Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | The Wilfred Brimley Diabeetuses

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: SP Jake Arrieta ($86)
The Wilfred Brimley Fightin’ Diabeetuses sends: CF Kevin Kiermaier ($7), 1B/2B/3B/SS Jedd Gyorko ($6)

Andrew’s thoughts: I love, love, love this for WBFD. For two depth pieces, WBFD landed one of the game’s top starting pitchers. He’s expensive, but so what? If pitching is as volatile this year as it was last year, then it probably pays to splurge on reliable guys.

For Dusty, how’s this math: since December 30, he’s acquired Hunter Pence, Lance McCullers, Wei-Yin Chen, Yordano Ventura, and now Kiermaier and Gyorko. You know the return for the last two. For the other four, he gave up basically nothing, dispersing middling draft picks, an auction buck or two, and some prospects and guys that he was probably cutting to teams that were over budget and just wanted to dump. That’s fine. Pence was the first guy added there and I’d argue he was the least superfluous, safest of the group. He’s done it longer. Let’s omit him. The salary of all the other guys combined? $85.

I don’t know if there was some grand plan, but what’s happened here, essentially, is Arrieta’s exact dollars (plus those prospects, the 3rd round pick or whatever it was, negligible stuff, etc) have been swapped out for McCullers, Chen, Ventura, white Denard Span, and Gyorko. Dusty’s eggs have been distributed across many baskets.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s good or bad. There’s an opportunity cost associated with locking up four extra roster spots. But depth is good. Kiermaier is an instant starter for him at CF. Dusty had tons of cash to spend before this trade barrage and should still have money to spend. He’s probably cutting $50 Heyward and $30 Shields, plus all the injured guys he picked up throughout the season, plus others. A $13 Jesse Hahn? There’s a bunch of budget space here. He’s not hurting for room, which brings me to this…

As a standalone, this trade baffles me. Is Kiermaier that much different than Carlos Gomez, who will be at auction? Or Heyward, who will probably be? Is Gyorko that much different a Swiss army knife than Sean Rodriguez?

Like, if you’re way over budget, I get selling off Arrieta and maybe you have to sell low, because this time of year there aren’t a ton of teams swimming in budget space. I don’t really get selling him off for pieces that have reasonable comps already guaranteed to be at auction, plus whoever else ends up getting dropped. It’s nice to secure those players and not risk the auction, where you’ll have to outbid others, but the cost to do that here is really high. I mean, yeah, I’d rather trade a fringe keeper or comparable player for Kiermaier now than risk having to win either Gomez or Heyward at auction to fill my CF slot. But Arrieta doesn’t strike me as the chip you use simply to hedge.

I also don’t get doing it when you can afford to keep him. And I don’t get doing it at this time of year when, as I just said, there are only a few teams with budget space. The market for Arrieta is so, so small right now just by virtue of teams not having budget room, that I think it’s really tough to get an optimal return. Budget flexibility is great and all but talent and points-scoring trumps that. Arrieta could’ve been held until 30 seconds after auction, at which time anyone can go over the $500 budget and suddenly there are 15 suitors for his services.

I think, if I was Dusty and didn’t like Arrieta at $86 — which isn’t unreasonable, pitchers are combustible parts — I would have just cut him and tried winning him back cheaper at auction. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. I just might rather gamble on that scenario than on Kiermaier and Gyorko, who I like but I think are better rostered as depth.

As I said, I love it for WBFD. Great, great swap. He turned guys who were firmly backups on his roster into a difference making, top-10 starting pitcher.

Jordan’s thoughts: If Dusty doesn’t get the cure for diabetes in this deal, I think he went and fucked up. I think Dusty would have gotten more for just taking $1 for Arrieta.

On top of that fact: why, if you’re Dusty, would you sell this kind of a player to a team who doesn’t have to even bother cutting anyone off their roster to keep said player. I know there’s people who aren’t hyper concerned with their competition’s situation, and that’s fine. But, there should be other teams who take Arrieta for some auction budget cash or a 1st round draft pick. Most of them would have to cut a few mildly interesting players that might be useful.

WBFD last year during the draft must have been in what only can be described as a diabetic coma and he left significant money on the table. Couple that with the tragedy of Jose Fernandez. He’s basically swimming in available budget even if he decides to keep the overpaid youngsters he’s invested into.

All that being said, I’m not all that upset over this trade, it happens. Dusty probably did shop around Arrieta to a dozen teams and got what he wanted and moved on. Classic Dusty.

