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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Philadelphia Phillies

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Don't mess with the Phillies.

Seriously, don't mess with them. Don't do like the Giants did last year and keep them from reaching the World Series when they're the obvious favorites. Because when they get mad, they don't mess around, and the rest of the league suffers the consequences.

The coup this offseason was, of course, the signing of Cliff Lee. The Phillies weren't supposed to be in the running, but they swooped in at the last minute to intercept what looked like a two-team race between the Rangers and the Yankees, adding to what may have already been the most fearsome threesome in the league in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

Yes, Hamels, the ace of the 2008 World Championship team who is coming off a 200-strikeout season and still has plenty of room to grow at age 26, is now their fourth starter.

Scary.

But hey, no team is without its weaknesses. The Phillies might have to depend on that starting rotation more than anyone expects if franchise players Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins don't live up to their past standards. Each is on the wrong side of 30, each has had trouble staying healthy and each took a notable step backward last year. Granted, each is still pretty good, but if top prospect Domonic Brown can't claim Jayson Werth's spot in right field, the Phillies' only offensive player trending in the right direction is Shane Victorino. They also have a shortage of bullpen depth, especially if Brad Lidge plays his usual head games and Jose Contreras starts pitching like he's 39.

But with that starting rotation, which may very well be the best ever, the world would have to explode for this team not to make the playoffs. If you're thinking about drafting a Phillie in Fantasy, you can check off "supporting cast" as an obvious benefit.

Bounce-back player ... Brad Lidge, RP

When most Fantasy owners think of Lidge, they still think of his 2009 meltdown, when he blew 11 saves with a 7.21 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP. He had his chance to redeem himself last year but was deemed a lost cause after posting a 5.57 ERA through July. But take a second look at his final numbers. Not what you expected, right? Lidge was a completely different pitcher over the final two months, performing as well as he has at any point in his career. In 26 appearances, he had a 0.73 ERA and 17 saves in 18 opportunities. Finally recovered from the elbow and knee injuries that led to multiple surgeries last offseason, he was back to being the same lights-out pitcher who put together a perfect season in 2008. With the Phillies loaded pitching staff, Lidge is going to get the save opportunities of an elite Fantasy closer, but nobody is willing to trust him as more than a No. 2 option.

Bust ... Jimmy Rollins, SS

The Phillies' aging nucleus gives them several candidates for this category, but Rollins is the most obvious. His batting average, slugging percentage and OPS have declined every year since his 2007 MVP season, to the point they were below average even by shortstop standards last year. He can still hit some homers and steal some bases, and those raw talents are enough incentive for Fantasy owners to approach him as an elite option at a position increasingly scarce on talent. But he'll have to reverse more than few trends to live up to that title. He'll also have to stay healthy, something he didn't do last year and something that'll be even more difficult coming off wrist surgery. At 32, Rollins has reached the age when other notable shortstops -- most recently Edgar Renteria -- have fallen off the map, making him too much of a risk to justify his draft position. Don't bother with him unless he falls to you.

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Sleeper ... Domonic Brown, OF

For whatever reason, manager Charlie Manuel doesn't trust Brown, giving him only 62 at-bats in a 68-day span after the Phillies promoted him in late July. And even with Jayson Werth out of the equation, Manuel planned to give the right field job to Ben Francisco or John Mayberry over Brown, who only sealed the deal by breaking his hand early in spring training. But with that disappointment comes new opportunity in Fantasy. The injury will be enough to scare most Fantasy owners away even though it's the same one that cost Troy Tulowitzki only five weeks last year. Brown is rated the fourth-best prospect according to Baseball America and is coming off a minor-league season in which he hit .327 with a .980 OPS, so clearly he offers something that journeymen like Francisco and Mayberry never could. The Phillies won't need long to realize that. Knowing how quickly Brown progressed in the minors, you wouldn't want to assess him on only 62 at-bats. He's a fast learner and should be ready to turn heads as soon as he returns from his injury.

