Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Hustle Loyalty Respect

Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: 3B Matt Davidson (FA)
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: 1B Hanley Ramirez ($17)

Andrew’s thoughts: I see this as HLR cashing out a guy that was on waivers five days ago and only cost $1 of FAAB in exchange for a guy who was the 35th highest scoring hitter as recently as last year. That seems like good decision making to me.

As for Davidson, well, I don’t dislike him. I once had him in my minors in another league, so I liked him enough for that. Anyway, he’s currently rocking a 2.5% walk rate (awful!), 42.5% strikeout rate (Byron Buxton is the only player alive who thinks this is good), and a totally sustainable .556 BABIP.

I’m really not sure why you’d punt a player with Hanley’s track record of performance for a guy with 40 good plate appearances, particularly when the numbers behind those 40 plate appearances all scream regression. But hey, whatever.

EDIT: This review was written on April 25 and I forgot to publish it. But it has proved true so far. Since the 25th of April, Hanley has gone bonkers, scoring 77.6 points at a 9.7/game clip. Davidson, meanwhile, has -6.5 total points and six at-bats in his team’s last four games, seemingly becoming a bench option for the White Sox. HLR robbed on this one.

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.

The one scenario I can think of where acquiring Byron Buxton at $32 makes sense…

Byron Buxton ($32) was traded the other day and I hated it. For the days following the trade, my coffee tasted burnt and even the roses in our garden smelled like poo. It was a very bad trade.

Just to reiterate what I wrote in my review of the trade: I don’t dislike Buxton necessarily, nor am I oblivious to his potential. I just don’t like that you’re paying $32 for potential when prospects in our league have cost control status, effectively mitigating the risk, or when there are so many inexpensive centerfielders that are currently producing at high rates. I also didn’t like that the player traded for Buxton is super good and super valuable.

Anyway…

I thought of one scenario where trading for Buxton at $32 today makes sense. Here goes:

Let’s say you want Buxton and his immense potential. But you also do not want to pay him $32 — well, really, $34 into 2017, plus whatever greed allocation he may get hit with (and he’s a big fat target for it!). Well, the only way for you to have Buxton at less than that price is for him to be cut at season’s end and go back to auction.

At that point, who knows what’ll happen? He could get bid up to $50 (lol). Hell, you could execute the trade today, then he could be promoted tomorrow and hit like a monster through the end of the year, at which point $32 isn’t looking so bad. But let’s focus on the here and now, the fact that he’s all potential and no production, and that he costs $32 but you want him for less because there’s just way too much risk and likely not enough reward at that price point.

If Buxton, even at $32, is on any other team, you have no control over whether or not he makes it back to auction. If he’s on your roster, you can guarantee that he’ll be cut, at which point you’ll have the opportunity to win him back at a lower rate.

There are two points to make here.

The first is that because we have no in-season salary cap, acquiring a player that you plan to cut doesn’t necessarily harm your team long-term. Adding a bad player with a $32 salary is prohibitive in 2016 to the extent that it takes up a roster spot, and that’s it. As of this posting, Buxton is minor league eligible, so he wouldn’t even rob you of a point scoring spot. Generally speaking, it may not be a bad idea to acquire expensive players that you’d prefer to have at lower salaries, if only because you’d then control whether or not they reach auction.

The second key is determining what the value of guaranteeing a player hits auction is. And I’m not sure it’s a lot. It definitely isn’t $18 Kyle Hendricks.

In order for it to be feasible, I think, you need to bake Buxton into a larger deal. He needs to just be a piece of a bigger puzzle, not the primary return, because there’s a very real chance that even if Buxton gets to auction, you won’t win him (though if you’ve gone through all this trouble to give yourself the chance, your odds may be better than others due to sheer will). Of course, you could also ship someone something negligible, like a 3rd round pick, and make it work that way if you can’t do a package deal.

Ultimately, I’m still not fond of taking on a player like Buxton at his price if your intent is to build around him for years to come. Using my own team as an example again: Denard Span is 32-years-old, costs $4, and is quite productive. He’s probably got two or three more years of solid production left. Does he have Buxton’s “upside”? No. But given the salary difference, a guy like Buxton has to not just match what Span is doing and should do in the next few years, he needs to far surpass it. Otherwise you’re wasting resources and effectively paying a player for being younger.

