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Bringin' the Noise: Forever Young

If you've been trapped in a black hole and missed the universe-altering news, Wookiee and Klingon nerds rejoiced last week when European astronomers announced they had discovered a potentially habitable earth-like planet, boringly named 581 c, a mere 120 trillion miles away in the Libra constellation.

The Noise has already signed up to be the first human inhabitant.

You see, over the past few weeks I've wanted to hide from ridicule. In response to my selection of Carl Crawford over Alex Rodriguez – you're welcome Andy Behrens – at pick six in the Y! Friends and Family League draft, an Olympus Mons-sized stack of critical emails have, deservedly so, rolled in. That, coupled with my stellar Mark Teixiera second round pick, has the Noise wallowing in an unbearable 13-out-of-13 cesspool of fantasy feces.

Man it stinks.

It's due to these missteps that I've longed for a vacation to a distant disdain-free world, full of mustard clad Vienna sausages served by Jessica Alba, oceans of beer and Hack Wilson 191 RBI fantasy seasons.

Unfortunately, even if 581 c fulfilled my wildest dreams, since its gravity is 1.6 times greater than earth's, Richie Sexson has a snowball's chance in hell of hitting his body weight.

In this addictive little game, sometimes you can never get ahead.

Silenced for only the second time in recent memory – I idiotically predicted last year Arizona starter Enrique Gonzalez would "tally routine quality starts" – the Noise will never again underestimate a man who enjoys televised oil massages from David Letterman's sidekick Biff Henderson.

A-Rod is a flippin' god.

Lesson learned.

Here are this week's flames and lames:

