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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers' off-the-field exploits -- namely the divorce case and team ownership dispute between Frank and Jamie McCourt -- drew attention away from a mediocre season in 2010. In Joe Torre's final turn as the team's manager, the Dodgers finished two games under .500 and only one step above the National League West cellar.

The team made a number of low-key moves this offseason, re-signing midseason acquisition Ted Lilly and picking up fifth starter Jon Garland to fill out the rotation. Juan Uribe replaces Ryan Theriot at second base, while Rod Barajas gives the Dodgers a new face behind the plate, with Russell Martin opting to sign with the Yankees. The dugout has a new face as well, as Don Mattingly takes over as manager.

One item has yet to be checked off the Dodgers' to-do list: replace Manny Ramirez. Since his departure last August, left field has been patched together by a committee, and it appears that will be the case again this year. Jay Gibbons, Tony Gwynn and Marcus Thames should all get a chance at playing time and be Ramirez's short-term successor, at least until prospects Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson arrive.

Without the impact of a major offseason signing or trade, the Dodgers will rely on several players to have bounce-back years in order for them to contend. Matt Kemp's ride to superstardom hit a bump last year, as his batting average slid from .297 to .249. The normally-steady Casey Blake started to show his age, while rising star Jonathan Broxton blew seven of 29 save chances and lost the closer's role for the final two months of the season. A breakout from 26-year-old James Loney wouldn't hurt either, though three straight years of stagnant production suggest that may be a pipe dream.

The Dodgers' deep rotation and bullpen will keep them in most games, but even with All-Star Andre Ethier and a potentially-resurgent Kemp in the lineup, a sputtering offense could leave the Dodgers bluer than ever.

Sleeper ... Rafael Furcal, SS

Furcal is certainly a playing-time risk, as he has failed to appear in more than 100 games in two of the last three seasons. He has been dogged by back and hamstring injuries, but he is heading into the 2011 campaign healthy and rested. He still has good power for a shortstop and can still provide Fantasy owners with 20 or more steals. Ultimately, other middle-of-the-pack options, such as Yunel Escobar and Starlin Castro, may be better bets to stay healthy, but few can offer the speed-power combination that Furcal can. He will finish among the top 10 shortstops in Fantasy as long as he can stay in the lineup.

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Bust ... Jonathan Broxton, RP

A year ago, Broxton was coming off a sensational season that gave him the appearance of being an elite closer. In retrospect, 2009 was more of an aberration than a breakout for him. Last year, he didn't sustain the large spikes in velocity and strikeout rate that he enjoyed the year before, and he went back to being very hittable on balls in play. While his .375 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) should recede somewhat, Broxton could still be a liability in the WHIP category, even though he will likely strike out more than a batter per inning. With Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen looming as ninth-inning options, Broxton will be treading on thin ice yet again as the Dodgers' closer.

Bounce-back player ... Matt Kemp, OF

Over his first two full seasons, Kemp established himself as a player on the rise, holding his batting average and stolen base total steady while increasing his power. Last year, the power continued to increase, but that was overshadowed by huge hits to his average and steals. Kemp is still only 26, just old enough to be entering the peak of his career. It's not unusual for a young player to take a step back before plateauing into his best years. There is no reason to think that Kemp will repeat or do worse than his 2010 performance and 2011 provides owners with a great buy-low opportunity. Kemp's collapse last year was neither complete nor part of a long-term trend. Expect Kemp to produce like a No. 2 Fantasy outfielder, though you may be able to draft him as your No. 3.

Los Angeles Dodgers Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Clayton Kershaw LH
2 Matt Kemp CF 2 Chad Billingsley RH
3 Andre Ethier RF 3 Ted Lilly LH
4 James Loney 1B 4 Hiroki Kuroda RH
5 Casey Blake 3B 5 Jon Garland RH
6 Juan Uribe 2B Alt Vicente Padilla RH
7 Jay Gibbons LF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Rod Barajas C CL Jonathan Broxton RH
Top bench options SU Hong-Chih Kuo LH
R Jamey Carroll SS/2B RP Matt Guerrier RH
R Tony Gwynn OF RP Kenley Jansen RH
R Marcus Thames OF RP Carlos Monasterios RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Dee Gordon 22 SS Double-A Triple-A
Minors stats are amazing for someone who didn't play baseball until four years ago. Should make big-league debut in '11.
2 Jerry Sands 23 OF Double-A Double-A
Power translated from low minors to Double-A. Could get a shot in L.A. outfield later this year.
3 Kenley Jansen 23 RP Majors Majors
Flamethrower impressed in big league debut. If Broxton struggles, he will enter the closer picture.
4 Trayvon Robinson 22 OF Double-A Triple-A
Switch-hitter has great leadoff skills, despite a high K-rate. Could make his big league debut in 2011.
5 Rubby De La Rosa 22 SP Double-A Double-A
Future role is unclear, but we could see his triple-digit fastball in the majors sometime this year.
Best of the rest: Zach Lee, SP; Chris Withrow, SP; Allen Webster, SP; Scott Elbert, RP; Ethan Martin, SP; Aaron Miller, SP; Leon Landry, OF; Kyle Russell, OF; Garrett Gould, SP; Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF; James Baldwin, OF; Jake Lemmerman, SS; Jonathan Garcia, OF; Javier Solano, RP; Matt Magill, SP; Ivan DeJesus, 2B; and Josh Lindblom, RP.

