Friday, August 5, 2011

Trade Recap: original ottoneu

A quick recap of a trade I made about a week ago in the original ottoneu league:

I moved Wilin Rosario (Catcher in AA with Colorado, .284 OBP, .437 SLG, 16 HR, 41 R this year) and Brett Jackson (OF in AAA with the Cubs, .384, .521, 4, 13 in just 20 games) for Nick Swisher.

Here was my thinking on the deal - I am currently in third place and in very tight races in all four offensive categories (OBP, SLG, HR, R) and was starting some weak OF lately (BJ Upton, Martin Prado, among others) while waiting on Allen Craig and Luke Scott to return. Scott is now done for the season and Craig keeps getting pushed back (not to mention there is no guarantee he gets playing time in St. Louis anyway). I put out feelers for outfielders and one of the opportunities that came up was to grab Swish.

Without a doubt, this makes me better this year, and I don't think the price was too high. I like Rosario more than I probably should based on his numbers, but he is still only 22 and has tremendous power for a catching prospect. His walk rate is way down this year and he clearly needs to work on his approach, but just a year ago he had an OPS of .894 in AA. However, I am feeling pretty good about my current starting catcher (Miguel Montero) who only costs me $2 more than Rosario ($4 for Rosario, $6 for Montero). Assuming Rosario develops, he won't have a real impact until 2013 at the earliest, at which point he will likely cost $7 while Montero will cost $10. No reason to sweat losing Rosario.

Jackson is a different story. As I said, I have been struggling to field a strong OF this year and while I have one stud bat locked up for next year (Bautista at $31 this year, $33 next), there are a lot of question marks behind him. Pence at $19 this year has been good, and I probably keep him at $21 in 2012. Matt Joyce and Marlon Byrd are cheap, but one has been fading and the other I am not sure I REALLY believe in. Martin Prado is struggling this year, Luke Scott is probably done, BJ Upton is terrible. It isn't pretty.

Jackson, meanwhile, is 23 and is killing AAA. And there is not a ton blocking him in the bigs - depending on how much you think of Tyler Colvin, I guess. Jackson is very interesting in traditional 5x5 leagues (31 steals, 12 HR across three levels last year, 17 and 14 in 87 games across two levels this year). But in ottoneu 4x4, steals have no value, so he takes a hit immediately thanks to that. And there are a couple other worrisome signs. The .521 SLG in AAA is impressive, but over nearly 130 AA games, he was more like a .450 SLG guy. Keep translating that up to the majors and you have an awfully good OF (particularly with 30 steal potential) but not a star in ottoneu by any means. Next year, I think the owner who took Jackson (West Coast Wellness) will be very happy with him - and will probably remain so for the next few years - but I think holding onto third (and taking a shot at second) was worth losing Jackson.

And there is one other piece - Swisher only costs $22 this year. He looks expendable in part due to his .438 SLG this year, which is hardly impressive, but look back at him the past five years. He had the brutal .332/.410 2008 season, but ignoring that for a moment, his OBPs are .372, .381, .371, .359 (plus a .377 clip this year). His SLGs are .493, .455, .498, .511.

Is it possible his power has fallen off for good (his ISO is the lowest it has been since he played 20 games in his first season in Oakland)? Sure, it is possible. He is about to turn 31 and that is a perfectly reasonable age for a guy to start to fall off. But I think there is more to it than that.

His HR/FB is the second lowest it has been since that 20 game stint and it seems that is driving most of the difference. Looking at ZiPS rest of season projections, the system sees him with singles and doubles in a similar range to past seasons (90 singles would be his second most ever, 29 doubles would be in the middle of the pack for his career), but only 22 HR, after 29 the past two years. A slight uptick in his HR/FB to career levels could mean all the difference.

And if you look at his plate discipline, he is more selective than he was last year - which one would expect to lead to better results. His Swing% is down a bit, partially due to seeing fewer strikes, and partially due to swinging less often. His numbers, in fact, are right in line with his career numbers.

So, you have a guy who, except for a bad 2008 (which was highly BABIP driven, which is why I felt okay ignoring it), has proven to be about a .375/.490 hitter with 25-30 HR power, and hitting in a lineup that should allow him to score plenty of runs. Even if we knock down those stats a bit - partially due to the decline in offense across the league, partially due to aging - you have a guy who seems likely to put up 20-25 HR, 80+ runs, .365 OBP and .470 SLG. And that is an outfielder I am likely willing to pay $24 for in 2012.

In total, this makes the deal the potential of Rosario and Jackson for 1.333 years of Swisher - and that feels like a win.

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