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Bringin' the Noise: Dog days

Wives say consuming too many will balloon waistlines. Cardiologists say eating a full package in one sitting will harden arteries. And consciences say never inquire about the ingredients.

Grilled wieners, they're unsettlingly fantastic.

Whether you garnish tubed meat with mustard, sauerkraut or fluorescent green relish this holiday weekend remember one name before bun meets pallet: Andruw Jones.


Without question he's the runaway winner of the Noise's MVD (Most Vienna Dog) award, recognizing fantasy baseball's biggest first-half wiener.

The WWE-fashioned belt, which looks eerily similar to this, is definitely worth more than the paper his $36 million contract was printed on.

It's hard to imagine that a five-time All-Star at 31-years-old, typically the power prime for premiere talents, has nosedived as dramatically as Jones. Prior to undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee in late May, the Dodgers centerfielder was, to put it mildly, abominable. In 133 at-bats, he posted a .165 BA with two homers, seven RBIs and 18 runs. His 13.5 LD%, 68.7 contact rate and 33.8 K% made notorious whiffer Richie Sexson look like Edgar Martinez. .

For owners, including yours truly, who invested $15-$20 in Andruw-doo in NL-only auctions, the unmitigated onslaught of 0-fers was unbearable. Yes, a sub-.250 batting average was anticipated, but having one more homer than C.C. Sabathia heading into the first week of July was, well, unforeseen.

But despite how despicable the kielbasa of wieners has been, he'll be serviceable after the break in deeper mixed leagues.

Believe it.

While shelved, Jones has cleared his mind and toned his body. Substituting Wheaties for Whoppers he's "turned that metabolism around." Mentally, he's also done an about face, telling the LA Times June 28, "It was a good thing to be off, to get your mind right, to get your heart right."

Currently on a 12-game rehab assignment with the Las Vegas 51s, Jones is aiming to return July 18 in Arizona. And with Joe Torre unbelievably still in his corner, he'll give his bank-breaking outfielder every opportunity to recoup his losses.

Last year, Jones hit .236 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs after the break. Given his slimmer frame, he could rack similar totals this season.

He'll still weenie material in shallow mixed leagues but for those vying for diamond accolades in deeper formats, the 65-percent available Jones is worth the gamble.

In honor of Nathan's annual frankfurter fracas and Fourth of July barbeques everywhere, here are the other dugout dogs on this year's All-Weiner team.

C: Victor Martinez, Cle
'08 Stats: .278 BA, 0 HR, 21 RBI, 17 R, 0 SB, 23:16 K:BB
Why wiener worthy? The only item V-Mart sells in the power section are Little Smokies. His punchless output and injury fallout makes him arguably the biggest bust of the year. Chris Snyder's fractured testicle seems less painful.

CI: Paul Konerko, ChW
'08 Stats: .215 BA, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 27 R, 1 SB, 43:34 K:BB
Why wiener worthy? Travis Hafner could have easily been mentioned here, but Konerko's .215 BA and 15 homer pace is appallingly Sexson-like. Oblique strains linger.

MI: Troy Tulowitzki, Col
'08 Stats: .168 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 15 R, 1 SB, 22:14 K:BB
Why wiener worthy? Tulo, the polish sausage of the group, has spiked owner coronaries due to his quad setback and horrific .168 BA. He's unquestionably the Noise's most brilliant Friends and Family selection (Round 3, Pick 35).

OF: Alex Rios, Tor
'08 Stats: .277 BA, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 46 R, 16 SB, 75:29 K:BB
Why wiener worthy? Not even Courtney Love's slump-busting ugliness could reinvigorate Rios' bat. The 35 SB pace is a silver lining, but he's reached the bleachers just once in his past 238 at-bats.

SP: Erik Bedard, Sea
'08 Stats: 76.0 IP, 5 W, 3.79 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 66:34 K:BB
Why wiener worthy? Its been a terrible year for Canadian-born Erik(c)s. Downturn in strikeouts ('07 K/9: 10.93, '08: 7.82), wins and WHIP is more deplorable than ketchup on a ballpark frank.

RP: Eric Gagne, Mil
'08 Stats: 19.1 IP, W, 10 S, 6.98 ERA, 2.02 WHIP, 18:16 K:BB
Why wiener worthy? The grizzled French Canadian is all five Brewers sausages rolled into one. His five blown saves, 6.98 ERA and torturous 2.02 WHIP makes Joe Borowski look like Bob Wickman, which, strangely, is not easy to do.

