Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flapjacks Fantasy Transactions

Last week, two trades were made in my Yahoo H2H league.  Let's take a look at them.

1. Dissect Yourself (Micah) trades Tom Gorzelanny and Joe Blanton to Val Kilmer's Asshole (Mark) for C.J. Wilson.

Micah gets C.J. Wilson, who saved 12 games in 2007 for the Rangers and has been named the team's closer to start the season.  Wilson pitched well this spring, throwing three scoreless innings before giving up four runs in his last two appearances before the start of the regular season. Wilson did have to pitch with some tightness in his forearm, but it doesn't appear that it will affect him much this year.  He did fairly well last year taking over as the team's closer in August, with seven saves and three ER in 12.1 innings that month.  September was a little rougher as he went 4 for 5 in save opportunities and gave up seven ER in 8.1 innings.  Wilson seems to have a lock on the role for now, but Texas does have a couple of other closer options in their bullpen.  Wilson does have value for the team as a left-handed reliever, so if he can't close out games early on, they may be quick to restructure their bullpen and give someone else a shot.

Joe Blanton and Tom Gorzelanny both are solid 4th-pitchers on a fantasy squad.  Blanton offers decent WHIP and ERA, though his 5.24 career K/9 is below average.  He might struggle for wins with the rebuilding A's, but he plays in a pitcher-friendly park and he's durable, averaging 208 innings over the past three seasons.  I believe that Blanton will improve on his 3.95 ERA from last year, and that he'll post an ERA closer to his 2005 mark of 3.53.  Blanton's control has improved since his major league debut; his walks issued are trending downward and his K/BB is trending upward.  He'll be a top-40 pitcher this year.

Gorzelanny hasn't spent as much time in the majors as Blanton, but his upside is greater and if he breaks out this year, he could be a top-30 pitcher.  Gorzelanny had a 3.05 ERA in the first three months on 2007, before struggling to a 4.92 ERA in the second half.  Gorzelanny was probably not prepared to pitch 200-plus innings, and he may be an injury risk due to being overworked.  Like Blanton, Gorzelanny won't give you many wins or strikeouts, but his low WHIP and ERA could be a great benefit to any team if he can keep from being worn out or overworked.

I think Micah probably overpaid to get Wilson.  Wilson should provide saves this year, but it's not likely that he'll be the Rangers' closer for the entire season.  Micah probably should have tried to get more for Blanton and Gorzelanny, or he should have tried to keep from parting with both.  Right now, his starting pitching staff consists of Jon Lester, C.C. Sabathia, Brad Penny, Clay Buchholz, and Yovani Gallardo.  Micah did need to get saves, but I think giving up both those pitchers weakens his staff, at least until Gallardo is back.

Mark did well in getting a lot of value back for Wilson; getting both Blanton and Gorzelanny allows him to drop Doug Davis and it adds depth to a pitching staff that his some question marks due to injury risks.   Adding these two gives Mark a total of eight starting pitchers, with Scott Kazmir on the DL.  Both Kazmir and A.J. Burnett are likely to struggle with injury throughout the year, but with our weekly nine-start limit, I'm not certain that Mark will want that many starters on his roster.  His pitching depth is a strength, but he also has very little offensive depth at the moment with only twelve healthy hitters for thirteen active roster spots. Mark might have been better served in getting a batter instead of two pitchers.  I don't think that Gorzelanny will break out this year, but both he and Blanton should have decent seasons.  

2. Dinos (Jonathan) trades Justin Morneau, Jonathan Broxton and Dontrelle Willis to Naterade (Nate) for Roy Oswalt, John Smoltz, Joey Votto, Jack Cust.  

Our first blockbuster trade of the year.  Dinos get two top-fifteen pitchers, a touted first-base prospect, and a guy with 35 HR power who should break the season strikeout record if he's given enough at bats.  Oswalt has been one of the better pitchers of the decade, with a career 3.07 ERA and 112 wins in seven years.  His strikeout numbers have dropped since he struck out 206 in 2004, and his K/9 rate last year was a career-low at 6.54.  It's hard to say whether Oswalt will have post elite K-rates again, and his low strikeout totals are the only thing that can keep him from being a top-10 pitcher, but he should continue to have premium ERA and WHIP numbers.

