@Ottoneu 52 — Wainwright v Felix

 We are down to the stretch run in Ottoneu, and in our league 52, there are really only 3 remaining contenders.  Interestingly, two of them (the current league leader and the lowest ranked of the 3 teams) just completed a blockbuster trade.  The particulars are below:

Waino Felix Trade (5 Aug 2013)

Though the swap of closers is interesting because Aroldis Chapman has the potential to slide into the rotation and because of the price difference, my primary focus was the starters – King Felix and Adam Wainwright. 

To date, both have produced like true aces.  Both have made 23 starts, Wainwright is 3rd in Ottoneu points among SPs with 971 (5.77 P/IP over 168 IP) while Felix is 4th (5.74 over 160 IP).   Felix strikes out a few more hitters but issue slightly more free passes – their xFIP numbers are nearly identical and Wainwright sits at 5.1 bWAR while Hernandez stands at 4.9.

With that as background, I asked WAR’s owner (@JedMcEff, for those of you looking for another baseball follow, one of our league’s most active and best informed owners) about the trade.  For me, it was in essence a swap of identical pitchers, one of whom comes with a price tag that likely makes him a salary cap casualty in January and one of whom is priced to keep for at least a few years.  For WAR,  Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw are head and shoulders the two most dominant pitchers in Ottoneu – and it is hard to argue, as since the start of 2012 they are the top 2 scorers in the league.  Wainwright missed all of 2011 with injury and while he had dominated in 2013 his 2012 was merely All-Star quality.   With only 40 roster spots, durability matters and Felix is a workhorse.

Interestingly, WAR also made the point that Hernandez has dominated of late – outscoring Wainwright by almost 80 points over their last 5 starts.  Again – exactly right.  Since both pitchers have 23 starts, I lined up their starts side by side for the season in the table below:

Felix Wainwright
61.96 27.80
18.94 45.60
15.06 80.20
70.20 36.40
46.40 61.94
44.90 44.80
60.20 -5.46
50.60 72.40
41.40 41.80
13.90 51.14
16.06 38.00
54.40 65.80
39.34 44.60
46.80 47.40
51.80 15.00
-14.80 39.28
39.90 63.60
17.00 31.70
42.20 53.80
49.00 16.30
45.00 46.40
75.60 34.30
46.20 27.70

WAR is correct – over the last 5 starts Felix has been smoking hot to the tune of a 79 point lead over Wainwright.  The table also offers some additional data points

(1)  If we line up the starts as head to head matchups, Wainwright has outscored Felix in 15 of 23 starts

(2)  Over their first 18 starts, broken into groups of 6, Wainwright outscored Felix over each 6 start block

(3)  Both have 10 starts of greater than 45 Ottoneu points, but Felix has 6 “bad” starts (arbitrarily defined as fewer than 20 points) and Wainwright only 3.

If you asked me to bet on which pitcher will be better over the next 10 starts, it would be a coin flip for me.  Both pitch in ballparks that are neutral to slightly pitcher favorable.  Wainwright has the benefit of facing NL pitchers, though the NL Central features better offenses than the AL West.  Given Felix’s durability, I would likely bet on Hernandez simply on the basis that he takes the ball every 5th day.  However, if I had been managing WAR Horse there is no way I would have taken on Hernandez’s $47 salary at the cost of Wainwright’s $28 salary (never mind taking on Mujica for Chapman, despite Mujica’s success this season).  However, perhaps that explains why I sit in 9th place while WAR looks like the odds on favorite to hoist his first banner.  I wouldn’t have made this trade (and think it’s a steal, obviously for Durham) – but I love that WAR had the courage of his convictions and is pulling out every stop to win this season.

