Monday, June 14, 2010

Transactions Analysis: The League Is Flat Edition

It's June 13, we've had 9 weeks of real and fantasy baseball, and the league has never been flatter. Our league leader has a whopping 78 points, which is fewer than the 5th place team finished with last year. Usually by this point in the year, the league has separated into Contenders, Pretenders, and Schmucks Stuck In the Middle.

Instead, we we appear to have 5 groups:

Definite Contenders: Scot, Teddy, Will, Alex
Probable Contenders: Andrew, Corey
Possible Contenders: Angelo, Jake
Neither Contending Nor Out of It: Tucker, Sahil
A Member of the Elders Family: Andy, Jon

With last week's trade, the first domino fell towards a contender making a run at the title and a team officially calling it a year. Did any of the last fortnight's transactions equally help one of the other 9 potential contenders? Let's have a look-see. (El Angelo)

It’s gratifying to see that our previews—which predicted that just about every team would be more or less ‘enh’—have been borne out by events. Surely, though, some of these bottom teams are going to start cashing in chips soon. (Teddy)

The Little Green One

Signed: Trevor Cahill (SP, OAK); Clayton Richard (SP, SD); Chris Tillman (SP, Bal); Scott Downs (RP, Tor); Alexei Ramirez (SS, CHW)

Waived: JJ Putz (RP, CHW); Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP, Bos); Gavin Floyd (SP, CHW); Downs

Traded Away: Chase Utley (2B, Phi) and Elvis Andrus (SS, Tex) to The Revenge Society

Received in Trade: Justin Smoak (1B, Tex); Stephen Strasburg (SP, Was) and The Revenge Society's 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft

There's no way to say the deal is anything but a slam dunk for the Commish's squad, so long as you agree that his team is done for this year. He traded the 37th pick in this year's draft for Chase Utley, and converted him and a waiver wire pickup to the 32nd-36th pick of next year's draft, which in and of itself is okay. To then get Super Strasburg and Justin Smoak, who I'm particularly high on, as a tax for getting Utley and Andrus is just a coup. Utley was doing nothing for this team next year, and while many are going to argue that Andrus is a burgeoning star, I see him as the 4th best player in the deal. When you're dumping, the best you can hope for is useful picks and players for the next year, and he's done it as well as can be hoped. Well played, Commish.

In other news, I also really like the pick up of Cahill, who I'm a little surprised wasn't just wiling away on someone's bench. The guy had a bad April, but he's a pretty good pitcher. (El Angelo)

Agreed on the trade. Smoak has been the unluckiest SOB in baseball this year, batting.213 despite hitting line drives in more than 25% of his ABs. Monstrousness remains on the horizon. Strasburg, well, he’s a nice guy to have for three years as well. TLG1 were helped by the fact that they had the single best player likely to be moved this year, which let them command a premium. I suspect this might actually have the effect of cooling off the trade market for a while, as the sellers fruitlessly try to replicate this haul for less elite guys. (Teddy)

The Spam Avengers

Signed: Luke Scott (1B/OF, BAL); Angel Pagan (OF, NYM)

Waived: Andrus Jones (Tubby OF, CHW)

Losing Grady Sizemore for the year and Travis Snider probably until the ASB has this team scrambling for outfielders, and they've landed on a second Oriole to join Nick Markakis and the feisty Pagan. The problem short term is that both of these players are on teams that don't score any runs--Scott has 10 dingers and a whopping 22 RBI's. Pagan's a bigger long-term problem because when Carlos Beltran returns he'll be glued back to the bench given Jerry Manuel's ongoing fascination with Jeff Francoeur, a.k.a., The Human Out Machine. I'd criticize them more for pickups that aren't particularly inspired, but the pool of available outfielders is amazingly poor; the top players available include Juan Rivera, who can't get on base, Austin Kearns, who's an older Luke Scott, and...Jeff Francoeur. Blech. (El Angelo)

Yeah, OF gets shallow in a hurry this year, though TSA has the luxury of being able to shop for OFs who have specific skills, because the rest of his roster is good enough to handle it. BTW, we’re (kind of ) tracking weekly standings in the league this year, and the graph of this team’s season looks like one of Google’s stock price circa 2004. So something must be going right. (Teddy)

The Revenge Society

Signed: Chris Snyder (C, ARI); Mike Aviles (2B, KC); Brendan Ryan (SS, StL); Erick Aybar (SS, Ana)

Claimed off waivers: Troy Glaus (1B, Atl)

Called up from the prospect list: Justin Smoak (1B, Tex); Stephen Strasburg (SP, Wash)

Waived: Chris Young (SP, SD); Snyder; Aviles; Ryan; Kosuke Fukudome (OF, ChC); Aaron Heilman (RP, Fighting Irish)

Traded away: Smoak, Strasburg and their 3rd round pick in the 2001 draft to The Little Green One

Received in trade: Chase Utley (2B, Phi) and Elvis Andrus (SS, Tex)

So the 2005 champs upgrade from the disappointing Ian Stewart and hapless Mike Aviles to Utley and Andrus at the cost of a 3rd rounder and two of the best young players in baseball. Is is worth it? I say yes. Flags fly forever, and this year's is ripe for the taking with some work: the team's next to last in runs and middle of the pack in the power categories, and these two players could add 4-10 points to the team's bottom line. Strasburg had no use for this year--the team already's in first place in wins and K's--and Smoak is no guarantee to be any better than the just picked up Troy Glaus this year.

