TRUM: Understanding Early Numbers

Updated: April 10, 2007, 2:58 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

A new closer not named Wheeler, a sell-high candidate and bad news for Sosa. This is ... TRUM!

I'm trying out the SportsCenter "tease" format. I kind of like it. Except, you know, I don't have cool music, graphics or video. But other than that, I am sort of digging it. That was fun to write.

So's this: I've decided I hate Billy Gillispie more than I hate Nicole from "The Apprentice." It was not as big a slam dunk as you might think. Consider: Nicole seems not to care one bit about Tim, who poured his sappy heart out on reality TV (violating rule No. 1 of reality, which states that no showmances are for real, you idiot, not even Rob and Amber's), and she is not attractive enough -- as a person or as a female -- to do that. She slept on the job and acted indignant about it. Look, I'm fairly forgiving when it comes to behavior, but don't get on your high holy horse. I mean, come on. You slept through the task. And snored. Tim, I'm telling you, you are dodging a bullet here. Run.

Meanwhile Gillispie left Texas A&M for Kentucky. As much as I love my hometown Aggies, I'll admit, Kentucky is a better job. It just is. But here's why my hate has been tipped. Gillispie had agreed to a deal with the Aggies.

Arkansas had come after him a week before. And Texas A&M had stepped up, giving him a raise to almost $2 million a year and an extension until 2012. And he agreed. He did not sign the deal, that's the point the Gillispie camp points to, but he agreed. A handshake or a signature, it's the same thing. Gillispie speaks a lot about integrity, teamwork, honor. Well, it ought to apply to the coach as well, you know?

I guess it boils down to the fact that I had higher expectations for Gillispie than I did for Nicole from "The Apprentice." And with higher expectations comes more anger and disappointment when failure occurs. This brings us to baseball, which means you gotta be much more disappointed in John Maine, who got rocked Monday night, than in Sammy Sosa, who went 0-for-5. Again. Maine, we had expectations for. Sosa? Not so much.

I'm actually not that worried about Maine, just one of those days. What troubles you, if you are a Sosa owner, is Nelson Cruz, who went 3-for-3 with a run. Sosa was the DH and Cruz was in right field, but there will be a lot of nights when only one of them makes the lineup and if you were the manager of the Rangers, who would you pick?

Exactly.

Corey Patterson continues to bat low in the order and struggle -- he was 1-for-4 with four left on base Monday night -- but at least he's stealing ... base No. 2. Never liked him but if you got him, it could be worse. Patience. Daniel Cabrera continues to get my hopes up only to one day crush them, I am sure. I said in the preseason this was the year that he would breakout but, then again, I also said that last year. I like Cabrera too much. Last year he broke my heart like I was a stupid Tim on "The Apprentice." But so far so good. Another strong start for D-Cab -- I call him D-Cab -- 7 2/3 innings, 7 hits and a 5/0 K/BB. Of concern are the 122 pitches he threw. That's a lot for a pitcher, period, but for less than eight innings of work? That's something to monitor. But that's the only downside I can see to his start and he's available in most mixed leagues. Except, you know, the ones I am in.

Speaking of hate, three pitchers I have never liked were on the mound Monday. Carl Pavano, Sidney Ponson and A.J. Burnett. If you started Ponson, you deserve it. He is big and fat. Pavano's was the gutsiest start and, well, he looked good. He goes seven strong, only six hits and two earned runs. Of concern: only two strikeouts. I never like guys with low K-rates, so I'm not ready to declare him back or anything, but better than his last start.

The best start of the night (of the three guys I don't like) was Burnett's, who went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only three hits, one run and posting a 5/3 K/BB rate. Not as high as I would like (I prefer 3-to-1 to feel truly comfortable), but he did have a 12/3 ground ball to fly ball ratio, so he was keeping the ball down, which is good.

Both Burnett and Pavano will win a decent amount of games this year, because they are on good teams. Sometimes I like to write obvious stuff out of the blue. The sun is hot. The sky is blue. Lyle Overbay had 3 RBIs on Monday. That was good.

