the day before opening night

in my last post, geoff made a comment that i believe deserves a response. he wrote:

in your last paragraph you implicitly assume that kershaw = lee. do you believe that is true? kershaw seems to be younger, less expensive, and arguably better overall (better in ks and slg, even in era, worse in whip).

even if they are a wash, is turning smoak, santana and reimold into utley a coup? i like utley a whole lot (think he’s the 3rd best hitter in the league) but that is quite a bit to give up – its a very win-now deal. obviously if things dont go well you can try to flip utley again as we move along into the season, but do you expect you’d be able to get that much back for him?

no doubt your team is better off this year as a result of these deals on net. so i guess im trying to figure out the merits of looking at your roster post-draft and immediately deciding to either go for it all or sell it all off versus taking a more wait-and-see approach as the season progresses. i certainly fall more on the cautious side, but the past two years you seem to have gone with the aggressive strategy.

i think geoff’s overarching point was that i was implying a whole hell of a lot in my previous post, and i think he was right. so let me step through each of his comments and then address it as a whole, to better share my thinking on how to build an ottoneu dynasty team.

first off, he points out that i imply that kershaw = lee. his criticisms against that assumption are valid – kershaw is $7 less, he strikes out more batters, he still has tremendous amounts of upside since he’s 22, etc. kershaw is, for the purposes of long-term thinking, unequivocally better than cliff lee. however, i think cliff lee is not a terrible deal at $33, and i think what i gain back in cliff lee gets me, conservatively, 3/4 of the way back towards what i lost in clayton kershaw. the jump i made was that i can eat that 1/4 drop in a starter, because i have other good starters in my rotation. and what i got back – chase utley – more than makes up for that drop.

this brings me to the second point geoff made, of how i gave up 2 top 20 prospects, including a top 5 prospect in carlos santana, as well as a young, cheap OF in making these trades. i gained back 2 established stars with no upside and borderline keeper status for 3 surefire keepers and nolan reimold, who could be a keeper as well. both the prospects i gave up are major-league ready – santana should be up with the tribe this summer, and justin smoak is probably the starting first baseman for the texas rangers in 2011. and of course, clayton kershaw is clayton kershaw.

i agree, this was an aggressive set of moves to make before the season even started. i don’t know how my risks (see executing a flawed strategy) are going to pan out yet, and if they all somehow go well, i might not have needed to give up what i gave up. and if they all go badly, utley might not be enough to turn it around. i understand that, but there are two things to consider:

  1. jee hang started his firesale. a team was going to end up with the big names off his team. he helped make the decision to be aggressive pre-season.
  2. all it takes is one league win in 6 years to pay for entry fees. in other words, if i ever have the slightest chance to finish in the top 3, i have to jump on it as aggressively as possible.

my first point is simple – if i didn’t get cliff lee, allan might have gotten cliff lee. or geoff, or chad, or parker, or sugarman, or any other owner. and in order to pry utley from jon’s hands, knowing full well that jon wasn’t planning on moving him until mid-june at the earliest, i knew i’d have to catch his attention. clayton kershaw catches one’s attention, and cliff lee makes it bearable to part with clayton kershaw, with the added bonus of stopping another team with a strong staff from improving it with cliff lee.

and my second point is the whole point. its great to build a team organically with prospects that you stick with for 3 years until they pan out and give you above-average production at below-average prices for 6 years. but, it’s even better to seize your opportunities. because who knows – maybe justin smoak and carlos santana don’t pan out, maybe nolan reimold doesn’t ever become a top-tier OF, and maybe clayton kershaw never tops the year he had last year. prospects are a whole lot of fun, and finally getting to play them is one of the most exciting things about ottoneu, but the only thing that is more exciting is caring about at-bats in late september and walking away with 6 times what you put in.

2 thoughts on “the day before opening night”

  1. it all falls apart when cliff lee goes to the DL, of course. i stand by my reasoning, but GODDAMNIT.

  2. 1) Lee shouldn’t be gone long.
    2) Kershaw’s line tonight. Only 3 ER (not bad) but only 4.2 IP (bad). 5 hits and SIX walks…SIX! with just 4 k’s (although i guess that isn’t bad in 4.2 IP). So…ERA=5.79 and WHIP=2.36. Not gonna calculate SLGa but he did give up a HR. Just saying…

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