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
Adam LaRoche in midst of deep slump for Nationals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:17 pm ET) Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has fallen into a slump from which he hopes he can emerge in time for the NLDS.

LaRoche is hitless in his last 17 at-bats covering four games. That dry spell followed a tear in which he slugged 12 hits, including five home runs, in nine games. His .257 average is at its lowest point since April 4.


Norichika Aoki on tear in leading Royals roll offensively
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) The Royals have picked it up lately offensively and right fielder Norichika Aoki is greatly responsible.

Aoki has been white-hot with 11 hits in his last 13 at-bats to raise his average 16 points to .281 - no easy feat at this time of year. That mark is at its highest point since May 25, but his overall hot streak has extended back to Aug. 27. Aoki has hit safely in all but four games since then and is 28 for 72 during that stretch.


Jimmy Paredes making impact with strong run
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:47 am ET) Third baseman Jimmy Paredes has received significant work and has taken advantage of it since arriving with the Orioles in late August.

Paredes has received an increasing number of plate appearances, particularly since the loss of Chris Davis to a drug suspension. He has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games with 13 hits, including two home runs, in 33 at-bats. He has eight RBI and seven runs scored during that stretch.

He boasts a tremendous stat line of .358/.383/.578.


Avisail Garcia solid, but not slugging in September
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) White Sox outfelder Avisail Garcia has inched his average in a positive direction since bottoming out at .222 on Aug. 30.

Garcia is 17 for 57 since then with one home run and nine RBI. But he has just one extra-base hit since Sept. 3. His stat line now sits at .254/.318/.413.


Lorenzo Cain on roll for Royals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain merely accentuated a strong stretch Wednesday night against Chicago, when he blasted a three-run homer off super southpaw Chris Sale and added two more hits.

Cain has hit so well that he has been moved to the third spot in the lineup. He has hit safely in seven of his last eight games with 12 hits in 32 at-bats during that run. Cain has eight RBI and seven runs scored in his last 10 games, sweetening his stat line on the season to .298/.337/.413. He has also contributed 25 stolen bases.


Yasmani Grandal bringing good and bad news to the plate
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:20 am ET) A 19-for-74 stretch might not seem like much, but it's an encouraging run for Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal considering he began it batting .202.

Grandal began the comparative hot stretch on Aug. 26. He has three home runs and 10 RBI in 20 games during that period, but remains a windmill at the plate. He has 19 strikeouts in the last 16 games and has fanned 102 times in 345 at-bats this season.


Wade LeBlanc set to start Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) Left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who was clobbered in his last opportunity to start for the Angels, will get another shot Saturday at home against Texas. He is replacing the injured Matt Shoemaker.

LeBlanc has been fine in relief with four consecutive scoreless appearances covering five innings. But he surrendered six earned runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings in an Aug. 25 start against Miami. He owns a 6.88 ERA on the season.


MRI reveals only jammed shoulder for Eduardo Escobar
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar underwent an MRI on his right shoulder Wednesday that revealed no structural damage. He was diagnosed with a jammed shoulder and is considered day to day, per mlb.com.

Escobar hurt the shoulder diving for a ball Tuesday and was forced out of the game.


A.J. Burnett indicates he's been pitching hurt this season
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:40 am ET) Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett has hinted that he's been plagued by a physical issue this season, but declined to elaborate.

Burnett indicated that he felt terrible much of the year, though he used an unprintable word. Ryne Sandberg said Wednesday, however, that he was unaware of any such problem for Burnett aside from an inguinal hernia that has been known since April.

The veteran starter is 8-17 with a disappointing 4.40 ERA. He leads the majors in losses and walks (87), but is set to make $12.75 million in 2015. Sandberg has been impressed with his durability - Burnett has made 32 starts this season.

"If anything he has displayed just the opposite," Sandberg said about Burnett's health. "Very durable guy with innings, the length that he does give, durable arm. The hernia thing ... from my knowledge, that's been a non-issue."


Rusney Castillo 'satisfied' with effort in first game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:24 am ET) Red Sox promising outfielder Rusney Castillo expressed contentedness Wednesday night after recording his first major league hit in four at-bats in a lopsided loss to Pittsburgh. His hit never left the infield, but he's not complaining.

"I'm pretty satisfield with that being my first game," he told MLB.com. "Obviously you'd like a better outcome in terms of winning the game. But I was pretty satisfied with my overall approach and the way I stepped in today and had some results."

Castillo snagged the only ball hit his way in the outfield.


 
 
 
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