Friday, February 23, 2007

Value is a Relative Term

I've been silent for the past several weeks, as I've locked myself away with Mike's posts on inflation. I can now say I have the tools needed to finally finish ahead of him - unfortunately, I'm not sure I have the players. We shall see.

"Value is a relative term" is really an offshoot of some of Mike's prior posts, in light of a trade I just made in my American League. I want to put the deal in context and talk a little about about value versus need.

At the end of the year last year, I wound up with 7 draft picks from various trades (the 2, 8,9,11, 21 and 24 - I traded one of those picks at some point near the end of the year), as well as a minor league system that included Daric Barton, Billy Butler, Brad Snyder and, potentially, Erick Aybar and Craig Hansen, depending on what happens coming through the end of spring training - we can only have 4 total minor league players, so you immediately see my dilemma.

I got hurt a little bit in the offseason, losing a $2 Rod Barajas, but did have a $10 S2 Kendrick, $10 S1 J. Lopez, $10 S1 Sizemore, $1 S1 Street, $12 S2 Papelbon, $10 S2 McCarthy, $2S 1 Duchscherer, and a collection of stiffs.

Taking a quick look at the league, I saw my dilemma clearly. Most of the top 10 pitchers were going to be kept; D-Mat is a Red Sox, and they usually are a little overvalued in our league; and I had a couple of nice freezes, but really no starting pitching (Papelbon is a wildcard, McCarthy is in Texas, and Greinke (on my reserve list) is another wildcard). Moreover, I had 6 picks in a relatively weak minor league draft and a couple of minor leaguers to keep. I also found, however, an opportunity - one of the teams that sold out to try and win last year had zero picks, zero farm players and a $12S1 Sabathia.

After some aggressive negotiating back and forth, I traded Daric Barton, Kendrick, and the 9,11,21 and 24 for Sabathia, who will get a $17L2 contract on freeze day (I don't think I'm divulging any big secret there Mike!). The questions are: did I overpay, and, if I did, why is an overpay in this situation a good idea?

The obvious answer and truth is yes, I did overpay. Yet today, I am a very happy camper. Why? Because, in the end, all of the rules, the guidelines and advice are meant, under certain conditions, to be violated. While Kendrick could earn $18 this year, he could also earn $8-$10. Barton may or may not be up all year. The 9, 11, 21 and 24 picks will, in all likelihood, not be up this year, and are certainly not the type of impact players that my 2 pick will be and my 8 could be. Most importantly, I believe I now have a top 6 pitcher in the AL, and I have him undervalue (inflation and otherwise). Sabathia, Papelbon and Street for a combined $40 are a distinct advantage going into a draft where pitching inflation (Mike, we should discuss the validity of breaking down pitching and hitting inflation separately) will be very high, top tier starters are few and far between, and the minor league market is thin. And while my trading partner recieved value for certain, I believe I got the better end of the value deal.

In the end, value is indeed a relative term.

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