Well, I've been overdue for a mailbag for quite some time, so let's do some quick hits and then we'll dive right in.
I don't care what Randy Johnson says, he's coming back this season. A guy like that does not go out that way, you know? That's what a guy like Craig Biggio does. Getting thrown out on his 3,000th hit.
By the way, was your reaction the same as mine? When Craig Biggio announced his retirement I was, like, "I thought that happened two years ago."
I'm no medical expert, but bone spurs for a pitcher ain't good. (I'm also not a grammar expert). Chris Ray has them, he's on the DL, which means Jamie Walker is a guy you want. He got his second save Wednesday and the Orioles seem comfortable using him. He hasn't given up an earned run in July.
Now, Walker got the call because it was mostly lefties in the ninth, so I don't expect him to have all the saves, but he'll be in the mix and he's the Baltimore reliever I trust the most.
That it's a nice try, Jason Bay. But too little, too late.
That Josh Fields, who you have heard about here before, jacked another one. He is hitting .286 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in July, and has a home run in three of his past four games.
That don't look now, but Mark Grudzielanek is hitting .424 in July.
That the fantasy impact of the Scott Linebrink trade is there's no chance of Yovani Gallardo going back to the bullpen, it ups the value of Brewers starting pitchers a bit and that Heath Bell is the guy Trevor Hoffman owners want as insurance. He's got a 2.06 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 56 innings this year.
That Ryan Rayburn is legit. I picked him up in Tout Wars last week for my injured Marcus Thames and obviously, any time a guy hits two home runs with seven RBIs, you sit up and take notice. But he's hitting .500 over his past 10 games, has three home runs in his past four games and was hitting .292 with 17 homers in Triple-A when he was recalled. He can also play all over the place.
That it's about time, Jeff Kent. He now has five home runs and 13 RBIs in his past 11 games. He's hitting .418 in July.
That in football, another quarterback moves to un-draftable status. Michael Vick isn't getting anywhere near my team, of course, but with Jack Del Rio talking on his radio show about not having interest in Daunte Culpepper, it means Culpepper is going to be a backup somewhere. I like Daunte, but he won't be starting the season.
That Jerious Norwood is now a top-25 running back. I have him just ahead of the guys like Julius Jones, Cadillac Williams and Fred Taylor. With Warrick Dunn shelved (and Bobby Petrino having no loyalty to him), my guess is Norwood doesn't give the gig up once Dunn comes back. Norwood gained more than 6 yards a carry last season and the Falcons are going to need all the big-play ability they can get on offense.
That Priest Holmes is a sleeper. He's reporting to camp and I know, you think he's done. Everyone does. Well, all I know is that every time someone counts out Priest Holmes, the guy steps up. Around the 10th or 11th round, when you're drafting the backup running backs that you're hoping to get lucky with, is there any such player with more upside than Holmes?
OK, let's dive into the mailbag now.
Mark (Brooklyn): So, did you tell karaoke girl what you did for a living? If she may be crazy, why are you writing about her? Do you think she reads your stuff now? Is there really a karaoke girl, Matt, or is she really in your head?
TMR: She knows I work for ESPN, not sure if she knows what I do. No, I don't think she reads my stuff. I saw her the other day and she smiled at me and we had some fun semi-flirty small talk. I'm thinking about going down that road again. I might be the crazy one.
Michael (Seattle): Have you ever played in a league that starts two quarterbacks per team? If so, how does that change your draft strategy for the first few rounds?
TMR: Yes, it does. Especially if the quarterback gets six points per touchdown pass. In that case, Manning becomes a top-5 player and, for me, it's preferable to draft the best available player. The whole reason you draft two running backs with your first two picks is scarcity. In a standard 12-team league in which you play one quarterback and two running backs, there are a lot of productive quarterbacks that won't be drafted as starters. Only 12 quarterbacks need to start versus 24 running backs. But here, well, the pool is just as shallow for quarterback, and I'll value them more because they will score more points and more running backs will come into the league.
For every Tony Romo that shows up, there are a lot more guys like Ladell Betts or Maurice Jones-Drew that are snatched off the waiver wire. A two-QB league means wide receivers are a second thought. Your first four picks need to be two running backs and two quarterbacks, in some order.
Yosef (Annapolis, Md.): I demand attention be given to my new nickname for Ty Wigginton: "T-Wig" or "Twig" for short. Though he is anything but a twig, I figure this nickname is a solid one.
TMR: I'm in favor of anything that makes him more interesting. Check that. Makes him interesting.
Juan (Atlanta): "Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this and totally redeem yourself!" Even though I'm sure you didn't have anything to do with the Ben Sheets injury (or did you?), this truly feels like redemption for both of us, as a former Sheets owner. Speaking of pitching, which rookie out of Phil Hughes, Matt Garza and Andrew Miller do you like best just for the rest of this year? Thanks TMR.
TMR: I like Andrew Miller the most of the three, but I suspect Hughes will get the most wins from the point when he comes back. And yes, even though it was six weeks too late, I feel somewhat vindicated.
Ernest (San Francisco): TMR, I was the fan that yelled about Sheets before the Futures Game from the left-field bleachers at AT&T Park. I bow down to you in regards to any fantasy sports. Who do I put in his spot? I have Gallardo, Chris Capuano and Sean Marshall, or do I trade Travis Hafner or Justin Morneau for a top pitcher?
TMR: Yes, that was fun for me too, when you yelled. Good times. Gotta go with YoGa. He's a stud. Hang onto your offense.
Darien (Huntsville): Hey Matthew, love your columns but either I read too fast or you totally contradicted yourself. At the beginning (of the draft-day Manifesto) you have this long spiel about going running back, quarterback in the first two rounds, always and forever, and then you turn around at the end and say running back, running back? Am I missing something?
TMR: Yes, you're missing something, and I even addressed this in the ESPN conversation (beta!). I say you have to go running back, running back in the first two rounds. Now, I did say running back, quarterback in terms of those being the key positions. I make a whole point of saying wide receivers are basically a dime a dozen and not consistent, and that it's not wise to use an early pick on one. That's the whole point.
Andy (Minneapolis): I am in a 12-team keeper league and have to keep two guys. Who should I keep out of these four? Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, Edgerrin James and Vince Young. Assuming almost everyone keeps two running backs, what do you think of me keeping No. 85 and Moss, and then picking up Torry Holt or Terrell Owens with my first pick (No. 5)? Then, while others are picking wide receivers, I'd go with running backs with my next three picks. I realize this breaks your manifesto laws, but my keepers aren't exactly world beaters.
TMR: I like the strategy. I can't imagine there will be any running backs left in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, but yeah, if you grab three great wide receivers, you can trade one for a running back. That's a brutal list of keepers. But be prepared to take a lot of backup running backs in hopes of finding some gold.
Matt (Sparks): Where is Kei Igawa on your hate list? You touted him preseason and even during the season, own up to this gaffe. Personally I don't think you're any more knowledgeable than a fifth-place owner in a league on [a non-ESPN site].
TMR: Yeah, but if you're in sixth place, I'm a genius.
Corey (Boston): Hey, Matt! First of all, just wanted to say the podcast with you and Nate sounds great. You are bound to be the Siskel and Ebert of fantasy podcastdom. I will let you and Nate argue about which one is Ebert though I know you talk about TV sometimes, especially the new Bret Michaels show. Have you seen "Hey Paula" though? It's the ultimate reality train wreck. My wife and I watch, and we're pretty sure that Paula is either sleep-deprived, drunk or on drugs 99.99 percent of the time. Any thoughts? Keep up the good work.
TMR: I have not seen it, but I'm sure it's exactly as you describe it. Don't threaten Paula with a good time.
Chris (Madison): Rickie Weeks had reached base in 8-of-10 plate appearances before Tuesday in Cincinnati, where he went 1-for-5 (with 3 hard-hit balls). Just sayin' Rickie is about to get hot. Mark my words. Nice call on the love for Rickie!
TMR: Consider your words marked.
Scott (Philly): I listen to you and Nate every day on the baseball podcast and you keep telling us to subscribe to the football podcast but it's not on iTunes. I can listen to it on ESPNradio.com but I don't know how to subscribe and help you guys out. Thanks.
TMR: It'll be to iTunes in the next few days. Apparently it takes a few days for graphics and stuff. But you can catch both podcasts every day, usually by noon ET, at the podcenter at ESPNRadio.com or on the fantasy page.
Corey (Minneapolis): Over at the "other" TMR Web site, there was a lot of soccer/football chatter, and in fact there was a TMR English Premier League fantasy league the last few years. I have not seen any chatter and I was wondering if there will be a TMR league of EPL on the Mothership Web site?
TMR: Feel free to start one, my friend. We just launched an EPL game here on Soccernet.com. Click here to sign up and start a TMR group.
Anthony (Sarasota): It might not be time to give up on your passion project Rich Aurilia. Pre-break 2005: .248. Pre-break 2006: .267 Pre-break 2007: .251. Post-break 2005: .315. Post-break 2006: .332. Post-break 2007: ?
I could be wrong but he seems like a savage buy low.
TMR: And he jacked one Wednesday. Interesting
Brian (parts unknown): Today is my birthday. Give me some TRUM.