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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
Andrelton Simmons ankle fine
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:16 am ET) The ankle injury that Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons aggrevated Wednesday night is not severe enough to keep him out of the lineup going forward, per MLB.com.

Though he was removed from the game in the fourth inning against Washington and was walking with a noticeable limp after the game, Simmons said it wasn't hurting him.

"It's not a sprained ankle," Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's more of an Achilles thing, up high, that bites him every once in a while. I didn't want to take a chance with it."

Simmons ended his six-game hitting streak with a 0-for-2 performance and now owns a stat line of .251/.297/.374.


Robbie Ross earns win Wednesday vs. A's
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:48 am ET) Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross picked up a win Wednesday, striking out one in 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his team's 6-1 victory over the A's.

Ross (3-6) was one of three pitchers to appear in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday, and after the Rangers scored six runs on three A's relievers in the top of the ninth, Ross finished off the win with a clean bottom half of the final inning. He owns a 6.39 ERA and 49:29 K:BB ratio in 74 2/3 innings.


J.P. Arencibia slugs 10th home run in win vs. A's
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:46 am ET) Rangers designated hitter J.P. Arencibia went 1 for 4 with a three-run home run in his team's 6-1 victory over the A's Wednesday.

After the Rangers evened the score at 1-1 in the ninth inning, Arencibia put his team up with a big blast over the left field fence. He has a modest four-game hitting streak with two home runs during that stretch. Arencibia has hit .173/.234/.367 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI in 196 at-bats.


Sean Doolittle blows save, takes loss Wednesday vs. Rangers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:46 am ET) Athletics closer Sean Doolittle blew a save opportunity Wednesday and was stuck with the loss in his team's 6-1 defeat against the Rangers.

Doolittle (1-4) was tasked with protecting a 1-0 lead but surrendered a game-tying double before the Rangers broke things open with a three-run home run. The closer finished with five earned runs on three hits and two walks in just one-third of an inning. Doolittle owns a 2.97 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 83:7 K:BB ratio in 57 2/3 innings.


Jeff Samardzija strikes out 10 in gem vs. Rangers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Athletics pitcher Jeff Samardzija didn't factor into the decision Wednesday despite giving up just four hits in eight scoreless innings while striking out 10 and walking none in his team's 6-1 defeat against the Rangers.

Samardzija matched his season high for strikeouts in the gem, and he's now delivered 15 innings of scoreless baseball over his last two starts. However, the bullpen blew his lead in the ninth inning to keep him at 6-12. Despite his record, he's been excellent this season, posting a 2.98 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 190:43 K:BB ratio in 205 2/3 innings. Samardzija is slated to face the Angels Monday.


Derek Holland allows one run in no-decision vs. A's
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Rangers pitcher Derek Holland didn't factor into the decision Wednesday, giving up one earned run on four hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings while striking out five in his team's 6-1 win over the A's.

Holland turned in his fourth straight strong start and actually saw his ERA rise despite the excellent line. The only run came on a single with two men on in the fifth inning, giving Holland four straight starts with one run or no runs since coming off the disabled list. He owns a 0.99 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 22:3 K:BB ratio in 27 1/3 innings. Hollard is scheduled to face the Astros Monday.


Mariners announce weekend rotation plans
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:33 am ET) The Mariners announced Wednesday that Taijuan Walker will draw the start in Friday's series opener against the Astros in Houston.

Walker hasn't made a start for the Mariners since late July, but he's managed to make three appearances out of the bullpen in September. He owns a 2.96 ERA and 21:15 K:BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings.

The announcement will move Chris Young back to Saturday and Hisashi Iwakuma to Sunday.


Eric Stults chased in fifth inning of loss vs. Phillies
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) Padres pitcher Eric Stults took a loss Wednesday, allowing four earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings while striking out two in his team's 5-2 defeat against the Phillies.

Stults (7-17) delivered four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth, when the Phillies opened the inning with four singles to score two runs and then followed a sacrifice with a two-run double, which chased the starter from the game. It's the first time since June 8 Stults has failed to finish five innings. He owns a 4.59 ERA and 101:44 K:BB ratio in 162 2/3 innings. Stults is scheduled to face the Rockies Tuesday.


Cole Hamels strikes out nine in win vs. Padres
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels earned a win Wednesday, allowing one earned run on seven hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out nine in his team's 5-2 victory over the Padres.

Hamels (9-7) gave up just one run for the second straight start, and he's turned in 11 quality starts in 12 tries in the second half, with the only "off" day resulting in a five-inning, three-run win. He owns an excellent 2.47 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 187:57 K:BB ratio in 189 2/3 innings. Hamels is scheduled to face the Marlins Tuesday.


C.J. Cron swats 11th home run Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:52 am ET) Angels first baseman C.J. Cron went 2 for 3 with a three-run home run in his team's 5-0 win over the Mariners Wednesday.

Cron's home run came at an opportune time, as the Mariners turned to the bullpen in the seventh inning only for the Angels first baseman to immediately smack a three-run blast to put the lead out of reach. He has hit .273/.301/.482 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 220 at-bats.


 
 
 
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