Friday, May 8, 2009

Transactions Analysis: Spring Cleaning Edition

After 5 years of doing these TA's, it's clear that a pattern of transactions has emerged. The first TA is usually replete with people undoing the mistakes made late in the draft, patching some spring training holes usually caused by DL injuries, and dropping players who didn't make it out of camp. While this usually isn't the highest talent TA, it's chock full of rational moves and often, it's lateral movement at worst.

It's the second TA that has some of the worst players you'll see all year: relievers that are battling it out for closer's positions, guys that you've never heard of having career months, pitchers with 2 good starts suddenly looking like aces, abominable catchers being unearthed to fill in for injured regulars, utility players used to patch holes, and worst of all, guys who get hurt every year and will never, ever, ever survive past Memorial Day. We're at that point. Let's celebrate the crapiness. (El Angelo)

I like to think of every TA as a celebration of crapiness but you're right, this time of year is generally the ebb tide. On the positive side, I am about to order the public execution of a randomly selected member of my pitching staff in the hopes that their morale will improve. I know mine would. (Teddy)

It's Enrico Palazzo
  • Signed Russell Branyan, 3B , Seattle [5/4]
There really is no better sign of desperation than last year's Place finisher signing Russell F'ing Branyan. Actually, I'm wrong: they're starting him, presumably because Carlos Guillen is broken and Adrian Beltre, well, is Adrian Beltre. And it's not like this was unforeseeable. (Note: in light of how well my Derby picks went, I will be shamelessly promoting anything I've ever written that was remotely near correct in this TA.) Anyway, Branyan as a patch is passable, I suppose, but if this team's serious about escaping the basement, they're going to need a real player for the hot corner. (El Angelo)

Branyan has been going through a good patch as the pretty much everyday 1B for Seattle. Branyan's contact skill are generally . . . limited, but he has enough power to be useful over the very short term. (Teddy)

Unenviable Position
  • Signed Latroy Hawkins, RP, Houston; Released Andy Laroche, 3B, Pittsburgh [4/17]
  • Released Hawkins; Signed Mike Lowell, Testicular Wonder, Boston [7 hours later]
  • Signed Jason Barlett, SS, Tampa [4/18]
  • Signed Yadir Molina, C, St. Louis; Released Jeff Mathis, C, Anaheim [4/22]
  • Released Bartlett; Signed Ramon Ramirez, RP, Cleveland [4/24]
  • Released Molina; Signed Touchdown Tim Wakefield, SP, Boston [4/25]
  • Signed Nick Johnson, 1B, Washington; Released Joe Blanton, SP, Philly, Dan Wheeler, RP, Tampa and Cristian Guzman, SS, Washington [5/6]
There's a lot of garbage-in-garbage-out here, which I'll happily let my co-author delve into if he's so inclined, which hopefully, will include an explanation as to why he dumped Latroy Hawkins a mere 7 hours after picking him up and after he had a decent outing and for Mike Nutsack. (Random guess: he's had enough of seeing Mark Reynolds strike out with men on.) There's a lot more rifling through crap, but the end result is getting rid of some crappy players to add to your roster Lowell, Nick Johnson (quintessential always hurt guy), and for some reason, Tim Wakefield. Of all these moves, the Wakefield one is the oddest, not because he's not useful, but where's the upside here? I get that you're looking for innings to lower your rate stats, but the odds to Touchdown Tim putting your team above 8th place are minimal. I would've prefered to see a flyer on a younger arm with talent. (El Angelo)

Ah, but I've already taken on several young arms--like Ubaldo Jimenez and Anibal Sanchez--who have proven only marginally better flyers than Corey Lidle. What I need right now is for somebody to not suck horribly until the rest of the staff rights the ship. Wakefield is on a roll right now; if I can squeeze 15-20 more good innings out of him before the crash, I'll take it. (Teddy)

The Spam Avengers
  • Signed Jeremy Hermida, OF, Florida; Released Aaron Rowand, OF, San Fran [4/20]
  • Released Joey Devine, Broken RP, Oakland [4/22]
  • Signed Joe Beimel, RP, Washington; Released Delmon Young, OF, Minnesota [4/28]
Four years ago, everyone was high on Jeremy Hermida, and while before this year he wasn't a bust, he wasn't particularly good either. But he seems to have come around in 2009. Will we be saying the same thing about Delmon Young in 2013? (El Angelo)

