TRUMming like it's 2004
The problem with the phrase "back in the day" is that it makes you seem old. No one likes to seem old, especially when you have a hairline that isn't helping matters. And you sometimes have to squint to read small print when you never had to before. And you have a conversation like this with your 14-year-old:
Me: What are you talking about? It's terrible.
Kid: It's 2 Chainz.
Me: Who on earth is "two chains?"
Kid: I forgot. You're old.
Me: I'm not old. I just don't listen to most rap music because, well, because (sigh) because I'm old.
So I'm reluctant to use the phrase but it's appropriate here, because back in the day, I used to write something called "The TRUM." TRUM stood for "Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings" and that's exactly what it was. Started in 2004, when I had my own website, it was a nightly brain dump of whatever was on my mind, and during baseball season, it was a daily romp through the box scores, with me commenting on whatever stood out to me. I loved writing the TRUM. My schedule and other duties these days don't allow me to do it like I used to, but every once in a while, especially when it's early and there's no significant stats to dive into, I like to bring it back.
Let's start in Detroit, where the Blue Jays managed just their third win of the season yesterday. I am starting to get slightly worried with Emilio Bonifacio. I love Bonifacio but he had his fourth error Wednesday night playing second base. He's not hitting nearly well enough to put up with horrible defense (his double Wednesday night was of the bloop variety) and Brett Lawrie will be back sooner than later. He'll get his 2B eligibility in ESPN leagues for this season (10 games) but his playing time could be in jeopardy. Fun with early-season batting averages: Jose Reyes is hitting .406 and J.P. Arencibia is hitting .313. Reyes has a much better shot at .400 than Arencibia has at .300. Still, funny to see. Mark Buehrle wasn't helped by his relief in this game, but still. Another bad start, he hasn't managed to pitch through six innings in two starts. His ESPN.com ownership is 11.5 percent. It should be zero. Nothing special here, with no strikeouts. Spring training darling Rick Porcello is owned in 15 percent of leagues and I feel the same way about him. Should not be owned in ESPN standard leagues. In 10 innings this year, he has three strikeouts. Three. His career K/9 is 4.96 in 122 starts.
Last weekend I went back to College Station, Texas, for my longtime dynasty keeper leagues. We do two different auctions, a 12-team NL one and a 12-team AL-only auction. Everyone can keep up to 14 players a year at their previous salary, and toward the end of the auction, when money was scarce, Matt Adams of the Cardinals was up for bids. Young, not assured regular playing time, I still love him and went all the way up to $11. But another guy went to $12 and I just couldn't pull the trigger on $13 at that point, as I still had a lot of holes to fill. I got a feeling I'm gonna regret that one, and soon. Adams goes 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs and is now 9-for-15 (.643) on the young season. He's gonna hit his way into full-time at-bats. They're just gonna have to. Meanwhile, Matt Carpenter is also off to a nice start. Goes 4-for-5 with a homer, two runs, two RBIs, hitting .400 in 35 at-bats. You could do worse at your corner infield spot (he qualifies at first and third right now, will qualify at second before long) and probably have at some point. Jake Westbrook has yet to allow an earned run this year, throwing a complete game after shutting down the Giants. He'll get wins and won't hurt your WHIP, but I'm not buying. He has 10 walks to four strikeouts this year in just under 16 innings. That's gonna catch up eventually, as it always has. He's an NL-only or deep mixed-league play, nothing more. Despite him getting rocked in this game (5 innings, 7 ER), I'd still rather have Westbrook's opponent, Homer Bailey. Wonder if, looking back on it, Bailey's parents regret naming their pitcher son "Homer." I would.
Hey, Matthew Berry wrote a book!
Between celebrating every aspect of fantasy -- the trash talk, the trophies, the insane draft day locations, the punishments, the clever attempts at cheating and surprisingly uplifting stories -- Matthew Berry chronicles his journey from a 14-year-old player to ESPN's senior fantasy analyst.
If you're reading this on Thursday afternoon, I'm in New York City, meeting with all the publicity people at my book publisher. I'm guessing they're going to ask why I don't write or tweet about it more. So you know, I'm throwing it in here that I have book coming out in July, just in case they check the column before the meeting. Now I can look back at them and say, "I mentioned it. What are you doing to promote it?" That's really all I aim for. The ability to have a look of semi-superiority in meetings. You can preorder with the links to the right and the people who pre-order it will get all sorts of cool bonus stuff that we're announcing soon. I thank you in advance for tolerating the book shilling that I'm gonna have to do over the next few months.
Craig Gentry, who doesn't even play every day, stole his third base of the year Wednesday night. Cheap speed, thy name is Craig Gentry. On the surface, things look good for Matt Moore, as he improves to 2-0 and his ERA continues to be 0.00, having not allowed an earned run. But he needed 106 pitches to get through 5 1/3 on Wednesday night after needing 100 to get through six against Cleveland. Don't love that. Bears watching.
Not enough for A.J. Pollock to hit two home runs, he threw in a steal, as well. Think most viewed him as fill-in material and not much more while Cody Ross and Adam Eaton were out, but he was a former first-round pick and he's at least making it interesting. If nothing else, I assume he's gonna keep starting against lefties even when everyone is healthy. I like him in an NL-only, plucky kind of way. Paul Goldschmidt is now up to .343 on the season. If I change my Facebook status to say I'm in a relationship with Paul Goldschmidt, is that weird?
I was sad to hear of the passing of Roger Ebert. In his review of "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles," he called it "genial family entertainment," which, frankly, is the nicest thing anyone's ever said about that movie. His other quote about the movie, "I've seen audits that were more thrilling," is probably more accurate. RIP, Roger.
Wow, home run No. 4 for Bryce Harper. "Oh yeah? Well, he still hasn't stolen a base!" And that concludes this episode of "irrational unsatisfied fantasy baseball owner theater." Hard to steal a base when you're jogging around them. Like many, I was pretty high on Harper in my preseason ranks, but I may not have been high enough. Guy on Twitter told me about a trade offer he got in a non-keeper league; Justin Upton for Bryce Harper, straight up. Would I make the deal and trade for the even hotter, six-home run, .400-hitting Upton? I said I would. But I thought about it. And that should tell you something about where Harper's value is headed these days. For the record, Upton went mid-second round in March (16.5), Harper was a late third-rounder (30.0).
Fantasy Focus Baseball
Matthew Berry and Stephania Bell talk to Curt Schilling about what he would do with Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay. Plus, Bell has the latest injury updates.
Mentioned on the podcast this week how, after publishing last week's 10 lists of 10 with all the team names, I got a lot of "How come you didn't print my awesome name of ____?" Here's why: It was probably offensive. Rare is the name I can use that is a pun of the names of R.A. Dickey, Tim Lincecum, Albert Pujols, Jake Peavy, Eric Byrnes and many others. Or it's not original. I can't tell you how many people suggested "I gotta have more Cowgill!" or "Blame it on Rios," or some variation of "All Upton your Grilli." Even "A guy walks into Aybar" gets old after a while. The list goes on and on, all submitted many, many times. I don't mind it. Your team, name it what you want and some of those are funny. But if your name didn't make the list, that's probably why. Of course, I do also have limited space. But seriously, can we retire "Honey Nut Ichiros?" It's time.
The No. 1 catcher in baseball and the fourth best player overall when you woke up Thursday morning? None other than John Buck, who now has five home runs on the year, has hit them in three straight and is hitting .393 on the season. Oh yeah, he's available in 45 percent of leagues. The average is a fluke, but the power isn't. Enjoy it while it lasts. Sure, they were down, but at least Bobby Parnell got to pitch in a ninth inning! I feel for my Mets fan friends. Is Chase Utley back? Now hitting .333 on the season, just hit his second home run, I think I'm kinda buying this.
Welcome back, Stephen Drew. You'll pardon me if I continue to ignore you, right? Had Daniel Nava in a deep AL-only league last year. Always liked him. Now he has three home runs on the season. I would assume he's already owned in every AL-only league he could help in and he's not a mixed-league consideration yet, but he could be very soon with some more regular playing time, and there's a few ways that can happen. Ho hum, another day, another Chris Davis home run. Every time Chris Davis hits one out, an angel gets its wings. As crazy hot as his pace is, I still say he's not a sell high. Think this is somewhat legit (he was on my preseason Love list; I had him ranked five rounds ahead of his average draft position) but more to the point, you're not gonna get back what he's worth, even once he cools down. Every player has the right price, sure, but unless you get an offer you feel you can't refuse, stay put and enjoy the ride. Speaking of rides, despite the one that Davis gave one of Joel Hanrahan's offerings in the ninth Wednesday as part of a five-run rally, Boston's closer is safe for now. But hey, former All-Star Andrew Bailey has yet to allow a run this year. Second stolen base for Alexi Casilla. In only four at-bats all season. Another good source of cheap speed, Casilla actually stole 21 bases last year in fewer than 300 at bats. He'll get more playing time with Brian Roberts out (sigh) and if he gets the starting gig, he'll be valuable in 12- and 14-team mixed leagues to anyone who needs speeds out of the middle infield. And don't we all, really?