Philadelphia Phillies Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Jimmy Rollins SS 1 Roy Halladay RH
2 Placido Polanco 3B 2 Cliff Lee LH
3 Chase Utley 2B 3 Roy Oswalt RH
4 Ryan Howard 1B 4 Cole Hamels LH
5 Shane Victorino CF 5 Joe Blanton RH
6 Raul Ibanez LF Alt Kyle Kendrick RH
7 Ben Francisco RF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Carlos Ruiz C CL Brad Lidge RH
Top bench options SU Jose Contreras RH
R John Mayberry OF RP Ryan Madson RH
R Wilson Valdez INF RP J.C. Romero LH
R Ross Gload 1B RP Danys Baez RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Domonic Brown 23 OF Majors Triple-A
Five-category stud pretty much ready, but Phillies too focused on winning now to turn right field over to him.
2 Jonathan Singleton 19 OF Class A Class A
Slugger already has good batting eye and should advance quickly if transition from first base goes smoothly.
3 Brody Colvin 20 SP Class A Class A
Hard-thrower has ace potential but some lingering questions about makeup. Likely won't help until 2012.
4 Jarred Cosart 20 SP Class A Class A
Has stuff on level of Colvin, but durability is a concern. Has dealt with shoulder, back and elbow pain.
5 Trevor May 21 SP Class A Class A
Older than Colvin and Cosart but may need longer. Trio will ensure Philly rotation remains in good hands.
Best of the rest: Vance Worley, RP; Sebastian Valle, C; Jiwan James, OF; Jesse Biddle, SP; Domingo Santana, OF; Aaron Altherr, OF; Justin De Fratus, RP; J.C. Ramirez, SP; Phillippe Aumont, SP; Joe Savery, SP; Tyson Gillies, OF; and Matt Rizzotti, 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
Rockies SP prospect Tyler Anderson will be limited at start of camp
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) The Rockies announced Thursday starting pitcher prospect Tyler Anderson will not be ready to pitch when spring camp opens Feb. 21, per The Denver Post.

"We are taking our time with this and we think it's best to take a conservative approach," trainer Keith Dugger said. "He will participate in camp, but he won't pitch. He'll take part in PFP (pitchers' fielding practice) and other activities. We think the prognosis is good for the long term."

Anderson had his season end in the Double-A playoffs last season due to elbow soreness. General manager Jeff Bridich said in December that Anderson's rehabilitation was going well and said it was "conceivable" he would be in the mix for a roster spot this spring. However, his slow recovery from the elbow injury could hinder his chances of making the opening day roster.

Anderson had a great year in 2014 before getting hurt. He went 7-4 with a 1.98 ERA in 23 starts for Double-A Tulsa. The 2011 first-round pick is 23-10 with a 2.39 ERA in 59 minor-league starts.

"We are going to do what's best for Tyler's long-term future with our club," Bridich said of having no specific timetable for Anderson.


Twins OF Torii Hunter plans to mentor Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:38 pm ET) Twins veteran right fielder Torii Hunter said one of his goals this season will be to mentor outfielder Aaron Hicks and top outfield prospect Byron Buxton, per MLB.com.

"I know Hicks can play, but with Buxton -- I haven't seen video or seen him play, but every word I hear is good about him," Hunter said. "I definitely think when we get to spring training we'll sit down and I'll work out with them and evaluate what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong."

Hicks said he will lean on Hunter this spring, as he competes with Jordan Schafer for the starting job in center field.

"I'll be all in his ear the whole time," Hicks said. "He might get annoyed I'll be in his ear so much. He's definitely a guy I'm going to go to.

"I believe that I have the ability to play center field here for a long time. I've just got to go out there and show people that I can be the center fielder that everybody wants me to be and also that I want myself to be."


Latest MRI on Jurickson Profar's shoulder comes back clean
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:43 pm ET) The latest MRI on Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar’s shoulder appears to show the shoulder is healing properly and Profar can increase his workload, reports FOXSports.com/southwest

Profar has been throwing from 60 feet, but will begin throwing from 75 feet starting next week. He'll also begin taking dry swings from the right side.


Free-agent pitcher Brandon Beachy delays contract decision
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:31 pm ET) Free-agent pitcher Brandon Beachy has decided to delay his decision on which team he'll pitch for in 2015, his agent told FOXSports.com.

