Uncommon Thievery: Second-half trends

We are now at the point of the season when we should be fine-tuning our squads for the stretch run. Most of you should have a pretty good idea of where you stand in the stolen-base category, and you should be positioning yourself to make moves to either acquire or relinquish speed.

Remember, you earn the same number of points whether you defeat your opponents by 50 steals or by one steal. What you really want to do is to give yourself a 10-steal cushion; that way you aren't cutting it too close at the end, but you are also able to maximize your potential points in other categories. Also, keep in mind that not everyone needs to gun for first place in the steals category. Third or fourth place will do, depending on where you stand in the other categories. With fine-tuning our rosters in mind, here are some notes on some players who may either increase or decrease in value as the season winds down:

You know who's been quite the disappointment this season? Cubs manager Lou Piniella. He's known for his aggressive baserunning style, yet his team ranks just 12th in the league, with 58 stolen bases in 79 attempts. And it's not like he doesn't have the horses. With Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and a few cameo appearances by Felix Pie, the Cubbies should be near the top of the league in thefts.