Thursday, April 14, 2011

Transactions Analysis: 2011 Tax Day Edition

Glory, glory, hallelujah, it's time once again for the mixed blessings of Tax Day! Sure, Tax Day carries with it some downsides, notably the horror of participating in a mandatory nationwide jail-enforced arithmetic exam. But there are also benefits, such as helping enable the existence of a pluralistic democratic society, and of course witnessing the return of of the GRBG's signature Transaction Analyses.

Before we go too much farther, we have to pause and note the recently announced departure of Baseball Prospectus's resident transaction guru Christina Kahrl, whose TA column inspired our own TA feature, and thus indirectly this blog. Many thanks, Ms. Kahrl, and here's hoping one of these TAs finds its way into your email some day and makes you smile. Ang, any further wisdom before we kickoff? (Teddy)

I learned that our taxes aren't actually due until Monday the 18th this year thanks to something called Emancipation Day, where in DC, they celebrate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by giving all government employees the day off. Usually, it's on the 16th, but because that's a Saturday, it's pushed back to the 15th, which pushes Tax Day to the 18th. I absolutely love this--an area that isn't a state and contributes about 0.2% of the national tax base is solely responsible for giving everyone three days extra to do their 1040s to celebrate a document that didn't free a single slave.

Taking off my Eric Foner hat for a minute, I join Teddy in celebrating the work of Ms. Kahrl who was the inspiration for this column, much of what I read about baseball, and my general ineptitude in this league. I would like to think that we're carrying that torch for her as she leaves for greener pastures, but know we have about 450,000 words, 12 comparisons to Terry Leach and 139 references to the Boer War to make before we've even caught up. By then, maybe Andy will have cashed a check in the league. (El Angelo)

The Little Green One

Signed: Chase “Gossip Girl Pseudonym” Headley (3B, SD); Coco Crisp (OF, OAK); Alex “Flash in the Pan” Gordon (3B/OF, KC); Alexi Ogando (P, TEX); Undrafted AJ Burnett (SP, NYY); Takashi Saito (DL, MIL); Jason Motte (RP, STL); Headley again; Alfonso Soriano (OF, CHC)

Waived: Smooth Dexter Fowler; Headley; Ogando (ouch); Saito; Motte

A sign that your team’s season has gotten off to a rocky start? On two separate occasions you have looked over your team's roster and determined that Chase Headley would improve it. The back half of the third base market really is a pile of suck this year (as amply demonstrated by my current Chiblo Sandovones platoon), but TLG1 is putting a lot of stock in failed 3B prospects here. Of course, Alex Gordon has been on fire, so maybe he's on to something. I don't like the change of speedster OFs from Smooth Dexter to Coco Crisp, though--betting on anything resembling good health from Coco is just shy of madness, whereas Dexter has room to improve. (Teddy)

That this team is in the middle of the pack despite getting 23 at bats from Matt Holliday, Evan Longoria, Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales is borderline miraculous. The Longoria hit is really the double whammy because, as Teddy notes, the alternatives available at the hot corner are fairly putrid. They have roughly the same problem on the pitching side of the ledger, where injuries to Brandon Morrow (gee, that was impossible to see coming) and Greinke have forced them into a corner or drunken stupor where AJ Burnett became a plausible option. I'll give them a pass on the 3B machination because they have to at least try to field a team in April, but the Burnett signing strikes me as madness. You have an innings cap. Save them on pitchers who will help you, or at worst, won't hurt you. Three middle relievers would be better than Burnett. (El Angelo)

Rancho Carne Toros

Signed: Chris Tillman (SP, BAL); Derek Holland (SP, TEX); Bud Norris (SP, HOU)

Called up from Prospect List: Zack Britton (SP, BAL)

Waived: Yonder Alonso (1B, AAA); Jeremy Guthrie (SP, BAL); Nick Masset (RP, CIN)

Is that really 3/5 of the Baltimore staring rotation you've churned through? I don't think we've had that many Oriole pitching moves in a single TA since the era when Daniel Cabrera would routinely challenge for the Pewter Parachute. But leaving that oddity aside, there are actually a number of nice young inbound arms in this transactions line. I think all are probably more valuable in real life--Derek Holland and Bud Norris pitch in lousy home parks, especially once the weather warms up, and the Balmer guys will face tougher comp assuming TB and BOS haven't really both died--but it's not a bad strategy to start with talent.

