Monday, March 2, 2009

Transactions Analysis: February Doldrums Edition

A new season is on the horizon, with pitchers and catchers doing their respective things in Florida and Arizona, and most of us up north trying to thaw out. This time of the year is usually the silly season for fantasy sports. However, that hasn't stopped a slew of pre-season trades this year with everyone scrambling to get their rosters in check. So while our witticisms aren't in mid-season form yet, that's not going to stop us from getting back on the horse and starting up TAs anew. Ready to begin Season 5, Teddy? (El Angelo)

Is this really the 5th year for the TAs?!? Anniversary specials are in order. Maybe an alternate-world edition in which we analyze transactions that would have been made by Val, Bartolacci, M**e, and our other departed colleagues, had they not shuffled off this mortal coil? Or maybe just more Ryan Dempster jokes. Yeah, that seems easier. (Teddy)

  • Traded their 6th round pick to Warren Guts for Chris Young, OF, Arizona, and their 10th round pick.
  • Traded their 3rd round pick to Le Dupont Torkies for Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Boston.
First off, let's note that this appears to be a watershed year for inappropriate team names. In addition to the usual cute and snarky team names (Aroids Anonymous, Mission Accomplished, Evil League of Evil), we have a team named after our President's perineum, another that indicates that either our commissioner or his kid needs more fiber in their diet, and a squad simply named after a deadly disease.

above: Not the Pedro you'd expect to see on this blog.

What makes this one even more noteworthy is that after 7 years of refusing to hit the shift key, Ironhead has gotten his team name in all capital letters. Make of this what you will, but my read is that it portends for an even more tasteless season than usual, and/or an attempt by the other league owners to get this blog banned for language that would make Kevin Smith and Deadwood blush. Like it.

With regard to the actual transactions, I clearly fall in the category of glass houses and stones, but even I can say that once you got past a not-bad start to this keeper list (Gonzalez, Pedroia, Nathan, Hafner), the bottom fell out pretty quick, to the point where an argument could have been made to keep Andy Sonnenstine. A third rounder isn't small potatoes in terms of picks (#26 overall), but it adds a top-shelf closer, and gives them a helluva 1-2 punch with Joe Nathan in the bullpen, which leaves them one good pick from dominating saves and having a leg up on rate stats. Young is an interesting bounce-back candidate at a pretty low price, and while I'm clearly bearish on him cracking .310 on the OBP scale, you really can't quibble too much when it doesn't cost much. Some solid moves to shore up the keeper list, but I think this squad would be well-served to explore adding another +1 or +2 guy. Will he really miss not holding on to John Maine and Welcome to The Fukudome? (El Angelo)

I don't love the Young pickup--I think the draft will be deep enough that AAAA could get an equivalent player with the pick they gave up. I mind the Papelbon pickup less. For whatever reason, this league tends to depart from fantasy orthodoxy by chasing saves early in the draft. This lets AAAA skip that fight, and use his picks on non-closers who drop. Of course, that strategy might be a little tough to execute with only 4 picks in the first 6 rounds. (Teddy)

Obama's Grundle
  • Traded their 4th round pick to Evil League of Evil for Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia.
  • Traded their 3rd and 7th round picks to Le Dupont Torkies for Alex Rodriguez, 'Roid User, New York (AL) and Chad Qualls, RP, Arizona,
  • Traded their 2nd and 8th round picks to The Loose Bowels for Carlos Beltran, OF, New York (NL) and their 6th and 7th round picks.
That's three trades for three guys that will take up nine, NINE keeper slots next year. In fairness, the President Scrotumbergs have done so by acquiring 3 of the top 20 position players in fantasy baseball, and will be building off an insanely strong core plus a not-horrible pitching trio of Myers-Lidge-Qualls. Still given that they will be making their second pick at about the same time Andy's cracking open his 4th beer, and may be drafting Takeo Spikes in the final rounds, query whether they're relying too much on the bottom of the draft to fill in the details. Still, it's awesome to see a new strategy invoked. (El Angelo)

The audacity of chode is on full display here. The mere fact that these kind of trades are in play opens up a bunch of new strategic options, which is fantastic. The salary cap has finally kicked in for real, meaning you can wheel out a "go for it now" strategy even if you start the season off in the hole. These trades are the fantasy equivalent of Dubya casually nuking Tehran on his way out the door: the harvest might be bitter, but the act is good for a bracing adrenaline rush.

at right: Atlas winces.