Alex Gordon, come on down. You left six men on base last night. Congrats to all the guys who took you ahead of Mark Teahen. If Eric Karabell and I each got a nickel for every time we marveled at that, on air or in print, well, we'd be sitting on an island, sipping margaritas instead of writing fantasy, I tell you that. Yes, together. What? Islands are expensive. We'd definitely have to go halfsies.

You know who is an underrated little middle-infield type, especially for deep mixed leagues or AL-only? Aaron Hill, who went 3-for-3 last night with two runs scored and two RBIs. He's hitting .348 on the young season and is just one of those guys that doesn't do a whole lot of anything, but he never hurts you and is just a solid little player. Again, only as an "MI" for deep mixed or AL-only.

Akinori Iwamura of Tampa Bay, however, needs to be gobbled up in all the leagues he's available in. There's definite corner infield potential, with two RBIs and a stolen base in Monday's game. Yes, he is this good.

Looking for a sell-high candidate? Geoff Jenkins, he of three home runs and the .350 batting average, is one of the streakiest players in the bigs. Over the past three years, he has hit .268 in April. Then .254 in May. And .226 in June. Ride him for a little while longer, but his value is at an all-time high. And then, get him back after the All-Star break, after which he hits almost 50 points higher.

So, you already know to go grab Dan Wheeler, the new closer in Houston, in all formats. Or, you should. Because he is. Lidge is out -- never pay for saves! -- and Wheeler is in, nailing down No. 1 last night. But let me, if I may, take you back.

Back to yesterday's TRUM (4/9), where I wrote this:

"With Jorge Julio almost blowing another save (and pitching poorly, to boot), look to Kevin Gregg and Henry Owens before Lee Gardner, who got the two-out save. My guess is Gregg gets the first shot while Taylor Tankersley is still on the DL, but Owens is all sorts of yummy as a pitcher. He had 74 strikeouts and 10 walks in only 40 innings in Double-A last year. Like I said ... yummy."

Back to present day where I was wrong about Gregg getting the first shot, but was right about Owens, who got the save last night. Now, it wasn't smooth sailing if you watched the game, it was a bit of an adventure, but he got the job done and he throws haaaard. Definitely worth the flyer. Julio hasn't lost the job yet -- he was given the night off because he worked Saturday and Sunday -- but now we know who's first in line when he blows the gig.

Meanwhile, I am concerned about Anibal Sanchez's start. It may look good from a distance, but look closer. He goes six innings and gives up three runs. Okay, fine. A quality start. But he gives up eight hits and three walks. That's a lot of baserunners for six innings. He also strikes out just one and needs 97 pitches to get through six innings. Lotta red flags there. Just saying.

Speaking of just saying ... I should make that a section. The "just saying" section. In fact, I will. That's the rule of the TRUM, which I forgot to remind you again -- and I'll continue to remind you until I get my header which explains it -- stands for Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings, that it's written in one take and I just go where it leads me.

Just saying...

That Kazuo Matsui now has three steals on the season, and is hitting .333. He hit more than .300 over the second half of the year and was a sleeper I liked and was mocked for much of the preseason. He's also available in almost every league, save for NL-only...

That my beloved Ian Snell had another great start, giving up only one ER in seven innings ... I might marry Ian Snell, I love him so much...

That Shane Victorino stole a base last night. And is another source of cheap speed...

That Braden Looper plays for a very good team, with a solid bullpen and needed only 94 pitches to go seven strong innings while giving up no earned runs...

That even though I drafted him in one league (got stuck, is more like it) and it was his second strong start, I am still feeling uneasy about Ted Lilly. Maybe because I have owned him before. I don't know. But the numbers back Lilly up. Six innings, three runs, a 5/1 K/BB. Very solid. I just ... I don't know, you know? One of those guys.

Matthew Berry, the Talented Mr. Roto, is the Senior Director of fantasy games. Cyberstalk the TMR at TalentedMrRoto@aol.com

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

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