Monday, March 21, 2011

Transactions Analysis: Post 2011 Draft Edition

With draft number 10 in the books, it's time to take our annual review of the first two rounds. This year we had an odd draft because the keeper lists were...well, odd. A few guys that were +many weren't thrown back, and the group kept a high number of middle infielders and closers. This lead to some picks that look even stranger than usual. Ready to break this down Teddy? (El Angelo)

I guess. Parsing the Round 2 closergasm is going to be a little on the challenging side--if I'm remembering correctly, Jeff Reardon got taken somewhere in the teens, and Manny "Playa" Delcarmen probably got tucked away on someone's bench in the aftermath. (Teddy)

1. Wu Tang Financial (from Rancho Carne Toros): Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia.

It's tough to criticize drafting Howard first and giving up a few trade slots to get him, but I actually don't love Howard--hence, I dealt away the first pick. His OBP has bounced around between .336 and .360 the last three seasons. He's 31 years old. He plays a position with a fair amount of depth. And he has bad platoon splits. So while I don't think he's a stiff, I don't think he's a cornerstone in the least. That said, unless you wanted to go with a starter #1, a tactic that I don't love, he's the most logical pick, meaning that it's something of a Winner's Curse. (El Angelo)
Exactly--at a certain point you just have to rank the guys available and not get too cute. Howard has flaws, but he also knocks in a ton of runs and plays in a ballpark the size of a handicapped toilet stall. Yes he's better if you can find a viable platoon partner for him, and yes his contract is nuts, but he's still the obvious choice. (Teddy)

2. Rancho Carne Toros (from Wu Tang Financial): Justin Upton, OF, Arizona.

If you want to argue he's a reach and that outfield is deep, meaning you don't need to grab one , fine. I just like him a ton--he's 23 years old and is about to tap into a string of 30/30 years, me thinks. (El Angelo)
Hey, that's what we've been saying about his brother for years, and it's never happened. I mean, can you imagine being the 4th diferent guy in the league to get suckered in by his brother's upside? What kind of maroon would do that? Am I right? Amirite?
Anyway, this pick comes down to whether you think CC/Verlander/Haren are legit, notch-above type starters. If so, the shape of this roster coming in pretty much demanded that you take one of that group. I suppose the nice part about going offense is that you can pretty much set and forget your lineup, and focus on juggling SPs all season. The over/under for number of different pitchers to accumulate stats for the Toros is hereby set at 27.5 . (Teddy)
3. The Little Green One: Adam Dunn, 1B, Chicago (AL).

Over a starter? Well yes, if you think aces aren't as valuable as guys who hit 40 home runs. I tend to agree with that theory--if I didn't, I would have taken Verlander at #2. Bonus points because this pick threw Corey into utter chaos at #4. (El Angelo)

These last two picks are tough for me to analyze, because I tend to value and pick SPs a lot higher than most owners in the league do. But somebody has to pitch for these teams, and I think that they will both end up watching the back halves of their rotations through their repsective fingers. That said, credit where it's due--once you see this team's second round pick is pretty evident that there was a plan in place to trade away risk on offense and take on risk at the top of the rotation. Given the volatile nature of SPs, it probably makes more sense to accept risk on that side of the ledger. (Teddy)

4. Chicago Residents: Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit.

A pure percentage play here--the odds were that Utley was going to fall to #6, where the team has its next pick, meaning it can take someone else here. Although the starting staff is pretty strong (Josh Johnson, Marcum, Latos), taking an ace pitcher is too good to pass up, especially when you look at the next batch of position players available. (El Angelo)

To really have a good pitching staff, you need to be strong pretty much top to bottom. Otherwise the two rate categories kill you. That's why it's rarer to see a team try to win pitching-first. In the wake of this pick, these guys at least have a shot at running out five real SPs, so maybe they'll be able to ride their staff. Plus there wasn't really another obvious pick in this spot. Of course, that's probably cold comfort for a team that is now going to run Edwin Encarnacion out there as its Opening Day DH. (Teddy)

5. chad has pretty feet: CC Sabathia, SP, New York (AL).

