Monday, May 2, 2011

Trade Recap

Sunday evening I completed my first trade of the year in the FanGraphs Experts League. I'll deliver my evaluation here, but what I am really looking for is your feedback - was this a good trade for me to make?

As always, we need to start with some context. In this case, the only real context you need is that the only 3B eligible player on my roster as of right now is Pablo Sandoval who is obviously not going to be of much use to me for a while. I scoured the waiver wire and found pretty sparse options - Brandon Inge, Jamey Carroll, Jorge Cantu, Aaron Miles...Jack Hannahan (who I may actually start an auction on at some point) was probably my best choice, based on current performance.

Unimpressed, I turned to the trade market and found VERY few teams sitting with backup 3B. Injuries to Longoria and Zimmerman surely had something to do with that. I identified basically four candidates - Dyersville Nine had Chipper Jones riding the pine; Eno's Slaughter had Placido Polanco potentially available; and Andy Behrens had David Freese and Chase Headley on the bench.

I spoke with Eno Sarris late in the process re: his roster (he also has Martin Prado, who is 3B eligible) but he confirmed that only Polanco is available and Polanco as a daily 3B is pretty unattractive. Behrens didn't want to talk about David Freese (who subsequently got hurt himself) and asked about $1 OF/MI options for Headley. The only real option I had there was to move Orlando Cabrera or Chris Carter...and Behrens wasn't interested in either.

That left me with just Chipper. I talked to Andy Andres and he inquired on Asdrubal Cabrera. I have Cabrera signed at $6 and he is CLEARLY outperforming that value to date. The .263 BA is not world-beating, but 5 HR and 2 steals looks awfully good from a SS. As an Indians fan, I would love to believe that this start is legit and that Cabrera is about to become a hell of a value at $6, and a player I would be able to hold onto for years. Instead, I think it's just a power surge. Realistic season expectations from Cabrera moving forward? .280 avg, 7 HR, 10 SB. He'll score some runs batting second in a pretty good lineup, but I just don't think Cabrera is going to become a 15 HR, 15 SB guy.

Andy offered to sweeten the deal and gave me a few choices - Dexter Fowler ($12) or Denard Span ($11) to help with speed, Maicer Izturis ($2), Clint Barmes, Jason Bartlett, Alex Gonzalez or Jose Iglesias (all $1) to fill MI now that I am short a Cabrera, or a couple pitchers, who I wasn't at all interested in.

Looking at my roster, I decided I didn't need to pay for Span or Fowler. I am behind on SB and runs, but just got back Rajai Davis, and my OF is reasonably full - Holliday, Pence, Vlad, Davis, Julio Borbon, Alex Rios, Garrett Jones, Carlos Lee and the soon to return Domonic Brown. Lee and Jones have been helping at 1B and Util with Carlos Pena being a disaster, but I just added Todd Helton, which should ease that burden. Regardless, there is not a lot of room to play Span or Fowler.

Instead, I turned to the MI guys, and the one who jumped out at me was Izturis. Honestly, with playing time, I see no reason he can't match Asdrubal. Since 2007, he has played only 61 to 114 games each year, but when he plays, he hits for decent average, shows reasonable pop for a MI and steals bags.

In the end, I felt I had two options - Move Cabrera for Chipper plus on the guys listed above, or leave 3B empty until I can add a replacement level 3B and give up on the year. I am currently in 8th place and it is too early to sit it out, particularly with Brown back soon and Utley hopefully coming back before TOOOO long. So I made the move.

Now, since the deal was accepted, Izturis was scratched from an Angels game and may be headed to the DL, which is a shame. It changes the complexion of the deal for sure, but not to the point that I regret it. Assuming he gets back soon and plays most of the rest of the year, I think I am still better offer with him and Chipper than I was with my alternative. And if Maicer proves worth keeping, I would have him at $4 instead of Cabrera at $8 next year.

But, as I said, what I really want to know is what you think.  So...responses? Should I have made the trade? Should I have just stuck with a free agent?


  1. I like the idea of adding Chipper - but what was the price on him? That affects how I view the trade. But the heart of the trade - Chipper for Cabrera, seems like a good deal given your needs. If the price is right, I like him much more than Hannahan. Then again, if Chipper is > $6, I don't care for it as much. I like the idea of having a little more flexibility, and we all know he's a constant injury concern.

    As for Izturis, I really don't see much value there, except as a placeholder/cipher until Utley comes back. I would've rather taken Iglesias, who at least has a little upside as a $2 guy next year.

  2. Chipper was a $1 buy at the auction, so price-wise, he is a steal. But honestly, his price doesn't concern me much because I can't see keeping him for next year anyway. Not only is he just getting older, I have Sandoval and Moustakas at 3B for next year. But we'll see...maybe at $3 I keep him and shop Sandoval in the off-season?

    I considered Iglesias and, honestly, that was probably the right move, especially with Izturis hurt now.

  3. I don't like the trade for you, although it won't make or break your season.

    In general, I think it's not worth trading a starter (especially one at a scarce position) for a short-term fill-in. Add to the fact this is a dynasty league, the starter you're shipping out is only 25 and has a secure job hitting at the top of an improving lineup.

    If we use the ZiPS RoS projections, the downgrade from Cabrera to Izturis cost you 46 R+RBI, 4 HR, and 3 SB. Let's call AVG a toss-up. However, Cabrera is projected to have almost 200 more PAs, so on a per-game basis, it's closer. Who will you have to use to fill those extra games?

