Cubs

Fantasy baseball batter stock watch - 914

Fantasy baseball batter stock watch - 914

David Ferris
Contributor to CSNChicago.com
Buy
Marco Scutaro, Utility, Giants: His fantasy value was expected to vanish the moment he left the thin air of Coors Field, but Scutaro has been a find for the Giants, hitting .341 over 44 games with strong run-production stats (30 RBIs, 25 runs). Bruce Bochy loves Scutaro's contact and experience near the top of the order, and we love Scutaro's position flexibility (he qualifies at second, short and third base in standard leagues).
Josh Donaldson, 3BC, Athletics: He's settled into the corner slot for the A's - taking over for the injured Brandon Inge - and the second-half numbers have been tasty (.324 average, six homers). Donaldson carries catcher eligibility in many leagues despite the fact that he's not playing there; take full advantage of that where you can.
Everth Cabrera, 2BSS, Padres: He's just about unstoppable on the bases (30-for-32), and no one in the majors has swiped more bags over the past month. Cabrera also covers two infield spots in standard leagues, and he's been an average-neutral player over that span. You'll have to fill your power categories elsewhere, but if you're in the market for a speed speciality play, Cabrera comes strongly recommended.

Hold
Jed Lowrie, SS3B, Astros: He's finally back from the ankle and leg problems that wrecked his season, but the Astros have no reason to push Lowrie over the final three weeks. If you can grab him in a daily-transaction league, we'll sign off on it - so long as you have the maintenance time - but Lowrie is too risky to trust in pools that require weekly activations.
Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres: If you have the flexibility to use Denorfia against left-handed pitching, you're getting an absolute monster: the Wheaton College product slashes .346.402.512 against southpaws. The Padres face three lefties in their next eight games (beginning Saturday); in some pools, that might be enough of a needle-mover to consider Denorfia. Don't be thrown by Petco Park, either; his batting average is only eight points higher on the road. Line drives play in any environment.
Brandon Belt, 1BOF, Giants: He's finally settled into a full-time job and the bat has responded - Belt has a strong .294-8-2-15 line over the past 30 days, with a couple of stolen bases thrown in. You might want to sit him against a left-handed starter now and again - there's a platoon split at play here - but otherwise Belt has enough juice to justify a roster spot in mixed leagues.

Sell
Todd Frazier, Utility, Reds: With Joey Votto back in the swing of things, Frazier is a Red without a position. Scott Rolen's injury issues at third base help the cause somewhat, but Dusty Baker has made it clear that Rolen is a starter whenever he's hale enough to play. Frazier would be a super-utility hero in some other cities, but Baker doesn't enjoy being creative with his defensive planning and lineup card. As much as we've enjoyed Frazier's sneaky production this year, he's a tricky play for the stretch.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: You can't stand by the wishing well when you see a 10-14 day injury at this time of year; it's imperative that you react quickly and find healthy reinforcements. Teixeira's calf injury makes him droppable in any format; even if he returns quickly, there's no guarantee he gives the Yankees quality at-bats. It's not about the names (especially at this time of year), it's all about the numbers. See if you can land a Brandon Moss, Brandon Belt or John Mayberry to take over for Teixeira.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

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USA TODAY

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

NBC Sports Chicago’s John "Moon" Mullin talked with The MMQB's Albert Breer, who shared his thoughts on where the Bears stand — and if they’ll be able to compete — in a highly competitive NFC North.

Moon: The Bears have made upgrades, but they’re in the NFC North and not many divisions are tougher, given the strength at quarterbacks.

Breer: Yes. You look at the other three teams, and they all very much believe they’re in a window for winning a championship. The Packers are going through some changes, but they’ve gotten Mike Pettine in there as defensive coordinator and a new general manager who was aggressive on draft day. I know that internally they feel that’s going to give them a boost, and bringing Aaron Rodgers back obviously is the biggest thing of all.

Minnesota, all the things they did this offseason, signing (quarterback) Kirk Cousins, (defensive lineman) Sheldon Richardson, and they were knocking on the door last year.

The Lions have been building for two years under (general manager) Bob Quinn and (new coach) Matt Patricia, who lines right up with the general manager — the two of them worked together in New England. They really believe that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the sort of jump that Matt Ryan made in Atlanta a few years ago, where you see that mid-career breakthrough from a quarterback that we see sometimes now.

It’s one of the toughest divisions in football, and every team in the division believes that it’s in the position to contend right now.

Moon: We didn’t see a lot of Mitch Trubisky — 12 games — so it sounds possible that the Bears could improve and still lose ground.

Breer: The Lions were pretty good last year. The Vikings were in the NFC Championship game. And who knows where the Packers would’ve been if Rodgers hadn’t broken his collarbone. The biggest change is that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and that’s the best player in the league. It was a really good division last year, and you’re adding back in a Hall of Fame quarterback.

As far as the Bears, there’s going to be questions where the organization is going. It’s been seven years since they were in the playoffs. I think they certainly got the coach hire right. This is a guy who I know other organizations liked quite a bit and was going to be a head coach sooner or later.

And I think he matches up well with Mitch. I think the Bears are in a good spot, but as you said, they’re competing in a difficult environment, so it may not show up in their record.

Moon: A lot of love for the Vikings after they get to the NFC Championship and then add Kirk Cousins.

Breer: A lot of people look at Minnesota and think Kirk Cousins’ll be a huge improvement. And maybe he will be. I think he’s a very good quarterback, top dozen in the league. But Case Keenum played really, really well last year, so it wasn’t like they weren’t getting anything out of that position last year.

The NFC right now is clearly the strength of the league. If you picked the top 10 teams in the league, you could make a case that seven or eight of them are in the NFC. I think there will be NFC teams that miss the playoffs who could be in the Super Bowl coming out of the AFC. There’s a little bit of an imbalance there.

Moon: Trubisky projects as part of a wave of new quarterbacks league-wide, a sea change in the NFL.

Breer: The interesting thing is that this is probably as stable as the league has been at quarterback in a long time. There’ve been questions where the next great quarterbacks will come from, but I don’t know that there’s a team right now in the NFL like you looked at the Jets or Browns last year, where you say that team is definitely drafting a quarterback in 2019.

Everyone either has a big-money veteran or former first-round pick on their roster. One team that doesn’t is the Cowboys, but they’ve got Dak Prescott who’s played really well. Every team in the league has some stability at the position. I think the position is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and you’ve got a lot of good young prospects.