In short: the option of what to do with a player is worth something, and adding an expensive guy that you know you’ll cut with the sole purpose of maybe getting them back cheaper is also worth something. It’s an interesting strategy. Feel free to poke holes in it!

 

Dynasty Grinders Podcast – Episode 14

Bailey and I got together during Sunday afternoon’s games to review week 2. It was almost in the books, so we reviewed it anyway. We discuss the Kyle Gibson trade, Matt Moore and his resurgence. Is Mike Trout okay? Relievers are swinging match-ups. We look at Senior Squid’s roster and how he could optimize with a trade or two. Seven of the eight match-ups this week could have changed by time the podcast gets posted, it was that close in every single one of them.

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.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses

Rocky Mtn Oysters send: SP Hisashi Iwakuma ($19)
The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses send: OF Khris Davis ($9) and $4 in 2017 Auction Dollars

Jordan’s thoughts: At what point is this just a blog that writes about shit that Dusty does? Is this a bad trade? No. Is this a good trade? Meh. I’m going to now lay my snark hat down and attempt to pretend this happened in some quasi normal land where things are not perpetually spun around in some circus-style-bonanza-frenzy-fuckfest.

Iwakuma goes away and with it the baggage of his health away with it. He’s quite good when he’s healthy and normal, and quite useless otherwise. Last year he started half the season, had a few awful starts and then he pitched a perfect game and went on to be mostly decent. I believe what you can expect out of Iwakuma is a tier two starter when he is healthy. However, you only want to have to depend on about fifteen of those starts, because he is likely not healthy.

The cost for this player was pretty nominal. Khris Davis is the light tossing left fielder who can hit he ball a long ways. He has flashes of great ability and droughts of despair. I like both players enough, I think Davis has the higher floor, Iwakuma the higher ceiling and for all of that the trade makes some sense.

Davis upgrades RMO well enough, he pushes Buxton’s at bats to less important and removes at bats from Ryan Howard and Danny Espinosa. Those are good things. The loss of Iwakuma hurts some, but Dusty still has pitching to spend, kind of. The simulator showed little movement.

Iwakuma replaced replacement level starts for the Diabeetuses. This is a great thing. Losing Davis did hurt though, but not as much as Iwakuma improved. Got to do it I suppose. This gave the Diabeetuses a nice jump back to respectability in the simulator.

So it is a win-win!

Andrew’s thoughts: I’ll take the Iwakuma side, but this isn’t as erroneous as the Oysters’ Shields-for-Werth misstep.

I do like Khris Davis a bit and if future salary is important to you, starting at $11 next year seems solid. Yeah, the floor with Davis can be low sometimes. And I suppose playing in Oakland might steal a few homers, but that’s probably nitpicking.

My main gripe, I suppose, is Dusty again swapping a viable starting pitcher for simple hitting depth. You should be able to acquire bench bats and utility options cheaper than this. To repeat myself from the last trade review: just because you’ve got too much of something doesn’t mean you should trip all over yourself to get rid of it.

Grand scheme of things: fair-ish trade. I simply prefer the Kuma side because I like pitchers and patience.

Trade: Preseason Double Stuffs | Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mtn Oysters send: OF Giancarlo Stanton ($72), SP Lance McCullers ($26) SP Luis Severino ($17)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: OF Bryce Harper ($109), SP James Shields ($28)

Jordan’s thoughts: I have now rewritten the introduction to my thoughts on this trade six or seven times and I copped out to talk about how flabbergasted I am. I enjoy trades, I do. They give me breath of life into writing which I always need practice doing. Clearly. This one is another fascinating one, but as we are all learning (or for some of us relearning) Dusty is shooting for the moon constantly.

Let’s look at this trade on the table. I see it as the second best hitter in MLB and a fringe #2 tier starting pitcher on his way down traded for a top ten MLB hitter capable of being a top three, a tier #3 starter and a fringe tier #4 starter. That’s where my pre-draft rankings had them. High/low whatever.

On paper I’d rather have Harper, Shields. Hands down. I’m still quite high on Shields and I would buy the over on any Shields over/under, and would bet the under on both Severino and McCullers. I think if both Harper and Stanton play a full season, Harper is the better OF four out of five times. Both have a checkered enough past, that its easy to say whoever ends up playing more games, ends up being better.

Dusty was in a great position, created by himself, to make this trade. He trades two decent, younger, and inspiring pitchers who could be great this year for an aging former ace who you know at any time could fall off or return to greatness. Pitchers are fickle.

Frankly if you like the two pitcher package, you could argue that both could be or will be better than Shields and I’d take your commentary as valuable as mine. So lets review the trade as it currently fits their teams.

Dusty wins this trade on his side. He upgrades at right field with Bryce over Giancarlo. If Buxton flops, he slides Bryce into center and rolls the dice with Preston Tucker or Josh Harrison. He gets a better player and has some flexibility back. Less reliant on Buxton. As far as my projections go, Shields is rated higher than both pitchers traded away, so Dusty replaces their output with better output. A win on both levels. RMO is now rated at 581.6 points per week, good enough for 4th best. Bravo!

Sadly I believe our Preseason Double Stuffs lose this trade. You trade away Bryce for a right fielder that you did not really need. The best three hitters by projection are Stanton – RF, Shin-Soo Choo – RF, and Jorge Soler – RF. That inflexibility limits what you can really do. Or forces you into future moves. Gomez in center is fine. Shields to McCullers is a slight drop in projected value, more so in that McCullers is only projected for 26 starts this year. Severino is however 26 projected starts of improvement over Ian Kennedy and Jerad Eickhoff. Why not shop Bryce around?

Andrew’s thoughts: Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the end, the Preseason Double Stuffs have traded Max Scherzer and Shields for Stanton, Severino, and McCullers. Is that correct? Because if so, that seems sub-optimal.

I know Ferns wasn’t thrilled with his team post-auction, but I feel like this may be an over-correction. I disagree with Jordan on Shields. I’d rather have Severino and McCullers, for no other reason than Shields burned me in Dy-Nasty last year and I’m not overly interested in more stock. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that both of those guys are 30 PPG starting pitchers and, if so, the dynamic changes.

I think my big objection is that I had no idea Harper was available. Did you? Not that I have the pieces to go get him and probably wouldn’t have tried, but you’d think the market would be tested a little. Maybe it was and I just wasn’t aware. I don’t know.

I also think salaries are being insanely overrated in the early trade market. You can go over your budget in season, people. You have a year to get right for 2017. To me, if you’re selling one of the 3-5 best players overall (Harper), you need to hold out for bonus pieces. You need to pry a prospect or two, a pick, some budget cash next year, something else extra away. The season is still two weeks away. There’s no urgency to rush this stuff. You mean to tell me that if you don’t sell Bryce this week, you won’t ever have a chance to free yourself from his $109 salary? I get that sometimes you just find the pieces you need and take it, but I just think I would’ve tested the market first.

And for Dusty, I just don’t even know. I’m a fan of big game hunting in trades too. What’s the point of expending energy trading for replacement level guys that you can manufacture through platoons or otherwise? I like turning Stanton into Harper and he doesn’t have a particularly big use for Severino and McCullers, particularly if the latter’s injury is a big deal. He’s clearly all-in for 2016, and that’s cool.

But I also see a team with two gaping holes at the UT spot (depressingly, Ryan Howard and Yonder Alonso are there now) and a team where Byron Buxton went from the first or second guy off the bench to the starting CF. Maybe Buxton pops this year. He’d better, because if he plays like last year, that’s a black hole in your starting lineup. There’s no quality depth at 2B, 3B, or SS, or in the outfield. Actually, even 1B is lacking on the depth front. The offense just looked so, so much better before all the wheeling and dealing and while the pitching is improved, I didn’t think it was a glaring problem to begin with.

Of course, Dusty still has pitching to deal, and if there’s one thing Dusty will do, it’s deal. I said yesterday and I stand by it: a smart team looks at Dusty’s roster and recognizes that he needs to turn pitching into hitting, then uses that for leverage. And frankly, I’m not sure you’re getting an impact hitter for Mike Fiers or Hishashi Iwakuma (and I’m a big Kuma fan). Maybe you try to convert Kenta Maeda‘s strong spring into a haul and someone bites, I don’t know. At some point Dusty runs the risk of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s clear there are more moves to come and so in two, three, four days, we’ll have to completely reevaluate how we perceive this roster anyway.

