Trade: The Foundation | Preseason Double Stuffs

The Foundation sends: SP Braden Shipley (minors)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: 3B/LF Danny Valencia ($4)

Andrew’s thoughts: This trade created quite a bit of buzz in our group chat and here’s why: since the beginning of 2015, Danny Valencia ranks 13th in the major leagues in wOBA (minimum 400 PA). He has the same wOBA as Manny Machado in that time and is just .002 behind Nolan Arrenado. He’s posted a higher weighted on-base than Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, Kris Bryant, and… well, you get it.

And Valencia costs $4.

So the controversy was: sure, Braden Shipley is cost controlled and will be $1 next year assuming he debuts in 2016 (likely), but Valencia will be just $6. Maybe he gets hit with greed. Even if he does, he’ll cost around $20 maximum. For the thirteenth most productive hitter in baseball, 2015-present! He’s also just 31-years-old. He’s not over the hill. He’s certainly not any more of a risk than a prospect, particularly a pitcher.

The problem, of course, is that Valencia has heavy platoon splits that make him questionable against RHP, though this year he’s crushing them too, to the tune of a .354 wOBA. And this isn’t totally new. He had a .351 wOBA in 2010. He had a .381 wOBA in 2013. Granted, he was a sub-.300 guy in every other year he played, but the point is that it’s not like he’s just all of a sudden hitting. He’s done this before.

For the Double Stuffs, I do like getting Shipley, who recent reports suggest has turned a corner and has been able to generate more K’s, in a vacuum. Even if he’s “just a number four starter,” as some lamented in our chat, that type of guy can be quite valuable in a system like ours where prospects get paid only if they produce. More valuable than Valencia? Likely not. But still.

I think the Double Stuffs wanted to “sell high” here, but to me, the definition of selling high isn’t simply exporting a guy when he’s performing well. It’s being overpaid for that player at that time, which I don’t think happened here. I do understand wanting to cash out before he crashes back down to Earth though, but this is a case where I’m not sure that crash even happens. And if it does, it’s not like it was going to happen overnight (part of the controversy was along the lines of “we put him on our trade block and this is all we were offered,” which is true, though he was only on the trade block for less than 24 hours, so how thoroughly was the market tested?).

Ultimately, I don’t feel strongly about this for either team. But it’s boring to write a review where you just shrug. I can see it from both sides. I think landing Valencia is great for The Foundation. Jordan needed a 3B and some offense and got it without sacrificing any present day contributors. The Double Stuffs don’t really need Valencia, since they’ve also got Nick Castellanos and Yasmany Tomas at third.

I’m not sure the market has caught on yet to the value of productive veteran players on cheap contracts. Like, how is any prospect’s cost control status worth a lot but a guy like Valencia being only $4 seems like an afterthought? I don’t know. If Shipley sucks, his cost control status means you just never pay him until the day you eventually cut ties. If Valencia falls off between now and 2017, you just cut him and move on. If he doesn’t, he’s $6. I think cheap, productive players have as much risk/reward as prospects do. There’s a cost of acquisition involved, sure, but any asset you acquire has risk associated with it. With guys like Shipley (cost control) and Valencia (cheap), I don’t think there’s any big difference. At least with the veteran player, you pretty much know what you’re getting.

Trade: Capital City Ironmen | BetterNameLater

Capital City Ironmen send: 3B Yunel Escobar ($3)
BetterNameLater send: SP Jorge de la Rosa ($1)

Jordan’s 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’s 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.

2016 Auction Review – Betternamelater

Betternamelater

bnl

The winner for Clayton Kershaw was always going to be a contender. As I’ve stated before and again. He’s almost guaranteed to be a value. I had him realistically rated as high as $150. Getting him for $117 hurts in some ways, but the team with a better name in the works, made out like bandits on a few auctions.

Hitting – Good

Manny Machado is a star in this league. Edwin Encarnacion is a fantasy star, his defense doesn’t play here. Carlos Gonzalez is still in Colorado, and even if he was not, he’s still a near lock for top five in left field. I’m higher on Adam Eaton and Curtis Granderson, lower on Ketel Marte and Dee Gordon. It will probably even out. Are we relying on Billy Butler to be a staple at the second utility spot here? Hmm. There is a lotto like about this line up, stealing Brandon Belt for $14 seems like a great buy, Keith Law probably still agrees.

Pitching – Great

Kershaw is the best player in the league. Danny Salazar, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz are all really good and interesting. I consider them all tier 2 pitchers, but if they all ended up in tier one at the end of the season I will not be surprised. I do not love Alex Wood, but between him and Nathan Eovaldi you have a solid number five and I’d be okay with Jorge De La Rosa as my sixth when he’s out of Colorado. Weeks when Kershaw pitches twice, there’s not many pitching staffs that will out-duel. He’s just so damn good. The bullpen may or may not hold this staff back. Hector Rondon has a lot of good outings, and some seriously bad ones. Joaquin Benoit is pitching in Seattle, but currently does not have a secured role.

Depth – Alright

The depth here is set to be alright. The positional flexibility plays well here. There’s no backup 2b or SS here. How many plate appearances will be left on the cutting room floor, or only slightly better, left at replacement level. Probably too many. But that could be easily patched. There is a good chance a few of these guys become legit starters as well.

Why 2016 would be bad… 

May the good lord forbid, but if Kershaw gets hurt. I mean I don’t even know what else to write. For any team if 22% of their budget was hurt early in the season for the whole season they would be easy choice as sunk. Same problem lies here. For the sake of the argument say the young three guys behind him hold up the pitching staff. Well it gets bad if Gonzalez and Granderson under perform. If Edwin Encarnacion goes missing, or worse, Machado has knee issues.

Why 2016 would be good… 

Kershaw doesn’t even have to repeat 2015, just has to be close. Salazar, Stroman and Matz all get to 25+ starts as at least tier 2 guys. Machado remains awesome, the hitters all hit above their floors and this team should be pretty solid. The question marks are probably personal preference, but it is hard to argue against he value on almost all the buys. But it hinges on, well…