Here are this week’s flames, lames and stars of video games:

Fantasy Flames
Player Team Pos Y!RK Y!%
Chris Davis
3B, 1B 1026 10.8
'08 Stats: 6-19, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, 0 SB, 6:2 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy (all leagues)
Lowdown: Baseball history is full of memorable hitting Davises (Eric, Chili, Glen, Jody, Alvin, Crash) but Texas' "Crush" Davis could be the finest of them all. Through 19 at-bats the left-swinging sensation has tallied three fewer RBIs than Frank Catalanotto has in 172 box steps. Even when Hank Blalock returns after the All-Star break it seems inevitable the 22-year-old will remain in the everyday lineup splitting time between first and DH. The official word from the Texas front office is that they will "assess the situation" when Hank "The Stank" is activated but if the youngster continues to rake, thoughts of demotion will be nonexistent. Davis' prodigious power and all-fields stroke, reminiscent of Justin Morneau, are his calling cards. Critics contest that his pitch recognition is a work in progress, but between three levels this year, he's shown marked improvement, evident in his combined 11.5 BB%. Given his phenomenal talents and RBI-friendly six/seven spot in the Rangers lineup, Davis has the characteristics of a top-15 first basemen in mixed formats. The Noise's harbored feelings for him are restraining order worthy.
Fearless Forecast: 275 at-bats, .298 BA, 16 HR, 41 RBI, 40 R, 3 SB
Edgar Gonzalez
2B, SS 876 0.29
'08 Stats: .313 BA, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 R, 0 SB, 29:9 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy (deep mixed), Strong Buy (NL-only)
Lowdown: The muscle gene may have bypassed the elder Gonzalez but, like his brother and teammate Adrian, contact hitting is ingrained in Edgar's DNA. Jose Oquendo-versatile, Gonzalez has logged time at four different positions already this year (2B, SS, 3B, OF). However, with Tadahito Iguchi shelved another 4-6 weeks, the diamond nomad has found a temporary home at second. Batting consistently in the two-hole, the 30-year-old has slapped 10 hits, two of them homers, in his past 30 at-bats (.300 BA). More impressive, he totaled a .330 BA, three homers, 11 RBIs, 11 runs and nine doubles in June. Many nonbelievers contend that his 23.1 K% will eventually cause his .313 BA to head south, but his excellent minor league track-record, 20.8 LD% and 77.7 CT% imply otherwise. Essentially, Gonzalez is the NL's version of Ramon Vazquez. He won't wow you in any single category but he will provide dependable consistency in batting average and runs over the next month in deeper mixed (12-teams plus) leagues.
Fearless Forecast (July): 98 at-bats, .297 BA, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 12 R, SB
Jamey Carroll
2B, 3B, SS 747 1.4
'08 Stats: .285 BA, 0 HR, 18 RBI, 30 R, 6 SB, 32:16 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy (deep mixed), Strong Buy (AL-only)
Lowdown: Based on Carroll's creepy stock photo (see left), he would be one frightening movie monster with fangs and sprouted wings. Lately, the versatile Indian's bat has been equally scary for opposing pitchers. In his past 20 games, the Cuisinart-flexible infielder has rapped 29 hits, collected 11 RBIs and recorded seven multi-hit games in 78 at-bats (.372 BA). The pint-sized 34-year-old is a scrappy hitter identical in style and substance to the Cubs Ryan Theriot. His almost unfathomable 24.3 career LD% and 91.3 contact rate this season are clear-cut indications he can sustain a .300-plus BA going forward. Cleveland skipper Eric Wedge loves his toughness and tenacity at the plate, which could mean he will remain in the starting lineup when Josh Barfield returns in early August. Because he hits in the two-spot and occasionally swipes bags, Carroll will be a reliable source of BA, runs and some steals through at least early August.
Fearless Forecast: 343 at-bats, .294 BA, 0 HR, 35 RBI, 61 R, 12 SB
Tim Wakefield
SP 219 26.4
'08 Stats: 109.0 IP, 5 W, 3.72 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 73:45 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Sell (all leagues)