In 2013 Delmon will be working as his brother Dmitri's butler. Dmitri's triple cheeseburgers don't just fetch themselves. (Teddy)

The Loose Bowels
  • Signed Mike Jacobs, 1B, Kansas City; Released James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles [4/23]
  • Signed Shawn Marcum, SP, Toronto; Released Grant Balfour, RP, Tampa [4/25]
  • Released Jacobs; Called up Travis Snider, OF, Toronto from the prospect list [4/26]
  • Signed Dave Bush, SP, Milwaukee; Released David Purcey, SP, Toronto [4/28]
  • Signed Yadir Molina, C, St. Louis; Released Ryan Theriot, SS, Chicago (NL) [4/30]
  • Signed Theriot, AGAIN, and Homer Bailey, SP, Louisville Bats; Released Marcum and Jason Motte, RP, St. Louis [5/5]
The Commish saved himself from an unnecessary tirade, because dumping James Loney for Mike Jacobs is possibly the easiest example of running up your transaction count. Is there actually a difference between the two players? Fortunately, he saved the TA by dumping Jacobs for Travis Snider, who's the best prospect called up to date (I'll ignore a Nick Adenhart joke here), but may fall back on the list when Wieters finally shows up in Baltimore. Though he'll probably be ahead of Madison Bumgartner, who will be playing in the majors in 2015.

What's more interesting is that Jason Motte was a 4th round pick in this year's draft and has been cut, which I believe makes him the highest-picked player to reach the waiver wire. If you want to know why this team's struggling, one key reason has to be that their early picks have been disasters. Of the top 6 players picked, 3 are on the DL (Lackey, Zambrano, Duchsherer) and one is Jason Motte. For that matter, this team's next 5 picks aren't on their current roster either; it's only when you get to 12th-rounder Colby Rasmus that you see signs of productivity. The Diarrheatics are going to have to work the waiver wire to make up some ground. (El Angelo)

[Slow claps] That is legit analysis there. Plus, as a bonus, uou've actually made me feel better about having missed on only 3 of my top 5 picks. Bless you. (Teddy)

wormcheese mousebird
  • Signed Marlon Byrd, OF, Texas; Released Dennys Reyes, RP, Baltimore [4/16]
  • Signed Endy Chavez, OF, Seattle [4/17]
  • Signed Hank Blalock, 3B, Texas [5/1]
  • Released Chavez & Byrd; Signed Michael Bourn, OF, Houston and Mike Fontenot, 2B, Chicago (NL) [5/5]
While on this squad, Marlon Byrd put up one of the more ridiculous stat lines since Mariano Duncan retired: he went 9/30 for a .300 batting average, but had an OBP of .290. And amazingly, cutting him was only the second best move this team make this period, because it also cut Endy Chavez, perhaps realizing too late that catches are not a category. (El Angelo)

I am stunned to learn that Byrd and Chavez, both of whom contribute steals while failing massively at everything else, were briefly on the same roster. That is the fantasy equivalent of simultaneously wearing a belt and suspenders to hold up pants made of plastic wrap; your success at keeping the steals up pales massively in comparson to the shame of walking around with your useless junk visibly cryo-vacced for the world to see. (Teddy)

Wu Tang Financial
  • Signed Kevin Millwood, SP, Texas; Released Andrew Miller, SP, Florida [4/20]
  • Signed Dallas Braden, SP, Oakland; Released John Maine, New York (NL) [4/26]
  • Signed Casey Blake, 3B, Los Angles; Released Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Cincy [4/28]
  • Signed Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado and Michael Wuertz, RP, Oakland; Released Brandon Lyon, RP, Detroit and Kaz Matsui, Nutripper, Houston [5/3]
It's not often you get the chance to pick up two Opening Day starters. It's also not often you get to do this and hurt your team in the process. I don't like Maine that much this year, what with the injury concerns and the fact the league seems to have figured out that he has one pitch, but Dallas Braden isn't any good either. Kevin Millwood, somehow, has 145 career wins. If you ever needed proof that wins were a meaningless category, here's your poster boy. (El Angelo)

I can't endorse the pickup of anyone named "Dallas". Or at least not the pickup of a pitcher named Dallas; if you want to pick up a stripper named "Dallas" that might be OK. So maybe it's better to say that I can't endorse the fantasy pickup of anyone named Dallas. Unless, I guess, it's your fantasy to pick up a stripper named Dallas, in which case a fantasy pickup would be OK too.

