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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Baltimore Orioles

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Last year's 66-96 record gave the Orioles their 13th straight losing season, but out of a dismal campaign came a few signs of hope.

After the hiring of Buck Showalter as manager in midseason, Baltimore won 34 of their final 57 games. The change of leadership may have been a factor, but the O's were carried by strong late-season pitching. In particular, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen turned in solid performances once Showalter came on board.

While Matusz and Bergesen picked up their pace, the other young starters -- Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman -- did not fare as well. With some of their growing pains behind them, the Orioles should improve on their 4.59 team ERA, which was the second-worst in the American League. Free agent signee Justin Duchscherer will provide an additional veteran presence to Guthrie, not to mention a solid arm, if he can come back strong from hip surgery. Koji Uehara, who saved 13 of 15 games after seizing the closer's role in August, is back, and he will compete with Kevin Gregg for the ninth-inning honors this spring.

With no major hitting prospects on the horizon, the Orioles had to hit the trade market to upgrade an offense that scored the second-fewest runs in the AL last season. Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy will give Baltimore much more thump from the left side of the infield, though incumbents Josh Bell and Cesar Izturis are expected to remain with the team as reserves. The Orioles went the free agent route to replace Ty Wigginton at first base with Derrek Lee.

Even if Reynolds and Lee fail to bounce back from disappointing seasons, the Orioles' lineup could take some sizable strides this year. Hardy provides a major upgrade over Izturis, Brian Roberts is healthier after missing 103 games in 2010, and Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are still looking for their breakout seasons.

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Things are never easy in the AL East, but for the first time in years, the Orioles have some hope for the future. For Fantasy owners of up-and-coming talents like Matusz, Bergesen and Jones, even the present holds some appeal.

Sleeper ... Brad Bergesen, SP

Bergesen had such a miserable first half last year, going 3-6 with a 6.40 ERA, that Fantasy owners might have forgotten that he was a legitimate mixed league option during his 2009 rookie season. During the second half of 2010, he was much more like the Bergesen we saw the year before, posting a 3.94 ERA and improving both his strikeout and walk rates. Even at his best, the 25-year-old doesn't get many strikeouts, but as long as he can induce ground balls and minimize walks, he'll have success. For the better part of his two-year major league career, he has done just that. You could do worse with a late-round pick in mixed leagues, though you could probably acquire him off waivers.

Breakout ... Brian Matusz, SP

Matusz's 2010 stat line -- headed by a 10-12 record and a 4.30 ERA -- doesn't look very impressive, but few pitchers were hotter over the season's final two months. Over his last 11 starts, Matusz went 7-1 with a 2.18 ERA, thanks to superb control and lower line drive and strand rates. These were the hallmarks of his minor league success, so there is reason to think he can carry his late-season accomplishments over to the 2011 campaign. Not only is Matusz a strong candidate to help his own cause by allowing fewer runs and baserunners, but he should get a healthier dose of run support this year as well. This will be the year that Matusz will become relevant in standard mixed league formats.

Bounceback player … Mark Reynolds, 3B

Despite banging out 32 home runs, Mark Reynolds' .198 batting average was such a drag on his Fantasy value a year ago that he was barely relevant in mixed leagues, especially in Rotisserie formats. The twin culprits were strikeout and flyball rates that were well beyond his normal eye-popping levels. Those rates have been on the rise ever since his rookie season, but they took such huge leaps in 2010 that some regression to the mean seems almost inevitable. Reynolds is still just 27, so it's far too early to write him off as being on the slippery slope of decline. While he won't hit for a high enough average to be an elite option, look for Reynolds to rise back into the top 10 of Fantasy third basemen.

