Trade: Team Hydra | Who’s Your Haddy?

Team Hydra sends: CF AJ Pollock ($49), CF David Dahl (minors)
Who’s Your Haddy?¬†sends:¬†CF Mookie Betts ¬†($61), SP Michael Wacha ($41)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†A decision was made here that was extremely rushed. Looking from Hydra’s side first. They trade away a minor leaguer and an injured semi-keepable all-star for an all-star and an above average pitcher. Easy trade. From Haddy’s side, I really don’t get this at all. I’m going to keep it short because Andrew sums this up in 800 words beautifully.

We just saw Bailey get two deals where he got back multiple assets for one player being sold. Haddy shot two bullets and got..maybe two… assets back. The price difference between Pollack and Betts isn’t worth swapping them for. I really don’t see how Hydra turns down Betts for Pollock/Dahl. If they did, fine, wait it out. Betts wasn’t likely to lose value over the next two weeks. Wacha is whatever, but he shouldn’t be a throw in to get a deal done.

Look Haddy, I don’t hate you playing the game, but I think the way you played it was blinded by an urgency that just did not exist. There’s 14 other teams in the hunt and looking to improve, I think you do better by opening the bidding than to quickly make backroom deals.

I can’t wait to see this deal in two seasons, who knows, Dahl could be the only piece worth anything.

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†I get what Haddy was doing here, but I don’t like¬†it very much for him at all. At least, I don’t like the way the two big name outfielders seem to have been swapped so evenly for one another.

For Haddy, who sits at 1-5 with a very, very remote shot at the postseason, making moves that better his squad in 2017 makes sense. ¬†He’s publicly said that he prefers Pollock to Betts straight up and the $12 salary gap there helps, but I’m not sure I see it that way. I mean, I can see the two players being coin flips. I don’t agree that they are, but that’s not a complete stretch. I’m just not sure $12 is all that much of a difference for a player that is five years younger¬†and has more growth and development to do compared to a guy in Pollock that has, at 28-years-old, one full season of awesome production. He was great in 2014 too, but in just 75 games. That sort of speaks to the knock on Pollock: he’s suffered a myriad of injuries, including this year’s broken elbow that will likely keep him out all year. He’s less risky than a prospect but I think he’s far more risky than pretty much any outfielder with a salary of, say, $30 or more. Pollock might be the most risky major league outfielder, period.

Alex from Team Hydra had tried really hard to sell me on Pollock, but I just wasn’t interested. He’s $51 to start next season and vulnerable to greed and, to me, he’s a prime target to get a few bucks. A guy with a limited track record coming off a significant injury seems like a guy whose price you want to get up as much as possible to either force a decision or elevate the risk.

Interestingly, Jordan and I were talking about Betts earlier in the day before this deal went down and without even knowing Betts was available. One point I made to Jordan was this: with Mike Trout in center, Haddy was playing Betts in right. The impact of that is negligible, but I think you prefer to play your players in the slots where they are most valuable, and Betts is more valuable in CF than RF. Again, negligible.

Anyway, when we’re discussing game theory, we usually use our own players as examples, so one of the questions I pondered to Jordan is: if you concede Betts is going to be used in RF instead of CF, is the gap between him ($61, 232.3 points) and my right fielder, Nick Markakis ($4, 178.8), or his right fielder, Kole Calhoun ($10, 212.5), really that big? Betts has been worth 3.8 points per dollar, while Markakis has been worth 44.7 and Calhoun has been worth 21.25. Obviously, you’d rather have Betts on your team than Markakis or Calhoun. He’s objectively better, he’s more fun to root for, etc. We’re also looking at just a fraction of the season. But when you start talking about value, the conversation changes dramatically. I’m not suggesting Markakis or Calhoun are worth more, that Betts is worth less, or anything of that nature. I just think it’s interesting to look at this stuff through different lenses. My ultimate point, I think, is to say that while I may not like Betts-for-Pollock and while you may even think that’s an outrageous deal, the case could be made that neither player is all that good of a value long-term.