I'm starting to confuse myself, so I'll just close by noting that Kevin Millwood sucks. (Teddy)

Evil League of Evil
  • Signed Phil Hughes, SP, New York (AL); Released Chris Ray, RP, Baltimore [4/22]
  • Signed Scott Richmond, SP, Toronto; Released Ollie! Perez, SP, New York (AL) [4/26]
  • Signed Latroy Hawkins, RP, Houston; Released Brett Gardner, OF, New York (AL) [4/29]
  • Signed Julian Tavarez, RP, Washington; Released Kenshin Kawakami, SP, Atlanta [4/30]
  • Signed Doug Davis, SP, Arizona [5/1]
  • Released Davis; Signed Danys Baez, RP, Baltimore [5/4]
  • Released Baez; Re-signed Ray [5/5]
  • Released Tavarez; Signed Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota [5/5]
The '05 champs are repeat players on Reliever Roulette, and after it all, appear to have landed on a pair of firemen from last-place squads with unsettled closer situations: Chris Ray, who has good stuff but is fragile, and Julian Tavarez, who compared the Washington Nationals to a drunken fat chick at 3 am. Neither is likely to lead to anything except hurled remote controls. Infinitely better is their moves with starters; Phil Hughes appears to have figured himself out, and is going to get a rotation slot thanks to C.M. Wang's implosion, and Scott Richmond, improbably, has morphed into Roy Halladay's spawn. Nice swag. (El Angelo)

I like the Hughes pickup a lot, especially if the ELoE limit his usage to starts occurring outside the confines of the the Salvatore P. Esposito Memorial Little League Field that the taxpayers of NYC got suckered into building in the Bronx. (Teddy)

Mission Accomplished

  • Signed Todd Coffey, RP, Milwaukee; Released Fausto Carmona, SP, Cleveland [4/19]
  • Signed Jason Frasor, RP, Toronto; Released Carlos Villanueva, RP, Milwaukee [4/21]
  • Signed Manny Parra, SP, Milwaukee [4/25]
  • Signed Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa [4/27]
  • Released Coffey; Signed Howie Kendrick, 2B, Anaheim [4/28]
  • Signed Kiko Calero, RP, Florida; Released Billy Wagner, Broken RP, New York (NL) [5/3]
  • Released Calero; Signed Jim Johnson, RP, Baltimore [5/4]
I'm as guilty as anyone for violating many tenets that I said were awful about the second TA: bad relievers about, guys off to a hot start that suck (Bartlett), and fluke pitchers. My only defense on Bartlett is the injury bug hit me at SS, and he's the least bad option. Stupidly, I'm actually happy to get Parra, who I think may not suck. (El Angelo)

Has any player broken more hearts in this league than Howie Kendrick? Every year some TV announcer will claim that Kendrick is going to win a batting title some day, and every year he gets hurt, and his owner has to wait 'til next year. That said, at some point we're going to have to ask whether Kendrick's repeated injuries have distracted us from his innate suck: his career-high OBP is .347, and he's never projected to hit more than 10 HRs even if he was able to play a full season. He's reaching that backup-QB territory where the less he plays, the better he looks. (Teddy)

Aroids Anonymous
  • Signed David Aardsma, RP, Seattle; Released Manny Parra, SP, Milwaukee [4/17]
  • Signed Andrew Bailey, RP, Oakland and Ricky Romero, SP, Toronto; Released Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City and Howie Kendrick, 2B, Anaheim [4/19]
  • Signed John Buck, C, Kansas City; Released Taylor Buchholz, SP, Coloado [4/21]
  • Released Buck; Signed Rod Barajas, C, Toronto [5/3]
Does it speak ill of my team that I picked up both Kendrick and Parra, or does it speak poorly of AA that they dropped them both? Also kids, feast your eyes on crappy catcher syndrome! As far as Corey's concerned, Ryan Doumit cannot heal fast enough. (El Angelo)

See above. (Teddy)

