Real life needs a trade deadline.
Think about what happened this past week. Three future Hall-of-Famers (Manny Ramirez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ivan Rodriguez) were traded. Mark Teixeira and Jason Bay are elite players. And Arthur Rhodes is nice to his mother. Probably. In addition to the obvious reasons -- improving your team, getting rid of a problem, getting something for a player you're going to lose -- the reason teams made these deals at this time is that they were forced to by the deadline.
What if guys had a trade deadline for whether or not to propose to their girlfriends? I can't tell you how many folks I meet where it's like "Yeah, we've been together for seven years." What?! Seven years? At some point, you know or you don't, OK?
Miss the deadline? Too bad. She's gone. Over. Wait 'til next year. It's the threat, you see. We need the threat.
Whether it's a career change, updating your wardrobe or buying something nice for your favorite fantasy columnist, we all need a push. [Editor's Note: Or getting a column in on time.] Without the proverbial gun to our heads, we wait. We are a nation of procrastinators. I've lived my life by "the last possible minute" and it's not healthy. Probably because I say things like "Ah, I'll grab something to eat later, ugh, running out of time Oooh! Pop-Tart!"
I want you to create your own personal trade deadline. Draw a line in the sand and stick to it. Say to yourself, I'm going to look at Matthew's list and do something for my team. Whether it's this weekend or three weeks from now, pick a date and demand a commitment from yourself to meet it. "I will have something nice for TMR by midnight, Aug. 7, 2008," is the kind of phrase I want to hear from you. For the record, I'm a size 42 medium and blue really brings out my eyes.
Working the Wire
Here are some players who have recently seen a spike in value and may be available in your league. Ownership percentages in ESPN.com standard leagues are in parentheses.
Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies (19 percent): He's been mentioned in this space before but he spells his name with a "y." If he's not gonna follow the rules, neither am I. He's available in more than 80 percent of leagues and he shouldn't be. The Phillies are starting to get hot and he is one of the reasons. Three home runs in his past seven games, he's hitting .290 in July.
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS-OF, Reds (56 percent): With Junior out of the way, Hairston should become the everyday center fielder as soon as he is done with a rehab assignment, sometime this weekend. He was hitting a very un-Hairston-like .351 before his injury, and while he may not quite keep that up, he does have 15 steals already and should get another 10 before the season's out.
Josh Fields, 3B, White Sox (3 percent): This is what I wrote in my preseason "Love/Hate" (which you should check out; despite a few missteps, it's looking pretty good right about now). I wrote: "Joe Crede. That was the extent of the argument the rest of the ESPN Fantasy staff gave me every time I tried to get Fields ranked higher. They didn't care that he had the third-most home runs after the All-Star break among big league third basemen. That he had only seven fewer RBIs than David Wright over that same time frame. More runs than Miguel Cabrera (and only four fewer than Chone Figgins). No, he won't help your batting average (.240 average after the break), but he is only 24, and if you paid attention this offseason, you'd have noticed the White Sox are going with a youth movement. Fields' bat is simply too good to keep out of the lineup."
Well, stupid Joe Crede stayed healthy and hit, keeping Fields down in Triple-A. But not anymore. Crede is now hurt and the White Sox called Fields up a few hours after I turned in last week's edition of this column. He hasn't hit a lick yet, but lord help me, I still believe.
Tyler Yates, P, Pirates (37 percent): Maybe it'll be the newly acquired Craig Hansen, but I'm betting Yates gets the majority of saves for Pittsburgh until Matt Capps comes back. He got one against Colorado on the 29th. I would write more but there really isn't anything else good to write here. Opportunity is pretty much the best thing Tyler Yates has going for him. I mean, at the end of the day, he's still Tyler Yates.
Kyle Farnsworth, P, Tigers (58 percent): As long as we are talking about ugly saves, there's a chance Farnsy (I call him Farnsy) could get some. Joel Zumaya is in the mix and Fernando Rodney is not completely out of it just yet. Regardless, Farnsy has been decent this year, especially lately. He has a 2.16 ERA in July. If you're speculating for saves, you could do worse. And probably have if you've even gotten close to the Braves' bullpen this season.
Denard Span, OF, Twins (3 percent): It's a cool first name, you have to give him that. And he's producing since getting into the starting lineup as well. He's hitting .321 in July, he has 20 runs scored in 25 games with a home run and two steals just for fun. Not much here except runs scored and batting average, but sometimes that's better than what you currently have.
From the Obvious Name Department
Here are some players who have recently seen an increase in value and may be available in shallow leagues or leagues where you play with morons.
Chris Carpenter, P, Cardinals (67 percent): You may not know this, but he used to be very, very good. Well, he's back from injury, pitching for a contender and was decent in his first start back, giving up one earned run in four innings. I don't feel he'll be totally dominant, but he will be a lot more useful than a lot of folks who are currently on teams. (I'm looking at you, Clay Buchholz and your 25 percent ownership!)
Garret Anderson, OF, Angels (44 percent): I feel like I talk about GA all the time. And maybe I do. It would certainly explain the restraining order. But the fact remains the guy gets no respect and he's still available in way too many leagues. So far this July he is hitting .384. That's not a typpo. (That was.) He has five home runs and 22 RBIs in 23 games. And he was money last year after the All-Star break, with 65 RBIs. He is a career .306 hitter in the second half.
Fernando Tatis, OF, Mets (57 percent): Another name you've seen before but I don't know what else the guy has to do to get picked up. He's hitting .400 since the All-Stra break. (That was another one.) He's hitting .319 on the year. Two home runs in his past five games? Dude, he's legit.
Just below the Mendoza Line:
Here are some players who have recently seen an increase in value and who you should keep an eye on, or pick up in deeper leagues.
Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals (3 percent): I have a weird thing for Elijah Dukes but I just keep thinking, eventually, that skill set will trump his questionable judgment. Of course, many say the same about me. Dukes is back from injury and folks forget that the former Devil Ray (that's not a typo; he was never a Ray) was actually playing pretty well before going on the DL. He was hitting .348 with three home runs, four RBIs and two steals in the six games prior to getting hurt. Small sample size, of course, but still. Those are impressive numbers.
Chris Volstad, P, Marlins (25 percent): He's been pretty good since coming up, going 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in four games (three started). I'm not crazy about his strikeout-to-walk rate (15-8) and he's young. But there's enough here to warrant a further look.
Bryan LaHair, 1B, Mariners (2 percent): A decent prospect who was called up recently, he's playing first base now that Richie Sexson is striking out, er, playing for the Yankees. He's got two home runs and four RBIs in his past four games. Not a great batting eye (11 strikeouts in 30 at-bats -- Yeesh!) and he won't hit for this much power, but in deep leagues, those needing power should take a long look.
Jarrod Washburn, P, Mariners (8 percent: If I were doing a "Just Saying" column, this is what I would write: Great ballpark, good bullpen, there's still a shot he might be traded to the Yankees, and in his past 10 starts, he's 3-3 with a 2.80 ERA.
See you kids next week. Remember to download our podcasts. (We don't care if you listen, we're just trying to beat the Jonas Brothers!)
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a Sports Emmy award winner for his work on Fantasy Football Now and a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off.