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#Analysis — Clayton Kershaw is Unreal

Clayton Kershaw is currently spinning a gem at Chavez Ravine against my Yankees.  This is his age 25 season (he’ll turn 26 next March, just before the season begins).  Kershaw is in line to lead the majors in ERA for the 3rd year in a row (to become the 2nd man ever to accomplish the feat, along with Greg Maddux).   Here’s how his career through 25 stacks up against the best of the last half century:

Player ERA+ IP SHO SO ERA K/9
Clayton Kershaw 143 1104.1 7 1130 2.67 9.21
Tom Seaver 141 1093.0 14 866 2.49 7.13
Roger Clemens 141 1031.1 18 985 3.05 8.60
Pedro Martinez 140 912.1 8 970 3.00 9.57
Mike Mussina 137 672.2 6 398 3.20 5.33
Johan Santana 135 624.1 1 663 3.47 9.56
Felix Hernandez 128 1388.1 4 1264 3.24 8.20
Dwight Gooden 125 1523.2 20 1391 2.82 8.22
Jim Palmer 121 1117.1 15 751 2.88 6.05
Cole Hamels 121 736.2 4 686 3.67 8.39
Steve Carlton 118 992.0 12 779 2.98 7.07
CC Sabathia 111 1165.1 4 933 3.95 7.21
Justin Verlander 110 600.0 2 477 4.11 7.16

I never thought I’d see a pitcher more dominant than Pedro at his peak in the late 90s – but Kershaw may be better…

 

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Worse Trade Deadline — Giants or Mariners?

The emerging consensus on the 2013 MLB Trade Deadline seems to be that it was a dud, and I can’t say that I disagree.  Rather than breaking down the trades that happened, I find myself drawn to those teams that stood pat.  Specifically, which team had a worse deadline – the SF Giants or the Seattle Mariners?

Seattle

The Mariners have a number of players eligible for free agency after the World Series ends:

Name

PA

R

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Kendrys Morales

428

47

0.350

123

1.4

Raul Ibanez

339

40

0.359

129

0.6

Michael Morse

231

24

0.327

107

-0.3

Brendan Ryan

260

21

0.234

43

-0.6

Endy Chavez

249

19

0.280

75

-0.9

           

Name

IP

K/9

BB/9

FIP

xFIP

Aaron Harang

95

6.68

1.69

4.32

4.27

Oliver Perez

38

12.21

3.99

3.02

3.29

Obviously, none of these players set the heart aflutter.  Ibanez and Morse are horrific defensively, Ryan horrific offensively, Morse has been hurt and Endy Chavez apparently missed his plane to Newark to play in the Independent League.  Aaron Harang’s ceiling is a #5 innings eater, and Oliver Perez is still walking 4 per 9IP in what is his “renaissance”. 

Let’s remember that MLB’s CBA now provides that, in order to receive draft pick compensation for losing a free agent, a player must have been on the team’s roster for the entire season (check), and the team must make a “qualifying offer” to that player within 5 days of the end of the season.  The amount of the “Qualifying Offer” isn’t quite set, but it will be right around $13.5M – so the question is whether any of these players would receive a 1 year/$13.5M offer on November 1st.  Obviously, SEA won’t make that offer to either pitcher.  Ditto Ryan and Chavez.  Ibanez for his age 41 season?  No way.  That leaves us with Morse and Morales.  Morse is still only 31, but his defense is worse than ever and his offensive production has been slightly above average, but underwhelming for a DH-only type.  He’s out.  That leaves Kendrys Morales.  At age 30, Morales has had a nice bounce back season after struggling for years following his walk-off HR ankle injury.  He’s on pace for a 2 WAR season and has hit well, so let’s give Seattle the benefit fo the doubt and say you make the offer to Morales (he likely won’t accept, which is probably your desired outcome since Justin Smoak has played better of late – but even if he does paying $13M for his offense isn’t crippling even given Seattle’s stage of development). 

