Trade: Team Hydra | Long Ball to LF

Team Hydra sends: SP Julio Teheran ($27)
Long Ball to LF sends: 1B/LF/CF Ian Desmond ($23)

Hustle’s thoughts: With Kluber and Price on the DL, I think you could argue Teheran is Hydra’s best pitcher. He’s been awful at home and very good on the road. I just feel like someone with Teheran’s track record, that he will get it together at some point and prove to be the top 30/35 SP that he is, which in this league, is incredible valuable.

Desmond has some nice eligibility (1B/lf/cf), and should average more than 5 per game. He’s playing in Coors and the Rockies paid him. That being said, the Rockies have a lot of hitters and a log jam might force him out of the lineup more than expected at the beginning of the year. I don’t have much against Desmond, but when your pitching is decimated, it’s going to be hard to get 20-30 point stars from a guy. A rotation led by Porcello, Karns, and Vargas is quite risky to say the least.

Andrew’s thoughts: Good, even trade.

I think Hydra probably tired of Teheran’s loose cannon approach to pitching, and he hasn’t had much time to pitch there, but he looks awful in his new Atlanta home park. Teheran has always been homer prone and struck me as a bit overrated, but he may have officially crossed into “broken” territory. His K’s are way down and walks are way up. I like Long Ball buying him here just because pitchers are so fickle that one small tweak could get him back on track, but it’s definitely a gamble.

Desmond, meanwhile, has been kind of meh in his first 20 games with Colorado. He started out great, but now has a meager .296 wOBA. Like Teheran, he’s flawed and risky. But unlike Teheran, he has a home park that will clearly do him favors. He also offers some versatility, as he can slot in at three different positions.

I like this as a challenge trade for both teams. Personally, I’d rather have Desmond, but it’s close.

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 – The Foundation

The Foundation

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It takes a real piece of work to attempt to write objectively about their own team. I was going to try to do, but everyone knows I will not do it anyway. Please email Bailey with your critiques, he forwards them to me with a tip of poison. That being said, I’m quite excited about my draft, I think I did really well despite missing out on my initial targets of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper (I have a hard time writing anything at all and ignoring Bryce).

Hitting – Good

Paul Goldschmidt is a contender to finish as the best hitter in the league. He finished second last year, and there is little reason to believe he does not compete for that title this year. Adam Jones, Alex Gordon and Kole Calhoun round out a solid outfield. Derek Norris is a sneaky catcher value as he plays more and more at first base. Justin Turner‘s red beard is as fierce as his value. There’s a huge hole at short stop, I can can be heard talking up Jean Segura last year on another podcast, and I was wrong. I don’t plan on being smart here, he was just the last one left. I hate Ian Kinsler so he’ll either give me more reason to hate, or probably he’ll continue his vodoo and be good. I can hate him for being good. Byung-ho Park is the x-factor in this line-up. He fills in at 1b and the primary utility hitter. Is the power for real? So far in spring it seems to be. Two years ago I reached for an unknown Jose Abreu. Here is to hoping I did not get too cute on my own.

Pitching – Great

Chris Sale was the pitching prize left on the table. He’s quite good. Felix Hernandez had a down year last year with his lingering injury issues that he choose to pitch through, but he was still crazy good. Jon Lester can’t pick guys off, but he’s a great pitcher otherwise. The bullpen isn’t amazing, but it’ll score more points than most other bullpens in this league. Relying on getting a fifth guy from Doug Fister, James Paxton, Bartolo Colon and Zach Davies seems like a safe bet. Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson could be refreshing additions to the team after they return from the disabled list. Gio Gonzalez is the weird fit in this rotation. He’s uncomfortable as your 3rd SP, but probably overqualified as the 4th SP. A good problem for me to have, last year he was let down by the Ian Desmond led Nationals’ “defense”.

Depth – Good

I am pretty in love with myself my pitching staff in particular. My hitters are also position flexible and good enough to start in a pinch. If Dustin Ackley does not win a daily job in New York, things get hairy pretty quickly. I’m giving myself credit for knowing that after I add the three or four guys to the disabled list that I took, I’ll be able to snag a few worthy players from the current waiver wire. Probably not fair, but you’ve already quit reading

Why 2016 would be bad… 

Well if those knocks happen to come, andthe pitchers I’m hoping to be able to sit on don’t come around. Yikes, things go to hell really quick. I have already ran through various scenarios to see where my team would be if Sale and Goldy are gone. It is not impossible to be good 2016 yet, but that might be enough to sink this team. Will I find myself in an early position to reload for next season?

Why 2016 would be good… 

Goldy is a top 5 hitter, there’s two top 10 starters between Sale, Felix and Lester. Those two accomplishments will carry this team from good to great pretty quickly. That is not asking a lot. The rest of the roster is in great shape and has room to take a few knocks.