Friday, July 29, 2011

Fangraphs Experts League Update

Seeing as I started this blog in order to discuss my success (or lack thereof) facing off against the experts of the fantasy baseball world, I figured I should start my return to the blog with a review of where things stand for Amateur Hour - my team in the Fangraphs Experts League.

For starters, below is a graph depicting overall standings going back to June 1 - a couple weeks after my last post and about the time at which life started distracting me from baseball (click to enlarge):

The graph is a bit tough to read but if you go back to June 1, AH is in 5th - not particularly close to 4th, but, as you can see from the run made by Eno's Slaughter over the next week, certainly within striking distance of the top three. And then things go down. While the drop wasn't precipitous, it was constant. Over the next two months, my team slowly slipped in the standings, eventually losing almost 10 points and going from fifth-within-striking-distance-of-third to seventh-and-distantly-behind-sixth.

With just about two months left in the season, its time, for lack of a better phrase, to poop or get off the pot. I have a plethora of young talent I could move in deals - Hosmer, Montero, Moustakas, Teheran, Pomeranz, Machado, Lamb, Brown, and more - to get some rentals and try to make a run. But realistically, I am not sure I have the pieces in place now to make that run feasible.

My pitching is generally solid, but not great, and I am struggling in two categories that are going to be hard to make up ground in - Saves (which just aren't available in a league with 5 RP slots) and K's (where I face a huge climb to catch the teams ahead of me). And my offense is pretty abysmal: 11th in runs, 9th in SB and AVG. I am squarely in the middle of the pack (tied for 6th) in HR and 5th in RBI, but that isn't nearly enough.

But, again, with two months left, it isn't time to wait-and-see anymore. Looking towards next year, there are still some holes on my team that need filling. I need some MI help for sure - Utley at $12 in 2012 is a steal, but Freddy Sanchez and Maicer Izturis, while potentially keepable, cannot by 2/3rds of my starting MI. 3B may be a concern - Sandoval is keepable at $26, but do I WANT to keep him at that when I have Moustakas ready? Of course, I would have to be sure Moustakas was, in fact, ready. Hosmer at 1B seems fine, but what do I have for depth? Carlos Pena is showing power but little more, Helton is aging. And my OF behind Holliday is thin (Pence is probably too expensive to keep, Garrett Jones can only be used half the time, Rajai Davis is going to lose ABs, Vlad will lose his OF eligibility).

And then there is my rotation, which I was happy with most of the year (Halladay, Weaver, Marcum, Dempster, Hellickson, Jurrjens) which clearly has not netted me the stats I want/need. Feliz may be a keepable closer, but I have very little experience with saves or valuing closers (remember, I have mostly played original ottoneu the past few years, where saves aren't counted), so I am not sure what to do with him.

The leaves me looking to pick up young, cheap OF, MI and SP/RP help as I prepare for 2012. Guys I would like to target would be cheap RP who have a shot to become closers soon, but will provide value even if they don't get saves (Kenley Jansen?), SP who can contribute in 2012 but probably won't this year (Josh Johnson? Jacob Turner?), and prospects who are either close or who are up but not REALLY contributing right now (Belt? Trout?) and therefore might be available.

The other side of that equation is that I have to have pieces to offer up. Sadly, one of my biggest trade chips was taken away from me recently - With Arencibia and Montero ready to go, I had planned to trade Brian McCann basically since day one of the season. Instead, he is injured and I am stuck holding him at a 2012 price of $35 and potentially cutting him loose in the off-season.

My other big chips - Halladay and Holliday - are both potentially, keepable, I think. They are expensive, but not prohibitively so, and both are sure-fire production. Of course, if you want to get talent, you have to give up talent, so those two are on the market (for the right price).

Neftali Feliz is available - I like him and the guy clearly has talent, but as I mentioned above, I struggle to value saves and this has me reluctant to tie up $23 in Feliz for next season. This very well may provide an opportunity to an owner who is better at evaluating the value of saves to take advantage of me, but I am still comfortable moving him.

Sandoval is a chip I would expect to see some interest in. With Longoria, Wright and Zimmerman all performing below expectations, 3B has been a weak position this year and Panda is hitting .297 with 10 HR (and a couple steals) despite having played only 63 games thus far. Honestly, I think he is well-worth keeping at $26 next year but, again, you have to move talent to get talent, and I am content to go with Moustakas at 3B next year if need be.

The other guys I am shopping all have their flaws - Chipper is old and has been hurt, Helton doesn't provide much pop for a 1B, Garrett Jones is a platoon player at best, Rajai Davis is in a crowded outfield, etc. - but it may not take a ton to nab one of these guys (or they may be a good way to sweeten a deal for one of the big names mentioned above).

As negotiations get going (IF they get going - there have been almost no trades in this league all year), I will try to post updates here, as appropriate.

In the meantime, here is a screenshot of my roster as of today. Each of these guys will see a $2 salary bump (unless he has 0 MLB experience, in which case it is $1). My question for you - who should I plan to keep and who should I try to trade?

A similar update on my other team (including a run-down of a near-trade a couple weeks ago and an actual trade today) will be up sometime early next week.


  1. Your team screenshot isn't showing up, but I went ahead and looked into your league (thanks, Niv!) using the league look-in function in ottoneu. I like your roster for next year - but the guys I would try and move are the guys you mentioned: Feliz, Davis, etc. I'd also look to move two other guys: Farnsworth and Pence. Farnsworth has been having a great season, and he's cheap, but history tells us that he may not be as effective next year, and the Rays may be ready to give McGee or someone else a chance to close. With Pence, he's a solid fantasy play in a 5x5, but perhaps you could bet on increased interest due to the trade deadline, and he's not exactly a steal at his keeper price.

    As for Sandoval, 3B may be a wasteland - and I like the idea of dealing him. With Moustakas, you've got someone who *could* be a solid 3B behind Pablo. I wouldn't be afraid of running him out there in 2012.

    Oh, and another guy I'd see if I could get value for is Jurrjens. He's solid, and for $4 next year you could do a lot worse, but that's a crowded rotation he's in, and those peripherals don't match the production.

    Once you get rid of some of your dead weight guys (Guerrero, Davis, Fowler), you may be able to have enough cash to pick up a big free agent, if one becomes available through the FA system. I don't think you're in bad shape for 2012 at all.

  2. Offer on the table for Vlad - Swisher ($7) for Vlad ($17) with a loan to make their salaries even this year.

  3. That deal is crazy. Why on earth is he willing to do that?