Bringin' the Noise: Bay Watch

For those unaware, last week Brewer thespians J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall, Jeff Suppan and Chris Capuano traveled to the town of fantastic plots and adulteress affairs, Genoa City, Wisconsin (via Los Angeles) to showcase their acting skills on "The Young and the Restless."

Hurlers Suppan and Capuano exhibited a Shakespearian presence on camera explaining to Jack Abbott the grip of a four-seam fastball – funny for Suppan since his high-80s heat could barely outgun Chorizo.

The highlight of the two-minute sketch, which deserves strong Daytime Emmy consideration, was when heartthrob Hardy dropped a mack-line coated in Wisconsin cheese, saying Abbott's not-so-attractive colleague Phyllis Newman could "warm up with me anytime."

Bravo, J.J! Bravo!

That declaration of emotion netted me three points on my Fantasy Soaps team.

Now if only I could get Hardy to discover he had a twin. Or better yet, reenact scenes from Elijah Dukes' maniacal, demented off-the-field life.

Finding out you're a baby daddy scores 50 large …

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

Fantasy Flames
Player Team Pos Y!RK Y!%
Dustin McGowan SP, RP 625 1.8
'07 Stats: 4 W, 59.2 IP, 4.83 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 49:23 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: McGowan, modeling the best set of mutton chops in the bigs since George Foster, was a "Free Bird" on June 24, narrowly missing a no-no versus the Colorado Rockies. Before owners anoint the 25-year-old top prospect man-crush material understand that his command has vanished at times this season (3.5 BB/9) and extraordinary performances like Sunday's will be an aberration. But, his exceptional 49.4 GB% and 0.60 HR/9 indicate he's kept pitches away from batter's wheelhouses with regularity, which has counterbalanced his free passes. Take away his six ER implosion versus the Dodgers on June 19 and McGowan has notched a sparkling 2.55 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a respectable 6.8 K/9 since May 23. With a lively mid-90s fastball, tight-spinning mid-80s slider, deceptive change and effective curve, he has favorable odds to notch an ERA in the mid-3s after the break. Fearless Forecast: 10 W, 3.79 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 115 K.
Troy Tulowitzki SS 165 13.9
'07 Stats: .275 BA, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 42 R, 3 SB, 62:27 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: With four homers in his past six games, Tulowitzki could be the greatest zki (or ski) since "The Bull" Greg Luzinski roamed the Philadelphia outfield during the 70s. In his first full season in the bigs, Colorado's "The Dude" is an aggressive swinger who drives pitches vigorously to all fields (22.3 LD%). His susceptibility for biting on breaking balls and high fastballs out-of-the-zone (22.7 K%) will keep his BA under .280, but batting seventh behind Garrett Atkins and blistering Brad Hawpe will net him abundant RBI chances. Bold prediction: he has a better second-half than soap trouper J.J. Hardy. Fearless Forecast: .273 BA, 18 HR, 81 RBI, 96 R, 7 SB.
James Loney 1B 1168 0.18
'07 Stats: .471 BA, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 7 R, 4:1 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: In a power prominent pack of one-baggers, the Dodger rookie is no lone wolf. Nomar Garciaparra's move back to third base, a position he played 34 times at with the Cubs in 2005, means Loney's value gets an exponential boost. The book on Loney: he's an accomplished (batting) average hitter with above average plate discipline (9.7 BB% at Triple-A this year) who makes consistent, hard contact. Interestingly, most scouts concede he's more of a doubles hitter than a 20-plus homer contributor, but you'd never know it by his three long balls in his first 34 '07 at-bats. With 16 hits and 12 RBI so far, his sizzling start could move him ahead of Nomar into the sixth spot behind ageless wonder Luis Gonzalez. All 12-team leaguers in search of BA and RBI need to ransack the waiver wire for the youngster. He is a man-crush mainstay. Fearless Forecast: .310 BA, 12 HR, 60 RBI.
Adam Jones OF 999 0.03
'07 Stats: (Triple-A) .316 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 5 SB, 68:27 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Watch
Lowdown: Seattle's Jones, like the champagne room connoisseur with the same name, can "make it rain." The 21-year-old Jones, arguably the most intriguing fantasy hitting prospect not yet recalled, could get a permanent promotion soon if Raul Ibanez's hamstring injury lingers. Comparable to Mike Cameron in terms of athleticism, Jones is a superior defensive outfielder with the tools to be a perennial 20-20 man. In 285 at-bats at Triple-A Tacoma, the talented marvel has tallied a stout .316 BA with 17 homers, 58 RBI and five steals. He has missed three consecutive games with back soreness, but, once he gets back to full-strength, it will be very difficult for GM Bill Bavasi to keep him confined in the minors for long.
Marlon Byrd OF 664 0.43
'07 Stats: .380 BA, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 17 R, 20:7 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Buy
Lowdown: Sizzling in June with a .407 BA in 86 at-bats, this Byrd has transformed from Tweety into Sam the Eagle overnight. Byrd was once considered a Bob Abreu replica as the Phillies top prospect in the early 00s. Now 29 and with his third team in four years, Byrd has become the Rangers everyday RF with Brad Wilkerson filling in at first for injured bomber Mark Teixeira. The stocky outfielder has smacked six multi-hit games in his past 10, blasted three homers and knocked in 13 since June 17. At times, he's flashed double-digit power and above average speed, but he's had issues in strike-zone judgment in his six-year career (20.4 K%). In 108 '07 at-bats, Byrd has improved his eye (18.5 K%) and posted a garish .447 BABIP, which indicates a marked increase in contact. Byrd, a current fixture in the four/five spot, should be added by 12 teamers in need of a BA/RBI spark in the outfield. Fearless Forecast: .285 BA, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 60 R, 4 SB.
Fantasy Lames
Player Team Pos Y!RK Y!%
Jered Weaver SP 601 95.5
'07 Stats: 6 W, 64 IP, 3.80 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 51:27 K:BB
Market Value: Moderate Sell
Lowdown: Sporting a horrific 1.53 WHIP, dealing with shoulder pain and strep throat, Jered has caught his brother's virulent strand of pitching pox. The second-year Angels starter has been plagued by poor command this season. His BB/9 (3.80) has skyrocketed 36.5 percent over last year and, when coupled with an unfavorable 0.98 HR/9, it leaves a bitter ERA taste. Despite his inadequacies, Weaver has created more grounders (36.0 GB%) and trimmed 7.4 percentage points off his FB% (44.8) from '06. However, with a dinged shoulder and his continued mental mistakes on the mound, his ERA will continue to dance around 4.00 for at least the next few weeks. Swapped recently for Jim Thome, Dan Uggla, and Joe Nathan in solo trades, many owners are still buying on the Weaver whiz hype of '06.
Jason Bay OF 95 99.1
'07 Stats: .270 BA, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 41 R, 1 SB, 74:34 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: As former early 90s wannabe reggae rapper Snow would say, Bay has failed to "lickey boom-boom down," hitting a miserable .174 in June. The Pirates cleanup hitter has only slapped six extra base-hits and driven in nine runs in his past 86 at-bats. Bay continues to make consistent contact at the plate (.325 BABIP), but his 30 percent decline in BB% from last year indicates his impatience has led him to swing at inopportune pitches. Anticipate his BB% to crawl closer to his career 13.0 mark as the dog days of summer approach. He's always been a terrific second-half player (.291 BA post ASB) and his overall skill set is too good to be sequestered for long – just don't expect his stolen base numbers to miraculously materialize (two SB attempts in '07). Fearless Forecast (Post ASB): .297 BA, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 3 SB.
Travis Hafner 1B 93 100
'07 Stats: .259 BA, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 45 R, SB, 56:59 K:BB
Market Value: Strong Buy
Lowdown: If Hafner continues to freestyle in fantasy feces (.216 BA in June), "You got Pronk'd!" will be a trendy catch phrase at drafts next spring. Since May 1, Hafner has launched a mere six homers and has hit an unpalatable .223. His current power shortage can be blamed on a dramatic 19.6 percent rise in GB%, which suggests that he's not putting the barrel of the bat on pitches he crushed last season. The peripherals for a second-half explosion look good. His BB% (18.8) and K rates (22.0 K%) are all on par with '06 and his FB% is slowly trending upward (38.1 in last 7) . In his past three games, Hafner's four RBIs in 12 at-bats could mean the turnaround has already begun. Traded straight up for Aramis Ramirez, Roy Halladay and John Smoltz in Y! Plus leagues this week, chase the discount now before Pronk goes bananas. Fearless Forecast (Post ASB): .310 BA, 20 HR, 60 RBI.
Adrian Gonzalez 1B 57 99.9
'07 Stats: .282 BA, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 43 R, 68:32 K:BB
Market Value: Hold
Lowdown: Gonzalez was "Speedy" out of the gate averaging a homer per 17.6 at-bats in April/May, but his power has been ensnared in a sticky trap in June – he's reached the bleachers only twice in 93 at-bats. Mired in a 2-for-16 slump with zero RBI and seven punchouts, it's evident A-Gone's heavily taped bruised right foot, an injury he suffered on June 22, has bothered him greatly. Because Gonzalez hits left-handed, his right wheel is his plant foot, which has caused him difficulties turning on and driving pitches. The injury could cripple his numbers until the break, labeling him bench material in the short-term. Once his injury heals, look for him to regain his power stroke and finish with new career highs in homers and RBI. Remember, he stroked a .336 BA after the break in '06. Fearless Forecast (Post ASB): .310 BA, 14 HR, 55 RBI.
Yovani Gallardo SP 575 35.9
'07 Stats: W, 13.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 12:5 K:BB
Market Value: Hold
Lowdown: Someone please abduct Claudio Vargas. Sources in Milwaukee are reporting that the uber-prospect will not remain in the rotation and instead work as a long-reliever for Ned Yost's club when Chris Capuano comes off the DL on July 3. Yippy skippy. In baseball terms, this is a wise move by Yost. Gallardo has never tossed more than 121.1 IP in a professional season and the limited workload should keep him fresh for a playoff run. However, this move stinks for fantasy freaks. In two lights-out starts El Chupacabra has posted a sensational 8.24 K/9 with five walks and four ER in 13.1 IP. His ability to keep hitters off-balance is impeccable and his poise for a 21-year-old is unmatched. Even though the news is unfortunate, he'll have substantial value as a middle-reliever given his high strikeout potential. Yost commented that Gallardo would be option numero uno if injury or ineptness opens up a rotation spot. Those in 12-team leagues must hold onto him. There are plenty of sunny days left on the horizon.

