by Brenden Roberts

The major league trade deadline came and went with nothing close to a blockbuster deal. Now most general managers can sit back and watch their shiny new (or dull old) product on the field. For fantasy owners with mid- or late-August trade deadlines, however, now is decision time. Keep a few things in mind as you make your stretch-run maneuvers.

Consolidate your keepers. Keeper-league owners must have an eye on next year even while playing to win this season. Select your keeper list now, and keep it in mind as you consider trades. If you have a tough decision on whom to keep among two or three guys, maybe you can pull a two-for-one deal and net a little better option.

Cost, cost, cost. Speaking of keeper lists, auction owners should be looking for bargains. Just as some major league G.M.s look to deal their overpaid superstars for cheap prospects, so should auction owners. You have Bernie Williams for $35; what if you can have the next Bernie (say, Rocco Baldelli) for $10 and a smile?

Forget depth. It's time to go for broke. Don't leave good players on the bench, even if you see them as a valuable fill-in reserve. Use that guy to upgrade another spot, then cross your fingers your starter remains healthy.

Don't wait too long, You hear the stories about G.M.s trying to close deals at the 11th hour; don't do the same. Trades often come after three or four counterproposals and thus require plenty of time to complete.

Don't be badgered. As a writer, I'll be the first to tell you deadlines can force you into doing things (or writing things--such as referring to Brandon Phillips as Brandon Larson) that sometimes don't make sense. Don't let your fast-approaching deadline make you settle for a bad offer.



What are the chances Scott Williamson will end up as the closer in Boston? Byung-Hyun Kim has had his problems against the Yankees and has openly stated that he does not want to close. Williamson, meanwhile, is a stud relief pitcher who could easily be the Red Sox's closer. Moreover, Boston acquired Scott Sauerbeck, who could give them middle relief.

Ian Clement, Andalusia, Pa.

Ian: All very good points, but I don't see the Red Sox making a switch at closer. Kim is their man. He has blown just one save since taking over the closer duties, and he has a track record. Williamson has done well as a closer, but he isn't quite as dominant as Kim and will serve the Red Sox better as a setup man.

Williamson could get save chances every now and then the rest of the season, though. Sauerbeck also bolsters the bullpen, and he and Williamson will form a potent lefty-righty setup duo.

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Carlos Beltran's stolen bases in July. He also hit .323 with 21 RBIs. The Royals center fielder is a complete power/speed fantasy player.

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As we near September, keep in mind that some previously unknown rookies can provide quite a boost for your Ultimate Fantasy Baseball team once they're recalled from the minors. Youngsters such as Brewers outfielder Dave Krynzel and Indians pitcher Cliff Lee could be placed in meaningful roles right away, and they will come at a bargain-basement price after they are added to the Ultimate Baseball player fist. Plugging in an inexpensive rookie should free up salary-cap money for elite players, the reliable guys who will provide consistent production during a confusing fantasy period.--B.R.

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