AL Tout Wars
Erickson is not afraid to tinker: With his team in first place, he has refused to sit still and laugh at all the teams below him from atop a pile of gold coins. Trying to stave off the charging Sam Walker (Fantasyland) and Matthew Berry (ESPN) teams, he has pulled off two relatively large-scale deals in the past two weeks. Last week, he scooped up John Lackey and Jason Michaels from Joe Sheehan (Baseball Prospectus), and this week, he receives Vazquez and Punto from Shandler. Long-time readers (and first-time callers) will recognize Punto from the article Shandler wrote after the draft , justifying Punto's $19 price tag. Apparently, August was as far as Shandler wanted to go with little Nicky, and the tantalizing package of Putz, Slowey and Padilla was too much to turn down.
• Joba Chamberlain: $7 Jeff Erickson of Rotowire.com ($6)
Bring me Solo and the Wookiee: Chamberlain is no longer a great mystery to anyone who has paid attention to baseball in the past few weeks. He is a fireballing converted starter who will strike out more than a batter per inning for the Yankees and eventually could either grab a rotation spot or take the place of Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning. For now, expect him to possibly steal a few of Luis Vizcaino's vulture wins and to rack up a ton of strikeouts in middle relief.
• Donnie Murphy: $4 Matthew Berry of ESPN ($3, $3)
• Asdrubal Cabrera: $1 Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus
• Drew Kelly: $1 Sheehan
Interactive fun!: One of the two names above is fake. Can you guess which it is? The answer is at the end of the column.
• Gavin Floyd: $1 Mike Siano of MLB.com
Nightmare on West 35th Street: Remember Gavin Floyd? Once a prized prospect in the Philadelphia organization, he went to the White Sox in the Freddy Garcia deal this offseason. He was called up in the wake of the Jose Contreras implosion for his second stint with the Sox this season, and was used as both a reliever and a starter. He impressed in his Aug. 5 start, throwing six shutout innings against the Tigers, but then was shelled Saturday by the Mariners. Still, for a dollar, he's not a bad pitcher to gamble on.
• Garrett Olson: $1 Berry
• Brandon League: $1 Sheehan
Encyclopedia Brown: Getting confused with your Browns? Here's a handy guide to tell them apart:
Andrew Brown: Traded from San Diego to Oakland in exchange for Milton Bradley. He's a 26-year-old pitcher who likely will see a good amount of time in the Oakland bullpen, which has been decimated by injuries. He currently sports a 1.89 ERA with a 0.68 WHIP and 22 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Matt Brown: A 25-year-old third baseman whose birthday next year will fall on 08/08/08. Expect him to get a lot of cheesy hype if he decides to wear No. 8 and get eight total bases while posing for a picture dressed as a maid and milking a cow. His current average is .000. He most likely will not be a factor in the Angels' offense this season, but he does have the ability to flex a little power if catastrophic injuries take out the other three players on the roster capable of playing third base.
Dave Brown: Supplemental pick out of Duke University by the New York Giants in 1992.
• Ray Olmedo: $0 Siano
NL Tout Wars
Andrew Brown, sadly, was not thrown in: Hertz explains why he traded anyway.
"With Bradley, Carlos Beltran and Alejandro De Aza returning from injuries, and [Felix Pie] coming up from the minors, I suddenly had seven usable outfielders for the five outfield slots and one utility slot. On the other hand, my corners this week were Ryan Klesko, Mike Lamb and Mark Bellhorn arrrgh. I was therefore looking to move an outfielder for a corner. Given the Tout Wars rule that, beginning in August, trades are limited to teams within five places of each other, my trading partners were limited. I contacted a couple of owners, and Cory expressed an interest in Bradley. While I prefer Bradley to Jacobs a little, my position needs and Bradley's recent leg injury made the trade interesting. Since I suspect LaRoche will get some decent playing time in September, his inclusion clinched the deal."
• Rick Ankiel: $42 Jeff Erickson of Rotowire.com ($41, $34, $17, $11, $6)
The consolation prize: On his XM radio show this week, Erickson mentioned that he didn't have enough money in his budget to go after the big guns in the FAABonanza. Ankiel -- who hit 32 home runs in the minor leagues this season -- is a stellar consolation prize. Because this is Ankiel, it's relatively tough to speculate on how he will perform in the major leagues, but pretty much everyone in the world is pulling for him to hit a bunch of home runs and bat around .400. If that isn't enough, how 'bout the fact that six of the 13 NL touts put a bid out for him, and that was before his two-homer game on Saturday?
• Clint Barmes: $3 Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ.com ($2)
How the mighty have fallen: Before his venison-tainted slip down the stairs, Barmes was the strangely spelled darling of fantasy baseball. Now, he is relegated to utility duty in the major leagues and just two bids in a NL-only expert league. If he reclaims some of the magic from 2005, he will be an excellent bet to steal some at-bats and would make a fine middle-infield pick.
• Jesus Flores: $1 Erickson
• Terrmel Sledge: $1 Jason Collette of RotoJunkie.com
Welcome: Ellison and Kennedy both are coming over thanks to real-life waiver-wire claiming. Kennedy was on and off in Oakland, and now will play a very vague role in Arizona. He was claimed off waivers by the D-backs, and the A's just kind of said, "Sure, take him for nothing," sticking Arizona with his salary and unpredictable flare-ups. Ellison has bounced around the country this season after having a stellar spring training. He now is a Wayne Krivsky reclamation project, following Brandon Phillips, Eddie Guardado and Josh Hamilton to Cincinnati in hopes of realizing his true potential.
• Ramon E. Martinez: $1 Collette
That "E" is important: As if juggling two Ryan Brauns and three D. Youngs wasn't enough, we now are treated to Ramon Martinez, Los Angeles Dodger. Yes, it is a cute little blast from the past, but this Ramon Martinez is a light-hitting middle infielder who has zero home runs in 99 at-bats.
• Brian Lawrence: $1 Hertz
Mixed Tout Wars
• Alexi Casilla: $1 Alex Cushing of MLB.com
• Boof Bonser: $1 Cushing
• Jake Westbrook: $1 Larry Schechter of SandlotShrink.com
• Jacque Jones: $1 Schechter
Are you watching closely?: Schechter sits in first place and is putting about 1/12 of his roster in the hands of Jones and Westbrook. Jones has secured the center field job for the Cubs, while Westbrook has seen his ERA drop 120 points since late July. The bad news? Jones is a member of the 3/3 club so far this season (to be fair, he stole his fourth base Saturday night), and Westbrook's ERA (although sharply declining) still is 5.00.
• Doug Davis: $1 David Adler of BaseballHQ.com
• Orlando Hernandez: $6 Matthew Berry
• Dustin McGowan: $6 Berry
• Wandy Rodriguez: $6 Berry
• Matt Garza: $6 Berry
But is it enough to overtake Jennie Finch?: With Pete Becker holding a nine-point advantage over Team TRUM, Berry's four new pitchers might help chip away at the lead but might not be enough to steal it. Sitting between Berry and Becker, however, is Finch, just six points (basically, ten wins) ahead of Berry. A run at second isn't out of the question.
• Joba Chamberlain: $1 Eric Karabell
• Alan Embree: $1 Karabell
If you said "Asdrubal Cabrera" you were wrong. Cabrera is providing infield depth for the Indians now, shuffling in and out of shortstop, second base and third base to replace some of the struggling bats in the Cleveland lineup. Drew Kelly, I like to think, is enjoying the sun down on the Jersey Shore, challenging girls who walk by on the boardwalk to play the game where you fire the water into the clown's mouth, winning, and then giving the stuffed toy he won to random little kids who walk by.
Nando Di Fino is a fantasy analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at Nando@TalentedMrRoto.com.