If you doink Utley because of the injury concerns, this draft went 5-deep in stud players. All Ironhead had to do was take whoever fell to him; lo and behold, he ended up with the second-best pitcher in the AL. That was easy. (El Angelo)

I don't know that C.C. was the ideal target for this team, but he was the no-brainer pick at this point. I also enjoy the fact that the Met fan is running out a bunch of Yankee pitchers. it's OK, though, because at least New Yankee Stadium is a pitchers' park, right? (Teddy)

6. Chicago Residents (from Paging Dr. Rumack): Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia.

Best and easiest pick of the first round. Had Utley been 100% healthy, there was an argument for him going first. Even if he never plays another inning, it's the right play risk/reward. (El Angelo)

Seems like worst case is he plays half a season this year, then turns into a still-valuable 3B next season. Hell, look at who ends up going next--with that in mind it might have been worth drafting Ted Williams' frozen head and waiting for the relentless march of science to pay dividends. (Teddy)

7. Le Dupont Torkies: Geovani Soto, C, Chicago (NL).

And then came the first surprising pick of the draft. I talked to the owner at the time of the draft, and his reasoning:
  • There are no good catchers after Soto.

  • His next pick was in Round 4. His next pick after that was at the end of Round 6. He was not getting another top-shelf position player for a while.

  • Pitchers are fungible and there was no sense in taking someone like Haren, Billingsley, etc. this early.
Together it all makes sense and is defensible, speaking as the guy who once took Kelly Johnson over Joe Mauer...and yet, it seems odd to have Soto as the #7 pick, doesn't it? (El Angelo)

"I talked to the owner at the time of the draft"
OK, Kurkjian. Did he also say that he was coming into camp in the best shape of his life?

Anyway, nobody loves positional scarcity theory more than me--I've taken up-the-middle players with early picks on the flimsiest of excuses. But I have concerns that the Torkies just fell into what I call the Hardy Hole.

I discovered the Hardy Hole a couple of years ago, during the draft where three SS (Reyes, Rollins, and Furcal) went in the first round. I had a hole at SS, and found myself staring at a draft board with the proverbial "one good shortstop left" according to the projection systems.
Not wanting to get caught out at a thin position, I pounced on the remaining SS in the third round, thus assuring myself a year of doubtlessly solid production from . . . what turned out to be the corpse of J.J. Hardy. Positional scarcity matters at the top, but my experience is that it's bad news to buy high into the middle. Soto could end up a top-3 catcher this year and pay this pick off, but it's embracing a lot of risk in a weird place. (Teddy)

8. Jeters Never Prosper: Dan Haren, SP, Anaheim.

Right or wrong, I have Haren in this nether region of below the "ace" level of CC and Verlander but above the "good young starter" tier of the next few guys we're going to see. He actually fits this roster quite well. (El Angelo)

I like Haren better than that, especially in front of what promises to be a ridiculous OF defense in Anaheim this year, and would have been thrilled if he'd fallen the two extra slots to me. Nice pick. Of course, given how the team's final roster (which features a deep rotation even without Haren) shook out, I'm not so sure that the owner wouldn't reach for an OF in this slot if he got a do-over. (Teddy)

9. Rancho Carne Toros: Yovanni Gallardo, SP, Milwaukee.

And with that, I have my first starting pitcher. (El Angelo)

The obvious pick for this team at this point--not a lot to add here. (Teddy)

10. More Fish For Kunta: Chad Billingsley, SP, Los Angeles.

Feel like Teddy's option was going to be take whoever I didn't take between Gallardo and Billingsley. A starter wasn't exactly a need, but what else were his options? Take a perpetually inconsistent outfielder from a last place team? (El Angelo)

My whole draft was made much more difficult because of the uncertainty surrounding whether Neftali Feliz will close or start this year. I ended up guessing that he'd stay in the pen, which meant that I needed one more consistent starter to stretch out my rotation (especially given that Ubaldo and Sanchez are each regression candidates). Thus my cousin Chad. Of course, if I guessed wrong that means that I have neither enough closers nor enough offense as a reult of this pick. So I could be hosed before I even get back in the country in April. (Teddy)

11. Cosmic Douchery: Chris Young, OF, Arizona.

Maybe I'm biased because I've had Young two of the past three seasons, and I probably should give this owner more benefit of the doubt given that he's constantly in the money and proved us wrong with the Scherzer pick last year....but ugh. This guy still doesn't walk enough, has never topped 800 OPS, and needs to hit .270 to not be an anchor in OBP. Yeah, he's hitting his age-27 peak and did go 20/20 last year. But honestly, is he really going to be any better than Curtis Granderson (who went 3 rounds later), especially on a horrible D-Backs team? (El Angelo)

