Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trade Review - Ryan Howard for Nelson Cruz/Adam Wainwright/Roy Halladay

The final trade prior to the league's deadline, and the second of the day for the Macafeys, involves two teams heading for the consolation bracket during the playoffs. The Macafeys move Nelson Cruz, Adam Wainwright, and Roy Halladay to The Balls for Ryan Howard, as both teams look towards future keeper plans.

I think Tim gave up too much to get Ryan Howard. Howard is a beast who can hit 50 HR a year, but he's hit .262 since his MVP season in 2006, and he'll be 30 to start next season. When Howard was named MVP, he hit .313 with 58 HR, astounding numbers that I think will be an outlier for his career stats. Howard has power, but I don't like his chances to hit over .300 again. Tim did receive a talented player, as Howard will be his best first baseman and power hitter heading into the 2010 season, but I think he could have received a little better deal for the players he offered.

Those players include two of the best pitchers in the game, Adam Wainwright and Roy Halladay. Halladay is putting up one of the best strikeout rates of his career, and he continues to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. Halladay will be 33 to start next season, but there's no reason to assume that he will not continue to be an ace in the AL. With 200 less starts in his career than Halladay, Wainwright has less of a track record of success than the Cy Young winner, but the young pitcher has shown this year that he has the talent to be one of the top 10 pitchers in the MLB. It's a sign of his talent that his numbers have gotten better as the year has moved along. If Brubaker keeps both pitchers along with new White Sox ace Jake Peavy, he will have a collection of pitching talent that could top any other team in the league. Typically I don't like to keep pitchers, but if you can amass a group of talented aces it can be worth the risk to keep them.

The third player in the trade, Nelson Cruz, looks like he could be a rich man's Mike Cameron. I was down on the late-blooming OF at the beginning of the year, but he has put up some impressive numbers this year with 26 HR and 17 SB. Brubaker may have to drop someone he likes to make room for Cruz on his keeper list, but he could be getting a top-20 OF if Cruz can keep his batting average in the .270-.280 range.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Trade Review - Alex Rios/Andrew Bailey for Curtis Granderson

In the first of two trades by the Macafeys prior to the deadline, Tim trades Alex Rios and Andrew Bailey to the Screaming Lemurs for Curtis Granderson. The Lemurs appear to be nearly assured of a playoff spot, while the Macafeys are most likely headed for the consolation bracket.

With Andrew Bailey, the Lemurs now have a third closer to go along with Heath Bell and Leo Nunez. Bailey will be a strong #2 closer behind Bell, and this relief depth will help the Lemurs as they contend for the championship. He should have a handful of saves the rest of the year, and his high strikeout totals will come in handy. The Lemurs lose some power in this trade, but I believe the tradeoff is worth it to get more saves, and Rios's offensive potential should help make up for the loss of Granderson. Rios is only hitting .265 this year, but he has shown in the past that he can be a better hitter than Granderson and he can match Granderson's ability for steals. Rios has yet to have the breakout season that everyone has expected of him, but he is a decent keeper for next year due to his combination of power and speed.

Granderson is having a career year due to his HR and SB totals, and it seems obvious that the Macafeys like him better than Rios. I'm not too high on Granderson due to his inability to hit for high average throughout most of his career, but I think he can be a solid source for HR as he gets older. I don't think we can count on him being a 20/20 guy next year, but he should chip in enough steals to make him a top-20 outfielder. Whether or not he will be an upgrade over Rios in years to come is the main question, as the Macafeys are clearly betting that he will.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trade Review - Hunter Pence/Zack Greinke for Joey Votto

Last Sunday was the trade deadline in our league, and we had quite a bit of activity as teams tried to either improve for the playoffs or for next year. Three trades happened last week, and I hope to get to all of them by tomorrow night.

