Hot Garbage and Pyrite

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CATS44

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I like Gson's description of the Pirates return for Musgrove as hot garbage. I also like the Old West term for pyrite as Fool's Gold....shiny objects with little value. Or the beads that Native Americans took for Manhattan.

Anyway, that is exactly what many baseball orgs now value...fool's gold in the form of super young prospects, who have long odds against them when it comes to eventually becoming a successful MLB player.

The studies I have seen tell much the same story...whether you start from the point of draft position or Top Prospect Rankings. Prospects, even the upper crust, are unlikely to work out.

A general study indicates that 70% of top 100 prospects fail at the MLB level, defined by averaging less than 1.5 WAR over a six year period in MLB. Pitchers fail at a higher rate, and obviously, top 10s work out better than those ranked in the 90s.

But my focus today is on draft picks. In an eleven year study...2000 thru 2010...draft picks aren't exactly gold mines.

The odds of a first rounder getting to the Bigs is between 66% and 75%. The odds of a second rounder is about 50%, and the odds drop precipitously from there. But none of this means they are successful.

When looking at just success rates, prospects drafted in the top 15 of the first round fail at a 66% rate. In the bottom 15 the failure rate is over 80%.

Failure rates rise exponentially after the first 30 picks. That puts a different light on supplemental picks.

Now, the point is that teams appear to be valuing 'lottery' picks that are neither first round picks or top 100s, which are the elite of a group of inside straights.

To be honest, many lottery picks are international signings, which I've seen no studies of.

Buying lottery tickets is generally a bad idea, unless, of course, you hit a big one. But a lot of foolish folks buy them by the bucket full, instead of investing in something far more intelligent, like a 401k.

The Padres are making a living by selling lottery tickets to GMs with visions of a young Frankie Lindor, disguised as Erik Gonzalez.

The Indians have made a living by investing in the mutual fund that nobody seems to be interested in, and are willing to part with....young MLB or MLB ready talent with pedigree, maybe not with a lot of production yet, but with better odds than the normal top draft pick or top 100 prospect, because they've already got there, which is a necessary step before becoming successful.
 

CATS44

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An example, actually four in one.

At the 2016 deadline we tried to trade four prospects to Milwaukee for Lucroy. Fortunately, he declined the trade....because he was surprisingly done as an impact player.

But what about those four prospects?

In 4.5 years they have combined for less than 1.0 fWAR, all the positive coming from Shawn Armstrong. Chang, Mejia, and Allen have done nothing, and all are gone.

We got good value by trading Mejia and some international money for Armstrong, but in reality they have combined for nearly zero baseball value.

Today's article by Pluto leaves me far less than optimistic...a lot of retreads listed as possibilities, and most are 2Bs. No hint of using our prospect capital to acquire talent. A vast majority of our favorite prospects will end up as the four we didn't trade for Lucroy.

In the last decade we have had five home grown position prospects that have provided any significant MLB production for us....out of hundreds. Lindor, JRam, Berto and Chiz. We've also gotten some pitching production by trading prospects, but no offensive production.

This rather poor outcome is in part due to bad drafting earlier, but its also due to tightly holding onto prospects until they run out of value.

I'm afraid that we are on the verge of repeating our mistakes.
 

MadThinker88

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Actually Yu Chang (from the Lucroy trade analysis) is not gone. It appears (at the moment) he will finally get his chance this season with the Tribe...
 

CATS44

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You are correct, Mad.

But I'm not so sure that Chang will be getting a chance this year as anything but a temporary place holder.

The FO has been so enamored with Chang that in the last eighteen months it has acquired two MLB shortstops, two shortstop prospects, and signed Hernandez for last season, along with two years of Freeman as the utility guy. Plus they acquired Arroyo, Brad Miller, Velazquez, and Moroff...and they gave Stamets a quick look. Rumors persist that the FO is yet again contemplating a veteran MIF acquisition.

Basically, Chang has already been passed over nine times in the last two years....and has
five highly rated inf prospects a step away from the Bigs in Jones, Freeman, Owen Miller, Arias, and Brocchio.

Its not just Indians evaluators who have soured on Chang. Pre 2018 fangraphs had Chang rated as our #3 prospect with an FV of 50. Last year at this time Chang was rated as our 35th prospect...11th inf prospect...with a FV of 40.

Bradley is in the same boat...rated 4th pre 2018 and 37th today. His FV has dropped from 50 to 40.

Both have lost nearly all their value. Neither would bring much of anything...if anything at all...in trade.

The fact that both of them are in the conversation for this years roster points to the seriousness of our present situation.
 

Criznit

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I seem to remember you howling at the moon decrying us for "selling the farm" when we attempted to trade for Lucroy, possibly even the Andrew Miller trade as well.
 

sportscoach

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You are correct, Mad.

But I'm not so sure that Chang will be getting chance this year as anything but a temporary place holder.

The FO has been so enamored with Chang that in the last eighteen months it has acquired two MLB shortstops, two shortstop prospects, and signed Hernandez for last season, along with two years of Freeman as the utility guy. Plus they acquired Arroyo, Brad Miller, Velazquez, and Moroff...and they gave Stamets a quick look. Rumors persist that the FO is yet again contemplating a veteran MIF acquisition.

Basically, Chang has already been passed over nine times in the last two years....and has four five highly rated inf prospects a step away from the Bigs in Jones, Freeman, Owen Miller, Arias, and Brocchio.

Its not just Indians evaluators who have soured on Chang. Pre 2018 fangraphs had Chang rated as our #3 prospect with an FV of 50. Last year at this time Chang was rated as our 35th prospect...12th inf prospect...with a FV of 40.

Bradley is in the same boat...rated 4th pre 2018 and 37th today. His FV has dropped from 50 to 40.

Both have lost nearly all their value. Neither would bring much of anything...if anything at all...in trade.

The fact that both of them are in the conversation for this years roster points to the seriousness of our present situation.

At the moment we won't bring in any MIFs on major league deals (unless its Hernandez, I just dont see why we would bring in a veteran to a position with so many players at it already in camp on a major league deal), so Chang still has a chance to earn a spot, but he has a ton of competition since I don't doubt we will bring in at least a couple veterans on minor league deals like Mike Freeman.

Bradley, Bauers, Chang, Zimmer are all in the same boat to me this season, they are guys who have to step up and show big improvement or they will have no place on the roster past this spring/21. Guys like Hentges, Meija, Maton, Hill, Humphreys, Stephan are also in the same boat from the pitching side since all of them have to show improvements/show they can handle big league hitters at a consistent clip.

I am thought surprised we havent brought in more NRIs than we have. I think we really only have Gose, Monasterio in that category. So we will be making some moves,
 

AZ_

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David Eckstein had two season with a wRC+ over 100.

Eclipsed being a 2 WAR player just once after his first two years in the league.

If people are lukewarm on a guy whose ceiling is that guy, they may be onto something.


If Clement can play enough defense to stick at 2B and earn his way in, I'm all for it. Most likely he's a guy whose clock is going to expire and he'll move on elsewhere as a AAAA guy before getting a real shot.

He's got quite a hill to climb from a depth perspective in Cleveland.
 

CATS44

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I seem to remember you howling at the moon decrying us for "selling the farm" when we attempted to trade for Lucroy, possibly even the Andrew Miller trade as well.
My angst was over going half way.

I favored either both trades or neither.

Of course, there was no way to know that Lucroy would nix the deal before hand...nor that for a short period Miller would become the best reliever on the planet while our rotation disintegrated thru freak...really freak...injuries.

But, admittedly, my opinion of prospects have evolved considerably. Consider this. Those two trades' parameters involved eight prospects, three among the top four in the org...for 1.5 years of a catcher and 2.5 yrs of an elite reliever on a team friendly contract.

Since then the trade values of prospects have been inflated well beyond their baseball values.

We traded one prospect (Mejia) for 3.5 years of an elite closer on a team friendly contract plus an additional reliever with five years of control. What a short time earlier cost four prospects now only cost one.

We've recently seen trades in which lottery prospects bring elite return....well beyond any reasonable baseball value. I dont know how to put an exact number on it, but in five years the trade value of prospects seems to have increased 400%.

In the meantime those eight prospects of 2016 have provided...over 4.5 seasons...a combined 1 fWAR.

Given the current severe over evaluation of prospects , I would willingly trade half of our prospects for multiple under control MLB bats. The investment possibilities are just too good.

With a 70% failure rate for TOP rated prospects, trading them for established MLB production is chasing good money with bad.
 