For about five years now, PECOTA has been trying to coax Chris Young between its spreadsheets so it can have his babies. Given his failure to produce, you'd have to figure that both he and PECOTA are getting pretty chafed at this point. You're praying for the Devon White switch to flip and Young to cut his K rate in half or so for no readily apparent reason. If he does that, the speed and power are there. But I think this pick is one for the spreadsheets as much as anything else. (Teddy)

12. The Spam Avengers: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston.

In theory this is a little early to take a guy that's injury prone, played in 18 games last year, and has 20 home runs over his 4-year career. But when you've got a sick keeper list, you can take an early flyer on a guy that, if he stays healthy, is staring down 100 runs and 60 steals. (El Angelo)

The same point made slightly differently: when you're keeper list is both good and deep, you can target specific categories in the draft. With the box marked "Speed" now checked, TSA is free to move on to other things. I don't think Ellsbury is the 12th-best player in this draft pool, but TSA also doesn't need him to be. (Teddy)

13. Wu Tang Financial: Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincy.

This pick sounds better than it is because 2B is such a sinkhole. The fact of the matter is that this guy has never topped a .335 OBP, has seen his steals decrease in 3 straight years, doesn't knock in any runs despite having decent power for a 2B, and is older than I thought (30). I guess he'll stay healthy and be useful at 2B, but weren't there better ideas for a team that needs top-shelf talent more than just filler? (El Angelo)

You know how there are just some guys you dislike from a fantasy perspective? Phillips has been atop my Dislike list for a while. But again, there's no real reason--having a power/speed guy at 2B is a fine thing, regardless of whether his home park props him up. Possible trade bait for one of the many teams with holes at 2B. (Teddy)

14. The Little Green One: Brandon Morrow, SP, Toronto.

Is it possible to "love" using a top 15 pick on a guy with a career line of 18-19, 4.19 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP? Because I do--I think Morrow makes the leap to All-Star status this year. (El Angelo)

And here's the second half of that risk swap I mentioned above. On its face, taking a guy who often walks the ballpark (and has been injured a couple of times during a short career) is madness. But I also like the pick and think Morrow will make the leap this year. I worry a little that our combined love for the "smart" move over the obvious one might be clouding our analysis here, but I still like the pick.

By the way, has any team ever drafted more strikeouts (both for and against) in the first two rounds than TLG1 did this year in taking Morrow and Adam Dunn? Somebody doesn't like contact. (Teddy)

15. Kicked in the Nuts (from Chicago Residents): Clay Buchholz, SP, Boston.

A defensible pick that I don't really like. Buchholz's stats look good on their face, but peel back a layer and I'm concerned. Opponents batted a paltry .273 against him last year, while is K rate dipped below 7 per 9 innings and his home run rate was low enough (.5 per 9 innings) that it strikes me as "fluke." I suppose the regression on the fluke is good enough to make him a #3 starter this year, but I fear that Will has drafted him with the hope he'll be Mike Mussina and is going to end up with Dave Mlicki.

And now for Teddy's retort....(El Angelo)

Based solely on last year's numbers, he is indeed due to regress. However, it's also reasonable to think that he might take a step forward from a true-talent perspective this year. He added a new pitch last year, and it's not nuts to expect that he might be better with it this year than last. This actually seems like about the right spot for him to go. (Teddy)

16. Rancho Carne Toros: Jose Valverde, RP, Detroit.

What we're about to witness is some of the nastiest draft inflation ever recorded, as the league kept a whopping 20 relief pitchers this year, meaning that what was left in the Known Closer Pool was pretty shallow. It also meant that the 6 owners that had 0 or 1 closer had to scramble fast for saves, because we hit the likes of Joel Hanrahan pretty quickly. As a result, we get Jose Valverde in the 2nd round, which itself isn't "early" given this league's predilection for taking closers early, but meant some doozies were about to follow. (El Angelo)

No. No, this is in fact VERY EARLY for Jose Valverde. Anybody want to buy an exurban condo? Or some tulips?

17. chad has pretty feet: Mark Reynolds, 3B, Baltimore.

It's a sensible pick because the drop off to the next-best third baseman was a chasm. But just because the alternatives are cringe-worthy doesn't mean you have to take home someone that's ugly early on. You'd think a guy who went to college across the street from Barnard would know that. (El Angelo)

Reynolds is the poor man's Adam Dunn, which is not without its charms. I think the K's and the power are here to stay--the real question is whether the drop off in his steals (down from 24 in '09 to 7 last year) is permanent, because there's a big value gap between a power/speed player and a Steve Balboni-style wind generator. (Teddy)

18. Chicago Residents (from Paging Dr. Rumack): Huston Street, RP, Colorado.

I was shocked to learn that Huston Street received a 9th place vote for NL MVP in 2009. I was more shocked when I learned that Jeremy Affeldt received a 10th place vote the same year. (El Angelo)

Who came in 11th, Guillermo Mota? Anyway, at least Street plays for what should be a good team. These guys also didn't need any more starters at this point. So of the closergasm picks, I think this one is the most defensible. (Teddy)

19. Wu Tang Financial (from Le Dupont Torkies): Jonathon Broxton, RP, Los Angeles.

This pick only makes sense if you're looking to compete this year, because Broxton looked so bad at the end of 2010, you know that he won't be closing in 2012, and you're making this selection to hope to wring a final 30 saves out of him before his arm falls off and he eats it. I'll defer to Jon's preview whether I think this was a good idea, but if past performance was any indication, I would have instead taken his old favorite B.J. Upton here and taken a flyer on the likes of Jordan Walden later on. (El Angelo)

I'm not sure there's a real reason why Broxton should suck now. For reason known only to him, Joe Torre tried to send Broxton to the same unmarked overusage grave where Scott Proctor is buried. But he's through that, still young, and still struck out a ton of guys last year. He ought to be OK.

Now, I agree that taking any closer in this spot is a little odd if you're focused entirely on future seasons. But Broxton as a top-20 guy does not seem crazy in and of itself. (Teddy)

20. Jeters Never Prosper: Derek Jeter, SS, New York (AL).

The Renaldo Balkman of the 2011 draft. There's really nothing more I can say. (El Angelo)

The good news is that they're putting a statue of Jeter in Yankee Stadium this year. The bad news is that the statue has better range at shortstop than he does. (Teddy)

21. Kicked in the Nuts (via Chicago Residents): Brandon Lyon, RP, Houston.

Our fourth closer taken in 6 picks is ostensibly closing for the last-place Astros while having a career line that shows that he's never had two consecutive good seasons. That's my first problem with the pick. The second is that it's Brandon Lyon in the second round. The third problem is that this wasn't even a desperate need for this team: they already have Heath Bell and Andrew Bailey, and even if Bailey is screwed, then draft Michael Wuertz in the 5th round as a handcuff. The only possible excuse is that there were no good players left. (El Angelo)

Are all the cool kids executing the closer-centric, 1,000 IP pitching gambit this year? Was M*ke just ahead of his time? The mind fairly reels. (Teddy)

22. More Fish for Kunta: B.J. Upton, OF, Tampa.

Well, I guess there was at least 1 good player left. Steal of the round. (El Angelo)

All I see when I look at him is Alfonso Soriano. Given my history with Soriano, that's a pretty terrifying thing. (Teddy)

23. Cosmic Douchery: Frankie Francisco, RP, Toronto.

Google his name, and you get the headline "Francisco has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews." Uh oh. (El Angelo)

Frankie will just peg a chair at Dr. Frank and continue on his merry way. (Teddy)

24. The Spam Avengers: Francisco Cordero, RP, Cincy.

Our sixth and final closer taken this round goes to the guy who is probably the worst reliever in the Reds bullpen, but hey, he's going to get saves because he makes a pissload of money. Because you know they're going to just let a guy they're paying $5 million a year to that throws 103 mph just rot in the seventh inning ad infinitum. (El Angelo)

It's Dusty Baker. He might just. (Teddy)


Alex said...

New Design > Analysis

Corey said...

Three picks and no real criticism about any of them?!? My team is screwed!

Corey said...

Also, thank you for the link to M*ke's team. It explains the build of the team I inherited, and gave me some new appreciation for Angelo's genius... who else could say this about the team that starts Albert Pujols: "The offense is quite good, if lacking the scare factor in any single player." Brilliant!