After a relatively quiet month or so, activity in our league has spiked noticeably (or perhaps its noticeable because two of the recent trades are my own). I’ve previously written about the teams that I see as true contenders versus teams that should be rebuilding, but wanted to take a look at each in terms of their effect on our 2013 title race as well as the future.
Of the four that are currently pending, I find this one the most confusing. Lucky Strikes is our reigning champion, but has stripped down and rebuilt his entire roster – he currently owns only 3 players over $13 – Stanton ($41, and leaving), Bryce Harper ($39) and Jose Reyes ($30). FMW sits currently in 6th place, 700 points out of first despite having thrown the most IP in the league (and 70 more than our current league leader). FMW’s lineup has scored 4.91 P/G, good for 9th out of 12 teams in the league, and this trade adds Stanton at the cost of Fowler, so the offensive upgrade is nominal but the dollar change is massive. Even if we assume Stanton provides a substantial upgrade over the remaining 60 games, acquiring that at the price of an $11 Chris Sale strikes me as high. Choice is a 23 year old OF in the hitter friendly PCL posting a .130 ISO – hard to see him Ottoneu relevant, and Aaron Hill has been above replacement level in Otto twice in 9 seasons. On the other hand, Sale is 11th in pitcher scoring since the start of 2012 at a very reasonable price tag (right below Yu Darvish and below Cole Hamels). Dexter Fowler has battled injury, but has averaged over 6/G through his 78 games played this season in what has become a breakout season. That Lucky Strikes managed to also acquire Carlos Martinez (the Cards 4th ranked prospect coming into the season) is icing on the cake. Ultimately I would expect Choice and Hill to be cut after salaries rise in the offseason, making this 3 keepers for an elite (though not-discounted) Giancarlo Stanton for a team with little chance of competing in 2013. Unless Stanton is about to be flipped to another contender, Lucky Strikes is a massive winner in this trade.
(Full disclosure – I own Enrico Palazzo, so an interested party for this and the next trade)
The Durham Tobacconists (our 2011 champion) and I had been in discussions for some time, and though I had fallen off the competitive pace early, I didn’t really execute any “dump and rebuild” trades until this one. Coming into the season, one of the things I had counted on was elite scoring from my starting staff of Strasburg, Hamels, Darvish, Price, and Brett Anderson. Injuries took care of Anderson and Price, whereas I’m not sure what accounts for Hamels and Strasburg’s struggles. Nevertheless, about a month ago I began exploring deals in earnest – though I own no player above $34, so all my players were reasonably priced to be kept going into next season. For me, Price and Hamels became the most likely to move – Darvish still sits at $6 (though he may be hit with arbitration dollars this Fall), Brett Anderson has little trade value, and Strasburg puts up such massive numbers relative to the competition when healthy I’m reluctant to move him at $34. Price, on the other hand, is coming off a Cy Young season, has some mileage on his arm and figured to net the most in return. For Durham, he has sat solidly in the title hunt while not at the top of the standings for months and RA Dickey, Zack Greinke and Jarrod Parker have all underperformed on the mound. For DT, Cespedes’ worrisome wrist injury isn’t something he can afford to sit and wait out, so adding Hunter and McLouth offer him solid 5+ P/G production in the OF (perhaps more if McLouth is platooned against LHP while Hunter gets the occasional break against righties), while Utley’s 420 points in 70 games is beyond elite coming at 2B. Throw in a closer (Veras) and DT is adding a ton of firepower while sacrificing little in terms of present production. Though Lowrie has always been able to hit, he has finally stayed healthy in 2013 and presents top 10 SS value at $6, while Cespedes is a solid keeper at $22 in 2014. Fried and Giolito are both electric arms with upside, but obviously not 2013 contributors. Solid deal for a contender looking to win in 2013; for me, the deal was 4 players I was cutting, plus a very good starting pitching about whom I’ve begun to have injury concerns. Ultimately, I think that Cespedes/Lowrie deliver far more surplus value in 2014 than does Price, with smaller risk, which made it a deal I liked.
Smaller deal, this time between two non-contending teams. I added Mike Zunino just after the 2012 draft and have held since; though since I also own a $26 Buster Posey, Zunino’s opportunity for playing time on my club is limited in the foreseeable future. Corbin has burst onto the scene in 2013 with a little more velocity than 2012, slightly better control and a devastating slider adding up to a 3.17 FIP through 130 IP. He has had some luck on balls in plan and has kept the ball in the park better than one might expect for a young pitcher in a hitters park. Zunino still is working through some swing and miss and doesn’t project to hit for much average, but clearly has acquitted himself well, shown that power is coming and despite being rushed to the majors has drawn praise for his work behind the plate. Ultimately, this deal for me rested on two pillars: (a) Posey as my starting C for a long time, and (b) scarcity of SP able to post 5+ P/IP, and the hope that Corbin can prove himself able to be one. For Shoeless Joes, Zunino should be a cornerstone catcher for the next 5-10 years, who may not produce at elite levels, but should pile up the points at a nice price.
A trade between two contenders, at least on the outside. Previously I have been skeptical of Syndicate – the team has basically sat in the top 3 all year, but both the hitting (5.18) and pitching (5.11) are significantly below other contenders on a per IP/G basis. Like FMW, Syndicate has ridden extra IPs to the top of the standings – nevertheless, they sit 300 points out of 1st. With that as background though – the trade is difficult to assess. If the Syndicate is looking to push over the top, moving Doug Fister for RA Dickey, Danny Salazar and Jarrod Parker seems unlikely to improve the pitching side of the equation. On the hitting side, despite Justin Upton’s prolonged slump following a white hot start, moving Upton and Headley for Chisenhall means a significant downgrade on offense. Syndicate has some depth at OF and could slide Mark Trumbo into 3B as Headley’s replacement, and Syndicate certainly gets cheaper for future years – Upton looks like a cut in the offseason, Headley might be too, so in some sense Syndicate gave up little of value (only Fister likely carried significant trade value). Though if this is a forward looking trade, hard to understand what value the 39 year old Dickey carries. Ultimately, it looks like DT gets the best SP, and gets Headley and Upton to slot in over Pablo Sandoval, and Upton to add to the mix of OFs Durham acquired above (Torii Hunter, Nate McLouth). Very good trade for DT, questionable for Syndicate.
As always, thoughts on where I’ve missed the boat are welcome.