Also, what the shit is a Nick Masset? (Teddy)

A Reds reliever. During the draft, I rationalized that CoCo Cordero was not a good bet to stay healthy and in the closer's role all year and was ripe for replacement. Perhaps because of the half a case of beer I had already consumed, I forgot about the presence of one Aroldis Chapman.

I explained this on the site, but Matusz's injury forced my hand on Zach Britton--I had hoped to stash him until 2012, but it's clear that he's going to blow through the 30 inning mark before Arbor Day. May as well have him on the roster. Also, I acknowledge Teddy's point about Norris and Holland pitching in shitty parks, but that's why we play matchups. After all, they do play in the same divisions as the Pirates and Mariners. (El Angelo)

The Spam Avengers

Signed: Michael Pineda (Oops, Prospect List); Bronson Arroyo (SP, CIN); Octavio Dotel (RP, TOR): JP Howell (P, TB); Dick Harden (SP, DL); Matt Belisle (RP, COL); Wilton Lopez (RP, HOU); Matt LaPorta (1B, CLE); Jeff Francis (SP, KC)

Assigned as a Penalty Anchor: Alberto Albuquerque (Name of the Year nominee, ARZ)

Waived: Pineda, Albuquerque (sadly); Belisle; Manny Ramirez (DH, TB)

First, two random notes. One, this team has had this name for so long that a Google search for The Spam Avengers turns up the GRBG as the first result. We are some old muthafuckas. Two, this team's very first pickup this year was on somebody else's prospect list, which sets a record of futility that literally can never be broken. Cheers.

Anyway, TSA had the fewest transactions in the league last year, so it's interesting to see him poking around the discount bin this early despite his comfortable lead. I can't that any of the inbound moves really excite me (with the exception of Wilton Lopez, who is a decent bit of Brandon Lyon insurance). But the outbound line is an all-time classic--let's go through it again, this time appending the reasons for the cuts:

Michael Pineda:.......... Illegal pickup;
Alberto Albuquerque: Consequence of illegal pickup;
Matt Belisle: ................Non-closer reliever who pitches in Coors Field; and
Manny Ramirez: ..........Retired inept drug user.

I think the only reason for a cut that beat "Retired inept drug user" was "Has just died," which was why the commish cut Darryl Kile back in the day. As a set, though, that might be the new clubhouse leader. (Teddy)

When did Ugeth Urbina get arrested for attacking a bunch of Venezuelans with machetes and Molotov cocktails? Because if it was during the year and he was arrested and cut for that reason, it would probably top the Kile/Hancock death cuts. But yes, that is quite a set of reasons for cuts. I can't say I understand why a team that actually has three aces on its roster plus a decent 4th starter in Jorge de la Rosa is wasting time with the likes of Jeff Francis and Dick Harden. If any of those guys go down for the long haul and you want to contend, you're going to have to make a trade, not win the league on Francis' guile and talent. (El Angelo)

hosni mubarak has pretty feet

Signed: Ryan “Alyson” Hannigan (Flutist, Sunnydale); Princeton Chris Young (SP, NYM); Ben Francisco (OF, PHI); Wee Willie Bloomquist (IF, ARZ); Sam Fuld (OF, TB)

Waived: Luke Gregerson (RP, SD); Vernon Wells (OF, LAA); Andres Torres (OF, SF); Asdrubal Cabrera (SS, CLE); Hannigan.