In the first trade before the deadline, the Butt Admirals traded Joey Votto to my team, Adrian's Revenge, for Zack Greinke and Hunter Pence. As presently situated, I didn't believe my team was strong enough to contend in the playoffs if I made them, so I made the decision to try and improve my keepers for next year by trading away some players that weren't in my plans for future domination. I felt that Joey Votto would be a good solid hitter to build around; at the age of 26, he'll be entering his prime heading into next season. Votto has consistently hit well, with a batting average well over .300 every month except for August, and he's had a slugging percentage of .500 or more during those same months. I think Votto will be a solid power producer, capable of hitting 30 HR with a great batting average, and I look forward to having him on my team for years to come.

Kimball strengthens his pitching staff heading into the postseason, which will allow him a better chance of competing against teams such as The $5 Footlongs and Orc Mischief. Zack Greinke has been a top-ten pitcher this year, and even though his team struggles to get him Wins, he has the talent to be a top-five pitcher next year. I don't like keeping pitchers because of the risk of injury; I wish I hadn't kept Ervin Santana this year, and I'm sure a lot of people wish they hadn't trusted Jake Peavy or Brandon Webb as keepers. You never know what can happen to a pitcher, and I prefer to roll the dice on B-and-C-list pitchers in the draft.

I saw Hunter Pence as a fringe-type keeper, and he might be able to make Kimball's keeper list for next year. Pence is a very streaky player, and that frustates me in a head-to-head league. He would have a terrific month, and then struggle for a month. He definitely has power and can provide some steals, though I doubt his ability to continue to steal since he gets caught almost as often as he succeeds, and he could be a very strong outfielder if he can put everything together from month to month.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Regrets and Satisfaction

With the season now two-thirds finished, I wanted to highlight some moves I've regretted making and some moves that I haven't. With so many people fighting for a playoff spot in our league, it seems like any one of moves that I regret making could end up being the difference between the championship bracket and the consolation bracket. Let's take a look at some of those moves.

1. Keeping Ervin Santana
In eleven starts this year, after missing a month and a half of the season due to injury, Santana has been a complete bust. He's given up four runs or more in over half his starts, and he's only pitched six innings or more in four starts. I'm still hoping he'll turn things around, but it's not easy to deal with his struggles knowing that I could have kept Nelson Cruz (ranked 41st this season by Yahoo) instead of Santana.

2. Drafting Magglio Ordonez
As I mentioned in my look back at the first round of our draft, I thought that Ordonez would be a dependable source of batting average and RBI, along with 20 HR. He's been far from it this year, with production that ranks behind outfielders such as David DeJesus, Randy Winn, and Garrett Anderson. Like i said before, I wish I had taken Jermaine Dye.

3. Drafting Joel Hanrahan
I had Hanrahan in 2008 when he took over the closer role in Washington after Jon Rauch got traded, and I thought that he would be a cheap source for saves and strikeouts this year. Hanrahan did save 5 games before losing his job due to his 7.71 ERA with the Nats. Closers I could have drafted instead of Hanrahan: Chad Qualls, George Sherrill, or Rafael Soriano.

4. Missing out on Adam Jones
Prior to the draft, Adam Jones had been on my list of young guys that I was excited about. Ultimately he didn't fall quite far enough for me, and he's having a great season. In retrospect, I should have reached for him with my previous pick, instead of Jhonny Peralta.

5. Trading Carlos Lee for Brandon Webb
This happened in another league, but it was to Jonathan, manager of the Dinos, and it hurts more now knowing that Webb will likely make just one start for my team. Both my offense and pitching are average in that league, so losing Lee hurts as well.

Satisfactions (Moves that I'm glad I made or didn't make)
1. All my trades
I'm happy with everyone I received through trades this year. These include: Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Matt Kemp, Robinson Cano, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Kosuke Fukudome (sortof). Morneau is having a monster year, I think Kemp's going to be a star, Cano has turned things around, Mauer's having a career year thanks to his newfound power, and Jimenez has pitched great this year.

2. Picking up Nyjer Morgan
I picked up Morgan near the end of April; since then he's stolen 26 bases and is leading my team in steals.

3. Picking up Ricky Nolasco
The Balls dropped Nolasco when he was sent down to the minors, and I picked him up before he cleared waivers. Since coming back from the minors, Nolasco has a 2.71 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, 5 Wins and 73 strikeouts.

4. Drafting Kevin Gregg
During our draft, the Cubs' closer role was still up for grabs between Gregg and Carlos Marmol. I went with the guy with previous closer experience, he got the job, and he now leads my team in Saves.

5. Highlighting J.A. Happ and Clayton Richard as possible sleepers
This isn't a move that I made, but I did write in a post at the start of the season that Richard and Happ could have value this year. Happ has 2.97 ERA with 7 Wins for the year, and Richard has had some value as a matchups type pitcher. Richard is headed to Petco in the Peavy deal, and he could have even more value there.

Around the League
I asked the owners in our league to email me with their best and worst moves this year. Here are their responses (as of July 2nd):

Ben P. (Screaming Lemurs) - Positives: "Not too many difference makers unfortunately. Randy Wells has been a pretty good find so far."
Negatives: "Picked up and dropped Ryan Franklin."

Micah (Dissect Yourself) - Positives: "The move that has benefited me most has been picking up Brandon Inge from free agency early in the year. He's been one of my best and most consistent producers."
Negatives: "The biggest move I regret is drafting Chris Davis with the first overall pick."

Nate (Naterade) - Positives: "Keeping Justin Upton."
Negatives: "Keeping Russell Martin. My other really bad move was drafting Lastings Milledge and holding onto him after he got demoted. I don't know why I can't drop him."

For the other owners in our league that want to complain or crow about moves they've made this year, feel free to post them in the comments.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Trade Review - Josh Beckett for Derek Jeter

Here is the second trade between these two teams, in which Orc Mischief sends Derek Jeter to Naterade in exchange for Josh Beckett. I feel that people tend to overrate both these players, but let's see how this trade will affect these two teams.

Orc Mischief has done a good job of strengthening his team's pitching this year through trades; in his previous trade with Naterade, he received Jered Weaver in exchange for Jose Guillen. Clint's team has had mediocre records in the pitching categories this year, and the addition of Beckett should help him win an extra game or two each week, helping him in his quest for a playoff spot. After an awful first month, Beckett has been very good the rest of the year. One of the reasons that I think people overrate him is that they overlook his injury history and the inconsistency he's had as a starter throughout his career, instead tending to focus on the team he plays for and the opportunities for wins that team gives him. It can be very hard to predict wins, as evidenced by the fact that Jason Marquis has as many wins as Beckett despite playing for a team with a worse record. Though he hasn't been consistent enough in his career to be considered an ace, Beckett is a very solid pitcher due to his ability to get strikeouts. He's put up numbers similar to this season's in the past, so I think that, barring an injury, he should continue his dominating season on the mound. Clint was able to make this trade without losing much offensively thanks to the offensive resurgence of Alexei Ramirez and his pickup of Elvis Andrus a couple of weeks ago.

Derek Jeter tends to be overrated because he has a reputation as a power/speed shortstop, when he hasn't had a 20/20 season since 2004 and he has produced more than 15 steals once since that same year. With that said, Derek Jeter is on pace to have a season to rival any other in his career. He's already hit 10 HR and 17 SB with a .321 average this year. I don't think he'll keep his current paces up, but he should continue to be, at the very least, a decent source of Runs and BA. Naterade's offensive record hasn't been very good this year and Jeter should help Nate in a couple categories each week, but I'm not certain that getting Jeter will help secure Nate a playoff spot. Losing Beckett will weaken this pitching staff, but hopefully Jeter can make up for it on offense.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tip of the Cap to Order of the Phoenix

Just weeks after I put them last in the latest power rankings, Order of the Phoenix proceeded to kick my ass 9-1 in the last matchup heading into the All-Star break. The only category I beat him in was steals, 5-4. Mark's team put up some incredible stats in that week: 17 HR, 62 RBI, .334 BA, and 9 Saves. Here are some of the his stars for that week:

Ryan Ludwick: .481/6/4/15

Paul Konerko: .391/5/3/10

Pablo Sandoval: .333/4/3/11

Rafael Soriano: 4 Saves (after having 8 the previous 13 weeks).

