The 'other' free-agent summit



A tracking shot brings us into the campus of the famed Worldwide Leader in Sports. Satellite dishes, tall buildings and lush green lawns connecting them are seen as professional people, tapes and scripts in hand, hurry from building to building. And we cut to:


Standard issue podium as the ESPN Fantasy Sports logo hangs in the background. Cameras click and whir, reporters file in quickly, trying to find an empty seat. One last straggler is trying desperately to fit her microphone into the pile on the podium as Sr. Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry comes to the podium.

Thank you all for coming. I'll make a brief statement and then take questions. First, yes, of course, we have heard the rumors. When big-name players like Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, Chase Utley, Troy Tulowitzki, Jason Heyward, or even the reasonably useful Placido Polanco or David Freese, go down, naturally there are going to be rumors. The demand for free agents is greater than ever. But I assure you rumors of this so-called "free-agent summit" are ridiculous. Players are only interested in the most fair and competitive acquisition of free agents.

A bunch of arms raise and questions are yelled over each other as we cut to:


A smoke-filled back room of a high-end restaurant. Gaby Sanchez (1B, Florida Marlins; owned in 42.7 percent of ESPN leagues) walks around, agitated. He holds a baseball bat and is speaking to a large group of guys, most of whom look like athletes.

Gaby Sanchez:

I'm telling you guys. This is the time to strike. I'm the second-most added guy over the past seven days and you know why?

WIDEN to REVEAL he's talking to Coco Crisp (OF, Oakland Athletics; 7 percent).

Coco Crisp:
Yeah, because you hit .375 in June with four home runs and 16 RBIs. You're ridiculous. Anyone who needs a corner guy is grabbing you. And they should.

Gaby Sanchez:
Join me, my friend.

Coco Crisp:
You don't get it. I've burned too many owners before. They don't care that I'm the third-highest-rated player on the Player Rater over the past week. That I've been playing every day since coming back, and that in my first seven games back I have two homers, six RBIs, three steals and 10 runs. That I'm hitting .394. I play in Oakland. No one cares.

He hangs his head as Clint Barmes (2B/SS, Colorado Rockies; 19 percent) stands up angry:

Clint Barmes:
Sad sack Coco again. Seriously? How many times we gotta hear this? Dude, I got a .247 average next to my name. Does anyone care that since Tulowitzki went on the DL, I'm hitting .333 with two home runs, seven RBIs and eight runs in 12 games? That I'm a .339 hitter as a shortstop this year? You think any Utley or Pedroia owners are looking at that? Boo hoo hoo. Somebody call the waaambulance for Coco.

Coco Crisp:
Why don't you go carry some deer meat up stairs? I'll tell you who we should take with us if we need a middle guy, Gaby. My teammate, shortstop Cliff Pennington of the Oakland Athletics. Dude's owned in only 11 percent of leagues. He hit .338 in June with 13 runs and five steals. Sixth-best shortstop on the Player Rater the past 30 days and he doesn't have that weird smell like Barmes.

Gaby Sanchez:
Guys ...

Clint Barmes:
Seriously, Crisp? You're not a ballplayer, you're a cereal. Gaby, if we need an outfielder, we got plenty to choose from and none of them have his attitude problems. Will Venable of the San Diego Padres (15 percent) has four homers, 12 RBIs and two steals in his past eight games. He's hitting .346 over that time frame.

Coco Crisp:
Dude's a strikeout machine.

Clint Barnes:
We're not getting him for average, OK? I like him because he does a little bit of everything and he's hot right now. But fine, Negative Nelly. What are you looking for? Power? Pat Burrell (OF, San Francisco Giants; 1.4 percent) has five home runs, 11 RBIs, and a .338 average in his 22 games since returning to the National League. He batted cleanup the first night after Bengie Molina was dealt. Remember, Burrell hit 33 home runs two years ago. Or seven more than you hit the past five years combined.

Coco Crisp:
Yeah, that's what I am. A power hitter. (shakes head in disgust). I set the table. You, like, don't even get to sit at it.

Clint Barmes:
That doesn't even make sense. You want a table setter, Gaby?

Gaby Sanchez:
Leave me out of this. I'm just texting my buddy to see if Carlos Santana (C, Cleveland Indians; 84 percent) or Chris Coghlan (OF, Florida Marlins; 74 percent) is somehow still available. Because I like them both more than you idiots.