Elbow Your Funicular?
  • Signed Jarrod Washburn, SP, Seattle; Released Orlando Cabrera, SS, Oakland [4/22]
  • Signed John Grabow, RP, Pittsburgh and Nyjer Morgan, OF, Pittsburgh; Released Fred Lewis, OF, San Fran and Scot Shields, RP, Anaheim [4/23]
  • Released Grabow; Signed Ryan Madson, RP, Philly [4/28]
  • Claimed John Maine, SP, New York (NL) off waivers; Released Emilio Bonafacio, 2B, Florida [4/29]
It's probably small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but wasting your waiver priority on John Maine strikes me as frivolous. Hell, it actually strikes me as a dereliction of duty. Trust me, you don't really want Maine, and you certainly don't want a chance to get Justin Smoak to be frittered away by getting Maine.

As for the rest of the players here, Nyjer Morgan is another guy I've never heard of, and as Teddy has noted in the past, there's an excellent chance that he's either a computer generated character (it's not like anyone watches Pirates games anyway), or is a villainous southpaw from Catcher With a Glass Arm. Personally, my favorite Matt Christopher book is The Kid Who Only Hit Homers, but to each their own. (El Angelo)

There was one Matt Christopher book about a peewee QB who excelled by working out optimum game strategy on a computer sim program. Even at age 9 that struck me as so wildly improbable that it immediately became my favorite book of his.

Thinking back, I believe a subplot of that same book revolved around a word game in which kids came up with synonyms for a rhyming couplet, and then tried to stump their friends by asking them what the original couplet was;. The biggest stumper was "Odorous Hobo", the solution to which turned out to be "Fragrant Vagrant". Now that I see all this in black and white, I realize that my Mom might just have left me in the car too long with the engine running that summer.

Oh, and Nyjer Morgan is a speed guy who came up in the Pirates system and will have been dumped for new starting OF Juan Pierre by the next TA. (Teddy)

Recalcitrant Cobbler
  • Signed Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland; Released Troy Glaus, 3B, St. Louis [4/20]
  • Signed Brandon Wood, SS, Anaheim; Released Hank Blalock, 3B, Texas [4/21]
  • Released Wood; Signed Sean Marshall, SP, Chicago (NL) [5/1]
The team churned through a few third basemen to find out that they're all infinitely worse than the one they already have (Aubrey Huff), and besides, this offense is so potent at the moment that there's no need to add players (though Cabrera's not an awful bench addition). The Marshall Plan strikes me as sort of an odd idea to add pitching though; his peripherals are a little better than his actual stats, but not to the point where he's a gem obscured by crappy hitting or bad BABIP. That said, this team needs a little boost in starting pitching, and Marshall's definitely a better idea than J.A. Happ or the dessicated remains of Joel Piniero. I'll call it useful if unimportant, which is probably how most would describe a TA, and the exact opposite of how everyone would characterize my Derby picks. (El Angelo)

Don't worry, Ang--next year we'll just note how you've correctly picked something like 4 of the past 8 Triple Crown races, and coveniently bury this year's Derby result. How do you think Jim Cramer does it? (Teddy)

Le Dupont Torkies
  • Signed Jason Varitek, C, Boston and Dontrelle Willis, SP, Detroit [4/19]
  • Signed Jed Lowrie, 3B, Boston; Released Dionner Navarro, C, Tampa [4/26]
  • Signed Ben Zobrist, SS, Tampa; Released Khalil Greene, SS, St. Louis [4/30]
The above transactions and time wasters (Jason Varitek? Do you know it's not 2002?) ignore the real big news for the Defending Champs: the loss of Manny Ramirez until early July because he's taking pills for menopausal women. As the team has no outfielders on the bench, and the best available healthy OF is either Ryan Spillborghs or Melky Cabrera, it's safe to say there's an opening to catch the leaders. (El Angelo)

You know, you say that, but Melky has been kicking the shit out of the ball. The way that good things tend to happen to this franchise, don't be surprised if Melky C. hits like Miggy C. for the next six weeks, especially with the Thurman Munson Memorial Landing Strip out there in RF at the new stadium. You read it here first. (Teddy)

1 comment:

Corey said...

Thurman Munson Memorial Landing Strip in right field? Does that mean that the Cory Lidle Memorial Foul Pole is in left field?