From worst to first

Per Dan Beachler’s request, here is a “how I went from worst to first” post. I suppose technically I wasn’t worst last year, and by head-to-head record I wasn’t first in 2017 either. (I was first in points!) But hey, here we are.

I should preface this by pointing out what should already be obvious: there’s a ton of luck involved in fantasy sports. Even if you talk fantasy sports a lot, for example, you’re going to find that you won’t uncover all the answers.

I thought the team I assembled in 2016 would compete. Then, Miguel Cabrera (.340 wOBA in April/May) and Joey Votto (.276 wOBA in April/May) started painfully slow. They were supposed to be my offensive anchors. Tyson Ross, a 32.52 points per game starter in 2015, got hurt in his first start and missed the season. Carlos Carrasco, my best pitcher, missed all of May. Sonny Gray turned into a pumpkin. Alex Rodriguez had a .293 wOBA in April/May. Of the first seven guys I won at our inaugural auction, only Johnny Cueto was good or even useful through the season’s first six weeks or so.

All of that is blind, dumb luck. I don’t control injuries. I don’t control Votto, one of the best hitters of our generation, hitting like Jose Peraza for over a month.

I certainly left money on the table that first auction and probably relied too heavily on boring, useful bench types as starters. I legitimately thought a cheap Trevor Plouffe was an acceptable starting 3B option. I thought I could platoon the White Sox catchers last year, an idea that played out so poorly I may as well have just played the year without a catcher slot. But mostly, my team went bust in 2016 because of random stuff that could happen to anybody. Even if they’d all stayed healthy and produced early, I probably wouldn’t have been a great team. But because that stuff did happen, I decided in May to start reworking my team by trading Cabrera and Gray for picks and prospects. That was the first step in climbing out of the cellar and to the top…

Step 1: The Miguel Cabrera/Sonny Gray trade

Sending Miggy and Gray to the Preseason Double Stuffs for Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ, Brett Phillips, Jorge Soler, and draft capitol is really what ignited my team into 2017. Bellinger, as a rookie, hit at a 1.737 points per plate appearance clip for me at a $0 cost. That’s elite production. Again, I can’t control that Bellinger hit. But he did and it helped.

The one thing I will say is, I targeted prospects that I thought would debut in 2017. Because (a) my team sucked in 2016, so if they debut and their clock starts, that’s a ding in value; and (b) points now are better than points later. I’m not super interested in an 18-year-old prospect in Single A when there’s a comparable 22-year-old prospect on the cusp of the majors. In the case of this specific trade, the Double Stuffs happened to have a few near-MLB guys that fit the bill. And I love Ian Happ, so. Obviously, there’s no science involved. The Cubs could’ve promoted Happ last year. The Dodgers could’ve called Bellinger up in September. I can’t control that stuff either. But I do think it’s possible to hedge within reason and if your goal is to get better quickly, you won’t do it with teenagers unless you’re using them exclusively as trade currency.

Happ, Soler, and the draft pick acquired from the Double Stuffs — which I assumed would suck but became the second overall pick — didn’t score me a ton, really. I did have Happ in my lineup 25 times at 5.76 points per game, so that’s pretty good. But 25 starts isn’t swinging things much one way or another. But these pieces ended up helping later on.

My other big trade was swapping Cueto for JP Crawford, Aaron Judge, and a first round pick. More on Judge in the step below. But also, damn, I had and traded Judge. Frowny face.

I should note here also that not going full scale blow-up mode helped. Hanging onto Votto and Carrasco is as big a reason as any that my team got good. The offers I got for these players were, frankly, pitiful, so that made things easy. But I could have very easily dumped them for picks and lukewarm prospects and gone into auction with $350 or whatever. I’m glad I didn’t.

Step 2: Acquiring good veterans from over-budget teams for picks and prospects at below market rates

I think this was more impactful to my team than Bellinger. Because I “tanked” the season, I was able to build up a solid minor league system and a nice cache of draft picks. But picks and prospects rarely score points. So in the off-season, when teams way over budget shopped quality veteran players, I cashed out some of those assets and bought. And because I’d sucked so badly that I had loaded up on picks and prospects, selling some didn’t mean leaving the cupboard bare.

I acquired a way overpriced Andrew McCutchen for Soler, Travis d’Arnaud, Billy Hamilton, and I think a second round pick. Cutch mostly bounced back in 2017 (1.438 PT/PA), thankfully. I couldn’t have controlled that either, but I’m comfortable betting on a player with an elite track record. It paid off. I think that’s the key to a quick rebuild. If you’ve got budget space, use it ahead of auction and buy low to lock in a guy you think can bounce back. I think budget space is worth much more pre-auction than during auction, when you’re left picking through the risky players no one wanted. I also think if your team sucks like mine did but you want to quickly improve, you need to gamble. You need to overpay a guy or two and hope for a return to form. Also, you won’t likely have an opportunity to buy a recently elite talent at auction. And if you do, there may only be one or two of those guys, so you’ll have competition.

I also bought Russell Martin for a second round pick. Martin’s another efficient, boring veteran player. But my catcher position was the worst in the league in 2016. Martin helped fixed that.

One other trade was working a three-way swap with The Foundation and Hustle Loyalty Respect that effectively landed me Neil Walker and the 16th overall pick for the 4th overall pick. HLR used the pick to take Blake Rutherford, who I think got hurt. I took Franklin Perez with the 16th pick. Today, I think Perez is more valuable than Rutherford, though to be fair, Rutherford got hurt. Even if Rutherford’s more valuable, they’re both top-100 guys. To me, any difference is negligible. But even if Rutherford hadn’t gotten hurt, there’s no chance he (or whichever other available prospect) was scoring at a 1.338 PT/PA clip like Walker did, and doing so right now. Points now > points later, and prospects are fickle, so the guy who goes 4th and the guy who goes 16th could very easily switch fortunes over a single season. At the time, I just felt like I was slightly downgrading a prospect in exchange for making a big upgrade to my current 2B spot, which was a big weakness in 2016.

Then I acquired Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, who presumably had affordable prices because of their age and their team’s budget situation. Again, if you’ve got budget space, attacking the trade market is worth it. Beltre cost me Amed Rosario, an elite prospect, but that’s really where stacking prospects in 2016 helped. Having JP Crawford meant feeling more comfortable shipping out Rosario.

Of course, both those old dudes could’ve fallen apart. But my team was garbage in 2016. If they did fall apart, oh well, I’m in the cellar again in 2017 and then I just cut those guys and have the cap space back. But there weren’t hitters this good in the auction (granted at the time of the trades, the auction pool was a mystery), or at least players less risky. The highest paid hitters at auction were Adam Jones, Adrian Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Lorenzo Cain. There’s some hindsight present, of course, but I’m not sure pre-auction anyone would’ve honestly felt like any of those guys were better, more efficient hitters than Cruz or Beltre. If you’re cool with a multi-year rebuild, by all means, ignore trading for old dudes like this. But I think it’s prudent to do it if you want to try winning money instead of just sinking money into a multi-year plan.

I also traded Judge for Matt Holliday, and that proved very stupid. In Holliday, I saw a one-year rental with a Giancarlo Stanton-esque batted ball profile and a cheap ($10) salary. I ended up starting Holliday 57 times for 5.9 points per game, so while he didn’t go bonkers like Judge did, he did help the cause. And with regards to Judge, his 2017 season was something I don’t think anyone saw coming. I offered him to several teams and no one bit. I had to include Grant Holmes along with Judge to secure Holliday. So yeah, sometimes trading prospects for vets will backfire, but in general I think it’s a solid, less risky strategy. I’d be curious what Dan thought he was getting with Judge when he made this trade, especially since I know he’s an old guy lover as well.

One thing I’m curious to see this off-season is if over budget teams continue selling their guys short to “get something instead of nothing,” or if teams feel more comfortable dumping to auction. Cruz was had for Dan Vogelbach and a first round pick. I liked Vogelbach as a prospect and obviously Team Hydra did too, but in retrospect, might those guys have figured out a way to keep Cruz’s bat? Or might they have been better sending him to auction and seeing if maybe they could buy him back cheaper? I’m not convinced giving teams discounts on good players is effective, even if the alternative is cutting and “getting nothing.”

Step 3: Not screwing up the auction

I notoriously left like $21 on the table at our first auction. But I also made some awful bids. Buying into A-Rod’s resurgence was dumb. I came away from auction with two 1B’s and ¬†UT player, effectively destroying all my lineup flexibility.

I did a lot better, I think, with my buys in 2017, adding Jaime Garcia, Francisco Cervelli, Lucas Duda, Chris Owings, Ryan Zimmerman, and Charlie Morton.

Once again, luck played a role here. I didn’t expect almost 900 points from a $1 Zimmerman. I liked his batted ball profile, but come on. I also didn’t think Morton would be more than a back-end starter, and he ended up being my most consistent pitcher and a solid SP2. I didn’t even want him. It just ended up being the end of the auction, he was the last starting pitcher available, and I wasn’t leaving money on the table again. Owings filled multiple crucial positions for only $8. I overpaid for Cervelli at $17, but he was a nice compliment to Martin because, again, my catcher spot needed help.

The thing about the auction is, all the players are supremely risky. Teams will find ways to keep or trade “sure things.” And so if you rely too heavily on auction, you’re lending yourself to luck. If Morton and Garcia don’t give me quality starts, my auction stinks and my team suffers. But I started Morton 21 times at 30.43 points per start and Garcia 14 times at 24.04.

But hey, guess what? Matt Harvey, Drew Smyly, Jordan Zimmermann, Collin McHugh, Carlos Rodon, Felix Hernandez, Garrett Richards, Francisco Liriano, and Shelby Miller were all in the same auction. At the time, not sure how any of those guys were too different from Morton and Garcia. I got lucky the guys I won didn’t injure their arms. I got lucky my darts landed where they did. I mean, I wanted Liriano really bad and just screwed up my bid on auction day. Bullet dodged. Blind, dumb luck.

The lesson here, maybe, is to just give yourself fewer dart throws to botch. Acquire talent you have conviction about pre-auction rather than finding yourself in a spot where your money is going to Shelby Miller or Francisco Liriano, and you’re totally uninspired either way. Your mileage may vary, of course. Having a bunch of money at auction is fun, if nothing else.

Step 4: I love you, Giancarlo Stanton

As part of that Cabrera/Gray trade, I secured the second overall pick in last year’s draft. I took Nick Senzel. I like him a whole lot. But I love Giancarlo Stanton and his moonshot home runs. And so in mid-May, I landed Big G for Senzel, Blake Snell, and a future first round pick.

From May 11 forward, Stanton was the third-highest scoring hitter behind Votto and Charlie Blackmon. As much as I like Senzel, you simply have to trade guys like him for elite production now. It helps that Stanton finally stayed healthy, but even if he hadn’t, we all know what he does when he is. In our format, he is an elite fantasy producer on a rate basis. It was a no-brainer for me.

As for Snell, well, I like him still, but if I wanted to win this year I knew I couldn’t sit around waiting and hoping that he learns how to throw strikes and pitch deep into games. The downside to young pitchers is they sometimes are slow to put everything together. If next year Snell’s awesome and cheap, oh well. I’ll still be happy with several mammoth months of Giancarlo.

Step 5: Keep on buying stuff that helps

During the course of the season, once I saw that my team was pretty good, I just kept trying to add. In a series of deals, I sent prospects Corey Ray, Albert Abreu, Julio Urias, Happ, and Jake Faria off for the likes of Max Scherzer, Miggy, JA Happ, Jason Vargas, and Danny Salazar. All those moves did not pan out.

Reunited on my team, I slotted Miggy into my lineup 31 times and he scored at a 2.61 point per game rate. That’s abysmal. Despite his highest hard hit rate since 2014 and the best line drive rate of his career, Miggy gave me nothing. He performed worse than any random bench player I already had, in fact. In Urias, I paid little. But I felt like I had to take the gamble. I expect Miggy to get his back right this off-season and return to an elite level in 2018. He reminds me a whole heck of a lot like McCutchen last year. His price seems way too high (he’ll get a raise to $75), but how can you easily bet against one of the best hitters the game has seen in the last decade plus? Like, would you really rather two $35 lottery tickets at auction (in the 2017 auction, Adrian Gonzalez + Carlos Rodon = $76) than one player a single injury-hampered season removed from being an elite hitter?

Meanwhile, Happ was a fantastic addition for me, scoring 28.04 points a game in 14 starts. I started Salazar seven times for more than 30 points per start. Scherzer didn’t do much for me in the playoffs, but in total, he logged six starts at 32.67 a pop. Net total, these were good, albeit short-term, trades for my team. Corey Ray wasn’t scoring me 392.5 points like Happ did. Albert Abreu didn’t drop a 65 point start on my roster like Salazar.

Again though, these trades could look brutal in just a few months. What if Scherzer gets hurt? What if Urias overcomes his injury? What if Ray ascends and JA Happ grows old quick? I don’t know. But I think if you’re in a spot to seize a chance to win now, you need to be okay with these types of calculated risks.

The other thing to note is that the in-season trades didn’t necessarily have a ton to do with going worst to first. The Stanton trade, sure. The other trades just bolstered a team that had been mostly assembled in the off-season.

In closing…

I think the biggest reason my team got it’s shit together so quickly was simply putting in the work to do it. When a good player became available, I asked for a price tag. When I saw a team was way over their budget, I inquired about expensive players with good track records. I wasn’t too worried about riskiness because well, my team was a dumpster fire. Getting worse than bad isn’t much of a risk. Staying worse, and paying into a league to not even try to fight for wins now, seems way riskier to me. I placed the highest value on today and worried less about if the prospect I’m sending away will be a fantasy monster in 2021 (or in Judge’s case, 2017) or if all the old guys will decide to retire simultaneously.

Clearly, there’s a strategy to this game. If there wasn’t, we probably wouldn’t play. What’d be the point?

But ultimately you only control so much. I think the only way to really approach things is to give yourself the best hand possible and hope for the best. In hold ’em poker, a 2/7 will beat a K/K, for example, some of the time. But the odds say more often than not, the stronger hand will prevail. So I just tried to do stuff that I thought made my hand stronger, then accepted all the luck I could get.

Rapid Fire Deadline Review

Hustle’s $.02

 

 

I’m not looking up stats or anything so my hot takes will be worse than usual. ¬†I’m busy tomorrow too, but I did have a story I wanted to share.¬†This deadline reminds me of growing up in Los Angeles. I would wait in the kitchen while my Mom would fold some dough over a jelly filling and bake it. Once it was cooked and cooled off she’d hand it to me and say “Enjoy the Turnover”

And now to some rosters that had some turnover

 

rocky mtn oysters trades away
2018 Draft Pick, Round 3 (rocky mtn oysters)
McMahon, Ryan
Kiermaier, Kevin

The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses trades away
Arrieta, Jake
2018 Draft Pick, Round 4 (The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses)
2018 Draft Pick, Round 5 (The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses)
Tapia, Raimel AND $11

I think this is a big get for Dusty. I think Tapia and KK are pretty close, not even sure where’d I’d lean. I’m assuming Tapia is cheaper and gets hurt less? ¬†McMahon is probably worth $11 of Auction money, maybe less. Maybe $7? It’s close. ¬†But then one side gets an Arrietta rental? ¬†Since WFBD wasnt going to keep Jake, it’s not that terrible but I’m not sure you take Arrietta out of the deal and Dusty’s side doesn’t win….let alone with. Seems like a big bonus in Arrietta for an alleged marginal upgrade.

rocky mtn oysters trades away
Bundy, Dylan

The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses trades away
2018 Draft Pick, Round 3 (rocky mtn oysters)

3rd round pick isn’t incredibly valuable. ¬†If you weren’t keeping Bundy, take a 3rd rounder. ¬†If you want to roll with Bundy, that’s fine. I guess I lean the Bundy side coming off an 8 IP performance. Bundy can audition for WFBD and if all is good, $11 is nothing for a starter you like. If Dusty was contemplating just dropping Bundy in a month, this is much better. ¬†I always prefer to get something for nothing.

