Sunday, April 3, 2016

In This Year's Baseball News You Could Not Possibly Care About

Smoking Cuban
Here is the results from yesterday's draft. Players with asterisks were keepers, and as this is the ninth year for this league, the market does a solid job at policing values.

Player TM 2016 $ 2017 $
Wilson Ramos WAS 1 4
Yadier Molina STL 1 4
* Mark Teixeira NYY 15 19
* Dee Gordon MIA 19 23
* Manny Machado BAL 14 18
* Carlos Correa HOU 7 10
* Javier Báez CHC 10 14
* Xander Bogaerts BOS 10 14
* Matt Kemp SD 20 25
Marcel Ozuna MIA 6 9
Matt Holliday STL 7 10
Evan Longoria TB 20 25
* David Price BOS 33 38
* Jon Lester CHC 14 18
* Scott Kazmir LAD 7 10
* Sonny Gray OAK 18 22
* Santiago Casilla SF 7 10
* Trevor Rosenthal STL 15 19
Justin Verlander DET 9 12
Dellin Betances NYY 2 5
Shawn Tolleson TEX 5 8
Yulieski Gurriel FA 1 4
Ryan Zimmerman WAS 3 6
JJ Hoover CIN 1 4
Brett Lawrie CWS 1 4
Total 246 335

A quick word about the non-obvious protects. Baez is clearly overpriced for his current situation, but I just can't imagine that the Cubs will piss away another year of service time, and his improvement in contact rate last year struck me as mechanical and sustainable. In terms of pure offensive potential, I think he's got 30+ HR ability in a middle infield position with a modicum of speed, so, well, it's worth the risk to me. Kazmir had a poor spring training with velocit y issues and is officially worrisome, but he's been better recently and I love his situation. So he stays.

Now, the actual picks. Catchers were taken late when everyone was either clear of cash or catchers, and are both past the first 20 went off the board. Having said that, they've both hit in the past, are in the middle of decent lineups, and will hit the wire if they don't produce. I don't generally believe in paying for catchers, as the injury chance and year to year variability seems higher than any other place. Evan Longoria was my pick at 4th overall, under the theory that Baez needs bench time to start the year, power in a corner was relatively hard to come by, and he's a bounce-back candidate in an offense that almost has to be better. With the number of protects that I came in with, I also wanted to cost control my first round pick, and Longoria has entered the state of his career where he's kind of dull, so it worked out.

Next, the outfielders. I know that Miami has dicked around with Osuna in the past, but his second half was solid, the tools are undeniable, and the fences are in this year. I'd have gone $10 higher for him, as I think he's been overshadowed by the other MIA OFs. (For, well, reasons.) Holliday is past his prime but still an OBP machine (we do that instead of BA), and seems likely to add 1B coverage soon, which is useful in a situation where I'm depending on Teixeira to stay healthy. Ryan Zimmerman and Brett Lawrie add the possibility of health, power, and a cheap keeper if they can move things up to the next level. Reasonable lottery tickets in an era of baseball where 20+ HRs is about all you can really hope for.

Pitching-wise, I did what I could with a short stack, but was unable to lock down the quality young starter or shutdown closer that would have made for a better draft. Counter-punching around the room, I loaded up on affordable relief options, with Betances having a chance to have early value with the Aroldis Chapman suspension, and Hoover and Tolleson currently having the gig on their teams. Realistically, one of these guys will wash out, and I'll stream a SP from available options. In a 12-team mixed league, that's usually not hard to find. Verlander is simply a case of putting out a big name to try to draw money out of the room, then just taking the nice price when it was offered. His dominance in the second half last year tells me there's still something in the tank. 

That leads me to my idiosyncratic moment of the entire draft, the selection of a player that wasn't even on the radar of the nerdiest nerds in the room, Cuban star Yulieski Guerriel. Yuli is in his low 30s, defected a month ago, and is a true free agent who is, in all likelihood, ready to step in an MLB lineup today. He's got plus power and plate coverage, a little brother who is also a prospect, and could be the focus of a bidding war and/or immediate playing time. With Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes and Yusiel Puig all having high success right away, I'm hopeful that Yuli can do the same, and for when I named him (with slots to fill, and the desire to get a $1 guy), it was a highlight of a difficult draft.

Roster-wise, you never win a league on draft day; you can only lose it. I'm not sure if I've done either, really. I just haven't had the fire in the belly for baseball for a long time now, and doing the draft prep was a real slog for a long time. Part of this is the dread of the A's this year, who are just going to waste another year and move assets around like always, and part of it is just not loving this era of pitching, pitching, and more pitching. As I wrote this, the Cards played the Pirates and I willed myself to watch it, and I'll be honest with you: it's been hard to stay awake. 3-0 Pirates in the eighth, and, um, yeah. Why am I not watching the NBA right now?

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