- Jennie Finch, Contributor, espnW.com
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Hello, fantasy fanatics! I hope everyone out there enjoyed their Fourth of July. I know it's one of my favorite holidays. I love watching fireworks and celebrating the birth of our nation. We intended to let Ace stay up and watch, but he crashed early and got the sleep it seems he needed.
It's been a little crazy as I expected with all the training and World Cup play starting, but I always find enough time to read your e-mails, check stats and, this week, to watch the All-Star activities! It's such a fun atmosphere there; I almost wish I could've gone. If I can't go, though, I'm glad it's because I'm doing something I love!
So we're on the cusp of the second half of the season. I know I'm going to be looking at potential minor league call-ups because, as teams fall out of contention, they're looking to give their younger guys a chance. I'll let you know about anyone I see who looks promising, like the Diamondbacks' own Justin Upton. He's going to be awesome. But you knew that already, didn't you?
With that, let's get to the mail bag and see what you have to say this week.
Joe (Westville, N.J.): Hi Jennie, thanks for all your great insights. I don't think I'd be in second place without your help. For the second half, I'm worried that John Smoltz is going to be out a long time. I'm thinking about picking up Kyle Kendrick from Philly. What are your thoughts? Good luck in the World Cup. I'll be watching and congrats on your performance in the Canada Cup. I hope the Bandits come to Philly next year, I'd love the chance to see you pitch in person. Wish more games were on TV.
Jennie: Glad to hear it, Joe! Does that mean you're going to split your winnings with me? I'm not sure how long Smoltz will be out, but he's worth hanging on to. Older players like him need to take care of these things before they get too serious, and I expect him to come back strong. I'd pass on Kendrick. He is simply a Band-Aid in Philadelphia and his 3-0 record is the product of good run support from the best offensive team in the National League. That's fine for the Phillies, but his 1.40 WHIP and his 4.40 ERA, though, can't be helped by your offense.
Unsigned (Hattiesburg, Miss.): Hi Jennie. I was wondering if I should hang on to Bobby Abreu or try to trade him.
Jennie: I'd trade Bobby right now. His skills have diminished so quickly and so completely that only the Yankees' lineup keeps him from being a complete bust. I hate to say it, but I will anyway: Get what you can for him, while his name and his team keep his value up, and be happy that he's off your roster.
Ivan: I am fourth overall in a 10-team, head-to-head league, but ninth in home runs. I am considering trading Derek Jeter ( I also have Jose Reyes) for Carlos Delgado, hoping he comes around at some point, and David Weathers. Do you think Delgado will come around?
Jennie:The simple answer to your question is no, I don't think Delgado will come around, in that I don't think he'll hit for a high average like he used to. However, he will help you in the home run category, as he's one of the most consistent power hitters in baseball, and he's found his home run stroke after a pretty tame first part of the season. I expect him to finish the season hitting somewhere between .260 and .270, with about 30 home runs and 110 RBIs. As long as you're not expecting him to hit 20 for you, you can make the trade, but at the same time, for Derek Jeter, you might be able to do better, don't you think?
Jennie: I'd pass on that trade. As I've said, I'm not a fan of Abreu and I don't think he can turn it around. Wells is heating up, and I like Oswalt, and Valverde will continue to rack up the saves for the Diamondbacks, who don't win a lot of blowouts. Brad Penny was awful in the second half last year, and while Tim Hudson's OK, you lose on all three players in this deal. Stick with what you've got.
Paul (New Freedom): Hey Jennie. Two weeks ago, I traded Grady Sizemore, Kevin Youkilis and Cole Hamels for Garrett Atkins, Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence. The league thought I was nuts. I then traded Rollins for Lance Berkman. Who's laughing now?
Jennie: Well, nobody's going to accuse you of being gun-shy, but I think you overpaid in the first deal, and again in the second. You gave up one of the top 10 players in fantasy and one of the top pitchers for Rollins, who is great; Atkins, whose value was pretty low a few weeks ago as he was getting over his bad start; and Pence, who is pretty much a saw-off with Youkilis. I can see doing that if you had too much pitching and needed a lot of offense, but you then traded Rollins for a worse player. If you look at the Top 300 rankings, Rollins came in 12th while Berkman was 27th. Sorry, Paul, but you gave up the best players in both deals.
Jhorman: What do you think of Bartolo Colon? Do you think he's worth it to keep him as one of my pitchers?
Jennie: I guess I'm a little undecided about Colon. I'd keep an eye on his performance for his first couple starts after the All-Star break. He certainly hasn't been himself, but there's been no news of any injuries, in which case it could just be his mechanics, which he could fix. Hang tight on this one for a little longer.
John Winton (Putnam, N.Y.): I picked Barry Zito early because I thought he would make a good transition to the National League, but he hasn't produced so far. Should I try to trade him for someone with a decent amount of stolen bases, where I'm hurting?
Jennie: At this point, if you can trade Zito, then trade him. His fastball is topping out in the mid-80s and he just doesn't look like the same pitcher who won the Cy Young a few years ago. Then again, he hasn't been that guy for a few years now. My gut instinct when he signed that big contract was that he wasn't going to be worth it, and I don't expect him to turn his performance around as batters get to see him for the second or third time.
Zach A. (Monticello): How fast can you pitch and do you guys throw curves and stuff?
Jennie: That's a question I get a lot. I throw a 71-mph fastball, which I'm told (because of the shorter distance from the mound to the plate) is like looking at a 100-mph pitch in baseball. But there's a lot more to pitching than speed, so as for other pitches, there are quite a few, same as in baseball. I throw off-speed pitches, drop pitches, screwballs, curveballs and, the one that seems to be the most difficult for baseball players to hit, rise balls. They're not used to seeing the ball come up, which makes it really fun to pitch to them. They're always surprised the first time they see a riser, and it usually gets a pretty good laugh.
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