The owner's Met fetish pays off, as he reels in the pitching Chris Young, who appears ready to wrest the title of "The Good Chris Young" back from his outfielding Arizona namesake. Ben Francsico and Sam Fuld are also on hand to complete the owner's set of all players featured on the splash page for Yahoo! Fantasy Sports since the start of the season; we assume that Chris Davis will soon be en route to keep the streak alive. (Teddy)

I'm thoroughly enjoying the fact that this team is trying the antithesis of the Farman Strategy--it's loading up on hitters and running out a barebones staff with the hope that CC's fat ass will carry them home. Young actually may be a decent pickup for the year in Shitifield, as his flyballs have warning track power written all over them in that ballpark. I would bench him every time he left the friendly confines of Flushing and you can't expect any run support from a team that's giving Willie Harris a major role, but it's a nice little snag. (El Angelo)

Chicago Residents

Signed: Michael Morse (1B/OF, WAS); Brandon Beachy (SP, ATL); Jim Thome (Strapping Lad, MIN); Carlos Ruiz (C, PHI); Chris Narveson (P, MIL); Michael Wuertz (RP, OAK); Esmil Rogers (SP, COL).

Waived: Edwin Encarnacion (3B, TOR); Clay Hensley (P, FLA); Thome; Ruiz

To riff off the joke made by the feet owner during the draft, I'm sure that Clay Hensley is drowning his sorrow at being waived in somewhere between 2 and 3 feet of Southwestern Bacon Ranch subs at the moment. Other than that, all we see with this transaction line is a team that is concerned about its power numbers but OK with its existing speed. Michael Morse, Jim Thome, and Carlos Ruiz can all bomb it, but if they started 100-yard dash right before a game started, it wouldn't end until the seventh inning stretch.

Also, you can tell that this owner is serious this year, because he cut a Blue Jay and didn't sign a replacement. (Teddy)

In fairness, it's probably not hard to convince this owner to cut E5--I don't think anyone in Canada likes him either. This team is currently employing the curious strategy of punting the DH slot, which works in the AL Central but doesn't seem appropriate for fantasy sports. Their three options are a guy in the minors (Desmond Jennings), a guy who should be in the minors (Justin Smoak) and a guy in the ICU (Chase Utley). Feel like an addition of any hitter with a pulse would go a long way towards a push for contention. Given that they're stockpiling pitchers, methinks a trade proposal or 7 is imminent. (El Angelo)

More Fish for Kunta

Signed: Sergio Romo (RP, SF); Aaron Harang (SP, SD); Jon Garland (SP, LA); Reid Brignac (MI, TB); Dexter Fowler (OF, COL)

Waived: John Lannan (SP, WAS); Marco Scutaro (MI, BOS); Romo.

My starting pitching has been supernaturally awful, while my offense (which I thought would be based around speed and runs), has been near the top of the league in HR and RBI. So I basically have no idea what's going on. I honestly don't like a couple of the guys I signed, but I disliked the guys I cut more, so I guess I had a net gain for the TA period. (Teddy)

Is cutting Scutaro a move to try to light a fire under the Red Sox' ass? Because it does not appear to be working. The player that you picked up that I like the most is Fowler, and problematically, the last thing on God's green earth that you need is another toolsy outfielder. It also means that you're starting 4 Rockies at once, and more when Jimenez returns to pitching. Is that a record for an owner? (El Angelo)

Kicked in the Nuts

Signed: Clay Hensley (RP, FLA); Jeremy Guthrie (SP, BAL); Alexi Ogando (P, TEX )

Waived: JA Happ (P, HOU); Ogando (before later re-signing him)

So for those keeping score at home, this team cut Alexi Ogando, and the commish signed him. However, the commish then re-cut him, whrepon he ended up back here in Jimmyland in time to throw 13 scoreless innings with a WHIP of 0.53. It's a game of skill, folks. (Teddy)

I did not think that Alexi Ogando would be the early leader in the Pewter Parachute Award. Suffice to say that I think his transaction line of 3 will stay the same hereon out, unless he pulls a Tony Saunders. (El Angelo)

Paging Dr. Rumack

Signed: Kyle McClellan (SP, CLE)

Still a great team name, but signing one pitcher off a mediocre team is not the way to get your name in lights in a TA. (Teddy)

Kyle McClellan is from Florissant, Missouri, home of luminaries such as Cedric the Entertainer, Kimora Lee Simmons, Dick Weber and Neil Rackers. According to its Wikipedia page, it's also the home of two bible colleges, an extension campus, and the Missouri School of Barbering. My point is that if this pitching for Dave Duncan doesn't work out, there are plenty of other options for McClellan back home. (El Angelo)

