Ask Rotoman: Should I Trade Mookie Betts?

Dear Rotoman:

I’m in a dynasty H2H total points based. Got a trade offer.

Juan Soto. Jon Lester. Blake Snell. Pick 29 and Pick 53 for

Mookie Betts. Mike Clevinger and Pick 42.

It’s a 12 team league on we are on year eight. My starting line up is:

Bats…S Perez C…J Bell 1B…Baez 2B…J Rameriz 3B…Machado SS…Betts. Acuna. Braun OF… N Cruz DH
Pitchers…Tanaka. Bumgarner. Clevinger. Buehler. Porcello

I dont have much depth and close to the cap. I’ll drop braun and I have Cueto I can easily drop to make room. Thoughts on the deal, I could use the advice on this one please.

“Blockbuster Made or Averted?”

Dear Blockbuster:

This is a big deal, and without knowing your categories, how big your roster is, how weak your depth actually is, and if that matters, it’s hard to be definitive. What I know is this:

  1. Juan Soto is not as valuable as Mookie Betts, because he won’t run as much, and because he’s had one amazing partial season, while Mookie has proven he’s a Top 5 player.
  2. Blake Snell is probably equally better than Mike Clevinger as Mookie is better than Soto. So these two pieces wash. If you had enough hitting and needed pitching, that’s a deal you might do reasonably. Since it looks like you have hitting and need pitching, that’s an argument for it.

The rest of the trade has you giving up Pick 42 and getting Pick 29 and Pick 53 plus Jon Lester, who is not a sure thing to be excellent, but has a decent chance of it. In a league with as many keepers as your teams seem to have, there is very little difference between picks 29, 42 and 53, and you get two for the price of one. Since Lester is better than Cueto, who is going to miss the whole year, he’s a bonus.

Could you lose this trade? Certainly. My rule of thumb is don’t give up the best player in a deal in return for depth, especially in shallow leagues, where only the very best players are much above replacement level, but I like Snell enough this year (I like Clevinger, too, but not quite as much) that the core is a solid pitching for hitting deal, and the add ins are a bonus.

Go forth and multiply,
rotomansignature

Rotoman

Ask Rotoman: Dump Trade Blues!

Rotoman!

Is this trade something that should go through?

Four-keeper-league. Player that is in contention trades B. Snell ($4) next year for J. Votto and Y. Tomas. The team getting Snell has at least six better keeper options for next year and can only keep four.

Am I right to be pissed about this? I don’t like vetoing trades but this is kind of out there right?

“Snelly Deal”

Dear Snelly,

One of the prime reality distortion fields (RDF) covers a league leader who sees an opponent get key pieces for something he sees as marginal. So here’s my question:

Is Snell really his seventh best keeper on the team that traded away Votto and Tomas?

The follow up question:

Does the team that traded away Votto and Tomas think Snell is his seventh best keeper?

I have no way of knowing the answer to either of these questions, but the only way for you to pull back the RDF is to honestly evaluate them.

If your answers are Yes to the first question and No to the second, you then have to ask:

Is there some sort of collusion going on?

If not, then you have to ask:

Is this guy an idiot?

If the answer to either of those questions is Yes, it might make sense to challenge the trade. In the case of collusion, it is imperative. But in my experience almost all trades that are looked at as fatally imbalanced look that way because the evaluator isn’t looking at the goals of the involved teams accurately.

I would talk to the team that dealt away Votto and Tomas, and find out what he’s thinking. You shouldn’t have to agree with him to decide whether his side of the story is at all valid. Chances are it is, even if you don’t like it.

Sincerely,

rotomansignature

PS. I would surely like to have Snell next year at $4 in an AL league, and would be happy to have him at that price in a Mixed league.

ASK ROTOMAN: Trade Josh Donaldson for Kris Bryant and Jeurys Familia?

We can keep 6 players in a mixed keeper league. $260.. My first three are Mike Trout ($18), Bryce Harper($27), Josh Donaldson ($14) are no brainers. Curious to get your opinion on the final three…

Joe Panik ($4), David Price ($29), Zack Greinke ($20), Dellin Betances ($11), Mark Melancon ($15), Luis Severino ($8). Also I have been offered a trade , Kris Bryant ($8) and Jeurys Familia ($7) for Donaldson. What do you think.

“Keep Trouble”

I think you have four good keeps, they are your top three plus Greinke.

