Ottoneu Strategy Corner – Flores, Feliz, Chavez

It is my intention to focus on an ottoneu topic once a week. The next milestone in the ottoneu offseason is arbitration, which will run from October 15 to November 15. I have arbitration specific content planned, and I’m sure Chad Young does too. However, with over a week before the process even begins, let’s focus our attention on other topics.

This season was my first in FanGraphs Staff Two, which features Chad and a bag full of other FanGraphs personalities. My team is Encarnation Instant Breakfast. It’s a healthy way to start the offseason.

I inherited a roster that was left in shambles, built a borderline contender, and eventually conducted a fire sale to strengthen my future base. As part of the rebuilding process, I’ve compiled a roster of 45 players in which only four are obvious cuts and payroll is no object. On Friday, I began crowdsourcing keeper decisions on Twitter. While I know what I plan to do with all of my players, I’m interested to learn how you would handle them. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with ottoneu, just jump right in with your opinions.

Wilmer Flores, 2B/SS
Cost: $3
Stats: 274 PA, .251/.286/.378, 6 HR, 5.8% SwStr
Notes: Track record as an offensive middle infielder in the minors

What Y’all Thought

Flores Tweets

The reactions ran the gamut, which is great start to my little experiment. If you can self-justify using a roster spot on him, it sounds like a $3 price tag is a mild discount relative to his expected auction cost. His minor league numbers, position, and upside are cited as a plus. But how often will he play?

My Take

Barring a frightful spring training, I have little doubt Flores will have a most-every-day role with the Mets. Middle infield is terribly shallow in ottoneu – even just getting one point per plate appearance is justifiable from your MI slot. It’s good to have guys with upside for more.

Context is important. My current roster construction includes a $5 Jimmy Rollins and $3 Chris Owings. Throw in Flores, and I should get at least one above average MI for $11. The three roster spots are more painful than the salary. You make your own luck in fantasy, chaining upside plays together as your roster depth is a good way to trigger the luck dragons.

Ottoneu’s 40 man roster gives you the opportunity to build portfolios. In this case, Flores is part of a seven man middle infield portfolio. The individual parts have pros and cons, but the total package should return value.

A popular sentiment with players like Flores is to shop them in offseason trades. They offer the chance for a small profit on their price tag, but usually fizzle out. It may seem counter intuitive, but I would be more likely to trade Flores if I didn’t have a portfolio. If I need Flores to perform, he becomes too risky for my tastes.

Some thoughts on him as a player – a 5.8 percent swinging strike rate is fantastic from a guy with some pop and an aggressive approach. I generally don’t care for my fantasy players to walk, so long as they aren’t giving away outs (and it’s not an OBP league). I like that he hits fly balls – it should drive his power numbers in slightly homer friendly CitiField.

Neftali Feliz, RP%
Cost: $4
Stats: 31.2 IP, 1.90 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 5.97 K/9, 3.13 BB/9, 9.8% SwStr, 27.3 GB%, .176 BABIP
Notes: Finished the season throwing in the mid-to-upper 90’s.

What Y’all Thought

Feliz Tweets

In summary, scary peripherals but a chance for improvement next season. Sometimes it’s best to find out if somebody is more bullish than yourself.

My Take

This is seemingly easy. Good ERA, bad peripherals. The only positive sign is his swinging strike rate, which is merely good. You don’t want “good” from a $4 reliever. Moreover, you don’t want a fly ball heavy, non-strikeout reliever in an ottoneu points league. Even with the saves bonus and excellent BABIP, he still worked out to slightly worse on a per inning basis than Adam Ottavino (unowned in this league).

The argument to keep Feliz rests firmly on some late season observations. His fastball went from rarely touching 94 to averaging 95 to 96 mph. His velocity was extremely inconsistent throughout the season, which is not surprising for someone returning from Tommy John surgery. If you have the intestinal fortitude, you can project more consistency with his velocity in 2015. If you sniff at the game data, you’ll notice his whiff rate spiked with the better fastball.

As I told Chad, I see Feliz as an ideal RP6. His upside could make him a $10 pitcher, but he’s more likely to hit the -$2 to $2 range. The free agent pool is important when deciding to keep Feliz, which requires some guess work on your part. Are you better off with another position rather than a sixth reliever (perhaps Flores)? Should you save $3 and pick up a $1 reliever? Mostly, those are the only two questions you have to answer.

Jesse Chavez, SP/RP
Cost: $4
Stats: 3.45 ERA, 3.67 xFIP, 8.38 K/9, 3.02 BB/9
Notes: Actually pitched substantially better as a starter

What Y’all Thought

Chavez Tweets

So, maybe his innings go up or maybe they don’t. Chad’s wait-and-see approach seems wise.

My Take

Chavez was a surprise as a starter, although his work in the bullpen left something to be desired (tiny sample). It looks like he’ll return to the rotation to start the season, but offseason acquisitions, returns of Jarrod Parker or A.J. Griffin, and pressure from Drew Pomeranz could force the 31-year-old back into the ‘pen at some point in the season. With uncertainty over his long term job prospects, it might be better to take a shot at other breakout candidates.

I look at Chavez as a replacement level fantasy pitcher. In a league with 40 man rosters like ottoneu, it’s good to have one or two of those on hand for the inevitable pitcher injuries. Yovani Gallardo ($20), Shelby Miller ($19), Homer Bailey ($15), and Tim Hudson ($8), provided similar overall value to Chavez.  Of course, so did some free guys like Roenis Elias, Brandon McCarthy, and Tom Koehler. The point being, you can do better than $4 Chavez, but he’s nothing to spit at either.

To be completely honest, I’ll probably look to use Chavez as a throw-in on a bigger deal. My rotation has an extremely sound foundation with Jon Lester, Corey Kluber, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Tanner Roark combining to cost $37. That quartet may eat some arbitration dollars, but I don’t anticipate more than a few finding their way to my rotation. I can construct an argument to keep 41 out of my 45 players, so Chavez seems like the perfect candidate to join a quantity for quality deal.

Parting Thoughts

How do you feel about $3 Flores, $4 Feliz, and $4 Chavez? While we’re at it, let’s get some opinions on $3 Alex Rodriguez, $7 Billy Hamilton, and $6 Koji Uehara. That group should spark plenty of debate, no?

You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

newest oldest most voted

I can’t really see Jesse Chavez not opening the year in the rotation — if the A’s sign a free agent, that’s a pretty clear signal either Shark or Kazmir will be traded. That said, he’s clearly the #5 guy, and after the first half of the season his production will be iffy. He was obviously completely gassed by July, and he’s pretty old. Maybe his endurance is better next season, but maybe it’s not. Unless he holds up abnormally well to the innings or Pomeranz collapses, he’ll be the guy to be replaced when Griffin and/or Parker come back.

He’s a good buy for the first half, but be prepared to get rid of him mid-season. If you’re looking for a cheap A’s starter, I like Pomeranz a lot more.