Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto: Do your bidding

Updated: July 11, 2008, 4:21 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Yes, I am controversial. Yes, not everyone agrees with some of the things I say. And yes, I take stances that get some folks angry.

But I don't care.

I am anti-cancer and I stand by that. I know there are some folks who don't have a strong opinion on it or even others who might be in favor of cancer. But not me.

Think it's terrible, horrific and needs to be defeated ASAP. There. I said it.

It's why I agreed to be part of the fourth annual Don't Give Up ESPYS V Foundation Auction. The auction supports the V Foundation (www.jimmyv.org), which awards cancer research grants nationwide for all types of cancer.

Always looking for that extra piece of fantasy insight? We've got you covered. ESPN Fantasy experts Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz provide you with all the fantasy strategy you'll need:
Listen to the Fantasy Focus Podcast
I'm hoping others out there feel the same way I do about cancer. And, selfishly, that they are fantasy fans.

See, when people say I am totally egocentric, there's a reason. It's because I am. And fantasy sports, well, we fly a little under the radar here, right? It's not that ESPN doesn't take it seriously. They do. But compared to "SportsCenter" or "Monday Night Football" or "Mike and Mike in the Morning" or Bill Simmons or many other shows and talent we have here ... are we really gonna get big money?

So I'm worried. I want us to do our part. I don't want the muckity-mucks here to see big-money bids for all these other cool experiences and then nothing for the Fantasy Focus experience. "I guess people who play fantasy are in favor of cancer" is the kind of phrase I really don't want to hear.

There are two things you can bid on. First, on July 16, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN Radio and ESPNRadio.com, you have one hour to bid on the Fantasy Focus experience. The winning bidder and a guest will come to Bristol, join me and Nate Ravitz on the Fantasy Focus podcast, get a tour of the ESPN campus, see me do a bunch of TV stuff, and have lunch with me, Nate and PodVader. Plus, you'll earn a spot in either the Man's League for football this year or for baseball next season.

Second, through the good folks at 710 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, you can bid online here for me to be your personal fantasy football draft buddy. The winner will get a strategy session with me on the phone before your draft. Then I'll also be available as a "phone a friend" during the draft itself.

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ESPN.comESPN Widgets are portable applications you can place almost anywhere! Click on the image to add the Matthew Berry widget to your Web space.
For the record, I absolutely HATE the picture they used. It's an Associated Press photo that they took with the sun in my eyes, I had been in the sun that weekend, and I have a totally creepy "10 minutes away from Dateline NBC walking in" smile. Ugh. Anyway, you can a full list of everything you can bid on here. However, I'm already throwing in the towel on Mike and Mike broadcasting from your home, the experiences around "Monday Night Football," "Sunday Night Baseball," "College Football Game Day" and "SportsCenter." "NFL Live" and "Baseball Tonight" will be tough to beat, as will PTI Head on a Stick.

But hanging with my old "Fantasy Insider" show co-host Howie Schwab? We can take him, right? GameDay Basketball and experiences around Michigan State and the Boston Red Sox? That's possible. NASCAR and ESPN the Hat? We gotta be able to beat a hat, right? Even a crazy expensive hat signed by a bunch of famous people? It's still ... a hat. Hanging out with me and Nate and being a fantasy expert for a day with us has got to be worth more than ... a hat.

As you decide what you can bid to help us beat cancer (and there's TONS of stuff to bid on), you should also decide who to bid on for your fantasy team.

Working the wire

Here are some players who have recently seen an increase in value and may be available in your league. Ownership percentages in ESPN leagues is shown in parentheses.

Chad Tracy
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesChad Tracy keeps on finding ways to stay in the lineup, thanks to Eric Byrnes' injury.
Chad Tracy, 1B/3B, Diamondbacks (1 percent): With Eric Byrnes out for the year and Justin Upton banged up, it means even more playing time opportunity for Tracy, who has always been able to hit. And he's hitting really well recently (.407 in July so far). Is he fantastic? No. Is he useful? Yes. Incidentally, same often is said of me.

Scott Hairston, OF, Padres (8 percent): Wanna talk about someone who is on fire? Look no further than Hairston. Over his past 10 games, Hairston has five home runs and nine RBIs, plus he's hitting .500 over that time frame and he's playing every day. While the average won't stay that high (his strikeout-to-walk ratio is not so good), the power is real.

Juan Rivera, OF, Angels (1 percent): He's always had power (23 home runs for the Angels in less than 500 at-bats in 2006) and now he's got playing time, starting for Gary Matthews Jr. He has three home runs and seven RBIs and is hitting .400 in five games so far this month.

