Saturday, March 17, 2012

Transactions Analysis: 2012 Warmup Edition

It's damn near the most wonderful time of the year. March Madness has kicked off, the thermometer hit 70 in the Greater Gowanus metropolitan area this week, and hundreds of out-of-shape baseball players are huffing through wind sprints and abbreviated stretching sessions in Florida and Arizona. To that embarrassment of riches, let us add one more: the inaugural TA of the 2012 season.

We are no longer the spry rookies we used to be. Where we used to lightly spring out of overstuffed chairs, we now have to haul ourselves steadily skyward while grunting to mask the the sounds of our joints cracking. (When I stand up, my knees make a sound like someone pouring Cheerios into a metal garbage can). So, as with those out-of-shape guys in the Grapefruit League, our primary goal is get our work in without injury and get back into the clubhouse before all of the fried chicken and beer is gone. But in the interval, we'll discuss the complete evisceration of the 2012 draft class in pre-keeper trades. Off we go. (Teddy)

Not only has it been months since we've had an actual TA, it's been ages since we've had a TA where every team had a transaction.  An active pre-keeper trading market was fun to watch; let's see how it shook out.  (El Angelo)

The Spam Avengers
  • Traded Cliff Lee to Paging Dr. Rumack for pick #38
This deal kicked off trading season. In retrospect, it seems like about the right return, especially for a team that can absorb Lee's loss by relying on David Price and Clay Kershaw. A reasonable bit of profit-taking by an owner who was always going to be pretty quiet in the early rounds of the draft this year. (Teddy)

I think my Pedroia deal was actually the first trade, but whatever.  In any event, I agree with my co-author, this was a decent haul for a pitcher that likely wasn't going to get kept.  It's also a positive sign that the juggernaut that Alex assembled over the past two years is being torn apart; they're still probably one of the pre-draft favorites, but hemorrhaging Lee, Ryan Zimmerman and some others certainly helps us all out.  (El Angelo)

Suicide by Jaguar
  • Traded Bret Lawrie, 3B, Toronto and pick #52 to Paging Dr. Rumack for Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City and pick #14
  • Traded pick #36 to Quoth the Jennings for Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee and pick #80
I am so, so thankful that the Mailbox Rule invalidated the other possible trade involving this team, because I haven't the foggiest idea how we would have analyzed it. I think it involved 6 draft picks over two years, a couple of collateralized debt obligations, and the swap of three hairs from the mane of a unicorn for a picture of a smiling Mike D'Antoni.

Anyway, back to the trade that actually happened. It's tough to argue with an OF top-2 of Braun and Matt Holliday. The move to add a 4-slot player cost the team some pitching depth, but the free keep of Shelby Miller in a prospect slot offsets that a little bit. The team has done a good job adding talent, although it's going to be ugly watching them try to fill all three middle IF slots (C, 2B, SS) in this draft. (Teddy)

First: awesome team name.  If you haven't read that obituary, do so now.

As to the trade itself, it's a no-brainer for this team, because the keepers they would have held on to weren't particularly interesting and at worst, Braun will be flippable at the deadline for a pick no worse than the one they gave up here.  Of course, trying to gauge the relative strength of third rounds from year to year is borderline impossible, though that doesn't mean we won't do a pointless column trying to do so in July.  (El Angelo)

Le Dupont Torkies
  • Traded pick #27 to The Moon Colonists for Drew Storen, RP, Washington and picks #79 and 86 
  • Traded Joba Chamberlain, DL, New York (AL) to Jeters Never Prosper for Bruce Chen, SP, Kansas City
Are we being trolled? I think we're being trolled. A preseason trade of future Hoverround owner Joba Chamberlain for future sports bar owner Bruce Chen (try the potstickers!). That's like trading a slap to the nuts for a kick in the shins. (Teddy)

I'm trying to think of a more pointless trade in fantasy history.  Nothing's coming to mind.  Nice swag on Storen, BTW.  (El Angelo)

Jeters Never Prosper
  • Traded Jair Jurrjens, SP, Atlanta and Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Milwaukee to death to the west for Mike Napoli, C, Texas
  • Traded Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas, and picks #58 and 106 to Paging Dr. Rumack for picks #26, 74 and 98
  • Traded Bruce Chen, SP, Kansas City to Le Dupont Torkies for Joba Chamberlain, Tubbo, New York (AL) 
  • Traded pick #98 and Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota to Westish Harpooners for picks #54 and 90
Trolling aside, I think these guys are your big winners of the preseason. Once you cancel out all of the various moves, you see that they essentially got paid for the privilege of improving at catcher. Losing Kinsker hurts, but there wasn't really much to be done on that front. As with TSA, these guys only ended up dumping one starter off of a money-winning team, which is a neat trick.

The Jeter keep? Less so. (Teddy)

It's precisely what we've come to expect from from Jakob--fabulous trade work followed by some erratic actions on the keeper and drafting front.  Snaring Napoli basically for free and adding a 3rd rounder for the right to not keep Kinsler is a great job.  It's a little less clear to me why they kept an ancient shortstop and injured outfielder over Brian Wilson and John Danks, but snaring a top-3 catcher offsets a lot of that silliness.  (El Angelo)

Westish Harpooners
  • Traded pick #44 to Quoth the Jennings for Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado 
  • Traded picks #54 and 90 to Jeters Never Prosper for Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota and pick #98
My post teardown roster was hilariously bad, so I saw no option but to buy some legitimate players. The hope is that those players, plus my 3 Top-20 picks, will yield a competitive team this year. If not, I re-re-flip Tulo to a contender and try again next year with 3 more high picks. (Teddy)

