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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Cincinnati Reds

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It happened so quickly for the Reds. After nine straight years of losing records and near last-place finishes, their steady accumulation of talent culminated in a first-place finish and a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

But just because they went from non-contenders to contenders seemingly overnight doesn't mean they were a one-hit wonder. They have the pieces in place to remain at or near the top of the standings for years to come.

No doubt, it all begins with Joey Votto, whose sudden rise to greatness is an obvious microcosm of the team as a whole. The reigning NL MVP has emerged as arguably the best left-handed hitter in the game and a clear first-round pick in Fantasy, ranking right up there with Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. Outfielders Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs could follow in his footsteps shortly and, along with Brandon Phillips, give the Reds a middle of the order that ranks right up there with anyone in the National League.

But their starting rotation is really what got them over the hump last season, emerging as one of the deepest in baseball with the return of Edinson Volquez from injury and the unexpected breakout of Travis Wood. It's so deep that Aroldis Chapman, who may have the best arm of anyone on the planet, will have to remain in the bullpen for now, and he's not the only high-end talent getting the boot. Mike Leake, who the Reds liked so much after taking him eighth overall in the 2009 draft that they promoted him straight to the big leagues, may have to pitch in the minors after all if Homer Bailey, another former first-rounder, can hold him off in spring training.

The Reds didn't do much this offseason other than add Edgar Renteria to push Paul Janish at shortstop, but the bottom line is they didn't have to. They're going to be good, and Fantasy owners are going to benefit.

Breakout ... Jay Bruce, OF

Heading into 2008, Bruce ranked ahead of Evan Longoria as the best prospect in the game, but he didn't take off the way Longoria did, stalling due to a high strikeout rate and an abundance of injuries. That changed about midway through August last year. Maybe the 23-year-old just needed a little more time to develop. Maybe the wrist he broke in 2009 finally got back to 100 percent. Maybe he benefited from the tutelage of late-season acquisition Jim Edmonds, who, in his prime, was much like the player Bruce can be. Whatever the reason, Bruce took off, batting .385 with 14 homers and a 1.335 OPS over the final six weeks -- and that was with him missing two of those weeks with a strained oblique. Anyone who saw him play then would have a hard time believing he won't hit 40 homers now, but enough Fantasy owners had tuned out by then that he should still slide to the middle rounds.

Bust ... Francisco Cordero, RP

Cordero got his usual 40 saves last season and now has 265 since 2004, the third-most of anybody during that span. That's the sort of track record that would lead Fantasy owners to believe he's automatic. But at age 35, he's showing signs of the wheels coming off. He's never had the best control, but his WHIP was an unsightly 1.43 last season, mostly because of his increasingly hittable stuff. His strikeout rate, which used to be over 10 per nine innings every year, dipped to 7.3 last year, showing he's not fooling hitters the way he used to. Worse yet, the Reds don't have to give him an especially long leash with Aroldis Chapman and his 100-mph stuff in the bullpen. Cordero isn't a bad pick in the middle rounds since the Reds figure to give him plenty of save opportunities, but he's not as safe as some people would have you believe.

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Sleeper ... Edinson Volquez, SP

Volquez has been out of the minds of Fantasy owners for the better part of two seasons, and it's not like he had a chance to firmly entrench himself before then, putting together only one Fantasy-relevant season before hurting his elbow in 2009. But now that he has recovered from Tommy John surgery, the hard-throwing right-hander is ready to pick up where he left off as an emerging ace and strikeout artist. What helps him from a value standpoint, other than the obvious lack of innings over the last two years, is the fact he didn't set the world on fire in his initial return last July. But after spending a couple more weeks in the minors, he came back in September to strike out more than a batter per inning with improved control and a 1.95 ERA in four starts. He wasn't a finished product before the injury, so you can't assume he'll perform like an ace this season, but he's one of the few late-rounders with a chance of doing so.

Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Drew Stubbs CF 1 Bronson Arroyo RH
2 Brandon Phillips 2B 2 Johnny Cueto RH
3 Joey Votto 1B 3 Edinson Volquez RH
4 Scott Rolen 3B 4 Travis Wood LH
5 Jay Bruce RF 5 Homer Bailey RH
6 Jonny Gomes LF Alt Mike Leake RH
7 Edgar Renteria SS
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Ramon Hernandez C CL Francisco Cordero RH
Top bench options SU Aroldis Chapman LH
R Fred Lewis OF RP Nick Masset RH
R Chris Heisey OF RP Logan Ondrusek RH
R Paul Janish SS RP Bill Bray LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Aroldis Chapman 23 RP Majors Majors
Lived up to legend with 100-mph heat. Too valuable to remove from 'pen now, but future is in rotation.
2 Devin Mesoraco 22 C Triple-A Triple-A
First-rounder in '07 finally met offensive potential last year. Only aging Hernandez stands in his way.
3 Yonder Alonso 23 1B Majors Triple-A
Top pick in 2008 could still become an offensive force, but not with Votto blocking him in Cincinnati.
4 Todd Frazier 25 OF Triple-A Triple-A
Long considered a top prospect, but lack of plate discipline catching up to him. Still offers some pop.
5 Zack Cozart 25 SS Triple-A Triple-A
Power-speed threat could end up replacing Renteria and Janish at SS if he hits for high enough average.
Best of the rest: Juan Francisco, 3B; Billy Hamilton, SS; Yasmani Grandal, C; Sam LeCure, SP; Donnie Joseph, RP; Yorman Rodriguez, OF; Kyle Lotzkar, SP; Dave Sappelt, OF; Chris Valaika, 2B; and Danny Dorn, OF.

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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Marlins announce signing of Ichiro Suzuki
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) The Marlins announced Tuesday they signed outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year contract.

The deal was expected to be announced once Suzuki passed his physical. He is expected to be the Marlins fourth outfielder as well as a left-handed bat off the bench.


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(1/27/2015) Rays pitcher Matt Moore took a significant step forward in his receovery from Tommy John surgery when he threw off a mound Tuesday, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

"It felt pretty good," Moore said.

Moore had the surgery in April and said he is pleased with the progress he has made.

"I would have thought a while ago I would have been nervous, but I was looking forward to it," Moore said. "And I felt like I had a lot more that could have come out. That's a feeling I've had the last month or so, and that's a feeling I like to have. I think we're in a good spot right now."


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(1/27/2015) Angels pitcher Garrett Richards is ahead of schedule in his return from left-knee surgery and will begin throwing off a mound in the second week of February, reports the Los Angeles Times.

General manager Jerry Dipoto said they have been pleased with the progress Richards has made from the surgery.

"Ordinarily, he'd have thrown off a mound a couple times at this point in January, so he's not too far behind where he'd be in his normal throwing preparation," Dipoto said. "It's a matter of making sure the knee is stable and his lower body is in good shape. We're very optimistic, as we have been throughout."

In 2014, Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA.


Orioles finalize trade with Pirates for Travis Snider
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) As part of the trade sending outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles, the Pirates will receive prospect Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later, the team announced.

The left-handed Tarpley pitched at Class A in 2014 and went 3-5 with a 3.68 ERA.

Snider hit .264 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 2014 and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Snider fits in well with the team, reports MASNsports.com. 

"Snider is a solid dependable power-hitting outfielder and is an excellent fit for Camden Yards," Duquette said.

To make room for Snider, the Orioles designated Michael Ohlman for assignment


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(1/27/2015) Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday the team plans to stretch out pitcher Ross Detwiler's starts to open spring training, reports foxsportssouthwest.com

Detwiler did not start a game in 2014, making 47 relief appearances with a 4.00 ERA. In 2013, he started 13 games for the Nationals and went 2-7 with a 4.04 ERA.


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by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) The Red Sox and Rangers announced a two player trade Tuesday where Boston sent Anthony Ranaudo to Texas and the Rangers sent Robbie Ross to the Red Sox, both teams announced.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday Ranaudo is in play to become the No. 5 starter in the rotation, but if he doesn't win the job, he will likely start in the minors.

Ranaudo posted a 4-3 record with a 4.81 ERA in 2014 for Boston in 39 1/3 innings pitched. Ross went 3-6 with a 6.20 ERA in 78 1/3 innings for the Rangers.


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(1/27/2015) Along with the Brewers, the Phillies have also discussed trading closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Blue Jays, soruces told MLB.com.

Papelbon is due $13 million next season, which is believed to be one of the sticking points in negotiations. In 2014, Papelbon had 39 saves with a 2.04 ERA.


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The 26-year-old Snider is in his second year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. He will make $2.1 million in 2015.


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(1/27/2015) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have reportedly set an arbitration date for Feb. 11, according to the L.A. Times.

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Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 2014, amassing 164 strikeouts in 168 2/3 innings.


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(1/27/2015) The Giants and shortstop Brandon Crawford avoided arbitration Tuesday, agreeing to a $3.175 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Crawford, who is in his first year of arbitration, made $560,000 in 2014.

Crawford just finished his fourth season in the majors and third full season in 2014. He had career highs in triples (10), home runs (10), runs (54), RBI (69), walks (59) and games played (153).


 
 
 
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