Fantasy Flames
Player Team Pos Y!RK Y!%
Hunter Pence
OF 932 N/A
'07 Stats: 3-11, RS, 3:0 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: "Six" Pence is the richer. The Astros former No. 1 pick in 2004, Pence is a menacing 6-foot-5 uppercut swinger who's punished baseballs at every level. Rated the best power hitter in the Houston farm system – he sports an 18.0 AB/HR mark in 1,260 minor league at-bats – Pence might be the best hitting prospect in the NL (.304 BA on the farm). Astros GM Tim Purpura noted his team "has got to find a way to get the offense going," and, given Pence's limitless upside, he's cemented as the regular center fielder in H-town for the foreseeable future. Worth a number one waiver priority in any sized league, he's already registered three hits in three games batting sixth. Fantasy forecast: .300 BA, 18 HR, 80 RBI, 75 R, 8 SB.
Chris B. Young
OF 163 8.2
'07 Stats: .221 BA, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 13 R, 3 SB, 13:5 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: Comparable to San Diego's Mike Cameron in five-tool skills – and long, pronounced slumps – Young has slithered his way into the leadoff spot and is on the verge of a bold breakout. Several scouts believe the 23-year-old possesses the power and speed to be a perennial 30-30 man. Although he may strike out an unsightly 100-plus times, he'll draw a minimum of 60 free passes, and the patience combined with that speed makes him a better fit than Stephen Drew at leadoff. Exploding for two homers and three RBIs in LA on Monday, if he can overcome his troubles against righties (.193 BA in 109 at-bats), he'll be a rare 25 HR, 25 SB, 100 R blend. Available in 91.8 percent of Yahoo! leagues, think forever Young.
Billy Butler
1B, OF N/A N/A
'07 Stats: 2-4, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0:0 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: Even Bob Uecker would admit, this Butler is no Mr. Belvedere. The top hitting prospect in the Royals system – yes, better than Alex Gordon – Butler was recalled late on Tuesday to replace the slumping Ryan Shealy who landed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury. Will Butler struggle like Gordon? Nope. Although "Flash" has yet to display his expansive strike-zone knowledge and sensational all-around skills, Butler has superior plate patience and tremendous raw 30-homer power. In 89 Triple-A at-bats, Butler hit .337, blasted six homers, drove in 23 RBIs and sported an impressive 12:18 K:BB ratio. Expected to play OF, 1B and DH over the next couple of weeks, the baby Lance Berkman has an infinite ceiling. If you missed the boat on Pence, ring the K.C. Butler. With 450 at-bats: .310 BA, 15 HR, 75 RBI.
B.J. Upton
2B, 3B 9 96.4
'07 Stats: .377 BA, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 16 R, 5 SB, 28:7 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Sell
Lowdown: Movin' on Upton has finally found that deluxe apartment in the fantasy sky. Expected by many to acquire fantasy darling status since his teens, Upton's stark improvement is a lesson in patience. On pace for a 30-30 season, the undisciplined 22-year-old has suddenly morphed into Alfonso Soriano – in numbers and trade value. However, don't expect people to remain bullish on him for long. Although high strikeout totals (K per 2.75 at-bats) usually denote a more aggressive power presence, it also indicates his skyward .377 BA is a farce. There's a lot to like – 30 SB speed, 20 HR power, 2B eligibility – but expect his BA totals to finish closer to Prince Fielder, not Albert Pujols, territory. If I were overloaded at MI and were in need of pitching and/or OF help, Upton could demand a hefty price-tag.
Matt Capps
RP 96 14.8
'07 Stats: 14.1 IP, 2 W, 8 K, 0.63 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 8:2 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: Now that Salomon Torres has blown three saves and allowed eight earned since April 10, the Pirates top setup man is set to put a Capps in that ass. At 6-foot-2, 240-pounds, Capps is built like a husky inside linebacker, which helps him generate 95-mph gas on his fastball. A relentless, aggressive inside pitcher with excellent command, Capps has surrendered only one run, while striking out eight in 14 IP this season. Jim Tracy said on April 28 that he's not ready to make a drastic end-game change, which means Torres will remain the exclusive option in the ninth for at least another month. Nailing down a hitless save against the Cubs on Monday, Torres has solidified his position for now. Regardless, Capps must be stashed in all 12-team formats with the inevitable changeover on the horizon. My best guess: no later than July 1.
Fantasy Lames
Player Team Pos BNR Y!%
Richie Sexson
1B 688 90.5
'07 Stats: .151 BA, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 5 R, 18:9 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: Languished in a 11-for-73 slide, the "Big Sexy" is about as attractive as Rosie O' Donnell frolicking around in neon pink biker shorts. Mimicking his rancid .205/.280/.354 two-month '06 start, Sexson is, and always will be, a strong second-half player. Sexson's value has plummeted so low, he was swapped straight up for Melvin Mora in a Yahoo! plus league on April 28. Remember, Sexson had the second-highest OPS and second-most extra base-hits after the break last year, so a rebound is imminent. At 32, he's on the backside of his peak power bubble, but he should finish around: .265 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 80 R. If you're a power hungry owner, offer up a bag of Skittles.
Carlos Quentin
OF 756 6.2
'07 Stats: .227 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R, SB, 8:9 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: "San" Quentin's value is in solitary confinement. As Quentin slowly rounds into shape after missing the first half of April with a torn left labrum, manager Bob Melvin is babying his young slugger by giving him occasional days off. An athletic eagle-eyed, .300 hitter with 30 homer pop, Quentin, 5-for-his-last-10, appears to have fully recovered. Uneducated owners have already cast him aside in favor of instantly gratifying waiver wire finds, which is a mistake. Although he's floundered for much of the season, Quentin is poised to rise through the ranks and emerge a consistent No. 4 12-team outfielder. Ignore the 10-for-44 start, this snake packs a venomous bite.
Freddy Sanchez
2B, SS, 3B 842 85.6
'07 Stats: .243 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 0 SB, 14:3 K:BB
Market Value: Hold
Lowdown: On pace to finish with 58 less hits than last season's 200-hit breakout campaign, Sanchez has his owners feeling filthy. A shadow of his '06 self, it's clear the cornucopia of injuries (wrist, knee, eye) he's suffered since March have wreaked havoc on his April numbers. His BABIP has fallen back to his '05 totals and his K% has raised sharply, an indication he's not making nearly enough contact. I'm not yet convinced '06 was an anomaly due to the various injuries he's suffered, but if he doesn't surpass the .280 BA mark by June 1, considering his marginal power/speed, it could be a busted season for Freddy. With four hits in his past two games, he's starting to come around.
Kei Igawa
SP 752 33.3
'07 Stats: 26.2 IP, 2 W, 6.08 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 19:13 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: Around the sushi bars of Tokyo, Igawa's two quality performances in six appearances has made the Yankees look like Ahos – translation: "idiots." Hyped as the Yankee answer to Dice-K, Igawa has struggled mightily to tame his command and keep the ball down in the zone (5 HR in 26 IP). Spelling Jeff Karstens for six scoreless innings versus the rival Red Sox on April 28, Igawa, outside of the four walks, was outstanding. The positive outing should help Igawa regain his mound swagger. With a solid low-90s fastball, a variety of off-speed concoctions and tons of run support, if Igawa collars his control, he'll become the middle-of-the-rotation fantasy starter we all expected. Give him another chance.
Bob Wickman
RP 223 99.8
'07 Stats: 11.1 IP, W, 6 SV, 3.97 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 9:11 K:BB
Market Value: Hold
Lowdown: Bobby Cox better call a bullpen doctor. Beluga Bob may need a triple bypass. On the verge of losing his job permanently after blowing two saves in Colorado, Wickman was placed on the 15-day DL on Monday with back-fat tendonitis. Wickman blamed his recent string of downcast performances on the injury "catching on him." Obviously, the setback has affected Wickman's control as he's tallied only three less walks in 11.1 IP than he did in 54 IP last year. Of course, now is not the time to advertise his services, but if he comes back and performs admirably later this month, talk him up. I firmly believe Mike Gonzalez, not Rafael Soriano, will benefit most from Wickman's inescapable collapse.

