The Talented Mr. Roto: Questions and answers

What, what, what?!

I imagine Sheila Broflovski's (from "South Park") voice here, screaming confusion. That's what some of the people who read my rankings from Monday wish they could ask me. What, what, what?!

Lots of conversation on the rankings in our ESPN Conversation (beta!) pages following that column. Some good questions, some good responses and an insane thread about the value of Chipper Jones versus Babe Ruth.

But though the Babe Ruth discussion and the questions about why I don't appreciate Chase Utley's defense in my fantasy rankings don't totally make sense, I do understand the emotion. I often have that same confusion about things. So I'll make you a deal. I'll answer your questions, then you can answer mine.

Here are the top five FAQ about my rankings:

  1. How come Tim Lincecum (106) is so low? He rules!

  2. How can Julio Lugo (93) be so high? He sucks!

  3. How come Josh Hamilton (16) isn't No. 1? Or at least in the top five? He's amazing!

  4. How can Chase Utley and Jose Reyes drop from May to June when they were actually incredible in May?

  5. How come Alex Rodriguez is No. 1? You had him at No. 23 last month!

There were tons of questions about every guy, but those were the ones that seemed to come up the most. My answers:

  1. I may have ranked Lincecum a little low. But not by much. As I laid out in the introduction to my rankings, I based everything on an ESPN.com standard mixed league, where quality starting pitching is available on the waiver wire. So I devalue pitching overall. Even though Lincecum is No. 106, he's still a top-20 pitcher in my rankings. And it's about what I think they do from June 1 forward. None of the stats before that date counts. I still have concerns about Lincecum's offense and bullpen behind him. He's still young, and I'm worried about consistency. Last year, he had a 7.71 ERA in June, a 4.03 in August and a 4.50 in September. Now, he was amazing in July (1.62), but three bad months out of four concern me. No question, he's terrific, but I'm just not ready to hand him the Cy Young at age 23.

  2. Very simply, Lugo has averaged more than 30 steals a year the past three seasons, and that was when the Red Sox weren't running. Now only two teams in baseball have more steals than Boston. He's hitting a decent .272 this year; you know he'll get runs thanks to that offense. A shortstop who will hit .275 and should steal 30 bases the rest of the way has a lot of value to me. That simple.

  3. Health and a drop-off are the only concerns. Hamilton has been a bit injury-prone in his career, and he's on pace for 179 RBIs, you know? He's still very high at 16, but you have to believe he cannot keep up this rate of production. I mean, 179 RBIs!

  4. Well, if you go back and look at the conversation pages of my May rankings, you'll see that everyone gave me a bunch of grief over ranking Reyes at No. 12 even though he hadn't done anything. After a month of May in which he hit .310 with five home runs, 15 RBIs and 11 steals, people aren't giving me grief about him anymore. So why is he lower? Because, again, it's about what they do going forward. And I think he cools off just a little. I also think it's a lost season for the Mets, and I'm worried they'll start phoning it in a little as the rest of the teams in the division get further and further away from them.

  5. I was dead wrong on A-Rod being out until the All-Star break. It's just that simple. Based on the injury info I had about Rodriguez, that was my thought and why I ranked him so low, and I explained as such. Now that he is back healthy, he's still the No. 1 player in fantasy going forward.

OK, my turn. Here are my questions. Feel free to answer these (and ask any others) in Conversation (beta!) or click on the link to cyberstalk me below. I'll do a mailbag in the near future about these, the rankings and everything else.

  1. If you were having a nice, fairly expensive Italian dinner at a restaurant, then found out that the food actually had been made by a fast-food place, would you burst into applause? Really?

  2. Did you think Kimbo Slice wasn't as impressive as you thought he'd be?

  3. Would you fight Gina Carano if you could go out on a date with her afterward? What if the date was before? What if the fight was the date?

  4. If you were at a baseball stadium and everyone around you started humming and eating a candy bar, would you join in? Or would ask everyone around you to shut up and eat in peace because you're trying to watch the game?

  5. If you're a Lakers fan, as I am, are you a little worried? Because I am. Not a ton, but yeah. A little.

Working the wire

Another week in which there's not a ton to get excited about. And a lot of my names are guys I've mentioned before. Of course, it's good that those guys I recommended are producing, but still. Just not a lot to get all hyped up about. But I still have a column to write and you clearly have 10 minutes to kill, so here we are. Here are some players who recently have seen a spike in value and may be available in your league. I've listed their ownership percentage in ESPN.com standard mixed leagues in parentheses after their names, mostly because if I listed them in italics before someone else's name, it would make no sense.

Eric Hinske, 1B-OF, Rays (41 percent): Ten home runs this season without full-time at-bats, and now he'll play first base every day with Carlos Pena out. It won't help your average, but he will hit for power.

Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays (5 percent): After a brutal start to the season, he's hitting .306 the past three weeks with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He also has six RBIs in his past six games, and Vernon Wells is coming back soon, which will help that entire offense.

