Ladies and gentlemen, I give you -- as a special treat -- the intro to this week's "FAAB Results" e-mail from Tout Wars commissioner Todd Zola. I am not being lazy; rather, let this serve as an example that even in the most competitive league in the world, there's still room for trash-talk:
"In the spirit of so many MLB records and milestones being approached or broken this week, I thought I would share some of the Tout Wars records and milestones I have been tracking.
"--Phil Hertz (Baseball HQ) sent me his 500th transaction e-mail.
--Dean Peterson (STATS, Inc) was outbid on a player for the 3,000th time.
--Jason Grey (FantasyBaseball.com) has bid on 749 fifth starters, but many consider his quest for 755 tainted as he was under the influence of Red Bull for the bulk of the requests."
AL TOUT WARS FAAB
• Andy Gonzalez: $2 Jeff Erickson, Rotowire.com (Losing bid: Dean Peterson, $1)
"I must admit I didn't think much of Andy first time I laid eyes on him": Buoyed by a 4-for-5 performance last week, which raised his average from .182 to .263, Gonzalez has started regularly in the outfield for the White Sox, bouncing between center and right field. His value is boosted by his eligibility at shortstop in most formats, earned by playing there regularly in the minor leagues.
• Rafael Perez: $2 Sam Walker, "Fantasyland" ($1)
Synchronicity!: As of Friday, Rafael Perez had an ERA of 0.87 and a WHIP of 0.87.
• Luis Rodriguez: $0 Mike Siano, MLB.com
NL TOUT WARS
Pianowski: "Cut and dry move from my position. I've got lots of offense (leading three of the five categories, including a healthy edge in home runs), but in pitching... not so much. The dirty little secret to expert leagues is that there's almost no trading, so when a willing partner approaches, you try as best as you can to make a fit.
"As it turns out, Rob's got the opposite problem as me; plenty of moundsmen, not enough lumber. From there, it was easy to find a logical fit for us both. I conveniently slipped Griffey into an envelope so he could double as Rob's wedding present.
"Skeptics might point to Lowe's first half and say, "He aint' that good." Perhaps not. But Griffey hasn't seen 500 at-bats since 2000, either. We'll see which balloon bursts first, but I think this is the clichéd 'trade that helps both teams.'"
Leibowitz: "I'm in fourth but dead last in homers. I am willing to take risks and Griffey was probably -- by far -- the best I was going to get in return for Lowe. As long as he is healthy (cough, cough) he will do what I got him for in that park. I wish the Reds would somehow trade him to the AL so he could be an everyday DH.
"Hendrickson pitches pretty well in relief, and always has a chance to move into the rotation and provide some innings. I also tried to get Vinnie Chulk, as he is the primary candidate to get saves behind Hennessey, but Scott didn't bite.
"From his side, he gets reliability and plenty of wins from Lowe, but on the flip side, I won't now end up dealing my ace and anchor, Brandon Webb."
And how about a third point of view, from league-mate and former champ, Mike Lombardo, of Wise Guy Baseball: "Pianowski finally pulled off a trade with Leibowitz to acquire a top SP in the person of Derek Lowe who is having a very solid year. Question is, why did he wait so long? One likely answer is that it's very hard to make any trades in this league when you're leading the pack. When I won in '05, I was able to pull off a trade or two, but in order to do so, I had to give up more than I got. These leagues are truly, "all or nothing at all" ones. And, no one wants to trade with the leader in order to improve that person's chances.
• Milton Bradley: $46 Phil Hertz, BaseballHQ.com ($45, $42, $41, $32, $26, $22)
Must...resist...board game jokes: Bradley wore out his welcome in Oakland, even though he sported a .292 average and had two home runs in just 19 games. And how is that oblique of his? Good enough for San Diego GM Kevin Towers to waive a physical for the volatile outfielder. According to the "San Diego Union Tribune":
"Towers didn't make completion of the trade contingent on a physical exam, saying Bradley and his agents told him 'he's turned the corner' with the oblique injury."
Bradley will most likely be activated Sunday and secure a spot in the San Diego outfield for the remainder of the season (if he stays healthy) alongside Brian Giles and Mike Cameron. Jose Cruz Jr. owners should plan accordingly.
Ready to hit this pretty gritty bitty with persistence: Jimenez makes yet another return to the majors, this time replacing Cristian Guzman, who is out for the season with a torn thumb ligament. Jimenez -- who has a surprisingly high .264 career average -- actually has a shot to crack the starting lineup, if he can out together a nice run in his now-limited playing time. Only Ronnie Belliard and a disappointing Felipe Lopez stand in the way.
Let's go back to the source and ask Mike why he went after the Cardinals' infielder: "With Nook Logan seemingly out of the picture for significant at-bats in the crowded Nats' outfield, I snagged Ryan for a buck to replace him. He's no major talent, but Logan gave me three at-bats last week (although I'm holding on to him, just in case). The bottom line in Washington is now obvious, even to Manny Acta. Aside from Nook's first name, there's very little else that's cool about him."
Gonos: "I'm in dire need of strikeouts, and it's time to start making the uphill climb in ERA and WHIP. Escobar gives me a great shot at wins as well, which is the one category that I can earn the most points in by creating separation from the logjam.
