ESPNX Expert League
• Hunter Pence: $21 Matthew Berry ($3)
Sailing, sailing : Yes, his name sounds more like it belongs to that bad guy from any '80s teen movie whose father owns a yacht and dates the prettiest girl in school (the bad guy, not his father) but doesn't appreciate her, than that of a center fielder's, but Pence has been on fire recently, raising his average from .219 to .348 in an 11-day span, so all is forgiven and forgotten. He's batting a ridiculous .415 at home (.250 on the road), with three home runs and two steals in lovely Minute Maid Park.
• Jack Cust: $21 Berry ($3)
Numerology: As of Saturday night, Cust has eight home runs on the season. One for each letter of his full name ("Jack Cust").
He's hitting .340?? Yes he is along with six home runs, three stolen bases and 27 runs. And it's looking up; of the 10 teams Rowand has faced this year, he is batting under .300 against only three of them: the Cubs, Giants, and Brewers -- all teams out of his division that he will face only a handful more times.
Coincidental trivia of the week: According to Baseball Reference, Meche, whose 1.91 ERA is a full two runs lower than anything he has posted in his career, is most similar at this point in his career to Jason Marquis, another heretofore pedestrian pitcher who is putting up career numbers with his new team in Chicago. It's not quite a Tomax and Xamot situation (if Marquis is beaned, will Meche feel it?), but thought-provoking enough to bring up in an Expert League recap column.
• Curtis Granderson: $1 Tristan H. Cockcroft
AL Tout Wars
• Lew Ford: $16 Lawr Michaels of CREATiVESPORTS.com (Losing bids: $15, $11, $3, $2, $1)
Slip 'n' slide: Ford, who hit .299 with 15 homers and 25 steals in 2004, has fallen from grace in the Twin Cities, batting .226 in 234 at-bats last year before being sidelined with a knee injury and playing in just four games so far this season (as of Saturday). Those four games, however, all came within the course of a five-day span this week, which could be a signal that the Twins are looking to Ford -- at least for now -- to help revive a sluggish offense.
• Jesse Litsch: $16 Rick Wilton/Brian Feldman of Baseball Injury Report ($15, $8, $1)
Just in time for the Preakness: When asked what the Blue Jays had planned for Litsch in the future, J.P. Ricciardi simply said, "We'll ride him."
• Josh Wilson: $5 Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton of Rotoworld.com ($4)
They both have an "I" in their names! What do Josh Wilson and Alfonso Soriano have in common? Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden refused to trade either of them when their value was at its highest. During spring training, at least five teams (according to Bowden) inquired about the infielder. He made the team, then was designated for assignment on May 9. Tampa Bay picked him up, and Wilson will now see an occasional turn at shortstop and possibly could cover second base if B.J. Upton gets shifted to center in Rocco Baldelli's absence.
Time for fun with middle relievers! Um you just had it. Guerrier will get more late-inning work with Jesse Crain gone; Snyder seems to have found his niche in middle relief; and Wilson's blog on MLB.com is more fun to read than it should be.
• Kevin Mahar: $1 Jason Grey of FantasyBaseball.com ($0)
Funny, you never see the two of them together : Mahar takes the roster spot vacated by Brad Wilkerson. With Hank Blalock also going on the DL, the joke that would have gone here (something comparing Mahar to teammate Ron Mahay, maybe a uniform mix-up joke) is now trumped by the fact that Mahar could see some playing time while Jerry Hairston Jr. and Matt Kata rotate at third base instead of the open outfield spot.
Hiram "Womanmouth": If you're looking for the next trendy Oakland outfielder who could hit eight home runs in 13 games (but most likely won't), look no further. Bocachica takes the spot of injured Chris Snelling and has a career path eerily similar to that of Cust, littered with trips between Triple-A and the majors without actually sticking in one or the other.
NL Tout Wars
• Carlos Gomez: $36 Jason Pliml of Mock Draft Central ($35, $28, $27, $18, $17, $5, $3, $1, $1)
• Mark Reynolds: $13 Cory Schwartz of MLB.com ($12, $9, $7, $6, $3)
Not so fast, Mr. Smith: After being claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays, Jason Smith had to figure life was pretty good when Chad Tracy went down with an injury. Until the Diamondbacks unexpectedly purchased the contract of Reynolds from Double-A. Smith might see a fair amount of playing time eventually because Reynolds lacks poise on defense, but Reynolds has shown he can hit -- and displayed a little bit of power -- in the minors. He's worth a gamble in NL-only leagues, but beware of Jason Smith lurking in the shadows.
