It's baseball time! This now marks the 12th anniversary of the TA column that Teddy and I started when nobody knew who Barack Obama was and Donald Trump was merely some schmuck with a reality TV show, rather than the putative nominee of a major political party. The earliest TA that I can find dates from July 2004, and let's just marvel at one of the entries, which has so much to like:
Signed Rich Aurilia, SS, No team, and Jason Marquis, SP, St. Louis [7/6]
Traded Carlos Lee, OF, Chicago (AL) to The Whales' Vaginas for Carl The Truth Pavano, SP, Florida [7/12]
Easily my favorite move of the week: The Naked Bootlegs pick up a shortstop that ISN'T ON A TEAM. How the hell is he going to accumulate stats, Teddy? (AG)
OK, this is clearly the dumbest move of the year to date. Allow me to explain. After trading Miggy [Tejada], I had no SS. At the time I made the move, Aurillia was still on Seattle. The available SS s were guys who had either sucked for their entire careers, or Rich Aurillia. I took Aurillia figuring he couldn t be worse than, say, Neifi Perez in the second half. Then he got cut.
As for the trade, I cashed in one of my crop of borderline-keeper OFs (still including Dye, Kearns, and Sweet Lew Ford, who is Carlos Lee's non-union non-Mexican equivalent) for a pitching flyer. Why Pavano Will Keep It Up: Nice K rates over the past few years; pitcher s park. Why Pavano Is A Fluke: BABIP is currently like 40 points below his career average. Eventually some more of those balls are going to land, but I still think he ll be useful next year. (CP)
(Post script: Carl Pavano was a craptacular Yankee the following year, and Lew Ford won the Atlantic League MVP in 2014, right after Carlos Lee finished his $100 million contract. Neifi Perez continued to suck.)
So while we've cut back on the columns significantly - thank you, careers and families! - we still laced up the boots one more time for the annual draft post. Oddly, I think I'm going to enjoy this more than the actual draft. (El Angelo)
Yes, my youngest turns two this week and we spent the weekend at my inlaws celebrating. So I was attempting to draft while surrounded by my wife's family and trying to negotiate their crappy satellite wifi. The combination meant I was either offline or distracted for most of the draft. And that's how you end up with Hunter Pence and Matt Holliday on your roster--when I picked Holliday, I didn't even know that autodraft had grabbed Pence.
I should probably try to pass that off as a strategic gamble that declining two-category OFs are the new market inefficiency. But that seems like a lot of effort, so I've gone with radical honesty instead. (Teddy)
1. Drumpf: Bryce Harper, OF, Washington.
We start the draft with a bit of perfectly legal gamesmanship, as Corey takes the opportunity given to him with the first pick in the draft to re-set Harper's contract, who otherwise, would have been 3 slots this year, and up to 5 by 2018. By doing this Corey gets to keep Harper at 3 slots or less well into his career as a Yankee, and also gets to keep two extra guys this year. Sadly, they turned out to by Billy Burns and his perfunctory annual Blue Jay, Marcus Stroman. The other alternative, obviously, was to keeper Harper at 3 slots, dump Burns and Stroman, and draft Giancarlo Stanton or Clayton Kershaw, giving you two of the 5 best players in baseball for the next 2 years. Me? I would have gone with Plan B. But I get why he did this. (El Angelo)
I think it depends on where you are in the win cycle. Different combinations of guys have different values depending on whether you are looking to win now or stockpile. But, yeah, one year of a Harper-Stanton OF would have been ridiculous. (Teddy)
2. Backpfeifengesicht '16: Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles.
I'm generally not pro taking pitchers at the top of the draft, but when it's the best pitcher since Pedro Martinez, I can't argue with it. (El Angelo)
The first four picks have a common theme. There was more than one guy worth taking. Either option was reasonable, but one was just slightly more reasonable than the other. I think that Harper>Kershaw>Stanton>Sale>Miggy is just about the right order, but it's hard to get to exercised over the placement of any two consecutive links in that chain. (Teddy)
3. Jazzy Rural Grammar: Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Florida.
Getting one of the 6 best players in baseball with the third pick in a keeper draft has to be one of the best coups we've had since the initial draft. (El Angelo)
Yes, see above. Although you really do need a functioning face in order to play baseball at the highest level. (Teddy)