That means that SEA is 50-56, 8.5 games out of the 2nd Wildcard with 56 games to play (in other words, playing for the future).  Ibanez, Morse, Ryan, Chavez, Harang and Perez have no future value to Seattle (and if they do, it is at an amount far below the Qualifying Offer level – which of course, SEA is free to offer once those players become free agents in November).  Am I to believe that there was no market for any of these players?  One of this deadline’s most talked about SPs was Houston’s Bud Norris.  Here are Norris’ numbers against Harang:

 

IP

K/9

BB/9

FIP

xFIP

Harang

95

6.68

1.69

4.32

4.27

Norris

126

6.43

3.07

3.87

4.49

 

Norris comes with a few years of team control that Harang doesn’t, so I suppose I can look past him, though I find it hard to believe there was no market for Harang.  As for Brendan Ryan – yes, he can’t hit, but the AL’s best team (Detroit) traded for another SS that can’t hit (Jose Iglesias), except Iglesias is an untested rookie about to be thrown into the midst of the pennant race, as Jhonny Peralta is expected to be suspended in connection with his  Biogenesis ties.  Raul Ibanez’s .359 wOBA is 16th in the AL – despite his limitations, was there no contender looking for upgrades on offense? (I’m looking at you, Texas).  Nobody believes that either player would have returned much to SEA, but even a longshot prospect would offer more value than two vets playing out the string in a lost season.

 Giants

Having won two of the last three World Series, I can’t imagine that anyone from Brian Sabean on down would have thought that Giants would contemplate selling on 7/31.  Neverthess, here we are at the end of July and the 46-59 Giants have the 2nd worst record in the NL,  11 games behind division leading LA and 11.5 games out of the 2nd wildcard – this SF team is done.  The Giants contract situation is slightly more complicated – here is a link to their commitments beyond 2013.  The free agents to be are Barry Zito, Hunter Pence, Jeff Francoeur, Javier Lopez, Andres Torres and Chad Gaudin.  Of those 6, obviously none are getting a qualified offer (though Zito is getting a $7M buyout, on the assumption his option isn’t being picked up) with the possible exception of Pence – he’s making $13.8M this year and though he’s looking for a multi-year deal, I would expect the Giants could safely offer $13.5M and know he’ll find better elsewhere.   Lopez had LOOGY trade value, but I can wholeheartedly believe not one of the other four players had non-zero trade value – I can’t imagine even the lowest level prospect that might have been offered for any of them. 

Outside of the free agents to be, however, the Giants have some interesting pieces – below is a table of the player, their 2013 salary and their future contractual commits:

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

           

Lincecum, Tim

$22,250,000

FA

     

Pagan, Angel

$8,250,000

$10.25

$10.25

$11.25

FA

Scutaro, Marco

$6,666,667

$6.67

$6.67

FA

 

Affeldt, Jeremy

$6,000,000

$6.00

$6.00

FA

 

Sandoval, Pablo

$5,700,000

$8.25

FA

   

Vogelsong, Ryan

$5,000,000

$0.30

     

Casilla, Santiago (Garcia, Jairo)

$4,500,000

$4.50

$5.00

$1.00

 

Romo, Sergio

$3,500,000

$5.50

FA

   

Lincecum has dominated discussion for the better part of a year – what the Giants plan for him, I don’t know because his market price is so hard to gauge.   His ERA of 4.61 screams finished, but Lincecum owns a much more palatable 3.61 FIP and his K/9 is an attractive 9.71, suggesting that some teams may believe the tank isn’t empty.   Marco Scutaro was a postseason hero in 2012 and made the All-Star team at age 38 for the first time this year, but he’s under contract for $13.5M over the next two years, which would concern me if they were ages 33-34, not 39-40.   Jeremy Affeldt injured his groin about 10 days ago, likely killing any chance that the Giants had of escaping the $12M he is owed over the next two years.  But what of Pablo Sandoval?  His weight issues are well chronicled, but while he’s managed to hit is way through past issues, this year’s .316 wOBA and 105 wRC+ makes one wonder what his future holds.  Was there a buyer for the $8.25M he is owed next season?  Certain ballclubs located in Boston and New York were desperately burning up the trade lines in search of a 3B right up to the deadline.  What about Sergio Romo?  A year and a half ago, he wasn’t a reliever that could be counted on to work on consecutive days, is he now untouchable because he froze Miguel Cabrera to end the World Series? Despite the recent success, Romo is still a slider-heavy RHP who shows big platoon splits.  Smart teams tend not to overpay for relief help, and it seems that holding onto relievers during a lost season qualifes as “overpaying”.  

Verdict?

