Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Transactions Analysis: March Madness Edition

We here at the GRBG have a fair bit of fun denigrating the quality of, say, late-August waiver trolling by the league. And while it's true that the dog days don't really lend themselves to pithy analysis, it's actually the pre-keeper trade season that is the saddest, because it's based on the dawning realization of everyone involved that the draft is going to suck.

Teams with picks and no keepers use that realization to on-board borderline keepable assets just so that they don't have to rely on the draft; teams with too many keepers and no picks try frantically to haul themselves far enough up the draft board to avoid the continental shelf falloff between the few real studs in the draft and the mass of interchangeable guys in what one owner has dubbed the "Kuroda Zone."  The result is often a sort of Yankee Swap, with one guy walking away with the one decent bottle of scotch, and everyone else looking dubiously at their brand-new keychains. Still, we owe you all an analysis of those keychains, so here goes. [Teddy]

I personally welcome this advent because there are a whole bunch of new strategies being employed this year.  We have multiple owners keeping more than 10 guys, and multiple guys keeping 5 or fewer.  The new system for setting the draft order has something to do with this I think -- boom or bust is no longer a great idea when finishing in 10th doesn't get you a top-4 pick.  Anyway, let's see how everyone devolved into the draft.  [El Angelo]

Wu Tang Financial
  • Traded the 7th pick in the draft to Corey Loves Dickey for Albert Pujols, 1B, Anaheim (3 slots) and the 165th pick in the draft [3/8]
You have to weigh three different data points when evaluating pre-keeper trades for high-slot guys: (1) How good is the player coming in?; (2) How good is the pick going out?; and (3) Who would the owner have used these keeper slots on if he hadn't made the trade?

Two of those three are pretty obvious and pretty balanced here; WTF got a really nice player (I still believe in Pujols) and gave up a really nice pick. So how you feel about this trade really comes down to how you feel about Aroldis Chapman, who went from a likely keep at 2 slots to a cap casualty. Oddly, at the time the trade was made/keepers were announced, I thought WTF might have sold Chapman a little short, and that he might have been better keeping Chapman and the pick and hoping Adrian Gonzalez was around at #7. But now that Chapman is making noises about wanting to go back to the pen, it looks like WTF might have done the right thing by accident. 

Which might just be further evidence of the general futility of analyzing these moves. But it's just too early in the year to go down our typical late-season existentialist rabbit hole, so we will soldier on. [Teddy]

Of the 36 players taken in the first round over the last three years, 27 were kept in the subsequent year, i.e., 9 on average.  So I'll also expand the question to whether WTF also got in return a commodity that's going to be kept in 2014.  Presumably yes; Pujols will be 4-slots, but I also think he's going to be one of the top-20 players in the game, making him worth the price.  The suspects that are going to be available at the 7-slot in the draft are far below his level of production, so while they'll have cheaper status for the next two years, talent-wise, I think it's a very good deal for this squad.  (El Angelo)

Ancient Alien Attack
  • Traded the 25th pick in the draft to Paging Dr. Rumack for Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia (4 slots) and the 70th pick in the draft
  • Traded Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh (Prospect) to The Braun Advantage for Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit (4 slots)
  • Traded Victor Martinez, C, Detroit (1 slot), and the 97th and 157th picks in the draft to Le Dupont Torkies for the 54th and 78th picks in the draft.
  • Traded a TBD high first-round pick and a 10 to Jeters Never Prosper for Matt Moore, a 5, and a 7.
This is usually where I bury Angelo, but I actually love Max Scherzer this year, and Cliff Lee, while expensive, displaced exactly nobody AAA would ever want to keep. The only downside for this team is that all of the other trades freed up enough slots to allow owners to keep a lot of expensive veterans, thus undercutting the value of his hilarious 4 first-round pick. The team then tried to hedge that problem by trading the last of his 1s for Matt Moore. I'm not sure that actually accomplished anything, because there will be Moore-equivalent pitchers available in the mid-first round this. But hell, it's important to stay busy. (Teddy)

I'll be blunt: I have a man-crush on Matt Moore, and think he's going to be a Cy Young contender this year.  I also wanted to pick up a few more picks later in the draft, so dealing off what would have been the 5th pick for Moore and some other useful tschotckes was worth it to me.  Coupled with my keepers and the other two deals, it means I don't have to think about starting pitching this year or next year, assuming fair health for these guys.  Fingers crossed. 

