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Saturday, April 28, 2007
Updated: April 30, 5:43 PM ET
Play Like the Pros: Sosa on the rise

By Nando Di Fino
Special to ESPN.com

Lost in the shuffle of all this silly NFL draft hullabaloo? Try expert league free agent acquisitions! In a shiny new format! Let's dive right in and swim around the players, much like Scrooge McDuck used to do with hundred dollar bills. …

ESPN Expert League

Sammy Sosa: David Young, $21

A closer look: Young, author of "Sixty Feet, Six Inches" and "Relief Efforts," visits the other side of the plate and ponies up $21 for a re-energized Sosa. Even in a format as shallow as ESPN standard leagues -- with 10 teams and 20 roster spots -- Sosa is a must-have. Through Saturday, he has hit seven home runs in 75 at-bats for the season, and he raised his average almost 70 points in a five-day tear this past week.

Phil Hughes: Chris Harris $17
Kelly Johnson: Young $11
Jason Frasor: Will Harris $8
Matt Capps: Young $6
Ted Lilly: Shandler $6

Here's how I imagine the conversation:

Ron Shandler: Dave, I have an idea.
David Young: Who is this? It's 4 a.m.
Ron Shandler: It's Ron! Let's each FAAB a pitcher with value in a mixed-league format whose name starts with a consonant, followed by a vowel, then two consonants, then either a consonant or a sometimes-vowel at the end. Are you in?
David Young: Huzzah!

Orlando Hernandez: Berry $2
Ramon Hernandez: Cockroft $1

Tout Wars AL-only

Dallas Braden: Jason Grey $5 (Grey $11, Dean Peterson $4, Lawr Michaels $4, Jeff Erickson $2, Shandler $1)

Do I want Dallas Braden to be a part of my team? Only in the deeper leagues. Obviously, if five experts were battling against each other to have him on their most high-profile teams, he's worth a shot. But if you're in a relatively shallow mixed league, you may want to see if he sticks before cutting someone like Zack Greinke for him.

Brian Bannister: Grey $2 (Grey $3, Peterson $1)
Danny Putnam: Michaels $1 (Michaels $1, Peterson $0)
Ryan Roberts: Michaels $1

Ohhhhhh ... I thought you said "Brian" Roberts: Be very careful not to make this mistake, as both Robertses are second basemen in the AL East. Brian Roberts -- he of the ghastly 2005 elbow injury -- starts in Baltimore. Ryan Roberts, whose only major league hit was a solo home run in 2006, was called up to replace Troy Glaus 12 days ago and had not made it into a game by Saturday. Still, Michaels had a gaping home in his middle infield, and pretty much anyone in that spot would have been helpful.

Sal Fasano: Mike Siano $1

Does Sal Fasano still have a moustache? Yes.
Do I want him on my team? Probably not. Fasano will be splitting time behind the plate with Jason Phillips.
Did Mike Siano add him only because Fasano is Italian? The jury is still out. Although Siano's MLB.com team also boasts David Dellucci and Frank Catalanotto, he did lose Gregg Zaun to his hand injury this week, so it does make sense that Siano would want to get his replacement. If Jason Grilli somehow finds his way onto Siano's roster next week, though, we may have a case.

Paul Bako: Joe Sheehan $1
Tomo Ohka: Rick Wilton/Brian Feldman $1 (Wilton/Feldman $2, Peterson $1)

Could Tomo Ohka potentially be a steal at $1? "Steal" might be a bit of a stretch, but there is something to be said for his 1.8 ground-ball/fly-ball ratio. With the Blue Jays playing Royce Clayton at shortstop because of his stellar glove work, this can only help Ohka's numbers. And with a career WHIP of 1.38 and ERA of 4.04, Ohka has seen success in the past.

Tom Mastny: Shandler $1 (Shandler $1, Peterson $0)
Juan Salas: Peterson $0

Tout Wars NL-only

Renyel Pinto: Pete Becker $4 (Becker $4, Scott Pianowski $3, Scott Wilderman/John Muckler $1, Walton $0)

Why does Reynel Pinto have a save? David Young beat me to the punch for Pinto jokes in this week's Relief Efforts, and ESPN.com has a strict limit on name-related puns. That being said, Pinto was called in to bail out a struggling Henry Owens this week and pretty much wandered into a save. He's going to strike out more than a batter per inning, and if he can rein in his control just a little bit, he could be a stellar middle relief option in NL-only formats. Also, because this is the Florida bullpen, Pinto could find himself in more than one save situation as the season progresses.

Jonah Bayliss: Trace Wood $2 (Wood $3, Jason Collette $1)

I want Jonah Bayliss trivia! Googling "Jonah Bayliss" and "Jason Grey" yields six results.

Saul Rivera: Erickson $1

Saul Rivera has a save? Yes. After Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch struggled in a game more than a week ago, Rivera came in and closed the game out against the Marlins.

John Grabow: Wilderman/Muckler $1

It Seems Like "Grabow-SKI" as a last name would have more flow to it, no? Yes it does.

Francisco Rosario: Wood $1
Tyler Yates: Phil Hertz $0
Rocky Cherry: Rob Leibowitz $0

I want to ignore the name jokes and get right into this: Rocky Cherry strikes out about a batter per inning and could be a key cog in the Chicago bullpen for a long time.

Fabio Castro: Wilderman/Muckler $0

Tout Wars Mixed

Jason Hirsh: Mike Salfino $9 (Salfino $11, Kastner $8, Di Fino $5)

Why do I want Hirsh on my team? The idea of Colorado pitchers having high ERAs and being prone to giving up a lot of homers is long gone thanks to some creative (and MLB-approved) ball-doctoring by Rockies officials. Hirsh is a 6-foot-8 giant who chucks the ball at batters in the mid-to-high 90s. He does have a tendency to give up a home run here and there, but if your team needs strikeouts and a decent ERA and WHIP, Hirsh is an excellent add.

Ryan Theriot: Di Fino $7 (Di Fino $7, Dave Adler $6)
Jose Valentin: John Hoyos $4 (Hoyos $3, Larry Schechter $3)
Shawn Hill: J.P. Kastner $2: (Kastner 2, Adler 2 -- Kastner wins via coin flip)
Miguel Montero: Alex Cushing $1

The Arizona Catcher? Keep in mind that the rules of Tout Wars Mixed require that you carry two catchers. When you click on "C" for the waiver wire, this is what you see:

Yadier Molina
Dioner Navarro
Mike Redmond
Yorvit Torrealba
Mike Napoli
Rob Bowen

... and it gets uglier. Cushing is speculating on the young catcher to flash more power, raise his batting average and steal a base here or there.

Derrick Turnbow: Di Fino $1
Maicer Izturis: Schechter $1

Macier Izturis, although the Angels say he will move to second base when Chone Figgins returns, will eventually be in a three-man rotation when Howie Kendrick comes back. Why do I want him? Larry Schechter has won the Mixed Tout Wars title two years in a row and is currently 6.5 points ahead of the second-place team. I am assuming this move was made with that valuable second base eligibility looming, but there is usually more there when Schechter (Eight results from "Larry Schechter" and "Jason Grey" Googling!) is involved.

John Danks: Kastner $1
Ryan Garko: Kastner $1
Jason Phillips: Todd Zola $1

Zola and Siano: Forever linked by Gregg Zaun's broken hand.

Nando Di Fino is a fantasy analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at Nando@TalentedMrRoto.com