Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto: Top moms and top pickups

Updated: May 11, 2008, 11:55 AM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

The plan is to finish this column, get on the plane, fly home to Texas. My Dad is getting that award that I wrote about a little while ago this weekend. But the nice thing is that the weekend coincides with Mother's Day, which is this Sunday.

And you know, my Dad's winning this award. I just got an Emmy. My kid brother Jonathan just started a big, important job, running a whole division. My Mom's thrilled for all of us -- been a good couple of weeks for the Berry family -- but still … A little love never hurt.

So, in honor of Mother's Day and, specifically, Nancy Berry of College Station, Texas … here are the Top 10 moms of all time.

Marge Simpson
Stephen Shugerman/Getty ImagesShe may not be real, but she's still a mom.
10. Jimmy Buffett's Mom: At least once a week, I drink a margarita to her.
9. Marge Simpson: The hair alone puts her on the list.
8. Anne Hathaway's Mom: Gotta figure she's a mom I'd like to be friends with.
7. Kobe's Mom: Go Lakers, baby. Go Lakers.
6. The Moms of Daniel Okrent and Glen Waggoner, founding fathers of fantasy baseball: Without them, I would have much less joy in my life.
5. Queen Amidala: Gave birth to both Luke and Leia. Just saying.
4. Mother Teresa: It's my list. She counts.
3. George Bodenheimer's Mom: Look, you worry about your gig and I'll worry about mine.
2. Your Mom. Remember to call her this weekend and tell her you love her.
1. My Mom. Not gonna lie. The fix was in on this one. Doesn't make it less true.

Working the Wire

These are players who have recently seen an increase in value and are available in more than 50 percent of ESPN.com standard leagues.

Garret Anderson, OF, Angels: He hit .500 with three home runs and eight RBIs in a three-game series against the Royals and has five homers this season. He's a career .296 hitter who will get you average and RBIs with a little bit of pop, even though he's not a huge power hitter.

John Danks
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images"Dank you, Dank you very much."
John Danks, P, White Sox: I've mentioned him a few times before but I'm putting him here until he is owned in all leagues. He's pitched seven times this year and had six quality starts. He got rocked on April 9 against the Twins, when he gave up seven runs in just two-and-a-third, and even with that, he has a 3.18 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, 30 strikeouts in 39 innings and only 10 walks. And oh yeah, he beat those same Twins on Thursday. And, as an added bonus, every time he gets a strikeout you can pump your fist and say "Danks you very much!" (Pause) What do want from me? It's an off weekend.

Ryan Freel, OF, Reds: He's healthy. He has four steals already. He is hitting .304. He has at least 30 steals in four of the past five years. His middle name is Paul. He is available in almost every single ESPN.com league.

Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cardinals: He went bananas at Colorado, hitting .692 with three home runs in four games. So yeah, he won't be playing in Coors every day. But he's still hitting .363 for the season with seven home runs. And his last name can be used as an insult. "You, you … Ludwick!" See? It sorta works.

Clayton Kershaw, P, Dodgers: Buster Olney wrote in his blog that Kershaw might be called up within the next 10 days. So why not grab him now and beat the Christmas rush? Another one in the crazy-good rookie phenom camp, Kershaw has been lights-out this year in Double A with a 1.08 ERA and 37 strikeouts in just 33 innings.

Blake DeWitt, 3B, Dodgers: Hitting .306 with two home runs and 18 RBIs in 29 games.

Mike Mussina, P, Yankees: You may have heard of him. I'd put him in the obvious names department but he's available in tons of leagues. The part you care about is that he has a 3.13 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in his past four starts. I wish he were striking out more guys (13 in 23 innings for that span) but he's keeping his walks down (only two in that same span), so … nothing spectacular, but nothing that's really gonna hurt you, either.

Mark Kotsay, OF, Braves: I've never been a Mark Kotsay fan, but it's hard to ignore what he's doing, which is hitting .400 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in his past 11 games.

From the Obvious Name Department

Here are some guys who have recently seen an increase in value and may be available in shallow leagues or leagues where you play with morons.

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Any Oakland A's starting pitcher: Justin Duchscherer. Greg Smith. Dana Eveland. They're all available in lots of leagues, they've all been terrific so far this year, they're all staying in the rotation when Rich Harden rejoins this weekend. And, oh yeah, Harden should be grabbed if he's out there too, obviously. By the way, I listed them how I rank them.

