Weekly Rundown: Barcalounger-athletic is what you call Chicago's Jake Fox

Brad Evans

Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influences.

LEADING OFF

The quintessential National League DH, Jake Fox(notes), is an offensive powder keg cursed by an iron glove.

Equipped with the speed of a three-toed sloth and the agility of a brick, he has lived a nomadic existence in the field over his entire professional career. Experiments at catcher, left field and both corner infield positions have yielded adventurous results to say the least. Due to his well-documented defensive inefficiencies, the slugger's Ruthian bat has rotted away in storage.

But for a Cubs squad struggling offensively, Fox has been a godsend in Interleague play.

In his second tour of duty with the senior club this season, he's split time between right, third and DH in recent days. The increased opportunities have ignited the 26-year-old's bat and Chicago's sputtering offense. Since June 21, he's collected 10 hits, including five extra-base knocks (2 HR, 3 2B), and nine RBIs in a mere 20 at-bats. More astonishingly, despite his horrendous defensive reputation, he's yet to commit an error in 38 innings.

Though still wavering on whether or not to give Fox regular playing time until Aramis Ramirez(notes) returns in roughly 2-3 weeks, Lou Piniella is warming up to the idea:

"Fox swings the bat. He's going to have some not-so-pretty at-bats. The kid's got some bat speed and he's swinging it. I'm going to let him play whenever I can get him in there. It's refreshing to see somebody go up there and powder river the ball { Noise note: "Powder river" in terms of striking a baseball has no known origin. I'm guessing Lou manufactured the phrase after watching Eastwood westerns late one night on WGN or learned it in his " rocks for jocks" class while a student at Tampa University.), it really is."

Further Lou reflection on the youngster:

"We're looking for offense anywhere we can get it, and that's why you see him over there. If we were scoring more runs, we probably wouldn't get that liberal. We've got Ramirez coming back here in the next couple of weeks. So Fox can make a statement. If he wants to stay here the rest of the summer, it's OK with me.''

The egoless corner infielder is 100 percent supportive of his manager's uneasiness.

''He's in the business of winning ballgames, that's his job, to put the best team out there to win a game. I would be apprehensive to put me out there also. I'm grateful for the fact that he feels comfortable enough to put me out there. He took the chance to put me out there, and it was a big risk. Now I've shown him I can go out there and do it.''

Bottom line: Fox's offensive firepower outweighs his defensive downside. When the Michigan product plays, he rakes. He desrves to be in the lineup every single day until Ramirez regains full strength. It's taken the stubborn Piniella an eternity to see the light.

Fox's aggressive approach (2.6 BB%), low contact rate (68.2 CT%) and fly-ball heavy profile (0.93 GB/FB) do not support a long-term BA over .300. However, the Playstation numbers he posted earlier this year at Iowa suggest otherwise. Because he's likely to net at least 4-5 starts against pitching challenged Pittsburgh and Milwaukee this week, the 12 percent-owned Bald Bomber is worth streaming in 12-team and deeper mixed leagues. But understand once Ramirez is activated, he's destined to return to a pinch-hit role.

Fearless Forecast (next two weeks): 38 at-bats, .315 BA, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 7 R, 0 SB

QUICK HITTERS

Blockbuster season on the silver screen and diamond is upon us. Based on the rumors swirling in St. Louis, a swap of "Transformers" proportions may soon be finalized.

According to the Post-Dispatch, the historically trade-conservative Cardinals are angling to acquire early round bust Matt Holliday(notes). Struggling outfielder Ryan Ludwick(notes), a prospect and one of St. Louis' many premium bullpen hands -- Jason Motte(notes), Chris Perez(notes) or Kyle McClellan(notes) -- could be the compensatory pieces.

Once worshipped by the fantasy masses just two short seasons ago, the outfielder's time in Oakland has, as expected, been filled with disappointment. On pace for a solid, but in Holliday terms, underachieving campaign (18-88-82-18), he currently ranks 39th among outfielders in Yahoo! fantasy. A shift to the Midwest would likely resuscitate his dwindling value. Hitting behind Albert Pujols(notes) certainly would have its RBI advantages.