TRUE OR FALSE?
We've all seen these seemingly ambiguous statements on exams and quizzes since elementary school, now the classic test teaser gets a fantasy makeover. Each week, I'll tackle pressing diamond topics with a direct, succinct answer. Please, keep your eyes on your own paper.

1. Tim Lincecum will be starting for the Giants by mid-May and his potential warrants an immediate pickup in all leagues. --Jon, Wading River, NY

Answer: True. On the cubicle walls around the Yahoo! fantasy offices, pictures of Lincecum in provocative beefcake poses are the norm. As my colleagues would similarly express, the man-love for the diminutive flamethrower is obsessive. With triple-digit heat and a knee-buckling curve, the 22-year-old has owned Triple-A hitters posting an otherworldly 0.36 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 11.9 K/9 in 25 IP. Since Armando Benitez has performed admirably, it's evident, once GM Brian Sabean realizes Russ Ortiz is an overpriced WHIP whale, Lincecum will be the Giants fifth starter. Available in a stupid 93 percent of Y! leagues, he'll be up no later than mid-June. And yes, he's Rich Hill good. Get him by any means necessary.

2. Brett Myers will become the closer in Philadelphia sometime this year. --James, Philadelphia, PA

Answer: False. Unless Charlie Manuel goes Lou Piniella on Tom Gordon and jacks his shoulder in a clubhouse brawl, Flash will continue to get the nod in the ninth. On April 24 Manuel suggested Myers could see some end-game opportunities, stating, "we have to get Brett out there in a save situation and see how things go" – but don't get worked up. Gordon won't be a free agent until 2010 and unless he suffers a significant injury and/or is traded, Myers will be relegated to occasional vulture duty. Of course, with Manuel's job in peril, Myers' odds of being reinserted into the rotation are damn good. Barring a catastrophic injury to Gordon, set the over/under at 8 saves.

