Becker: Challenge Week 2 D-Backs good, ChiSox bad
Each week, Tristan H. Cockcroft offers his strategies for the Baseball Challenge game. Look for his best bargains, busts and daily specials every Sunday. So where is Tristan this week? We gave him the weekend off to get used to being a dad. Congratulations, Tristan!
CATCHER: Tampa Bay plays a full seven-game schedule, which is almost weather-proof, traveling to Texas before heading indoors to Minnesota. Dioner Navarro (4.3 price tag) should get at least five starts for a Tampa offense that's firing on all cylinders.
Others to consider: Gerald Laird (4.5), Greg Zaun (4.4), John Buck (3.9).
FIRST BASE: The Nationals have a pretty hard schedule this week, but it's difficult to ignore Dmitri Young's (4.3) price tag. Young tied Mike Jacobs for most points by a first baseman in Week 1, and has just about the lowest cost of any middle-of-the-order hitter.
Others to consider: Conor Jackson (4.8), Mike Jacobs (4.7), Casey Kotchman (4.5).
SECOND BASE: With a showdown against division-rival Philadelphia and a three-game set against NL East doormat Washington, this is a fine time to use New York's Jose Valentin (4.2).
Others to consider: Ian Kinsler (5.0), Jose Lopez (5.0), Kelly Johnson (4.4).
THIRD BASE: Back to Tampa Bay we go, where second baseman B.J. Upton (4.7) finds himself eligible only at third base until further notice. That's fine, considering he's started the year 6-for-12 with a home run and a stolen base. Most importantly, he's turned two double plays and hasn't committed an error. Others to consider: Mark Teahen (4.9), Hank Blalock (4.9), Alberto Callaspo (4.0).
SHORTSTOP: Stephen Drew's (5.0) Diamondbacks host the Reds and the Rockies at Chase Field, where the weather won't be a factor and the pitching isn't going to be scary. Truth be told, shortstop is not likely to be the best bargain-hunting position, so this is probably where you want to spend.
Others to consider: Yuniesky Betancourt (4.5), Ben Zobrist (4.1), Tony Pena Jr. (3.5).
LEFT FIELD: Scott Hairston's (3.5) salary, the Chase Field factor and the pitchers coming to town (Cincinnati, Colorado) make it hard to pass on him this week.
Others to consider: Chris B. Young (4.8), Melky Cabrera (4.7), Ryan Church (4.3).
CENTER FIELD: Sticking with the Diamondbacks, Eric Byrnes (4.9) is off to a fast start, with a home run and two steals on 8-of-21 hitting through Friday's games. Byrnes is a streaky player capable of carrying that level of play for weeks at a time.
Others to consider: Chris Burke (4.8), David DeJesus (4.4), Darin Erstad (4.0).
RIGHT FIELD: This is another position where you're probably better off spending, but if you want the bargain, Nick Markakis (5.0) is as good as it gets. The Orioles are at home for three against Detroit, but also get to play host to the Kansas City Royals for four games.
Others to consider: Delmon Young (5.5), Jeff Francoeur (5.5), Trot Nixon (4.4).
DESIGNATED HITTER: This one plays out a lot like right field. Spend the cash you've saved so far to get your DH, but if you find yourself limited, grab the Orioles' Aubrey Huff (4.9).
Others to consider: Garret Anderson (4.5), Kevin Mench (4.1), Terrmel Sledge (4.2).
PITCHING STAFF: There is a huge difference between good and bad pitching, so this won't be a spot where we ever advise you to skim. This week, you can get good value out of the San Francisco Giants (4.4) who travel to San Diego and Pittsburgh. You'll even get two starts by Matt Cain.
Others to consider: New York Yankees (5.0), Texas Rangers (4.5), Chicago Cubs (4.4).
CATCHER: Victor Martinez pulled up lame during Friday's game-that-wasn't, so don't risk him this week, despite the seven-game schedule.
Others to avoid: Damian Miller (5.3), Jorge Posada (5.3), Kenji Johjima (5.2).
FIRST BASE: Paul Konerko (5.9) and the White Sox travel to Oakland for three games, then come back cross-country for a three-game set at Cleveland. Those aren't ideal conditions for a big week.
Others to avoid: Ryan Howard (6.3), Prince Fielder (5.6), Richie Sexson (5.6).
SECOND BASE: Chase Utley struggled against Houston last season (3-for-24,1 HR, 1 SB) and has to contend with Shea Stadium to end the week. Don't pay the premium.
Others to avoid: Robinson Cano (5.8), Felipe Lopez (5.6), Rickie Weeks (5.4).
