Fantasy baseball pitcher stocks

Fantasy baseball pitcher stocks

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

Buy
Mark Buehrle, SP, Marlins: He's very quietly collected eight wins, a 3.25 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, and the story has been even more fun in the new park (2.77 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). Buehrle will allow a few souvenirs now and then (13 homers), but so long as he keeps striking out four men for every walk, he'll probably be successful. Buehrle has two favorable offenses waiting for him in the second half, the Nationals and Cubs.
Ryan Dempster, SP, Cubs: He only won four of his 13 starts in the first half, despite a sterling stat package across the board (1.99 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 70 strikeouts in 86.6 innings). The team-support problem is probably going to vanish this month, with the Cubs expected to move Dempster to a contender (the Dodgers are looking to make a move in the NL West and they have the perfect pitching backdrop for someone like Dempster). That pretty ERA isn't likely to last, but Dempster could easily rattle off 8-10 wins in the second half if his new club is decent.

Sell

Heath Bell, RP, Marlins: You can't say the Marlins weren't patient, but after watching Bell blow six saves (along with a 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP) Ozzie Guillen is ready to try a committee. Steve Cishek will probably be part of the mix right away, and the former Leo Nunez (now known as Juan Oviedo) is expected to enter the fray in a couple of weeks. We'll be surprised if Bell records more than 10 saves in the second half.

Shaun Marcum, SP, Brewers: Things are going slowly with his elbow rehab, and we're talking about a pitcher who routinely needs about a month on the shelf every year. A 3.39 ERA and 1.17 WHIP are nice, but those aren't game-changing numbers in today's pitching-dominated environment. Let someone else play the waiting game here; don't waste valuable bench space on Marcum if you're in a league with short reserves.
Doug Fister, SP, Tigers: He's pitched better in the secondary stats than he has on the scoreboard (4.75 ERA, 1.45 WHIP), but he's not getting any favors from Detroit's horrendous infield defense (all of the starters in Motown have unlucky hit rates). Fister has also dealt with finger, side and upper body injuries, affecting his control and command somewhat. The Tigers thought Fister had a chance to be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 arm this year, but he really belongs further back in the rotation. In mixed leagues, you need to do better than this.

Derek Holland, SP, Rangers: What's the big deal with Holland again? His career ratios (4.78 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) are killers in today's context, and Holland is specifically having issues at home this year (6.38 ERA, 1.42 WHIP). And if his stuff is so nasty, why are lefties batting .286 against him this season? Something doesn't add up.

Hold
Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays: He's yet to blow a save since Sergio Santos went on the DL, reeling off 12 conversions in a row in addition to a 1.13 ERA and a .181 batting-average against. There's a lot to be said for throwing strikes in the ninth (Janssen has just four walks as the stopper), and he's also striking out a batter per inning. Why would the Blue Jays want to go back to Santos? No reason that we can see.

Notre Dame players react to the firing of Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame players react to the firing of Brian VanGorder

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — James Onwualu and Brian VanGorder came to the Irish defense at the same time back in 2014, when Onwualu was moved from wide receiver to (briefly) safety right around when the now-former defensive coordinator was hired. 

Under VanGorder’s watch, Onwualu developed into a reliable outside linebacker and ultimately a senior captain. So when Notre Dame fired VanGorder on Sunday — a day after the school’s student section chanted “Fire Van-Gord-Er” during that brutal loss to Duke — it wasn’t necessarily an easy piece of news to digest for Onwualu and some of his teammates. 

“Obviously everybody was talking about it, even our student section seemed to have a strong stance on that,” Onwualu said. “It was shocking to me. Obviously this is the only defensive experience I've ever had. He's really all I knew defensively. So it's difficult for some older guys, you know, and me included to put that aside and just take the next step into something new.”

But that’s what Notre Dame has to do with VanGorder’s rocky tenure in the rearview mirror and Greg Hudson taking over as defensive coordinator, with coach Brian Kelly taking an increased role in his team’s leaky defense. 

Players understood why the move — which came in the wake of Kelly’s postgame comments saying everyone’s job wasn’t safe — was made, turning to the “it’s a business” line more frequently seen in a level of the sport in which the players are paid (which isn’t to say they’re wrong for viewing college football that way). 

“It was a bit surprising,” junior linebacker Nyles Morgan said. “I knew him personally obviously playing defense, but it’s a business. And so we’ve really bought into what coach (Greg) Hudson’s been saying, and we have to move forward. We can’t linger in the past.”

It’s not like Notre Dame players were blind to the problem, though. The team’s first sack of the season came when Morgan dropped Duke quarterback Daniel Jones on Saturday, and the defense allowed 50, 36 and 38 points in Notre Dame’s three losses. 

“The whole defense knows that we need to play better ball, and obviously if we were playing better ball, that maybe not would have happened,” Onwualu said. 

Safety Drue Tranquill said he felt some guilt about the firing of VanGorder and had sympathy for his now-former coach. 