Lots of amazing performances that week for the Order of the Phoenix, and I tip my cap to them.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Revisiting the First Round

Since we are halfway through the 2009 season, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the first round of our draft. With such a long season, it can be easy for fantasy owners to forget what their strategies were and the players they had pegged as "can't miss" picks heading into the draft. It's possible that in looking back at our draft moves, we can learn from our successes and mistakes and apply those lessons to future drafts. Let's take a look back at that first round.

For those who aren't in our league and find themselves confused by the lack of fantasy studs such as Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, and David Wright in this round, this is a 12-team H2H keeper league in which we are able to keep seven players each year without any restrictions. I will list each owner's place in the league standings and their pick, along with the player's current stats and Yahoo ranking. (Stats listed in BA/Runs/HR/RBI/SB and Wins/Saves/K's/WHIP/ERA formats.) Click here if you would like to read the original post along with some of the opinions of the other owners in the league.

1. Dissect Yourself (4th)
Chris Davis (1B/3B)
Stats: .203/31/15/33/0
Yahoo Ranking: 466
It's hard not to take a 23-year-old player who hits .285 with 17 HR in 80 games during their major league debut, but Davis has been very disappointing this year. The power is there, but the average is a killer. With Justin Smoak crushing the ball in the minors, there's a possibility that Davis's future playing time may be in question, and Micah may be wishing that he had taken Alexei Ramirez or Kevin Youkilis instead.

2. Orc Mischief (7th)
Alexei Ramirez (2B/SS/OF)
Stats: .272/36/10/39/12
Yahoo Ranking: 113
The Cuban Missile was looking like a bust after a horrendous April, but he's turned things around to hit .282 over the past two months, including 7 HR in June. He's on pace to outdo most of last year's numbers, especially in steals, and he should be one of a handful of second basemen to reach the 20/20 level. Clint should be happy with how this pick has turned out for him.

3. Order of the Phoenix (12th)
Francisco Liriano (SP)
Stats: 4/0/80/5.62/1.52
Yahoo Ranking: 1283
Though Chris Davis hasn't produced at the level that many expected of him, he's not nearly the bust that Francisco Liriano has been. Davis will only hurt you in one category each week, while Liriano has hurt owners in WHIP and ERA all season long. The strikeout numbers are nice, but Liriano has been far worse than I or anyone else expected. Liriano's season did improve in June when he posted a 3.77 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in five starts, a small hook to hang your hopes on for a midseason turnaround, but I'm pretty sure that Mark would rather have had Yovani Gallardo instead.

4. Butt Admirals (6th)
Brad Lidge (RP)
Stats: 0/14/28/7.57/1.94
Yahoo Ranking: 906
Brad Lidge is on pace to get to 28 Saves this year, but he's been anything but lights out and I wouldn't bet on him getting there. He's missed time due to injury but he hasn't been that effective when healthy, and I'm not sure how secure his hold is on the Phillies' closer role. It's possible that they may use his injury woes in order to DL him as a roundabout way of demoting him without the public humiliation if he doesn't turn things around. Kimball was counting on Lidge to anchor his bullpen, but Lidge has been anything but, and I'm sure that Kimball would like to have this pick back.

5. Summer Fox (10th)
Kevin Youkilis (1B/3B)
Stats: .314/49/14/47/4
Yahoo Ranking: 40
Our first player to find themselves ranked in the top 100, Youkilis has been a solid offensive contributor all across the board. A .300/100/30/100 season is within his reach, numbers which look very good compared to the rest of the hitters in our first round. Youkilis slumped in June, hitting .244, but he still managed to produce a .860 OPS. Rogstad should be very pleased with this pick.

6. Tossers (3rd)
Roy Oswalt (SP)
Stats: 4/0/83/4.02/1.30
Yahoo Ranking: 781
Roy Oswalt has not been his usual dominating self this season. If the season ended today, this would be the worst ERA and the second-worst WHIP of his career. Oswalt has been having problems with the long ball and free passes, which can kill any momentum that a pitcher has in a game. Oswalt did have a stellar June with 2 CG, a 3.14 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, and he has been more of a second-half pitcher the past two years, so there is hope that he can regain his past dominance. Still, I think Troost wishes he could have this pick back.

7. Screaming Lemurs (5th)
Adam Dunn (1B/OF)
Stats: .260/36/20/56/0
Yahoo Ranking: 76
Adam Dunn is Mr. Consistent. He's on pace for his fifth straight season of 40 HR and I bet he gets it. His average is better than it has been in recent years thanks to a hot April, but even if he hits .235 the rest of the way, it's palatable thanks to his power output. Ben P. wanted a power hitter and he got him. I don't think there's any regret with this pick.

8. The $5 Footlongs! (1st)
Rafael Furcal (SS)
Stats: .240/35/3/17/4
Yahoo Ranking: 665
I originally thought that Furcal was the best pick this round, as I thought that he was going to rebound to previous years' numbers of 30 steals and double-digit HR. I was very wrong about that. Furcal has been bad all year and his batting average appears to be in decline. Furcal's poor performance has him ranked behind quite a few shortstops this year, and I'm pretty sure that Jonathan would like a redo on this pick.

9. Naterade (2nd)
Robinson Cano (2B)
Stats: .300/49/12/42/4
Yahoo Ranking: 62
After a very hot start in April, Naterade used Cano as part of a package to get Mark Teixiera. Cano hasn't been quite as hot the past two months, hitting .271, but he is on pace to set career-highs in HR, Runs, and RBI. This isn't any concern of Nate's since he doesn't have Cano anymore, but I think he's fine with that pick since it got him Teixiera.

10. The Balls (11th)
Aubrey Huff (1B/3B)
Stats: .270/33/10/52/0
Yahoo Ranking: 149
Aubrey Huff has been a solid source for RBI this season, but his other offensive totals leave much to be desired. Huff is hitting .270 after hitting .304 and .280 the past two years, and Brubaker probably isn't happy with the 20-HR pace Huff's on right now since he thought he was getting the 30-HR hitter from 2008. Huff raised his average by hitting .291 in June, but his power numbers are on a downward trend. This is a disappointing performance for Brubaker, who was hoping to get a power hitter with his first pick. Huff hasn't been terrible due to his RBI's, but Bru did a lot better with his second pick, Jermaine Dye.

11. Adrian's Revenge (9th)
Magglio Ordonez (OF)
Stats: .260/29/3/24/3
Yahoo Ranking: 592
Magglio Ordonez has been a giant disappointment for me and the Tigers, and he's ridden the bench at times for both our teams. With the second-to-last-pick in the first round, I knew that all of the players with upside would be taken, so I wanted to get a dependable veteran bat. I wavered between picking Ordonez and Dye, but ultimately I went with Ordonez. I knew that he wouldn't hit more than 20 HR this year, but I reasoned that he was a solid hitter who could help my team by hitting .300 and driving in 100 RBI. Ordonez did hit .315 in May, but he also hit .235 in the other two months. In retrospect, I should have picked Dye.

12. Macafey (8th)
Matt Wieters (C)
Stats: .247/8/2/7/0
Yahoo Ranking: 978
I didn't like this pick when Tim made it because he already had a young catcher on his team named Geovany Soto. Tim reasoned that he could always trade one of them. Wieters has only been in the majors for a little over a month, and we can assume that he's still trying to figure out major-league pitching, but so far the returns on this pick have been small and Tim has yet to move one of his catchers. This was a pick towards the future and it's hard to make judgement on it yet with such a small sample size.

In looking back at our first round, most of us did poorly with our picks. Only three are currently ranked in the top 100 fantasy players, and quite a few aren't even ranked in the top 300. It would be interesting to look back at our drafts from previous years and compare them to this one, in order to see if this year was a fluke or if we really aren't good judges of fantasy talent, but I'm too lazy to do that work. One thing I do believe is that things can change from half to half, and we could be looking at this round very differently at the end of the season than from how we view it today. Maybe the first round isn't as important as we believe it to be, and it could be that your best hope is to get a player that won't hurt you as you build your team's strengths from the middle rounds of the draft. Next year I'm going to just throw a dart at a player list and see what comes up.

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