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Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Updated: July 4, 10:41 AM ET
Finch Files: Believe in Bonds

By Jennie Finch
ESPN.com

Hello once again and welcome back to the Finch Files! After a few days off, I'm back at National Team Training Camp, and I'm getting psyched for the World Cup, which is coming up on July 12 in Oklahoma City. I'll still find some time to read your emails, though. I always look forward to hearing from you! With the All-Star break coming up, I know some of you are ready to bail on your picks that didn't work out, but remember, it's only that stats that are coming that count. Think long and hard before giving up on a player who could go on to have a great second half. It happens all the time, and not just with Johan Santana.

Let's see what's on your mind ...

Boma: I have Barry Bonds, who is struggling as of late, but i don't know if i should keep him or not. Is he going to hit 25-35 home runs or should i trade him?

Jennie: Barry, struggling? I think the month of May is still weighing heavily on your mind. He was definitely struggling then, but he rebounded nicely in June, with a .364 average and a .621 slugging percentage. I'll assume that you mean you're worried that he had only four home runs in each of May and June after hitting eight in April. I'm not worried, and I'd keep Barry. It wouldn't surprise me to see him finish the year strong once the pressure of chasing Hank Aaron is off. He's still got a lot of pop left in him, plus he gives you good batting average, and he's even thrown in a few steals lately. I say he gets to 30 by early September.

Alex Kozora ( Leechburg Pa): Hi. My third basemen are currently Troy Glaus, B.J. Upton, and Ryan Braun. I want to keep two. Who should I drop? Or should I try to trade one of them? My team is in need or ERA and WHIP help.

Jennie: Of the three, I'd definitely trade Glaus. I'd trade him for the best pitcher you can get before he gets hurt again or old injuries flare up. Upton is still on the 15-day DL but should return any day now, and I think he and Braun will both be five-category contributors for you down the stretch, and in case of doubt, always go with the stats-fillers. I have to ask, though, who are you playing at second base? Upton has more than double the most stringent requirement of 20 games played at a position, and the best way to use him is to put him there. If your current second baseman is that good, you'll probably get all the pitching help you need for him.

John Anthony (Pennsylvania): Hi Jennie, I drafted Vernon Wells and (like previous e-mailers) I am also becoming frustrated with him, but i saw in your column that you say to hang on to him, so OK, I will. So my question is, do I put Chone Figgins in the outfield for Wells for awhile until he heats up, and if so, so, I am going to need a third baseman. Who would you recommend? I can get Alex Gordon, Josh Fields or Mark Teahen, and there are others.

Jennie: Stay patient with Wells. He's already starting to hit and rack up some RBIs and homers. He finished June on a high note and is off to a good start in July, with five homers in his last 12 games. You're much stronger with Wells in the outfield and Figgins, who is also heating up, at third base. Gordon, Fields and Teahen are all good young players, but at this point in their careers, none of them have the upside Wells has when he is on his game.

Charlotte: Should i pick up Jon Lester? I have heard great things about him.

Jennie: I'd hold off picking up Lester. The Red Sox had the opportunity to bring him up when Curt Schilling went on the DL and opted to bring up Kason Gabbard from Pawtucket instead because they didn't think Lester was ready. He then got hit pretty hard in his next start. I think it will take a while before his number gets called by the big club.

Bernie (Boston,MA): Hey Jennie, do you think Cole Hamels will keep up his impressive numbers? Also who do you think will win the Cy Young and MVP in the AL and NL?

Jennie: Cole Hamels is one of the best young pitchers in the game. His sustained success over the course of this year so far (9-4, 3.87 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 116 strikeouts in 17 starts ) and for the final months of last year (7-4, 3.39 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 14 post-All-Star starts) tell me that he's for real and should continue to have success.

As far as MVP and Cy Young winners, my early favorites in the NL would be Jose Reyes and Jake Peavy. In the AL, I'm going to go with Alex Rodriguez and Josh Beckett.

Kaitlyn Watkins : Hey, Jennie, I just made All-Stars, and I am a pitcher and play second base. When I go up there to pitch I want to know how you block all the noise out.

Jennie: Congratulations on making All-Stars, Kaitlyn. That's exciting. Your question is a tough one, and I don't usually like to answer it because it's different for everyone. You really need to find your own way of turning inward and focusing on what you have to do. You may want try to some meditation or breathing techniques. There are lots of books out there on the subject, so there may be some trial-and-error involved, but eventually you'll find what works best for you.

Jason (Louisville): My little niece is starting to get interested in sports because she is surrounded by boys, and one of the sports just happens to be baseball. Do you think there will ever be a pro softball league for women? My niece keeps asking me this question.

Jennie: There is a pro softball league, as it turns out. I play in it for the Chicago Bandits. The salaries aren't like baseball, but I'm hopeful that one day we'll get there! Go to ProFastPitch.com for more information and tell your niece to keep dreaming and believing!

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