Julio Lugo, SS, Red Sox (37 percent): Well, you heard my explanation above as to why I like him. I'm just putting his name down here so you can realize he's still available in more than 60 percent of leagues.

Ben Francisco, OF, Indians (30 percent): Playing all the time, hitting high in the lineup and averaging .330 on the year. He's hitting .355 in the past week. The Indians are enjoying this Ben Francisco Treat! (pause) I know. Sorry. I couldn't resist.

Fred Lewis, OF, Giants (15 percent): Another guy I mentioned ages ago, he's on pace for more than 100 runs scored, 30 steals, double-digit home runs and to hit .279. He also has two first names. Just saying.

Paul Maholm, P, Pirates (2 percent): Finally recovered from letting Billy Crystal get a piece of a ball in spring training, Maholm has pitched very well recently. A 3.72 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in his past four starts, he's struck out 18 and walked only four in that time frame.

Russell Branyan, 3B, Brewers (5 percent): Four home runs in his past five games. He's a streaky hitter, and right now, the streak is good.

Garrett Olson, P, Orioles (8 percent): I feel as if I've been mentioning this guy every week, but since 90 percent of you refuse to listen, you'll read his name again and like it. He's given up three earned runs or fewer in seven of eight starts and has a 3.86 ERA. I wish his WHIP were a bit lower, but he's legit.

Wandy Rodriguez, P, Astros (24 percent): I've mentioned him many times before, including last week. I call him WayRod -- keep hoping that catches on -- and you know he's always awesome at home. A 0.98 ERA this year when he's getting some home cookin', a 2.94 ERA all of last year at home. Well, he's now healthy again, coming off a great game against the Pirates, and four of his next five starts are, you guessed it, at home.

From the obvious name department

Here are some guys who may be available in more shallow leagues or leagues where you play with idiots:

Rafael Soriano, P, Braves (98 percent): On the bizarro chance he's out there, he's the closer for the Braves now that John Smoltz is done for the year. He's pretty good.

J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (77 percent): You know I hate him, so this is just a public service announcement for you. He has two home runs and six RBIs in his past five games. He hit .296 in May and is hitting .500 so far in June.

Jose Contreras, P, White Sox (86 percent): Another guy I hate, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that he is 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his past six starts. Crazy.

Troy Glaus, 3B, Cardinals (73 percent): Four home runs and five RBIs in his past six games. You know he can rake, and so far, it looks as if he's healthy.

Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks (72 percent): Once a hot pickup, and a guy I love, he was dropped when he went ice-cold. Well, now he's swung back the other way again and is worthy of your attention again. Wow, this is strangely similar to one of my crazy chick stories, isn't it? Anyway, he has four home runs and seven RBIs in his past 12 games, and he's hitting .315 the past three weeks.

Just below the Mendoza line

Here are some guys you should keep an eye on except in deeper leagues, where you might want to consider picking them up:

Mark Teahen, 1B-OF, Royals (1 percent): Now has a home run in three consecutive games.

Alexei Ramirez, 2B, White Sox (4 percent): Another name you've heard from me before. Hitting .417 with two home runs and six RBIs in his past six games.

Adam Jones, OF, Orioles (7 percent): Hitting .296 with 13 RBIs in his past 19 games.

Jody Gerut, OF, Padres (1 percent): Nine runs and two steals in his past 12 games, he's hitting .333 in that time.

Josh Anderson, OF, Braves (0 percent): Called up after Mark Kotsay got hurt, Anderson is speedy. He was hitting .282 with 13 steals in Triple-A this year and had 41 steals in the minors in '07. He's hitting .308 so far in his first seven games.

Jeff Larish, DH, Tigers (0 percent): He hasn't done anything so far. But he's getting a decent amount of playing time against righties and showed a lot of power in the minors. He had 16 home runs and 43 RBIs in Triple-A, hitting .277 when he was called up.

Brandon Morrow, P, Mariners (3 percent): Here's what I know: Morrow has a 1.13 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP this year. He has 23 strikeouts in 16 innings with only seven walks. J.J. Putz has two losses, a blown save and an ERA of 7.04 and a WHIP of 1.83 in his past eight games. I'm just not sure how to put it all together into a plausible scenario that we could anticipate and exploit for a fantasy advantage …

J.P. Howell, P, Rays (0 percent): He's 4-0 and currently has a 1.16 WHIP, not to mention 18 strikeouts in his past 20 2/3 innings.

I'm out of space, so I'll just quickly mention that Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney are close to being recalled, B.J. Ryan continues to pitch poorly and Scott Downs does not, Radhames Liz is a guy I would watch, I'm not buying Josh Banks, and Nate Ravitz and I discuss Carlos Gonzalez with Keith Law on our podcast today.

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 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. If you are already a member of Insider, you get a bigger discount.

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