Smoltz will start the season on the DL, but he should be back on April 6 to pitch against the Mets.  I have may doubts about how easily he'll be able to ignore all the aches and pains throughout the season, but you can't ignore the stats he puts up when he's healthy.  Smoltz had an incredible year for a 40-year old in 2007, with his best K/9 rate since 2004.  Even if his skills do diminish because of age this year, he should still be in the top-20 among starting pitchers.

Joey Votto has shown his talent in the minors, with a career minor-league OPS of .861 in six seasons.  He's shown both power and speed, with 44 HR and 40 SB in two seasons between AA and AAA.  Votto has shown lots of patience at the plate, and it's not hard to see him one day hit .300/30/15.  The only problem standing in his way this season is the Reds' incumbent first baseman, Scott Hatteberg.  Votto didn't hit that well this spring, while Hatteberg did, and it looks Hatteberg will be the starter at 1B while Votto will pick up a few at bats each week.  Votto could be great, but it might not be this year. 

Jack Cust can hit for power, but by the look of his strikeout numbers from last year, it appears to be the only thing he tries to do.  Cust should hit for power and, despite his propensity for striking out, he should get a full-season's worth of at bats on an Oakland squad devoid of much experience.  Cust is useful if you have guys that can hit for high-average to offset his low BA.

Justin Morneau's numbers regressed last year after his MVP-season in 2006.  Both his power numbers and his BA took a hit, mostly due to an awful finish in August and September in which he batted .221 with just three home runs.  I think Morneau should hit 30 HR for the third year in a row, but I don't think he'll hit .300.  Morneau sits just outside of the elite first basemen circle, but he's still young enough to make the leap to the next level.  

Jonathan Broxton is young, K's over ten batters per nine innings, and lowered his walks last year from 2006 despite pitching more innings.  Broxton could be a dominant closer once Takashi Saito can't play any more, but Broxton did not pitch that well last year in the few save situations that Saito was not available for.  Broxton has a lot of value in our league because his innings will not count against our start limit, and he racks up the strikeouts.  He should be one of the top middle relievers in the majors this year.

Dontrelle Willis had a bright career as a young starter, but his career dimmed a bit when he posted a 5.17 ERA in 2007.  Willis will get a fresh start pitching in Detroit on a team that is sure to contend, so an improvement might be expected purely because of the change of scenery. Willis has not pitched that well this spring, and his control continues to be a problem.  A better offense won't help him if he can't get through the tougher AL offenses without walking too many.  Willis should bounce back this season, but he still won't be a top-50 pitcher.  

I think the trade is fair for both sides, but I'm not certain that it helps Jonathan's team.  He needed to improve his pitching because he already had Mark Prior, Chris Carpenter, Kelvim Escobar and Orlando Hernandez on the DL, and he needed some solid pitching depth in case Ben Sheets gets hurt and Oliver Perez reverts to his pre-2007 form.  But I think he will miss Morneau's production, especially if Votto can't get more than 300 at bats this year.  Jonathan's team is now lacking in batters who hit for a high average, and I think he could have gotten someone better in the trade than Cust, who Jonathan has said might not be on his team for that long.

Nate does well in getting the best player in the deal.  With Morneau, he has a young power hitter who he can build around.  Nate greatly strengthens his offense, which was filled with young players such as Delmon Young, Justin Upton, and Adam Jones.  Nate had to subtract from his pitching staff, but he might be fine with the pitchers he has if Francisco Liriano can come back strong from his tune-up in the minors, and if Felix Hernandez can take the next step forward as an ace.  It might be wise to wait a week or two and then try and offer Nate a starting pitcher, especially if Chad Billingsley struggles to start the year.


Jonathan B said...

a fair assessment, well put.

Nathanael said...

very nice analysis. i think this trade has an equal amount of risk / reward for both of us

Micah said...

You could have mentioned that this was my third trade offer for Wilson. I felt I had an excess of SP and I only had 1 closer. Blanton and Gorzelany were very late pickups for me and I felt that although they show some future potential, they are not on teams that I can rely on for wins. I picked up Tim Wakefield to round out my pitching staff, because although he is old and may not have his catcher he's on arguably the best team in baseball. Bottom line is I wanted to get a closer for players that I don't care about at all, and thats what I got.

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