As for the other two pieces, I don’t think a Wacha-for-Dahl straight up deal is bad. As of this posting, Wacha is averaging 26.06 points per start, putting him right around the league average mark. Jordan and I have beaten this drum to death, but league average guys are valuable. If your team is in “win now” mode and the cost of a league average starter is a good prospect, you do it. Average pitchers are worth it. And Wacha is a very nice piece for anyone’s¬†pitching stable. But he strikes me as more of a SP3 or SP4 and at $43 minimum in 2017, I’m not sure he’s someone that gets kept. To me, Wacha’s a guy that could be dropped every year and bought back at auction, essentially existing in our league on a never-ending cycle of one-year deals. You may even overpay for him at auction knowing that you’ll dump him at year’s end, and that’s fine. He’s good, but he’s the 27th highest paid starting pitcher. He’s not that good.

Dahl, on the other hand, was the 33rd overall pick in our minor league draft and at the absolute worst gets to play all of his home games at Coors Field. That’s worth something. For a team that’s out of it in 2016, I have no qualms flipping Wacha, who Haddy could have a shot to buy back next year anyway, for Dahl.

I think a piece is missing here for Haddy. Maybe not a big piece, but something. A draft pick would have helped some. One of Hydra’s underpaid pitchers, a guy like JA Happ ($3) or Tyler Chatwood (FA) on a dice roll. I’m not one of those over the top Mookie Betts fans, but I think he was worth more than an oft-injured outfielder at a $12 minimum discount.

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.

2016 Auction Review – Who’s your Haddy?

Who’s your Haddy?

wyh

Looking up and down, yep! Yet another¬†stars and scrubs strategy with some interesting middle men tossed in. I love Mike Trout‘s value, the best player in baseball got paid the 3rd most auction budget by¬†some margin. A few things went really right here, and a few look really concerning. Let’s dive in!

Hitters – Great

The starting line up is really fricking good. I don’t know that there¬†is truly¬†a hole in the 1-10 spots. Salvador Perez plays everyday and scores points, Carlos Santana and Adrian¬†Gonzalez for under $60 combined is a steal. Jason Kipnis and Todd Frazier are guys who can finish top 5 at their positions and Haddy didn’t pay to see it. Ben Zobrist was a steal at $14. Trout is Trout. There’s no clear number two utility hitter here, which hurts the overall rating a smidgen. Also I do¬†not¬†love the dollar value that Mookie Betts sold for. Jung-ho Kang is curious. Run 1000 simulations and how many times does Kang for $33 outscore Asdrubal Cabrera for $3? Yikes.

Pitchers – Alright

Jacob deGrom seems poised to have a stellar season. There’s no question about his star value. Michael Wacha is good, but there seems to be looming questions about his pitch arsenal. Is Justin Verlander a legit 3? The back end of this rotation has potential, but they’ll be asked to perform probably before Haddy would like to rely on them. The relievers are nothing to sniff at, maybe they’re okay, maybe they’re not. They will get holds you can assume. The back end of starters is iffy. I’m not high on Trevor Bauer or Ervin Santana, is there a fifth starter in the Matt Wisler, Drew Hutchinson, Jeff Locke, Robert Erlin, Shane Greene group? Eeeshh

Depth – Not quite

Now, Haddy’s starters have positional flexibility which saves this team from being in the uh-oh category. The pitchers are¬†not likely¬†holding anything together here. Haddy should be able to swing some positions here and there to keep a good line up going daily, but there is a player¬†or two missing here.

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

Mike Trout and/or Jacob deGrom gets hurt. The hill just gets so much higher after that. Kang being bad isn’t enough to sink it, but his weight will be pulling on the team down on the daily. Maybe Mookie Betts ends up just being good instead of great, Todd Frazier doesn’t adjust to the American League, Kipnis, Santana, and A-Gone begin their decline. Maybe the season goes south if Jacob deGrom buzzes his hair. Who knows.

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

This team starts shining bright when one of those starting pitchers that Haddy bought for under ten dollars turns into a star. Or just if Jung-Ho Kang is a earning his salary. Honestly Haddy’s hitters plus deGrom will carry him to victories this year. It is not hard to see how this roster goes from pretty close to good to great. Perhaps Pedro Alvarez ends up being a legit DH in the American League? Hell Mike Trout‘s probably good enough to carry.