"Unfortunately, I'm the perfect model of a guy trading a superstar in a subpar season for an oft-injured guy that happens to be pitching incredibly well because he's healthy. I fully expect Escobar's elbow to come apart as soon he hears I traded for him."
Zola: "Pretty simple on my end. David answered my cattle call announcing I was looking to move starting pitching, I looked at his roster and found a hitter in Wells that was comparable to the pitchers I had available. I sent him a list, allowed him to choose which he wanted since I was OK with his selection of any of them. I find this ploy to be useful to get deals done quickly. With respect to Wells, his track record suggests more pop is coming and he is more than welcome to do it while on my squad."
Nando: Last week,Todd and I stalled on a deal involving Alex Rodriguez for Hamels and some other parts. This week, he e-mailed me and asked to re-start the talks. After one e-mail each, we had an agreement.
I had enough closers to deal one of them, and because my ERA and WHIP are already sky-high, Borowski was the natural choice. I have hope that Burrell can turn it around in the second half (although I harbored those same hopes back in 2003), but, for now, he'll sit on my bench.
Zola: "With our deal, I used the same "choice" tactic, setting the principles as Hamels and Byrnes, hoping you would see a combo of balancing players that would precipitate a deal. I originally was going to ask for Okajima, but since you had a closer on reserve, I figured I would up the ante to see if you would bite. Byrnes fills a need for me as I need hitting help across the board and he makes a nice upgrade with Wells. I have a large lead in strikeouts and will now look to stream in two-start pitchers while making up ground in saves.
Nando: "At 4:30 on Friday, I was at happy hour with some friends, and got a text from Alex that said: "Gaudin for Wandy?" I wrote back, "sure, why not?" and a deal was made. Wandy can get a ton of strikeouts, but I'm purging the high-WHIP and ERA pitchers from my team, one by one.
He plays every day: Although Schneider's numbers leave very few impressed, he is one of the few remaining starting catchers left on the Mixed Tout Wars waiver wire of. He has already driven in 31 runs, and his batting average has risen steadily over the past week.
...And Twins!: Bartlett and Baker make for an intriguing pair to add on the same day, and not just because of their alliterative properties. After a mild neck injury, Bartlett has roared to life, securing the second spot in the batting order, raising his average 30 points since June 8, and stealing eight bases in the same time frame. Baker, meanwhile, responded to the news of Matt Garza's call-up by striking out nine in seven innings against the Blue Jays. However, it is important to remember these key elements: Baker's ERA is still 5.77, and his WHIP is 1.46; Garza has struck out over a batter per inning in Triple-A, and his ERA is below 3.50; The Twins have said they will put Garza in the pen, but they initially did the same thing with Francisco Liriano and Johan Santana; The Twins are both young and fickle, meaning they could possibly demote someone else to the pen if Baker continues his hot streak, in order to pay the least amount of money possible to a talented group of arms.
• Mike Fontenot: $1 Gonos
• Carlos Marmol: $1 John Hoyos, RotoJunkie.com
... And ... er ... Cubs!: Marmol and Fontenot are another interesting pair of teammates, although they will be heading to different teams in Tout Wars. Fontenot has been impressive enough in his stint with the Cubs (.408 average, 1.116 OPS) to create a strange Francophile dream infield, with Fontenot and Theriot rotating at second and shortstop, pushing Mark DeRosa to the outfield and occasional utility duty. Marmol, meanwhile, has struck out 30 batters in 22 innings, sporting a 1.23 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Although Bobby Howry has been tabbed the interim closer with Ryan Dempster out, Marmol may see some opportunities to close out games. He is a win-win pickup, as even if he doesn't get a save, his high strikeout rate, two wins and low ratios can help chip away at the leaders in all five categories.
Goodbye, Nomar Jean: And Wilson Betemit. And Andy LaRoche. And Tony Abreu. In a twist that paralleled the ending of "The Wizard of Oz" the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers discovered that the answer to all their problems was right there in their own backyard. By moving Nomar Garciaparra to third base, the Dodgers not only returned Wilson Betemit to the super-utility role (where his OPS is a ridiculous 1.604), but James Loney now has sole possession of first base. Loney is batting .478, with three home runs and 14 RBIs in just 46 at-bats.
• Khalil Greene: $1 Adler
Aaron Hill: $1 Tristan H. Cockcroft
So this is the part where he destroys his elbow?: Remember Brian Roberts in 2005? Just as he eclipsed 1,000 at-bats in the major leagues, the Baltimore second baseman exploded for 18 home runs seemingly out of nowhere. Aaron Hill is on that same path this season. With his first 1,000 at-bats out of the way, Hill -- a 2003 first-round draft pick -- has doubled his career home run output (from nine to 18) and is well on his way to following Roberts' lead in becoming an out-of-nowhere power-hitting second baseman.
The poor man's Juan Pierre: Much like the Dodgers boast base-stealers Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal at the top of their lineup, their sister team in Anaheim is doing the same thing, but at a fraction of the cost. Reggie Willits and Chone Figgins have combined to steal just as many bases as Pierre and Furcal (37) but in 170 fewer at-bats. Willits pulled up lame just as Karabell submitted his bid, but he's expected to play Sunday and should be fine to add to your team, if he is still a free agent in your league.
Nando Di Fino is a fantasy analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at Nando@TalentedMrRoto.com