Been a few big trades over the holidays, so it can’t hurt to take a quick jaunt around the league and update the lists for the teams involved. 

On Sunday Night, Tampa Bay doubled down on its “decision” in game six of the World Series to pull its best pitcher after surrendering one hit in 73 pitches, selling that pitcher for minor league parts to a Padres squad with whom Blake Snell’s style should fit nicely. Might be weird for him to play for a human manager after working for TI-84 graphing calculators these past few years, but he’ll adjust. 

It’s a ludicrous trade from most angles. Might be unprecedented in baseball history unless Charlie Finley’s 70’s A’s moved a young ace after a series out of spite. 

RHP Luis Patiño, the biggest name among the Rays’ return package, has barely pitched above A ball (25 innings), but hey he threw hard that one time in the Future’s Game and threw hard again in his brief 2020 debut. I liked Patiño a few years ago as a growth asset in a dynasty league, but he has shown absolutely nothing compared to Snell, a Cy Young winner with a truly dominant 2018 season on the books who was making baseball’s best team look like little leaguers when last we saw him. 

RHP Cole Wilcox, like Patiño, throws hard. He fell to the third round in the 2020 draft partly because he wanted money and had his junior college season waiting as leverage. He dominated in four starts as a Sophomore, but that was in non-conference play before the shutdown, and he wasn’t great as a Freshman (1.408 WHIP in 59.2 innings), which doesn’t mean a whole lot but is the biggest sample we have. 

C Francisco Mejia is only good at one thing: hitting pitches in the strike zone. He doesn’t play defense. He doesn’t take pitches. He doesn’t recognize spin. He doesn’t have much power. Oh, my bad, he also throws balls hard, assuming he’s caught the ball and is ready to throw when the time comes. He still has plus hand-eye coordination in the batter’s box and good bat speed, though his swing has gotten foolishly long. Lots to fix here but good base hitting talent if Tampa can extract it. 

C Blake Hunt added a little torque and power this season, which should pair well with his solid contact rates and plus defensive upside behind the plate. 

Fine. 

An ace for spare parts.

It happens sometimes when someone’s got a lot of spare parts to sell. 

Especially if the team with the ace doesn’t want him around anymore. 

Anyway by midday Monday, I was losing my shizz and tweeted that I thought Cubs were about to be anchored into taking less than Tampa, whose return looked light because they like it that way—multiple outs with upside. It’s tough to pound the table for a CJ Abrams when selling Darvish after the other team just acquired an arguably better asset for less than that. 

I mean Twitter always takes minutes off my life, but Monday was bad. Almost as bad as Tuesday. 

Cubs fan: If they don’t get Gore in this …

Padres fan: Not happening. 

Which, why the eff not? If Gore is so good, why didn’t he come up last year? Literally every public-facing prospect source wants to know. Nobody will say why he didn’t pitch last year, yet he’s somehow untouchable in trades. 

Teams with elite big league assets need to stop accepting at face value that they can’t have the big-named prospects. No Gore? Okay, Abrams. No Abrams? Okay, goodbye. We will retain the superstar. You can retain the children you have now. 

I know it’s not that simple because Ricketts, and most ownership groups, are venture capitalists masquerading as fanboys. Or just straight cold carpet baggers making no explanation except ‘because capitalism.’ 

Darvish is not worth 60 million dollars, according to countless Twitterers these past few days. 

Worth 60 million to whom? 

To me? 

He’s definitely not worth that to me. 

I don’t have a baseball team. 

Or 60 dollars, let alone 60 million.

But in a market that values a player of his caliber at much more than the 59 point whatever million dollars he was owed, he’s well worth that bargain salary to a multi-billion dollar baseball team that benefits enormously from his excellence. 

To like this Yu Darvish trade for the Cubs is to totally disregard that time is real and that Major League Baseball is incredibly hard—a profession only accessible to even the best in the world for a brief human window. Darvish is inside that window now at a tasty rate. 

I guess it should be said Davies and even Caratini are inside that window now, as well. 

The other four players have potential, but the Cubs just traded SS Pedro Martinez to Tampa to complete the Jose Martinez trade, and I like infield Pedro Martinez more than all but Preciado among these players. They put him on a player to be named list to acquire 22 hitless at bats of Jose Martinez. So they picked up four guys who are about that valuable for Darvish, from a certain point of view. 

SS Reggie Preciado is talented enough to make a run at that elite-baseball-human window. Could become a plus hit, plus power third baseman or maybe even a shortstop depending on the switch-hitter’s 6’4” frame. Deal hinges on him, in my opinion. 

SS Yeison Santana is 5’11” and smooth enough defensively to remain up the middle. If it isn’t Preciado to save this deal, I think it’ll be Santana, who is the furthest along among this crew because he has reached *checks notes* stateside rookie ball in Arizona. Played 41 games there. Most experienced prospect the Cubs got back. 

OF Ismael Mena got big money (2.2 million) in the 2019 international class but swings like he’s moving in slow motion. Long way to go before he can keep up with velocity of any kind. I’m expecting some tough statistical seasons. 

OF Owen Caissie was the top Canadian selected in the 2020 draft. Hasn’t played a whole lot. Mostly big power over questionable hit corner outfield type. Huzzah. 

Hey I realize this could look genius in a half decade. I don’t debate that. Maybe Mena will be good. Maybe Preciado will be Corey Seager and Owen Caissie will be Joe Mauer, like someone told me on Twitter. Maybe someone will still care at that point a half decade from now when that happens and the Ricketts are charging 95 bucks for a parking spot because they own that part of town and sold Yu Darvish for parts to pay off a fraction of the cost. 

Part of my frustration here is just that hitting a baseball is difficult. Like, if I threw one to you right now, I wonder if you could hit it. I’m 37-years-old and haven’t thrown a baseball in half a decade, I think, and yet, I’ll bet I could strike you out, dear reader. And I was an outfielder. And maybe I couldn’t. I dunno maybe you’d smash a line drive right off my face and make a mess of the whole ordeal. Point I’m trying to make is that it’s a bold leap to watch a teenager and think he can hit a big league fastball someday, let alone a breaking ball, let alone identify the difference between the two and make the right decision in that fraction of a second that matters. It happens a lot, I realize. That’s what scouting is all about, to a certain extent, but it’s all relative. When the cost is 2.2 million dollars of one year’s international budget, sure, let’s take a flier on that. When the cost is a top five pitcher in major league baseball, let’s pump the brakes a bit and find out if these kids can hit for a few months first. 

Anyway here’s the updated lists. 

Probably should’ve spliced ’em in. Might do that later when I’m less tingly and irritated. Or not. Let me know which way I should’ve gone. Maybe. If you’re nice about it. I am very tired. 

Read one Twitter guy saying anyone who doesn’t like the trade is racist and/or stupid.

The knots we humans can tie ourselves trying to make sense of existence, am I right?

Very tired. 

To the lists:

Rays New Top Ten 

1. SS Wander Franco | 20 | A+ | Late 2021

2. OF Randy Arozarena | 26 | MLB | 2019

3. 2B Vidal Brujan | 23 | AA | Late 2021

4. C 1B OF Heriberto Hernandez

5. RHP Luis Patiño | 21 | MLB | 2020

6. LHP Brendan McKay | 25 | MLB | 2019

7. SS Xavier Edwards | 21 | A+ | 2022

8. SS Greg Jones | 23 | A- | 2023

9. RHP Joe Ryan | 24 | AA | 2021

10. OF Josh Lowe | 23 | AA | 2022

 

Padres New Top Ten 

1. SS C.J. Abrams | 20 | A | 2023

2. LHP MacKenzie Gore | 22 | AA | 2021

3. SS Ha-Seong Kim | 25 | KBO | 2021

4. C Luis Campusano | 22 | MLB | 2020

5. OF Robert Hassell III | 19 | HS | 2025

6. LHP Ryan Weathers | 21 | MLB | 2020

7. OF Hudson Head | 19 | R | 2024

8. LHP Adrian Morejon | 22 | MLB | 2019

9. OF Jorge Oña | 24 | MLB | 2020

10. 2B Tucupita Marcano| 21 | A | 2024

 

Cubs New Top Ten 

1. OF Brennen Davis | 21 | A | 2022

2. LHP Brailyn Marquez | 21 | MLB | 2020

3. SS Ed Howard | 19 | NA | 2024

4. SS Reggie Preciado | 17 | NA | 2025

5. C Miguel Amaya | 22 | A+ | 2021

6. RHP Adbert Alzolay | 26 | MLB | 2020

7. RHP Cory Abbott | 25 | AA | 2020

8. SS Yeison Santana | 20 | R Az | 2024

9. SS Christopher Morel | 21 | A | 2023

10. SS Luis Verdugo | 20 | MXPW | 2024

Thanks for reading.

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 
  1. Alcibiades Escobar says:
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    Thanks Itch. What a cheap move by the Cubs. I’m a bit baffled why Hoyer agreed to take this on when he could have gone multiple other places.

    Love how the Ricketts family cries poverty when they’ve bought up all of Wrigleyville and renovated the whole place in order to generate more revenue and increase the value of their asset. Clearly, they have decided to invest in their real estate over, you know, winning baseball games. It should be no surprise that I don’t care about the former and am ready to walk away over the latter.

    Anyway, thanks for the cathartic rant. Claws up.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Alcibiades. Claws up.

      Saw several fans pretending it wasn’t money motivated.

      That this was all Hoyer being so much the smartest guy in the room we’re all just confused.

      Then the news broke that Contreras is next and moving fast.

      Wonder if money has anything to do with that one . . .

      • hot corner says:
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        The Cubs finances are tricky.

        The Ricketts bought the team with debt. Renovated the stadium with debt. Bought up the neighborhood with debt. Built a hotel across the street with debt. Launched a TV station with debt. The assets are worth a fortune but without fans showing up to spend money, the Cubs have issues with the MLB’s Debt Service Rules in the CBA.

        In short, if they are running $400-500 million in debt, then they need to show $40-50 million in earnings during the previous year. With revenue down from the pandemic, the only way to do that is to decrease expenses. The quickest way is to cut payroll.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          That 13 million saved on Darvish in 2021 will go a long way to repairing a half-decade of ill-considered monopoly-grab madness.

          Anyone wanna buy a cable network?

          (Only an option if your daddy’s a point-one percenter.)

          • The Itch

            The Itch says:
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            This guy can’t borrow another 13 million?

            Selig gave him the team on credit against actual bids by actual rich people.

            Fans should give precisely zero shits about the debt portfolio of these clowns.

            • The Itch

              The Itch says:
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              In other words, exactly the same number of shits Ricketts gives about the fans.

              • Alcibiades Escobar says:
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                Seriously, people need to stop trying rationalize this on behalf of the Ricketts family. They pay people to do that for them.

                Wins and losses are the only thing that matters.

        • X cubs fan says:
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          The debt is owed to Papa Ricketts, its all a joke.

  2. Harley Earl says:
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    Just curious what your projected call-up date for Vidal Brujan is. Looks like a typo right now with it at 202. I’ve got him on a dynasty team. Thanks.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Harley! Good catch! I think we’ll see Brujan this year. Suspect Kiermaier gets traded and opens some playing time.

  3. Steve says:
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    Thanks @theprospectitch. Padres fan here and so stoked for this upcoming season. And, it’s only December LOL! Interesting being bullish on Perez over say…Marcano (sample size). Happy New Year!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Steve! Happy New Year to you!

      Yeah I just like Perez to impact the fantasy game more than Marcano.