ICYMI: Review of last week!

Last week was a busy week for Dynasty Grinders. As of today we’re now a full week removed from auction draft day. That 8 hour marathon was capped off this week by reviews, thoughts, notes and a monster trade. If you missed any of it catch up below!

The Auction Draft is Over! – Jordan writes a post last Sunday reflecting on the his immediate thoughts post draft.

Where was the value at? – Jordan follows up with a post looking at where the auction value was left in the draft. Or maybe where it was not.

Trade: Beach Bum | Rocky Mtn Oysters – Andrew and Jordan break down a minor yet fun trade.

The Best of What’s Left – Keith of We Talk Fantasy Sports reviews what could be found on the waiver wire/free agent pool after the 480 selection draft.

Some thoughts about my team… – Andrew reviews his draft and breaks down his own team point by point.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Preseason Double Stuffs – Andrew and Jordan break down the first major trade of Dynasty Grinders history.

Fun with similar price points… – Andrew looks at the draft again to compare players bought at the beginning and end of the draft showing how the nomination order probably played a large role in determining some players values.

Bryce vs Max part duex – Jordan takes a second and likely final look at the biggest trade of the week. Compares the two players’ 2015 campaigns on a week by week comparison.

Team by team auction draft review and rankings! – Jordan kicks off his team by team auction review with a primer.

Each team’s auction review:

2016 Auction Review – Senior Squids

Senior Squids

squids

After taking a beating for making a trade with super trader Dusty, Squids came out hard and furious and drafted pretty well. It’s clear that this team has serious potential, but there’s a few question marks. Is Randal Grichuk really worth $35? At least two people thought so. Was Shelby Miller good last year or lucky?

Hitters – Not quite

There is nobody in this line up for the Senior Squids that week in week out is reliably going to carry you. This line up is not that different that Capital City that we saw earlier, except it is missing the Votto/Miggy connection. Great at the catching position, and I like Joe Panik and Kyle Seager. Obviously I love Brad Miller, but prefer him to not be forced to slot at short stop. The outfield is alright, but is Grichuk a top 5 outfielder? Between the eight outfielders, he should be able to stream a solid 3-man outfield, but even their ceiling isn’t terribly high. Justin Bour at first base could be solid, or was last year as good as it gets?

Pitchers – Great

This was one of the harder ones to classify. It’s on the bubble of Very Good and Great. Corey Kluber and Zack Greinke are amazing. Tier one for starting pitchers is probably truly two sub tiers, the unreal good guys and the other good guys relative to the entire pool. Kluber and Greinke are elite. Shelby Miller got chastised for getting traded to Arizona for a king’s ransom, but in fantasy not much has changed. It is not hard to imagine that out of Jaime Garcia, Scott Kazmir, Clay Bucholz, Wade Miller and Home Bailey that you can string four comfortable starts out of the group weekly. Likely two of those guys end up being traded for more hitting. Also for the first time during this review exercise, the bullpen here is great. Wade Davis and David Robertson are primed to be great. While that can change in a week, it is hard to argue with the values he spent and assumed to receive here.

Depth – Great

I like the rotation depth a lot. I like the outfield depth that all suffices to cover both utility spots just fine. Brock Holt and Brad Miller can play so many positions. None of his starting hitters are good enough to sink this team if they get hurt, and he already has built in serviceable starters at every position. Although replacing Kyle Seager would hurt the most, and not just because I’m a Mariners fan.

Why 2016 would be bad… 

Well, while the Squids could theoretically afford to lose both Greinke and Kluber to some scary injury and survive, the back end of the rotation is presumed to be good enough. However, the line up just is not. He needs the 100 points a week from those two aces each week. Even then, the ceiling for this team’s scoring just seems destined to be too low.

Why 2016 would be good… 

Things are great for the Senior Squids if Kluber and Greinke pitch themselves into Cy Young conversations in their respective league’s again this year. The rest of the starters shake out in some good way. Perhaps there’s a hitter here that breaks out and jumps into the top 5 of their position that I’m just not seeing. Mark Trumbo reclaims some of his sheen in Baltimore? There’s lots of options here for things to go good, and that’s a good thing.