Wu Tang Financial

Signed: Mike Aviles (IF, KC); Mike Adams (RP, SD); Jon Niese (P, NYM); Daric Barton (1B, OAK); Sean Marshall (SP, CHC); Dallas Braden (SP, OAK); Asdrubal Cabrera (SS,CLE)

Waived: Alfonso Soriano (OF, CHC); Joe Blanton (SP, PHI); Aviles

OK, so I get the theory. Alfonso Soriano and Shoeless Joe Blanton aren't going to move the needle on this team this year, so why not dump them and try to get younger. My only problem with the execution is that these are pretty low-upside youngsters--there's a punchless 1B, a Met, and a high-effort low-stuff SP. Not sure that will actually help long-term. Maybe controversially, I think the exception could be Asdrubal Cabrera, who was effective a couple of years ago before spending most of last year hurt. After all, it's not like SS is all that deep at the moment.

In any event, the real boon for this team is the incredibly muddled break from the gate in the league--as I write this, 75.5 points would get you into second place, and there are probably 10 teams who think they can scrape together that many. Could be a sellers' market come June. (Teddy)

I don't mind the Braden pickup, who strikes me as the type of pitcher with mediocre stuff who will perpetually win about 13 games a year. You know, kinda like Joe Blanton. (El Angelo)

Le Dupont Torkies

Signed: Scott Downs (RP, LAA); Joel Zumaya (Mascot, Dr. James Andrews); Brett Wallace (1B, HOU); Kerry Wood (RP, CHC); Logan Morrison (OF, FLA); Travis Hafner (DH, CLE)

Waived: Nate McLouth (OF, ATL); Zumaya; Wallace; Wood

What to make of Travis Hafner? He's swinging like it's 2005; unless he visited Manny's doctor before the season, I can't figure it out. He's obviously a short-term play, but for a team that has squeezed some acceptable post-peak DH seasons out of David Ortiz, the prospect of another particularly bouncy dead cat in the UTIL slot must be intriguing.

Logan Morrison is the more interesting guy going forward. He found a little pop early, and has been getting on at a .400 clip since T-ball; his downside looks like Daric Barton with OF eligibility, which is more playable than you'd think. (Teddy)

I'm more than a little bit surprised that Morrison wasn't on somebody's roster; he stinks of Post Hype Sleeper, and this group is pretty good at taking stabs on those guys at the end of the draft (e.g., Travis Snider). I still don't see a winning roster here, but pickups like Morrison will give this team a fighting chance to be competitive this year. (El Angelo)

Jeters Never Prosper

Signed: Grant Balfour (RP, OAK); Javi Lopez (RP, SF); Craig Breslow (P, OAK); RA Dickey (SP, NYM); Angel Sanchez (MI, HOU)

Waived: Breslow; Lopez

Is it possible for something to be extremely mediocre? If so, this is extremely mediocre. (Teddy)

Has a knuckleballer ever been a good fantasy pickup? I feel like Wakefield's best years were before we started this league, but would he have been useful even then? Knucklers don't strike out a ton of guys and are prone to the 2 IP 8 ER start now and then. (El Angelo)

Cosmic Douchery

Signed: Octavio Dotel (RP, TOR); Carl Pavano (SP, MIN); Jose Contreras (RP, PHI); Dice-K (P-ish, BOS); Ryan Theriot (MI, STL); Scott Baker (SP, MIN); Placido Polanco (2B/3B, PHI); Matt Harrison (SP, TEX); David Murphy (OF, TEX)

Waived: Chris Young (P, NYM); Rick Porcello (SP, DET); Tsuyoshi Nishioka (MI, MIN); Dice-K (racist much?); Polanco (before later re-signing)

I hope for your sake that Dice-K has been safely on your bench. He's the biggest disaster to come out of Japan since ...

Kaz Matsui. What, you thought I was going somewhere different with that? (Teddy)

I did. Kaz Matsui's anal fissure, actually. (El Angelo)

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