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.

Brett Myers will be put back into the starting rotation sometime this season. – John, Millbrae, CA

Answer: False. Injures to Jon Lieber (out 2-3 months) and Freddy Garcia have befallen the Phillies rotation, but, as insane as it may seem, Myers will not be reconsidered for a starting role. As long as chubs Manuel bears the script-lettered red "P," Myers will trot out of the pen in the ninth – even when Tom Gordon returns from a rotator cuff injury shortly after the break. Myers had a strong bullpen session on June 23, but an unsatisfactory outing on June 26. Tentatively, he could return to end-game action shortly after the break, but expect him to be eased back into stopper duty. The former Opening Day starter has converted six of seven save opportunities this season and should be classified alongside Joe Nathan when healthy.

Vernon Wells will outperform Andruw Jones in the second-half. – Yannick, Quebec, Canada

Answer: True. As mentioned in last week's "Noise," Wells is no longer contaminated. Since his "strong buy" designation on June 20, the popular early-round draft choice has gone yard three times with eight RBI. It appears his "dip" flaw has been corrected as his GB% has landed in the 40-45 percent range over his past 10 games – a clear indication he's keeping his hands high through the zone. Interestingly, John Gibbons inserted Wells into the two-spot on June 24 and the leadoff spot the following night. Continued at-bats in either slot could aid his R and SB numbers at a potential RBI cost. Regardless, he's certain to have a 14-18 HR, 40-45 RBI, 4-7 SB second-half, which will greatly outdistance the free-swinging Jones.

Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Adam LaRoche? 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've often wondered how such a young guy as you could be so wet-my-pants funny and still dispense such sage fantasy advice. Your "Wedding Crasher" column comment, "It's your lucky day, Little Smokey," made me spit up my coffee from laughing so hard! Keep up the good work bro; Sports Illustrated's funny-man Rick Reilly is already looking over his shoulder.

Bill, Chambersburg, PA

Brad, I have to be honest. I read all of your columns and I'm not a huge fan. However, the "Wedding Crasher" take made me almost piss myself laughing. You have a true fan, whether I agree with you or not, forever! Thanks. My day needed that in a big way.

