Play Like the Pros: Ben Francisco bidding war
• Ben Francisco: Sam Walker of "Fantasyland," $19 (Berry $18, Erickson $5, Wolf/Colton $5, Peterson $5)
Francisco is the callup du jour in AL-only leagues, having hit three homers in his first 28 major league at-bats, but do temper your power expectations. Francisco's calling card is his speed; he stole 15 bases in 18 attempts at Triple-A Buffalo, with only six home runs in 240 at-bats. In 2006, he was 25-for-30 stealing with 17 home runs in 545 at-bats. Not too shabby, but nothing that hints at a Jack Cust-like hot streak. Francisco has a decent shot of sticking with the big club, supplanting Jason Michaels or Franklin Guttierrez as one of the Indians' right-handed outfield bats.
• Jose Capellan: Walker $1
For a guy who was supposed to be a good starter, and then a candidate for a closing role, Capellan is quickly turning into a journeyman reliever. He'll throw hard in the seventh and eight innings, but likely won't get a sniff of the ninth.
The Talented Mr. Roto believes saves always come into the league. Sometimes, they come in the form of a "meh, maybe Camp will get one or two while Al Reyes is out" bid. Other times, it comes in the form of a "meh, maybe interim manager Mike Tremblay is actually serious about keeping the pressure off of -- or on -- Chris Ray by giving guys like Shuey a shot in the ninth" bid.
Either way, for two bucks, Berry has two scratch-and-win lotto tickets that could net him a few saves.
• Manny Delcarmen: Jason Grey of FantasyBaseball.com, $1
Delcarmen's was called up in mid-June and has quickly earned a role as a set-up man, which, as Hideki Okajima has demonstrated, can be a lucrative role in the Red Sox bullpen. Delcarmen has the kind of stuff that can yield a strikeout per inning, but he has had some problems with walks. If he starts handing out free passes, you'll want to bail on him quickly. Fenway Park is not forgiving to those who put runners on base.
Collette: "This one actually took a month to evolve. Phil first approached me about Sheets just after Memorial Day and I had asked for Gonzalez, whom he said he could not part with. Talks picked back up at his request about a week ago because Phil's pitching needs became as glaring as my hitting needs (which have been a problem all year).
"My goal in trading Sheets was to get two bats I could play in my lineup; a fulltime corner guy to replace Saenz and a second guy that had some positional flexibility. I have had a rash of hitting injuries this year, which has really exposed my lack of hitting depth. So we lobbied back and forth while I tried to get Ryan Klesko or Mike Lamb, but eventually found common ground with Spiezio as the second player. Phil needed wins, K's, and steals so I added Everett and Chavez, who are going to be out for awhile, in return for Lohse (I need a starting pitcher to float me for a couple of weeks) and Yates, whom I like. My hope is that Tom Gordon and Brad Lidge come back and are effective enough to regain their closing roles so I can flip them for more help in August. I looked at this trade gaining me 6-7 points, which currently gets me out of the cellar and is my realistic goal at this point in the season."
Hertz: "Offensively, my team has been very deep, but even after acquiring [Tom] Glavine and [Tim] Lincecum a couple of weeks ago, I felt I needed another starter, preferably an ace. Sheets is among the handful of aces in the league. Acquiring him positions me to gain several pitching points in strikeouts and ERA. Giving up Gonzalez was not something I wanted to do, but I've had very good hitting with some depth. Indeed, this week I had Spiezio, Kevin Frandsen, and Aaron Boone, among others, on reserve. Acquiring Milton Bradley last week gave me more hitting and freed me to go for Sheets. I'm also hoping that some of the hitting depth I lost by including Spiezio will be made up during the last six weeks of the season, when Chavez and Everett come off the DL."
• Shane Youman: Collette, $1
Youman won his first start of the season on Tuesday and did so despite being very hittable. He's not a big strikeout pitcher, he surrenders a lot of walks, so he's going to get lit up once the league catches up to him. He's probably got the gumption for some short-term success. He's basically the NL's answer to Jesse Litsch.
• Peter Moylan: Scott Pianowski of FantasyGuru.com, $0
• Jeff Salazar: Brian Walton of CreativeSports.com, $1
• Jamey Carroll. Rob Leibowitz of FantasyBaseball.com, $1
• D.J. Houlton: Peter Kreutzer of AskRotoman.com, $1
• Jorge Julio: Wood $0
Hope springs eternal; Julio has closing experience and finds himself in a Colorado bullpen in which the saves are up for grabs. The bidding took place before Manny Corpas -- who is already owned in this league -- earned a win and a save in back-to-back games, and the uncontested "zero" bid shows that nobody in this league, not even Wood, believes Julio is any sort of long-term threat to take the job. This is a low-risk, medium-reward move -- the only risk is the damage Julio could do to Wood's ratios in the week he must be started, but that is nicely mitigated by the four off-days the Rockies enjoy for the All-Star break.
• Troy Cate: Jason Pliml of MockDraftCentral.com, $1
Cate is a dangerous player to own; he's not in line for wins or saves, and he surrendered 10 home runs in 53 1/3 Triple-A innings before his promotion. He does offer slightly above-average strikeouts and there is a chance he gets into the rotation at some point, but those home runs just don't bode well at all.