  4. Jimmy says:
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    The Darvish trade is garbage! It’s worse than when Twins traded Johan Santana!!!! Do you think X.Edwards beats Brujan to the show? I read that on a different site….I put way more stock in you guys here, just wondering….

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah it’s pretty ugly.

      I disagree with that take. Brujan is a ways ahead of Edwards imo.

  5. Stl Squat Cobblers says:
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    You’re an excellent writer Itch. Good stuff. I’m not a dynasty guy but thoroughly enjoy your posts. And Appreciate the solid ‘bits of tid’ for 50-round, NFBCs.

    As a Cards fan, on one hand, I’m glad the Cubs aren’t trying to win…on the other hand, the Cardinals aren’t either. Love baseball, but teams giving away talent is always a shizz show.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Stl Squat Cobblers!

      You know it’s pretty bad when rival fan bases kind of drop any idea of rivalry to marvel at the general deterioration of the game.

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Amen from a fellow Cards fan

  6. Dan says:
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    Where does yohendrick pinango fall on your cubs list? I recall him being higher in the last rankings.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah good call used to be a bit higher. No real change. Just last man off the list. Went back and forth between he and Verdugo.

  7. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Any thoughts on Yoelqui Cespedes?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Looks like a brick shizzhouse.

      I’m optimistic. Video and reports suggest his swing looks a lot like Yoenis now.

      Whereas it uncoiled in slow-motion in all the in-game video I’ve seen, it looks much quicker and more compact now. Lots of torque.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Think he gets any real PT in majors this year?

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          I’d be surprised if he takes a big league plate appearance this year.

          Wouldn’t rule out a September look, but even that would surprise me quite a bit.

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            Head nod, thumbs up slowly emerging

      • Coolwhip says:
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        I already have a couple shares of him because he costed almost nothing last year as a lottery. Good breakdown, the raw tools are there and from an OF perspective, most scouts tend to agree he has plus cannon, likely RF is his destination. Plate discipline and his height (5’9″) seem to be the sticking points.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Yeah the plate skills piece is the fly in the ointment.

          No real way to evaluate that until they go live for a while.

          Even in the minors, teams don’t repeat opponents enough for pitchers to exploit tendencies, and even when the do, pitchers can’t quite execute enough to stop a guy in his tracks the way top end pitchers will.

          • Coolwhip says:
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            thats a GREAT point that I often forget. I need to write that down. “often minors don’t have the opportunity to exploit flaws/tendencies nor the ability to capitalize on it.”

  8. Coolwhip says:
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    Great take on understanding prospects and value. It was unbelievable to me that so many of the prospects have barely sniffed A level ball. Prospects are great and all, but there is so much uncertainty with them, even the ones that seem like a sure thing don’t pan out like you think when compared to someone who is a known quantity, already elite at the big league level.

    It blows my mind that a team can acquire 2 aces (of CY caliber mind you) in 24 hours and only have to give up 1 top 100 Prospect and an MLB catcher, as you pointed out, that has many shortcomings. Some of these players could end up great, but, there is a long road to that happening and far from certain. But those same aces on the open market right now would garner $30M a year to sign. And like you said with Yu, he’s coming at a 30% discount. Madness.

    Take Jurickson Profar for example, I remember when he was the #1 prospect in all of baseball at the AA level. Everyone thought with his profile he was as safe of a pure hitting prospect as you could get… until he wasn’t. He just now had a 60 game season where he started to tap into what people thought he’d do yearly. Well, he’s in his 6th MLB season that’s been up and down (mostly down) with injuries and adjustments. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing.

    Like you said, hitting a baseball is incredibly difficult, probably the single most difficult act in sports. You are trying to hit a small spherical ball coming at you 80+ mph with movement swinging a modestly thick stick. Secondly, throwing a baseball consistently with various spin and velocity 60 feet and trying to fool 9+ MLBers and coaches watching you multiple times is also exceedingly difficult.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Coolwhip.