Mark, Iowa

You are the biggest tool I've ever read. I seriously hope that this isn't your full-time job and if it is, I hope they aren't paying you over $35K per year. I know third-year college juniors that could provide more interest than you in any one of your fantasy columns. You are corny and not even remotely funny. I want an invite into your fantasy baseball and football leagues next year. You guys should seriously consider opening up your "experts" league to the general public and see how easily you get whipped.

J, New York, NY

Noise: My wife would have to disagree with your "biggest tool" comment. Unbelievably, this is my full-time job. However, Yahoo! doesn't pay me with canvas sacks full of Jacksons. Instead, they give me free StatTracker upgrades and provocative pictures of Rich Hill as compensation for my services. Actually, most of my discretionary income comes from selling pallets of Hostess products on eBay to overweight Major Leaguers. Miguel Cabrera is a regular customer. That dude is the Kobayashi of Ding Dongs.

In reply to your wishes for a league invite, each baseball and football draft season the Y! Sports Blog selects a few Average Joes to go toe-to-toe with yours truly. In this year's Y! Evans Invitational, amazingly, I have a 4.5 game lead in a 16-team head-to-head mixed league against a competitive group. Considering you're the omnipotent god of fantasy, I'm sure you would leave giant welts on my ass if we clashed on the virtual field. Since you're probably also a self-proclaimed pigskin pundit, check out the Y! Sports Blog for news when you can signup for the second annual "Silence the Noise" fantasy football competition. FYI, I'm the defending champ. Bring the noise J.

I'm surprised no one has brought this up yet, but I'm really struggling to find out why Rafael Furcal is not running anymore. He hasn't even attempted a stolen base since June 5 and has a mere seven on the year. It's not like he's focusing on his power with only one homer. He's just stinking it up all around. What's the deal?

Speed Needy, Champaign, IL

Noise: Now that the second-half of the season is almost upon us, Furcal will emerge from his Michael Jackson Signature Series cryogenic chamber and, in usual fashion, contribute top-flight numbers. That is, if he can shake the ill-effects of an ankle injury. Furcal hobbled around the bases noticeably on Sunday and divulged recently to the LA Times that his tender wheel has troubled him since March. Historically, he has performed admirably in the second-half as his .314 BA, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 18 SB post-ASB average since 2004 affirms. Hopefully, a mixture of ice and R&R will help him get close to full-speed over the break. Until his ankle completely heals, his speed and, undoubtedly, his pop will suffer. Based on his track record, I am cautiously confident in a turnaround. Fearless Forecast: .291 BA, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 90 R, 23 SB.

As disturbing as your last column was (Is there anyone out there who enjoys the mental image of married people – let alone fantasy baseball playing married people – getting it on?), I believe the crme de la crme was the "strong buy" on Tim Lincecum. San Fran is a terrible team who will not put a lot of runs on the board to begin with, so, even pitching well; Tim's not going to rack wins. Moreover, his ERA and WHIP over the past few weeks have sunk any hopes of my team winning those categories as well. With other talent out there I'd rather not keep a spot-start, 4 IP, former reliever turned starter, Ks-only pitcher filling up my bench. I'm going to go take a hot shower now, but keep up the column. It's usually good times.

Neil, Nashville, TN

Noise: Tiny Tim is hardly a "spot-start" pitcher and proved on Tuesday night versus San Diego that he can be a viable fantasy force (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 8:4 K:BB). Yes, he did yield at least four walks in his fourth straight contest, but as disconcerting as his command might be, the guy continues to strike opponents out at an astonishing rate (9.35 K/9). For those familiar with the insightful sabermetric stat Field Independent Pitching (FIP), it suggests an eventual ERA drop to 3.77. Remember, FIP, unlike BABIP, is based on specific events a pitcher controls (i.e. walks, homers allowed, flyballs, etc.). Once Dave Righetti institutes a more cerebral approach in Lincecum, he'll be the 3.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIP starter that sprinted out-of-the-gates in May. You're probably right about the lack of wins (4.12 RS, 66th in the NL), but he'll be a lethal source of Ks, ERA and WHIP once he makes the proper adjustments. I'm sticking to my 3.98 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 130 K prognostication. Oh, and Neil, don't forget to wash in those places Bartolo Colon hasn't seen since his childhood …