Lowdown: The real reason why tomato-faced SAWKS fans flashed their finger appreciation in Tampa this week: Rays backers kept disrespecting Wakefield's fantasy value. The 41-year-old illegitimate son of Charlie Hough has performed masterfully over the past month. Wakefield has tossed seven or more innings in seven straight games, notching a 1.98 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and devilish 6.66 K/9 in 50 IP. His bewildering combination of 65 mph dancers, eyebrow-torching 72-74 mph fastballs and occasional curves has bewildered the opposition. But, despite his fruitful efforts, Wakefield is someone to maximize profit on in deeper mixed and AL-only leagues. His very fortunate .247 BABIP combined with a 45.9 FB% suggests an ERA revision could be imminent. Wakefield, who attracted noteworthy names J.D. Drew, Jason Giambi and B.J. Ryan in Y! Plus league solo swaps this week, will continue to be a reliable streaming option in shallow mixed leagues until he cools, but anticipate his ERA to settle in the 4.20-4.50 range come October.
Fearless Forecast: 200 IP, 11 W, 4.28 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 137 K
Eric Stults
SP, RP 276 11.1
'08 Stats: 20.1 IP, 2 W, 2.21 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 11:5 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Sell (mixed), Strong Sell (NL-only)
Lowdown: The Dodgers' Stults, not to be confused with actor Eric Stoltz whose drug-dealing character "Lance" from "Pulp Fiction" was in the unforgettable scene where Jon Travolta stabbed Uma Thurman in the heart with a syringe, has given starving staffs a much needed adrenaline rush. Clayton Kershaw's banishment to Jacksonville on July 2 solidifies Stults' spot in the Dodgers rotation, for now. Although Joe Torre has tinkered with the idea of temporarily installing a six-man rotation, it appears Stults and the revitalized Chan Ho Park will battle for No. 5 duties. Because of the 28-year-old's 4.87 K/9, lucky .232 BABIP and 46.0 FB% he will be the odd man out. Stults doesn't possess an overpowering fastball (87-91 mph), leaning heavily on offspeed junk to induce weak contact. However, as he showed against Houston, when his change hangs in the zone, he's long-ball prone. Given his flexibility and dynamite exterior numbers, Stults is the ultimate deal sweetner. Sell high.
Fearless Forecast (12 starts): 61.2 IP, 4 W, 4.17 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 33 K
Fantasy Lames
Player Team Pos Y!RK Y!%
Edinson Volquez
SP 19 99.9
'08 Stats: 104.2 IP, 10 W, 2.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 113:51 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Sell (all leagues)
Lowdown: In his past two rough outings, Voltron has morphed into C-3PO. Over that stretch the 25-year-old phenom has compiled an uncharacteristic 7.82 ERA, 2.06 WHIP and 2.93 K/9 in 9.2 IP. Volquez contended that the "higher" mound" in Toronto June 26 impacted his command and mindset. Still, his second consecutive lukewarm outing July 1 versus the Pirates (5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 HA, 3 BB) elevates owner concern. Yes, the youngster's arsenal of mid-90s fastballs and deceiving changes can freeze anyone when on, but when his control is erratic, as it was against the Jays and Pirates, he's vulnerable. As mentioned previously, his gaudy K/9 (9.72) has masked an unsettling BB/9 (4.39) trend. Although he's still inducing abundant groundballs (49.8 GB%) you have to be concerned that his suspect command and hefty workload will lead to a prolonged downturn. Because Volquez is currently ranked fourth among starters in Y! leagues, he's worth shopping before his value deflates further. This week in Y! Plus league one-for-one deals he was traded for David Wright, Justin Morneau and Alex Rodriguez. Sure, he'll undoubtedly finish in the SP top 10, but for those in yearly leagues maximizing profit now is a sage move.
Fearless Forecast: 201 IP, 17 W, 205 K, 3.08 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Pedro Martinez
SP 889 74.6