The former Braves pitcher is recovery from Tommy John surgery and wants to wait until closer to spring training before making his decision. Beachy did not pitch in 2014 because of the injury.


Nationals' Jayson Werth pleads guilty, sentenced to 5 days in jail
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:24 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will serve five days in jail after pleading guilty to reckless driving, reports The Washington Post.

Werth was pulled over in July by Virginia State Police after driving 105 mph in a 55 mph zone and Werth did not necessarily disagree with the assessment.

"It's possible I exceeded 90 miles per hour," Werth said in court.

Werth was initially convicted of reckless driving Dec. 5, but appealed the verdict. He was originally sentenced to 10 days in jail, but it was reduced to five after Werth's guilty plea.

The prosecutor said Werth will turn himself in Friday and begin serving his sentence, according to NBC4's Northern Virginia Bureau. 


White Sox DFA Dayan Viciedo to see if any trade interest remains
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said putting outfielder Dayan Viciedo on waivers could be the final step to trading him, which is something the team has explored all offseason. Viciedo was designated for assignment Wednesday, which means Chicago has 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minors.

"It got to the point where Dayan didn’t very likely fit on this club in a meaningful way for 2015,"  Hahn said, per CSNChicago.com. "The thought with designating him was flesh out any interest over the next 10 days or so and find him a better home going into the next season."

Viciedo, who will turn 26 years old on March 10, has hit more than 20 homers in two of the last three seasons. But he has yet to reach his full potential, batting just .254 with a .424 slugging percentage in five MLB seasons. 

The White Sox seem OK if they deal Viciedo and he finally reaches his full potential with another team.

"He's still young and he still has a world of talent and a great deal of power that we’ve all seen on display over a number of years," Hahn said. "It's not going to surprise any of us in the least if he goes on to have a very successful career elsewhere."


Reds' Price 'realistically' targets Mesoraco to catch 145 games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:54 am ET) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated catcher Devin Mesoraco could see a lot more time behind the plate in 2015, per the Dayton Daily News. He appeared in 114 games in 2014, starting 109 at catcher.

“I’ve been asked that question a lot about Mesoraco playing first base,” Price said. “How much would he play? Only if (Joey) Votto was injured. Realistically, I see him as a Yadier Moilina-type guy, who is going to catch 145 games a year, more so than I see him catching 110 a year and playing 20 or 30 at first base.

“It stood out more last year because I linked up Johnny Cueto with (Brayan) Pena catching. I anticipate Mesoraco catching a lot more games this year, especially if he stays healthy. We won’t pair Pena with Cueto as much. Devin did a real nice job with Johnny the times he caught him.”


Report: Blue Jays making a push to sign Ronald Belisario
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) The Blue Jays are making a push to sign reliever Ronald Belisario, according to FoxSports.com.

The 32-year-old Belisario posted a 5.56 ERA over 66 1/3 innings with the White Sox last season. While his performance looks spotty on the surface, Belisario managed to cut his walk rate by three percent last season. He had awful luck with men on base, which may have contributed to his struggles. Belisario actually posted a 3.54 FIP, so there's a chance at a possible rebound. 

The Blue Jays have been linked to a number of free-agent relievers, including Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez and Burke Badenhop. 


Report: Blue Jays looking at multiple free-agent relievers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) The Blue Jays are looking at multiple free-agent relievers, according to FoxSports.com.

The team has been in contact with Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano and Burke Badenhop. Both Rodriguez and Soriano have closer experience, while Badenhop has only saved four games over his career. Badenhop, however, did post the lowest ERA of the bunch last year, coming in at 2.29. 

Rodriguez, 33, posted a 3.04 ERA over 68 innings last year. He saved 44 games with Milwaukee.

The 35-year-old Soriano posted a 3.19 ERA over 62 innings last season. He lost his closer role late in the season after going into a bit of a slump.


Marlins designate Arquimedes Caminero for assignment
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) The Marlins have designated pitcher Arquimedes Caminero for assignment on Wednesday, according to MLB.com.

The 27-year-old Caminero spent most of the year in Triple-A. He posted a 4.86 ERA over 63 innings. Caminero was briefly promoted to the majors, posting a 10.80 ERA over 6 2/3 innings with Miami.


 
 
 
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