NOTABLE NOISE
Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Richie Sexson? 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 know you've been catching a bunch of flak for taking Crawford over A-Rod. I may not have done so myself, but I don't think you made the wrong move. A lot of wannabes will point out A-Rod's monster start, but hindsight is 20-20. Here's why it wasn't a bad move: 1) Crawford's stealing ability is a huge asset. 2) Third base is much deeper. Just letting you know that at least someone knows where you're coming from. But I can't give you too much credit seeing how you're dead last in the F&F league.

Chris, Burbank, CA

Hey bud, you're in a LOT of trouble. It's only April, but with that roster of yours I'm going to start drafting my revocation right now. Also, nothing could be dumber than taking Crawford over A-Rod, but comparing Crawford to Reyes is pretty close. BTW, those three Crawford steals has convinced me that going speed over A-Rod was a clever choice. Instead of tenth you should worry about not finishing dead last. The Noise has been brought.

Nick, Boston, MA

Noise: Nick, for whatever reason that last line reminded me of the cheesy, yet guiltily sinful cheerleader flick "Bring it on!" All I have to say, the Noise has "already been broughten!" Yes, I've bludgeoned myself with a sledgehammer over the Crawford misfire, but there's no reason to continuously chew on sour grapes. Despite A-Rod's overshadowing prowess, Crawford has tallied his best across-the-board April. Since he's hitting third behind a blossoming, healthy Rocco Baldelli and is on pace to double his previous season-high in walks, I sense a career 25 HR, 95 RBI, 95 R, 50 SB year. A-Rod and Reyes will finish ahead of him, but Double-C's best months are yet to come (career .306 hitter in June/July). Don't get giddy just yet.


Brad, I do enjoy the wit in your columns, I really do, but Byrnes for Sheff straight-up? First off, 38 years old is easily a legit cause to foresee a player walking the green mile, yet you tagged him for 30 jacks despite this. The whole idea of drafting a Byrnes-esque player is to add some swipes to that power-packed lineup of yours. Furthermore, in the same breath you tabbed Mike Cameron a "strong buy," as you pointed out he was one of five 20-20 OFs last year. Care to guess who one of those other players was? I'll give you a hint: it's not Gary Sheffield.

Nate, Cedar Rapids, IA

Noise: Byrnes frightens me more than my nightmares of a safari hunt with Dick Chaney. You're defense of Byrnes is well-stated and throwing the loathsome Cameron back in my face was brilliant, but Sheffield will have far more fantasy value in his twilight campaign than Byrnes. Why? Byrnes is a career .234/.290/.389 hitter after the All-Star break. 1-for-his-last-17, the routine belly-flop into the empty, concrete pool may already be well underway. Oh, and Sheff is a blistering 9-for-28 since April 23 with three steals. That's three more swipes than Byrnes has had in seven games.


Still don't believe in Bonds? Here comes 40 homers. I'm glad I didn't listen to you and waited four rounds to draft him instead of taking Nick Markakis and Frank Thomas too early.

Mark, Oakland, CA

I think it's hilarious all of the supposed experts on Yahoo! absolutely railed against anyone drafting Barry Bonds this year. "Avoid him at all costs" was the spiel coming from you and your cohorts Funston and Buser, and yet none of you have any valid reasons for not picking him other than he's old and you don't like him as a person. Now he's the 15th ranked player in Yahoo! roto. I'll take the .345 BA any day, with or without an attitude problem.

Willie, Chico, CA

Noise: Willie, although you may have a Backstreet Boys poster still plastered on your bedroom wall, this is not the Bonds of the late 90s. Heck, it's not even the Bonds of 1990. Yes, he looks terrific, but this is a battered 42 year-old who's had multiple knee surgeries over the past few seasons. His contribution this year is astonishing but there is no way he keeps up his current 60 homer pace and stays healthy all year. Bonds recently has commanded ridiculous one-for-one trade value (Carlos Beltran, Vlad Guerrero, Jason Bay) in Yahoo! leagues, and for that reason, I would maximize profit on a mid-round investment.

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