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ESPN SweetSpot Project: Expansion Draft w/ The Platoon Advantage


I recently participated in a fun project with the guys over at The Platoon Advantage in which @Bill_TPA and @commnman set off to do one thing: draft two new franchises via an expansion draft. To do this, they asked bloggers of the ESPN SweetSpot Network along with a few outside team representatives to submit a list of their protected players for the three rounds of the draft. You can check out the rules to the expansion draft here, and check out all three rounds (Rounds One, Two, and Three) along with ESPN’s Keith Law’s analysis of how everything went.

Of course, I’m here to discuss my part of the draft bonanza, which was to choose the players on the Marlins roster to protect. You can find out all the protection lists here, and you can check out the guys that I protected. What I’ll be doing here is discussing which players were interesting choices to protect or not protect, along with the three draft picks that we did lose to the expansion teams.

Michael Dunn

Right now, no one would have argued with me with regards to protecting Dunn from the expansion draft. In 37 innings of work, he has performed more or less as we expected: high strikeout rates (28.4 percent), high walk rates (15.4 percent), and a general unpredictability. Bill’s team selected him in the first round, and I am more than fine with that. There is a very good chance that Dunn never figures out quite how to get hitters out consistently and thus never becomes more than a marginal major leaguer with good heat and no control. I am OK with giving up on that sort of player.

Jose Ceda

This was my mistake. I admittedly completely forgot Ceda, who came by two seasons ago in return for the immortal Kevin Gregg. Ceda has looked great so far this season, but because of his injury last year and the fact that the most you ever hear about him is regarding his weight, I forgot that the Marlins still have a potential future closer who can touch mid-90’s and has some great stuff. Had former MM partner and prospect maven John Herold still been aboard, he probably would have reminded me. Instead, we lost Ceda in the second round of the draft to Bill’s team. Ceda’s recent bout of sudden control in 2010 is something exciting for Marlins fans to see, and hopefully he actually ends up being as good as initially advertised. As with all relievers, however, you can never really tell.

Leo Nunez

To some degree, this is also my mistake. When I came up with the initial list, I thought of the guys I wanted to protect and the guys I did not, and the guys I did primarily included decent players and prospects under heavy team control and players too good to allow through. This left Nunez in a bit of an odd spot, as he neither was under decent team control nor was he significantly good enough to hold onto regardless of team control status. As a result, he ended up somewhere in between and, as a result, was left off the first round. The fact that I did not include him later was a bit of an oversight, but it also was not much of a tragedy.

Let’s get this straight: I think Nunez is a good player. He is good enough to be a decent reliever on more than a few teams. He’s probably the best reliever on the Marlins. But I do not think he is so valuable that he will be worth however much he will make in arbitration as the team’s closer. And with the Marlins only having one more season of team control over him, what would they have gotten for him in a trade? Despite his solid play, he is still viewed as “erratic” and not able to close games by a lot of other teams in the league, and I’d imagine the return for only one season of a guy of that status, numbers aside, would be low. Losing him in the third round to The Common Man’s expansion franchise instead of potentially losing a lower level prospect is probably similar, as the return for a year of Nunez would likely be someone else’s lower level prospect.

The Major League roster

The Marlins were one of the unique teams in this particular situation in that the team had no albatross contracts that were left out there dangling to be taken. The only long-term deal that might soak up salary is Hanley Ramirez‘s contract, and as I have mentioned before, Ramirez is so good that it would be unfathomable to allow him to be taken for no return. The remaining contracts the team has beyond this season are those of Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, two players who are among the team’s future. Some teams did end up throwing up large contracts of interest, such as the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves allowing Adrian Beltre and Dan Uggla to be available until Round 2. This Marlins team simply had no such problems.

The rest of the minors

The other reason why this process was so simple for the Fish was that the team had few minor leaguers of major interest. Much of the important team was actually on the major league roster already, leaving the few prospects to be protected as extremely easy to find. Once Matt Dominguez, Brad Hand, and Chad James were kept, the remaining players were more or less interchangeable. A few pet names such as Scott Cousins were held onto, but for the most part very few of them actually mattered all that much. That made the process of selecting players fairly simple.

Overall, I would say the exchange was very fun. Everyone should check out the whole draft when they get a chance and try and see which of the two bloggers got the better draft. Bill and TCM went for interesting themes, and at least one or two big major-league or prospect names came off the board that were worth reading about.