The only quibble I have is that although the three players obtained are all fantastic, they also all play positions where the fantasy replacement level is pretty high at the moment. Make the same trades for up-the-middle guys of a similar standing and we'd be on to something. Still, style points abound. (Teddy)

Mission Accomplished
  • Traded their 4th and 6th round picks to Evil League of Evil for Brian McCann, C, Atlanta and Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco.
  • Traded Chris Young, OF, Arizona and their 10th round pick to AIDS^4 for their 6th round pick.
The 6th rounders more or less offset each other, so it's basically a question of whether dealing the 37th pick in the draft for McCann and Cain was worth it. I say yes. What say ye, wise Portagee? (El Angelo)

Steal. (Teddy)

The Loose Bowels
  • Traded Carlos Beltran, OF, New York (NL) and their 6th and 7th round picks to Obama's Grundle for their 2nd and 8th round picks.
The bad news for Andy is that he has no first round pick this year. The good news now is that he has FOUR second round picks, including three in a row near the end of the round. It'd be even more surprising if he used all of those picks; I smell a trade-up coming on draft day. (Note: never again will I use the word "smell" in this team's TA.) (El Angelo)

While you never know until the keeper lists come out, the pool of jump-out-of-your-chair studs has never gone more than about 8 deep in these drafts. Having four second rounders might just give The Eliminations a chance to overdraft for 3 picks in a row. (Teddy)

Evil League of Evil
  • Traded Brian McCann, C, Atlanta and Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco to Warren Guts for their 4th and 6th round picks
  • Traded Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia to Obama's Grundle for their 4th round pick.
The conventional look would be to examine whether these draft picks are fair compensation for these playesr, but I want to take a different look and instead ask what trading these players means in terms of Dr. Evil's keeper list. The immediate upshot is that it lets them hold on to David Wright for another year at +3, which is clearly not a bad thing. But it also lets them keep the intriguing quintet of Josh Hamilton, Carlos Quentin and Chris Davis, who could combine for anywhere from 20-100 home runs and about 750 strikeouts. Howard actually won't be missed with these three guys on the team, it's more a question of whether taking a stab on Davis' upside plus someone like Brian Wilson is better than having the best catcher in baseball.

Also, writing "Traded X to Obama's Grundle" will be fantastic to type all year, at least until the Secret Service arrest me. (El Angelo)

Completely agree on the Howard trade--power shouldn't be an issue for this team, and Howard has a surprisingly middling OBP that caps his overall value. Good high sell.

I assume that the McCann gamble is premised on the idea that there are more solid fantasy C options now than there have been for 3-4 years, with young guys like Chris Ianettam, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli, and Francesco Rinaldi establishing themselves last year, and Matt Wieters and Jeff Clement on the way.

at left: Ciao, Francesco Rinaldi!

Still, while I probably focus too much on positional issues, I probably would have balked at giving away a top 3 catcher for a middle round pick. Of course, we need to make an allowance for the fact that this trade came early in the offseason, before values got established. Also, the Unfortunate Banners should probably finish below 4th one year before I start giving them advice. (Teddy)

Le Dupont Torkies
  • Traded Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York (AL) and Chad Qualls, RP, Arizona to Obama's Grundle for their 3rd and 7th round picks.
  • Traded Jon Papelbon, RP, Boston to AIDS^4 for their 3rd round pick.
Pour some out for the end to an era: Tucker's first pick ever in the league is on a new squad. There's a lot to like in adding a pair of 3rd round picks and making room for Joe Mauer and some young pitchers. But it leaves the team with a lot of questions, not the least of which is what the f**k to do with Manny Ramirez when he still isn't on a team, and what to expect from injury bouncebacks in Chad Billingsley and Chase Utley. But credit to the defending champ: it was going to be tough to defend the title and rebuild, and they're taking an interesting tact at it. (El Angelo)

The key guy here is Utley--if he gets back for close to a full season at full health, he'll lap the field at 2B again, and cushion the offensive loss of ARod. If not, the falloff to a backup 2B will hurt, especially because this GM has shown a preference for a thin offensive bench that allows him more roster space to mix and match pitching matchups. But with essentially the whole team hitting costly FA status at the same time, there wasn't much else he could have done. (Teddy)

No comments: