Trade Review – Hustle Loyalty Respect & Eastbound and Dowd

To HLR:

Max Scherzer ($100 37 y.o. 37.2 ppg)

Mike Moustakas ($25 32 y.o. 4.7 ppg)

 

To Eastbound and Dowd:

Stephen Strasburg ($75 33 y.o. 17.9 ppg)

Patrick Corbin ($26 32 y.o. 19.45 ppg)

Brennen Davis – prospect

Edward Cabrera – prospect

Ezequiel Duran – prospect

2022 #1 from HLR – projecting for 13-16 overall

2022 #2 from HLR – projecting for 29-32 overall

 

TL;DR – HLR gets a top-10 pitcher for Brennen Davis

Hooray for the trade deadline in DG heating up!  Hopefully we end with a flurry by Friday similar to the MLB deadline this year.  If you were looking for a trade that has it all, we almost got it here.  Old stars, injured stars, high-end prospects, meh prospects, and picks for yet-unknown prospects.  For me, this trade boils down to Max Scherzer for Brennen Davis.

Let’s look at the HLR side. He gets the 10th or so best starter left standing by ppg (Glasnow is toast, deGrom/Bauer/Kershaw are likely toast with him, and Bieber is maybe back in August), and a guy who has shown up every 5th day since 2009 with the exception of only 27 starts in 2019.  Seriously, Scherzer is an ironman, even despite some back issues he had a couple years ago that I thought signaled his decline (wrong again, Aaron).  Scherzer represents a much-needed replacement for Kershaw on HLR’s squad, particularly with HLR’s overall points lead gap closing. Max is a stud and worth every penny of his $100 salary.  HLR’s roster construction has allowed him to be able to take Max on without concern of having to sell Kershaw in the offseason. HLR likely gets value from Scherzer the next couple years as Scherzer ages out of baseball.  Moustakas is a non-factor for me – HLR likely cuts him in the offseason and hopes for lightning in a bottle when Moustakas comes back from a heel injury that cost him nearly three months.  It’s been a couple years since Moustakas has been above fantasy replacement level, but he’ll always have that 6 ppg year in Milwaukee.

As for the E&D side, he gets Davis with an expensive lotto ticket, a less expensive lotto ticket, and a bunch of cheap ones.  Brennen Davis is hopefully as awesome as his AA stats from this year.  He destroyed High-A pitching this year in a short stint before continuing the hitting clinic at AA.  His power has showed out along with an elevated walk rate – his K-rate has also spiked but has been more than offset by the damage he is doing.  He’s only in AA, but his 2021 updated midseason rankings of anywhere from 9-17 on the outlets I’ve seen reflect the strength of the gains he has made.  He still has to prove he can do it with the big boys, but he appears likely to have a high floor to go along with his high ceiling.  Unfortunately for E&D, my excitement at his return ends here.  Strasburg underwent thoracic outlet surgery, something I thought was a death sentence for pitchers.  Turns out there is a recent study (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33472488/) with a small sample size (27) that says 74% of pitchers undergoing the procedure return to MLB performance with a range of 105-638 days to return. The study tried to quantify performance upon return and found similar returns of fastball velo and control but lesser returns in ERA performance (3.66 ERA pre-surgery to 4.50 ERA post-surgery). Even with all the issues ERA represents, I think the nearly-one run delta between pre- and post-surgery tells us what we need to know about effectiveness.  I don’t think E&D acquires Strasburg if he doesn’t plan on keeping him, but the large salaries of $117 invested in Harper and $86 in Stanton add up to a salary cap crunch that will require some ingenuity to solve, particularly so considering the significant pitching needs E&D has to fill.  Corbin has been bitten by HR issues badly this year.  Health and velo remain on his side, but his pitch effectiveness has significantly deteriorated from his stellar 2018 and 2019 seasons. His fastball effectiveness in particular has significantly declined this year despite gaining velo, which is interesting. Despite the bad results with the fastball, he is throwing it more than ever before so maybe he knows something we don’t.  Either way, he has been bad but is probably another keeper at $26 for a pitching starved E&D.  Here’s to hoping for a bounceback or a move to Tampa so they can fix him. Edward Cabrera is a sexy name who made big gains over the pandemic year and rose on lots of lists.  Fangraphs says his secondary pitches made big jumps which led to the lessening of the dreaded reliever risk.  He moved up to AAA in the middle of July after a solid 26 innings at AA and immediately stopped throwing strikes, which is probably fixable.  That said, I don’t like the fact that he has not pitched over 100 innings in a season despite 6 years of minor league baseball due to various injuries that have popped up.  Sure, Miami is a pitching development haven, but even they can’t put Humpty back together again. MiLB is littered with the bodies of electric arms who couldn’t stay on the mound. Duran is a 100-150 ranked guy who has been comped to Dan Uggla. Uggla was not a fantasy star in this format, and he exceeded replacement level twice in his career.  The two picks are nice to have but hard to evaluate who may be out there in the 13-16 ranges and 29-32 ranges of the draft. Ultimately, E&D is going to love running Davis out there everyday for six years as a cost-controlled (hopefully) stud. Will it be in time to contribute to his currently assembled stars of Harper, Stanton, Cruz, Story, and more?  I guess we’ll see.

Haddy (Who’s Your Haddy?)

Trade: Offseason Double Stuffs | Team Hydra

Offseason Double Stuffs sends: SP Patrick Corbin ($8)
Team Hydra sends: 2B/SS Jose Peraza ($5)

Andrew’s thoughts: Jose Peraza is awful in our scoring format, so I like this move for Hydra. They added a cheap pitcher for a surefire cut.

On Peraza: he had a .273 wOBA and a 62 WRC+ last year. Of hitters with 500 plate appearances, he’d rank 142nd in both (out of 145 qualifiers). He’s projected by Steamer for a .301/81 slash. Yuck. He doesn’t walk or have power. He’s Billy Hamilton but with middle infield eligibility.

Yeah, give me the $8 pitcher who just struck out more than eight batters per nine innings with the sub-4.00 xFIP. No contest for me.

Hustle’s toxic $0.02: I will always cherish times in this league in 2017 when Hydra was rolling out Peraza and Hamilton in a week long matchup.

Made no sense then, makes no sense now. Peraza could fill in as a backup for some weak positions (and that has value) but I wouldn’t be looking to add him. Corbin was maddingly inconsistent last year but at times was brilliant and seems like a good  gamble at $8.  Maybe they finally add a humidor to Chase Field too! If you’re completely out on Corbin, then sure give him away for something that you can use.

Some thoughts about my team…

A few days have passed since our auction draft and I’m still not settled on how I feel about my team overall. Some things I like, some I don’t.

So I’m going to write some words and think this thing through a little. Sometimes writing helps to clarify.

You can also read Jordan’s thoughts on my team here.

As an aside: you can probably tell by now that I don’t care too much about talking about my team publicly. Some owners are tight-lipped. Personally, I don’t think sharing my thought processes gives away any competitive advantage. If I have a thought that I think becoming public does compromise some advantage then, well, I just won’t share it publicly. Simple enough.

Thought #1: I kinda wish I hadn’t won BOTH Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera.

Coming into the auction, I hoped to get two cornerstone hitters and go from there. I did not plan for them to both play the same position.

To be clear, I love both these guys. I’m not upset that I have them. But I do wish I would’ve spent the cash — $70 went to Votto, $71 to Miggy — from one of these guys on a player from a different position. Like, say, Josh Donaldson ($68), Andrew McCutchen ($69), or Jose Bautista ($62).

In a vacuum, I’ll take Miggy or Votto over all three of those guys. But given positional need and roster flexibility, I painted myself into a corner taking two top tier first basemen.

Thought #2: Alex Rodriguez is kind of an obstacle.

I don’t think $21 for A-Rod is too much. Jordan looked at some values using the FanGraphs auction calculator suggesting A-Rod is a $1 player, meaning I overpaid by $20 and cost myself significant value. I think the calculator is wrong.

Zips has a .336 wOBA for A-Rod in 2016. Steamer is much cooler on him. According to Steamer, he’ll be only the 105th best hitter. Fantrax, whose projections aren’t worth much, has him as the 71st best hitter. He was the 31st highest scoring hitter a year ago in a renaissance season.

No matter how you slice it, this is not a $1 player. Truthfully, $21 probably is a few bucks too much, but that’s true of a bunch of players. David Ortiz, who is A-Rod’s mirror image in a lot of ways (age, risk, production, position eligibility), went for $30. At 40, anything can happen with A-Rod. But I feel like I’ll get good numbers from him.

The problem is, he’s a utility-only hitter. And one of Miggy or Votto is plugged into that other spot, which leaves my options slim. I tend to try to accumulate talent first and worry about lineup composition later, but in this case I wish I hadn’t.

Thought #3: Patrick Corbin and Nick Markakis are a couple of my favorite values.

I love Patrick Corbin. (You love him too, given all the inquiries I’ve had for him already.) In his only full season in 2013, he posted a 3.43 FIP. Last year, in 16 games coming back from Tommy John, he picked up right where he left off with a 3.35 FIP. Oh, and he improved his strikeout and walk rates. He got swinging strikes on his slider 24% of the time.

The risk with him is clear. He could get hurt again, the track record is short, and he could be on an innings cap in 2016. I guess his home park is less than ideal too. But he’s also just 26 and has posted the kind of numbers most teams will seek from their SP2 or SP3.

