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Tuesday, April 3, 2007
The Finch Files

By Jennie Finch
ESPN.com

Welcome back to the Finch Files! Finally, we've got some real games to watch.

First things first: Don't panic. Or don't get cocky. It was one day. It's a long season.

You should do yourself a favor and not even look at your league standings this week, because they mean nothing. That's the first thing I learned when I started playing fantasy baseball. It's not like football, where Week 1 is seven percent of your season. In baseball, Day 1 is actually less than seven-tenths of a percent of a season. Don't you love statistics? You can use them to make yourself feel better about just about anything, at least 63 percent of the time!

Let's get to the mailbag.

Hey Jennie, I want to add a Diamondback to my fantasy team but I am unsure which of their young players has the greatest fantasy potential. I am leading toward Conor Jackson, but I am also considering adding Carlos Quentin or Alberto Callaspo. Who would you take of the three? Tony ( Tucson, Ariz)

Dear Tony,

I like Conor the best out of the three. With him, you know what you're going to get: between .290 and .300 and 18-25 homeruns. Quentin still hasn't had enough at-bats to acclimate, and that labrum worries me. My guess is he'll struggle at first and have a good second half. Alberto's a good young player, but the plan for him is to get him 300 at-bats in the infield. That's not really enough for a mixed league. If you're stacked at first base but could use a boost up the middle in NL-only leagues, though, then Callaspo's your man.

What do you think of Jorge Julio in Florida ? Will he have the job all year? Jake ( Lockport , N.Y. )

Dear Jake,

They're going to stay with him for a while. They gave up a decent prospect for him, and it's not to have him pitch set up. That stadium is good for him, since he's always given up his share of home runs. However, if he starts having control problems like he's had in the past and blows a number of saves, keep your eye on Kevin Gregg, who may be next in line this season, even when Taylor Tankersley gets healthy.

I drafted Jonathan Papelbon, but I'm pretty set at closer with Joe Nathan and Bobby Jenks. Which one would you trade? Cory (Pierre, SD)

Dear Cory,

Bobby Jenks. He's the riskiest. If you're getting lowball offers, though, shop all three around. Trading is like a box of chocolates, you never know what kind of offer you're going to get!

How the heck do you fast-pitch a softball? I've tried it and hit the second baseman more than the catcher. Steve ( Providence , R.I.)

Dear Steve,

Second baseman… we've got some work to do! Make sure you are stepping towards home plate, striding out with your non-throwing-arm leg. You go around once and if you think "fingers up by the hip," it should help out your release point. A good drill for practicing is to roll up some socks and pitch into the mirror in your house. It worked for me. Good luck!

Hi Jennie … looks like your sleeper pick Carl Pavano was the opening day starter! What about Kei Igawa and Mike Mussina, though? Will they be good this season? Joanne ( Yonkers, N.Y.)

Dear Joanne,

Any pitcher who's able to make 30 starts for the Yankees is going to be good because of the run support they're going to get. Mussina is always a good bet for 15 wins and Igawa looked good during the spring. He should be a 15-game winner, too, and give you a few more strikeouts than you might think.

Go Dodgers! Glad to hear you love our boys in blue. Okay, it's almost Opening Day, so let's have your picks: Who will be the fantasy MVP, ROY and Cy Youngs this season? Khalil ( Los Angeles, Calif.)

Dear Khalil,

A fellow Dodgers fan, eh? Always nice to meet another one! Let's see, Fantasy MVP has to be Albert Pujols. I've heard the arguments for Jose Reyes and Johan Santana, but that's crazy. Pujols is the best offensive player in baseball. He's going to hit .330 with 45 home runs and he's going to knock in 130 guys. No other offensive player has had those numbers, especially not six years in a row like Albert has.

I'm going to go out on a limb for ROY and bypass both Daisuke Matsuzaka and Delmon Young. I'm thinking either Alex Gordon, who had a great spring here in Arizona and is going to be given every opportunity to perform in the middle of that Kansas City lineup, but I'm also looking for a mid-season call up in Houston for Hunter Pence. He dominated this spring and showed the Astros that he can be a nice complement to Lance Berkman in lineup.

Cy Young has to be Johan Santana. He's the best pitcher in baseball -- has been and will continue to be.

Enjoy the Dodgers this year! I think they're going to take the division … just don't tell Casey I said that!

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