The question really is whether or not this was the best return a team could get for Strasburg and Smoak and a third rounder. It's nice that they solved their entire middle infielder in one fell swoop, but it goes without saying that 10 other owners would have been interested in Strasburg. (I certainly would have.) I admire Scot's stance that he takes on all negotiations honorably and not to drive up the price of players--and my experience with him has been just that--but if this doesn't pan out to a second title, it'll definitely be a deal the league talks about for a while as the Elders Steal. (El Angelo)

Yeah the trade fits the shape of the team fantastically well—no argument there. The quibbles center more on whether he could have gotten these players for less, which I guess in turn depends on where you think these guys would have been taken next year. I think Strasburg (if healthy) would go in the first round, meaning the team functionally traded a 1 and a 3 for Utley. At the very least, I doubt we’ll see anybody else command that sort of ransom. (Teddy)

Le Dupont Torkies

Signed: Anibal Sanchez (SP, FLA); David Freese (3B, STL); Adrian Beltre (3B, Boston); Edwin Encarnacion (3B, Tor); John Jaso (C, TB); George Sherrill (RP, LA)

Waived: Andy LaRoche (3B, PIT); Chris Volstad (SP, Fla); Aaron Harang (SP, Cin); Encarnacion

It's third baseman audition time! So come on down...David Freese? Welcome to the show...The Even Worse LaRoche Brother (Andy)? What do you have to show us today....Edwin Encarnacion? The wheel appears to have stopped on defensive stalwart Adrian Beltre for the time being, presumably in an effort to help Sherrill and lower the team's ERA. (El Angelo)

3B is a terrible position to get caught short at right now, because there are 4-5 elite guys and then a mass of suck. About all you can hope for is to tread water. Down where the Torkies are at right now, that's not going to cut it.

In other news, I like the John Jaso pickup, as he’s providing sneaky value at another thin position. (Teddy)

Jeters Never Prosper

Signed: Asdrubal Cabrera (SS, Cle); Andres Torres (OF, SF)

Waived: Mike Cameron (OF, Bos); Franklin Morales (SP, Col)

Cabrera is a pure DL stash; Morales has morphed into a LOOGY despite being a decent pitcher, and Cameron has a lower SLG than OBP. That leaves Andres Torres as the only player of note in this quartet, and he's mildly intriguing because he's sporting a .393 OBP for the year with a few steals. It's a perfectly reasonable approach to take for your last outfield slot, because he won't help you in the power stats, but he'll give you a small boost in the rate and steals category, which is useful in theory. Of course, the fact that this team has a total of 11 points in the three power categories means they probably need the poor man's Rob Deer more than they need the Puerto Rican Ichiro. (El Angelo)

The fear with Torres is that he’s already shown you everything he has at this point. He doesn’t have much in the way of power, and you’d have to assume that pitchers will just start pounding the zone against him. Of course, that assumes that anyone in the National League is alive and paying attention, which is questionable at best. (Teddy)

Wu Tang Financial

Signed: Livan Hernandez (Four-Sigma Event, WAS); Jamie Moyer (SP, Phi)
Waived: Derek Lowe Face (SP, Atl)

Let's tip our cap to a transaction line that can involve three pitchers that are a combined 119 years old, have thrown a total of 9,013 innings in Major League Baseball, and have faced a total of 38,511 batters. In other news, this team is in dead last. I decided to try to figure out what would have been the best year to have these three players on your fantasy roster, because it's clear the answer isn't 2010. The answer appears to be 2002, where the troika put up these stats:

  • Jamie Moyer (with Seattle Mariners): 13-8, 3.32 ERA, 147 K's, 1.08 WHIP
  • Livan Hernandez (with San Fran Giants): 12-16, 4.38 ERA, 134 K's, 1.41 WHIP
  • Derek Lowe (with Boston Red Sox): 21-8, 2.58 ERA, 127 K's, 0.97 WHIP
The alternative is 1988:

  • Jamie Moyer (with Chicago Cubs): 9-15, 3.48 ERA, 121 K's, 1.32 WHIP
  • Livan Hernandez (with Villa Clara Payasos): 29-18, 2.13 ERA, 572 IP, 439 K's, 1.01 WHIP
  • Derek Lowe (with Edsel Ford High School Thunderbirds): 10-1, 0.85 ERA, 97 K's, 0.45 WHIP

I go with 2002. (El Angelo)

