Trade: Capital City Ironmen | Hustle Loyalty Respect

Capital City Impalers send: $1 2017 Auction Cash
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: SP Felix Hernandez ($70)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†2016 Felix Hernandez is definitely not worth¬†14% of a team’s budget space heading into 2017. But 2015 Felix Hernandez might be, and 2009-2014 Felix Hernandez most definitely is.

Truthfully, I think all of King Felix’s innings have caught up to him and going forward, he’ll be more 2016 than 2015 and definitely more 2016 than 2009-2014. But here’s the thing: I got $1 of 2017 auction budget last May for Wilmer Flores, so I’m really just sending that dollar for the option to decide what to do with Felix in January or February. I suspect that the¬†Mariners will continue to¬†manage him like he’s their ace regardless of the numbers he’s putting up, which means squeezing seven innings from him when they’d probably pull Tai Walker or James Paxton after six. More innings means more outs, and more outs means more points. He averaged more than six innings per start last year.

On a normal team, the choice is easy: cut him and send him back to auction. What does he go for at auction next year? $25? $30? But I’ve run my projected keeps and cuts, even with $15 greed built in, and I project to have an ample surplus of auction cash. That’s before factoring in Felix’s hefty $70, but even after accounting for it, I should still be among the leaders in budget space (and if I’m not, that means several teams took machetes to their payroll, which means there should be plenty of talent to go around at auction).¬†My pitching staff for next year looks to cost less than¬†$10/starter without Felix. With Felix, that jumps over¬†$15/starter. If you look at it as just an overall cost of a pitching rotation, Felix’s $70 becomes easier to absorb.

For HLR, it’s clear Felix was never going to be kept anyway. He was acquired solely for a playoff run.¬†Compared to his price on August 2 (a reasonably priced MLB outfielder and two quality prospects), $1 of auction budget is nothing. I realize we’re not comparing apples to apples, but whatever. Anyway, HLR turns a player he was¬†going to cut into an easy $1, which maybe makes the difference in a bidding war. He’s up to, I think, $507 in total budget now, so he’s incrementally improved his freedom to spend.

Long story short: HLR gets something instead of nothing, I get a decision to make come roster cut time.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Mmmm, Felix.

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.

Trade: The Foundation | Capital City Ironmen

The Foundation sends: SP Brandon McCarthy ($3), RP Trevor May ($2), 2017 1st Round Pick, 2018 1st Round Pick
Capital City Ironmen sends: SP James Shields ($28), 2017 2nd Round Pick, 2018 2nd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This was always kind of the point of getting James Shields back in my Johnny Cueto trade: to flip him later for a little something extra.

It’s easy to say now that the White Sox have acquired him, but I really wanted to deal Shields before he got traded in real life. The Chicago rumors made me nervous. That ballpark plus the DH does not seem like a great recipe for one of baseball’s most HR prone pitchers dating back to the start of 2015. Among qualified starters, Shields is seventh-worst in HR/9 at 1.40 over that time period and in terms of total homers allowed, he’s surrendered 42; only Max Scherzer and Hector Santiago have allowed more.

EDIT: ZiPS just got updated and Shields’ FIP went from projected 3.73 rest of season to 3.98 with the move to Chicago.

Admittedly, the return was¬†lighter than I would have hoped. I would’ve liked to get back one more piece, preferably a cheap major leaguer, but I just couldn’t find a piece that fit and, frankly, the market for Shields’ services was not very robust.

What makes Shields valuable is that he throws a ton of innings, thus recording a lot of outs and points. He got totally blasted in his last start and was pulled after 2.2 innings, but that’s the exception. Usually even if he’s off, his manager will leave him out there for six or seven innings. In fact, he’d gone six or more innings in his first 10 starts before that last stinker. He scored 25 or more fantasy points in eight of those starts. He’s also thrown 200+ innings in nine straight seasons and is on pace to make that 10 in a row. His floor is quite high.

Brandon McCarthy is mostly just a flier, but I should note that for their careers, McCarthy and Shields have comparable¬†FIP, xFIP, BB/9, and HR/9 rates. Over their last 30 or so starts, McCarthy’s numbers have actually been better across the board. Shields still projects better though, given how he hogs innings and McCarthy likely won’t pitch deep into games coming off injury (which is a whole separate risk component altogether). I’m just hoping McCarthy spends the rest of 2016 recovering and is in a spot to contribute in 2017 at a much cheaper salary than Shields.

With Trevor May, I’m just hoping something changes and the Twins convert him back into a starter. That seems unlikely though. He’s currently sporting a 13.67 K/9, so if not a starter, he could be a cheap RP option that strikes a ton of guys out. The price to find out what his future holds costs nothing but a RP spot, which I’d been mostly funneling guys in and out of anyway.

The main thing was getting the picks. Once my team decided to suck this year and I embarked on rebuilding, part of my strategy was to stock up on the highest picks possible. I tend to think picks are valuable but likely overrated, especially in baseball. This isn’t football where your rookie running back will start and make an impact from Week One. In baseball, prospects take time. But I’d rather have superior draft assets than not, and with my fifteen minors spots mostly accounted for, accruing picks is my only real means of adding cost controlled talent in the future.

For Jordan, the cost to add a stabilizing starting pitcher really wasn’t too much. To date, his team has lost the second-most points to HR allowed (interestingly, first place Team Canada has been stung the most), so Shields doesn’t necessarily fix that. But there’s a ton of positive regression due for the rest of his staff, so what Shields will really be doing is cutting down on having to use dice roll starts. That means not being backed into a corner where Aaron Blair, James Paxton, or Mat Latos has to be deployed.

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.