      And good call. I didn’t even get into pitching here, but throwing 100-ish effective pitches 30+ times in a calendar year is probably even harder than hitting. Maybe not harder than hitting against big leaguers 600+ times a year for several years but certainly harder than hitting once.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        And we have way fewer 30+ start, 100-ish-pitch starters than we do functional hitters.

        Darvish is a unicorn.

        • Coolwhip says:
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          For sure, and thats without mentioning his 12 pitch arsenal with plus plus command. Unicorn indeed.

          • The Itch

            The Itch says:
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            Or the cutter he added over the past year-plus that is now among baseball’s most dominant pitches.

            Dude is going to age well. Already has, really.

            • Coolwhip says:
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              yeah he’s definitely a better pitcher now then his first few years in TEX.

  9. NUX says:
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    Nice writeup bruv, I enjoyed it. And appreciate the new lists too, that actually answered one of my questions for me.

    I got a q for you today though about the Omnibus you put out in May or so of 2020. You planning to dive into an update to that list around the same time in 2021? I think that was like May or so

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks NUX!

      I’d like to do the new Omnibus before then if I can. It’s a ton of work, but lots of people have mentioned it, making it a Q-tine project that’s likely to outlive the beforetime, the long long ago.

  10. Coolwhip says:
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    BTW anytime a post references the historical term “carpet bagger” is a win in my book. *hat tip*

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, man!!!!

      Actually junked an into I was building around the etymology hahaha!

      Very nice to know I wasn’t way off base w that angle.

  11. Another Dan says:
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    Great stuff Itch.

    Not invested in any if those guys much. Tried to acquire Brujan and Abrams in my 30 team dynasty but that never happened.

    Kim will be bid upon in the upcoming FA bidding window. It is going to be a crazy period tbh. Lots of top FA’s available (Betts, Bauer, Bieber, Freeman, Abreu and some…) and lots of $ to be spent.

    Interesting to also read the comments about the Cubs and their outlook on the next couple of seasons. As a UK based fan, it’s one of the things about MLB/NFL that is strange to us, the idea of entering a season without being competitive (and having no consequences to fear).

    Best wishes,

    Another Dan

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Dan!

      Maybe you’ll get another Brujan buy window if he’s blocked all of 2020?

      Kim is going to be fun this off-season. I’ll bet he goes over Tork in some first-year-player drafts. Pre-envious of anyone who lands Tork with the 2nd pick.

      It’s very interesting you brink up the UK thing because I’ve been thinking about relegation a lot–in MLB yes but also in dynasty leagues.

      I wonder if there’s a way to do a 30-team league that’s actually two leagues: a Premier and a Championship or what have you.

  12. Dougie says:
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    Thanks Itch. It is really important for people to see a Careful analysis of the Darvish return, acknowledgement of the upside and understand what makes it still not close to enough for a player of this caliber.

    Truly appreciate your work.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thank you, Dougie.

      And thanks for the kind words and clicks throughout my time at Razzball!!

      Happy New Year!!

  13. Malicious Phenoms says:
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    Great stuff Itch. Padres made out big time. The state of baseball is a mess. They need to shit can the luxury tax. It has done the opposite of what it was intended to do. CBA needs a lot of changes, just hope we don’t lose 2022 due to these guys not agreeing on anything.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, MP.

      CBA has been so broken since they hired Tony Clark to run the union.

      Who’d have thought it was actually good to have lawyers doing the bulk of the lawyering for the MLBPA.

  14. Moon Shots says:
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    Goddamn goddamn. The fact that at the end of my day i can shamble onto razzball and find such an excellent piece of writing, with a critique of capitalist greed at its core and even a Charlie Kaufman reference in the comments is…special. You make 2020 a bit less of a steaming shitpile full of poisoned razorblades. Thanks Itch.