WhoAzcue

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Cats, I agree that prospects should be used to add talent to the major league roster. But the truth is, I bet the Tribe deep thinkers aren't convinced yet they know who they want to move on from on yet. The loss of a minor league system really hurt us from an evaluation perspective (and we aren't alone, of course).
I wouldn't take a page from the Padres, though, to be honest. I'm glad San Diego extended Preller and I would favor keeping that chump on speed dial. I 'd rather emulate the Rays, and they never stop accumulating prospects, with the result that they have the best farm system in the game. I really don't care whether you trade prospects or veterans for prospects or veterans...the goal is to make astute moves, not just move prospects because so many don't make it. And the reason so many don't make it at the major league level is simply a matter of circumstance, health, and opportunity. Not only is there a lot of luck intrinsic to the game, that luck extends to whether or not a guy gets a shot and whether or not lady luck shines on him if he does. Jesus Aguilar comes to mind; it's almost a miracle he ended up with an MLB career, while guys like Andre Marte got shot after shot to prove they just didn't have it.

Bottom line, I have no problem with stocking talent like cord wood. I just wish we tried to PLAY some of it that rises to the top. That includes guys like Chang and DJ, Zimmer and even Ka'ai Tom when we had a chance to use him this past summer. Now he's gone, never really knowing what we had in him. That being said, our glut of middle infielders will be resolved one way or another in the very near future.
 

CDAV45

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I wholeheartedly agree that they don't know who they want to move on from yet. Do we need a CFer? A RFer? A 1B? None of the above? Clearly I don't see things through the same lens as the powers that be. If I can get what I think is an upgrade at any of the aforementioned positions then I do it. Clearly you have to give up value to get value unless you're taking on salary, and we all know that isn't going to happen to much of an extent after the Rosario signing. That leaves us with trading prospect assets for young, inexpensive, controlled players. For example, Baltimore is rebuilding. If I can get Mancini or Santander for a fair cost then I'd do it yesterday. I don't care if you play him at 1B or RF he makes this team better. Although Mancini is owed $4M in 21 so I don't know if that would work, but you get the idea.

The Indians' organization has done a wonderful job of rebuilding the farm system. Using that value in the best way possible to improve the major league squad can happen in more ways than just promotions. Especially during seasons of contention. We've already seen Bieber, Civale, Plesac, Ramirez, and others work their way up through the system. I'm sure we'll see Jones, Valera, Arias, Espino, Rocchio and numerous others push their way into consideration as well. I don't know if I would trade away as much as Preller has, but you can't deny that the Padres are a contender and their fan base is excited. They kept what they most desired and traded other good prospects for players that they desired more than the prospects they were trading. I think it's a good way to build a contender if you cannot afford to purchase all your needs via FA.
 

WhoAzcue

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Ah, but the Padres DID go the free agent route, stupidly, for Eric Hosmer, and questionably, for Manny Machado, in addition to extending that boat anchor, Wil Myers to a ridiculous deal. They then signed Jurickson Profar to a deal this winter that no one in the industry can begin to fathom. Not to mention all the idiotic trades recently. Preller's record is pretty awful, as far as I'm concerned, but he fortunately presided over the development of a wonderful farm system which I guess is the basis for his extension. I can't figure out why else. I wouldn't want to have him presiding over the distribution of the assets within my minor leagues, that's for sure. He should be fired for trading with, and getting raked over the coals by, astute teams like the Rays and Indians alone. Andy Friedman wouldn't have done 95% of the stuff Preller did were he in the that chair. That's what makes the Dodgers scary. As long as Preller is running the Padres, I wouldn't be worried by them in the least.
 

Gson

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".... 3 and 5... "

The draft year has typically added 20 to 30 prospects/players to the Indians system. From that group, Each club would love to see as many prospect draftees as possible make their ML debuts by their year five professional careers. This wasn't the case with the Indians drafts..

-The 2014 talent acquisition year has seen almost no one of any significance to the Indians arrive at and play well.. Justus Sheffield, traded twice and now making his way to the ML for the Mariners is, perhaps the only prospective draftee that has a chance to achieve the arbitrary 10 WAR that says.. long term major leaguer. Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer are two others that have seen ML action and are hanging onto careers by their finger nails. Bobby Bradley has yet to completely flame out. As a group, this draft was pretty awful..