Ultimately, I think the Giants did themselves a bigger disservice this deadline.  The Mariners didn’t move their many old OF/DH types, but those players weren’t going to return much, and Seattle has largely committed to its youngsters, with Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley playing their way through slumps and growing pains.  Seattle has $33M committed for next season, and two-thirds of that is to King Felix.  On the other hand, the Giants have $85M already committed to its 2014 team, and shockingly only $15M of that is to its two best players (Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner).   This team has huge question marks at every OF position and 2B, 2-3 starting rotation spots, and potentially both corner infield spots, depending on where you come out on Panda and Giraffe (Belt).  The minor league system offers little in the way of hope, at least on the offensive side of the ball, so how does a team that already has half of its 2014 budget committed improve?  It seems that a recognition of its dire need to sell in July 2013 would have been a good place to start.

 

Posted in Brian Sabean, Business of Baseball, Contracts, Giants, GMs, Mariners, MLB, Teams | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

@Ottoneu League 52 –Trade Deadline Update

A week ago, I wrote a brief summary of the league’s contenders for the title.  Over these 7 days, some things have changed – interestingly, we’ve had a ton of new developments in the league though not specifically related to the trade deadline:

(1)  My predicted champion – Chicago Chiefs – is in huge trouble as of today.  Yadier Molina left the game today with a strained knee and was sent back to St. Louis – he is expected to be placed on the DL.  Miguel Cabrera was pulled in Detroit after reaggravating a hip injury.   MLB is also about to finalize its suspensions for players involved in the Biogenesis scandal – among others, Chicago’s Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta are expected to be suspended for at least 50 games.  All in all, that could be 4 of the Chiefs’ 12 starters gone for a few weeks at a minimum, and the season as a worst case.   Even if Cabrera and Molina somehow avoid the DL, it looks increasingly like Cruz and Peralta and gone dealing their title hopes a significant blow.

(2)  My dark horse – the Durham Tobacconists – are pushing almost all their chips into the middle of the table in impressive fashion.  Durham added David Price, Chase Utley, Torii Hunter, Nate McLouth, Jose Veras, Doug Fister, Chase Headley and Justin Upton in the past 10 days.  Very impressive hauls, and Durham still has a few chips he can play to try to improve the offense.

(3)  WGW took a hit with Albert Pujols lost for what looks like the rest of the season, but MVP candidates Mike Trout and Andrew McCutcheon keep the team atop the standings, as they battle with WAR Horse down the stretch.   Ervin Santana turned in another gem this evening, and Jean Segura showed signs of emerging from a month-long slump tonight with a double and HR.

If I were a betting man, I’d say the developments on Chicago’s team are too much to overcome, and we’re likely down to a 3 team race (WGW, WAR Horse and Durham Tobacconists), though The Syndicate is still near the top in points, though its IP lead still raise concerns.

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MLB Trade Deadline and the SABR Echo Chamber

It’s just past 1pm in California, which means we’re just under 24 hours until the MLB (non-waiver) trade deadline, and in an uncharacteristic post I wanted to ask a couple questions more than drill down into the detailed numbers.   A few pieces have fallen – the Rangers supplemented their starting rotation by adding Matt Garza, while the Red Sox and Tigers have added bullpen help.  Over the next 24 hours, some of the bigger names are expected to move – Cliff Lee, Jake Peavy, perhaps even Elvis Andrus and one in a million shot that Giancarlo Stanton moves.  As smart baseball writers churn out reactions to the trades, evaluations of prospects moving, there are a couple of questions that I find myself asking over and over:

