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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks

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Even though they had a roster brimming with potential, even though players like Chris Young, Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew made considerable, measurable progress, the Diamondbacks were one of the worst teams in baseball last year.

Part of the problem was the unexpected regression of two players: Mark Reynolds, who went from being one of the premier power hitters in baseball to a flailing, wailing mess, and Justin Upton, who wasn't as close to meeting his superstar potential as everyone thought. Part of the problem was the injury to longtime ace Brandon Webb, who has since moved on to Texas. The biggest part of the problem was a dismal bullpen, which the Diamondbacks have already taken steps to correct by signing J.J. Putz and acquiring David Hernandez.

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And really, the rest should correct itself in time. The Diamondbacks' demise, disappointing as it was, at least gave the team the green light to experiment with emerging young talent, and some of that experimentation paid off. Ian Kennedy and Barry Enright look like future mainstays in the starting rotation, and the Diamondbacks acquired two more, Daniel Hudson and Tyler Skaggs, in the Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren deals. Throw in Jarrod Parker, an elite prospect coming back from Tommy John surgery, and the team's greatest weakness could become its greatest strength in the next year or two.

For now, the Diamondbacks will get by with stopgaps and retreads. They gave up on Reynolds, replacing him with aging utility player Melvin Mora, and have seemingly given up on Gerardo Parra, replacing him with a declining Xavier Nady. They again appear unwilling to give minor-league slugger Brandon Allen a chance, harboring a perplexing fascination with former Yankees farmhand Juan Miranda.

But overall, the Diamondbacks have more players on the rise than on the decline. As long as you don't reach for them, you should come away satisfied in Fantasy.

Breakout ... Daniel Hudson, SP

Hudson pitched out of his mind after coming over to the Diamondbacks in the Edwin Jackson trade last season, showing none of the weaknesses you'd expect for a player his age. He pitched deep into games, lasting seven innings or more nine times. He had outstanding command, never issuing more than two walks. He even struck out six batters or more seven times. Were his 7-1 record and 1.69 ERA in 11 starts too good to be true? Of course, but numbers like that don't happen by accident either. Hudson's immediate dominance should earn him the same attention Tommy Hanson got last year, but it hasn't. He's lasting into the middle and late rounds when he's just a track record away from being a Fantasy ace. You shouldn't expect a sub-2.00 or even sub-3.00 ERA from the 23-year-old, but he's practically a slam dunk to outperform his draft position.

Bust ... Chris Young, OF

Young's 2010 numbers fit his profile, but as with Mark Reynolds last year, a lot would have to go right for him to repeat them. People remember his batting average hovering around the .270 mark in August and assume he's that kind of hitter, but he hit only .185 over his final 23 games, regressing to the mean after months of playing over his head. No doubt, his near 30-30 season was closer to the scouts' expectations than any of his previous seasons, but he didn't improve his strikeout rate enough to suggest he was any better than the player who entered the season with a career .235 batting average. Stronger, maybe -- which would make sense as he enters his prime -- but not better. If his batting average drops back to the .240-.250 range, his homers and steals figure to drop back to the 20-20 range, making him a middle-of-the-road Fantasy option again. For the price of an early-round pick, he's more likely to disappoint than impress.

Sleeper ... J.J. Putz, RP

Perhaps Putz is too far removed from the Fantasy spotlight for his return to the closer role to generate much hype on Draft Day, but after the top five or six relievers go off the board, he has as much potential as anyone at the position. Back in 2006 and 2007, he was one of the top closers in baseball, compiling a 1.86 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP and 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. But then he got the Rafael Soriano treatment, becoming a setup man for a team with more money than it knew how to use. An elbow injury followed, and that was it: Putz's Fantasy value was shot. He didn't give up, though, regaining his previous strikeout and walk rates in a low-pressure role for the White Sox last season, and the Diamondbacks took notice. If you want this year's Billy Wagner -- a forgotten closer who can deliver high-end numbers with a late-round pick -- Putz is your guy.

Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Stephen Drew SS 1 Joe Saunders LH
2 Kelly Johnson 2B 2 Ian Kennedy RH
3 Justin Upton RF 3 Daniel Hudson RH
4 Chris Young CF 4 Zach Duke LH
5 Miguel Montero C 5 Barry Enright RH
6 Xavier Nady LF Alt Aaron Heilman RH
7 Juan Miranda 1B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Melvin Mora 3B CL J.J. Putz RH
Top bench options SU Juan Gutierrez RH
R Brandon Allen 1B/OF RP David Hernandez RH
R Gerardo Parra OF RP Sam Demel RH
R Geoff Blum INF RP Kam Mickolio RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Jarrod Parker 22 SP DNP -- injured Double-A
Tommy John survivor showed usual ace stuff in instructional league. Could debut as soon as he finds form.
2 Bobby Borchering 20 3B Class A Class A
So-so numbers but considered best high school hitter when drafted. Has drawn Chipper Jones comparisons.
3 Matt Davidson 20 3B Class A Class A
Preferred by some to Borchering, but lesser pedigree ranks him a tick behind. Has good power, though.
4 Paul Goldschmidt 23 1B Class A Double-A
Homers made him MVP of heavy-hitting California League, but free-swinger might not survive next level.
5 Chris Owings 19 SS Class A Class A
Lacks plate discipline, but has similar power to Stephen Drew. Could replace him in a couple years.
Best of the rest: Tyler Skaggs, SP; Wade Miley, SP; A.J. Pollock, OF; Marc Krauss, OF; Pat Corbin, SP; Keon Broxton, OF; Kam Mickolio, RP; Zach Kroenke, RP; Joe Paterson, RP; Kevin Mulvey, RP; David Holmberg, SP; Collin Cowgill, OF; Josh Collmenter, SP; and Ryan Wheeler, 1B.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Team outlooks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Reds sign Brennan Boesch to minor league deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Reds have signed outfielder Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Boesch, 29, is a career .256/.309/.412 hitter over five seasons for the Tigers, Yankees and Angels.

He was in the minors for most of last season, hitting .332 with 25 homers for the Angels Triple-A affiliate. 


Royals acquire infielder Ryan Jackson from Dodgers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Royals have acquired infielder Ryan Jackson from the Dodgers for cash considerations. Jackson was out for most of last season with a wrist injury. 

Jackson hit .278 with 34 RBI at Triple-A Memphis, playing 122 games at shortstop and third base in 2013.


Report: Talks break down between Yanks, Phils about Rollins deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Yankees and Phillies reportedly discussed a deal for 35-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins before talks broke down, according to ESPN reporter Jayson Stark.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Rollins is "one of the best shortstops in baseball still" but wouldn't confirm Yankees interest in the veteran. Amaro also said Rollins is "somebody we want on our club and would be very hard to replace."

Rollins is due $11 million this season and his contract is up at the end of 2015. Rollins hit .243 with 55 RBI and stole 28 bases in 2014. 


Padres' Blaine Boyer clears waivers, heads for free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Padres right-handed pitcher Blaine Boyer cleared waivers Wednesday and will enter free agency, according to U-T San Diego. Boyer was designated for assignment last week.

Boyer appeared in 32 games last season for the Padres and posted a 3.57 ERA. 


Rays designate Sean Rodriguez for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Rays have designated 29-year-old Sean Rodriguez for assignment. 

Rodriguez hit .211 with 12 home runs last season. 


Jose Molina, Cole Figueroa clear waivers, released by Rays
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Catcher Jose Molina and infielder Cole Figueroa cleared waivers and were released by the Rays Wednesday. 

Both Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment Thursday. Molina, 39, hit .178 over 225 at-bats last year, while Figueroa hit .233 in 43 at-bats. 


Rays sign right-hander Ernesto Frieri to major-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Rays have announced signing of right-hand pitcher Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract. Frieri will make a base salary of $800,000, going up to $3.15 million with incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Frieri, who had a career-high 37 saves in 2013, had 11 last season with a 7.34 ERA.


Yankees' Sabathia confident he can return to being 200-inning pitcher
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia continues to deliver positive updates coming off July knee surgery.

"The knee, I have no complaints," Sabathia told YES Network. "I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in."

Despite coming off surgery and being limited to eight starts (46 innings) in 2014, Sabathia feels he can get back to being a 30-start, 200-inning pitcher in 2015.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely."


Report: Indians expressing interest in Kendrys Morales
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Indians have expressed inerest in DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales

Morales, who split time between the Twins and Mariners last season, hit .218 with 42 RBI.


Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


 
 
 
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