'08 Stats: 35.1 IP, 2 W, 7.39 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 25:12 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Sell (all leagues)
Lowdown: If Pedro actually strung together a few respectable starts, his chances of becoming the second New York baseball icon to allegedly bed Madonna would skyrocket. After tossing two quality starts in his first four games, Pedro has declined rapidly. Since June 21, the 36-year-old has surrendered 17 runs (10.19 ERA) and four homers (2.40 HR/9) in 17 IP. The future HOFer disclosed to the New York Times July 2 that his issues are mechanical, not physical in nature, noting he was tipping pitches. His solid velocity averages back it up. Sure, Pedro's unfortunate .366 BABIP points to an ERA rebound, but his rising BB/9 ('07: 2.25, '08: 3.06) and line-drive rates (27.0 LD% in '08) are worrisome. Inevitably, he'll right the ship, but until that happens he's waiver material in all 12-team mixed leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 124.2 IP, 7 W, 4.97 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 101 K
Ryan Braun
OF, 3B 23 99.9
'08 Stats: .278 BA, 20 HR, 58 RBI, 45 R, 8 SB, 70:16 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy (all leagues)
Lowdown: Over the past two weeks, the Hebrew Hammer has left a borscht taste in owner mouths. Braun, who hit just .248 in June and is currently mired in a 1-for-19 slump, hasn't gone yard since June 17. His power outage is primarily due to an irritated ligament in his right hand, an injury he mysteriously suffered June 25. Ned Yost gave the young slugger the day off July 2 to rest his ailing hand. Once the hand soreness subsides, look for Braun's fly-ball numbers and subsequently his homers to reverse course. Dealt straight up for Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Quentin and Dan Haren this week in Y! plus league solo transactions, Braun is someone to inquire about given his slashed price. With his contact rate up ('07 CT%: 76.31, '08: 79.88) his BA will inevitably surge near .300.
Fearless Forecast: 650 at-bats, .297 BA, 40 HR, 113 RBI, 89 R, 14 SB
Chone Figgins
2B, 3B, OF 762 98.7
'08 Stats: .283 BA, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 26 R, 14 SB, 36:31 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy (all leagues)
Lowdown: Mike Scioscia's sparkplug has caught the Angels hellish slump bug. Sigh, if only Amy Winehouse was making a tour stop in LA. Hampered by a variety of ailments (wrist, hamstring, knee infection) Figgins has failed to establish a consistent cadence at the plate this season. Now ensnared in a 1-for-21 freefall, Figgins is someone to inquire about immediately. Because of his luxurious versatility (2B, 3B, OF), high contact rates (84.8 CT%) and advanced eye ('07 BB%: 10.3, '08: 14.2) his dry spell won't last long. If you're a speed starved mixed league owner in need, now is the time to chase Figgins. This week in Y! Plus leagues he was swapped straight up for Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang and Conor Jackson in one-for-one trades.
Fearless Forecast: 350 at-bats, .311 BA, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 58 R, 36 SB
Nate McLouth
OF 16 98.9
'08 Stats: .281 BA, 15 HR, 53 RBI, 60 R, 9 SB, 45:34 K:BB
Market Value: Hold (all leagues)
Lowdown: Since early June McLouth has been McLousy. Those who judge sudden producers harshly argue that McLouth has finally gone the way of Ryan Ludwick. However, they're wrong. Yes, his current 5-for-27 funk isn't encouraging and his .214 BA in June is even more disconcerting, but his peripherals are still very strong. Over the past 30 days, he's notched an absurd 89.6 CT%. Why then the low BA? Persistent minor knee soreness and a 52.5 FB% since June 1 explains the decline. Because McLouth doesn’t believe the knee issue will be problematic much longer and given his superb contact and strikeout rates (13.8 K%) there is little to worry about. Faultfinders will remain steadfast that he's a "fluke" but don't listen. Traded this week for Roy Oswalt, Kerry Wood and Garrett Atkins in Y! Plus league one-for-one deals, McLouth is a prime buy low candidate.
Fearless Forecast: 625 at-bats, .293 BA, 27 HR, 99 RBI, 112 R, 17 SB