Hiroki Kuroda, P, Dodgers (31 percent): He's been terrific lately, with a 2.98 ERA over his past nine starts. He doesn't strike out as many batters as you'd like (36 in 57 innings), but he does have 20 K's in his past 27 innings, so it's getting better. Don't count on him for wins, but he'll get you a decent amount of quality innings.

Dave Bush, P, Brewers (7 percent): Don't look now, but Bush is actually useful these days. In fact, by a large margin. Over his past five starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. He also has 28 strikeouts and just four walks in 36 innings. A 3.32 ERA over his past 10 starts is also impressive. The Brewers are on an upswing with the acquisition of CC Sabathia, and you have to figure Bush is finally making good on the reasons why experts have been saying he was a sleeper for the past 7,000 years.

Other Pitchers:

I could spend all day talking about pitchers, but quickly, here are some other guys worth noting:

Clay Buchholz, P, Red Sox (50 percent): He's coming back Friday night after pitching well in the minors (2.47 ERA, 1.21 WHIP in nine games) and now gets the Red Sox offense behind him.

Jamie Moyer
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesJamie Moyer, what is he, 45? Actually, yes he is, but he's also been effective lately.
Jamie Moyer, P, Phillies (3 percent): He gets no respect, but he has eight wins this year and an ERA under 4. Also, he's terrific on the road (3.13 this year vs. 4.70 at home).

R.A. Dickey, P, Mariners (1 percent): It's always dangerous with a knuckleballer, and he won't get much run support, but very quietly Dickey has a 1.91 ERA over his past five starts.

Octavio Dotel, P, White Sox (21 percent): He looks to be the closer while Bobby Jenks is on the DL. Jenks should be coming back soon, but if you are scrounging for every last save, Dotel might get one or two between now and then.

Manuel Corpas, P, Rockies (18 percent): He's been brutal this year, but he's mentioned because the Rockies are most likely trading Brian Fuentes, which means Corpas likely will get the closer job back. Frankly, the Rockies should give it to Taylor Buchholz, who has pitched much better this year, but my guess is they won't.

Paul Maholm, P, Pirates (1 percent): He's 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA over his past seven starts. He has no strikeouts to speak of, and he did allow 60-year-old Billy Crystal to get wood on the ball in spring training. But the Pirates' offense is better than you think, and he did ultimately strike out Crystal. He's also terrific at home, going 5-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 10 starts at PNC Park this season.

Also, if you need a middle reliever, check out the Royals' Ron Mahay, who is now 5-0 this year with a 1.88 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.

From the obvious name department

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

Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox (56 percent): Back from injury, he has averaged 14 home runs and 44 RBIs after the All-Star break the past two years.

Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Astros (46 percent): He's also back from injury, and folks are forgetting he has 15 steals this year in just 58 games.

Mark Ellis, 2B, A's (38 percent): Five home runs, 18 RBIs and seven steals since June 1. He's not for the folks who are in a tenuous batting average race, but he offers a little bit of pop and (surprisingly) speed for your middle infield spot.

Adam LaRoche
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesAdam LaRoche is getting his annual second-half surge going sooner than usual.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates (40 percent): He's hitting .295 since June 1, with four home runs and 18 RBIs. I've never been a big fan, but he is hitting a lot better.

Barry Bonds, OF, TBD (3 percent): How lucky do you feel? I don't think he's coming back. But I've been wrong before. And if you have a roster spot, what the hey.

Just below the Mendoza Line

Here are a couple of guys who should not be picked up, except in very deep leagues, but who you should keep an eye on.

John Parrish, P, Blue Jays (1 percent): Well, he's looked good in his first two starts, that's for sure. He has a 2.77 ERA and a win in his first 13 innings, while striking out seven and walking four. I'm not crazy about the strikeout-to-walk rate, so he is more of a wait-and-see guy, but he hasn't given up a home run.

Mark Teahen, 1B, Royals (1 percent): Hitting better recently than you might think, he has seven home runs since June 1. While the RBIs (16) and batting average (.248) during that time span are low, Teahen is showing signs of life.

Denard Span, OF, Twins (1 percent): He's hitting .467 over his past 10 games with eight runs scored, five RBIs and two steals, and he's playing every day.

By the way, I am out of space and I have mentioned them in previous columns, but if you haven't already, check out Wes Bankston, Fernando Tatis, Ben Francisco (only 8 percent ownership!). Plus, I like Matt Murton's chances with a fresh start in Oakland.

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.

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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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