First, there are roughly 60 games left in the major league season, and as of now if we consult Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds, 7 AL teams have a 25% or greater change to make the playoffs, while in the NL only 6 teams have more than a 1 in 5 shot.  Further, given that two of the playoff teams will be wild card teams in a one game playoff for the right to play a 5 game series (and then two 7 game series after that), the odds of any team that makes the playoffs winning the World Series is likely 10-12% when October begins.  Over 60 games, the impact one player may be expected to have on a playoff contender is likely 1-2 WAR at the ceiling (and likely much lower because on a playoff team, even a Cliff Lee is likely replacing a not-horrible player).  Of course, the impact 1 player may have on small sample size 5 or 7 game series may be considered either a random event or a rounding error, depending on your level of cynicism.   @DCameronFG makes this point in his blog post today regarding the price of Lee – and accurately points out that emptying the farm system for even elite level talent is unlikely to increase the odds of winning a World Series enough to justify the trade.  But doesn’t this sound like a straw man argument?  Of course we know that 6 years of team control of a blue-chip prospect (or prospects) will dwarf the value that a start contributes down the stretch in 2013, and barring a Koufax-level performance in the World Series, a teams’ championship or lack of championship is likely not going to be attributable to the acquired player.  From a saber perspective, shouldn’t we be doing better than knocking down straw man arguments?  To use Cameron’s example, what is 6 years of Xander Boegarts worth in terms of ML production?  He isn’t in the majors now and will be lucky to be there next year – there is also a learning curve and developmental issues associated with young players.  Can we say what the expected value of Boegarts’ first 6 major league seasons are?  If I set it at 13, would Cameron bet over or under that number? If you aren’t betting way over that number, shouldn’t we wonder whether Lee is better despite age and price tag?  Lee is under control for 2 years plus 60 games at roughly $70M counting buyouts etc.  What is the over under for Lee’s next 2.5 seasons? Further, in most circumstances we pay for certainty over uncertainty (even though in most situations, “certainty” is less illusory than in MLB)  Again, if I set it at 13 would you bet over or under?  Or perhaps the question is whether you think from this point through the end of 2019, which player is expected to produce more ML value?  This isn’t a leading question, it is an honest one – it is easy to say 6 years of Xander Boegarts will be worth more, but averaging 3 WAR per season over 6 seasons is challenging even for great players.  In 2008, Elvis Andrus was in AA, he made the jump immediately next season to the big leagues, was runner up in the Rookie of the Year voting, has made 2 all-star teams, and currently sits around 14 WAR through 5 seasons – so over our 13 (barely, though with a season left).  He doesn’t profile as anywhere near the hitter of Boegarts, but excels defensively and on the bases and has been completely healthy.   Evan Longoria is the poster boy for success – making the jump to AA in 2006, he spent 2007 in the minors, but still posted 30 WAR from 2008-2012.   This isn’t really intended to re-ignite the “prospects don’t pan out” debate, but to ask if SABR-inclined folks aren’t too willing to value the years of team control without applying a critical eye to the expected major league production of those prospects during their early years and compare that EV to that of the established stars under (fewer) years of control.

Second, and this is something I have written about before, but we will again look at Xander Boegarts as an example.  The Boston Red Sox have struggled mightily this year at 3B, and recent reports indicate that Boegarts is now playing 3B in anticipation of a potential late-season callup to Boston, much like the Orioles did with Manny Machado last season – despite the fact that Boegarts is at 20 the youngest player in the International League.  Under different circumstances, the Mariners promoted Mike Zunino earlier this season faced with a gaping hole at catcher.  In both questions, many observers are asking the question “Is [prospect] ready?” and following that with a quick “He isn’t ready, and we’re really going to stunt his growth” (for Zunino examples, we can look here and here and here, while @Marc_Normandin has a nice and open discussion about Boegarts here) .  In fact, I can without question believe that premature elevation to the big leagues would lead to a bevy of developmental problems – overmatched against superior breaking pitches and off-speed stuff may ruin hitters approaches and confidence, and/or may lead to the development and repetition of bad habits, while a smoother path of promotion after mastering each level of the minors translates into more predictable success at the big league level.  All this make sense” – except that as a community, haven’t we sabermetrically inclined fans learned to demand evidence and test assumptions?  Is there any data that suggests that heralded prospects rushed to the majors flame out disproportionately?  The recent anecdotal evidence (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado) says no.  I have no idea – maybe there is a mountain of data of which I am unaware, but it seems odd to me that empirical based observers are so quick to echo the “we’re going to stunt his development” meme.  While we rightly bash those that ignore new lenses through which to view baseball, we ought to be careful to avoid similar intellectual (or perhaps anti-intellectual) traps.

