Are you tired of columns telling you that the smart "pickups" each week are players who are already owned in your league … and more often than not sold for real money at auction? If you're hardcore, then this is column is for you: real world pickups for deep AL or NL-only leagues.
Daric Barton, 1B, Athletics: It's late in the season, and this is the next-to-last "If You're Hardcore" of the season. I mention this now because the focus the next two weeks will be on keeper prospects, and Barton is one of the last guys we'll profile here who might be useful down the stretch. The A's have said that they plan to get Barton plenty of work this month to determine whether he'll be in their 2008 plans. Barton's minor league numbers are very, very similar to Kevin Youkilis' at nearly every level. He's an extremely polished hitter with excellent strike-zone judgment and questionable power. His defense is not going to win any awards, but his bat should be able to carry him, especially with an organization that understands the value of on-base percentage as well as Oakland. The main advantage that Barton has when compared with the otherwise similar Youkilis is age: Barton was a lot younger at each minor league level than Youkilis was. This guy is going to be an excellent hitter whether he develops more than 10-home run power or not. Stash him away.