    ZiPS pretty much hates Hanahan, so upgrading from him to Chipper got you something like 6 HR, 43 R+RBI, and 30 AVG points. However, you're only playing Chipper for 6 weeks or so (1/4 of RoS), so the pro-rated pickup is much less than the MI downgrade.

    So, I think the best case scenario for you is that this comes out in a wash for this season. However, you gave up potential upside at a scarce position for this and future years.

  4. With Chipper being a $1 value, I definitely am in favor of the trade. He's a nice insurance policy against Moustakas even when Sandoval is back, and if Moustakas comes in guns blazing, you might be able to flip Chipper to another team for a different piece.

    Also, in terms of Cabrera, he's certainly got value - but you mentioned you were using him at MI. MI isn't quite as shallow as SS, so I think you definitely have some room to get value in the open market there between now and next year - so I don't think losing Cabrera is as big of a hit as some might make it out to be.

    Also, I like that you added $3 to your team for this year. People are going to want to dump salary at some point, I have to think, and that puts you in a better position to make a deal.

  5. In no way is Chipper an insurance policy for Moustakas. As Chad said in his comment, he doesn't see keeping him for next year. I completely agree with him, as paying $3 for a 40-year-old injury-prone 3B with a .340 wOBA who would be a third-stringer on a 2012 team with Panda and Moustakas is an unnecessary expense. This is purely a 6-week rental and rest-of-2011 insurance policy for Panda for the cost of a top-10 shortstop (according to ZiPS RoS wOBA).

  6. I will say that this is not just a 6-week rental and insurance policy - right now, I think Chipper is likely to get a solid number of starts in my Util slot once Sandoval returns, letting me bench Garrett Jones, Carlos Pena, or whichever of my OF is struggling at the moment. And I am not sure the cost was a top 10 SS, when you consider that I received Izturis in return. Using the same measure you did (ZiPS RoS wOBA) Izturis ranks ahead of Cabrera.

  7. Yes, I saw that Izturis is projected to top Cabrera by 0.009 wOBA for RoS. But, that's only over slightly more than half of Cabrera's PAs. I don't know much about how ZiPS projects playing time and how likely it is that there will end up being such a significant difference, so maybe it's not likely. But, as I pointed out in my first comment, you're going to have to make up those 220 PAs somehow, almost assuredly with a replacement MI (~.310 wOBA), So overall, I believe you've taken a slight hit this year overall on your MI slot. Do you believe Izturis to be a more valuable keeper than Cabrera? If so, then this trade is a win for you already, but I doubt you do.

    You may slot Chipper in for some games at UTIL, but I don't foresee many. I believe in a Pena comeback (2 HRs in last 2 games), and ZiPS does too (.364 RoS wOBA vs. Chipper's .349). Overall, I still don't like the trade but as I mentioned before, it won't make or break this season or next.

    Of course, all of my analysis explicitly assumes ZiPS is correct and wOBA is a good proxy for hitter value. Both of these assumptions are certainly debatable, but I think they are reasonable approximations.

    Since I have no platform to solicit trade opinions, allow me to do so here. I've recently completed 2 trades in my ottoneu 4x4 league. I have a top two pitching staff and a median lineup (good for 4th place overall).

    In the first, I traded David Price ($26) for Justin Upton ($23) and in the second I traded Shin-Soo Choo ($34) for Prince Fielder ($30). My 1B slot was occupied by Billy Butler and I had a terrible UTIL platoon (mostly Thome and Dan Johnson).

    I'm ecstatic over these moves, which naturally makes me think I missed something. Any concerns?

  8. Izturis is at least a CHEAPER keeper, which is worth something, I guess. But I don't really know that I won this deal per se, so much as I feel like I made the best move I could to maintain a competitive team this year without crushing my future. Not exactly popping champagne bottles over this, but it'll do.

    As for your two deals - I love the Price for Upton deal, especially as you are moving from a position of strength. But even if you weren't, I'll take Upton over Price for sure - AL East pitchers more or less terrify me.

    As for the second deal, I think it depends a lot on a) what OF is replacing Choo in your lineup and b) the market price for 1B. If we assume Upton is your Choo replacement, your offense will definitely improve, as Upton>Choo and Price>your platoon. As for market prices, in original ottoneu, for example, I have Morneau at $36 and he was pretty much a clear keeper. Prince went for $57 at our auction this year. Choo went for $37. Says to me that in terms of long-term value, you made a good deal, too. I would worry a bit about your OF depth if you didn't have anyone outperforming Johnson/Thome you could use at Util, and so I would scour the waiver wire to add an OF bat - is Allen Craig available? Garrett Jones? - who can add some depth for you.

  9. I entered the season with a projected starting OF of Hamilton ($37), Choo ($34), Willingham ($7), Manny ($7), and Bay ($7). I also had Colvin ($2), Moreland ($1), D Johnson ($1), and David Murphy ($1) with OF eligibility. I also have Mike Trout ($11) waiting in the wings. Manny's sudden departure and Hamilton's injury led me to pick up Burrell ($1) and slide the surprising Moreland into a starting role. So, my current OF is Upton, Willingham, Bay, Moreland, and Burrell (who will hit the pine once Hamilton returns). FYI - Craig is available, Jones is not.

    The cost for top 1Bs in my league is definitely lower than yours: Pujols $55, Cabrera $44, Gonzalez $42, Votto $41, Teixeira $33, Howard $32, Fielder $30.