less tier 1 ace return.

Long ball gets an ace, and they send off some overprice pieces. You’re not a baseball fan if you’re not aware of where Hanley Ramirez‘s value stands. So far this season, he’s not walking, striking out more and the power isn’t making up for it. A .696 OPS for a first basemen is not good enough. The Red Sox have a problem on their hands. Hanley was overpriced in the auction is certain to be dropped at the end of the season. While he does provide some what consistent low bar production, he’s a throw in for this kind of deal.

Francisco Lindor is the presumed prize coming back. He’s been good. Not great, but good. Andrew’s already written about positional adjusted values. Short stops this year have been all good. Lindor’s 5 points per game should have been top 5, but right now its 10th. Aledmys Diaz, Jean Segura, and Zack Cozart are names you should not expect to hold on to finish ahead of Lindor, but they are there now. Guys like Trevor Story, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Starlin Castro, and Corey Seager should not be surprising. If all the sudden short stops are a deep enough position, there’s just no prize here. Guys like Jed Lowrie, Brock Holt, Asdrubal Cabrera have all been better than average for years past. They’re all basically free. If you can get a player who’s an everyday guy without punting the position you are golden. If we knew what we knew now in the draft, I have to imagine that Lindor is going for $25-30. That isn’t insignificant. He’s good, but that perceived value is just gone when the 2nd and 3rd tier of a position show up.

Dusty has really won many trades in this league so far, and this was not one of them. Lindor replaces Jose Ramirez in the line up. It is an improvement. But, now Dusty is one less ace short in a world where you cannot have too many.

Johnny couldn’t cash this check fast enough in my opinion. He gets value for a player he didn’t need. Dallas Keuchel wasn’t enough to carry the rotation, adding Maeda to that makes his pitching staff leagues better. Fantastic move.

Andrew’s thoughts: I know Dusty really likes Lindor and has a solid pitching staff with or without Maeda, but I’d rather have the pitcher here.

For starters, Lindor is probably overpriced. He’s young and a shortstop though, so hooray, $40! I just don’t like his price — or Hanley’s, for that matter — and think Maeda’s a bargain. Anything can happen, of course. Maeda had some questionable medicals and he’s just making his first run through the league, so maybe we’re seeing the best he has. Even still, I wouldn’t view this as a “sell high” in a league where pitching is at a premium. To me, Lindor and a potentially finished Hanley aren’t a big prize.

But hey, who knows? As I said, Dusty still has pitching and now his offense should be slightly improved, salaries be damned.

Side note: Dusty previously traded Hisashi Iwakuma for Khris Davis, then abruptly cut Davis because he was underperforming through less than 20 games. Just thinking aloud here, but would you rather have Davis on your roster or Hanley? I think most would say Hanley. He’s got the longer track record and qualifies at an extra position. And that isn’t a bad answer. Point is, is the gap between Davis, who was cut flat out, and Hanley, who was a key piece in dumping off a really good starting pitcher, really that big? I don’t think it is.

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.

2016 Auction Review – Long Ball to LF

Long Ball to LF

lblf

Where have all the first basemen gone… Alright step back take a second look. Perhaps Hanley Ramirez does take over at first base for Boston, qualifies, and now you have Michael Brantley in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center. Eh. I mean, the best news for Hustle Loyalty Respect and Long Ball to LF, is that between them, the shortstop market is all but cornered. And except when they play each other, they should handily win that position battle each week. This was one of the hardest teams to project. I see the logic behind the roster, but I don’t love forcing the issue of transactions to get better roster utilization.

Hitters – Alright

This group is so close to good you can almost taste it. There is just pieces missing at key positions. First base is a concern even with Hanley presumably taking over. Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista are awesome in Toronto, but was last year the ceiling? Brantley appears to be ready to go to be ready close to opening day, but he’s had issues staying healthy. I don’t think any of us wanted a short stop to be a primary utility guy, and there’s almost no way around it here. Matt Kemp and Ellsbury sure, but they’ll be mixed into the outfield often enough. Just seems like a first basemen short. LBLF has that same rotating door utility problem. It’s not a glaring issue, but it can turn into one with an injury or two. It is not a huge problem that LBLF is also relying on Devon Travis, but three Blue Jays means on Toronto off-days this roster may have open slots.

Pitchers – Uh-oh

Dallas Keuchel is amazing. Now that he is out of the way. He’s capable of being dominate in 2-start weeks. That’s fine. The other 12 weeks when he’s not starting twice, you’re depending on Wheeler being healthy, Leake being above average, and a bunch of maybes and hopefuls. Sure, pitching is a finicky bitch and perhaps 6 good starters come out of this group of 12. It just seems like a ballsy risk in order to own three shortstops. The bullpen isn’t great either. Best case scenario is that six or seven guys from this group flesh themselves out to be good enough fast, and two or three make themselves easy to chop and replace with other depth.

Depth – Good

So while things on the pitching side don’t look amazing, the depth here is actually good. I just dogged the group of guys in the back of his rotation as guys you want to depend on, but I like Tyler Skaggs, Aaron Nola, Josh Tomlin, Taylor Jungmann, and Daniel Norris, they could be quite dependable. It’s not unrealistic. And while I assume one of the short stops is getting traded for something, even if they don’t. The hitting depth in the outfield is great, catcher is good, and if you find some 1B to move Logan Forsythe to a backup roll, even better. Those pitchers should be able to fetch something on the market and you can count on that happening most likely. Even with the Toronto issue on offense, I like the depth here.

Why 2016 would be bad… 

Both Xander Bogaerts and Francisco Lindor trend downward and become possible candidates for release next off-season. Keuchel loses his touch. The team never finds a first baseman. Take your pick. This team will take some real grinding to push to the top, especially if the market for shortstops does not bring something equivalent to what was spent.

Why 2016 would be good… 

I could just be wrong. Lindor and Bogaerts are amazing, they are good enough even if they have to server the utility role. Devon Travis stays healthy and ends up a top 5 2b. Hanley Ramirez ends up being a steal and hits like a top 15 first baseman. Michael Brantley returns to 2014 form. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson nail their encore. Of the twelve starters just six have to be good. There’s trade bait all around this team.