Perspective: The last time Bowie started a game in the major leagues was 1999. Lindsay Lohan was 13 years old; Bill Clinton was being impeached; Hideki Irabu was the fifth starter for the Yankees; and Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" was winning Record of the Year at the Grammies. Bowie starts Sunday in place of injured Jerome Williams, and it will be interesting to see what happens if he proves to be effective on a limited pitch count.
Mets everywhere! Believe it or not, Jason Collette, proud owner of wildly unpredictable Burgos, told me that two key cogs of his strategy at the Tout Wars draft were: "Draft youth" ("I am very untrustworthy of players after they leave the age nexus of 26-32") and "don't draft control problems." So, at least Burgos is young, right?
Let's take a deeper look at why Jason decided to ditch one of his draft strategies in the FAAB process:
12th place, 45 points (leader Scott Pianowski has 110.5)
Needs: runs (1 pt.), homers (1 pt.), average (1 pt.), strikeouts (3 points), wins (2.5 points)
Cornucopia: ERA (11), WHIP (9)
There are two ways to look at Jason's FAAB strategy this week:
No. 1: With Shawn Hill and Ryan Madson on the disabled list, he needed two fillers to take their place and couldn't call up Yovanni Gallardo (in the minors) or Dustin Nippert (another guy who sounds too much like the bad guy from any '80s teen movie who dates the prettiest girl in school and whose father owns a yacht).
No. 2. With his offense in a rut, selecting two high-upside pitchers -- Burgos could get saves if Wagner gets hurt; Vargas has been electric in the past and could benefit from Rick Peterson's tutelage -- Jason will have flexibility with his ERA-friendly staff to make a few trades and try to acquire value.
Whichever reason he had for making these pickups, the fact remains that Jason needs offense and he needs it in bunches. And making a trade isn't his only option. If Adam LaRoche, David Wright and Soriano start to play up to their preseason expectations -- or even to 75 percent of their preseason expectations -- he could be in decent shape to make a run, and bring himself within a trade or two of being in competition for the championship. By replacing not-young Brett Tomko with an effective Vargas (or Gallardo), Jason would have expendable trading chips in Ben Sheets and Bronson Arroyo to fill the semi-holes he has on the offensive end with Gabe Gross and Olmedo Saenz. Throw in a healthy Kazuo Matsui, and the team has addressed most of its needs without giving up too much in the ERA and WHIP positions.
Prescient pick? Rumors abound that the Cubs will be taking Ryan Dempster out of the closer role and giving it to Marmol or Angel Guzman. It's not a bad idea to hedge your bets before the announcement comes, if it comes.
• Juan Castro: $0 Scott Pianowski of FantasyGuru.com
Fun with situational stats! With Castro hitting .190, there has to be some good to take from his season, right? Yes, and here it is: With none on and none out, Castro is batting .417 (5/12). So if your league allows bat-by-bat transactions, you might want to consider adding Castro to your team in a platoon role.
• Vinnie Chulk: $0 Pianowski
"Hello I must be going": Fontenot was called up to the Cubs on May 15 and optioned back to Iowa three days later. He leaves Chicago having batted .500 (1-for-2) with a run scored and a double.
• Marcus McBeth: $0 Pete Becker of ESPN
"Hello I must be going to an undisclosed location": McBeth was called up to the Reds on May 15, then placed on bereavement leave (the second Reds pitcher to need that this week) on May 18. It would have been ironic if he had given up the double to Fontenot, but, unfortunately, the teams weren't playing each other and McBeth took off before throwing a single pitch.
Mixed Tout Wars
Hip to the game: Even after being injected with a cortisone shot for a hip condition, Duchscherer is the safest bet of all members of the Oakland pen to get save opportunities and, more importantly, to do the most with them. I mentioned he's pitching with a hip condition, right? Look at it like this: If Huston Street were Moe Howard, Duchscherer would be a bloodied and limping Larry Fine and the rest of the bullpen would be full -- in Bob Geren's eyes -- of Shemps and Curly Joe DeRitas.
Man of Thor vs. Son of Wil?: We all know who won this battle. Thorman's emergence made Craig Wilson an afterthought in Atlanta and eventually led to his release on Friday. After a slow start, Thorman brought his average up to the mid-.270s, flashed a little bit of power and is on his way to fulfilling the potential that made Adam LaRoche a Pittsburgh Pirate. He's safe to grab in every format.
Anyone else remember that Game 7? A bid of $0 for a former All-Star currently batting .295 is an absolute steal for Hoyos. With Mike Jacobs on the disabled list, Boone will see the lion's share of time at first, giving him a multipositional eligibility that further strengthens his value.
• Joe Kennedy: $1 Leshen
Nando Di Fino is a fantasy analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at Nando@TalentedMrRoto.com