I was in a mixed auction this week and all the other players on your list came in below your prices. Draft inflation can drive those values up, and no two mixed auction leagues are alike, so you can justify keeping guys you like at okay prices. Panik went for $4 in my auction, so he is keepable. But he’s not a good keep.

Which is why you might want to the two for one deal.

Donaldson is a great keep. Bryant is cheaper, but he’s not as valuable this year. He’s a solid freeze, in terms of value, but a less certain player, but add Familia and you have a nicely-priced closer. The key question is how much closers will cost in your auction.

Saving a few dollars on one closer is a value, but if other closers not quite as good go for $4 or $6, as some did in that auction I was in, your keep might cost you an opportunity at a better price. In which case you’re probably best not making the trade.

But Bryant is an exciting young player at an exciting your price, so out with the old Donaldson, in with him and Familia, and keep Greinke and Panik. No panic.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

ASK ROTOMAN: Quantity Quality for Quality Quality?

Rotoman:

Would you trade Shelby Miller and Sonny Gray for Clayton Kershaw?

“Arms Race”

Dear AR:

There is no answer to this question. No thoughtful answer, anyway. You’ve left out an important component: Who replaces Gray when Kershaw replaces Miller?

Without that piece of information it’s impossible to judge the wisdom of this deal. The answer is different if the missing sub is Mark Buehrle or Noah Syndergaard or Bartolo Colon or Jose Fernandez. See what I mean.

Or, since you asked what I would do, I would trade Miller and Gray for Kershaw because I’ve got Jordan Zimmermann on reserve right now. But I don’t know what you’ve got.

But let’s say you don’t have JZ on reserve. Let’s say you would acquire Kershaw and replace Gray with a replacement value starter. That’s a $1 player, expected to earn $1. If that’s the case than you would want Kershaw to be better than the Miller and Gray combined.

So far this year that’s not the case. So far this year Gray is on pace to earn $40 and Miller is on pace to earn $44, while Kershaw is on pace to earn $16.

But you’re not buying pace in your trade, you’re buying future performance. Preseason expectations for the three were starkly different. Tout Wars Mixed Auction paid $36 for Kershaw, and $17 combined for Gray and Miller.

So, you have three questions to answer:

Clayton-Kershaw1Can Kershaw return to form? Of course he can. He’s throwing about as well as he has in the past, but he’s allowed homers on fly balls at twice the rate as last year, and well above his career mark. Still, he’s allowed six homers in 60 or so innings. Last year he allowed nine in 190. That costs runs. He still excels in every category except BABIP. There is some speculation he’s tipping his pitches. There is other talk that he’s throwing too many first pitch strikes, and hitters are swinging earlier in the count to avoid the slider. Hard to say for sure, but both of those things are both small potatoes and fixable. He’ll be fine.

How good is Sonny Gray? Good, but not quite this good. He’s a ground ball pitcher, so it isn’t surprising he hasn’t allowed many homers. But he’s allowed homers on only three percent of fly balls. That number is lower than Kershaw’s rate last year, and should rise to closer to 10 percent. With homers, again, come runs allowed, and the ERA and Ratio will go up.  Gray looks to me like a $25-30 pitcher, which is plenty good.

And what the heck is up with Miller? I’ve often wondered why people give Miller such a bum rap, and have been pleased that so far he’s been showing that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. But it isn’t really true, I’m afraid to say. Nick Lampe at Beyond the Boxscore does a good job of killing the straw man of Shelby Miller’s Cy Young Award candidacy this year, one I wasn’t arguing for, but what matters to you is whether Miller can sustain his $40 season, or whether he’s going to regress to the $2 expectations. Like Kershaw and Gray, Miller hasn’t allowed many fly balls. He’s also allowing few line drives and is getting lots more soft contact than ever before. We don’t know if that’s because he’s taking a new approach or getting better results with his old approach. He changed teams in the offseason and is working with new coaches, which can sometimes make a difference. He’s throwing more cutters and fewer curve balls, which can make a difference, too. Still, he’s not an elite strikeout guy and his control is fine, not great. Even if he gets lots of ground balls, as he has been, he’s going to give up more runs. But that might make him a $15 to $20 pitcher the rest of the way.

