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Friday, April 3, 2009
TRUM: Six degrees of ... Matthew Berry?


Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings for Friday, April 3, 2009

So in between fantasy darlings Grady Sizemore and Matt Holliday swinging bats, just after the great Buster Olney says his Clio Award-worthy line "This is Buster" and before we get to the much-more-attractive-than-me Alyssa Milano, there is a one-second shot of me in the latest ESPN.com fantasy baseball commercial.

Alyssa Milano
What makes for a good fantasy baseball commercial? Putting Alyssa Milano in it. Oh, and TMR.
Incidentally, I'm excited about being in a commercial with Alyssa Milano. Alyssa was in "Hugo Pool" with Sean Penn and Robert Downey Jr., which means, playing the Kevin Bacon game, you can connect me to pretty much anyone. Like Sir Laurence Olivier!

(Let's see, so I was in the commercial with Alyssa (1), Alyssa was in "Hugo Pool" with Sean Penn (2), Sean Penn was in "Mystic River" with Kevin Bacon (3), Bacon was in "Frost/Nixon" with Frank Langella (4) and Langella was in "Dracula" with Olivier (5). Not bad, and I even used Bacon. So cool.)

Anyway, "Mr. Roto's Mailbag" is the theme of my one second of fame, and it has been way too long since I've done one. That's changing right now as I dig through lots of e-mails that have collected over the past month. Here we go:

Jon (St. Cloud, Minn.): "The words were barely out of your mouth, lecturing us to always watch WHIP and ERA, not to draft any pitcher with a bad WHIP and ERA regardless of wins and losses and saves … when you put up the graphic of Jonathan Papelbon, telling us to ignore his 0.95 WHIP and a 2.34 ERA, and instead draft the guy with a 1.50 WHIP and a 4.50 ERA. Which is it, genius????? Do you just talk for the sake of talking, or do you actually think about this double-talk bull, contradicting yourself before you spew it?????"

TMR: I think you mean genius sarcastically, but since you are using five question marks, you must clearly be wondering. You must be talking about the "blind résumé" that I did on the Baseball Tonight fantasy baseball draft special, in which I pointed out that Brian Wilson and Jonathan Papelbon had the same number of saves last year. I don't think I'm the only guy saying not to draft bad ERA and WHIP; that should pretty much be a given, right? The greater point is that you shouldn't "pay for saves." Papelbon is currently being drafted, on average, almost 130 picks ahead of Brian Wilson. The point is not specifically about those two players, but the theory itself. Obviously, Paps will have better ERA and WHIP numbers. But he'll also pitch only 70 innings. Considering your team likely will finish with somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 innings (depending on strategy, league rules, etc.), the difference between Papelbon and Wilson's ERA and WHIP is nothing considering the difference in value between wasting a 5th-round pick on a closer rather than a 17th-round pick on saves. But thanks for watching ESPN!

Jimmy (Saskatoon): "I think many of us could use some clarification on Pablo Sandoval? Everyone is predicting this guy will break out, and they point to his catcher eligibility as the source of his value. But will he get catcher eligibility? He is listed only as a first baseman right now, and I can't find anywhere that says the Giants expect him to play 10 games at catcher quick enough to qualify him in time to be helpful. Any thoughts? Go Norsemen."

TMR: Go Norsemen indeed. They love me in Saskatoon. Anyway, the short answer is, barring injury, I don't think Sandoval gets 10 games at catcher this year. Bengie Molina played 145 games last year and is pretty durable, and Steve Holm is backing up "my favorite Molina."

John (NYC): "Matthew, what are the chances that your [recommendations] this spring to get 'Sexei Alexei' [work out like they did] this past fall with Joseph Addai? I'm going to say pretty good, because like with Addai, I drafted 'The Sexei' every chance I got. The real question is, who will be this baseball season's Frank Gore? I think you know what I'm talking about."

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TMR: I hope not on Alexei, but I understand your point. Everything that went right for Addai in '07 went wrong for him in '08. Injuries on the offensive line, injuries to Addai himself, struggles from the Colts' offense in general and so on. Could Ramirez not run as much? He stole 13 bases but was also caught nine times last year. Could they give him a red light if his success rate doesn't get better? He has a terrible strikeout-to-walk rate, and maybe he isn't the Alfonso Soriano exception to the rule that we all think he'll be. But from talking with scouts and from what I've seen, I believe he's something special. We'll see. As for Gore, I kept saying last year that he would provide second-round value from a first-round draft spot. He ended up as the 14th-best fantasy running back last year, so he was actually worse than a second-round overall pick and was merely a second-round running back pick. So who is a guy going in the first round who will be solid (not a bust) but won't deliver first-round production? I'll say Mark Teixeira. The past three years, he has basically been a 30-homer, 100-RBI guy. Maybe a few more ribbies this year with the Yanks, but I still think he's a .300-30-100 player. That's solid, but considering he doesn't steal bases, that first base is pretty deep and that Alex Rodriguez could miss up to two months, I don't see him ending up in the top 10 in ESPN's Player Rater for 2009. Incidentally, he finished 22nd in the Player Rater in 2008, making him a high third-rounder.

Owen (NYC): "Only three teams in baseball scored more runs last year than the Minnesota Twins, yet only two stadiums yielded fewer runs per game last year than the Metrodome. Interesting pair of statistics. Play your Twins hitters on the road?"

