ESPN EXPERT LEAGUE
• Roy Halladay: $43 Pete Becker (Losing bids: $10, $2)
APRIL FOO- No wait it's June: Why in the world was Halladay a free agent? Ask the man who released him last week, David Young:
"Halladay never really fit in with Team Young from the start. He took showers by himself. He never attended ice cream Tuesdays. He wanted us to call him "Phyllis" on road trips. These were all behaviors that led to Halladay getting a pink slip.
Actually, with pitching starts so precious, I wanted a higher K/9 pitcher. The league is shallower than Paris Hilton, so trading would have been more trouble than it's worth. Basically, this was all just a ruse to make league leader -- and noted Canadian -- Pete Becker spend his FAAB."
It's too late for Karabell save yourselves! Unfortunately, bids for the ESPNX league are due Thursday at 11:59 p.m. Which would be 19 hours before the Pirates announced that Torres would be removed from his role as closer and replaced by Matt Capps. Capps is now a must-get in all formats.
TOUT WARS NL-ONLY
• Gary Bennett: $11 Scott Pianowski of FantasyGuru.com (Losing Bid: $10)
Wasn't he on "American Idol"? That would be Tony Bennett. But with Yadier Molina and his broken hand out four-to-six weeks, Gary Bennett becomes the primary catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Already this season, he has as many home runs (1) as he had in 1999 and 2005, and since he was given the starting job, his average has risen from .208 to .263. Still, Bennett is 35 years old, and his average most likely will plateau right there.
Missouri Loves Company: After Wellemeyer was designated for assignment by the Royals, the cross-state Cardinals claimed him and decided to try him out as a starter. He responded Wednesday with a five-inning, three-run start. Combine that with a few relief appearances and Wellemeyer sports a 3.86 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP for the Cardinals.
• Randy Messenger: $1 Jeff Erickson of Rotowire.com
This is Spart- -- I mean Floridaaa!!! Messenger was kicked down the well in Florida and popped back up in the middle of a bloody bullpen battle in San Francisco. Although many expert soothsayers are confident that Brad Hennessey will assume the closer's role, there are whispers of Vinnie Chulk and Messenger, as well. Keep a close eye on the back end of the San Francisco bullpen, as anyone -- including our old friend Russ Ortiz -- can emerge victorious.
He told me he was going to do this: After noting that he was reassembling his 2004 Tout Wars AL-only championship team in this column last week, Trace mentioned in an e-mail to me that he was picking up Jesus Colome.
I thought he was joking.
Colome -- although not striking out a batter per inning as he did in 2004, still sports a 2.31 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, and he can be useful as a middle reliever in formats beyond just NL-only.
• Ben Johnson: $1 Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ.com
• Michael Zagurski: $1 Wilderman/Muckler
Stump Zola, win a stuffed animal! League commissioner Todd Zola: "I admit it, I had to look him up to make sure Scott and John weren't messing with me."
As did I. The story on Zagurski? He's a 24-year-old lefty who holds the single-season strikeout record at Kansas University (according to our friends at thebaseballcube.com) and, before his call-up to Philadelphia, had struck out 38 batters in 23 1/3 innings pitched. All while sporting a 1.16 ERA. So far in the majors, he has an 8.80 ERA, compliments of a Ray Durham three-run home run Friday night. If he straightens himself out, he can be a valuable WHIP-lowering/high-strikeout middle reliever. Remember the name Zagurski! He could show up later in the season in a mixed league near you. Especially if Antonio Alfonseca falters as the closer.
TOUT WARS AL-ONLY
• Marlon Byrd: $7 Mike Siano of MLB.com (Losing bids: $7, $6, $6, $2)
Byrd is batting a stellar .346 for the Rangers, along with well not much else. Although he won't hit for power, and will steal only the occasional base, he has hit .327 in his major league career, and -- as of Friday night -- had started in seven straight games for the Rangers ahead of slumping Nelson Cruz.
• Jerry Owens: $7 Jason Grey of FantasyBaseball.com ($6)
Not the Marlins reliever: Jerry Owens is the Chicago speedster who was just called up to replace injured Darin Erstad. He will bat leadoff, and most likely will steal a ton of bases, as he had 23 in 48 games for Triple-A Charlotte. Even Ozzie Guillen is praising him for possibly providing a spark to the ballclub. And considering he calls his closer "fat" all the time, this could be a good thing. Think Marlon Byrd, but with steals.
• Brian Tallet: $1 Sam Walker, author of "Fantasyland" ($0)
Rauchian: With respect to fellow ESPN.com writer Tom Herrera, I give you the tale of the tape:
29 years old
Tommy John/torn labrum surgeries: 1
28 years old
College: Morehead State
Tommy John/torn labrum surgeries: 1
If you even know who Rauch is, you'll know what to do with Tallet.
"But seriously, folks John McDonald": Two quotes from this week pretty much say it all:
First, league commissioner Todd Zola: "There's no truth to the rumor that Sam Walker ran past Joe and yelled 'MINE,' causing Joe to drop his bid."
Second, Clark, commenting on the infamous play: "This is my 16th season, granted most of them are in the minor leagues, but it's never happened once. It happened tonight."
Howie knows what he has been called up for, but with John McDonald playing shortstop and batting a respectable .278, Clark could see some more time at third base if Troy Glaus needs an occasional day off.
You know what they say, "Franklin Gutierrez You can't live with him, can't live without him": Dean Peterson has FAABed Gutierrez twice in the past 25 days.
• C.J. Wilson: $0 Grey
TOUT WARS MIXED TRADES
Explain yourself, Larry: "After getting Webb, I could easily afford to give up one of my starters to get a good upgrade over Vizquel. I wouldn't have given up Webb or Lackey, but any other starter."
