Here is the rest of my interview/conversation with Matthew Berry, fantasy expert at ESPN.com. Remember I have "fictionalized" the conversation into a standard Q&A format. Mr. Berry and I spoke for an hour, and I took notes. Without an recording, I can not provide his answers verbatim. However, nothing ascribed to Mr. Berry was not expressed by him.
FT: Who do you have on your Closer Death Watch?
MB: Eric Gagne of Milwaukee. He blew another save [on Tuesday], and manager Ned Yost gave him the dreaded Vote of Confidence. Gagne has looked terrible, and the Brewers expect to contend. In the NL Central, there is little room for error so the team may not be willing to let Gagne ride out a long stretch of poor performances. Add in the fact they went on an experiencing-closing reliever binge this off-season, and there appears to be little reason for gagne to continue in the role.
Brandon Lyon is an obvious choice, but here are one and half other closers who could lose there job. Jeremy Accardo of Toronto has not looked good, and neither has Padres' closer Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman's struggles are a continuation of how he finished 2007.
FT: Do you look for potential changes at closer on teams expected to contend?
MB: Not necessarily, but smaller market teams who are expected to contend have less room for error. Contention also puts more pressure on teams who are not perrennial contenders.
FT: The Baltimore Orioles are off to a great starts and that defies any projections for their season. If this turns out to be real, what kind of fantasy surprises on the upside could we see?
MB: For hitters, Ron Shandler has a saying that if a players shows a skill, he owns. I think that could apply to both Aubrey Huff and Ramon Hernandez. LF Luke Scott could also be big in this scenario
With the pitchers, closer George Sherrill could be a 40 Save guy if the O's turn out better than expected. I am already on record as saying he could save 30+.
A deep sleeper could be OF Jay Payton who has always been a decent player. Behind an unproven Adam Jones or Luke Scott, an unexpectedly good Oriole's team may not have patience with unproven players and give a lot of time to a proven player like Payton.
FT: Is 2008 going to be the year of The SB?
MB: In 2007, there were 42 players who stole 20 or more bases. With players like Eugenio Velez, Michael Bourn, and Carlos Gomez looking like they will steal a lot, 2008 could be that kind of year. Also look for Pirates' CF Nate McLouth to steal more than he did last season.
A deep sleeper could be the young SS Brian Bocock in San Francisco. The Giants don't have too much else to offer but the SB.
FT: Sticking with the Giants, do you like chasing strikeouts when you know the starting pitchers are not going to get a lot of Wins as it appears will be the case with Giants starters Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum?
MB: Not necessarily, but it can be an effective strategy if used judiciously
FT: Thank you for your time.
MB: You're welcome. Remember to checkout the fantasy focus podcast, the great free fantasy info at ESPN.com and the video available daily.
That concludes my interview with ESPN.com fantasy expert Matthew Berry.