-The 2015 talent acquisition year was a LOT better by comparison, but still, pretty scarce.. First pick, Brady Aiken flamed out & flaked out, never recovering from TJ surgery... Comp round selection Triston McKenzie has made his ML debut and looks to be a contributing member of the starting staff. The rest are almost all gone or are working their way through another club's system (Marabell, Mathias, Krieger, Tom etc). 40 guys.. one very good one remains..

-The 2016 talent acquisition year was by far THEE best the Tribe has seen & it continues to bear fruit in spite of the massive whiff at the top. Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, & Zach Plesac have all made their way to the ML's with Nolan Jones a likely fourth guy. Three guys for sure.. and a fourth highly likely. There are an additional two guys who may make their ML debuts with other clubs, as well..

-The 2017 talent acquisition year appears to be a lot like the 2016 year. The first pick is, again, a whiff.. This pick was followed by Tyler Freeman and Ernie Clement.. Both of these guys have a very good chance of making ML debuts in 2021.. The Tribe did get two more pitchers, James Karinchak and Eli Morgan. Karinchak has already established himself as a member of the bullpen.. perhaps, even closer. Eli Morgan is well thought of as a possible BOR SP. This draft had two guys who were drafted but unsigned: Asa Lacy and Austin Martin.. They are both considered blue chip prospects from later drafts. The Tribe seems to select a few talented kids like this but they remain unsigned over the years (Tim Lincicome is another name to throw into this bucket).. This might be thee most important unexploited advantage the Tribe could benefit from if they can figure out how to sign these kinds of guys.

What this disertation is pointing out.. is the Indians swing and miss on almost every selection they take during almost every draft. They compound this failure by holding onto prospects for the purpose of seeing what they might become.. This defines what is truly "Pyrite". Trading "pyrite" for prospects drafted by other organizations.. has proven to be thee best way the Indians build their club..

This is what should be done with the bulging coffers of too much talent.. Trade them while they still have perceived value for guys who have real value..

The sooner.. the better..

Thoughts?
 

CATS44

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The theory behind today's overly high valuation of prospects is they can provide production at below market cost.

The rule of thumb is that a prospect is successful if he provides an average WAR of 1.5 over the first six years of control...a total of 9 WAR. Thats a fairly low bar. 1.5 WAR won't move the needle a whole lot on a contending team. And yet,, 70% of top 100 prospects fail even that low bar. However, developing players seldom produce in a linear fashion. More likely a successful one will blow up later in his controlled year period. The value in some cases comes after they have been in MLB for multiple years.

I looked at fangraphs' pre 2019 top prospects list, which consists of 134 prospects with at least 5 FV.

We have eight of them on that list, three from other teams. There are also two that we traded away.

TMac, Jones, Rocchio, Valero, and Chang are the home grown. Chang has now fallen precipitously to a 40 FV.

Gimenez, Allen, and Naylor are the acquisitions. All came with some MLB experience.

In addition, we have also acquired Bauers, Hedges, and Rosario, who all were on the list previously, and who have MLB experience.

Presently, Freeman, Espino and Bo Naylor have joined the list.

Mejia and Sheffield had been traded away for Hand, and, in part, for Miller.

In summary, three things...

1) In spite of some poor drafting, as Gson points out, we have acquired some prospective talent.

2) The prospective talent we have traded away recently has given us more production than the ones we have kept.

3) Given the usual learning curve of young MLBers, the ones we have traded for have more expected value than the average top prospect.

In any market...economic or baseball...there is an inefficiency. I'm convinced that the Indians have found it. I wish they would take advantage of it even more. They've figured out how to acquire the under valued but are too cautious in moving the over valued.

Mathematically, 70% of our highly thought of prospects...pick any favorite name, Jones for most, Freeman for me...will fail. But they are sure things on the trade market.
 

Gson

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BTW... I didn't touch on International Free Agent signings... That's a situation that is even more painful.. Expensive flameouts are plentiful there.. yes sir....
 
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In the last decade we have had five home grown position prospects that have provided any significant MLB production for us....out of hundreds. Lindor, JRam, Berto and Chiz. We've also gotten some pitching production by trading prospects, but no offensive production.
Ramirez wasn't even drafted - he was an international signing.
 

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