Don't know what FB% means? Check out our sabermetric glossary.
Y!RNK - Overall player ranking in Yahoo! leagues
Y!% - Percentage owned in Yahoo! leagues
- All stats listed are for games played through July 2

Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Joe Borowski? Do you question why on earth you're not a fantasy expert? This is the place for you to vent your thoughts, tirades and frustrations. Can you bring the noise?

I read the column for its entertainment and fantasy value every week, but that Amy Winehouse, Adam Dunn AND Ricciardi joke combination was even more fantastic than usual. Bravo.Hazel, Toronto, Ontario

Brad, NOW you write a piece about the great Ricky Nolasco. I was shopping him in my league and it took me forever to move him. Sure would have been nice to have a little Yahoo! expert love to back up my claims of his greatness. Though I did eventually get Tulowitski for him, now he'll just have to remember how to hit!Brad, Chicago, IL

Normally your columns are well received and your recommendations are at least reasonable, but your eye for pitchers is atrocious. You're really putting out a buy order on Ricky Nolasco and Kyle Lohse? I hope you're spot starting Lohse at home only (3.10/1.00/. 220 ERA/WHIP/BAA at home vs. 5.13/1.71/.337 on the road!) and not a single lefty faces Nolasco. They're crushing him for almost a .300 average and 2.5 HR/9! Any more diluted man-crushes to sign on to? If you're going to pimp out spot starters, give some love to Brian Bannister (2.48 ERA, 5.5K/9 at home), Jon Lester (2.54 ERA, 4-1 at home), and Jose Contreras (3.04 ERA, .209 BAA at home). Research is different than hype.Justin, Boston, MA

Noise: Justin, you're right. Research is different than hype. And if your brain wasn't so clouded from the multiple Sam Adams six packs you consumed while reading last week's Noise, you would have come to appreciate Nolasco, and to a lesser extent, Lohse. If my perception of pitchers is "atrocious" so are your reading comprehension skills.

To refresh your beer-fogged memory, Nolasco wasn't tagged a "Moderate Buy" for streaming-exclusive purposes. Nope, he was endorsed because he deserves to be universally owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Since May 1, he's posted an 8-1 record, 3.55 ERA and 7.33 K/9. In fact, over the past month, he's ranked ahead of mound monsters Johan Santana, Edinson Volquez and Josh Beckett in Y! leagues. Nolasco is the antithesis of a "diluted man-crush." Now Billy Butler on the other hand …

Lohse indeed exudes a split personality, but, again, if you didn't skim the information, he was listed as a "Moderate Buy" only for those who prescribe to streaming. For deeper leaguers, auctioning him off to the highest bidder was strongly encouraged.

Brad, I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago about why you kept starting Brett Myers. Anyways, in celebration of the upcoming July 4th holiday, I though you could use the occasion to pose the following theme questions for your readers. I posted this as a thread on another website last year and got some great responses. "On this most-important of American holidays, celebrating our liberation from tyranny, I pose two somewhat related questions: 1. WHICH PLAYER MADE YOU FEEL MOST LIBERATED WHEN YOU CUT HIS SORRY REAR END LOOSE? 2. WHICH PLAYER CONTINUES TO MAKE YOU TOIL UNDER HIS OPPRESSION?" My answer to #1 is Brett Myers, who I cut loose yesterday immediately after his 2 IP, 5 ER fiasco. Releasing him was like unloading the aftermath of a serious Bratzel encounter and you should do the same. I guarantee you'll feel much better.Marv, Sunnyvale, CA

Noise: Marv, since the Noise plays in an unmanageable number of leagues, the responses will focus solely on my detestable Friends and Family squad:

1) Brett Myers. The ruthless grip Myers had on Team Evans' ERA and WHIP was unrelenting. After his pathetic performance in Texas June 27, I too, along with the Phillies front office, kicked his sorry butt to the curb. Now I understand how liberated unforgettable patriot William Whipple felt when he penned his name on the Declaration of Independence. Lee Greenwood and Toby Keith will surely voice our Myers struggles through song someday.

2) Rich Hill, Travis Hafner and Francisco Liriano at one time or another were overtly oppressive, but since neither is on roster anymore that dishonorable distinction falls on Troy Tulowitzki. Just 8-for-38 (.211 BA) since returning from the DL, his athletic abilities at the plate are equally deplorable as his teleprompter reading skills. He's the greatest third-round pick in F&F history.

Brad, the Noise seems a little more rebellious towards censorship lately, and I think when I say keep it up, I speak for all of us. In a belated tribute to George Carlin you should reprint his seven dirty words.Will, Solway, MN

Noise: If the words from Carlin's signature act were reproduced in this space, the Noise would be beaten mercilessly by Y! censors. Since I want to lift an ice cold beer to my lips this weekend, I'll refrain from agitating the YCC.

However, if Carlin had done a routine on the seven dirty words of fantasy baseball, the unspeakable names/words surely would've been: Dr. Andrews, Dusty, Duchscherer, Sexson, Fukudome, Pronk and, of course, Borowski. Sadly, Prior just missed the cut.

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