  15. goodfold2 says:
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    30 teamer draft starting shortly. i have these prospects up (could be put down):
    a.tejeda, adell, e.rios (the latter 2 can only barely be put down, 123/124 at bats)

    these stashed in 40 max prospect slots (and after all my years in league i’m drafting 6th in all 6 rounds)
    MI: bracho, w.perez, preciado, a.rondon, k.smith (not mallrats/clerks, the TOR one), vientos (CI)
    CI: denton, lavalley, w.craig, padlo, d.ellis
    OF: kirilloff, c.brannen, fraley, v.garcia, p.gonzalez (TEX), victor to the 2nd mesa (good lord that was an awful 1.20 or so pick a few years ago, not as bad as kirilloff over acuna right after acuna blew up but i wasn’t yet finding sites that had as early as january top dynasty lists though, i could find kirillof high for 1st year drafted rankings, but acuna’s movement up overall hadn’t been shown relative to those in one list back then at least where i knew to go), a.pages, t.ornelas, trammell, g.whitley (another bad first round pick)

    P: diplan, c.hernandez (KC), j.soriano, kochanowitz, kilome, j.guzman, c.rodriguez, a.smith (SD), m.sauer, sherfy, w.crowe, m.thompson (WSOX)

    i’ve never once gone pitcher with my first pick, but i’m about 300 into prospectslive’s top 500 dynasty (my lord is this a needed resource for leagues such as this, or something like it), so far have found 59 not owned players on that. i’m picking at 1.6, then roughly 36 picks later (on average 6 comp picks for restricted FA who’s bids weren’t matched, i’ll know the exact number of those in 2 days) at 2.6. so i’ll get 2 out of that 59 for sure. below here i’ll write up the order, wondering which guys you are higher/lower on if it’s a marked difference. i’ll be going over your team lists too when i’m through that 500 list. first, at 6th i’ll get one of these:

    a.martin, n.gonz, m.meyer, kjerkstad, veen, a.lacy (i’m lined up to get pitcher if that’s the best order). also clearly my pitcher prospects are far worse than my hitters. currently my active roster’s pitchers are yarbrough, pab lop, b.martin (holds added), c.sale (in IR slot, still costing 22/115 on this year ending contract)

    • goodfold2 says:
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      i’ve never drafted in any slot but 17th-22nd, did very badly last year without sale. weirdly got adell and kirilloff at 17th-22nd in those years.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        forgot tork, but clearly he’ll be gone at 1.6 anyway. went back and found the easiest to find info on your 1st year player ranks, were back then (june 21st)

        – you are lower than PL on these:
        m.meyer (barely)
        kjerstad (their 33rd overall, your 11th 1st year)
        a.hendrick (their 52nd overall, 18th yours)
        p.crow-arm (their overall 75th, your 15th)
        e.hancock (their 76th overall, your 17th)

        – guys you are a lot higher on than them:
        detmers (their 170th overall, your 13th)
        i.greene (their 182nd overall, your 7th)
        sabato (149th them, 16th you)
        j.walker (192nd them, 12th you)
        c.martin (their 373rd, your 14th)
        vogel (not even in top 500, your 19th, this one i need to find out to put somewhere)

        at 6th isn’t where the big questions start (unless just NEVER going pitcher is a thing i would stick with, usually the top pitchers are all gone for me by 17th-22nd). them not even having vogel top 500 though, that’s odd. it’s also possible your june 21st list has outdated parts, but i’m guessing not much, if any.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          i’m not up to speed on shit yet, read in the hoskins blurb today about his elbow healing timeframe (i didn’t even remember him having that), it mentioned that MLB not likely to start in april; what is the right now expected timeframe? i’m having to recatch up in both hockey and baseball at same time (this has never happened, usually it’s football get reup’d august into sept, then in a month hockey starts, then by january for this super deep league super deep prospect stuff then months more baseball cramming till march etc), farther ahead on hockey at this point.

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            I wouldn’t touch Hoskins, but he should be back by start of season

            • goodfold2 says:
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              sorry, i meant to stick this in your newest post along with other thing i had in there. had this, plus your franmil post + gausman open, got them mixed up.

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