- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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One hundred percent.
It's amazing, but I am technologically 100 percent incompetent. For a guy who has started three Web sites, my understanding of technology can best be described as "that of an incompetent 3-year-old." Personally, I think that's not giving 3-year-olds enough credit.
So I don't totally get the whole widget thing. But apparently, you can put them on your desktop, your Facebook and MySpace, your ESPN Fan Profile page anywhere! And they update automatically anytime I write something. You'll know exactly when I publish something and can then decide whether you want to come read it immediately or just wait until you are done scrolling through all the pictures she's posted of her vacation to Vegas.
Maybe you're like this guy, who posted on the ESPN Conversation (beta!) pages of my fantasy football "Guys I Love, Guys I Hate" column:
ny23fan_COH: Hey Matthew the link to the ESPN Fantasy Baseball site is: http://games.espn.go.com/frontpage/baseball. You should come back and post there every once in a while the season's still going on!
See, I was on vacation last week. But if ny23fan_COH, if indeed that is his or her real name, had my widget, he or she would know exactly when me or I was back and writing or podcasting.
Or maybe you're like Mark from New Haven:
Mark (New Haven, Conn.): No offense, dude, but you [are] extremely unfunny. Your article, "Guys I love " sucked. But what did I expect from you, anyway? I already figured that if your writing is half as bad as your on-camera banter with your buddy that I've seen on ESPN.com, your writing would really suck!
Now, if you have the widget, you don't have to worry about accidentally clicking on my column after deciding you don't like me from watching our Fantasy Focus video show. Now, you'll always know exactly what to ignore!
Look, I don't care if you ever look at the thing. Just add it. I'm never gonna be the most-read columnist on ESPN.com, but it'd be cool if I could have one of the most downloaded widgets. I'm all about the small, moral victories. Again, I don't care if you never install it, just download! Speaking of that, there also are links to my latest podcast on the widget. Widget fever: Catch it!
Man, is it ever fun to say. Widget!
Working the wire
Here's a list of players who have seen an increase in value recently and might be available in your league. Current ESPN.com Standard League ownership is listed in parentheses.
Luke Scott, OF, Orioles (53 percent): Quick question. What do Vladimir Guerrero, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez have in common? None of them has as many home runs this year as Scott. He has five home runs and six RBIs in his past nine games and is hitting .333 in that time frame.
Jason Michaels, OF, Pirates (1 percent): He's been playing, and with the Un-Tier (you have to listen to the podcast to get that one), Xavier Nady going down, that's only going to continue. Very quietly, he seems to have found a home in Pittsburgh, and he's been playing, well, un-Michaels-like. He has 22 RBIs in 33 games as a Pirate and eight in his past 10 games. He's not gonna help your batting average at all, but deeper mixed-league owners should find him useful. Or, at the very least, un-Michaels-like.
Jason Kubel, OF, Twins (10 percent): We've talked about this on the podcast, but it's interesting to note that although 79 percent of you have added Chase Headley, 90 percent of you are ignoring Kubel, who will finish the year with better numbers. He has four home runs and nine RBIs and is hitting .371 over his past nine games. It can't be just the third-base eligibility, either, not when 72 percent of you are still holding on to Delmon Young.
Mike Aviles, SS, Royals (26 percent): I wrote about him when he got called up, then he promptly didn't play. Well, now he is playing, and he's hitting .321 with three home runs in his first 14 games. He's 27, so a little old to be a true prospect, but he's a career .295 minor league hitter and was raking when he was recalled, so this isn't a fluke.
David DeJesus, OF, Royals (38 percent): Wow, everyone is either an outfielder or a Royal or both. Nutty. Speaking of nutty, here's a segue that has nothing to do with anything. It's been a good year and an even better June for DeJesus, who is hitting .343 this month with four home runs, 13 RBIs and two stolen bases.
Marlon Byrd, OF, Rangers (1 percent): One more outfielder for you. Byrd's been playing every day, hitting .333 in the month of June with two home runs and eight RBIs in 16 games.
From the obvious name department
Mike Gonzalez, P, Braves (92 percent): Weird to have a guy just off the DL on the obvious name list, but he's owned just about everywhere. I found him available in just two of my 12 leagues. Anyway, he's the new closer in Atlanta; he has 31 career saves; and if, for some reason, he is out there, feel free to go grab him. Don't forget that Rafael Soriano is coming back and might share in the duties, as well.
Marcus Thames, OF, Tigers (62 percent): In his past 11 games, he has nine hits. Eight of them have been home runs. Eight of them.
Justin Masterson, P, Red Sox (41 percent): Frankly, in 10-team mixed leagues, there are tons of good pitchers available. I mention this one because he's good (4-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), because he's playing for the Red Sox and because he's sticking in the rotation now that Big Fat Bartolo Colon has pulled his back fat.
Just below the Mendoza Line
Here are some guys you should keep an eye on or pick up in deeper leagues.
Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals: Hitting .303 in the month of June with three steals and 10 RBIs. See, Elijah, what can happen when you stop allegedly hitting people and start hitting the ball?
Ryan Sweeney, OF, A's: Three steals and six runs in his past six games. He's hitting .360 in the month of June.
Jeff Baker, 2B, Rockies: His solo home run Thursday was his fourth of the season, matching his total from 2007 in 41 fewer games. Even with Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes both expected back shortly, I think Baker keeps finding his way into the lineup enough to help you in deep and NL-only leagues.
Francisco Liriano, P, Twins (40 percent): Still owned in a large portion of leagues, and rightfully so. I said in the preseason that I felt he'd be a factor in the second half, and I stand by that. He has a 3.78 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP so far in 11 Triple-A starts, where he's gotten his control issues under, er, control.
Big Fat Sidney Ponson, P, Yankees
So big he deserves his own section. Here are the facts: He is owned in only 1 percent of leagues. He is 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts this year. He will be pitching for the Yankees, who will give him run support.
Pete Becker, my editor, had this to say when I said I was going to mention Ponson in a somewhat positive light this week:
Dude, you are so wrong on Ponson.
He had 12 unearned runs in those nine starts. He got lucky that so many of the hits and walks he gave up ended up being masked by earlier, unrelated errors. And his K rate is way down. He's going to get killed. Quoting that ERA without mentioning the unearned runs is bad analysis. Just saying.
I don't disagree with Pete. His WHIP is a terrible 1.56 (Ponson's, not Pete's). But if you are at a point in your season when your ERA and WHIP are pretty much locked and you are just chasing wins and the occasional K, I believe that, just like the proverbial blind squirrel, Ponson will find a nut or two. Which he will then eat. Because that's what big, fat, blind squirrels do.
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 is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. If you are already a member of Insider, you can upgrade for even more of a discount.
22hEthan Sherwood Strauss