Also, can I get a little bit of credit for turning the last pick in last year's draft (V-Mart) into something?  That has to be a rarity.  (El Angelo)

Spreading Santorum
  • Traded Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit (3 slots) and 75th pick in the draft to Corey Loves Dickey for Mat Latos, SP, Cincinnati (1 slot), Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado (1 slot) and the 69th pick in the draft.
  • Traded the 51st pick in the draft to Brooklyn Tweedbeards for Sergio Romo, P, SF (1) and a 14th rounder
  • Traded the 63rd pick in the draft to Le Dupont Torkies for Jim Johnson, P, Bal (1) and a 12th rounder
  • Traded the 69th pick in the draft and a 12th rounder to Dickey Centre for Fernando Rodney, P, TB and 11th and 13th rounders
  • Traded the 39th pick in the draft for Alex Rios and the 56th pick in the draft
OK, a lot to process here. Let's start by reducing terms. That 69th pick appears in two different trades, which we can reduce down to Miggy and a 6th for Mat Latos, Wilin Rosario, and Fernando Rodney.
Remember what I said above about needing to factor in the opportunity cost when evaluating a deal? Well, this team had a singularly uninspiring keeper list before these trades, and there are the same number of keeper slots (3) on either side of the equation, so the opportunity cost was zero. That just leaves you with this question: would you trade Miggy for Latos, Rosario, and Rodney?

I don't think I would. Latos is fun. I actually had Rosario circled as a sleeper this year, but the whole point of sleepers is that you don't have to trade for them. Rodney was goddamn terrifying to watch his whole career until last year. To me, a fun player, a fun sleeper, and a 36 y/o former horror show don't add up to one Miggy.

I like the two small trades for closers, though--any owner would be happy to use middle round picks to land a solid pen in the draft. Doing so ahead of time is even better. (Teddy)

Concur wholeheartedly.  Dealing off minor shit for Romo and Johnson I thought were great moves, because the number of closers kept this year means that the draft inflation on them is going to be expotential.  At worst, they're good trade chits come July.  But that's the same reason I would have kept Cabrera; at worst, he's a guy that teams will want come July.  I do understand that the new keeper system may throw the summer trade market into flux, as a team going for the money may not want to sacrifice a first rounder since that could end up being the #1 pick overall.   But the f'ing guy just won the Triple Crown.  I would err on adding those guys, not subtracting them.  (El Angelo)
Brooklyn Tweedbeards
  • Traded Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado (3 slots) and the 179th pick in the draft to Le Dupont Torkies for the 30th pick in the draft.
  • Traded Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington and the 95th pick in the draft to esix te'o for the 14th pick in the draft.
  • Traded Sergio Romo and the ~160th pick in the draft to Spreading Santorum for the 51st pick in the draft.
Sigh. I love all three outgoing guys. But my roster just did not work now that Allen Craig is no longer eligible at 2B. That meant I had 4 keepable OFs and 3 keepable cornermen, which is a problem when there is only one UTIL slot. So I basically just made everyone available and sold offer whoever fetched the highest return. In doing so, I've hung my hat on Pablo Sandoval and Joe Mauer both staying healthy this year. Huh. 

In my defense, I was distracted by a possible move to San Diego, which is what had driven my original team name of Gowandiego Surfsters. Anyway, check back in July for the rest of the fire sale. (Teddy)

Well, let's run through your analysis.   The worst keepers on your list are Allen Craig and BJ Upton.  Were you better off keeping Zimmerman and shopping one of them for a much lower pick?  I say no, but that's mostly because I love Upton this year.  There's also something to be said for amassing those 2nd - 4th round picks, because it gives you a lot of flexibility on draft day to move up or down for guys you want.  A disciple of Bill Belichick should appreciate this.  (El Angelo)

Paging Dr. Rumack
  • Traded Cliff Lee, SP, Cleveland and the 70th pick in the draft to Ancient Alien Attack for the 25th pick in the draft.
It's always brave to set the market, and I think PDR did well here. I mean, nobody wanted Price or Halladay at any price, so snagging a high 3 looks like good work. (Teddy)

I'd have to do the research to see if I'm right, but I feel like the first owner that sells off for a draft pick every year gets excellent value.  This was definitely the case here.  (El Angelo)

The Braun Advantage
  • Traded Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit to Ancient Alien Attack for Gerrit Cole, SP, Indianapolis Indians.
Can afford to look towards building the next dynasty while he coasts on the current one. Irritating, but tough to argue with. (Teddy)