Lenny? "It's always a thrill to trade a player you never really wanted I didn't really want Hall, but at the draft I knew if I drafted him and put him at Utility, somewhere along the line I could deal him for whatever type of player I needed.
"Since Rich Harden is 'soft tossing' on flat ground (I'm having a catch in the yard with my 8-year old son Marc), I need a good pitcher, and Sabathia is a better than average pitcher on a HOT team. When drafting, it can be useful to be aware of players whose name or position will always command good trade value. Hall is struggling, but as a power-hitting shortstop, he commanded a good pitcher like Sabathia. One-third into the season means it's not 'still early' I couldn't wait for anyone better."
Larry: "When I got the reply e-mail this morning, and read that Nando would trade Jeter, I thought 'Hmm, should I get Jeter?' Literally, the instant after I had that thought, my head turned and noticed a stack of baseball magazines on my shelf, and Jeter was on the cover on top of the stack. That was a sign from God, or something like that And although I live in upstate New York, I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan. But, as always, my fantasy teams come first. (I already have Rivera. Ordinarily, as a Sox fan, I'd be laughing my behind off that Rivera only has 4 saves.)
Nando: With injuries picking up, I could use the positional flexibility of Bill Hall, no matter how badly he's slumping. Once Ryan Braun starts to really heat up, Hall will most likely see better pitches and more runners on base for him to knock in. And I've always liked Rowand. He will put a timely end to the Mark DeRosa Experiment.
David, back from a trip to China: "I'm pretty close to last in batting average. It's tougher to make an impact in the 'rate' categories as the season wears on, so I wanted to get some guys now. Helton's power may be declining, but I should be able to count on him for average. On the pitching side, I activated Clemens this week, so I could afford to give up a stud starter. Plus, I can plug in Santana the weeks he's pitching at home like this week!"
Nando: My ERA is in pretty bad shape, thanks mostly to Bronson Arroyo and road trips for Ervin Santana. I wanted Haren at the draft, and have him on almost every other team of mine, so my love affair with his statistics is now complete. Laird, meanwhile, has the potential to start pounding the ball at any moment. I see him as the weird cocoon that the Mogwai were in if you fed them after midnight. Laird is -- in my mind -- a slimy, pulsating Gremlin-to-be, and I'm counting on him to break out and wreak havoc very soon.
TOUT WARS MIXED FAAB
• Mark Reynolds: $23 David Gonos of CBS Sportsline (Losing bids: $22, $20)
Hey I know him!: Longtime readers of the column (i.e., anyone who read it two weeks ago) will recognize Reynolds' name from his infamous debut, now known simply as the "$13 Cory Schwartz of MLB.com ($12, $9, $7, $6, $3) Bid" in the May 20 column. Reynolds is living proof that mixed leaguers looking for the next big thing should pay attention to the NL- and AL-only bids and keep an eye on the players with several numbers after their names.
• Brad Hennessey: $17 Mike Salfino of RotoAction.com ($16)
• Kevin Slowey: $5 Gonos ($4)
• Corey Hart: $1 Zwilling/Melnick ($0)
One Brewer leaves, another arrives: Are you a Milwaukee Brewer with no place to go? Look no further than the Zwilling/Melnick squad. After trading away Bill Hall earlier in the week, the duo picked up Hart to keep the number of Brewers on their roster at five, lest Satan return to earth and harvest their souls.
Let's take a closer look at this team:
Lenny Melnick Fantasy Baseball (www.LennyMelnickFantasyBaseball.com)
Fourth Place, 21 points behind Larry Schechter (www.SandlotShrink.com).
HAS: RBI (11), saves (11), average (9)
YEARNS FOR: Home runs (4.5), Strikeouts (2)
The deal for C.C. Sabathia will instantly help the Zwilling/Melnick squad make up some ground in strikeouts. With Rich Harden's return on the horizon (although that horizon keeps getting pushed back), the dual-pronged attack should help them make some serious moves in strikeouts, wins, ERA and WHIP -- the four pitching categories with room for improvement.
On offense, the team was dealt two serious injury blows this week, losing Rickie Weeks and Jason Giambi. Fortunately, the guys have Kazuo Matsui on the bench and can move Corey Hart into utility. If you look down a couple of lines, they were able to acquire Conor Jackson -- a totally serviceable first baseman -- through the magic of FAAB. These moves won't help their home run totals, but they also won't shock the team into a tailspin, as both replacements aren't huge dropoffs from the injured stars.
"Let's go see Sergio!": Dig way back to your days watching "Sesame Street," and sing along with me
"One of these kids is doing their own thing
"Now it's time to play our game "
If you said "1.74," you win a chance not to get this ticking time bomb on your team. The numbers represent Sergio's ERAs from 2004 to 2007, in chronological order. The ridiculously low ERA he is sporting in 2007 has earned Mitre a deserved roster spot on Leshen's squad, but there still isn't any explanation for why this is happening, or whether he will be able to keep it up. As it is June 3, he has had enough opportunities to fall apart -- and hasn't -- so you might as well pick him up if you're in dire need of a starter. But keep an eye on his nagging hamstring injury, which might push back his scheduled Monday start.
"Mmmm, you're Becky Driscoll, all right!" But who is in Jeremy Guthrie's body?
"One of these kids is doi oh riiiiiight. Here is the reason you might want to consider Guthrie over Mitre, even though Guthrie's ERA is more than a run higher (3.02 to 1.71):
He has done it before with reclamation projects, and he seems to have Guthrie on a path to success as a starter. And this is not a knock on Marlins pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who just might have found something in Mitre, but rather a heaping of praise on Mazzone, who has shown us in the past what he can do with historically pedestrian pitchers.
Nando Di Fino is a fantasy analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at Nando@TalentedMrRoto.com