OpinionMay 4, 2007

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Swing and a Miss: Round Two

By Jamaal Gilbert

Hello again everyone! I enjoyed reading some of your feedback last week, and starting next week, I’ll be pulling some of the best reader messages and posting them in the column for everyone to see. I suppose the trick is that I have to say something controversial or sagacious enough to incite a response. Anyhow, it is now fantasy week five and I have a lot on my mind, so let’s get to it.

In the last column, I talked about a theme for this year, “Resurrection 2007: Back From the Dead”. I know the line is a little corny, but with some of the performances we’ve seen thus far, it remains relevant.

The three I highlighted a week ago – Tim Hudson, Sammy Sosa, and Jason Marquis – continue to chug along on their resurgent pace. You can now add the surprising Carlos Silva to the mix, as he has rebounded from a troublesome spring that had many Twins fans (including me) calling for his head in favor of Matt Garza.

To tell you the truth, we were justified as his spring ERA ballooned to 8.44 in 21.1 innings. In addition, Silva let in 1.05 home runs per start in 2006, the main culprit being a sinker that refused to drop off the table. In effect, he was throwing a “slow” fastball right down the heart of the plate, and in return batters dealt violent concussions to 38 baseballs in his 36 starts a year ago.

But in 2007, the sixth-year starter has been reborn, having tossed 29 innings with a healthy ERA of 3.10 with 19 strikeouts. Silva’s WHIP continues to, and will always be, a little out of control, but he generally manages to throw fewer pitches because of his ability to induce frequent ground ball outs. It’s time to take a look at this guy as a viable mixed league option as the Twins’ offense will offer adequate run support on most nights.

While some players are re-emerging this season, some have yet to blossom, and it’s my job to tout a few for you. We all have our favorite type of player – some of us like power guys, some of us love the gritty batting champ, and others are huge fans of the perennial 20-20 candidates. Whichever camp you’re in, there are plenty of studs at the position, but it’s tough to find value pickups without some research. This week, I compiled a brief list of players who will get you a nice combination of speed and power at low cost, maybe even for free as they might be in your free agent pool.

1) Milton Bradley – A perennial DL candidate, Bradley still has plenty of value. With a decent amount of pop in his bat, Bradley also has the potential to steal 12-15 bases provided he gets back on the field in a reasonable amount of time. His injury-risk status keeps him cheap, but he could very well be worth the risk when he returns.

2) Coco CrispAfter a disappointing 2006, Crisp returns to Beantown this season trying to prove he wasn’t a waste of money. When healthy, Crisp is capable of pounding around 15-16 homeruns and stealing 17-20 bases a year, and he already has three thefts in ‘07.

3) Corey Patterson – This may be the last year you can get Patterson at a discount, but he steals so much that Steven Soderberg tried to cast him in Ocean’s 13. That, along with his growing power potential makes him a nice trade target in any league.

4) Kenny Lofton – Yes, he’s old, I know. But he continues to produce, having already stolen nine bases in 2007 with the possibility of double-digit homers in a full season of work. At the lofty age of 40, you always have to be cautious of a nagging injury, but he’s worth a look nonetheless.

5) Mike Cameron – Even though he’s been terrible so far in 2007, Cameron has three 20-20 seasons over the last five years and can be expected to make a comeback at some point this year. Expect 15-18 home runs and an equal amount of steals in another productive campaign.

I hope some, or even one of those guys is available in your league, because they could help out in a hurry. Before I go, here are a few thoughts from the past week:

- If anyone had a chance to see it, Zach Greinke drilled Torii Hunter with a fastball on April 26, and Greinke had better thank his lucky stars that Hunter was dizzy. Hunter took about six running steps toward the mound before collapsing to the turf. Hunter later responded to Greinke’s apology by saying, “He’s a nice guy, he felt really bad.”. I’m not sure Greinke’s gesture would have been been received as well had Hunter reached the mound last Thursday.

- Troy Tulowitzki recorded an unassisted triple play on Sunday, and if you can believe it, 12 other men acheived the feat before him. In addition, he had a great week from the batter’s box, hitting two home runs and driving in six runs. Heck, the guy even raised his average 20 points. Of course, his batting average sits at .205 as of April 30.

- And last but certainly not least, the death of Josh Hancock brings perspective to the “fantasy” part of fantasy baseball. Even though fantasy sports are a great hobby, remember that this life is fleeting, and that you can’t get back the hours you spend on sports and fail to spend on family, friends, and other endeavors.

Thanks for reading, and have an excellent week!

Jamaal Gilbert is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jamaal in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of jamastaballa.
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