Santiago Casilla, P, A's: Well, as long as we're in Oakland … the guy has been all sorts of fantasy goodness so far with zero, count them, zero earned runs given up in 17 1/3 innings this year. A WHIP of 0.69 and a 21 K's to just 3 walks. He also got the save the other night when Street wasn't available, which tells me he's the guy if (when) Street gets hurt and/or traded.

Joe Borowski, P, Indians: Look, he's throwing. And I'll bet anything he's the closer when he comes back. Which will be soon. It will not be pretty, but it will be saves.

Just Below the Mendoza Line

Here are some guys you should keep an eye on, except in deeper leagues, where they should all be owned.

Pedro Feliz, 3B, Phillies: Hitting .421 with two home runs and five RBIs in his past six games.

Nick Johnson
Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesNick Johnson knows how to get on base, with OBPs of .408 and .428 the past two seasons.
Nick Johnson, 1B, Nationals: Hear me out for a second. He has three home runs and six RBIs in his past 11 games. And, as of Friday morning, only Albert Pujols has more walks this year, in all of baseball. So he's seeing the ball well, he's just not hitting it. Yet. He hit .290 last season and .289 the year before, and that was in 953 combined at-bats. Just saying.

Scott Downs and Jesse Carlson, P;s, Blue Jays: B.J. Ryan has not been lights-out this year, and each of these guys has gotten (and converted) save chances. The Jays seem to have lost confidence in Accardo, so if you're save speculating, there are two names for you, in the order in which I think they get a shot.

Daniel Cabrera, P, Orioles: Daniel Cabrera is going to be the death of me. I recently did a podcast with Bill Simmons and we talked about his idea of "Fantasy Kryptonite," the guys that you can't resist, and every year they break your heart. Cabrera is one of mine. So I am staying away this year. But it's worth noting that he just had his sixth straight quality start on Thursday. He has a 3.54 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, both very respectable, especially in AL-only leagues. In this six-game span, he has 27 strikeouts and 15 walks, which doesn't make for a great rate at all. That gives me pause. But still … he turns 27 on May 28, so he's still young enough to finally be putting it together. Also, a split to pay attention to: Of those six games, five were on the road.

Big Fat Sidney Ponson, P, Rangers: Only for super-deep leagues and only if you are desperate and only if you don't blame fantasy columnists when things go horribly, horribly wrong. I am not responsible for this one. You add him at your own risk. But you should know that he has made three starts this year, going 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. What you do with that information is totally up to you.

Wilson Betemit, 3B, Yankees: He has some power, Alex Rodriguez is still out, and he's not Morgan Ensberg. There. I said some nice things. Mom will be proud.

Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench, OFs, Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are banged up and can't hit, Adam Lind is back in Syracuse and J.P. Ricciardi is trying his best to find some power somewhere, anywhere. Sound like your fantasy team too? Then roll the dice with either of these guys. If one of them starts to hit, he's pretty much assured a full-time job in left field, with Matt Stairs going to DH and Shannon Stewart to the bench, where they belong.

Omar Quintanilla, 2B, Rockies: He's playing every day, and he's hitting .400 on the season. He hit .319 at Triple-A last year and was hitting .329 in the minors this year. No power or speed to speak of, but he'll hit for a decent average and won't hurt you at the middle-infield spot in NL-only leagues.

Jody Gerut, OF, Padres: The Padres released Jim Edmonds and recalled Gerut rather than Chase Headley. Headley is still the long-term solution to the Padres' woes, but in the meantime, Gerut can make a case for playing time in center or left field. He really only needs to beat out Callix Crabbe (hitting .196) and Paul McAnulty (.200) in order to have a bit of value.

Freddie Bynum, SS, Orioles: Just called up, he's going to be the starting shortstop for Baltimore. A little bit of speed and not much else, but he hit .350 in six rehab games at Double-A. AL-only folks will find him semi-useful. Kind of like me.

Ben Francisco, OF, Indians: Just called up, he hit .274 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in a cup of coffee with the Tribe last year. Again, AL-only only.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He has been playing fantasy sports for more than 20 years, writing about it professionally for more than 10. He currently appears on or in ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN the Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile TV and, as soon as he learns to say "ground-ball/fly-ball ratio" in Spanish, ESPN Deportes.

Catch Matthew and Stephania Bell on the Baseball Tonight Fantasy Minute Monday-Saturday.

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• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"

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