The signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo by the Boston Red Sox has everybody excited. Like other Cuban players, scouts were limited in the amount of looks they were able to get and so the information we have on him is somewhat limited as well. The one tool that is not in question is his speed. A 30+ steal season from Castillo is a possibility as soon as 2015. The power is still up in the air. Some have tagged him more as an 8-12 homer type guy while others have said 15 or maybe even 20 homers could be in the cards. With any player, we get lots of comps thrown around. Two of the comps I’ve heard the most are Shane Victorino and Rajai Davis. Honestly, the Davis comp makes the most sense to me. The money the Red Sox invested in Castillo shows how owners are more willing to take a chance on these guys after seeing the success of players like Cespedes, Puig, and Abreu in the majors.

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We discuss Jarrod Dyson a lot in this column. He’s truly what cheap steals are all about. In limited plate appearances he is able to get on base and swipe bags. Not an ideal player to own in weekly leagues, but he can be a huge boost in the steals department for fantasy players in leagues with daily roster moves. So while the Prince of SAGNOF has gotten some love here both in the preseason and throughout the year, he’s getting the lede today just in case you forgot he’s out there (and he probably is with 7.2% ownership at ESPN). Dyson’s 27 steals have come in just 226 plate appearances this season. That’s a steal about every 8 plate appearances. After finishing up the series at Minnesota today, Dyson and the Royals head out to Colorado and Texas. The Rockies have allowed 68 steals, which is middle of the pack in the major leagues in that category. However, their caught stealing percentage (15%) ranks dead last in baseball. Here are some other steals picks for 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Sam Fuld already has four stolen bases since his trade to the Athletics. He’s seeing time batting second in the A’s lineup now that Coco Crisp has returned from injury, and should continue to get enough playing time in the outfield to make him relevant as a speed play in most fantasy leagues. He’s basically owned nowhere with less than 2% ownership on ESPN, so he’s likely available as a play in leagues that make daily roster changes. Fuld is getting on base at a .347 clip this season and he’s only been caught three times in 19 stolen base attempts. His 16 stolen bases have come in only 262 plate appearances. That’s a rate of one steal for every 16 plate appearances. In the A’s lineup he’ll have opportunites to score runs, but outside of that and his steals he’s not going to bring much to the table as a .260 hitter with no power (hence the appearances in these SAGNOF columns). We’re getting closer to the finish line here folks and we need to get the stats where we can. Give Fuld a look this week against the Braves, who are tied for 8th in baseball with 73 stolen bases allowed. Here are some other steals picks for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Two of the smaller pieces that stand to gain value after Thursday’s massive trade deadline are Tiger center fielders Ezequiel Carrera and Rajai Davis. The two will see all of the starts in center now that Austin Jackson has been traded. Davis should see the majority of playing time between the two speedsters, but Carrera could still be good for SAGNOF in some deep leagues or AL-only leagues. The 27-year-old had stolen 43 bases in the minors prior to his call up and while he only played a handful of games with the Indians last season, he stole 43 bags in the minors in 2013 as well. Meanwhile Davis started in center and led off both Friday and Saturday. The Jackson trade was really a big boost to Davis owners, since playing time had been his biggest concern and now he’ll get a shot to play every day in center.

For those looking to gamble on Carrera it’s worth mentioning that he bats left-handed while Davis bats from the right side. This could shift Davis’s value in the wrong direction should he begin to yield starts with right-handers on the mound. I don’t think it happens, but it’s worth keeping an eye on if Davis slumps. Carrera could also see a few starts for defensive reasons, as Davis posted a -3.8 UZR in left prior to the trade and center field isn’t exactly easier to play. However, Davis came up in the minors playing center field so expecting Carrera to play over him for defense is still a bit of a stretch. All in all, it’s just a situation worth monitoring if you’re a Davis owner or play in a deep league (15-team+) where Carrera is readily available. Here are some other steals options for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Emilio Bonifacio was activated from the disabled list last week. Entering Sunday’s slate he’d recorded a hit in each of his games since his return and threw in a steal for good measure. Part of Bonifacio’s charm is his position flexibility. He’s eligible at both second base and outfield in ESPN leagues. He’s a nice option for steals with 14 stolen bases in 282 plate appearances. With Arismendy Alcantara able to play the outfield and Bonifacio really able to play anywhere, he should see regular playing time. At this point, Bonifacio is owned in less than 20% of leagues, but his ownership jumped 5% in the last week. Now’s a good time to add him if some of the other SAGNOF options in your league have been taken. In 10-teamers he’s a stretch, but for 12-team leagues and deeper I’d look to add Bonifacio and use him as a solid bench bat similar to what Danny Santana brings to the table. For this week, Bonifacio has a full scehdule of seven games against the Rockies and Dodgers. The Rockies have allowed 59 stolen bases this season (17th in MLB) but as a commentator pointed out last week they have caught a league-worst 15% of base stealers. The Dodgers have allowed 60 stolen bases on the season (16th in MLB). Here are some other steals options for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Washington, D.C. has two Spans. If you like politics and live footage of people walking around in suits on a video feed, then C-SPAN (2:43) is your best bet in the capital city. If you prefer players who can help you win some fantasy leagues, than you better go with D-SPAN. Denard Span is currently owned in less than 50% of ESPN fantasy leagues but he’s got as many steals as guys like Brett Gardner, Coco Crisp, and Alex Rios. He’s only been caught twice, and hitting at the top of a Nationals lineup that now sports a healthy Bryce Harper to go along with Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth should give Span nice opportunities to score runs as well. He’s hitting .276 on the year and should see that average maintain in the second half. If the Nationals offense cooperates, he should see 90 runs scored and 25 stolen bases by the end of the season. He hits for no power, but contributing to three of the five standard fantasy categories comes in handy from a waiver wire grab. This week Span will face the Rockies and Reds, who have both been stingy against the stolen base. If you have an injured outfielder or need a reserve, Span is worth a look though. Here are some other steals options for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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The Futures Game was yesterday, and while I’m writing this post prior to the game actually being played, here’s about what I’d expect the broadcast booth banter to sound like – “Player X has a lot of loud tools. He has a bright future in the bigs. This kid is going to be a perennial All-Star. Comps, hyperbole, etc.” Sounds cynical, but unfortunately there are no crystal balls. It’s fun to dream on these guys, though, and really that’s what the Futures Game is all about to me – showcasing the best young talent in the game at the moment. Be sure to check out the Futures Game edition of the Minor Accomplishments series from Chris yesterday. On this short week let’s see if there are any players in the minors we should have our eye on from a steals perspective. Players like George Springer, Gregory Polanco, Mookie Betts, and most recently Arismendy Alcantara have already come up this year. They all have the ability to make an impact in the stolen base department. So let’s see who’s next. Whether they are close to the bigs or a ways away, these players should make an impact when their time comes.

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Well that was a nice easy title to kick things off after a week’s vacation. All that fresh sea air and funnel cake at the Jersey Shore really refreshed me spiritually. Of course the Atlantic City Expressway had the reverse effect, so I guess I have to call it a wash. This week, James Jones and his five steals in two weeks is getting the lede. Jones went from being more of a deep/AL-only play to mixed league relevant rather quickly. His biggest asset in fantasy is obviously the speed, and he’s now 17-for-18 in stolen base attempts in just 228 plate appearances. The 25-year-old outfielder bats from the left side and he’s a no-brainer add if you need some cheap steals out of an OF5 slot. Jones will face off against the Twins and Athletics this week. The Twins are just outside the top ten in MLB for steals allowed. By the by, it’s hard not to think of James Earl Jones when discussing this guy. My association with JEJ isn’t Darth Vader or Field of Dreams, though. It’s as the host of Long Ago & Far Away, a trippy claymation style kid’s show. Maybe there are some other thirty-somethings out there who remember the Pied Piper episode as vividly as I do. I digress. Here are some other steals plays for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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James Jones has appeared in this column before, but his three steals against the Padres last week opened the eyes of fantasy players in all formats. It shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise given who those steals came against though. The Padres are one of the worst teams in the majors at holding baserunners and on that particular night it was Tyson Ross on the mound. Ross is currently leading the major leagues in stolen bases allowed (21). He’s got a big red target on his back for those of us in daily leagues looking to deploy SAGNOF types. If you look at it as a rate, the Padres hurler is giving up about a steal for every five innings pitched. Ross is scheduled to face the Diamondbacks this week, so even fringy players like Tony Campana might be worth a shot for a stolen base. Week to week we give you the best and worst teams to run against, but looking even closer at the individual pitchers can be helpful for daily lineup changes. Hey Mike, I wish we had a tool for that! I hear you, friend. Check out the SB Rates vs. SP tool. It will give you the stolen base against data for each pitcher in 2013. Here’s a quick rundown of the best arms to run against in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Eric Young is set to return from the disabled list prior to today’s game. While hamstring injuries are never fun to mess around with, Young did have 17 stolen bases before the injury. He had been relegated to a fourth outfielder role with the Mets, but now that Juan Lagares is hurt, Young should see a decent amount of playing time in the near future. He’ll draw the Cardinals and the Marlins this week. The match-up with St. Louis is obviously tough (only 18 steals allowed) but then there’s a four game set with Miami. That series should be a good opportunity for Young to show off his wheels as the Marlins are currently ranked fourth in baseball with 52 steals allowed. Here are some other steals picks for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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