/End Rant.  I can now go back to refreshing MLBTradeRumors.com to see whether the White Sox restocked their farm system or the SF Giants gave up on Brandon Belt.

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@Ottoneu League 52 — Trade Analysis

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.

 Trade #1

  LS-FMW

 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.

 Trade #2:

EP-DT

(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.

 Trade 3:

EP-SJ

 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.

 Trade 4:

 DT-S

 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.

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A few words on Braun, MLB and PEDs

I didn’t really want to write anything on the emerging Ryan Braun story, on the likely assumption that I would have little novel to say.  However I am seeing a few things circulating (some of them amidst our @Ottoneu message board which has been very active this afternoon) that require a response.  In no particular order:

(1)  @JedMcEff makes a number of points on the message board the first of which is this:  MLB is unique among the major sports (and probably the minor ones too) as it is engaging in a campaign largely designed to denigrate its best players.  I have to say, I agree wholeheartedly.  Regardless of the sins of the past (whether you choose to focus on the Steroid era of the late 90s and early Aughts, or amphetamines before that, or lack of integration – the list goes on), it seems unlikely that demonizing the best players in your game is the best way to atone.  If you want to clean up your game you’d better find a way that doesn’t come across to the general public as a witch hunt for former MVPs.

(2)  This leads us to a second point – that MLB is engaged in a witch hunt.  While I agree that attacking your stars strikes me as poor business, since when does it become a witch hunt to pursue violators of your game’s Collective Bargaining Agreement?  MLB and the MLBPA has agreed on certain prohibitions, including the use of performance enhancing drugs.  Further (and this is based on what I understand of the CBA – any of you more informed readers please correct any misstatements), the CBA requires honesty, transparency and cooperation with MLB regarding PED use.  Braun and Alex Rodriguez, in this most recent iteration of steroid investigation, have according to reports flatly refused to cooperate with MLB in its investigation and enforcement with the agreed upon CBA.   Further, MLB has in its hands apparently incontrovertible evidence regarding both Braun’s and A-Rod’s past lies regarding PEDs.  Is it fair to say that MLB seems to be targeting both A-Rod and Braun?  Unquestionably.  Law enforcement typically pursues larger drug dealers sometimes while forgiving or altogether ignoring crimes committed by lesser dealers/users – does this make pursuit of the kingpins a witch-hunt?  If ARod and Braun have consistently lied to MLB about their PED use and in the process violated the negotiated CBA regarding testimony and cooperation, does MLB’s pursuit of these two to the exclusion of other players turn the effort into a witch hunt?  I don’t see why we should empathize with Braun or ARod simply because other players may be getting off lighter.

(3)  Ryan Braun and testing positive for PEDs.  Let’s be clear on two things.  First, Ryan Braun does not have a positive test under the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Second, Ryan Braun did test positive for PEDs.  During Braun’s appeal, an arbitrator determined that the investigator charged with administering Braun’s test (the test that was positive for PEDs) did not follow the CBA approved procedures because he kept the test in his refrigerator for 44 hours following the Friday afternoon test before dropping the test into FedEx for transport to the testing facility.  The process the investigator followed is standard in Olympic testing – though apparently not within the bounds of the MLB CBA.  I am aware of no evidence offered by Braun or anyone else that would indicate why the time in a fridge would be more likely to turn a clean sample into a tainted one.  There was also no allegation that the sample, sealed two or three times over, had been compromised in any way.   Saying that Ryan Braun has no positive tests for PEDs under the CBA is NOT the same as saying that he has not tested positive for steroids.   Without delving into politics, allow me one analogy:  if an individual is on trial for murder and the jury acquits him or her, that verdict means that the individual is not guilty of murder.  It does not mean, however, that that individual did not kill someone.    That Ryan Braun’s positive PED test was thrown out for the purposes of his CBA appeal does not erase it from existence.

Ultimately, MLB is attempting to clean up its sports, which I think is commendable.  But it needs to walk a fine line between cleaning up the present and atoning for the past.  In the meantime, I think it is important to keep in mind that what we “know” isn’t always the same as what would be admitted in a courtroom as “evidence”.

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