There is no other reasonable interpretation of that transaction line: WTF are in go-for-it-now mode. To us, that’s pushing the “league is flat” meme to its absolute screaming breaking point, because it’s tough to see where the necessary 35 points and 11 passes are going to come from. But, hey, it don't cost nothing to try. Except maybe the chance to get a top prospect for Troy Tulowitski. (Teddy)


Signed: Will Venable (OF, SD); Cla Meridith (RP, Bal); Reid Brignac (SS, TB); Jason Motte (RP, StL); Derek Lowe Face (SP, Atl)

Waived: Mitch Talbot (P, CLE); Meridith

Well, we've dealt enough with Lowe Face so let's move on to better things. I like Reid Brignac a lot as a placeholder until Jason Bartlett comes back, and Motte's an interesting sleeper play for when Ryan Franklin reverts to sucking. I'm actually a little surprised this team isn't well in the lead by now--they boast good players at most positions and are pretty well-rounded. Which is impressive considering the owner only had 1 pick in the first 4 rounds and got kicked in the balls on draft night. (El Angelo)

I got kicked in the balls by Alfonso Soriano at the ’09 draft, though more in a figurative sense than a literal one. (Teddy)

Gowanus Superfunders

Signed: Felipe Lopez (MI, STL); John Axford (RP, MIL); Jeff Francis (SP, Col); Jose Turbo Lopez (1B, Sea); Daric Barton (1B, Oak); Jose Tabata (OF, Pit)

Waived: Ryan Theriot (MI, CHC); Dan Wheeler (RP, TB); Tom Gorzellany (SP, Pit); Hong-Chi Kuo (RP, LA); Felipe Lopez (SS, StL); Albert Callaspo (2B, KC)

I'm trying to glean a pattern here from my worthy co-author's moves, but it's a bit tough to read. Francis is a fine pickup as a sleeper and John Axford is in the scrum for the Milwaukee bullpen. But a flyer on Jose Tabata when you're near the front? Turbo Lopez when you already have 3 perfectly fine infielders? Felipe Lopez at all? I'm puzzled. (El Angelo)

Well, I think that depends a fair amount on how one defines “perfectly fine”. I’m still platooning away madly in the MI, and Turbo has shown signs of life over the past week or so. Tabata is here for two reasons: SBs now (he had 25 in the minors and 2 already in the bigs) and trade value later. My roster was light on guys I could plausibly trade in a now-for-later swap, so a free pickup of the former top prospect in the Yankees system was too good to pass up. (Teddy)

Suck It, Silver

Signed: Will Ohman (RP, Bal)

We're not saying it's time to panic, but this was the consensus favorite for the year and they haven't sniffed the top since mid-April. Their middle infield (Hill and Escobar) have been disappointing, but the rest of their roster has produced up to snuff. So their remedy is Will Ohman? I understand that staying on plan may be prudent, but this is yet another quiet transaction week for a team that can't be happy with the results so far. (El Angelo)

At this point the team's problem is less its underperformance than the fact that they’re faced with a whole bunch of teams to climb over in order to get to the top. With reasonable trades hard to come by and a bunch of players who are too good to bench, this might be all he can do. (Teddy)

pastywhite tyrones

Signed: Corey Hart (OF, MIL); Sean Marshall (RP, ChC)

Waived: Asdrubal Cabrera (DL, CLE); Clay Hensley (RP, Fla)

True fact: the Mets turned down the trade of John Maine for Corey Hart this offseason. Reason #84 why Omar sucks. (El Angelo)

I’d have to imagine that Hart is being frantically marketed right now, because this sure looks like the top of the market. (Teddy)

The Situation Room

Signed: Francisco Cervelli (Really?, NYY); Jason Frasor (RP, TOR); Drew Stubbs (OF, CIN); Troy Glaus (1B, Atl); Armando Gallaraga (SP, Det); Brandon League (RP, Sea)

Waived: Erick Aybar (IF, LAA); Gaby Sanchez (1B, FLA); Cervelli; Scott Linebrink (RP, CHW); Matt Guerrier (RP, Min); Frasor; Glaus

Called Up From Prospect List: Drew Storen (RP, Was)

All the mess netted me a guy who threw a perfect game and the might be promising Drew Stubbs. Even I have one thing to say: yawn. (El Angelo)

I like Stubbs very much. But, yeah. Yawn. (Teddy)

Enrico Palazzo

Signed: Carlos Villanueva (RP, MIL); Ryan Theriot (MI, CHC); Brad Lincoln (RP, Pit)

Waived: JP Howell (DL, TB); Bengay Molina (C, SF); Dick Harden (SP, Tex); Sergio Santos (RP, CHW)

Called Up From Prospect List: Buster Posey (C, SF)

It's almost sad that we've seen Dick Harden go from promising prospect to disappointing starter to ace to injured mess to trade deadline fodder to utter garbage. Pour some out for ol' Dicky. (El Angelo)

Posey & Lincoln are nice building blocks, though the transaction that stands out the most is the waiving of JP Howell. Maybe it’s just a really old transaction, but I really enjoy the fact that someone might have been carrying him as a mascot for a month. (Teddy)

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