4. Raymond Greenleaf: Chris Sale, SP, Chicago (AL).
Sale has been a player I've always enjoyed watching and know is amazing but still can't believe his arm hasn't Dravecky'd. I would constantly worry about him getting hurt and making this pick worthless, so I probably would have leaned Cabrera, but won't criticize much. (El Angelo)
He handcuffed Sale with Dr. James Andrews, so he got himself some insurance. (Teddy)
5. Balco Bartokomous: Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH, Detroit.
As usual, pick #5 is un-fuckup-able. Then again, this is a little reminiscent of the year Teddy took Johan Santana at 5 - a star that quickly fell to pieces. I still approve, though. (El Angelo)
Yeah, this marks the end of the no-brainer group. Which means that things really only get interesting after this point, because this group can't always be trusted to make good decisions when left to its own devices.
6. Le Dupont Torkies: Steve Matz, SP, New York (NL).
This drew a bunch of "huhs?" in the draft chat, but I actually don't mind it. The quality of players available after pick 5 was a chasm. If you're conceding that you can get a second baseman in the next round, you don't have to take Jason Kipnis here, and any team that's going for a multi-year approach doesn't want Big Papi. That leaves you with a bunch of starting pitchers, and if you're building long-term, you may as well go for the highest upside. Matz wasn't going to last until the second round, so while it's risky, it's defensible. (El Angelo)
I grant the premise that basically anyone taken in this spot was going to feel like a reach. It feels like there should be good players left in the middle of the first round, but that's just not always the case in this league. That said, even really talented number 5 starters are problematic. He'll probably be on an innings limit, and he throws a ton of pitches per inning. Given that the Torkies nearly always have a short rotation, they're going to need a ton of RP vulture wins to pay this pick off. (Teddy)
7. Wu Tang Financial: Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis.
I am not in love with Wainwright this year or going forward - too injured, too old, and the Cards are the third best team in an absurdly competitive division. It also seems high to take a guy that started 4 games last year. (El Angelo)
This is the guy you pick if you're one SP away from contending this year. With a staff of Pineda-Corbin-Fiers up top? Maybe fishing for upside was the better play. (Teddy)
8. Cruz-Gaynor 2016: Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland.
"Ecstatic"? Come on. Jason Kipnis is not only one of the least ecstasy-inducing players in baseball, he is one of the least ecstasy-inducing concepts in modern American life. As an idea, "Jason Kipnis" is sandwiched between "cleaning computer keyboard" and "rotating minivan tires" in terms of ecstasty-generation capacity. He couldn't produce ecstasy with a Hitachi Magic Wand and a blu-ray of Magic Mike.
Good pick, though. (Teddy)
9. Trumpmouse Wormcruz: Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore.
I feel like Jones is always a bit overrated in this league because he's a good batting average guy with power, but is just meh in our OBP format because he doesn't walk. I also can't believe he still hasn't turned 30 yet. It seems like he was a prospect in our inaugural draft 14 years ago. (El Angelo)
He became less exciting once he stopped running a few years ago. But the Baltimore offense is going to score a lot of runs, so he has a chance to have a Kendrys Morales-style bump year by running up counting stats. (Teddy)
10. Paging Dr. Rumack: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, New York (AL).
This all depends on the competence of the Yankees' medical staff - if Ellsbury is healthy and plays 145 games, he'll steal 40 bases and have a passable OBP with decent ancillary stats. But again, banking on old outfielders in the first round is not my cup of tea. (El Angelo)
The thing with Ellsbury isn't just that he gets hurt. It's that once hurt, it takes him forever to heal. He is the anti-Wolverine. But even if he's not Wolverine, I don't mind him as an upside Gambit.
(I KNOW YOU ALL LAUGHED AT THAT, YOU NERDS!) (Teddy)
11. Cruz-Gaynor 2016 (from The Spam Avengers): Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay.
I had a list of 4 young starting pitchers that I valued fairly equally and sort of picked him as the best of the upside guys. Odorizzi sliced his walk rate by over 1 per 9 innings last year and is supposedly working on a breaking ball that might move him up a notch, plus he plays in front of a quality defense. Not wanting to go reliever in the first round, I pinched my nose and took a chance. (El Angelo)
Lacking a natural place to mention this, I'll leave it here based on the tenuous TB connection: I love Drew Smyly this year, and I'm horrified he was snatched away from me.
