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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Colorado Rockies

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The 2010 Rockies hung around the playoff race until mid-September, but crashed and burned with a season-ending eight-game losing streak. Despite the poor ending, many will remember last season as the year when three of Colorado's mainstays became superstars. Ubaldo Jimenez's red-hot first half placed him in consideration for the National League Cy Young award, Troy Tulowitzki joined Hanley Ramirez to form a two-headed shortstop elite, and Carlos Gonzalez became an MVP candidate and a household name.

Tulo and CarGo both project as first-round picks, and Jimenez should be one of the first dozen pitchers off the board, but the Rockies offer much more to Fantasy owners than just their Big Three. Like Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Ian Stewart and Eric Young are all under the age of 27, and all have something to prove this season. Fowler could still develop into the on-base and stolen base threat he was in the minors, as could Young, though he first has to beat out Jose Lopez and Jonathan Herrera for the second base job. Stewart has already shown his ability to clout homers, though his good batting averages from Triple-A have yet to translate to the majors.

Jhoulys Chacin, 23, showed last season that he is an emerging pitching talent, though he will have to show that he can strike out a batter per inning over his first full major league season this year. Jimenez's and Chacin's efforts will be supported by a solid bullpen, which got a little deeper with the acquisition of Matt Lindstrom from Houston. He will join Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle as potential set-up men for closer Huston Street.

The Rockies are not without their problems, as Todd Helton has posted supbar numbers in two of the last three years, and starting pitchers Aaron Cook and Jason Hammel will have to show that they can bounce back from disappointing seasons. Even so, the Rockies should be well-represented on most draft lists this spring.

Bust ... Jorge De La Rosa, SP

Had De La Rosa pitched a full season last year, he would have worked his way into the Top 60 starting pitchers in Fantasy. His success was owed to a career-low 1.32 WHIP, but he benefitted from an usually-low .104 batting average by opponents on flyballs in play. That low average was not only out of line with his past rates but also those of his teammates. Over a larger sample of innings, expect De La Rosa to give up more hits, putting a strain on both his ERA and WHIP, making him a riskier choice, even as a late-rounder in standard mixed leagues.

Bounce-back player ... Jason Hammel, SP

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Statistically speaking, Hammel was exactly the same pitcher last year that he was in 2009. Yet despite posting nearly-identical strikeout, walk, home run, ground ball and line drive rates, his ERA jumped nearly half a run. Blame the increase on a left-on-base rate that fell by four percentage points. That might not sound like a big change, but that alone was enough to wreak havoc on his ERA. Look for Hammel to get his ERA back in the low 4.00s, which will help him to regain relevance in standard mixed leagues this season.

Late-round flier ... Seth Smith, OF

Smith started more than 100 games for the first time in his career last year, but he didn't make as much out of the opportunity as many observers thought he would. Much of the focus wound up on Smith's .246 batting average, which was 47 points below the previous year's, but his extra-base power was every bit as apparent as it had been earlier in his major and minor league careers. His track record shows that he is a much better hitter than his overall batting average and .259 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) show. Because he struggles against lefties, Smith won't play enough to merit a middle-round pick, but his power and potential for a .280-plus batting average make him a good player to target in the late rounds in mixed leagues.

Colorado Rockies Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Eric Young 2B 1 Ubaldo Jimenez RH
2 Dexter Fowler CF 2 Jorge De La Rosa LH
3 Carlos Gonzalez RF 3 Aaron Cook RH
4 Troy Tulowitzki SS 4 Jhoulys Chacin RH
5 Todd Helton 1B 5 Jason Hammel RH
6 Seth Smith LF Alt Felipe Paulino RH
7 Ian Stewart 3B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Chris Iannetta C CL Huston Street RH
Top bench options SU Rafael Betancourt RH
R Ty Wigginton 1B/2B/3B RP Matt Lindstrom RH
R Ryan Spilborghs OF RP Matt Belisle RH
R Jose Lopez 3B RP Matt Reynolds LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Wilin Rosario 22 C Double-A Triple-A
Power-hitting catcher could arrive in '11 and challenge Iannetta, but he must first recover from a knee injury.
2 Tyler Matzek 20 SP Class A Class A
Was effectively wild in his professional debut and has the potential to reach the majors in 2012.
3 Nolan Arenado 19 3B Class A Class A
At least a year or two away from the majors, his power potential makes him an attractive pick in keeper leagues.
4 Rex Brothers 23 RP Double-A Triple-A
Hard-throwing lefty profiles as a future closer and should make his big league debut sometime this year.
5 Christian Friedrich 23 SP Double-A Triple-A
Could debut this season and fare well immediately, but only if he can keep his elbow issues at bay.
Best of the rest: Peter Tago, SP; Kyle Parker, OF; Juan Nicasio, SP; Chad Bettis, SP; Hector Gomez, SS; Albert Campos, SP; Charlie Blackmon, OF; Chris Nelson, 2B; Casey Weathers, RP; Tim Wheeler, OF; Jordan Pacheco, C; Rafael Ortego, OF; Rob Scahill, SP; Mike McKenry, C; and Cory Riordan, SP.