Hmm. $25 for Gray plus $15 for Miller equals $40 for Kershaw. If you have a strong replacement for Miller, make the trade. If not, you’re likely treading water unless you land a waiver wire find.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

 

ASK ROTOMAN: Shining A Macho Light on Yasiel Puig

Dear Rotoman:

In a 5×5 12-team mixed-keeper league with five keepers where you can keep a player for up to three years, would you make the following deal:

I trade an extra 5th round pick and release either Manny Machado (2yrs left), Jorge Soler (3 yrs left) or Xander Bogaerts (3 yrs left).

And I get Puig with 2 years remaining.

Is giving up one of my fifth round picks and one of those players worth 2 years of Puig?

“Puigilist”

Dear P:
I have one hand tied behind my back because I have no idea what the value of a fifth round pick is. If all 12 teams keep five players, that’s 60 players gone. Another four rounds gone is 48 players, which would mean the fifth pick would be somewhere between the 108 and 120th best player.

Based on the consensus Average Draft Position at FantasyPros.com, that would be a player like JD Martinez or Mookie Betts, Lance Lynn or Steve Cishek.

Yasiel_Puig_2Puig is ranked 24th in the consensus ADP, while Machado is 138th, Soler is 111th, and Bogaerts is 182nd.

It isn’t clear to me what you get back for that fifth pick, but even if it was the 23rd round pick, I think you would prefer Puig and the 23rd round pick to Bogaerts and JD Martinez or Mark Trumbo.

Remember, the rule of thumb is, you almost always want to be on the side of the trade that gets the best player, especially in a relatively shallow league, as a 12 team mixed is.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

 

 

When Win-Win Becomes Lose-Meh

We make trades trying to get an edge for ourselves, but since the other guy is also trying to get an edge what we hope for is a Win-Win scenario. Both teams get what they need. Very nice, and all that, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Rafael Soriano’s meltdown in last night’s Nationals game caused me to revisit a trade I made in Tout NL with Brian Walton at the end of July. Brian, in fact, took possession of Rafael Soriano on July 28th, the same day I took possession of Eric Young Jr.

Soriano had a 1.10 ERA and .902 WHIP going into that night’s play.

Young was averaging 50 AB and 6 SB per month on the season, though he had been slightly more productive when active because he missed time on the DL in June. In July, up to the point of the trade, he had 38 PA and 5 steals.

To set the context, Brian and I were virtually tied in Saves, each with one closer, at the bottom of the pile. The idea was that whichever of us got two closers would be sure to gain at least a few points in Saves. I was ahead of Brian, so I wanted him to trade me his closer, but he wasn’t interested in my starting pitchers (other than Bumgarner, who I wasn’t trading), and all my hitters were hurt. I needed steals (and Runs and RBI) and Brian had a big lead. It wasn’t perfect for me, but it seemed fair on the points potential, Soriano for Young, and, more to the point, something had to be done.

If I got a steal for every save I lost I would have been happy.

The night of July 28, Soriano allowed 4 runs and blew the save and Eric Young did not play. And that’s the way it’s gone for both ever since.

Since Walton acquired Soriano he’s won 2, saved 6, with an 8.22 ERA and 1.786 WHIP. He has struck out 15 in 15.1 innings.

Since I acquired Eric Young he’s had just 24 AB and stolen 2 bases, with 3 runs and 2 RBI. Yawn!

What-if scenarios are tricky, but to assess it roughly, if I had kept Soriano I would have one half point more in saves (tied with Walton, instead of 12 behind), and at least one fewer point in ERA and WHIP, and my hitting would be the same, except I’d be five behind the two guys ahead of me in steals, instead of three.

Brian has gained one and  a half points in Saves, and Soriano’s terribleness may not have cost him points in ERA and WHIP, but that’s because he’s so low in the standings in those cats (and he remains in first in steals).

He wins the deal, but not in the way either of us expected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day of Tout Wars Trading

Yesterday was the trading deadline in Tout Wars. You can see the NL standings by clicking here. I currently have 58 points.

Screenshot 2014-09-01 15.39.03As recently as the third period in July I had 73 points and was battling with four other teams for the title.

But then a series of injuries, which cost the season or serious playing time for all my stars (Hanley, McCutchen, Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, and dreadful play by Jay Bruce), knocked me down the ladder.

Now I’m playing to stay above 60 points, which is where a next-year FAAB penalty kicks in, and to gain as many places as I can, to earn an earlier reserve round pick next spring.