I get email.
Michael Arseneau (Toronto, Ont., Canada): Matt Berry's article posted April 4, 2013, 4:51 PM stating "Hey, he's healthy now." (About Brian Roberts). Apr 4, 6:25 PM, Brian Roberts leaves with hamstring injury. Now wish me to lose all my money!!!
I can't possibly do that, Michael. I'm expecting you to have a huge financial windfall and never get stuck in traffic again.
Also, it's April 11, Troy Tulowitzki is still healthy. As you were.
Really, Barry Zito? Trying to suck us all in, aren't you? Beat the Cards and now the Rockies, both very legit teams. Seven innings, strikes out four, walks one, just eight baserunners I can't but, well, he did have a good postseason and won 15 games last year NO! I will not be sucked in by Barry Zito. Repeat after me: "I will not be sucked in by Barry Zito." The K rate is still down, it hasn't been above 6.00 since 2010. Not buying for mixed leagues. Must resist Barry Zito! But just for fun, Wednesday night at the plate in the Giants' 10-0 win over the Rockies: Hunter Pence goes 0-for-5 with a run. Zito goes 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.
Mike Minor off to a hot start and I'm buying it a little, but keep in mind he's beaten the Cubs and the Marlins. Let's not give him the Cy Young just yet. Remember when Nate made fun of me on the podcast for my Evan Gattis love? And now, Nate's out of the country? Coincidence? I think not. Three bombs and counting. Fredi Gonzalez has said Gattis'll get about 75 percent of the starts at catcher (until Brian McCann comes back), and he continues to hit cleanup. He's available in 97 percent of leagues, because catcher is so deep, but there's probably quite a few teams he could help out even if it means moving your 1B-eligible catcher to the corner, or sticking Gattis in your UT spot while he's hot. The average isn't real but the power is when you're talking about Juan Francisco; so as long as Freddie Freeman is on the DL, Francisco will play third while Chris Johnson plays first. Those Aramis Ramirez/Brett Lawrie/Chase Headley owners hurting at third or corner should take a look at Francisco.
The people recommending Wade Davis are clearly the people who have never owned Wade Davis. Stay away. What has your ERA ever done to you? Meanwhile, after announcing that Greg Holland was still his closer, Ned Yost gave Kelvin Herrera the save opportunity for the Royals, and Herrera promptly struck out the side. Now, Yost doesn't want Greg Holland going on back-to-back days right now, so he wasn't available. But still. Herrera is still available in 68 percent of leagues, and as I said on the podcast and Twitter last week, he needs to be owned in all leagues where the top middle relievers are owned, and if he gets the closer gig (and he will sooner than later) he's got top-five fantasy closer potential.
Oh good, Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse is turning pro. Well, anytime you go 1-for-6 with five turnovers and two assists in a Final Four game that you fouled out of, your next step should absolutely be to turn pro. No, not bitter at all about the Syracuse loss, why do you ask?
Albert Pujols is hitting .346 so far with two homers and three doubles among his nine hits. He's also walked nine times (.514 OBP). Guess he's not gonna have another slow start this year. More fun with early batting average: Howard Kendrick up to .344, Peter Bourjos at .318, Josh Hamilton at .156. Eric Sogard stands to get a lot more playing time with the injury to Scott Sizemore. AL-only play, nothing more. Break up the Astros! Either that, or Safeco's moved-in fences have the pitchers spooked. That's 24 runs in two days for Houston. You know the Astros. The team that had catcher Jason Castro, he of the career .234 batting average, hitting third Wednesday night?
Carl Crawford looks healthy and like someone who has something to prove. Which he kinda does. First home run of the year for him. Kenley Jansen has an ERA of zero, Brandon League has an ugly three-hit inning but gets the save. If you gave me an over/under on saves for Kenley Jansen this year and set the line at 10, I'm taking the over.
To the extent I can, I'm gonna try to do more TRUMs this year. I enjoy them and you know I have useless thoughts and ramblings up the wazoo. Though I still haven't figured out what a wazoo is, exactly. Share your thoughts about that and anything else you want in the comments section. You'll see, it's therapeutic.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- thinks we should also retire "Beat with the Uggla Stick." Berry is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off.
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