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
Neil Ramirez sent to Triple-A Saturday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:29 pm ET) The Cubs optioned pitcher Neil Ramirez back to Triple-A Iowa Saturday, in order to make room on the active roster for Blake Parker's recall.

Ramirez post an 0.96 ERA in 28 innings for the Cubs, with 36 strikeouts and 10 walks on the season. 


Blake Parker returns to Cubs from Triple-A
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:27 pm ET) The Cubs shuffled the bullpen Saturday, calling up pitcher Blake Parker from Triple-A Iowa to replace Neil Ramirez on the active roster.

Parker appeared in five games for the Cubs earlier in the season, posting a 9.53 ERA in 5 2/3 innings of work.


Edwin Escobar, Heath Hembree sent to Triple-A after trade
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) After acquiring pitching prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree from the Giants on Saturday, the Red Sox have reassigned both players to Triple-A Pawtucket, according to the Providence Journal.

Escobar posted a 5.11 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 37 walks in 111 innings at Triple-A Fresno before the trade. Hembree owned a 3.89 ERA in 39 1/2 innings over 41 appearances for Fresno.

Daisuke Matsuzaka hits DL with elbow inflammation
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:06 pm ET) Mets pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, due to inflammation in his right elbow.

Matsuzaka had an MRI taken on the elbow Friday, which apparently showed enough damage to require a trip to the disabled list. The extent of the injury beyond that is not yet known. 


Jon Lester wouldn't be 'surprised' if Boston trades him
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:55 pm ET) Following Friday's start against the Rays, Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester told reporters that he wouldn't be surprised if he was traded before the trade deadline, but still remains open to returning next season, MassLive.com reports.

"I don't think anything, especially in Boston, can surprise you," Lester said. "We all understand where we’re at, we understand it's a business. And (general manager Ben Cherington) and ownership have to do what's right for this organization and if that means whoever it may be is traded for prospects or other guys or whatever, that's just part of the business. We all understand it."

Lester's deal expires at the end of the season. In 21 starts, the left-hander is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP over 143 innings of work. His next start will come Wednesday at home against Toronto.

Jake Peavy to make Giants debut Sunday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:41 pm ET) Newly acquired pitcher Jake Peavy will make his Giants debut Sunday against the Dodgers, just a day after he was acquired via trade from the Red Sox.

Peavy had a 4.72 ERA on the season over 124 innings with the Red Sox before the trade. 


A.J. Pierzynski steps right into Cardinals' lineup
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) Cardinals catcher A.J. Pierzynski is in the lineup for Saturday's game against the Cubs, just hours after his signing was made official. Pierzynski is batting sixth and starting behind the plate for his first game.

Justin Ruggiano still out Saturday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:16 pm ET) Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano was unable to return to the lineup Saturday against the Cardinals, as he continues to deal with a sore groin. Ruggiano has not started since Tuesday, but appeared in Friday's game as a pinch-hitter.  

Red Sox receive pair of pitching prospects for Peavy
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) The Red Sox will receive pitching prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree from the Giants in exchange for pitcher Jake Peavy, ESPN.com reports Saturday.

Escobar entered the season as Baseball America's 56th-ranked prospect, but has struggled at Triple-A Fresno. He has a 5.11 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 37 walks in 111 innings at Fresno.

Hembree is the only one of the two with major-league experience, as he tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings for the Giants last year. He has a 3.89 ERA in 39 1/2 innings over 41 appearances for Fresno this season.  


DL decision looming for Mark Teixeira Sunday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) The Yankees are expected to make a decision about whether Mark Teixeira will require a trip to the disabled list Sunday, after he puts in a few days of work.

Teixeira, who has been out since suffering a lat injury last Sunday, will stretch and run Saturday, according to the Wall Street Journal. He will then try to throw and hit off a tee Sunday, to determine if he has made enough progress from the injury to avoid a trip to the disabled list.

Even in a best-case scenario, the earliest Teixeira might return to action is Monday in Texas. 


 
 
 
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