Trade: TBD | Who’s Your Haddy?

Who’s Your Haddy? sends: CF AJ Pollock ($54), CF Lewis Brinson (minors), 2017 2nd Round Pick
TBD sends: SP Zack Greinke ($80), SS Willy Adames (minors), 2017 4th Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: I don’t love Greinke at his price or Pollock at his, but their track records are certainly cause for optimism. But man… was Greinke even getting kept? TBD was tight against their budget, he’s really expensive, and he’s coming off a discouraging year. I think it was like 60/40 he was getting sent to auction. So trading Pollock, a top-25-ish fantasy prospect, and a pick upgrade for him is a lot given that so many players that were going to end up cut seem to have been dealt at discount prices. I mean, within this same off-season, Greinke was already dealt straight up for David Peralta. So this looks like a really great short term investment for TBD.

The difficulty with Greinke or any $80 player, really, is that they have to be elite to return value. And I love Greinke historically. I’d rather gamble $80 on him than some other guys and I think every now and then you have to roll the dice on guys that have been great year in and year out. But still, it’s a big gamble.

And I sort of hate to do it, but because it was such a hot button deal when it went down, I have to circle back to it: Pollock was originally acquired, along with David Dahl, for Mookie Betts. Remember that? Pollock was hurt and Betts at $61 seems totally reasonable, so at the time, everyone was just so taken aback. It looked so much like a deal to save some cash and turn attention to 2017, which is fine. But here we are, and now Pollock got swapped for Greinke, who is $10 more costly than Betts. It’s just really hard not to connect these two. It’d be different if Pollock was healthy at the time, but his arm was broke and he was effectively done for the year, so there was no other way to look at it then “eyeing 2017.” Dahl still came of that deal, and with Coors setting his floor, he looks like he’ll be solid. But Brinson’s a similar prospect, right? Worse park, obviously. But a year or two from now, might Brinson and Dahl be interchangeable? Maybe, maybe not. The point is, including Brinson kinda chews into some of the value of Dahl from that original deal.

But that’s a totally different trade. For this one… I just really prefer the TBD side. Their pitching can absorb not having to take the Greinke gamble. Pollock should be good. Brinson should be decent at some point. I like Willy Adames, but shortstop isn’t as weak as it once was, so how much is his playing there really worth? And jumping up two rounds in the draft is just a nice bonus.

Jordan’s thoughts: Haddy gets another play that I really enjoy and like. Greinke. He’s awesome. But, what in the fuck are you doing here man? I believe Greinke bounces back, but Pollock should too right? There’s just something going on here. What does Haddy know that I’m not seeing? I’m lost.

Is Willy Adames the secret? Is his stock rising or something? Guh.

Trade: The Foundation | Who’s Your Haddy?

The Foundation sends: SP Chris Sale ($93), 2017 4th Round Pick, 2017 3rd Round Pick
Who’s Your Haddy? sends: SP Alex Reyes (minors), LF/CF/RF Nick Plummer (minors), 2017 1st Round Pick, 2018 1st Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: At first glance, I really, really like this deal from the perspective of both teams.

To be clear, Chris Sale is the only piece The Foundation is sending away here. Third and fourth round picks are just whatever. To me, future draft picks that late are only a slight tick above nothing. They’re what you ship to someone if you need to buy a seventh start or what you ask for if you’re waffling about whether or not to cut a player. Or, in this case, they’re what you kick back to the team giving up first round picks to be a fair trade partner.

For Haddy, acquiring Sale this late in the season gives him not just a force at the front of his rotation to maybe go from an unexpected 9-7 to a playoff spot, but it also gives him a big time asset that he can keep. Just like I said with the recent Max Scherzer trade, I don’t believe this is a rental by any means. Earlier this year, Haddy swung a deal that effectively downgraded from Mookie Betts to AJ Pollock in 2017, while also freeing up $53. He doesn’t have a ton of easy cuts on his roster, but I think if you couple that savings with cutting someone like $30 Adrian Gonzalez or $32 Todd Frazier and then keeping Sale, you’re coming out ahead. So it’s a win-now move and sort of a long play into next year.

Let’s be clear though: Sale has some concerns. And I don’t mean his being a sociopath. His strikeouts are way down. Like, way down. He’s striking out three fewer hitters per nine innings than he did last year. He and the White Sox have been preaching a “pitch to contact” philosophy, but who knows if that’s just dancing around decreased performance. His walks are also up slightly, his home runs are up, and his BABIP is the best it’s ever been, so in some ways he’s been lucky. His FIP has gone from 2.73 last year to 3.69 and his xFIP from 2.60 to 3.74. He’s still Chris Sale. He’s still really good. He’s averaging almost 35 points a start. I’m just saying… his profile has some warts this year.

Meanwhile, for The Foundation, this move turns a lot of gears. The draft picks are fine. Haddy’s pick currently projects to be 10th overall and theoretically his team should improve, so that’s likely a pick in the 10-12 range. All first round picks are not created equal, of course, so while “omg a 1st round pick!” is cool, that really comes out to the 10th- or 12th-best prospect that is several years away from reaching the big leagues. The one in 2018 is nice too. Picks are just really hard to gauge, but for me personally, I’d always rather have them than not and they’re something I like to try to upgrade when possible. I think if you’re trading a player of Sale’s caliber, you need to recoup as much value as possible, and wildcard draft picks help accomplish that.

The headliner though is obviously Cardinals pitching prospect Alex Reyes. I think you could easily make the case that he’s better than Tyler Glasnow, the headline piece for Scherzer, and maybe even the second best pitching prospect in baseball behind Lucas Giolito. Some might even debate that. Reyes projects to be really, really good. And as a bonus, he’ll get to pitch in a park that does a good job suppressing home runs for a team that is always competitive.

But here’s the other thing moving Sale does: it opens up the space to keep $111 Bryce Harper, $90 Paul Goldschmidt, and $59 Jon Lester. Or anyone, really. One swift trade opened up a bunch of space. And yeah, he could have just held Sale until the off-season and explored something else to free up space, but I think now was the time to strike if you can land a prospect like Reyes and some picks to tinker around with.

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.

Baseball’s Best Leadoff HItters

Having a reliable leadoff hitter is important once a game. But these guys also get the most opportunities at the plate so you better make sure that guy can hit in any situation, as well as being a spark plug in the 1st inning. Every team has a different approach with their leadoff hitter.  Some managers just slot their fastest player at the top of their lineup, while other managers make sure whoever is leading off, has a high on base percentage.

You will have a hard time finding any fantasy baseball scoring system that ranks anyone above the Houston Astros Jose Altuve.  His .305/.400/.611 slash has let to 20 runs scored, 13 RBI and 9 stolen bases after just one month.  On top of that, he has 17 XBH, including six home runs.

Right behind Altuve, you find Dexter Fowler hitting .347 to begin the season with 13 XBH.  Fowler’s 17 walks drawn has led to a .474 OBP.

Mookie Betts has been a bit of a disappointment, owning a .266 BA and just 5 walks drawn, but he has managed to score 19 runs while driving in 17.

Ian Kinsler and Jean Segura are the only leadoff hitters with 30+ hits, but Kinsler’s has yet to find his power with just 8 XBH (4 HRs) while Segura’s Diamondbacks teammates have struggled to knock him home as he has crossed the plate just 12 times, including four home runs.

Over his last 10 games, Logan Forsythe has seen his BA rise from .250 up to .341 thanks to three 3 hit games, and three 2 hit games.

dgLeadoff

Stats via FanGraphs

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.