Fantasy Baseball Pitchers Stock Watch

Fantasy Baseball Pitchers Stock Watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

Buy
R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets: We've all been trained to view the knuckleball as an unpredictable pitch, but the way Dickey is going, toss conventional wisdom out the window. His only bad start this year can be explained away by a cold and rainy afternoon in Atlanta; the knuckler works best in warm weather, and we're hitting the warmest stretch of the year. Otherwise, we're looking at nine fantasy-useful starts, and a Top 20 spot on any pitcher ranking formula thus far in 2012. Dickey's improved his walk and strikeout rates significantly this year, and he throws a harder knuckler than anyone we can remember. He's not only fun to own, he's fun to watch.

Homer Bailey, SP, Reds: He's been more teaser than pleaser during his career, but Bailey's last four turns have been sharp and he's up against the Pirates again next week. That's good news for two reasons: Pittsburgh has the worst offense in the game this year, and Bailey is 6-0 against them over eight career starts, with a 1.79 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Plan ahead for this streamable play.

Carlos Marmol, SP, Cubs: In a perfect world, you stash him on your bench and wait things out. But just keep in mind the Cubs have every incentive to get Marmol fixed and back in the ninth inning, and no one has run away with the closing job in the last two weeks. The Cubs might be the worst team in the NL, but they can still support a 20-25 save man the rest of the way, like every team can.

Sell

Roy Oswalt, SP, Rangers: He might have landed in the worst possible spot, signing up for a summer in Arlington, where right-handed pitchers are chewed up and spit out. Oswalt turns 35 in August, he wasn't all that hot in Philly last year (3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) and his velocity and strikeout rate have been tumbling in his mid-30s. You need to do better in a standard mixer. The only reason to grab him right now is with the intention of flipping him before he ever pitches in a game. And he's probably a month away from his Texas debut, so you'll be wasting valuable roster space in the meantime.
Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics: A lot of good things here: big park, 2.88 ERA, buzzy prospect pedigree. And everyone can see that Parker's mere one win over seven starts is a fluke - his bullpen has coughed up two ninth-inning saves. That said, when you note the crazy HRFB rate (around two percent) and just 29 strikeouts against 21 walks, we can see the storm clouds moving in. Parker is still a viable arm, but his ERA will likely be in the middle 3s, perhaps as high as 4, the rest of the way. The market might overprice him, so ask around.

Hold

Chris Sale, SP, White Sox: A lot of otherwise-smart people are dug in against Sale, and it's getting silly to this point. Oh no, he throws a slider. Good golly, he had elbow soreness and an MRI earlier this year. Look, just about any pitcher in this game is an injury risk; it's an unnatural act that puts heavy strain on your body. In the meantime, let's chase the stats and the indicators we see in front of us and worry about the physical problems later. Sale has a 2.34 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and more strikeouts than innings pitched. His KBB rate is almost 41. This is an elite arm, period, end of story.

Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants: The regression police had a good laugh at Vogelsong's surprise 2011 season, but the laugh is at the skeptics: Vogelsong's ratio stats are lower this year. So long as you steer him away from the extreme parks (hiya, Colorado), this is a very safe place to park your innings, even in a mixer. Vogelsong's ERA at AT&T Park over the last year and a half? A tidy 1.95.
Frank Francisco, RP, Mets: He's come through on six straight save attempts, along with nine strikeouts (against three walks) and no runs allowed. Terry Collins was patient here and he's been rewarded. And the Mets will keep the opportunities coming; this is not a bad ballclub.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs visit White House as World Series champions

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs visit White House as World Series champions

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is joined by David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) to discuss the Cubs' visit to the White House.

The guys reflect on the historic day and Theo Epstein's speech. Then, the panel breaks down the Packers' impressive run and question whether it's okay for Bears fans to appreciate Aarond Rodgers and company.

Finally, are the Wild the Blackhawks' biggest threat come playoff time?

Listen to the SportsTalk Live podcast below.

 

Fire trade for midfielder Dax McCarty

mccarty-116.jpg
USA TODAY

Fire trade for midfielder Dax McCarty

Midfield has been an area of focus this offseason for Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and another new addition to that group was added on Monday.

The Fire have traded $400,000 in general allocation money in return for midfielder Dax McCarty from the New York Red Bulls. Paul Tenorio of Four Four Two first reported the trade.

McCarty was an All-Star in 2015 and part of the league's Best XI that season when he had eight assists to go with a goal. Last season he made 26 starts for the Red Bulls and totaled three goals and had five assists.

"Since the middle of 2016, we made acquiring Dax our No. 1 priority," Rodr√≠guez said in the club's press release. "We believe adding his character and leadership in the locker room, as well as his exceptional soccer abilities on the field, dramatically improves our team."

The last time McCarty played at Toyota Park was a 2-2 draw on July 31 when a Khaly Thiam tackle caused a fractured tibia, which forced McCarty to sit out a month.

McCarty got married on Saturday, which delayed his arrival to the current U.S. national team camp. McCarty's participation in national team camp means he will join the Fire's preseason already in progress. The final match of the camp is on Feb. 3 while the Fire are set to start preseason on January 23.

McCarty, 29, has spent the past five and a half seasons with the Red Bulls. He began his career by playing five seasons for FC Dallas and was with D.C. United for part of the 2011 campaign before being traded to the Red Bulls. As an 11-year league veteran and the Red Bulls' captain, McCarty adds leadership and experience which Rodriguez has prioritized this offseason.

The Fire already added a former MLS All-Star in midfield this offseason in Juninho. The pair could line up next to each other in the preferred 4-2-3-1 coach Veljko Paunovic used for most of last season. This also could potentially put Matt Polster's role with the team in question. As the roster stands now, the third-year midfielder would be competing for two veteran All-Star caliber midfielders who were brought in at a high price.

Not to suggest a position move is in the works for Polster, but he did split time between midfield and right back with the Fire in 2015 under coach Frank Yallop and played there for the U-23 national team in Olympic qualifying. Right back remains a position of need by Rodriguez's own admission.

The trade also adds further context to the Fire trading the No. 3 pick in the draft on Friday. The Fire swapped the pick for $250,000 in general allocation money from New York City FC and Tenorio is reporting the Fire will send $400,000 to the Red Bulls for McCarty. To add those two moves together, the Fire dealt the No. 3 overall pick and $150,000 of allocation money for McCarty.