“It wasn’t just coach VanGorder’s fault, the entire defense was struggling as a whole,” Tranquill said. “And he happens to be the leader of that. This is a really cutthroat business and I personally feel a sort of responsibility on my end. I can’t just watch the leader of the defense walk out and lose his job. It’s a really hard situation and it’s just real life. 

“It’s just this industry and it’s really cutthroat. So part of me really felt for him. But a part of me realized he probably wants me to rally around the guys in the locker room and he probably wants me out there giving it my all each and every day and not worrying about him, because it’s about Notre Dame. It’s about Notre Dame winning football games, so we just have to come in, positive mentality, and move forward.” 

On the offensive side of the ball, both quarterback DeShone Kizer and left tackle Mike McGlinchey said they fully trust Kelly to do what’s right for the team. And in this case, that meant making a change at defensive coordinator. 

“We lost a great coach, but things needed to happen for us to move forward,” Kizer said. “Coach Kelly makes the decision. We trust in whatever he has to say, and moving forward we'll make the adjustments that need to be made on the offensive side of the ball to pick up our defense and to start playing games and getting W’s.”

“The reaction from us is that football is the way it is and coach Kelly felt that there needed to be a change, and so we made it,” McGlinchey added. “And obviously it's tough when it's a mid-season change and guys are connected to coach VanGorder, and have a guy on our team that is his son (reserve quarterback and holder Montgomery VanGorder). But at the same time everybody understands that changes needed to be made, and that's the decision that coach Kelly made. So we all are behind it.”

Notre Dame players talked quite a bit about how enjoyable practice was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which would seem to fly in the face of the team’s 1-3 record and uncertain chances of becoming bowl eligible this year. Kelly said he fired VanGorder as part of an effort to bring more passion and fun to a team in need of a spark, but knew the decision wouldn’t sit well with everyone on his team. 

Regardless of how the move was received, it’s the one that was made. And Notre Dame needs its defense to play better going forward, otherwise a season that’s teetering on the brink of disaster could go careening over the edge. 

“He was really the one that gave me the opportunity and spent the time and invested in me to be able to play defense and to be able to be where I'm at today,” Onwualu said in describing the conversation he had with VanGorder after his firing. “So just a quick thanks for the opportunity and the time that you spent with me. I don't think it's a huge good-bye. It's like anybody you work with, right? It's a business, you know. Stay in contact and I hope your next step is a good one.”

Theo Epstein keeps the band together with Cubs extending Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod

Theo Epstein keeps the band together with Cubs extending Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod

PITTSBURGH — Theo Epstein namedropped Eddie Vedder in the middle of last year’s champagne-soaked celebration at Wrigley Field, comparing a Cubs team that won 97 games and bounced the St. Louis Cardinals from the playoffs to a band that bursts onto the scene and blows up with an amazing first album. It would only get more complicated, with expectations changing and the Cubs now having to deal with success, the egos and the backlash.

Whatever happens in October — either the franchise’s first World Series title since 1908 or a massive disappointment — Epstein will get to keep the band together and have his friends around for future Pearl Jam concerts at Wrigley Field.

General manager Jed Hoyer will also get a five-year contract extension to match the timeline of the team president’s new deal, which chairman Tom Ricketts announced before Wednesday night’s 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Jason McLeod, the senior vice president of scouting and player development already under contract for two more years, will also be extended through the 2021 season.

“When you have great leadership at the top, it normally filters into the rest of the group,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Every successful organization has that. We have that.

“It doesn’t happen everywhere. It’s not like this everywhere, the way it’s been built, the attention to detail. It’s not just numbers. There’s a very human side to all this. It’s a great balance.”

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Management’s 2021 timeframe matches up with All-Star talents Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, who all remain under club control through that year, along with Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez, part of a 20-something cast that now also includes Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr.

Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod had all won World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox and saw how New England responded to the 2004 team that ended an 86-year drought. They decided to reunite in the fall of 2011, with Hoyer taking on some of Epstein’s out-front, day-to-day responsibilities and dealing with the executives and agents he knew better. McLeod — who recently interviewed for a top job with the Minnesota Twins that will reportedly go to Cleveland Indians executive Derek Falvey — should continue to be linked to just about every GM job that opens.

“I see this contract, this show of faith from the Ricketts (family) in me as a validation of everybody,” Epstein said. “The contract is really a product of all the hard work that literally hundreds of people have performed to make this a healthier and better baseball operation, from Jed and Jason and Randy (Bush) and Shiraz (Rehman) and Scott (Harris) to all the guys in scouting and player development and the R&D team, the guys behind the scenes.

“Of course, (it’s) Joe and his staff and the players doing a remarkable job on the field at the big-league level the last couple years. So this is a product of everybody’s hard work, and I accept it kind of on their behalf. The strength and stability that we have now is a reflection of what happens when there’s trust, teamwork, transparency from a lot of talented people working together, starting from the very top with the Ricketts family.”