As we near the mid-point of the season, I find myself happily in the mix in all of my ottoneu leagues, including a surprising 4th (I think surprising) in the FanGraphs Experts League. I’m in the top half of the league in six categories (R, SB, W, S, ERA, WHIP) and close in another (RBI), but I am absolutely bottoming out in K, HR, and AVG (10th in each).
My path to improvement is pretty clear – add pop, average, or strike outs. And I have some decent trade options, as well, as I am running away with SB (first place with 88, second has 61), and have a deep enough OF to sustain a loss there.
With that in mind, I have been talking to a number of owners about moving speed away from my team in exchange for a high K/9 SP or a power bat. If you check out my team, you will see that right now, my best lineup is the following:
|OF||Matt Joyce/Brandon Moss|
There are a couple glaring issues. My MI is a mess, with Hanley Ramirez and Jedd Gyorko hurt and Dee Gordon and Dustin Ackley in Triple-A. And my 1B situation is terrible – Eric Hosmer has been a bust, Ike Davis has been worse, and while Cuddyer has been fine, he is not optimally deployed at 1B when he has OF eligibility.
Basically, I should move an OF for either a MI or a 1B, and since I need power, I am basically looking for either a 1B (or potentially another OF) with pop or a high-K pitcher.
I have two offers on the table and one more I am working on. The offers I can accept right now are: Starling Marte ($3) for Anthony Rizzo ($11) or Jacoby Ellsbury ($31) and Bobby Parnell ($15) for Justin Verlander ($36). The player I am trying to acquire is Matt Harvey, who has been floated by an owner looking for speed, as well.
Let’s assume I can find a (Marte or Ellsbury)+another piece=Harvey deal, just to make this game more fun, and compare and contrast the choices:
In terms of who I give up, trading Ellsbury is more appealing to me than trading Marte. The price difference is huge and though Marte is unlikely to play like he did in April, he can keep a team competitive in SB for the next few years. Ellsbury is probably a cut candidate after the season, depending how the second half goes. We’ll ignore Parnell and the other “another piece” options for now.
In terms of who I acquire, Verlander is the least attractive, if most immediately valuable, option simply due to price tag. Given the choice between him and Harvey+$25 in spending cash, I’ll take the youngster for sure. But the Harvey-Rizzo debate is a fascinating one.
While Harvey is older (born March 27, 1989 while Rizzo is August 8, 1989) the difference is negligible. If we ignore Rizzo’s poor performance in San Diego in 2011 (I have a hard time holding it against him that he came up a year earlier than Harvey and struggled) both players have most of a season’s worth of MLB experience in the last calendar year (630 PA for Rizzo and 149.1 IP for Harvey) and both have impressed over that time (25 HR, 75 R, 87 RBI, .271 AVG for Rizzo; 9.94 K/9, 2.35 ERA, 1.00 WHIP for Harvey).
Harvey’s stats are Cy Young caliber while Rizzo’s are not MVP level (especially not for a 1B), but if you had to place a bet on one or the other to regress, my money would be on Harvey. Rizzo could actually improve from here. His BABIP is relatively low and his average is likely to climb as the season wears on. Beyond this, his HR/FB is down from last year despite adding more than a foot to his HR and FB distance (295.4 to 296.8). Anyone who has spent time in Chicago knows the ball can really jump out of Wrigley as the air warms up in the summer, and Rizzo has actually increased his FB rate.
Harvey, meanwhile, has a low BABIP (.260) and a high LOB% (80.1%) and while his FIP doesn’t suggest much regression is on the way, an ERA around 3.40 the rest of the way seems far more likely than one around 2.40.
All in all, I expect they will both prove to be top value producers at their positions, but right now Harvey gets the edge.
In the future though – Harvey is playing a more volatile position, and if the only thing you knew about them was their positions, you would have to bet that Harvey is more likely to suffer a significant injury (this is not to say he WILL suffer an injury or even that he is likely to, only that if my only criteria were “more likely to be a healthy contributor to my team in (insert future year here),” Rizzo has to be the choice).
On the other hand, 1B is a much easier position to fill. Cuddyer is doing a serviceable job for me at the moment, and Brandon Moss is a reasonable option there (as is Mark Reynolds) if needed. Plus, when a couple teams start deciding to sell in this league, there will likely be a 1B on the market (it seems like there always is).
At this point, I’d have a hard time arguing with you if you chose either Harvey or Rizzo, but there is one more factor that weighs in for me, today – in this league, while K and HR are my biggest needs, I also have room for growth in AVG and RBI. Maybe I can squeeze another point or two out of ERA or WHIP with Harvey, but my best chance to really make a move is to add a bat.
I will likely grab Rizzo for Marte. The comparable deal for Harvey is not a sure thing (should know in a couple hours!) and while I’d rather keep Marte, I think a $31 Ellsbury and an $11 Rizzo would be a better combo for my team than a $3 Marte and a $36 Verlander, especially if I have to lose a closer in the process of adding Verlander. Rizzo offers me the most upside this year and the most stability and value long term. With Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer on the way to hopefully help my pitching, I think this is my best option. But feel free to argue (I know you will!).
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