Alas, there was no easy path to gaining points. While I’m in last in RBI and Runs, I still have points in HR and SB to defend and to attain, so selling off my hitters for pitching didn’t work. Similarly, I’m in a fight for Wins and Strikeouts, as well as in a scrum for ERA and WHIP.

The interesting thing yesterday morning was that the return of McCutchen and Hanley had stabilized the team in HR, and I was content to ride with the FAAB hammer and my squad going forward, hoping that Zimmerman and Votto might make contributions in the last couple of weeks. I was getting enough playing time from the scrubs I’d picked up to possibly hold on. But then I got an email from Scott Wilderman saying he wanted to trade Kenley Jansen and Francisco Rodriguez.

Weeks earlier I had tried to pry them from him for some starting pitching, but he didn’t want to do it. Instead, I ended up trading Rafael Soriano away, so that now Scott’s saves had little value for me. I almost said no to him, but then offered him Wily Peralta and Alfredo Simon, who have been struggling a bit and aren’t huge K guys. He said yes.

Now I had two closers, but no chance to gain in Saves, so I offered the closers for good middle guys plus offensive help. I received a few different offers and took these:

Kenley Jansen and Charlie Culberson for Jordan Walden and Scooter Gennett from Brian Walton.

Francisco Rodriguez and Kevin Frandsen for Tyler Clippard and Chris Owings from Mike Gianella.

The only downside on this was I was hoping to turn Frandsen into Dilson Herrera, but as it turned out my bid (which I had to withdraw) wasn’t nearly high enough. So, I’ll take my chances with Owings, who isn’t expected to play full time, but should come off the DL today.

Having replaced two starters with Clippard and Walden, I looked to FAAB and picked up Dylan Axelrod and Felix Doubront, both of whom have looked good lately. My hope is some extra strikeouts and some good innings, though this is a risky proposition.

Still, I now have Clippard, Walden, Doubront, Axelrod, Owings and Gennett instead of Peralta, Simon, Broxton, Diekman, Frandsen and Culberson. There’s something to be said for fresh faces.

The David Price Equation

A quick post trading deadline note.

Regular readers will recall that I tried to deal David Price at the start of July, based on the likelihood he would be traded out of the American League by the end of the month. I did not receive an offer that I though had enough of a premium until the third week, when I accepted a deal for Huston Street.

Even though I was kind of out of the saves game.

My thinking was that there was about $12.50 value left in Price for the last 10 weeks of the season. There was about $9 value left in Street. Since there was somewhere between a 25 to 50 percent chance Price would be traded to the NL (and my league would not count his stats), he was worth somewhere between $6 and $9 to me going forward.

Because of my position in Saves Street wasn’t an ideal match, but he would help my qualitatives and he meant I would end up with something rather than nothing.

After I acquired him I quickly moved past the one team immediately ahead of me in Saves, and the team that was behind me in Saves dealt his bevy of White Sox closers. I seemed secure at three points, with one team with no closers 10 saves ahead. That was the only other Saves point Huston Street could get me.

So, I offered up Huston Street for trade, and eventually dealt him for Kole Calhoun and Luke Gregerson. I hope Gregerson will put up good qualitative numbers, to help my team’s ERA and Ratio the way Street would have, and Calhoun will help offset some of what I lost when Eric Hosmer went down.

If Street was worth about $9 at this point, Calhoun was worth perhaps $7 to $9. He’s earned $11 in 4×4 already, in 300 AB. He should get close to another 200, making this a fair deal that better suits my team’s needs. Plus Street goes to a guy who can pass one of the guys I’m battling for first in Saves.

So: Price * 1/2 = Street = Calhoun + Gregerson. But it isn’t as straightforward as that.

 

The Price of Everything

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the dilemma of owning David Price in an AL only league in which the stats of players traded to the NL don’t count. I’d sent a note to the other owners in the American Dream League offering Price for a power hitter, a catcher preferably, but as a team battling for first place, willing to take any deal that returned fair value and helped my team in some way.

The initial offers—Jason Castro, Derek Norris—seemed potentially doable on July 29th, if I was panicked and certain that Price was going to the Dodgers or Cardinals, but not strong enough to get me to give up in early July the four or five more starts he likely had with Tampa in July, and the not insignificant potential that Price would remain in the American League.