TMR: No, what it means to me is that you start your Twins pitchers at home. Always. All of them.

B.J. Ryan
B.J. Ryan's reported decrease in velocity this spring does not concern Matthew.
Bart (Toronto): "I hope you got Scott Downs in the reserve picks after you spent that much on B.J. Ryan [in your Tout Wars auction]. As a Blue Jays fan, I'm not liking B.J.'s (or the Blue Jays') chances this year. By the way, I like your work. I find it entertaining, as well as informative, I don't take your word as gold (you guys do tell us to have our own opinions), but I agree with much of your analysis. And I love the Francisco Liriano buy. I think he's worth $20 in mixed leagues [much less an AL league], but that's me."

TMR: I'm not worried about Ryan's decreased velocity this spring. From what I understand, he's working out some mechanical issues, and that's the reason. I've seen his stock decrease dramatically as a result, but I expect him to be fine. And no, I didn't get Downs. I wanted him, but he went for more than I wanted to pay. I agree, though, that Downs is the handcuff you want.

Ed (Raleigh, N.C.): "It's about 9:45 pm ET, and I see that you're pulling away from Sports Guy for the 'PodBlockers' championship. Well done, sir. I trust you'll be posting a photo of Fu Manchu Bill Simmons for the viewing pleasure of your loyal [fans] in short order."

TMR: We discuss Bill's impending facial hair on the most recent B.S. Report Check it out.

Tim (Boston): "Just had to give credit where credit is due. Me and my friends started playing fantasy basketball for the first time this year, and while I watch a decent number of NBA games, I had no idea which direction to turn when drafting a fantasy team. After reading your draft-day strategy of concentrating on point guards and power forwards, I decided that I would do my best to follow that advice and see how things ended up. Now, I will say, there were many trades during the season, including me turning Dwyane Wade and All Iverson into Dwight Howard and Brandon Roy, and then turning Howard into Lebron. But your advice led me to jump on guys such as Rajon Rondo and Antawn Jamison, and I ended up toppling the No. 1 seed and winning the whole league. Just want to throw some kudos your way. You hear it a lot when you lead people down the wrong path, so here's a TMR-influenced success story!"

TMR: Thanks, and congrats! You did it, not me, but glad to hear. You know, it's always great to get a note when I've helped someone out. Like Tom here:

Where should they go? Insider
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Tom (Boston): Why would anyone want fantasy advice from Matthew Berry? This is the same guy who, after Randy Moss caught three touchdown passes against the Jets in Week 1 of the 2007 NFL season, went on SportsCenter and told everyone to trade Moss immediately. Moss only went on to set the NFL record for touchdowns in a season by a wide receiver! Is it even possible to make a bigger mistake than that in the world of fantasy sports? Why does Matthew Berry even have a job? What a fraud. Actually, it does kind of help me out. Whatever Matthew Berry advises, I do the complete opposite, and it never fails. I dominate my baseball and football leagues. So I was able to have a great draft after watching ESPN's fantasy baseball draft special by going against Berry at every turn. Thanks a lot."

TMR: Glad to hear the baseball draft special helped!

Jeff (Pittsburgh): "I am in a 12-team Roto keeper league. For our keepers, we get to keep them in the round we drafted them the previous year. With this in mind, would you draft A-Rod as high as the fourth round, thinking of next year and getting a potential MVP in the fourth round?"

TMR: Yeah, I have no problem with that. I've said he should be going in the fifth round in ESPN standard leagues, so the fourth round makes total sense for a keeper league. I'd pay up to $30 for him in a keeper auction league, but you should be able to get him for $20 to $25. All that said, I'm not touching him this year in non-keeper leagues. Way too many question marks for someone you'd have to use a high draft pick on.

Jeff (Palo Alto, Calif.): "Regarding your 50 facts and 25 things column, No. 3 compares Evan Longoria to Aramis Ramirez, and it sounds like you're suggesting that if you're considering Longoria [the higher draft pick], wait and take Ramirez instead. No. 62 compares Ramirez to Adrian Beltre, with what sounds like a similar suggestion. My question is this: By extension, does that mean that if I'm considering taking Longoria, I should just wait a few rounds and take Beltre instead? Some of the numbers you put up for Beltre look awfully similar to Longoria's full-season-projected numbers from last year."

TMR: Depends on who else you have the option to grab. I was using stats in both cases to illustrate that I think Longoria is a bit overvalued this year and that both Aramis and Beltre are undervalued. It's a contract year for Beltre, which is nice, but Ramirez is going to hit at least 20 points higher and that is significant over 500-plus at bats. Their power numbers are closer than folks realize, which was the primary point, but yeah, we play with numbers, not names. Make sure you pay attention to the numbers.

Speros Zanetos (Clearwater, Fla.): "Mr. Berry, we recently had our fantasy draft on [a competitor's site], and if you had a moment, could you go to the league and provide us with a power ranking of who has the strongest team to the weakest. We would greatly appreciate your opinion. Here is the link to our site …"

TMR: Yeah, I'm gonna get right on that.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- hopes Megan Joy uses her free time from no longer being on "American Idol" to remove that ugly tattoo. He is a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend