Commentary

Time to open up the TMR mailbag

Updated: July 13, 2011, 12:23 AM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

So Ben Kramer posted the following message on my Facebook page recently:

The Talented Mr. Roto

Why does (a competitor) answer my Twitter/Mailbag questions all the time, but you won't even acknowledge me?

TMR: Mostly because I don't like you, Ben. Ha! I'm kidding, of course. I don't even know you. It's because I don't like your profile picture.

Honestly, it's just a time and volume thing. I read every post, tweet and email sent to me, but there are just not enough hours in the day to respond to all of them. The Current Ms. Roto already thinks I spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook.

But then I read about President Barack Obama's Twitter town hall. Oh, I see how it is. The POTUS trying to fill the void I have created. Dude, I mean, President Dude sir, do I try to be smart, commanding or charismatic? No. So why are you doing questions on Twitter? That's my thing. Next thing you know he'll be talking about 90210. So before this goes too far, I've come to reclaim my turf. Time for another Ask TMR. Here we go …

Jimmy Williams (Long Beach, Miss.): Real simple question. Alex Rios or Roger Bernadina? I have been thinking about it for a week. Can't come up with a decision. So I want you to make it for me.

TMR: Thanks, Jimmy. Every person should allow me to make all life decisions for them, not just on underperforming outfielders, but it's a start. You should know, Jimmy, that I can't be objective or rational about Alex Rios. And I'm on record as saying he will turn it around in the second half. But … I'm going with Bernadina, who is hitting homers at a better pace (6 in 305 at-bats for Rios, 5 in 211 at-bats for Bernadina), has more steals and a better average than Rios. Bernadina is much less of a batting average risk and is more likely to have better power numbers. Meanwhile, Rios has only six steals on the year (and has been caught stealing five times), which makes me nervous. Bernadina, by the way, is available in 67 percent of leagues.

[+] EnlargeDustin Ackley
Steven Bisig/US PresswireDustin Ackley has quickly lived up to expectations since being called up last month.

@Aponte1Aponte (via Twitter): Dan Uggla or Dustin Ackley ROS? Ackley is showing some pop.

TMR: For you non-Twitter kids out there not up on the lingo, ROS is "rest of season," and what would have seemed like a crazy question at the start of the year is a legit one to me. First, Ackley is available in way too many leagues (40.5 percent to be exact). I'm not surprised he's hitting for average -- he had great plate discipline in the minors -- but I didn't think the power would come so quickly. He has three home runs in just 16 games, and while it's a very small sample size, it's an encouraging sign nonetheless.

Uggla has been everything I said he wouldn't be in the preseason. Man, I loved him this year. Man, was I wrong. He is showing some signs of life, with back-to-back home run games and three in his past eight. He's still below the Mendoza Line, and I know Ackley will steal more bases and hit for a significantly higher average. I say Ackley.

Samer (Lake Charles, La.): I would just like to add my fantasy team name to your repertoire ... Funky Cold Bernadina!!!

TMR: Not bad …

Keith MacMenomay (Stuart, Fla.): Has anyone coined the fantasy team name "I'm on a Morse" yet?

TMR: Better.

James Foutz (Athens, Ga.): Would you trade Adrian Gonzalez for Cole Hamels?

TMR: No. There isn't a pitcher out there who I would trade straight up for Adrian Gonzalez. I wouldn't even deal him for Roy Halladay. We're doing another Top 250 rankings for post-All-Star break and I currently have Gonzalez at No. 4. He's hitting .373 at home. He's on pace for 143 RBIs. Over the past three years, his post-All-Star break batting average is 21 points higher than before it. Yeah, you're not dealing him and you're certainly not dealing him for Cole Hamels.

[+] EnlargeFreddie Freeman
Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMIFreddie Freeman is gradually progressing into a solid big league hitter after a slow start.

Tim Woelfel (from Facebook): Who do you like better going forward the rest of the year Freddie Freeman or Nick Markakis?

TMR: It's Freeman and it's not just because I hate Nick Markakis, who I have as a "hate" every year and say he'll underperform. And every year, all he does is underperform. Markakis has actually been red-hot recently, hitting .351 in June with three home runs and 16 RBIs since June 1. But he doesn't run anymore, the power is average at best and, despite some solid RBI numbers recently, he's driven in more than 100 only once since 2007. Freeman, meanwhile, has been just as hot. He hit .287 in July and has four home runs and nine RBIs in his past 10 games. Freeman won't run either and Markakis will definitely hit for a higher average, but despite striking out a bit too much for my liking, Freeman will have significantly better power and RBI numbers. Ultimately, assuming everything is equal, I say Freeman. Don't tell Nate.

Joe Minichowski (Newnan, Ga.): Hello sir! Hope you're having a great holiday weekend. Almost midway through the season, as I stare at my keeper league roster, I really could use some good reasons to keep Grady Sizemore.

TMR: You've come to the wrong place. I'm your "reasons to dump Grady" guy.

Sun Stevens (Prescott, Ariz.): Matthew, after reading your latest column, I'm a little bit shocked that you went through the entire Justin Theroux-Jennifer Aniston explanation without once making a comparison or reference to "The Decision." Geez, what are we paying you writers for? On the other hand, I did give back a couple of bonus points for your righteous use of the word "canoodling." Boo! and Bravo! in equal parts.

TMR: Not only did I not make a joke or reference to "The Decision," it never occurred to me to do so. Why? It's on the current "Do not use because it's been beaten to death hacky joke list" that all of us writers (that apparently you pay) use when we write. Also on the list? Paris Hilton, "Houston, we've got a problem," jokes about fellow ESPN employees, fantasy guys being nerds, fantasy guys being nerds who live in their mom's basement, any use of people and parental housing actually, "taking my talents to anywhere," jokes about how wacky the former Ron Artest is, asking (or writing) someone whose opinion you disagree with "what are you smoking?", lockout jokes, Arnold jokes and, especially for my commenters, any play on my nickname ("You're the untalented Mr. Roto").

Ronny Schindler (via Facebook): Over/under for Joe Nathan's save total rest of the year at 13.

TMR: I'm going to take the under, but I believe he'll be the Minnesota Twins pitcher with the most saves the rest of the season. Matt Capps has just imploded to the point where it's going to be tough for them to trust him again. Glen Perkins has actually gotten the last two saves, but those were more situational and Nathan has already been used in the last game when Perkins was needed to bail out Capps. Nathan has a 3.86 ERA with an 11-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate in his past 10 appearances, allowing just one hit in his past four. I still don't entirely trust him and I think you'll still see Perkins get a handful of situational saves, but if I had to own a Twins reliever the rest of the way, it's Nathan. He's available in 55 percent of leagues.

@JPriv13 (via Twitter): Have you said anything about how good Guillermo Moscoso has pitched?

TMR: We mentioned him briefly on the podcast when he was recalled, but no, not really. And I'm glad you brought him up. Over the past 15 days, he's the 12th-best starting pitcher on our Player Rater, with a 2.16 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Now, he also has a 27-to-18 strikeout-to-walk in 50 innings this year, so I'm not holding out hope for long-term success. But, he's been red-hot lately (0.45 ERA and 15-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his 20 innings over his past three starts) and in that home park, he's a really good spot starter. The last three starts have been against Florida, Seattle and at Philly, so I'm not 100 percent on board yet, but he's available in 90 percent of leagues and makes for an interesting name with the right matchup.

Here's some other pitchers who have better numbers than you realize and are available in tons of leagues:

Cory Luebke (32.9 percent owned): 2.52 ERA, 0.88 WHIP. He has not allowed an earned run in his first two outings since being moved to the starting rotation.

Jeff Karstens (38.7 percent owned): 7-4, 2.55 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. I mentioned him a few weeks ago. He's definitely getting a little lucky, but he's allowed just 15 unintentional walks in 98 innings and when you put that few baserunners on, you give yourself a nice shot at success.

[+] EnlargeFreddy Garcia
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireHe's no Bartolo Colon, but Freddy Garcia is having a solid resurgent season in the Bronx.

Freddy Garcia (21.5 percent owned): It's crazy, but his ERA is now down to 3.13, he has a decent 1.27 WHIP, and of course, being on the New York Yankees, he has a good chance at a win every time out.

Brian Duensing (1.4 percent owned): After a rough start, he's gotten it back together, going 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA and a 26-to-13 strikeout-to-walk rate over his past six starts. His WHIP is 1.35 over that time, so he's not out of the woods yet, but for deeper leagues I continue to like him.

Doug Fister (14.7 percent owned): 3.02 ERA, 1.16 WHIP. He has allowed just one earned run in each of his past three starts.

Andrew Kim (London): Have to agree with Michelle Beadle on your recent bet, so I am very excited to see the 'fantasy sports' Smurf in the near future. Don't worry, I live in the UK and since gambling is legal here, I too lose on bets a lot.
AJ Feldman (via Facebook): Where will you be purchasing your Smurf costume?

TMR: Sigh. For those unaware, I recently made a guest appearance on the Michelle Beadle podcast, where we discussed summer movies and made a bet based on the upcoming "Smurfs" movie. If my Twitter and Facebook are any indication, it would appear that most people think Beadle will win the bet (I say it makes less than $75 million in the U.S. prior to Labor Day, she says over). The loser has to dress as a Smurf and go with the other to happy hour at a popular bar here in Connecticut. When we made the bet, I discounted the fact that the 3-D nature of the movie will artificially inflate grosses (they charge you for the glasses in most places) but I just feel, just like jokes about "The Decision," the Smurfs' time has come. BoxOffice.com is projecting the Smurfs gross $82 million, but then again, they thought "Larry Crowne" (a movie I also thought would do well) would open at $22 million (It opened at $14 million). Who knows? What I do know is this: America should be rooting for me because if you have a choice of who you want to see in blue paint and white hat, it's clearly Michelle. So when the movie comes out, if you want to see it, please buy a ticket to something else and sneak in. It's all I ask.

Time for a speed round.

[+] EnlargeMark Reynolds
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesMark Reynolds is on pace for 39 homers and, maybe more surprisingly, less than 200 strikeouts.

@MikeMalaney (via Twitter): Mark Reynolds is available in my league, and I'm not convinced Ryan Zimmerman is fully healthy. Make the switch?

TMR: I'm not convinced about Zimmerman either and I'm shocked I'm saying this, but yeah, make the switch. In a non-keeper league, I think I would. The only category I think Zimmerman outpaces Reynolds in the rest of the way is average, and believe it or not, Reynolds hit .299 in June and .286 so far in July. He already has 20 home runs on the year (13 since June 1) and is the No. 2 third baseman on our Player Rater over the past 30 days.

David Krowisz (via Facebook): My sister won't allow me to date her sales associates at work. Is this unfair?

TMR: Yes. No one should ever stand in the way of love. But if it doesn't work out, don't get all stalky and weird and make her work life uncomfortable. But yeah, no sister should ever block.

@CMBernie (via Twitter): Which player would you rather have for the rest of the season: Desmond Jennings or Matt Joyce?

TMR: Joyce. He's in the majors. We don't know when Jennings is coming up and how effective he'll be when he does. And in a vacuum, I'd rather have power over speed this year.

Tim (Yosemite): Matthew, I just listened to you on a 2008 B.S. Report podcast. Among your various hilarious predictions, you referred to Conor Jackson as a 30-homer, 140-RBI guy. Being that it is 2011 and Conor Jackson sucks, what do you have to say for yourself?

TMR: Um, that I was wrong on Conor Jackson?

Alternate response: Tim, we need to get you a hobby. Or a girlfriend. Or some new podcasts.

Alternate alternate response: Hey, it's only been three years. Give him time!

Alternate alternate alternate response: You thought I was hilarious? Thanks!

Alternate alternate alternate alternate response: You're listening to 3-year-old podcasts. I don't have to answer to you.

Final answer: Please. Do you have any idea how many dumb things I've said on podcasts? It's not like I bet dressing up like a Smurf on Conor Jackson. Sigh.

Matthew 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. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"

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