Trade: Hustle Loyalty Respect | Rocky Mtn Oysters

Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: SP Yordano Ventura ($23), 2017 5th Round Pick
Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: 2017 3rd Round Pick

Jordan’s thoughts: I’ll take a potentially useful pitcher for any back half draft pick any day. I get why HLR wants to get something in return for someone worth cutting, but this just makes crazy sense for Dusty.

Andrew’s thoughts: I’m not that into Yordano Ventura, but I certainly prefer him to a random 3rd round pick. Especially if you get 2014-15 Yordano.

Dusty has $522 of auction budget and Ventura only costs $23, so in some ways, this is just getting Yordano for free and still having the full $500 complement to work with (well, $499). The third round pick is something but I imagine with a little Google searching, you can find a guy in the fifth round or out of free agency at some point during the season that’ll be comparable. Still, if you’re just going to cut Yordano anyway, why not get a little something for him instead?

This is another scenario where, ideally, Yordano costs $13 instead of $23, so that if he (a) gets back to 2014-15, or better yet (b) improves on 2014-15 the way he was expected to in 2016, he’s priced to where you’re getting ample surplus. But again, given Dusty’s cap situation, that won’t even begin to matter until after next season. Honestly, for the mere cost of a third-round pick, Dusty could have pulled this trade off simply to ensure Yordano makes it to auction and can be bought for cheaper, and that’s still fine.

I can say that a year from now, if I’m in HLR’s shoes and have to make serious cuts, I’d like to think I’m just cutting a guy like Yordano rather than giving him away for a 3rd rounder. I mean, I get that “something is better than nothing,” but I think that on a spectrum of something to nothing, a third round pick is much closer to nothing. And again, is the guy you’re drafting 38th overall instead of 76th overall going to be markedly different? Yeah, sure, that’s a big jump. But we’re going to be 275 or so prospects deep by the time that 38th overall pick is made. Players are tiers anyway, and for prospects, those tiers are fairly arbitrary and subjective. I think the 38th pick and 76th pick are likely to be the same tier of player (a 45 FV type prospect). I’d rather throw the player back and hope three or four of my opponents bid themselves silly in the off-season or give myself the slim opportunity to win the guy back myself for cheaper.

Trade: The Foundation | Hustle Loyalty Respect

The Foundation sends: SP Felix Hernandez ($68), LF Alex Gordon ($17)
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: LF Melky Cabrera ($4), LF/CF/RF Harrison Bader (minors), LF Alex Jackson (minors)

Andrew’s thoughts: All the playoff teams are snapping up pitching.

This one’s interesting. For The Foundation, going from Alex Gordon to Melky Cabrera is a very solid upgrade, both in performance and salary. Gordon has traditionally been very productive, but at $19 next year and given how he’s looked this year, he’s an easy cut. Melky at $6 in 2017 is a candidate for greed because of how good he’s been. At just 31-years-old, Melky has a few solid years left and the low starting nature of his salary should keep him on Jordan’s team for 2-3 years.

The balance of the trade is a $68 King Felix, who looks like he might be broken, for two quality outfield prospects that have promise but aren’t atop many lists — though Jackson spent two years in the top-50 or so.

In Bader, The Foundation gets a 22-year-old Cardinal prospect — Cardinals prospects always seem to be worth something — who has hit at four minor league levels in two seasons. He’s not a big time prospect, but he looks like he could be another Stephen Piscotty and if he is, that’s worth quite a bit. Jackson, meanwhile, is risky. He’s almost 21-years-old and still at A-ball, but he’s got a .348 wOBA there this year and may be getting back on the right track. After the 2014 season, he was Baseball America’s 20th ranked prospect, so there’s pedigree here. But Mariners prospects are like the antithesis of Cardinals prospects, so who knows?

Meanwhile, at $70 going into next year, Felix is on track to end up cut and back at auction. He’s been right around a league average performer — he’s averaging 24.73 points per start — but is clearly not what he used to be. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and his FIP and xFIP are decisively mediocre. The downward trend that started last year has continued into 2016. He has 10 seasons of 190+ innings in his rearview mirror and it may be finally catching up to him.

So what I’m saying is, I don’t think Felix was worth a big haul. If he was prime Felix, sure. But this is 30-year-old rental Felix, with maybe a hope that he turns it around the rest of the way and gets kept. Bader and Jackson, plus turning Gordon into Melky, seems about right. I maybe would have preferred a pick upgrade or some other asset to go to The Foundation just as a “pitcher tax,” but that’s nitpicking.