And for $16. Marcus Stroman, who I like a lot, went for twice as much. I’ll take my $16 Corbin over a $41 Michael Wacha or $30 Masahiro Tanaka, for example. Off-season fantasy darling Raisel Iglesias, who I also like a lot, went for $29. Corbin struck out about a batter and a half less per nine, but also walked fewer and posted better FIP, xFIP, and HR/9 despite a BABIP that was higher by .041. I’m not saying Iglesias won’t be superior (because “upside!” or whatever). But $13 better? All I’m saying is I like this particular player at his particular price.

Markakis, meanwhile, is just an old favorite of mine from his time with the Orioles. Four bucks for a career .291/.359/.429 hitter makes me happy.

Of course, the “upside” here is nil and the power numbers last year were sobering. He hit three home runs all year with a .080 ISO. But in 2013, he hit 10 homers with a slightly better .085 ISO. He had a 2.1% HR/FB rate a year ago. Of players with 500 or more plate appearances, only noodle bats Alcides Escobar, Ben Revere, and Angel Pagan got less of their fly balls into the seats. Escobar went for $3 and Revere for $6, for whatever that’s worth. I don’t think getting back to double digit bombs is unrealistic — I think it’s likely, in fact — and if he does that (and frankly, even if he doesn’t) he will be a very solid starting outfielder at practically no cost.

Thought #4: I left too much money on the table.

I came in $10 short of our $500 auction budget due to trades, then proceeded to leave $21 in my pocket at draft’s end. That was very stupid.

Here’s what happened: after starting slowly, I quickly piled up some big dollar players. My first three players cost me $70, $71, and $71. Then I added a $21 A-Rod and $60 Johnny Cueto. My next two players, Sonny Gray and Tyson Ross, were had for $96 total. That was my setup through the first 98 nominees.

From there, I hybernated. I eventually grabbed Martin Prado ($4) at the 179th nomination spot. Going 81 spots and almost two hours without adding a player is a long time. The wait was deliberate. My cash was much lower than most everyone else’s, so I decided unless a player I really coveted came up, I’d sit back and let other teams spend, hopefully opening some holes for me later.

It worked, but I failed to hit those holes.

I sometimes undervalue hitters and/or overvalue my own ability to squeeze points out of lesser hitters. That cost me. I just waited and waited, and eventually the players worth spending on ran out and I was left with $21. I feel a lot better about my offense today if I’ve got an Alex Gordon ($17) or Matt Kemp ($11) to plug in. Or I could have, you know, taken that extra $21 plus the $21 spent on A-Rod and allocated it better. That’s enough to have bought a Starling Marte, Robinson Cano, Yasiel Puig, or JD Martinez, just to rattle off a few.

Thought #5: I should’ve kept pushing for Max Scherzer.

This sort of rolls into #1 and #4.

I bid Scherzer up to $85, then he went to Ferns for $86. There’s no telling how high the bidding might have gone if I’d kept pushing, but I wish I’d found out. If I land Scherzer, I almost definitely don’t get both Miggy and Votto.

I’m also not totally comfortable with Carlos Carrasco ($71) as my SP1, though I don’t mind his price. In other words, getting Scherzer would’ve likely took me out of the market for one of the hitters, but not Carrasco. Penciling him in as my SP2 behind Mad Max would’ve been fun.

Thought #6: Speaking of Carlos Carrasco

Someone commented in the auction room after Carrasco went off the board that the winning bid was influenced by “hype.” To which I say: when a guy finishes as the 17th highest scorer on only 30 starts, the ninth best FIP, the fourth best xFIP, and the fifth best K/9 rate, the hype has some merit behind it. And he did all that with a high, unfortunate BABIP and elevated HR/FB rate.

I get the risks here. He’s gone over 100 innings in his big league career just thrice and has maxed out at 183.2. That’s on my radar. I won’t sleep easy knowing this. But he’s paid as a top 12-13 pitcher and all indicators are that, if healthy (a caveat that applies to every pitcher), he should produce right in that range.

Thought #7: I won’t have trouble rooting for my guys.

I don’t really believe in targeting players I “like” as in, hey, so and so is fun to watch on TV, so I should do something totally irrational to get him. It’s a tiebreaker for me when choosing between similar players. But I ended up coming out of this auction with a bunch of unheralded guys that I generally like beyond just fantasy stuff. Mike Napoli ($4), Nori Aoki ($1), Denard Span ($4), and Johnny Cueto ($60). The latter isn’t “unheralded” but I wanted to mention him so that I could link to that photo.

