TRUM: Unowned Players and Sleeper Saves


Whether you play or work (or in the case of me, both) on ESPN Fantasy games, the past week has been as frustrating as it gets. I know it doesn't ease anything, believe me, but work was being done around the clock this weekend, and we're on the path to making this thing right. It's all been said in the letters that have been posted, but I want to let folks know that I read every e-mail, I've been reading the conversation pages, and I get it. Thanks for hanging tough.

Tomorrow we will discuss Nicole's amazing and undeserved escape on "The Apprentice" and Billy Gillespie's new coaching gig at Kentucky, but I want to dive right into baseball, where a lot of things caught my attention as I scrolled through the box scores. So let's -- as the kids say -- kick it.

You know this, of course, but on the off chance you do not, Melky Cabrera should be picked up in all formats now with Hideki Matsui on the DL. Josh Phelps got another start at first base for the Yankees and was batting in the six-hole.

I tend to not put a lot of stock in Sunday box scores, because it's usually a day game after a night game, and it's the day that managers try to get their bench some playing time, so it's the least indicative of any of the box scores. Still, you can glean some things from them, including Phelps continuing to get playing time.

There's the Erik Bedard I was pimping throughout the preseason. Nice to see Chris Ray bounce back. And among those unowned in many leagues despite starting every day, Kevin Millar hits his first jack of the year.

Looking for a sleeper saves candidate? How about Joakim Soria, the Rule 5 Kansas City pitcher who dominated batters in spring training? He was all sorts of lights out this spring and has kept it going now that the games are counting. With David Riske blowing Sunday's save, Soria might get a chance. He was the setup guy to Riske and gave up no earned runs while throwing 13-of-19 pitches for strikes.

Two stolen bases from Jason Kendall? Is it 1998 already?

I said after his last start that good things were in store for Joe Blanton. His start against the Angels qualifies, no? That is the real Blanton, who continues to keep guys off base. Solid start for Kelvim Escobar in the loss.

Nice to see Chris Capuano, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz and Fernando Rodney all return to form. That helps you not at all, I'm just happy to see it. Sometimes, these are for you. And sometimes, kids, these are for me.

Mike Jacobs has two home runs. 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.

Rack up another win for Scott Olsen, who is 2-0 and has yet to actually pitch well. I want to see a good outing next time, or I'm going to start getting nervous here. Olsen didn't pitch well and got the win, but rookie John Danks pitched well and got the loss. Of course, Danks was facing Johan Santana.

Danks has a quality start, going six innings while giving up four hits and three earned runs, with six strikeouts and two walks. Niiice.

He is eligible only in the outfield based on last year, but Kelly Johnson is the second baseman for the Braves, unowned in many, many leagues and hit his second home run last night. Just saying.

Finally, I like him, but not as much as you might think. I'm speaking, of course, about Kyle Davies. It took him 117 pitches to get through 6 2/3 innings Sunday, and he gave up seven fly balls against only five ground balls. On the plus side, he had eight strikeouts against three walks and gave up only two earned runs and four hits. Again, I like him, but there are warning signs from that start Sunday.

That's much better from Zach Duke, even though I still don't believe. And I wouldn't touch Livan Hernandez with a free-agent acquisition, despite Sunday's start. I could mention his K/BB, or I could just tell you I've owned Livan. Trust me. You want no part of this.

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