- Jennie Finch, Contributor, espnW.com
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Hello out there, fantasy fans! It's summer, and I hope you're loving it as much as I am.
I know the controversy about Amanda Beard's magazine cover is still swirling. Thanks for all of your responses to my column from last week. I received some very well-thought-out responses and I appreciate the time you put into them. Even though I can't include them here, your opinions were interesting and certainly made me think. It's an ongoing dialogue, I suppose, and it's bound to flare up every once in awhile when something like this happens.
I mentioned last week that I was in the middle of Pan Am team selection camp. Well, we just finished over the weekend. I'm happy to say I made the team. I'm looking forward to going to Brazil in the next few weeks. It looks like Ace is going to get another stamp in his passport!
The camp itself was exhausting. We had long days of scrimmages and games, but it was really fun to see the group of girls playing in college now. They're the immediate future of our sport, and there's so much talent there. The younger pitchers definitely keep me on my toes. I'm working hard to keep my job.
From selection camp, it was off to Chicago for a couple of games with the Bandits. That was great, mainly because we won! I had a quick turnaround there, because it was off to California Sunday night for a little family time. It worked out well because I was due in L.A. to shoot my portion of a show about sports and science. Check my Web site closer to September for details, because the show is going to be very interesting. They're comparing softball and baseball pitching, among other things. They've brought in some top scientists on the project, and want to prove or dispel some of the popular myths out there. When I got to the set (which is massive and in an old airplane hangar) I was a little tired and worried about what I'd be doing all day -- how many pitches I'd be expected to throw, who I'd be up against, etc., etc. -- but it turned out to be tons of fun. My friend and former U of A teammate, Toni Mascarenas, who now plays for the Arizona Heat, was there too, and we had a great time.
Now I'm back in Arizona for a day or two before I start training for Team USA. It's nice to have a little time to hang out at home and check stats and averages on my wireless connection! Keep the questions coming. I always love to hear from you.
Maggie (Hoboken, N.J.): We got to see the rankings from some of the guys, but where are yours? If you had to pick today, who would your top 10 players be?
Jennie: Great question. I love thinking about stuff like this. If I had to pick today, my top 10 would be: Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, Chase Utley, Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Jake Peavy, Grady Sizemore and Magglio Ordonez.
Jim S. (Kenosha, Wis.): Is Alex Gordon back? Not that he was ever here in the first place. I guess I mean, has he arrived?
Jennie: I have to say that I still think Alex is going to struggle for the season. Yes, he's hitting .333 in June and slugging .507, but a lot of that damage was done in a nine-game stretch against some pretty bad pitching by St. Louis and Florida. He's taken advantage of Brad Thompson, Tyler Johnson, Kip Wells, Kelvin Jimenez, Sergio Mitre, Scott Olsen and, Wednesday night, went 4-for-6 against Todd Wellemeyer and the Cardinals' bullpen. It could all be very good for his confidence, but Kansas City will play against better pitching staffs. The bottom line is that he's a rookie, and if he hits .250 or .260 from this point on, it'll be a good year for him. If you're in a keeper league, you're happy with him, but in single-season leagues, I wouldn't expect anything exceptional from him this year.
Gurdeep (Brampton, Ontario): Everyone keeps saying to wait for Santana to come around in the summer months. What's the deal with him? Why can't he be as awesome in April and May as the rest of the year? I'm thinking of trading for him, but I want to make sure I really am going to get the Cy Young winner.
Jennie: If you look at Santana's career monthly stats, he gets better as the season goes on. Over the past three seasons, his ERA before the All-Star break is 3.56, which is good, but not great. After the All-Star break, he cuts that number almost in half, to 1.89, and all of his other numbers improve with them. That just seems to be the way he works. I'd encourage you to be patient. If past patterns are true, he'll be the pitcher you expect him to be in the second half of the season, and when they add up all the numbers at the end of the year, he'll have been the best pitcher in baseball.
Dan (Worcester, Mass.): I drafted Vernon Wells high in my fantasy league and his numbers aren't quite what I expected. Furthermore, I don't hear much about him, so I was wondering is it time to trade him for what I can get for him, or wait it out?
Jennie: I know it's frustrating, but I'd say wait it out. He's been a little banged up, and so have the rest of the Blue Jays, which can't help. I'm convinced, though, that his talent will eventually surface. You've been with him for the bad part of his season, hang in there for the good part.
Adam (Westfield): Hey! I have Todd Helton and I would like to trade him. I am first in average, but I need help in ERA and whip. Once I trade him I will be able to move Swisher to first base and move Aaron Rowand or Ryan Zimmerman into my utility spot. Who should I trade Helton for?
Well, if you want to trade him, I think Todd Helton can get you a solid No. 2 or 3 pitcher, depending on the size of your league. He won't get you an ace like Johan Santana or Jake Peavy or even a Cole Hamels. But you might be able to get a Matt Cain or Brad Penny or Justin Verlander, all of whom should help you where you need it. The best way to go about it is to look for someone who needs help in batting average and run production, and has a hole at first base, corner or utility. Then, target the pitcher that best suits your needs.
That's it for this week. Have a good one and be sure to send in your questions!
Want to ask Jennie a question for the Finch Files? Click here.