Baltimore Orioles Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Brian Roberts 2B 1 Jeremy Guthrie RH
2 Nick Markakis RF 2 Justin Duchscherer RH
3 Derrek Lee 1B 3 Brian Matusz LH
4 Luke Scott DH 4 Brad Bergesen RH
5 Adam Jones CF 5 Jake Arrieta RH
6 Mark Reynolds 3B Alt Chris Tillman RH
7 Felix Pie LF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Matt Wieters C CL Kevin Gregg RH
9 J.J. Hardy SS SU Koji Uehara RH
Top bench options RP Mike Gonzalez LH
R Nolan Reimold OF RP Jeremy Accardo RH
R Jake Fox DH RP Jim Johnson RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Manny Machado 18 SS Class A Class A
The third overall pick in the 2010 draft got off to a good start at Short-Season Class A. He's a must-draft in long-term keeper leagues.
2 Zach Britton 23 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Sinkerballer had excellent results in Double-A and Triple-A in 2010. Looks ready for the majors at some point in 2011.
3 Ryan Adams 23 2B Double-A Triple-A
Can hit for average and has good power for a second baseman. He will probably start the year in Triple-A, but could fill in for Brian Roberts if need be.
4 Dan Klein 22 SP Class A Class A
The 2010 draftee only appeared in five games in the minors last year but could reach the majors as soon as this year.
5 Xavier Avery 21 OF Double-A Triple-A
Speedy outfielder showed some on-base skills at Class A, but was overmatched after his promotion to Double-A last year. Has the tools to be a solid major leaguer.
Best of the rest: Mycal Givens, SS; L.J. Hoes, 2B; Jonathan Schoop, SS; Ryan Berry, SP; Wynn Pelzer, SP; Joseph Mahoney, 1B; Tyler Townsend, 1B; Matt Hobgood, SP; Brandon Cooney, RP; Bobby Bundy, SP; Connor Naron, SS; Brandon Snyder, 1B; and Caleb Joseph, C.

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
Blue Jays sign outfielder Ryan Kalish to minor-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:57 pm ET) The Blue Jays announced Wednesday the signning of outfielder Ryan Kalish to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. 

Kalish appeared in 57 games in 2014 for the Cubs, hitting .248 with four triples and five RBI.


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by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) The Giants have reportedly re-signed closer Sergio Romo to a two-year, $15 million deal, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

FOXSports.com Baseball Writer Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the signing. 

Romo recorded 23 saves in 2014 for San Francisco, posting a 3.72 ERA in 58 innings of work. Romo was also reportedly being pursued by the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox this offseason. 


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by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:53 pm ET) Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich is going to miss the rest of the winter ball season after suffering an ankle injury that required him to be carried off the field Tuesday, according to the Sun Sentinel.

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Dietrich played in 20 games for Miami in 2014, hitting .290 with two triples and 11 RBI. It is unknown if this injury will keep Dietrich out into spring training and the beginning of the regular season. 


Indians' Jason Kipnis undergoes surgery on damaged finger tendon
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:28 pm ET) Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis underwent surgery for a damaged tendon in his finger Tuesday, but is expected to be ready for the beginning of the upcoming season, the team announced Wednesday.

Kipnis, who was in and out of the lineup for Cleveland in 2014 with a hamstring injury, hit .240 last year with six home runs and 41 RBI. He has spent his four-year career in Cleveland, managing a .262 career average.


RHP Bawcom gets DFA tag from Mariners
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(1:50 pm ET) The Mariners have designated for assignment right-hander Logan Bawcom.

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(1:44 pm ET) The Rangers have signed right-hander Mitch Atkins to a minor league contract. The 29 year old most recently hurled in the Atlanta system.

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Report: Angels going nowhere in talks with 2B Beckham
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(1:41 pm ET) The Angels remain interested in bringing back second baseman Gordon Beckham, but negotiations have stalled, according to the Orange County Register.

The free agent landed with the Angels late in the season before being non-tendered two weeks ago. His numbers have been unimpressive since a strong rookie year of 2009. Beckham managed a slash line of .227/.271/.348 in 2014.


Red Sox acquire right hander Anthony Varvaro from Atlanta
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:18 pm ET) The Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitcher Anthony Varvaro from the Braves after he was designated for assignment, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

The Red Sox sent minor-league pitcher Aaron Kurcz and cash considerations.

Varvaro was moved to make room for newly acquired Alberto Callaspo Tuesday. Vavaro threw 54 2/3 innings in 2014 with a 2.63 ERA. 


Cubs, Mariners agree on deal for OF Justin Ruggiano
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been sent to the Mariners in a deal that will send minor league pitcher Matt Brazis to Chicago, the team announced Wednesday. 

Ruggiano, who played in 81 games in 2014, hit .281 with six home runs and 28 RBI for the Cubs. He spent the previous two seasons with the Marlins, where in 2012, he hit a career high .313 with 23 doubles and 36 RBI.

Brazis went 8-6 with 14 saves and 2.89 ERA in three years with four teams in the Mariners minor league organization. 


Padres, Rays trade talks for Wil Myers making progress
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(11:13 am ET) The Padres and Rays are said to be making progress on a deal for outfielder Wil Myers, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

Myers, who hit .222 with six home runs and 35 RBI in 87 games, was also the Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Yahoo Sports MLB columnist Jeff Passan reported this deal might also involve pieces going to and from the Nationals.


 
 
 
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