It certainly works well for this team that couldn't keep Scherzer and had a prospect list spot to share.  At some level this is like gaining a 7th round pick because now he doesn't need to use a draft pick on a prospect, and he's unlikely to get one as highly touted as Cole.  That said, I actually don't love Cole as a fantasy keeper unless the Pirates get much better fast.  Real fast.  (El Angelo)

Corey Loves Dickey
  • Traded Albert Pujols, 1B, Anaheim and the 165th pick in the draft to Wu Tang Financial for the 7th pick in the draft.
  • Traded Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis (2 slots) and the 75th and 105th picks in the draft to Le Dupont Torkies for the 18th and 90th picks in the draft.
  • Acquired Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit (3 slots) and 75th pick in the draft for Mat Latos, SP, Cincinnati (1 slot), Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado (1 slot) and the 69th pick in the draft.
That opportunity cost idea kicks in again here, as the Holliday move enabled the mousedicks to keep Ryan Braun. (BTW, the fact that there are two teams with Dickey in the title, plus a team named after Ryan Braun that does not actually own Ryan Braun, is just killing me.) Depending on what fraction of Braun's talent you think is delivered to him by FedEx from Miami twice a month, that might make it worth it. 

Other than that, you need to kind of combine terms again to see what you think about the Pujols/Miggy trades. This is how it shakes out:

Out: Pujols (3 slots), Latos, and Rosario 
In: Cabrera (3 slots) and a 1st.

I think that's a no-brainer. No matter how good you think Latos is, he's not a sure-fire first rounder this year. Cabrera and Pujols are a push on performance, with Miggy's 3B eligibility making him more valuable overall. And Rosario wasn't getting kept with Yadier Molina already on the team.

Now, of course, the Commish still has to find 13 more starting players, so there's work to be done. But this was a fun offseason upgrade. (Teddy)

My 4-player gambit didn't work last year, but that was in large part because three of the four guys I kept had utterly shit years.  I like the Commish's quartet a lot better than mine, especially since I don't think he'll miss a single player he traded away this year.  (Not a Latos fan, sorry.) 

Now yes, he does have the herculean task of actually assembling a pitching staff, because he has exactly one hurler, and that one hurler is a guy who's never tossed more than 180 innings, has a career ERA of 4.10, and defines "erratic".  But they now also have replenished most of the picks that they traded away in last year's run for the title.  The ammo is there to try to make another run at it this year if they draft well.  Given their history in that department, I'm simultaneously skeptical and optimistic. (El Angelo)

esix te'o
  • Traded the 14th pick in the draft to the Gowandiego Surfsters for Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington and the 95th pick in the draft.
Punt to Ang, because I was involved. (Teddy)

If Ryan Zimmerman were available in this year's draft, my guess is he would have gone right around the 14th pick.  While you're losing a year of keeperdom in the process, the alternative was keeping the likes of Dan Hudson, so from that perspective, I approve.  That said, I feel like this didn't quite shake out the way that Ironhead would have liked because of who was kept - the starting pitching available in this draft is pretty weak, and most of the closers were also kept.  Keeping hitting to draft pitching may have been the wrong way to go this year.  (El Angelo)

Dickey Centre
  • Traded Fernando Rodney, P, TB and 11th and 13th rounders for the 69th pick in the draft and a 12th rounder.

Well done, but boring, so I'm not going to write about it. I mean, come on, we just traded Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera above. (Teddy)

You got something for Fernando Rodney?  Congrats and well done.  (El Angelo)

Le Dupont Torkies
  • Traded the 30th pick in the draft to Gowandiego Surfsters for Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado and the 179th pick in the draft. 
  • Traded the 18th and 90th picks in the draft for Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis, and the 75th and 105th picks in the draft. 
  • Traded the 54th and 78th picks in the draft to Ancient Alien Attack for Victor Martinez, C, Detroit and the 97th and 157th picks in the draft.
  • Traded Jim Johnson, RP, Bal to Spreading Santorum for a 6.
An owner that has always been good at finding pitching does his best to lock up hitting talent ahead of the draft, betting he can fill out his staff on the cheap. This is significantly more evidence-based than most of the strategies we've seen, so I think we just tip our cap here. (Teddy)

His keepers ended up being the reverse of Sahil: he's basically done with piching needs (especially since Trevor Bauer didn't take up a keeper slot) so he can just pluck hitters to his heart's content for a while.  While Scot and Andrew have the obvious monster keeper lists and Corey and Andy have kept a ton of superb talent, Tucker's team is quietly frightening because it's so well-rounded and he hasn't picked a player yet.  This year is gonna be fun.  (El Angelo)

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