Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pushing the panic button

The panic trade.

We've all seen it. An All-Star caliber player has an atrocious first two weeks of the season so his fantasy team's owner panics and trades him away for some chump whose currently playing out of his mind but will likely cool off so much that he finishes the season on the waiver wire while the traded-away guy comes around and has yet another All-Star season. It sounds crazy, but we see it time and time again.

Today at work Paul (who taught me everything I know about baseball gambling when we were in Vegas earlier this month) was telling me that he had taken advantage of somebody else's baseball panic. He's in a 14-team head-to-head league, and here's the deal he made:

Paul traded away Randy Johnson and Carlos Delgado. In return, he got Roy Oswalt and Edwin Encarnacion.

Honestly, my first thought was: "Dang, I wouldn't want any of those guys on my team." However, with a 14-team league I guess you have to dig deep.

So what are your thoughts? Who got the better end of this deal? Did the owner of Oswalt panic too early?


Chairman said...

Personally, I think that Unit will be alright. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if he got his 16 wins and hit 300 this year. He was tossing pretty good last year when he went down with the back injury. But the arm and the legs seem to be OK. He touched 93 in his first game back. Lefties still can't hit him. Plus, the D-Backs are going to be good.

Oswalt has had his K rate decrease over the last few years, and will be tossing for a bad team. In 5x5 leagues, you don't count L's, so that factor is removed. What's good is that he's not walking guys this year. What's bad is that he's getting hit hard.

I think that Oswalt will be alright, but if Delgado picks up at all, then the cost becomes prohibitively high, especially since there's rumbling that Keppinger may get AB's at 3B after Gonzalez comes back.

Pauly said...

Hey this is Paul...I just want to add some info here... this is gonna be fun!

First, I am very happy to be dumping two 40-year-old players. There is no way Unit stays healthy for a whole season and I would bet any amount of money that he will not be available for the fantasy playoffs. *remember that my league is H2H, so cumulative stats only count for seeding purposes.* Also, everyone has forgotten that Delgado was horrible the last 2 years -- because he has had 2 decent weeks to start the year.

Second, Encarnacion is the throw-in in the deal because I needed a stopgap for injured 3B Mike Lowell. Essentially, Delgado and Encarnacion are bench players for me (the first backup). Getting a replacement 3B was the impetus for the deal.

Now to Oswalt...
Since it's a points-based league, losses DO count against me (-3 points); however, Oswalt I think is just unlucky this year -- but such a small sample size for anybody to think he has gone into the tank after 4-5 great years.
April 2005: 3.25 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 6.75 K/9
April 2006: 2.76 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 5.79 K/9
April 2007: 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 5.79 K/9
March/April 2008 (so far): 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 6.75 K/9

The K/9 rate is as good as ever. I just looked up his BABIP for 2008 and it's .430 compared to his career average of .311. He has given 2.81 HR/9 this year already, and his career average is under one. This all tells me that he is either 1. injured (no real indication from him or the team that this is true); or 2. unlucky.

I didn't even hesitate to take this deal because, of course, I'm in the "unlucky" camp. And his K rate has dropped quite minimally over the last few years -- here is his K/9 lately:
2005: 6.85
2006: 6.77
2007: 6.54
2008: 6.75

Oswalt has always been a top-10 NL pitcher for fantasy. I don't see how 3 starts changes all that.

Anyway, this is fun and I am enjoying your blog, Greg. I told Steve to check it out too. I'll probably go make a post about how paying for the "top-notch" closers is a total waste of money/picks on the other post...

Greg said...

Welcome to the blog, Paul!

As for the hitters involved in your trade, it sounds fine. I'm assuming Delgado wasn't your best 1B, so parting with him won't make or break your season. (Although the Chairman makes a good point about the prospects of decreased at-bats for Encarnacion once Gonzalez is healthy.)

Comparing Oswalt and Johnson is more interesting. If Johnson stays healthy, then I'd rather have Johnson. But I know you don't think The Big Unit will stay healthy, and you do make a good point regarding the added importance of having healthy players at the end of the season in a H2H league (playoffs).

In a roto league, yeah, I'd rather have Johnson. That being said, I do think that Oswalt will turn things around and be a fine pitcher this year. I also think he's more likely to be healthy in September, so he could be the better option in an H2H league.

From a reliable starting standpoint, I'm still an Oswalt fan. However, I don't consider him a dominant fantasy player. He won't be a Top 10 NL pitcher this year. Heck, even John Maine has a higher K/9 than Oswalt. ;-)

For what it's worth, Paul, as long as Johnson doesn't win 16 games then you'll feel pretty good about the deal at season's end. But if Johnson does get those 16 wins...

Chairman said...

I actually haven't thought out H2H leagues for baseball. Do you guys do points, like you would in football? Or is it H2H for stat categories each week?

A part of it is the roster size, as well. If you have small rosters, and no DL slots, then injury risks loom much larger. In our league, we've got big rosters and 2 DL slots, so you can survive a couple injuries w/ relatively little worry.

Anyway, the comparison that you should be making isn't to Oswalt's career K rate, but rather to what he was prior to his injury in 2003. Many pitchers go from high K's to low K's as they get older. They may still throw just as hard, but they "learn to pitch" along the way, and pitch to contact more.

Oswalt through 2004 was at 8.11 K/9IP, and from 2005 to present he's at 6.73. You've seen a similar drop in Roy Halladay's numbers, as he's gone to about 5.5 K/9IP the last couple years, compared to 6.8 the previous 5 years.

For our league, we cap off IP at 1400 per season, and we have teams getting to 1300 K's, or about 8.36 K/9IP. 1200 K (7.7 K/9IP) does you well in our league, generally, and once you get below 1000 K (6.43 K/9IP), you start falling below the median. And note, the rates that I'm listing here are based on total K's accumulated, with a max of 1400 IP. In reality, most teams come in below 1400 IP (I'd guess around 1300) IP, so in our league, the K rate's are pushed upwards (to the point where setup men who can get 8 saves, have high K rates and low ERA/WHIP) become almost no-brainers.

Pauly said...

Just for fun, a quick update on Oswalt and Randy Johnson. Remember I said that a buy-low never looks good right away…all it takes is a month.

Oswalt since I traded for him:
* 6 starts
* 6 quality starts
* 4-0 record
* 36 Ks
* 3.51 ERA
* 1.12 WHIP

Unit since the trade:
* 6 starts
* 1 quality start
* 3-1 record
* 32 Ks
* 5.40 ERA
* 1.48 WHIP

No need to put up Delgado vs. Encarnacion…LOL – oh yeah, and I just picked up Delgado off waivers from the impatient owner who already dropped him.