Clint Barmes:
Idiots? Half the leagues are idiots! Because Angel Pagan (OF, New York Mets; 49 percent) is available in them. He's top 10 in the NL in steals! He's got 42 runs scored. He's hitting .304 on the year. Do we need to go deeper? Because Roger Bernadina (OF, Washington Nationals; 0.4 percent) hit .342 in June with three homers, 11 RBIs, five steals and eight runs. I've always liked him. Tyler Colvin (OF, Chicago Cubs; 6 percent) had five home runs in June, though I like Burrell more. By the way, Carlos Beltran is owned in only 74 percent of leagues. Do we have room to stash someone?

A MAN stands up, surrounded by smoke and shadows. We see the faint outline of a cowboy hat as he speaks in a thick Texas drawl.

Mysterious Man:
Lotta talk by y'all 'bout hitters. How 'bout a thrower a two? If you two ninnies would shut yer trap for a second, yewd realize there's a lotta good arms out there.

Everyone turns and looks.


The mysterious man as he walks out of the shadows. It's DAISUKE MATSUZAKA.

Gaby Sanchez:
What the ...

Coco Crisp:
You speak English?

Clint Barmes:
You're from Texas?

Gaby Sanchez:
You're wearing chaps?

The interpreter thing is just to throw off the press. All real men are from Texas, son. And with Martinez's fender all banged up, I'm a pig in slop.

Coco Crisp (aside to Clint Barmes):
I no longer think you're the most annoying.

I reckon you fellas didn't know that in four starts with Victor Martinez catching me, my ERA is 7.15? And that in six starts with Jason Varitek behind the plate, it's 2.89 with a 35 strikeouts and 20 walks rate in 37 1/3 innings? And that I'm available in over 60 percent of leagues?

Gaby Sanchez:
Seriously, explain the chaps.

Clint Barmes:
Dude, there are tons of good pitchers out there. We don't gotta settle on Dice-BB, who is a good pick-up only if you got some WHIP cushion. Over the past 30 days, Joel Pineiro (39 percent), Jason Hammel (27 percent), Jason Vargas (37 percent), Brandon Morrow (31 percent), Kris Medlen (11 percent) and Jonathon Niese (12 percent) have all been top-30 pitchers on the Player Rater? I like all those guys, in that order. Let's invite some of them.

Gaby Sanchez:
We can have all of them. Pitchers for everyone. Dice, stop eating that.

Coco Crisp:
Lotta good catchers out there. If you can't get a guy like Mike Napoli (73 percent), Miguel Olivo (73 percent), Kurt Suzuki (58 percent) or John Buck (44 percent), we should invite Ronny Paulino (7 percent), who is hitting .306 this year, or Jonathan Lucroy (1 percent), who has two homers and five RBIs in his past five games.

Man No. 2:
Hello? Why isn't anyone talking to me? Hello??

Clint Barmes:
Because you're Jamey Carroll. To know you is to ignore you.

Coco Crisp:
Finally, something we agree on.

Jamey Carroll:
Hey! OK, I know, I've been a journeyman, but, you know, I'm playing every day, I qualify at 2B, SS and 3B, I'm hitting .400 with six runs in the past 10 days and, you know, if you're in an NL-only league and you just lost Utley or Polanco, I'm not gonna hurt you and I could be OK.

I'd rather have Felipe Lopez, who also qualifies at 2B, SS and 3B, is gonna play every day with David Freese out, and has a little bit of speed, a little bit of pop and lotta less annoying than you. You ARE Jamey Carroll, after all.

Jamey Carroll:
(sadly) You're right.

SUDDENLY, a loud CRASH is heard. All turn and look to see a baseball on the floor.

Tall and good looking, Matt LaPorta (1B/OF, Cleveland Indians; 3 percent) enters with a sheepish grin. He picks up the ball.

Matt LaPorta:
Sorry, guys. Just don't know my own power. I'm still striking out a bit too much but I've now got home runs in three straight games, I'm gonna play every day and I was raking in the minors. If Burrell doesn't work out, you know, I'm here, just looking for a chance. I mean, hey, it's a real thrill just to be here. I'm such big fans of all of you. Gosh, I can't believe I'm here! Wait, is Dice-K wearing chaps?

As the group sadly nods, we ...


Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- thinks LeBron goes to Chicago. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend