After the Rodriguez acquisition, are the Pirates here to stay?


After the Rodriguez acquisition, are the Pirates here to stay?

While many expected Ryan Dempster to be one of the first dominoes to fall in the starting pitcher market at the trade deadline, he still remains in a Cubs uniform.

But several other starters have already been dealt, including Wandy Rodriguez, who went from the Astros to the Pirates Tuesday night.

Rodriguez, 33, isn't a star, but he's a very solid lefty who has put up a 52-51 record to go with a 3.45 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 141 starts the last five seasons. He leads the league with 21 starts this year, boasting a 3.79 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. But his 6.1 K9 is the lowest it's been since his rookie season in 2005.

The Pirates gave up three fringe prospects -- Colton Cain (which is an awesome name, by the way), Robbie Grossman and Rudy Owens -- and held on to their top young arms -- Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. None of the three players headed back to Houston were drafted above the sixth round.

That being said, Grossman has a career on-base percentage of .379 in the minor leagues and drew 104 walks last season in high-A ball. Cain is just 21 and throws left-handed. Owens is more advanced at age 24, but he has a 3.14 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 19 Triple-A starts this season.

Though none of the three guys looks ticketed for stardom, it was still a nice haul for the Astros. But they aren't the Cubs' problem after this season, as they will be headed to the AL West.

The Pirates, meanwhile, are showing that they are a force to be reckoned with and they intend to compete for a long time in the NL Central. They handed Andrew McCutchen a mega contract extension in the offseason and now add Rodriguez to their rotation through the 2014 season.

Veterans A.J. Burnett and Erik Bedard are having resurgent seasons in the Pittsburgh rotation to go along with breakout star James McDonald. Rodriguez gives the Pirates four good starters, something that will definitely come in handy during a playoff push.

Guys like Taillon and Cole are probably not too far away from cracking the big-league rotation, and Rodriguez may very well still be around when they get their first taste.

The trade didn't break the bank with the Pirates' small-market finances, either. The Astros will contribute at least 10 million and potentially as much as 17 million to Rodriguez's salary over the next three seasons.

The Reds and Cardinals figure to be in the thick of things in the NL Central for years to come and the Cubs are on the rise. But a move like this proves the Pirates don't plan on going away anytime soon, either.

Where are Bears skill players being selected in fantasy football drafts?

USA Today

Where are Bears skill players being selected in fantasy football drafts?

For fantasy football players planning their annual summer draft strategy, reviewing a player's average draft position (the average draft slot where a player is being selected in fantasy drafts across the country) is a great place to start.

It's also a great place to look to gauge the national opinion of the Bears' skill players on offense. For example, Todd Gurley, the Rams' feature running back, currently sits atop fantasy draft boards with an ADP of No. 1 overall. Le'Veon Bell is second, and Dallas' third-year runner, Ezekiel Elliott, is third. Essentially, they're considered three of the best -- if not THE best -- running backs in the NFL by fans.

So where do guys like Jordan Howard, Allen Robinson and Mitch Trubisky rank? Let's take a look.

Note: Average draft positions are from Fantasy Pros.

Jordan Howard:  ADP = 25 (RB15)

Players ahead of Howard include Bengals second-year back Joe Mixon, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Packers receiver Davante Adams. Call it a hunch, but Howard will outproduce this ADP.

Allen Robinson: ADP = 42 (WR17)

Robinson trails players like Josh Gordon, Doug Baldwin and Stefon Diggs on draft boards. This seems fair with Robinson coming off a torn ACL.

Mitch Trubisky: ADP = 168 (QB26)

Trubisky has a chance to be one of this year's fantasy football league-winners if he quickly takes to Matt Nagy's offense. He's being criminally underrated in fantasy circles.

Tarik Cohen: ADP = 77 (RB32)

Unless Cohen becomes the Bears' feature back, which is a long shot, this ADP and overall ranking seem about right. The only way he makes a jump up fantasy rankings is if the Bears use him like the Saints used Alvin Kamara, with similar results.

Trey Burton: ADP = 94 (TE9)

Burton is one of the Bears' favorites among fantasy GMs. He's expected to become Chicago's Travis Kelce this season. If he does, he'll be a fantasy star.

Anthony Miller: ADP = 206 (WR65)

Fantasy players like Miller the most of all receivers opposite Robinson this season. He's got a chance to prove them right with his blend of inside and outside receiver traits.

Taylor Gabriel: ADP 357 (WR110)

Yikes. Gabriel is essentially undraftable in fantasy leagues this season, according to this ADP. No one is suggesting Gabriel will be the next coming of Tyreek Hill, but this seems awfully low.

Kevin White: ADP 328 (WR105)

White has a slightly higher upside in the opinion of fantasy owners than Gabriel, but he's still nothing more than free agency fodder at this point in summer drafts.

Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber select their Home Run Derby pitchers

Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber select their Home Run Derby pitchers

The 2018 Home Run Derby starts Monday night at 7 p.m., and Cubs Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber have picked who will be their pitchers.

Baez has chosen his brother Gadiel, while Schwarber selected Mike Sanicola, who played at the University of Miami and is a friend of Schwarber’s agent, Jason Romano.

Gadiel does have a baseball background in his back pocket. After playing baseball in high school, he played at Cowley College (JUCO), Tabor College (NAIA) and played in an independent league for two years.

It’ll be a first time experience for both Baez and Schwarber, who are the first Cubs to participate in the Home Run Derby since Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant did it back in 2015.

Could Baez or Schwarber be the home run king? Will just have to wait and see.