For HLR, this is a fine upgrade heading into the postseason. His rotation is fronted by Adam Wainwright and Junior Guerra, then there’s a big dropoff to Mike Leake, Kevin Gausman, and Yordano Ventura. This is a volatile pitching staff and Felix is, at this stage of his career, a volatile pitcher. But the price was very reasonable and there’s considerable upside in Felix’s arm for the rest of the season. HLR is in a great spot, but his is a team that I don’t think can afford to just stand pat while his competitors get better, as the three other teams that currently hold playoff spots have all outscored his squad on the season.

Jordan’s thoughts: Trading Felix feels like breaking up with that girlfriend that you still care for, but you’re going in different directions. You leave the door open, perhaps our paths will cross again, and you say good bye.

For HLR getting Felix provides some ample depth at a position they could use. Gordon for Melky for this season is not a huge swing in either way, plus they have other hitters to cover. They’ve out grinded the rest of the league anyway.

For me, Bader is an interesting prospect, perhaps he’s good, perhaps he’s not. He is in a crowded system for a team that does not have an extra spot for hitters. I don’t expect him to help me soon. Swapping for Melky just made sense to me. Finally, acquiring Alex Jackson solved the issue of getting offered Alex Jackson on a weekly bases since the day he was drafted. Win-win-win.

2016 Auction Review – Hustle Loyalty Respect

Hustle Loyalty Respect

hlr

Our West-coast heartthrob and sleeping beauty duo built a team a generation apart. You have the younger with Matt Harvey and the elder with Adam Wainwright. Carlos Correa & Maikel Franco are up and coming and there is Melky Cabrera & Hunter Pence, good yet declining. Seems like a good balance of young and old. Also a good balance of hitters and pitchers.

Hitting – Alright

I was never likely going to like the Carlos Correa winner. He’s awesome. He’s a stud. But a lot of that value is relative to the position he plays. That counts, stretching last season to a full MLB season, Correa probably finds himself as a top 30, maybe top 20 hitter. If Correa is the best short stop, finds himself a standard deviation or two above the rest of the short stops, that $81 price tag is worth it. But to be a value at that price, he really needs to sneak into the top 15 or better of hitters. Blake Swihart & Yadier Molina are a great catcher platoon. Jose Abreu is great. Melky, Lorenzo Cain and Pence in the OF is pretty good. This team’s 3B situation is solid. In my opinion HLR doesn’t have “set and forget” utility hitters and that’s where his hitters goes from good to alright. Cycling just one of those spots is ideal.

Pitching – Good

Matt Harvey is really good. Adam Wainwright is awesome according to my wife. Garrett Richards and Yordano Ventura look like aces on their MLB teams which is a plus in head-to-head. The top half of the rotation is really good. The bottom half is a few wishes and a prayer or two. Kevin Gausman is an enigma of sorts. What is Baltimore doing with him? If he gets to 160 innings as a SP, a solid value find. If he is in the bullpen or worse, just not pitching…yikes. The others could be good or great, or useless. Kris Medlin is drawing excitement in Kansas City, but I need to see 100 innings first. The bullpen here is okay, HLR seemed to find some decent relievers at a good price.

Depth – Not Quite

The depth is not scary bad, in some areas it is quite good. I mentioned the catching platoon. Moustakas as your backup at 3B/UT is good. Lots to hope for from Marcell Ozuna and Scott Van Slyke who may not start for their MLB teams. The pitching depth as mentioned already is unreliable. The good thing about the depth is that it didn’t cost them too much. Shouldn’t be heart wrenching to replace a few of these back of the auction grabs if necessary.

Why 2016 would be bad… 

Hustle Loyalty and Respect could probably lose one or two of their big four starting pitchers and still be good. This team will ride and die with Carlos Correa. They paid for that spread from the short stop position. If Correa is as good as last year, probably need not worry. But, if he’s out for two weeks, how do you hold the fort down? Who’s stepping up? I don’t see it.

Why 2016 would be good… 

Some fantasy pundits are calling Carlos Correa a top 5 hitter. If so he provides these guys with a devastatingly large 30-40 point advantage weekly over any other short stop. If Harvey, Wainwright and just one of Richards/Ventura all reach 1,000 fantasy points, you have a shot in each of the twenty week regular season. With the rest of the roster, either they stay healthy and/or HLR nails some transactions and this team would be on fire.