Thursday, July 5, 2018

To trade or not to trade

Last year Joe Smith cost us Samad Taylor and Thomas Pannone -- in July

Last year Jay Bruce cost us Ryder Ryan...a week later in August

A look this morning shows that the Indians are 11.5 games up from their nearest rivals in the AL Central, both of whom are 2-8 in their last 10 games and likely will be big time sellers as we approach the trade deadline.

So, unless an incredible disaster occurs, we are going to win the AL Central and make the playoffs.

August trades generally cost you less than July trades and late August trades generally cost even less as you are getting the guy(s) you want for a shorter period of time.

So why rush?

The Indians don't need a particular RH hitter.   They just need a RH hitter who does not play 1B, SS or catcher.

The Indians don't need a particular reliever, they just need an upgrade (or two) in their relief corps.

Look, the Indians are not battling for a playoff berth here like many other teams.   They are likely in the playoffs.

Let's do some bargain hunting.   I would rather have another Jay Bruce trade than a Joe Smith trade.  And I don't care if we make that trade July 31, August 1 and August 30.  

So, let's wait, take a deep breath and make trades later than earlier.   It is important to remember that teams that are buyers on July 31 are often sellers on August 31.   So let's make our trades when we need them, on August 31, rather than when it is a seller's market on July 31.

We do not need to give away significant assets in our farm system.   We need to KEEP those assets.  We are a small market team and we need to act like one.

Yeah, upgrade the team where you can but DON'T trade away our good prospects.   We don't need that to make the playoffs and, as everyone says, once you are in the playoffs anything can happen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Draft update

OK, if I have done the math right, looking at the MLB draft website, it looks like we have spent our entire draft budget PLUS our 5% allocation DOWN TO THE LAST PENNY!!!!!!!   I have been covering the draft for the Indians for a number of years and I have never seen them spend every single penny right up to the level where they would lose their #1 pick next year...but not cross that line.   Maybe other teams have done that but I am not sure how many.

So, we signed Holland for $515,000 after being able lowball Kwan.

Hill and Duplantis got away, apparently, but the bottom line is that this was a good draft.

Congratulations to management for allowing our draft guru to spend up to the exact dollar (we hope) that is allowable.  The point here is that, by doing this, the Indians will have to pay a $457,000 penalty for going the full 5% over their draft budget.  Money that will not go to a player but, rather, to MLB.   That's how much faith management put into this draft.

Congratulations to our draft gurus for structuring this draft and negotiating these contracts such that we used every possible penny and no more (we hope) to sign these picks.

The draft is the lifeblood of a small market team and we just had a good draft.   Will any of these guys ever really impact the ML team?   Who knows.  But at least now our player development staff has a chance.

Along with our Latin free agent signings (and those to come) I think the Indians have really infused a lot of talent into their farm system this year.

Now on to developing that talent!

Where are we with the draft?

OK.   Let's start by saying that the draft is only as good as the scouts/analytics/dumb luck/smart luck that goes into it.     So, you can never know how good a draft is.   For many years I have looked at various rankings and done mock drafts to see if I can do it better than the Indians.   If you look back through this blog you will know that I can't.  

So, the only questions I have about any Indians' draft are:

a. Did the Indians draft a significant number of highly touted prospects?
b. Did they allocate their bonus pool to get talent as good or better than their draft slots?
c. Did they have enough left over to sign any sleepers?

Looking at the draft right now I think they accomplished a and b.   We will find out about c. in the next few days.

Look, to make this draft a homerun they had to sign all of their picks in the first 10 rounds.  They did that.

To make it a two-run homer they needed to sign all the college guys in rounds 11-40 who were college juniors and seniors and a few HS and juco guys.   They did that.

To make this draft a three run dinger or a grand salami they also needed to sign some or all of Korey Holland, Antoine Duplantis and Kaleb Hill.

