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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Florida Marlins

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With an 80-82 record, the Marlins had their first losing season since 2007, as injuries to Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco greased the skids during a late season slump.

Johnson and Nolasco will be ready for spring training, but there are plenty of other question marks surrounding the Fish as they enter the final season before their move into a new ballpark. The offseason signings of Javier Vazquez and John Buck were meant to shore up the rotation and the catching corps, both of which were depleted in 2010. However, Vazquez is coming off one of his worst seasons, while Buck just had a career year. The Marlins will need both to perform at their best in order to contend in the increasingly competitive NL East, but both may fall far short of their respective career peaks.

Florida will also have to contend with the loss of slugging second baseman Dan Uggla, who was traded to Atlanta in November, which leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the batting order. Omar Infante, Uggla's likely replacement, will subtract some whiffs from the lineup, but he won't fill the power void. Unless Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison can take their homer production up a notch and Michael Stanton can continue his torrid home run pace from last season, it could be tougher sledding for the Marlins' offense in general and for offensive star Hanley Ramirez in particular.

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The team did address its most pressing need in the offseason, acquiring several promising relievers, including Mike Dunn, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica, along with veteran lefty Randy Choate. With a stronger bridge to reach setup man Clay Hensley and closer Leo Nunez, the Marlins' starters could pick up a few more wins, even if they have to struggle for more run support.

Bust ... John Buck, C

Buck had never batted higher than .247 in any of his first six major league seasons, so skepticism of last year's .281 average is warranted. He didn't make any advances in his home run hitting or contact rate, but rather he built his career-best mark on a .322 batting average on grounders, an extraordinarily high average for a slow runner. Buck will still be good for 15 to 20 homers, but look for him to find the infield gaps less often this year, bringing his average back below .250. Without that higher average, Buck's value drops to that of a low-end No. 2 catcher in mixed leagues.

Bounce-back player ... Chris Coghlan, OF

Coghlan already bounced back once in the past year, recovering from an awful April in which he batted .195 with no extra-base hits. He picked up his pace in the following weeks, putting up a .290/.361/.438 line over the remainder of the season that was closer to what we saw during his '09 NL Rookie of the Year campaign. Unfortunately, his '10 season came to a premature end, as Coghlan tore the meniscus in his left knee when delivering a celebratory shaving cream pie after a late July win. Having undergone knee surgery in August, Coghlan is expected to be ready for spring training as he adjusts to a new position, center field. It's probably too much to ask Coghlan to repeat the .321 batting average from two years ago, but given his gap power and contact skills, another .300-plus season is not out of the question, and neither are 15 to 20 steals. After last season's misfortunes, Coghlan may be an afterthought for many owners, but he could produce enough to stick as a No. 3 Fantasy outfielder.

Late-round flier ... Chris Volstad, SP

When he first arrived in the majors back in 2008, Volstad looked like he could be on the fast track to stardom, compiling a 6-4 record with a 2.88 ERA in 84 1/3 innings. The former first-round pick has been unable to recapture the form of his rookie year, as he has posted ERAs of 5.21 and 4.58 in the two years since. The sinker-throwing righty gave up only three home runs in his first half-season, setting a standard that is nearly impossible to meet. After a gopherball-filled 2009 season, Volstad improved last year, cutting his home run rate nearly in half and continuing to chip away at his walk rate. Volstad has had trouble stranding baserunners in each of the last two seasons, but that trend could change with help from the Marlins' revamped bullpen. As sinkerballers go, Volstad isn't quite Tim Hudson, but the 24-year-old has enough upside to be a worthy use of a late-round pick in mixed league drafts, especially in deeper leagues.

Florida Marlins Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Chris Coghlan CF 1 Josh Johnson RH
2 Omar Infante 2B 2 Ricky Nolasco RH
3 Hanley Ramirez SS 3 Javier Vazquez RH
4 Michael Stanton RF 4 Anibal Sanchez RH
5 Logan Morrison LF 5 Chris Volstad RH
6 Gaby Sanchez 1B Alt Alex Sanabia RH
7 John Buck C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Matt Dominguez 3B CL Leo Nunez RH
Top bench options SU Clay Hensley RH
R Wes Helms 3B RP Ryan Webb RH
R Emilio Bonifacio OF RP Mike Dunn LH
R John Baker C RP Randy Choate LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Matt Dominguez 21 3B Double-A Majors
Defensive whiz is the frontrunner to be the regular 3B. Development at the plate has lagged the last two seasons.
2 Chad James 20 SP Class A Class A
Struggled with control in his first pro season, but he is still the best minor league arm in the organization. Worth a spot in long-term keeper leagues.
3 Christian Yelich 19 OF Class A Class A
Last year's first-round pick hit for average right away in his first minor league stint. Will get a tougher test in his first full year.
4 Osvaldo Martinez 22 SS Majors Majors
Contact hitter impressed in his major league debut last September, filling in for a banged-up Hanley Ramirez. Could win a utility role this spring.
5 Mike Dunn 25 RP Majors Majors
Key piece in the Dan Uggla trade with the Braves. Could figure in the Marlins' late-inning plans if Leo Nunez or Clay Hensley falter.
Best of the rest: Brad Hand, SP; Jhan Marinez, RP; Scott Cousins, OF; Kyle Skipworth, C; Marcell Ozuna, OF; Rob Rasmussen, RP; Jose Ceda, RP; Tom Koehler, SP; Arquimedes Caminero, RP; Evan Reed, RP; Sandy Rosario, RP; Bryan Petersen, OF; Steve Cishek, RP; and Omar Poveda, SP, 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
Mike Pelfrey escapes rough outing with no-decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:10 pm ET) Twins starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey was not at his best again on Thursday, but this time he escaped with a no-decision in a 9-5 win over Toronto. The right-hander was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on four hits and five walks while striking out one over 4 1/3 innings pitched.

