Fantasy batter stock watch

Fantasy batter stock watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

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Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Yankees: Perhaps the juices of the pennant race sparked Ichiro this week - he went on a 9-for-12 binge with a homer, three doubles and four stolen bases, just when the Yankees needed him most. The wheels have never really deteriorated with Suzuki over the years, so he's an outstanding stolen-base gambit down the stretch. He's also having a ball in The Bronx: .902 OPS.

B.J. Upton, OF, Rays: The team might be in the toilet now, but Upton's best game has come to the surface over the past 30 days, perhaps part of a contract drive (18 runs, nine homers, 17 RBIs, seven steals). He still has the capability to go 35-35 or 40-40 one of these years; he's only 28. See if you can sneak him under market next spring.

Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers: He's still ready to grab in about 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues, despite a ballistic month at the top of the Milwaukee order (.333, 20 runs, 16 RBIs, 10 steals). Aoki wasn't running that much in the first half of the year, but it sure looks like he has the NL down pat now. Kudos for the quick adjustment to the new circuit.

Donovan Solano, Utility, Marlins: He qualifies all over the yard in Yahoo! leagues (second, third, short, outfield), and while Solano offers no pop, he can help you with average and stolen bases. Miami faces up against Chris Young this weekend - maybe the easiest pitcher to run on in the majors - so perhaps Solano will be one of the rabbits that takes advantage. We know Ozzie Guillen will let his team run just about any time they want.

Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies: He still needs a lot of work on his defense, but with Rosario's pop at the dish, we're not going to complain. While the majority of his numbers have come at Coors Field, Rosario hasn't been a stiff on the road (.254.284.462, nine homers). He's only 23, the best is certainly yet to come.

Sell

Mark Trumbo, Utility, Angels: The monster first half was a blast (.306, 22 homers), but does Trumbo deserve a lineup spot as the Angels fight for their lives? He's slashing a paltry .211.261.339 over the second half, with 79 strikeouts over 57 games. Mike Scioscia can't watch this horror show forever, and neither can fantasy owners. You have cut-bait permission in shallow and medium leagues.

Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: The power hasn't left with Howard (he has 10 homers and 29 RBIs over the last month), but don't lose sight of the rest of the package (.192.269.356 slash, 28.6 strikeout rate, worst WAR in the National League). If you need to keep Howard for the moment because you need the late-season pop, that's one thing. But we want no part of this diminished asset at March's draft table.

Scott Podsednik, OF, Red Sox: Okay, it was fun while it lasted. Podsednik isn't stroking hits or getting on base down the stretch (note the anemic .236.250.236 slash), and when he does reach, the running game is stuck in the mud (just two steals). Go find your speciality steals play somewhere else. Podsednik's time as a major leaguer appears to be over.

Carlos Lee, 1BOF, Marlins: He still has elite contact skills, but all that means is a lot of weak grounders to second. The Marlins are living with Lee's .214.273.327 slash over the last month because they couldn't give him away at the trading deadline. The bat is out of frozen ropes.

Penn State and negative recruiting becomes hot topic at Big Ten Media Days

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Penn State and negative recruiting becomes hot topic at Big Ten Media Days

Urban Meyer was taken aback.

Did he or his coaching staff participate in “negative recruiting” against Penn State? Meaning, does Ohio State tell recruits that the continuing fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal will result in future NCAA sanctions?

Meyer didn’t seem to know what to say.

“That's the first time I've heard that," he said.

The question stemmed from comments Penn State head coach James Franklin made in an interview with the Reading Eagle that was published over the weekend.

Franklin is still in the process of dragging his program out of the shadow of the Sandusky scandal, which resulted in NCAA sanctions that reduced the number of scholarships and banned the Nittany Lions from bowl participation for multiple seasons.

That’s all done with now — the bowl ban lifted two seasons ago and Franklin telling reporters Monday that he’s back to a full allotment of 85 scholarships — but Franklin said his team is still short on seniors and the scandal’s effects still loom. Most notably, that’s coming in the form of new developments, new reports of who knew what and when during Joe Paterno’s decades-long tenure in State College.

In that interview, Franklin seemed to accuse Penn State’s Big Ten East Division rivals — Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State — of telling kids on the recruiting trail that more punishments are coming with every new development.

Here’s what he told the Reading Eagle:

“We're able to tell kids they're going to compete against the very highest level week in and week out,” Franklin said when asked what it’s like having those three powerhouse programs in the same division as Penn State. “What makes it tricky, they're not having to deal with some of the things we're dealing with and working through, which magnifies it. Those programs as well as others know that and use that against us. We have that conversation with every single prospect. We don't usually initiate it, but it's coming from somewhere.”

Elsewhere during the interview, he had this to say:

“The one thing that I can't predict is when there is going to be finality to everything. A month ago, I'm in Chicago at a wedding of one of my former players and the most recent things (from the Sandusky scandal) come up. I spend all Friday and Saturday on the phone talking to all of our players because other schools are contacting them and telling them the NCAA is going to get involved again and impose more sanctions.

“The people we're competing with — Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame — this is just not something they have to deal with. Although we want to move on, those other schools are not letting us move on.”

As Meyer said Tuesday, those sound like some pretty serious allegations.

“I'll address that with Coach Franklin if that is an issue," he said. "That's a pretty strong allegation that I've not heard yet. So that's not been presented to me until this moment. Absolutely not. We've got a great deal of respect for every school in our conference. And we don't worry about that stuff. I'm glad you told me that. If that's true, I'll address that."

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio was asked the same question.

“From my standpoint, I have not said anything negative about Penn State. And hopefully our coaches have not as well,” Dantonio said. “So I was surprised to read that. I don't know what happens out there on the road completely. But it's not our MO. And that's not how we do business.”

Franklin tried to clear up his comments after the story picked up steam, telling Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman that he didn’t accuse those schools of any negative recruiting.

Additionally, Franklin received his own allegation on Tuesday morning.

Who knows what’s actually going on between coaches and high school prospects. Certainly coaches taking swipes at each other is nothing new, nor is the win-at-all-costs arena of college football recruiting.

Still, it added some drama to the second day of Big Ten Media Days.

31 Days to Kickoff: Minooka

31 Days to Kickoff: Minooka

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Minooka

Head coach: Paul Forsythe

Assistant Coaches: Bert Kooi, Frank Yudzentis, Paige Schoolman, Matt Harding, Mic Resner

How they fared in 2015: 5-5 (3-4) Southwest Prairie Conference. Minooka made the 2015 Class 8A state playoff field and lost to Huntley in opening round action.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Indians get back to the state playoffs and advance?

Names to watch this season: QB Johnny Carnagio, WR/DB Isaiah Hill

Biggest holes to fill: The Indians will need to replace it's entire starting defensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: With 13 starters back (8 offense 5 defense) from it's 2015 state playoff team the Indians have high hopes this fall. The pass/catch combo of QB Carnagio to WR Hill is one of the tops in the conference. If Minooka can find a few answers up front on defense they could make a return state playoff push.

Former Bears return man Devin Hester released by Falcons

Former Bears return man Devin Hester released by Falcons

Devin Hester is hitting the market.

The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that they have released the kick return specialist after a two-year run with the team.

The former Bear holds the NFL record for most return touchdowns with 20. Hester left the Bears — after eight seasons — tied with Deion Sanders at 19. 

On Sept. 18, 2014, Hester broke that record with the Falcons on a 62-yard punt return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Prime Time gave Hester this shoutout afterwards:

Hester only played in five games last season due to a turf toe injury. He underwent foot surgery in January 2016.