Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fantasy Frustrations: The Rickie Weeks Story

Roughly 7 minutes into day three of the Winter Meetings in Florida, the Brewers have announced that
Scooter Gennett will be the primary second basemen heading into the 2014 season, which puts their former second baseman, Rickie Weeks, firmly on the bench. From a managerial standpoint, it sounds like a solid decision. Gennett projects as an average infielder with not much pop, an average slash line, and average defense. Don't let his stats fool you last year as his .324 mark was heavily inflated by his .380 BABIP and his .155 ISO was his highest mark since A ball. Gennett won't be much, do much, or look attractive, but that's what this Brewers team needs. Just to get through 2014.

Weeks on the other hand is a tough story in general. Rickie is owed $11 million next year and currently has a seat on the bench with his name on it. So obviously, the Brewers have started to reach out to needy teams who might want to take a flier on an injury riddled, aging second basemen that "could" bounce back. But will he? A lot of it depends on health. Most of his value lies in his bat (he led the league 4 years in a row in errors at second), but injuries the past two seasons has zapped that. A lingering wrist injury to start the year last year saw his home run total last year dip to 10, while the three seasons before had him hitting 21, 20, and 29 bombs. Wrist injuries are extremely tricky to deal with as they often kill power, but aren't severe enough to end your season. The Yankees did the smart thing last year with Tex as they recognized that and shut him down after a few weeks before this value dropped.

In 2013, Weeks' triple slash line was atrocious at .209/.306/.357, but like I mentioned, I am leaning towards a lingering injury playing a major part in this. His BB% and K% remained the same (so he was seeing pitches like normal), but with the wrist issue his ISO dropped to .149. A LOSS OF POWER! A major one actually as this was the lowest since 2006, and if you look a little deeper, his numbers can explain this a little further. His line drive rate was a tad higher this year at 18%, but if you aren't hitting for as much power, those line drives will typically turn into softer outs. This is demonstrated in a very low BABIP at .268, which is about 20 points lower than his career average. Lower BABIP leads to a lower average, which leads to less time on base and a lower OBP. So there you go, Rickie's linger wrist issues and a shortened season due to the hamstring tear can plausibly explain his awful slash line.

So.....now what? Who wants to take on an old, expensive, glass second basemen? Well, maybe more teams than you think. Since his option for 2015 is a team option, that more than likely won't be picked up, this would essentially be a rental situation. Trading for Rickie Weeks who carries a 1 yr / $11 million deal is an attractive thought, and I think I have identified a few suitors.

New York Yankees

This would be my top choice of trade destination for Weeks. The Yankees could take on all $11 million, or almost all of it, in the deal and give up a mediocre prospect. He immediately slots in at second base and gives the lineup a little more thump. The Yanks just signed Kelly Johnson who could spell him at second for a game or two each week to preserve his health. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cashman give Milwaukee a call just to kick the tires.

Kansas City Royals

I'm not going to lie, a little piece of me died inside upon Chris Getz getting DFA'd. I love Chris Getz, but he is terrible, which is why the Royals are currently looking for a second basemen. While the Royals do not have a lot of money to spend, they do have a couple of decent lower level prospects, or back end MLB ready arms, that they could give up to have Milwaukee eat some of the cost. If they could get the Brewers to take on about half of the contract, taking a flier on Weeks at 1 yr / $6 million would be a steal. Then, if things didn't work out, and they normally don't in KC, flip him at the deadline.

Colorado Rockies

DARK HORSE! Second base was a revolving door in Colorado last year, and while they have some internal options, the Rockies seem to prefer proven products over young talent (Aka signing Latroy Hawkins while they have Rex Brothers). Colorado recently freed up a little money with the Fowler trade and could
swoop in to take on Weeks' deal full on. Rickie's power in Colorado? Nice.

In the end, I don't think there is anyway that the Brewers keep Weeks this year. There is no way they can pay a bench player $11 million, and since this is a rebuilding year anyways, they will hand the job to Gennett to see if he can do anything with it. Depending on what park he plays in and how his hamstring is healing, Weeks could be an attractive fantasy baseball option in fantasy drafts next year, so keep an eye on this potential sleeper.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Does Trumbo Make the Diamondbacks better? Maybe.

The winter meetings started yesterday, and like usual, many rumors and trade theories blew up on Twitter. One such rumor that has been churning for months, and came to fruition yesterday, was that the Arizona Diamondbacks have their eyes set firmly on Mark Trumbo. The Angels are looking for starting pitching depth, something the Dbacks have an abundance of, and AZ is looking for corner OF power, something Trumbo has. A match made in heaven right?

Well, maybe. Trumbo is slightly older for a prospect and has quite a few wrinkles when it comes to his all around game. He strikes out, a lot. His K% was up to 27.1% last year, the highest of any of his professional seasons, and has ticked upwards each year in MLB. His outfield defense isn't great with a -4.7 UZR. For reference, Parra's OF defense for AZ last year was 31. Just a little bit better. And to throw one last thing at Trumbo, he isn't the best base runner (picture someone running with bed pans on their feet).

But the major thing people who don't like Trumbo fail to understand is that his power is a solid 8. A true 8. When he connects, the ball explodes off of his bat. Even if you take every player out of the majors and minors right now, there are few players with that type of raw power. He hit 34 home runs last year, and that was playing in multiple parks that suppressed home runs. Let him play half of his games at Chase field and see what happens. Two other huge pluses for Trumbo are his health and cost. Trumbo has played in at least 144 games in each of the first three seasons with the Halos and showed no signs on health issues in the minors. Combine that with the fact that he is just now becoming arbitration eligible and is under contract through 2017, you start to see the picture.

So in short, Trumbo will give you ++Power, good health, cheap long term power cost, a bunch of strike outs, and shotty defense. Do you see any free agents like that? I do. Nelson Cruz is going to cost some team a TRUCK LOAD of money on the open market and is almost the exact same player. Why not throw a bone to the Angels and get the same type of player for a lot less money?

BUT BUT BUT TRISTAN!?!?! WE WOULD HAVE TO TRADE TYLER SKAGGS AND MAYBE TREVOR CAHILL?!?!? BUT BUT BUT BUT@!!!!!!!FKJDSDFLSDKJF

Had a nice Twitter quarrel last night with a few Dbacks writers out in AZ over the inclusion of Skaggs in any deal for Trumbo, and my sentiment is still the same. So what? Yes, I understand that Skaggs is a top prospect. Yes, I understand that Skaggs is only 22 years old. AND YES I UNDERSTAND THAT HE COULD STILL BE REALLY GOOD. I GET IT. Please, please. Hammer it home some more.

But have you stopped to think about the fact that he might not be good? Top prospects flame out all of the
time. Ask Tampa Bay. For every great prospect they brought up, they had many more crash and burn. Ask the White Sox. They don't have any top prospects ever, so they won't know, never mind. Skaggs got a taste of MLB last year and FREAKED OUT. He was lit up and was sent back to AAA to work on his "mechanics" issues. Some say that he is pitching too tall and is a few switches away from correcting his problems. I don't buy it. He just isn't very good.

Skaggs is a lefty finesse pitcher without the finesse. He has a fastball that sits in the upper 80s with a decent change to go with it, but that's it. His curve is shaky at best, and shaky curves in the majors get sent 440 ft. Especially with lefty finesse pitchers, you HAVE to have something else. Curves come and go and can even change mid-game. If you don't have a decent curve to go with a slower fastball and change, things go sideways. Just ask Barry Zito (insert sad face).

Talks have also centered around AZ sending Trevor Cahill to LAA. I am somewhat on the fence here, but still, this is not a terrible idea either. While Cahill has been a serviceable starter for the Dbacks, this is the last cheap year of his extension. Starting in 2015, he will command $12+ million a year, and paying $12 million a year for a 4th starter and an ERA close to 4.00 is an overpay no matter how you look at it. Joe Blanton anyone? How did that work Philly?

So why not include them both? Have Arizona send Cahill and Skaggs to LAA for Trumbo and a mid-level prospect. The Angels would certainly pounce on that while Arizona would get the power and cash savings that they are looking for. The cash saved could then be used to acquire other pieces to help round the team out. Neither team says no, but apparently everyone else besides me on Twitter does.

Trumbo brings Arizona thump, protection for Goldy, and salary relief. Not much else has been working for the past few years and I am growing tired waiting for the "prospects" to arrive. It is time to cash in.

Friday, December 6, 2013

How To: Fixing the Mariners

I will give it to you. Most of the time, the writers here at StartWedman are full of satire, ill advised ideas, and crap. Even though I believed that Justin Upton's time with the Diamondbacks eerily mirrored the movie
Elf, that doesn't mean that you all thought that way too. And since I am one of the few remaining writers here at StartWedman that actually posts things, I can't say that many of my thoughts have been useful either, for awhile. But still, I at least understand how baseball works, how free agency goes, and have at least a decent grasp on what player value is.