Pelfrey owns a 7.98 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP through his first three starts (14 2/3 innings). He'll look to get back on track Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

Casey Fien gets second win of season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:09 pm ET) Twins reliever Casey Fien was awarded the win Thursday night against the Blue Jays.

Fien (2-0) worked his way around a base hit and needed just 16 pitches to make it out of the eighth inning unscathed. He owns a 4.50 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP with a 4:2 K:BB ratio over six innings pitched this season.

Taylor Jordan hit hard in second loss
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:06 pm ET) Nationals starting pitcher Taylor Jordan struggled through his second subpar start in a row Thursday, in an 8-0 loss to the Nationals.

Jordan took the loss after allowing seven runs -- five earned -- in 5 1/3 innings of work, and he was in trouble from the start. Jordan was tagged for four runs in the first inning, though one of them was unearned. He allowed seven hits and a pair of walks, while striking out four and throwing 61 of 96 pitches for strikes.

Jordan is now 0-2 through his first three starts of the season, and has allowed 10 of his 11 earned runs over the last two outings.  He has a 5.94 ERA heading into his next start, set for Tuesday against the Angels. 


Adam Wainwright tosses first complete-game shutout
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:01 pm ET) Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright twirled a gem Thursday against the Nationals, in an 8-0 win.

Wainwright tossed his first complete-game shutout of the season in the win, and was barely in trouble at all. He surrendered just two hits, both singles, while also walking three batters. He struck out eight batters for the second start in a row as well.

Wainwright has been his typically brilliant self through four starts, holding a 3-1 record and 1.80 ERA in 30 innings of work. He has struck out 32 batters while walking nine heading into his next start, scheduled for Tuesday against the Mets. 


Royals get the best of Scott Feldman
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:57 pm ET) Astros pitcher Scott Feldman took a step back and was on the wrong end of a decision for the first time this season in his team's 5-1 defeat to the Royals on Thursday.

Feldman (2-1) surrendered a run-scoring single to Mike Moustakas in the second, a two-run double to Alcides Escobar in the fourth and a run-scoring double to Salvador Perez in the fifth. He was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and one walks while striking out two over six innings pitched.

Feldman has allowed just five earned runs over his first 26 2/3 innings pitched through four starts. He'll look to turn things around again Tuesday in Seattle.

Timeline becoming clear for Doug Fister following sim start
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:53 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Doug Fister overcame the first hurdle in his recovery from a lat strain Thursday, as he got through a two simulated innings without an issue Thursday.

Fister will make another simulated start in five days, with a rehab assignment likely to come after. According to MLB.com, the team has a timetable for Fister that could have him back with the team within 20 days, if his two scheduled rehab starts go according to plan.

"We have to build [up Fister] like we [tried to] build him [up] this spring," Williams said. "I think he is a little bit ahead of the game in that regard. I would like him to get five innings somewhere to make sure he can up that pitch count."


James Shields Ks 12 in win over Houston
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:52 pm ET) Royals pitcher James Shields put together a dominant performance on Thursday, giving his team eight strong innings as he picked up his first win of the season against the Astros in Houston.

Shields (1-2) tossed four scoreless innings to start the game before surrendering a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, his lone blemish of the night. He yielded one run on four hits and two walks while striking out 12 in a 5-1 win. He threw 107 pitches, 64 of which were strikes.

Shields lowered his ERA from 4.26 to 2.37 over his last two starts, allowing just two earned runs over his last 12 2/3 innings pitched. He will make his next start Tuesday in Cleveland.

Jaime Garcia set for extended spring training
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(10:41 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia will throw in an extended spring training game Saturday in Jupiter, as he continues to recover from bursitis in his left shoulder. According to MLB.com,  Garcia is set to throw about 35 pitches in his first game action. 

CC Sabathia outduels David Price in win over Rays
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:40 pm ET) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia outdueled David Price and received more than enough run support on Thursday, earning his second win of the season in a 10-2 victory over the Rays in Tampa.

Sabathia (2-2) served up a solo home run to Sean Rodriguez in the seventh for his only blemish of the night. He was charged with two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and two walks while striking out six over seven innings pitched.

Sabathia lowered his ERA from 6.63 to 5.19 after his best performance of this young season. He will look to keep things rolling Wednesday against Boston.

Carlos Martinez not considered an option for spot starts
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:39 pm ET) The Cardinals are not considered moving pitcher Carlos Martinez from the bullpen to the rotation, despite losing Joe Kelly to a hamstring injury that landed him on the disabled list Thursday, according to MLB.com.

"You'd be looking at stretching him out just to slow him back down again," Matheny said. "This is one of those scenarios where we just don't know how long it's going to be [for Kelly]. It's not set in stone, and I think you take that risk of pulling [Martinez] out, getting him going just to slow him back down if things [with Kelly] progress quickly."

According to the report, the team prefers to pick a starter from the Triple-A squad in Memphis, rather than move Carlos Martinez into a starting role for a few spot starts. Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney are both mentioned as possible options for the spot.

Martinez has a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings of the bullpen, and has yet to throw more than 31 pitches in any outing. 


 
 
 
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