TB is a sneaky good pitcher's park, so I can see taking Odorizzi here over a few guys I think are better on talent but play in worse parks (Francisco Liriano, Raisel Iglesias). (Teddy)
12. The Aristocrats!: David Ortiz, DH, Boston.
Where can I place a bet that Ortiz appears on Saturday Night Live at some point this year, so he can duet with Keenan Thompson's impression of him? Because that is free money if it's on the board somewhere. (Teddy)
13. Trumpmouse Wormcruz: Kenley Jansen, RP, Los Angeles.
The only surprise to me was that Ironhead didn't take him in the first round. He's about as good as closers get, and allows you to move on from finishing in the basement in saves. (El Angelo)
CLOSER RUN!!! (Teddy)
14. Cruz-Gaynor 2016: Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta.
With E5 manning first and outfielders coming out of my ears, I didn't "need" Freeman, but he's too good a player to let by at this point. He's going to knock nobody in with that horrible Atlanta lineup around him, but his OBP boost makes up for a multitude of sins. But honestly, this pick is as much for 2018 as for 2016. (El Angelo)
Yeah, this is a good value at this spot. Boring, but true. (Teddy)
15. The Aristocrats! (from Wu Tang Financial, via Cruz-Gaynor 2016): Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas.
After a solid 2015, Kinsler passed Ken Holtzman and is now third on the list of best Jewish players ranked by WAR, behind Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax. (Ryan Braun? 4th.) Mazel tov! (El Angelo)
That was quite the plateau from 2d to 3d. (Teddy)
16. Le Dupont Torkies: Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas.
The second half of Tucker's gamble pans out, as our stinky second basemen is now on his team. (El Angelo)
17. Balco Bartokomous: Tyson Ross, SP, San Diego.
Ross is a good pitcher, but I'm concerned he won't be in San Diego by July, meaning what are now long fly balls will be home runs in Minute Maid Park or wherever the hell he ends up. But as long as you're not leaning on him as your #1 or 2, he's fine. (El Angelo)
18. Dickie Greenleaf: David Roberston, RP, Chicago (NL).
We're about to echo back now to the 2011 Draft, where a whopping six closers went in the second round, prompting many of us to scratch their heads. Robertson is the second of six relievers taken in this round, yet I can't quite knock it because he's a good pitcher and will accumulate saves on a mediocre team, and probably be closing for the rest of the decade. (El Angelo)
19. Jazzy Rural Grammar: Trevor Rosenpenis, RP, St. Louis.
This is about the last pick on the bubble that seemed okay to me - Rosenthal looked shaky by the end of last year, but he's got that Cardinals' closing job by the nuts and should churn out 35 saves for a couple of seasons. (El Angelo)
20. Backpfeifengesicht16: Rasiel Iglesias, SP, Cincinnati.
Iglesias was basically the other guy I thought about taking instead of Odorizzi at 11, so suffice to say if I like a guy at 11, I quite like him at 20. For me, the line in part was I think Tampa might be sneaky good this year, while the Reds suck. (El Angelo)
Yeah, between that and the park I could see him being a top-15 pitcher by context-neutral metrics while cranking out an 11-10 3.95 ERA season that doesn't help me a lick. But by this point we're all just choosing our warts. (Teddy)
21. Drumpf: Hector Rondon, RP, Chicago (NL).
From the man who brought us Huston Street's wolf-eaten labrum in 2011, it's another 3rd-tier closer! Rondon isn't untalented, he's just a middling reliever that Joe Maddon is bound to fuck with at the least opportune time for his owner. At least Rondon's real team isn't cursed. (El Angelo)
22. Paging Dr. Rumack: David Peralta, OF, Arizona.
Willy's bastard brother will get you some decent OBP if he keeps the gains from last year, but there isn't a ton more in his stat line that gets you excited. Looking at the quality of outfielders taken this year, I guess outfield was painfully shallow post-keepers. (El Angelo)
23. The Spam Avengers: Aroldis Chapman, RP, New York (AL).
The guy throws gas and is a fun player to watch, but he's the Yankees' third-best reliever and is suspended until Mother's Day. Have we ever had a guy taken this high who had no opportunity to accumulate useful stats for the first half of the season? (El Angelo)
24. The Aristocrats!: Roberto Osuna, RP, Toronto.
How fabulous would it be if Drew Storen knocks this guy out of the closing role, the way Papelbon did to Storen in Washington? Would more choking occur in the dugout, or are Canadians too nice for that? Also I'm suspicious when Corey passes on a Toronto closer. (El Angelo)