I then came up with an idea that I thought was great. The team that owned Yu Darvish was in last place, below the point threshold that triggers a penalty in the next year’s FAAB. That is, a team loses one FAAB (of 50) for each point it finishes below 35 points. You also gain extra keeper slots for each standings place you gain, from four up to eight.  So a team in trouble has a great incentive to gain points.

My idea was to trade for Darvish, offering Price and James “Some Came Running” Jones, who has ranked second in the AL in stolen bases since he was inserted into the Mariners outfield on May 6th. Price is of equal value if he stays in the AL and no value if he is traded to the NL, which is where Jones comes in. If Price stays in the AL the team gets a huge boost, if he’s traded they still get some points moving up in steals.

The team that owned Darvish were not moved to move him. Part of the problem was that they only had three places to gain in steals, which is nice but not a big deal. And while Darvish and Price have keeper value for 2015, Darvish in all likelihood will be back. Not only might he lose Price this year, but he’d also likely lose him for next year.

At this point I was thinking that I might end up keeping Price. My pitching staff was okay, but it never hurts to have one of the best pitchers in the league on your team. And if I lost him? My staff was still okay, and if I managed it creatively I might even gain points in ERA and Ratio without Price. My lead in wins was big enough I wouldn’t be crushed. I was okay keeping Price, but then Huston Street was traded to Anaheim.

Huston Street

Two teams had $38 FAAB left. No other was close. One was in the second division, but second in saves with a big lead. He had no need for Street. The other was, depending on the day, a point ahead or behind me in the standings, a couple points out of first place. Another closer for him was worth at least three points in saves, plus another potential point or two in ERA and WHIP.

Over at the discussion board at pattonandco.com I suggested that the team who didn’t need a closer might benefit more by buying Street and flipping him than by waiting to see who else is dealt to the AL. A bird in hand and all that. I wasn’t thinking at that time of being the one to get Street, I just didn’t want the team I was fighting to get him. That owner accused me of being self-interested. Guilty.

What I didn’t think of, the other owner did, was trading David Price for Huston Street. The other owner proposed it online, and there was only one reason I could see not to do it. I’m pretty far behind in Saves. Two saves for one point, and then it’s 13 saves to the pack. That’s a lot of ground to make up.

But I decided to go for it, for a few reasons.

Street is a fair value return for Price in 4×4. Did I mention this was 4×4? So far this year Street has earned $24 and Price $20, using Alex Patton’s prices. I don’t expect Street to outearn Price the rest of the way, Price’s first-half ERA was inflated by what seemed to be some bad luck on fly balls. More than usual left the yard. He should have a lower ERA in the last two months.

Important to me, however, is that relief pitcher ERA and Ratio have real value. To date, Price has earned $4.90 in ERA and $7.60 in WHIP. Street doesn’t have nearly as many innings, but he’s earned $4.20 in ERA and $3.90 in WHIP.

But if my per month earnings projection for Price is $5, he’s projected to earn $11 the rest of the way. While Street’s per month projection is $4, so he’s expected to earn $9. But there is some real chance that Price will do his earning in the NL. If that chance is 20 percent, I get a slight edge in the deal. If the odds are more 50-50, which I do, then things look very well today pricewise.

Category-wise, however, the prices are askew. For one, I have a big edge in wins, so Price’s wins (worth $8.70 to date) have helped me out to a decent lead in the category, and don’t mean that much to me at this point. And I have a big deficit in saves, so Streets saves (worth $14.90 so far) might not mean that much to me.

Except, I have a couple of outs, as we say in poker.

For some reason I bought Matt Lindstrom in our auction, and he was the White Sox closer at the start of the year before he got hurt. He is rehabbing now and is expected to be back in the majors in early August. If he is reinstalled as the team’s closer and save 5-10 games the rest of the way, I could actually make up ground.

I also have Aaron Loup, who saved two games for the Blue Jays this past weekend (before Casey Janssen was pounded last night). More saves is a big help (my fingers are crossed).

I hope that breaking the lead up to this deal will help illustrate the many different factors that go into dealmaking. I think the biggest one, however, are your league’s rules. This old school AL 4×4 league, the first AL rotisserie league in existence ever, is no longer typical, but then neither are your 6×6 15-team mixed league that doesn’t include teams from the NL west. Or whatever.

Working through how your league works will help you unlock value, and perhaps make trades that help both sides, and give you a better chance to win.