Hertz took advantage of trading for some hurt players -- ha! -- to reload his roster with some low-cost scrubs. Of the three, Percival is the only one with any sort of upside in the form of a strikeout per inning in middle-relief. His two wins in four appearances are incredibly fluky, and he'll be hard-pressed to earn two more between now and the end of the season. Still, he's better to own than some of the ratio-killing fiends, which are inevitably rostered in leagues this deep.
• Rudy Seanez: Wood, $0 (Wilderman $0)
Seanez isn't too hard to figure out. As an AL pitcher, with hitter-friendly home fields in Boston, Kansas City and Arlington, he's a toxic reliever with a career ERA of 5.44 and a 1.66 WHIP. As an NL pitcher with the bulk of his innings in pitcher-friendly Miami, San Diego and Los Angeles, he owns a 3.53 ERA with a respectable 1.30 WHIP. The one constant? Bushels of strikeouts: 512 of them in 487 career innings. Bottom line? His current stats -- 3.12 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings -- are exactly what you would expect out of him in a Dodgers uniform.
• Royce Ring: Lombardo, $0
Padres relievers are always a consideration in NL-only leagues. Ring is no exception and with 13 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings, he should be on everyone's radar. Before you blow your budget, though, realize that he also has seven walks. Ring does profile as a guy who could strikeout a batter per an inning, and his minor league track record shows he has a lot more control than he's shown so far.
• Ryan Doumit: Alex Cushing of MLB.com, $0
Doumit has 19 games at catcher, meaning he only needs one more for keeper leaguers to be able to use him at the position next year, too. Doumit has six homers and a .305 average, so there's more there than just a catcher who won't hurt you.
• Brad Wilkerson: Larry Schecter of Sandlot Shrink, $8 (Adler $7, Cushing $0)
He's hot, and he's playing every day with Mark Teixeira out of the lineup. That's good enough reason to pick Wilkerson up now, as the Rangers are likely to be sellers at the end of the month. That fact should keep getting Wilkerson at-bats for the rest of the season, be it as a Ranger or for another team.
• Manny Corpas: Cushing, $0
As has been said time and time again: Saves always come into the league.
• Matt Garza: Cushing, $0
The bidding was held before the completion of Friday's doubleheader, in which Scott Baker was roughed up for seven runs in five innings while Garza threw six shutout innings with six strikeouts (and three walks.) The bidding would likely have been a bit livelier if held on Saturday instead.
• David Wells: Schecter, $1
His home field makes him a decent spot-starter.
• Mike Lamb: John Hoyos of RotoJunkie.com, $1
Since June 14, the first day of a 10-game hitting streak, Lamb has hit .358 with four homers and 19 RBIs. He'll continue to find his way into the lineup, but the hot streak was just that, a hot streak. Lamb is a career .280 hitter with 57 home runs in more than 2,000 at-bats. He's 31, way too old a dog to learn new tricks.
• Tom Glavine: Dave Adler of BaseballHQ, $1 (Salfino $0, Kastner $0)
As long as he's pitching for a winning team, Glavine's career numbers and reputation will keep him rostered in fantasy leagues. He still throws a lot of innings, but with his 1.37 WHIP and 4.36 ERA, that's not necessarily a good thing. You need to be either far ahead or far behind in ratio categories to make his seven wins and 53 strikeouts palatable. His 14 home runs surrendered and 40 free passes issued show that age and skill erosion are to blame for his numbers, rather than any sort of bad luck.
All things considered, Milton Bradley was pretty easy to get rid of, since Oakland already had one in their lineup, only with "Stewart" stitched on the back of his jersey. Stewart doesn't get much press, but he's hitting .311 with 7 homers, 8 steals, 41 runs scored and, more importantly, his hamstrings are healthy.
Rare is the middle-reliever worth a play in mixed leagues, but Villanueva fits the bill. His six wins and 55 strikeouts are basically identical to Glavine's, but they're accumulated in just 60 innings, with a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Yet, Glavine got three bids, and Villanueva was free and uncontested. Think about it.
Di Fino has identified two closers likely to be traded at the deadline -- Octavio Dotel and Chad Cordero -- and has secured the two pitchers who would inherit their role. It's a gamble with such little roster space, but the time to speculate on trades is now, not in two weeks, when everyone else will also be bidding.
Karabell is playing the hot hand in Adam LaRoche, who has done the whole slow-start, great-second-half thing before. Guthrie, who was prominently featured as our No. 1 starter for the ESPN.com all-rookie fantasy all-star team gets the Karaseal of approval. Guthrie is available in 40 percent of ESPN.com standard leagues, a number which is sure to decrease over the next two weeks as more owners discover his 102 innings of sub-1.00 WHIP and sub-3.00 ERA. Pat Neshek ranks among the best middle-relievers in both the major leagues and fantasy leagues, as can attest his inclusion on the final pitching ballot of American League All-Stars (won by Hideki Okajiwa) and his 33 percent ownership rate in ESPN.com leagues, securing his place as a borderline top-200 fantasy asset.
Ted Lilly: Tristan H. Cockcroft, $1
Cockcroft needed a replacement for A.J. Burnett and found a similar pitcher available in Ted Lilly, whose 8 wins, 98 strikeouts and solid ratios have him owned in 75 percent of standard leagues.
Pete Becker is Senior Editor for ESPN.com Fantasy. Nando Di Fino returns next week.
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