Enough teams that are going to struggle to compete this year are all loading up on +many slot guys that come June, there may be a slew of players available that can radically improve a roster.  It'll be fun to see whether this leads to a buyer's or seller's market at the end of the day.  (El Angelo)

Big Damn Heroes
  • Traded picks #37 and 121 to The Moon Colonists for Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston, Jason Motte, RP, St. Louis and pick #131.
  • Traded pick #71 to Paging Dr. Rumack for Jordan Walden, RP, Anaheim and pick #134
So this team will have Pedroia and (almost assuredly) Hanley up the middle, plus three real closers? I guess the hiatus is over. (Teddy)

Smile a little: they're the only team that didn't keep a first baseman--and there are very few good ones available in the draft--and their only kept starter is Max Scherzer's trick elbow.  This isn't to say that they aren't in fine shape to build a competitor this year, but there's still a lot of work to do in the draft.  (El Angelo)

death to the west
  • Traded Mike Napoli, C, Texas to Jeters Never Prosper for Jair Jurrjens, SP, Atlanta and Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Milwaukee
  • Traded Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Boston, picks #31, 77 and 113 and their first round pick in 2013 to The Moon Colonists for Albert Pujols, 1B, Anaheim (that was odd to write) and Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle
Taken as a whole, I love the Pujols trade unconditionally, just because it's fun. But from d2daw's perspective, it leaves a little to be desired, mostly because of the other moving parts. Why insist on including Dustin Ackley if you don't want to keep him? Just take a pick back instead (or don't give another pick up). In fact, the smalls managed to accumulate three different players they didn't want in these two trades. That is . . . not ideal.

Of course, it might not matter. The team still has a real option at C, and possibly the two best players in fantasy in Pujols and Jose Bautista, plus post-Mets bounce lock Jose Reyes and 5 (!) strong SPs. But I don't see the value in raising the degree of difficulty before the season even starts. (Teddy)

The only real quibble is with the Napoli deal, which was completely pointless.  If you were happy keeping Avila--a perfectly defensible position--at a minimum, you can just let Napoli go back into the pool and have someone waste a first round pick on him.  Or hunted around a bit more, because someone would have given up a top-20 pick for Napoli.  (El Angelo)

The Moon Colonists
  • Traded Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston, Jason Motte, RP, St. Louis and pick #131 to Big Damn Heroes for picks #37 and 121.
  • Traded Drew Storen, RP, Washington and picks #79 and 86 to Le Dupont Torkies for pick #27.
  • Traded Jose Valverde, RP, Detroit to Wu Tang Financial for pick #40.
  • Traded Albert Pujols, 1B, Anaheim and Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle to death to the west for Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Boston, picks #31, 77 and 113 and their first round pick in 2013.
Here's some wisdom for you: it's very difficult to analyze a team with only four players. Additional pro tip: it's even harder when three of those players won't be on the roster by the end of the year. (Teddy)

Don't count me out--I see no reason I can't draft 19 useful players and make a run at it this year.  The pre-draft favorites appear to be someone who has never finished in the money and a guy who voluntarily kept Derek Jeter; I am not exactly scared off by the competition just yet.  (El Angelo)

Wu Tang Financial
  • Traded pick #40 to The Moon Colonists for Jose Valverde, RP, Detroit
I like the trade just fine, given how early closers go in this league. But I just have to note that this franchise is absolutely snakebit--one of their keepers in dying of gangrene after snapping a tendon while making the last out of the World Series, and another just got drilled in the wrist by a pitch. Someone warn Valverde not to go outside during full moons as long as he's on this roster. (Teddy)

If Valverde was available in the draft, he would go in the 13-18 range, so if you discount the one year you can't keep him and the keeper slot lost, this seems like pretty fair value, especially when your other potential keeper was hockey phenom Clayton Richard.  (El Angelo)

Quoth the Jennings
  • Traded Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado to Westish Harpooners for pick #44 
  • Traded Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee and pick #80 to Suicide by Jaguar for pick #36
This is the team I'm most looking forward to following in the draft. They kept the maximum number of keepers, and have at least one and maybe two playable prospects. As a result, they have nominal starters at just about every position. That should make their orgy of second round picks almost completely unpredictable. Hell, there's a chance they just take the Blue Jays' entire Opening Day roster for giggles. (Teddy)

They tried this strategy two years ago and it didn't pan out particularly well, despite drafting McCann and Heyward early on.  But I applaud the stubbornness, just on general principle.  (El Angelo)

Paging Dr. Rumack
  • Traded Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City and pick #14 to Suicide by Jaguar for Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto and pick #52
  • Traded Jordan Walden, RP, Anaheim and pick #134 to Big Damn Heroes for pick #71
  • Traded picks #26, 74 and 98 to Jeters Never Prosper for Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas, and picks #58 and 106

Along with JNP, this is one of the few teams to have both bought and sold during the pre-keeper period. The result is a really, really volatile set of keepers. Posey/Lawrie/Bruce/Jennings are all young and all have flashed glints of great things. But none of them has done it for a full year (not even Posey, who didn't get called up until partway through the season in 2010). With a shallower but more stable pair of SPs, it will be interesting to see whether these guys use their first pick to add depth at pitcher, or cover for their risky youngsters in the field. (Teddy)
 This is the most fun keeper list that we have, because as my co-author noted, it's a high variance with a lot of fun young players.  The only real criticism I have is the Hosmer-Lawrie trade; while I have no issue with swapping young players, the pick differential seemed off to me.  I have no clue which of those players is better to keep, and will guess that nobody else does either; paying a premium for Lawrie just seemed odd to me.  But otherwise, nice job.  (El Angelo

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