It's a foregone conclusion Holliday will not don Oakland green by the deadline. With St. Louis pressing hard for his services, it would be sage for virtual GMs to also pitch an offer. This week he attracted Matt Cain(notes), CC Sabathia(notes), Michael Bourn(notes) and Grady Sizemore(notes) in one-for-one Plus league deals.

NL-only leaguers anxiously awaiting a difference maker to hit the waiver wire, be prepared to slap the wallet. Holliday is easily worth 90 percent of your remaining budget.

Update 10:26 PM CT: Per the Associated Press, the Cardinals have acquired infielder Mark DeRosa(notes) from the Indians in exchange for reliever Chris Perez and the always intriguing player-to-be named later. The Holliday-to-St. Louis whispers will likely fade away.

As a devoted Cubs and DeRosa supporter, seeing him don rival colors stings a bit. Assuming he bats behind Pujols, a slight power numbers increase should be expected. However, if he's slotted into the two spot, anticipate a runs boost. He will provide much needed consistency at third base for Tony LaRussa.

Meanwhile in Cleveland, Perez, who was once tabbed the Cardinals' closer of the future, instantly vaults into the primary setup role behind Kerry Wood(notes). The artist formerly known as Kid K has struggled mightily of late, blowing two saves in his past three outings. He's also surrendered four earned over that span. Owners vulturing for saves should monitor Perez's availability closely. If he can harness his often wild comamnd (5.70 BB/9), the flamethrowing righty has the stuff to develop into a very effective end-game option. In 23.2 innings, he's posted an eye-popping 11.41 K/9.

In other potential wheeling and dealing news, disgruntled Washington farmhand Lastings Milledge(notes) could be headed to Pittsburgh in exchange for Juan Pierre(notes) impersonator Nyjer Morgan(notes). Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, talks between the two sides stalled earlier this week when Buccos officials pushed to include Craig Stammen -- quite an honor for a pitcher sporting a 5.49 ERA. Despite the setback, both sides have rekindled talks and could settle on a deal imminently.

If agreed upon, the transaction would benefit all parties involved. Morgan, who lost his leadoff position to hotshot rookie Andrew McCutchen(notes), would log at-bats exclusively at the top of the order for a fairly potent Nationals lineup, slightly enhancing his runs and steals value.

Meanwhile, Milledge, who is slated to return to Triple-A action after nursing a broken finger for the past six weeks, would earn everyday playing time as Morgan's replacement in left. Still a pup at 24, the former elite prospect is just one year removed from a very serviceable .268-14-61-65-24 season with the Nationals. A change of scenery and, most importantly, an everyday opportunity would revive his once promising career. The M&M combination of McCutchen and Milledge at the top of the Buccos order could be deadly for years to come. Consider stashing the four percent-owned outfielder in wire-exhausted leagues.

Battered, bruised or should not be used: Jimmy Rollins(notes) (suckitis/mental vacation, day-to-day), Derek Jeter(notes) (flu, day-to-day), Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) (shoulder, expected to suit up Saturday or Sunday), Josh Outman(notes) (elbow, Dr. Death visit Monday), Antonio Bastardo(notes) (shoulder, will have start skipped), Mike Lowell(notes) (hip, should return midweek), Nate McLouth(notes) (sprained hammy, day-to-day), Ervin Santana(notes) (rehabbing in Arizona; could return when eligible Friday), Yunel Escobar(notes) (hip, day-to-day), Ryan Doumit(notes) (wrist, set to start rehab assignment this week)

DOUBLE DIPPERS

For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.


Other AL Double Dippers: Rich Hill(notes), Bal (Bos, at LAA), Sean O'Sullivan(notes), LAA (at Tex, Bal), Jason Berkman, Bal (Bos, at LAA)


Other NL Double Dippers: Ross Ohlendorf(notes), Pit (ChC, at Fla), Braden Looper(notes), Mil (NYM, at ChC), Josh Banks(notes), SD (Hou, LAD), Craig Stammen(notes), Was (at Fla, Atl), Brad Thompson(notes), StL (SF, at Cin), Mike Barns, Mil (NYM, at ChC), Josh Geer(notes), SD (Hou, LAD)

FEAST OR FAMINE?

Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Rick Porcello is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through June 26:


--

Image coutesy of Getty