Looking at the bonus numbers here is what we have:

Amount over the Indians' bonus pool that they have spent so far:  $210,660
Amount they have left to spend to get up to 5% over their bonus pool: $246,540

Now, we may save some money if we can lowball Kwan but, at the most, we are looking AT MOST having $300,000 left to spend over budget.   If you look at it for one player that means that we can offer that guy around $400,000 (remaining excess plus the $125,000 we can spend on that spot).

When you look at those numbers, Duplantis is the only guy of the three that I think we have a good chance to sign.   Now, if I could get Holland for $400,000 I take him over Duplantis.   Ditto for Hill.   My reasoning is that getting a quality HS guy is always better than getting a quality college guy, everything else being equal.  More upside and, in rounds 11-40, you want upside over present value.

So we have a few days left but right now be looking to see if we sign one or more of Duplantis, Hill and Holland.  This draft is good right now based on the criteria above.   If we sign any of these three it just gets better.  And, for a small market club, a grand slam draft is the best you can hope for.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Thoughts from last night's game

Kluber just looked off.   He clearly looked, from the first pitch, like he was dropping his elbow and getting underneath his pitches.  They say he is healthy but his start last night was reminiscent of last post-season.

Speaking of throwback performances, Tyler Naquin is looking a lot like the Tyler Naquin of the 2016 playoffs.  I hope he turns it around but he looks more like a AAAA player to me every day.

Speaking of AAAA players, Lonnie Chisenhall really should have caught Carpenter's HR in the 1st inning.   I mean, I could have caught that ball and I am 65 years old.  And his throw to home plate on the base hit?  The guy should have been out by 10 feet but Chisenhall looked like he was just trying to get rid of it as fast as he could and, as a result, got no speed on the throw.  And his hits in this series?  Total luck.  There is a reason the guy has no HRs.   His swing is so weak that the ball can't even make it to the outfielders.   Once people get this and start playing him more shallow, he will be done unless he fixes this.

Typical bullpen night.  Yawn!

Finally, Alonso looked very uncomfortable in the box. Plus, as good of a fielder as he is, he should have made the play on the ball he deflected to Kipnis.   Kipnis, for the second night in a row, looked shaky defensively.   He is really showing no range at all at this point.

In summary, this loss was, to me, more than just a bad loss.  We need to fix the things above.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Let's Talk July Trades

First, let me reiterate that if we trade prospects for relievers it is the fault of the Indains' management.   Not many people were pointing to our lack of activity over the winter in bringing in bullpen depth...but they are all saying it now.

Rant over...for a while.

Now let's talk about July and beyond:

Clearly the Indians need bullpen help and a righthanded hitting power bat, preferably one who can play right field or third base (with Jose Ramirez moving to second base).

So, what do I do before July 31st?  Nothing.

Guys cost less after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Last year we got a situational righty in Joe Smith for two good (in my opinion) prospects: Thomas Pannone and Samad Taylor.   Pannone has been suspended for supposed drug use and Taylor has been less than impressive this year at the plate.  Still, in my opinion it was a lot to pay for a, at the time, redundant reliever.

Contrast that to getting Jay Bruce for Ryder Ryan.   Ryan has already made his way up to AA so the Mets may have something there but, at the time, he was a converted position player at low A at 22 years old.  Bruce was a starting player who gave us needed power and veteran leadership.

In comparing those trades and others that normally happen, teams get better value in August.  Yeah, the inventory is less but that August 1st demarcation line generally turns a bidding war into a bargain basement sale.

A lot of names have been bandied about but the one that intrigues me most is Adrian Beltre.  If Beltre is available in August I would do a Jay Bruce-like trade for him.   He is my biggest target.   If he is gone before August 1st, oh well.

As far as a right handed reliever, the Joe Smith trade tells me that these guys will be overpriced in July.  So, once again, wait until August.

The key here is not to trade the future for the present.   I don't think, based on circumstances at the time or since the trade, anyone would consider any of the guys we traded last year to be 'the future' of this franchise.  So, using that yardstick, guys like Cameron Hill, Connor Marabell and Tyler Krieger should be available but guys like Willi Castro, Yu Chiang Chang and Aaron Civale should not be,   These latter 3, it could be easily argued, will be an integral, though not primary, part of the future.

So, my plea to the Indians is: WAIT 'TILL AUGUST!  and DONT OVERPAY.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Draft update

Right now we have saved $264,400 from our draft budget.   If you add that to the 5% overage we are allowed before we lose a draft pick, we have $721,600 above budget to play with.

I don't have the bonus figure for Cody Morris (ranked 292, drafted 223) yet and we can't sign Steven Kwan (drafted 163, ranked 262) because he is still playing in the College World Series but I can envision them saving another $135,000 from those two based on where they were ranked vs the spot they were drafted.

This assumes that we sign Naylor for slot.  Given that his ranking was pretty solid during the year and he was drafted about where he was ranked, that is a pretty good assumption.

Thus we likely will have $400,000 (if we don't want to pay a penalty) to $850,000 to play with if we have to go over slot for guys.

So where would we use this money?

Hankins - The guy was in the conversation to go #1 overall this past winter.   So you have to imagine that $2 million won't be enough to sign him.   Let's assume it will take $2.5 to get him to sign.

If that is the case and we have that money left it will mean we are roughly $100,000 into the penalty area where we have to give MLB $100,000 to match this overage.

So, if we want to keep going, who is left?

1. I think Kaleb Hill is out of the question.   I think he was a flyer if Hankins or Torres didn't sign.

2. Korey Holland is interesting.  I think it might take $1 million to get him to sign (he was rated just a little lower than Delgado and has a strong commitment to Texas, judging by his Twitter page).  So my guess is he doesn't sign.

3. Antoine Duplantis - If we spend any more money I think it will be on DuPlantis.  Ranked #205 I can't imagine him making any more than $200,000 as a senior signing so I think $250,000 would likely cause him to sign and get his pro career started.

If they have the money I think DuPlantis is going to get signed.  As far as Holland, I doubt it.  Hill is a definite no.  There may be some other signings but I doubt that any of them will be over slot although we might go to $150,000 if we really want a guy.

The Indians are still a small market club.  There is a distinct possibility that they might not spend any money above slot at all if they need a good chunk above slot to sign Hankins.  They would still sign guys who would sign for slot but remember they would be gauging a guy's worth on the actual cost to sign him.   So, while DuPlantis might sign for $250,000, with penalty his bonus cost to the Indians would be $375,000.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A thought for the next collective bargaining agreement

As the Indians signed at least two marginal prospects for over slot after the first 10 rounds this year I had a thought.

What if, in the next collective bargaining agreement they created two separate pools with the same rules.

In rounds 1-10 you have a slot value assigned to every player.   That adds to your draft budget.   If you fail to sign a player you lose that slot value from your budget.  Just like it is now.

In rounds 11-40 you have a slot value of $100,000 assigned to every pick.   Since every team gets 30 picks that means you have $3,000,000 to play with.   However, just like in the first 10 rounds, if you fail to sign that pick you lose that slot value of $100,000.  The only difference here is if you go over your budget by 5% you lose your 10th round pick next year.   If you go over by 10% you lose your first round pick

Also, you can't use any of your first 10 round budget in the last 30 rounds and vice versa.

What this does is two things:

1. Gives teams at least as big if not a bigger budget for their first 10 round picks as they don't have to dip into that budget if they sign a player for over slot in the last 30 rounds.

2. Adds some spice to that last 30 rounds as you have a reasonable chance to believe that your team might actually be able to sign one of those late round flyers they draft as all they have to do is sign 11 college seniors for $1,000 each to get an additional million to use to sign one flyer ($1.1 cap) or a couple of flyers (some combination of $1.2 million split between those two guys).

What do you think about this change?