I remember a few years ago — I think 2011, but I’m not sure — I had Aoki on my MLB The Show team. Except I had no idea he was a real player. I thought he was one of the random minor leaguers or a fictitious rookie the game created. But he was awesome in the game. He was a slap hitter kind of like Ichiro, lashing line drives all over the place. He was fast, too. In video game baseball, I attempt a million steals. As soon as I realized he actually existed, I liked him even more and have been fond of him ever since.

Thought #8: Please stay healthy, Corey Dickerson.

I didn’t actually mean to win Dickerson. I was sort of half bidding him up, half interested in him at a bargain basement price. But I accidentally clicked him for the $10 winning bid which, actually, you know, might end up working out quite nicely.

This is a guy with perpetual health issues who is obviously going from a hitter’s park so favorable that calling it simply a “hitter’s park” isn’t enough. His perceived value is way down. But he’s still just 26 years old and has posted some remarkable offensive numbers. Of batters with 600+ plate appearance since the beginning of 2014, he has the 23rd best WRC+ (133). Because park factors play so vividly in how Dickerson’s viewed, I used WRC+ because it’s a park adjusted stat. wOBA (.390), which is not park adjusted, ranks him 11th in all of baseball under those same criteria.

Neither Zips or Steamer expect him to continue hitting so torridly, nor do they expect him to play a full slate of games. Maybe both are true. Maybe I’m trying to talk myself into the player. I mean, Max Kepler, who has logged a grand total of seven MLB at-bats, went for the same price. Depending on your lens, Dickerson at $10 is a bargain.

Closing thoughts…

Overall, I expect this team to compete. But the path will be tougher than it should’ve been, and that’s my own fault. I’m excited for the challenge.

Not that in anyone in Grinders should or does care, but I took the salaries players went for here and applied them to my team in the Dy-Nasty league you’ve heard us mention on a few podcasts, which uses pretty much identical scoring. My 25-man roster over there went for $792 total here. I’ve got another seven guys in my minors there that were auctioned off here and aren’t included in that total.

The roster I’m starting with is going to require a lot more effort and attention on my part. The margin for error is smaller. My offense is going to require patience and caffeine, because while there are quality players all over (I can’t wait until those of you who are new to this depth/scoring start seeing the types of players that become valuable), it’s a unit about as exciting as flossing your teeth.

But navigating that stuff is part of the fun, and I doubt anyone is looking at their team post-auction and seeing perfection. Everyone has work to do. I’m ready to get started.

2016 Auction Review – Capital City Ironmen

Capital City Ironmen

cap

Here I am to take shots at the co-commissioner. Andrew who I know to be extremely shrewd, but I cannot help but wonder if Bailey got too cute during this draft. The pitchers are sweet. The hitters look great and I had similar aspirations going after a pair of no doubt sluggers, but there is likely just a few too many holes on this roster.

Hitters – Alright

The line up is clearly stars and scrubs. Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto are going to make sure each and every week your hitters are competitive. The catcher position is already punted, which can be okay. Jhonny Peralta could be the steal of the draft, but he’s not starting until summer. You can see the framework’s existence. Knowing this team left money on the table, on top of trading cash away to buy Blake Snell, there’s just a lot of work to be done here. The world is already low on guys like Corey Dickerson, Trevor Plouffe and Denard Span for reasonable reasons. This line up is a Cabrera or Votto season ending injury from being in uh-oh territory.

Pitchers – Very Good

Carlos Carrasco, Johnny Cueto, Tyson Ross and Sonny Gray are all tier one starting pitchers. Or at the very least capable of pitching as tier ones. But the pitching staff as a whole is not great for two reasons. First the bullpen is already short a player with nothing splashy. Second, Patrick Corbin is a great fifth, but Chase Anderson, Mat Latos and Nick Tropeano all are cheap attempts at being clever. Capital City may never need any of them, and Bailey would clearly prefer it that way.

Depth – Good

While it’s not great because CCI’s pitching depth is lackluster, the guys on the bench for hitters do play multiple positions. The roster flexibility will allow CCI to fill line up slots regularly on a daily basis. Those extra plate appearances will add up and will make the difference in a weekly match-up at least once this season.

Why 2016 would be bad… 

It is hard to bet on all the pitchers taking the year off. So in this case 2016 is bad if Miggy and Votto both finish outside the top 10 for first basemen. I love Alex Rodriguez as much as the next guy, but if you took the $21 spent on him and padded it with the cash left on the table you have basically any tier 1-2 hitter available. Whoops.

Why 2016 would be good… 

The two hitters and the four pitchers carry this roster into the playoffs and just run through everyone. With any amount of luck, between the top four, he’s going to get 1 maybe 2 with 2-starts each week. That means six starts between top tier starters each week. Filling it in with Corbin or Chase Anderson is alright at that point. The hitters are good enough to hold a regular baseline.