The Seattle Mariners.....do not. 

Twitter is currently catching fire with the news that Robinson Cano will be signing in Seattle for somewhere around 10 years and $240 million. WHOA! AWESOME! What a great idea! Now that Seattle signed Cano, that means that other free agents will flock there and they will win lots and lots of games! Zduriencik is a genius! CAN I SQUEEZE A FEW MORE EXCLAMATION POINTS IN HERE?!?

Lets be real for a second, or maybe a lot of seconds. The Seattle Mariners are not good. They haven't been good in awhile. This signing doesn't make them good. It makes them better, but still not good. They are a team with many holes left to fill and earmarking a large chunk ($25 million) each year of your payroll to an old, declining second basemen isn't the way to get better. Do you realize that their payroll last year along was $45 million.....TOTAL.

But the thing about the Mariners is that they actually have a decent young core of a team. Yes, they need a few spare parts to make it complete, but the talent is almost there. Zunino needs some seasoning, but was a monster in college, Seager is a beast at third, Brad Miller is speedy and last year handled his own at SS, Smoak is slowly turning a corner, and Kendrys is at least a stable option at DH. Funny thing about all of those players? Their average age is 25.8! That is a decent place to start.

So lets rewind the clock 18 hours. A large Twitter conversation is happening between all of the writers at StartWedman. While Cooly, wrongly, explains that the Mariners should sign Cano, Zach and I quickly put a plan in place for the Mariners to make they a better team in 2014. Fun fact about our place? We don't commit $240 million to an aging second basemen who is already showing slight signs of decline. Ready? Go.

  • STEP 1: Trading for Brandon Phillips + Minor League Player
    • If Seattle wants a second basemen, there is a much cheaper option out there. Yes, Phillips is also declining and showing his age, but at 4 yr / $50 million, he represents a much lower cost. Plus, in my eyes, you throw in Ackley in an attempt to have Cincy offset some of the cost. Sad to see Ackley go, but he isn't turning into what Seattle envisioned when they drafted him in 2009.
  • Step 2: Sign Matt Garza
    • King Felix needs a little bit of help out there and Garza was never really an ace like the Cubs wanted him to be. Garza slides into the #2 SP slot and gives the Mariners a VERY solid rotation with Felix, Garza, Iwakuma, Walker, and Ramierz. Hultzen is waiting in the wings after rehab and Paxton could be ready soon. Throw a 5 yr / $75 million deal at him and it would get things moving. Yes, that is a longer deal for an injury prone pitcher, but Garza has been solid when healthy.
  • Step 3: Sign Corey Hart
    • Coming off a lost season in Milwaukee due to a knee injury, Hart should come cheap, maybe around 1 yr / $7 million. If he does well throughout the season, they can extend him or flip him at the deadline. Low risk, decent chance at a high reward for someone who can spend time at 1B, RF, and DH.
  • Step 4: Sign Jesse Crain
    • The rotation looks amazing after the Garza signing, but one of their weaknesses has been the back end of the rotation. Furbush, Medina, and Perez all pitched well during the middle innings and Capps' peripheral numbers were decent enough that I can see his stuff succeeding, but they lack a shut down closer. Enter Jesse Crain. While he has never been given the opportunity to close, the stuff is there. Last year had him with a 11.3 K/9 and a 0.74 ERA. A late season injury cost him, but on the upside, that makes him cheaper in free agency. A 1 yr / $4 million base with incentives on games finished would do it.
Doing all of that research, I actually did feel some shame in the fact that I knew, and now know even more, so much about the Seattle Mariners. Do these moves above put them over the top and make them a playoff team? Probably not. But those moves are all low cost, high reward, and do not compromise the future payroll of the team. If the season would start to head downhill, Crain and Hart can both be moved to contenders at the deadline to help boost a lacking farm system.

Our 2014 Seattle Mariners Lineup
C: Zunino
1B: Smoak
2B: Phillips
SS: Miller
3B: Seager
LF: ?
CF: Saunders
RF: Hart/Franklin
DH: Morales

The real 2014 Seattle Mariners Lineup
C: Cano
1B: Cano
2B: Cano
SS: Cano
3B: Cano
LF: Cano
CF: Cano
RF: Cano
DH: Morales