THIRD BASE: Garrett Atkins (5.9) travels to Chavez Ravine, then faces the Diamondbacks, who held him to a .272 average in 81 at-bats last season, with just two home runs in 19 games.
Others to avoid: Ryan Zimmerman (5.7), Joe Crede (5.3), Adrian Beltre (5.0).
SHORTSTOP: Derek Jeter (6.2) and the Yankees can run up the score any given game, but wait until you have a better schedule than a Minnesota-Oakland road trip before committing that much cap space.
Others to avoid: Jimmy Rollins (6.0), Juan Uribe (5.0), J.J. Hardy (4.9).
LEFT FIELD: Matt Holliday (6.0) had a torrid first week but will have a hard time repeating for the same reasons as Garrett Atkins. Dodgers Stadium can cool anyone down, and the Diamondbacks had his number last season. He was 12-for-57 (.210) with just one home run against them in '06.
Others to avoid: Jason Bay (6.1), Raul Ibanez (5.4), Pat Burrell (5.1).
CENTER FIELD: The Brewers visit Dolphin Stadium and Busch Stadium. Bill Hall (5.6) and company are best left alone for the week.
Others to avoid: Johnny Damon (5.8), Juan Pierre (5.8), Mike Cameron (5.0).
RIGHT FIELD: Jermaine Dye (5.9) has a history of struggling in Oakland. In 2002-03, as an Oakland A, he went 78-for-354 (.220) at home. Ouch.
Others to avoid: Corey Hart (5.0), Brad Hawpe (5.0), Austin Kearns (4.7).
DESIGNATED HITTER: Not to pick on the White Sox, but Jim Thome (5.7) has only hit one home run against the Athletics since returning to the American League. He also struggled against the Indians, batting just .214 in 56 at-bats against his former team.
Others to avoid: Hideki Matsui (5.7), Jonny Gomes (4.8), Luke Scott (4.7).
PITCHING STAFF: This is not the time to spend on John Lackey's Los Angeles Angels (5.7), as they swing through bitterly cold Cleveland and the inhospitable Fenway Park.
Others to avoid: Houston Astros (5.6), Oakland Athletics (5.4), Arizona Diamondbacks (4.8)
MONDAY: The Blue Jays home opener will feature Odalis Perez, a pitcher they creamed last season for six runs on seven hits in just 4 innings. Frank Thomas (5.1 price tag) hasn't seen much of him, but was 2-for-3 with a home run the one time they met.
TUESDAY: It may not be nice to pick on the Nationals, but it could pay a lot of dividends in the cap game. Rookie Matt Chico will be serving to the Atlanta Braves, so it's a fine time to start Edgar Renteria (5.0) who has victimized lefties for a .340 average with 12 home runs over the past three years, spanning 456 at-bats.
WEDNESDAY: Yes, we could keep picking on the Nationals, but why, when Ramon Ortiz faces the wrath of the New York Yankees? Alex Rodriguez (6.4) is expensive, but worth it, considering he has owned Ortiz in 48 at-bats, collecting 16 hits ( a .333 average), half of them home runs. He's got four swipes against him, too
THURSDAY: Assuming the Mariners get their rotation worked out after this weekend's snow fest in Cleveland, Jeff Weaver takes the mound Thurday at Fenway Park against Tim Wakefield. That means Doug Mirabelli (3.7) gets the start, and he's 2-for-7 with a double in his career against Weaver. That way, maybe you can afford some of the big Boston bats who'll likely tee off on Weaver's offerings.
FRIDAY: There are a lot of ace pitchers going on Friday, let's pick on former ace David Wells, who faces Luis Gonzalez (5.0) and the Dodgers. Gonzalez has two home runs and 10 hits in 25 career at-bats against the 43-year-old lefty.
SATURDAY: Hidden among Saturday's plethora of No. 2 match-ups is Kenny Rogers' replacement, Chad Durbin, against the Toronto Blue Jays. This is a good time to call on Lyle Overbay, whose splits last season favored him heavily at home (.966 OPS) and against right-handers (.949 OPS). You'll want to use him whenever a Chad Durbin-type ventures into the Rogers Centre.
SUNDAY: Miguel Batista makes his home debut for the Seattle Mariners, but he'll have his hands full with the Texas Rangers and Sammy Sosa (5.6), who has three home runs in just 18 at-bats against him. As a bonus, I'll also point out that Kenny Lofton (4.9 ) has a thick book on Batista. He's 15-for-41 lifetime against him, with a home run and five stolen bases.
Pete Becker is Senior Editor for ESPN.com Fantasy Sports.
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