 

Hustle Loyalty Respect trades away
2019 Draft Pick, Round 5 (Team Hydra)

Team Hydra trades away
2019 Draft Pick, Round 5 (Hustle Loyalty Respect)

They have three heads, but I’m three steps ahead of them.

 

TBD trades away
Arozarena, Randy
Burnes, Corbin

We Talk Fantasy Sports trades away
Upton, Justin AND $5

Don’t know much about Randy, but seems like a whatever outfielder who doesn’t project to hit for a lot of power. If you like a prospect, you like a prospect. ¬†Burnes has gotten a lot of hype this year, so he seems like a good T-50-100 prospect. No issues with duping 65 or whatever dollar uptotn. How did Upton go for that much in a draft? ¬†Better than nothing. ¬†I don’t see why TBD would say no to the deal without the $5. ¬†WTFS has a lot of cash next year without Upton, Scherzer, and Buxton. ¬†They are going to have to make some really smart buys to compete. Also in my last review I failed to mention they have German Marquez as one of their pitchers to keep, so that does make their rotation a tad better than I had initially thought after losing Max.

 

Team Hydra trades away
Kluber, Corey AND $5

TBD trades away
Keller, Mitch
Syndergaard, Noah

 

I like this trade for both teams, i might even like it more for Hydra. I don’t know anything about what Thor is going to do this year or next. It makes sense for TBD to go hard at Kluber to go for a win this year. It’s a strong move. I do like it for Hyrdra cheaper price (although the $5 cancels some of that out) and younger age, Noah is a better keeper so long as he’s 100%… and then getting a top SP prospect like Keller on top. It makes sense for both teams. Plus the last team to trade for Kluber went on to win the championship. ¬†Mets pitchers though…

 

Great Deadline Everyone!

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Trade: Hustle Loyalty Respect | Team Hydra

Team Hydra sends: 3B Nolan Arenado ($71), SP David Price ($75), LF/CF Tommy Pham (FA), 2018 5th round pick
HLR sends: LF/RF/CF Aaron Hicks (FA), SP Yadier Alvarez, C Zack Collins, 2018 1st & 2nd round pick

Andrew’s Thoughts:¬†Roughly a year ago, I traded Miguel Cabrera, Sonny Gray, and stuff for Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ, Jorge Soler, and what ended up being the second overall draft pick plus other stuff. Alex from Team Hydra commented on the trade as such: “to be fair Bailey said those guys were on the block. He just didn’t say they were going to be given away for free.”

Fast forward to yesterday and, well, to be fair, Alex said these guys were on the block. He just didn’t say they were going to be given away for free.

Two of my first thoughts upon seeing this trade were that (a) Aaron Hicks is the best piece going to Hydra, and (b) Tommy Pham may as well be the same guy. I did a quick Google search and here’s some random Cardinals blog that thinks the same thing. So there’s that. Hicks is hitting at a 1.644 PT/PA clip, whereas Pham is at 1.502. Pham’s older and has one less outfield position. They were both free agent adds that will start at $5 salary next year. They just feel very same-y to me, to the point where if one is your main piece and you’re giving up the other, the point feels a tad defeated.

I really didn’t think David Price was going to go for much. He’s got a lot of mileage, has developed a homer problem (who hasn’t?), and there are lingering injury concerns. Also, he’s been pretty bad this year. At $77 next year, I think he’s an easy cut or Hustle will just give him away the moment the season ends and clog up some other team’s budget. I thought he should’ve been cut this year (pre-injury). So whatever team bought him was likely doing it on a rental basis, and I just didn’t see teams spending big to rent anyone. I thought maybe a pick and a prospect would get it done. In that vein, I don’t think sending Collins or Alvarez, or maybe even both, for Price as a rental is that bad on its own, assuming you really believe Price can get it going and help your team this year. Given the pitching landscape, gambling on Price seems like a reasonable bet.

So we haven’t even gotten to the big gun in this trade, and I feel like Hicks and Pham have cancelled each other out and a moderately valuable Price has fetched a couple pieces. There aren’t a ton more assets floating around here.

As for Arenado, well, I’m not sure all the pieces going to Hydra is enough for him alone. He’s expensive, sure, but he’s young, in his prime, plays a premium position, and plays in Coors. His salary is only going to go up by $2/year. That’s nothing. He’s a superstar, priced reasonably at $73 next year, and yet he didn’t land someone universally viewed as an “elite prospect”? I mean, maybe you think Yadier Alvarez is. That’s fair. Everyone’s prospect valuations are different. But he’s pitched 45 innings at A+. The lead time on him is a factor and that assumes that he dodges injury and experiences no developmental speed bumps. He’s already struggling with command this year.

And I like Zack Collins as a hitter, but if he doesn’t stick at catcher, a lot of his value will be sapped in a world where Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Smoak, ¬†Yonder Alonso, Mark Reynolds, and Logan Morrison are awesome and can be had for free. Heck, the Braves are moving Freddie Freeman to third base (I imagine this factored into Hydra’s long-term calculus for moving Arenado) to make room for Matt Adams‘ bat. First base is not lacking for depth. And the cost control aspect is neat but if Collins is $1 and Alonso gets greeded up to like $5, is that really significant value?

If he does stick at catcher, that might push his MLB ETA out further. Again, for me personally, Alvarez and Collins are guys you can afford to spend on a rental player or two or just a quality lineup upgrade, not really key cogs to dealing a stud.

And those picks are… something? It’s going to be a late first rounder and a pick somewhere in the second round, but this year’s MLB Draft class was weak. Looking at last year’s draft, I feel like around the 11th or 12th pick is where it started really being a coin toss. The first belongs to Hustle and the second belongs to Haddy. Today, that’d be pick 16 and pick 27, I think. You can definitely land good talent there, but your odds of whiffing also go up considerably the deeper you go.

Look, I won’t argue anyone’s prospect evaluations. If you think Collins is going to be a star and Alvarez is going to quickly develop into an ace, awesome. I definitely think, at least in Collins’ case, he’s a better fantasy prospect than real life prospect. But I don’t really know. I doubt you know either. We’re all making our best guesses. But I really do have a hard time imagining that, in terms of prospect currency, no one was willing to beat Alvarez and Collins even if, as the buyer, you’re super high on them both. Arenado’s not some declining veteran, win-now salary sell off. He’s a player that even if you’re at the bottom of the standings, you should probably be in on. I’d be curious how many teams even inquired here.

In terms of dynasty rankings Collins and Alvarez are… top 50? Maybe top 30 guys? (The rankings are irrelevant, of course. I don’t recall Bellinger being an “elite” guy a year ago.) I’m not sure if HLR had added Vladimir Guerrero Jr to this package it’d still feel totally right, but it’d at least be closer. At least then there’s a consensus “elite prospect” in the mix.

There’s no telling how this will play out. If the prospects turn into anything decent, Hydra’s probably content. I think some of it will depend on if teams sell players at discounted prices in the off-season like last year, at which point Hydra can put some of the cap space they’ve freed up to use. I know Hustle’s probably thrilled to just plug in Arenado every day instead of oscillating back and forth between Yuli Gurriel and Nick Castellanos.

Hustle’s Take

Trade: Team Hydra | Capital City Income

 

Team Hydra trades away
Vargas, Jason ($3)
Happ, J.A. ($5)

Capital City Ironmen trades away
Ray, Corey
Travis, Devon ($11)

Hustle’s .02

When I went to take a piss at 5 in the morning I checked my phone and saw the email notification of this trade. With my senses barely there, I though this was a steal for Bailey. ¬†Having had my breakfast, coffee, and shower…I pondered the trade some more. ¬†I still think this is a good trade for Bailey, but more justified from Hydra’s stand point.

Firstly, I’m not a big Corey Ray fan. Moderate power and some above average speed which isn’t worth a lot in this format. In 2017 he’s striking out a ton with a .148 ISO in High A. If it wasn’t for him being the 5th pick last year (and a top 3 pick in our draft) he’d be completely off my radar. ¬†He’s still a bit away, isn’t that exciting (to me), and plays a deep position where you’ll really need to produce to be a contributor. On the other side, he’s young and has the pedigree to improve and be an impact player.

Devon Travis at $13 next year? ¬†This was famously a Dusty trade and ¬†drop and I believe the biggest FAAB acquisition in league history (Otani aside). I think a healthy Devon Travis is worth 13 bucks, maybe a few more. So there’s value here if he manages to stay healthy which he never has. Hydra doesn’t have a 2b to build around and maybe Travis is it. Travis is out for a significant amount of time, but Hydra has thrown their hat out of race for 2017.

The haul for Bailey is 2 veteran pitchers in Happ and Vargas. Vargas is obviously playing out of his mind now. ¬†I assume nobody was giving a big haul for a 34 year old having a career season averaging 30 points per game. ¬†JA Happ on the other hand was great last year and only recently picked things up with back to back 40+ point games. I think both are probably around top 75 pitchers (maybe better), which in this league is very relevant. ¬†Bailey’s pitching core is greatly improved from 2 players who won’t effect his bottom line this year.

I get that Hydra wanted to trade two 34 year olds because they could possibly be exposed and have very little value by season’s end. I think chances are one of them will be a very good value to keep next year, but it is unclear which. Even if we can predict Jason Vargas for having a good 2018 season, he’s still in the twilight of his career and getting 2 young assets is perhaps more intriguing. If this was the best they could get in their eyes, then that’s the market.. it feels a tad light.

Ultimately the trade is fine for both teams. If I’m Hydra, I would have liked someone better than Corey Ray, but this is a totally a prospect personal preference criticism.

 

 

Trade: Team Hydra | Long Ball to LF

Team Hydra sends: SP Julio Teheran ($27)
Long Ball to LF sends: 1B/LF/CF Ian Desmond ($23)

Hustle’s thoughts:¬†With Kluber and Price on the DL, I think you could argue Teheran is Hydra‚Äôs best pitcher. He‚Äôs been awful at home and very good on the road. I just feel like someone with Teheran‚Äôs track record, that he will get it together at some point and prove to be the top 30/35 SP that he is, which in this league, is incredible valuable.

Desmond has some nice eligibility (1B/lf/cf), and should average more than 5 per game. He’s playing in Coors and the Rockies paid him. That being said, the Rockies have a lot of hitters and a log jam might force him out of the lineup more than expected at the beginning of the year. I don’t have much against Desmond, but when your pitching is decimated, it’s going to be hard to get 20-30 point stars from a guy. A rotation led by Porcello, Karns, and Vargas is quite risky to say the least.

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Good, even trade.

I think Hydra probably tired of Teheran’s loose cannon approach to pitching, and he hasn’t had much time to pitch there, but he looks awful in his new Atlanta home park. Teheran has always been homer prone and struck me as a bit overrated, but he may have officially crossed into “broken” territory. His K’s are way down and walks are way up. I like Long Ball buying him here just because pitchers are so fickle that one small tweak could get him back on track, but it’s definitely a gamble.

Desmond, meanwhile, has been kind of meh in his first 20 games with Colorado. He started out great, but now has a meager .296 wOBA. Like Teheran, he’s flawed and risky. But unlike Teheran, he has a home park that will clearly do him favors. He also offers some versatility, as he can slot in at three different positions.

I like this as a challenge trade for both teams. Personally, I’d rather have Desmond, but it’s close.

The 2017 Minor League draft has been completed!

Our 2017 minor league draft has been completed. You can check out the full draft board and results right here.

This year’s draft kicked off on February 1 and wrapped up today, so it took us two weeks to get through five rounds and 80 picks. If my count is correct, there were 10 trades during that time, mostly of the auction budget-for-pick variety. So that was fun.

Jordan and I were asked if we were going to do a¬†recap post of some kind and weren’t super interested. Aren’t people sick of our opinions on trades and stuff? Apparently not!

So just for fun — and because we have nothing to do until our final pre-auction cut down on February 27 — I decided to skim over the draft board and share some random thoughts as they pop into my head. Here goes…

Thought #1: Picking second, I was really shocked that Kevin Maitan went first overall. That’s what comparisons to Miguel Cabrera will do for you. For my own taste, a player that just turned 17-years-old is a bit rich for my blood here regardless of what the “upside” might be.

Thought #2:¬†TBD had a great draft, both cashing in their own picks and aggressively acquiring others. Their haul: Alex Kiriloff, Cal Quantrill, Lucas Erceg, Walker Buehler, Jahmai Jones, Heath Quinn, and Bryan Reynolds. I hadn’t heard of Quinn, but all the other guys check boxes for me.

Thought #3:¬†Defending champs Team Hydra did well¬†too. They got Leody Taveras and Ramon Laureano early, two guys that are rising up lists fast, and then added Dustin Fowler and Jorge Bonifacio later. So they addressed a future outfield quite well. Plus, they somehow turned later picks¬†into a total of $12 auction budget. I think if you can get a couple wildcard prospects and cash instead of just wildcard prospects, you’ve killed it.

Thought #4: So, speaking of trading picks for auction budget…

Look, I shipped out $6 to pick up Lourdes Gurriel because I’ve got a bunch of money and he’s major league ready. Or at least close. But man, Dusty dropped $26 by my count on assorted picks (Taylor Trammell, Will Benson, Joey Wentz, Mason Thompson, Cionel Perez, Jorge Ona). I have a really difficult time seeing how any of those guys are significantly better than whoever will be available after auction when free agency opens. The difference, of course, is $26. All prospects are gambles. I’d rather gamble that $26 on a bounce back player at auction who has the chance to be worth $40-$50 as soon as 2017 then to spend all that money just to fill roster spots.

Thought #5:¬†Who’s Your Haddy? added $22 of auction budget by trading picks and still ended up with Miguel Andujar, who is close to contributing for the Yankees, and Adonis Medina, who shockingly came in at #91 on Baseball Prospectus’ top-101. This, to me, is just an awesome draft and a great use of non-premium picks.

In other words, the deeper you get into a draft, the less and less separation between players. We’re all throwing darts, but the bulls eye starts to shrink. So the difference between a fourth round pick and 10 assorted guys who will go undrafted and be picked up after the draft is slim. Why not take cash for those picks then and just add the undrafted guys for free?

Thought #6:¬†The Wilfred Brimley Fightin’ Diabeetuses had a really good draft too. He tabbed Mickey Moniak and Delvin Perez in the first round, then took the lead on Rockies’ pitcher Riley Pint. That’s a lot of talent to take away from the draft. Pint’s a huge risk, obviously, but it’s not like he’s guaranteed to be in Colorado forever.

Thought #7:¬†I like Senior Squids grabbing Zack Burdi in the last round. Relievers probably aren’t worth big salaries¬†in our league right now, but he could be a closer in Chicago as soon as this year and costs nothing, then be $1 next year. Getting MLB-ready RPs in the draft seems like a good cheat code at the position assuming they perform decently.

Thought #8:¬†The first player I didn’t immediately recognize was Daniel Gossett, who We Talk Fantasy Sports took in the back half of the second round.

Thought #9:¬†Speaking of WTFS, they took Zack Collins with the 9th overall pick. He’s a catcher that is probably destined for 1B, which would obviously hurt his value. But I’ll be honest: if Nick Senzel had gone first, I was taking Corey Ray and then Collins. I obviously like guys that are close to the majors, and Collins provides extra value at catcher and his bat would play, at worst, as one of the two UT positions.

Thought #10: Shocker, Jordan took pitchers! Jason Groome, the first pitcher taken, is young and a ways off but felt like the obvious choice at #8. Adding Braxton Garrett and Ian Anderson, two guys on most top-100 lists, was good value too.

Thought #11:¬†I love the gamble of Dinelson Lamet to cap a strong draft by Hustle Loyalty Respect with the very last pick. He’s not a highly thought of prospect, but he’s posted big minor league K numbers, has made it to Triple-A, and have you seen the Padres rotation? If he can simply crack the big league rotation, it’ll be worth it. And if he’s anywhere around average, he’ll be cheap and have value.

Thought #12:¬†Okay, one more quick compliment for HLR: I like the Andres Gimenez pick a lot. He spent $1 to trade up a few spots and probably didn’t need to, but whatever. This is an 18-year-old at rookie ball, so make of that what you will, but last year he walked 46 times and had only 22 strikeouts in 275 PAs. That’s just silly.

Thought #13:¬†In the group chat, Chris of Preseason Double Stuffs¬†balked at Trumpa Loompa’s pick of Wladimir Galindo in the fourth round, saying, “18, GCL, questionable bat speed. No thanks.” Two things: first, I had no clue who this guy was so I looked him up. Second: he’s apparently not 18, he’s 20 (he was 19 during last playing season). And he didn’t play in the GCL, he played for the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. The Cubs don’t even appear to have a GCL team. Nice right hand man you’ve hired, Ferns.

Thought #14: In Line 4 the Win picked someone named Jesus Luzardo was drafted. It made me think of these guys.

Thought #15:¬†I¬†can muster no more thoughts at this time. We’re having grilled cheese and soup for dinner, I think. Soup is awful but grilled cheese is pretty good. I put pickles on mine. Goodbye.

Trade: Team Hydra | Rocky Mtn Oysters

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: $10 2017 Auction Budget
Team Hydra sends: 2017 2nd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Not to pick on Dusty, but he desperately needs an infusion of assets into his minor leagues. I’ll never fault someone for valuing veteran talent that actually scores points over teenagers that might, maybe, someday score points. But Dusty right now has basically no picks and his best prospect is… Touki Toissaint? Is Tyler Kolek the second best?¬†Is he just broken?

Ten bucks is a good chunk of change, but there’s likely to come a time where Dusty will want to improve and will be limited because his prospect stable is empty. So it makes sense. But the pick ended up being… Taylor Trammel? I don’t know if he’ll end up having trade value or not. I’ve never heard of him. The guy who writes the fantasy blurbs for Baseball Prospectus’ top-10 lists says Trammell’s roster-worthy if your league rosters 200 prospects. We roster 320. I don’t know that “yes if your league rosters 200 prospects” is a particularly ringing endorsement.

Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs only put a 45 FV on Trammell. His scouting report doesn’t sound super interesting. But hey, maybe he’s the next Anthony Alford, a former football player that’s athletic enough to improve and become a real prospect. We’ll see. I can’t believe I just wrote this many words about this prospect.

For the defending champs, the $10 probably buys them another keeper and they have a good enough farm system to where one less prospect shouldn’t matter.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Bailey already put in more words than this deal is worth. Dusty got what he wanted, paid a fine price. Moving along.

Trade: Team Hydra | Rocky Mtn Oysters

Team Hydra sends: SP Wei-Yin Chen ($19)
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: LF/RF Avisail Garcia ($3)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I believe Avisail Garcia was cut and picked up several times because he hits for power, but he doesn’t actually hit. Chen actually had better peripherals than his performance suggested last year. Steamer seems to like him, but the home run rate is the issue. Will it stabilize? Either way I’d rather have Chen, but I can see both players being auction draft eligible in two months.

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†As a wise man once said, “garbage for more expensive garbage.”

Trade: Team Hydra | Preseason Double Stuffs

Team Hydra sends: 2B DJ LeMahieu ($15)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: LF/CF/RF Derek Fisher, $5 2017 Auction Budget

Andrew’s thoughts: Love this for the Double Stuffs, who essentially traded Derek Fisher for DJ LeMahieu straight up, then gave the Rockies’ 2B a $5 raise.

LeMahieu made some crazy offensive strides last season — and not just in Coors (he had a .326 road wOBA) — that put him in the conversation as a top-8 or so 2B. Mainly, his walks and strikeouts both moved dramatically in positive directions. At $15, he’s an incredible value. Based on Steamer’s projection and my early auction calculator, he’s projected to be worth $31. So that’s a big swing. Still, he had an absurd .388 BABIP last year, so I think some regression is in his 2017. But even if he’s the guy he was in 2015, he’s worth $15 (or $20, however you want to look at it). Playing in Colorado pushes his floor up too.

For Hydra, they essentially make $20 worth of budget room, add an interesting prospect, and still have Steve Pearce and Jose Peraza (who is way more interesting in 5×5’s, but whatever) to man second. Their entire off-season has revolved to this point around keeping both Corey Kluber and David Price, so this trade works well to that end.

Fisher, meanwhile, is a good¬†if unexciting get. Baseball Prospectus recently ranked him eighth just in the Astros’ system, but that’s largely because his defense isn’t very good. He may be a LF, which isn’t so unfortunate given how shallow that spot currently is. In that same ranking, they pegged him as a good dynasty piece, though one who’s probably more “ceiling” than “floor.”¬†If your main objective is to purge salaries though, then getting a guy back who does have significant upside is a good gamble.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I think Double Stuffs really got a great deal here. I could echo everything Bailey said, but I won’t. They paid a relatively low price for a very useful asset. They created value at the cost of a prospect and a couple of auction dollars.

For Team Hydra, their auction dollars are as valuable as anyone’s in the league. So from their perspective you have to love the deal as well. I would not want to have to sell players who have value for 70 cents on the dollar. But, being in that position, with the rest of the league knowing it, and still getting 70 cents on the dollar is really actually quite good.

There’s some chance that the prospect is good and a good value for Hydra. But, they don’t need him to ever reach the Majors for this deal to work. They got something for potentially nothing (if they were going to have to cut players who have value). Quite a score for them.

Bravo to both teams!

Trade: Team Hydra | Capital City Ironmen

Team Hydra sends: RF Nelson Cruz ($34), 4th round 2017 Draft Pick
Capital City Ironmen send: 1B Dan Vogelbach ($1 ML), 1st round 2017 Draft Pick (#11), $2 in 2017 Team Budget

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Hey look, back-to-back trades for my co-commish for older outfielder stars. One thing that I didn’t consider in my opinions of the previous trade, was the potential that WTFS would need to cut McCutchen due to budget reasons. As for that deal and this deal. I don’t think it changes my opinion a whole lot.

I hope beyond hope as a Mariners fan that Vogelbach is an interesting piece to own in fantasy soon. I don’t really believe it as I see his fantasy upside something as your swing UT #2 guy. Useful, but not great.

The 11th overall pick could be interesting in the long term and has some value. But, its really only worth its weight in hype. The budget money moving one way or another I’m sure helps Hydra make one decision easier and that has value.

But, I think punting the #3 overall RF last year is a bit of mistake. At least this is a sell low. It is early in the off-season to be in this position for my liking. I know they were shopping him, but this is the best?

As for Andrew, consider his position. He sold his team, upgraded young assets, and then bought two win now assets on the market for dimes on the dollar. Is Cruz as good as he was last year next year? STEAMER projects say no, not close. But, they still have him as a serviceable starter. Again, I believe this is a high floor buy, with proven talent to reach 1,000 points.

If you believe the draft will be full of these kinds of guys, I think you’re wrong. If I am wrong, then Andrew probably would rather have kept his money and bid on things. But, he literally sent a few tiny assets and upgraded his active roster.

I hate it for Hydra, love it for Capital City. But, Hydra is the champs, and Capital City settled for #1 overall. So maybe they know more than this trade leads on.

Andrew’s defense:¬†Hydra won the championship, so I’m sure they’re not too bummed about being way above our $500 cap. But the fact remains, they’re way above the cap.

In that sense, you could assume they might cut a player like Nelson Cruz who, at $34, strikes me as a bargain. Maybe it isn’t Cruz that goes, but someone similar. They do have some easy big dollar cuts ($41 Prince Fielder, $49 Sonny Gray). Still, someone has to go. But “having to go” also could mean they trade him to someone else. Right? It doesn’t mean that player will just be there come auction time, guaranteed, when I’ve got cash to spend. I also have some doubts about what’ll be available in the auction anyway. If a guy like Cruz gets there, I think there’s a good shot he’s one of the few impact players available and as a result, goes for well more than $34. He was easily worth more than $34 last year.

As for projections and such, here’s Cruz’s wOBA over the past four years: .383, .396, .370, .359. That’s consistency. There’s some risk because he’s old and sometimes old guys see their skills erode or get hurt. But¬†Cruz seems safe to me. That is to say, if he does suddenly fall off, it’s not like I would pull up his FanGraphs page and go “oh yeah, should’ve seen this coming.” And if he gets hurt, well… it happens.

As for what I gave up, I like Vogelbach a lot. He’s fun. He’s a big old round guy that hits a ton. He’s like Ferns, but you know, hits a ton. I don’t doubt his ability to hit, but I worry for his opportunity and think the lack of defense could be a detriment to his playing time. Plus, if he’s only a 1B or UT, the bar is higher. And his cost control clock has started, so if he’s only going to get 250-300 PAs next year, that’s another year of control gone for the sake of a bench hitter.

The pick is neat. Based on my early draft rankings, the 11th overall pick translates to something around the 65th or 70th prospect on a list (an overall list, not a fantasy list). Those players are risky. Also, there are a lot of pitching prospects in the 11th overall range, and pitchers are risky too. I would have loved to use that pick, but I also spent all of last year acquiring prospects and have picks two, three, and four. I think I can spare one lottery ticket for a really good player at a good salary.