SL2014 Draft Notes - Part 1 - Jim

First subject today is what I will call "Defending the Johnson and Hanigan Swing." Jim took these guys on the 15-16 swing, and caught hell from Steve about it ever since. I would not have envisioned this swing to occur 15-16 when I plotted out the draft in my mind. But that doesn't mean the picks are indefensible.

Where is Johnson's value? Zero batting value, or next to nothing (already has contributed a huge Willie Bloomquist 2006 Finals type of hit), so all of his value is based on stealing and playing good defense including multiple positions. Are the plusses off the charts? As a 35 success stealer, that is off the charts. With only 36 SL SBA available, that perhaps lowers the plus. Defensively, his best position is as a 2B. The reason I would not be as excited about that if I was Jim is simply because his best offensive player is Cano. Johnson though does play average or slightly better at 3B and SS and OF. This versatility should be the big plus. Beltre will need runners. Cabrera and Drew, probably will, though will likely be on base less and Cabrera is a fast runner (if not a great stealer). Jim's OF may be his weakness, as he had to sacrifice multi-facted players for more pedestrian OFers when he did not grab those types of OFers in the first few rounds. That will leave a lot of opportunity for Johnson to run for OFers and stay in the game (is that a minus that he stays in the game and potentially bats?).

Where is Hanigan's value? Not much offense, though he can get on base via the walk or HBP alright. Close to all of his value is defensively as a 9+6. The plus there for Jim is that he has an OK-not-great defensive starter in Posey, and a below average backup in Santana.

What I infer from Steve's argument is that these guys were extrordinarily limited in their value for the 15-16 swing. To a point, he's right. In Jim's defense, I expect they were the best remaining players for the value they provided.

AJ Ellis is the catcher most comparable to Hanigan, and while he is significantly better as an offensive player, he is the same defensively (minus games played differences), actually Hanigan is better factoring in the PB1 to Ellis's PB2. Ellis went in the round before this swing. If Jim was not taking Hanigan here, and Hanigan was taken before the 17-18 swing, who were his options later on? 36 games from 8+5 weak offensive Dave Ross? Equally bad offensive 8+3 Jeff Mathis? 8+2 Miguel Montero, who may be an improvement offensively, but solves nothing defensively for Jim?? Hanigan, as a 9+6, is more than defensible.

Who was most comparible to Johnson? I don't know exactly, but would guess Bonifacio or Jayson Nix. These guys have a different flavor of the same flaws that Johnson has (mostly what I am saying is very little offense). Nix may be most comparible, but his number of SL SBAs is significantly lower, while his baserunning speed is also lower. Bonifacio is faster and also better offensively, but his defense and success rate is not of the same value. Johnson stacks up to these two comparible players.

The argument takes shape then toward the lines of if comparible players are taken significantly later, why take them at 15-16? A counter argument is that these guys were the best Jim could have got, so it doesn't so much matter when the lesser comparible players went. If these guys are the standouts and Jim sees the need, it's certainly defensible to make the selections.

The argument then evolves to who did Jim pass up in choosing to pull the trigger on these guys at 15-16 instead of taking his chances later on. Jim's big needs were probably relief and OF. The mini-relief run that happened 16-17, guys Jim passed up, were not significantly different than the Vincent-Cishek swing Jim executed in the 17-18 swing. If Jim didn't lose anything pitching-wise, which is debatable, isn't it a right decision to take top tier backups for what Jim needed? OF-wise, seems like Venable was the player that was taken in the 16-17 rounds who Jim could have most used on his team. I don't know that Gordon-Marte-Blackmon-Quentin is a correct response to Jim's needs, but I don't know that they aren't much worse or different than had he drafted Venable.

At worst, I think the picks were defensible. If drafting to address weaknesses was what these were all about, they weren't great value picks, they left other weaknesses on the table ... but that happens with just about every selection in an SL Draft, and these guys did address problems Jim saw. At best, knowing that he wasn't passing up great value for what he needed, he filled voids. Rounds 15 and 16 often are simply rounds where you fill voids, so if this was Jim's goal, he succeeded.

Perhaps Steve's argument is truly how did you get to a point in the SL Draft where you felt these guys were the best options. I cannot answer that, other than to say the same arguments can be made about a lot of non-standard picks throughout our history. Looking at a specific snapshot doesn't show the whole picture, so be careful to point to one glimpse and say it is totally awful, i.e., was Ryan Hanigan a good 4th round pick in SL 2013 (if I were to look in comparison to other drafts, would probably say he was awful, but in comparison to SL 2013, he was extrordinarily correct)?

We shall see how this truly fits in the larger question of Jim and his roster make-up.