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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
Sunday start uncertain for Blake Beavan
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:39 pm ET) A shoulder ailment that forced Mariners right-hander Blake Beavan out after four innings of his last outing has resulted in uncertainty over who will start Sunday in Miami, per the Seattle Times. He was scheduled to pitch that afternoon.

Beavan had replaced the injured James Paxton in the battered Seattle rotation.


Reds manager comfortable with Jonathan Broxton at closer
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:34 pm ET) Reds manager Bryan Price reiterated Wednesday his comfort level with reliever Jonathan Broxton filling in as closer while Aroldis Chapman (head) is on the disabled list.

"If you have somebody that's cemented into that role -- it doesn't mean he'll get every save opportunity -- but it does allow me to look at the game for eight innings," Price said, per MLB.com. "It gets convoluted when you're going to go 'OK, let's get to the ninth and see what's left and pick your option from that spot.'

"It's good to have Broxton back because it definitely settles some areas of our bullpen. It's one more pitcher closer to setting up our 'pen the way we want to."


Finding comfort level has been key for Devin Mesoraco
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:28 pm ET) Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco entered play Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh leading the team in doubles (three) and RBI (nine) despite missing the first week of the season due to an oblique strain. He also entered Wednesday batting .500 (11 for 22) with three home runs.

"He's just kept it going really nicely," Reds manager Bryan Price said, per MLB.com. "I think the fact that he knows he's our No. 1 guy, there's a lot more responsibility there for him. He knows he's going to play. If he goes 0 for 4, he'll be back in there the next day. That certainly lends to some confidence."

Mesoraco seemed to agree with his manager's assessment.

"It's just an overall comfort level that's the biggest thing," Mesoraco said Wednesday. "I'm comfortable with being the everyday guy. I'm comfortable with Bryan as the manager. I'm comfortable with being in the clubhouse and being around the guys. That's been the biggest thing."


Francisco Liriano dealt third straight loss
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:22 pm ET) Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano dropped a third straight start Wednesday, as Pittsburgh managed just three hits off Johnny Cueto during a 4-0 loss to the Reds.

The Reds jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as Billy Hamilton scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first inning. The deficit remained at one run until Joey Votto hit a two-run homer off Liriano with two outs in the seventh inning.

Liriano (0-3) was charged with three runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out seven in seven innings. He lowered his ERA from 4.00 to 3.96.

The veteran left-handed hurler is expected to be back on the hill Monday in a rematch with the Reds.


Casey Coleman hooks up with Royals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:21 pm ET) The Royals have signed right-hander Casey Coleman to a minor league contract and dispatched him to Triple-A Omaha, per the Kansas City Star.

Coleman compiled a 7-13 record and 5.76 ERA in three limited seasons with the Cubs, who waived him in spring training.


Johnny Cueto strikes out career-high 12 in CG shutout
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:16 pm ET) Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was masterful during a 4-0 win Wednesday against the Pirates. Cueto struck out a career-high 12 batters during a complete-game shutout.

Cueto (1-2) threw 71 of 107 pitches for strikes, while allowing just three hits and no walks in his third career shutout. He lowered his ERA to 1.50.

Cueto started the game with a strikeout of Jose Tabata on the way to the first of six 1-2-3 innings. He struck out miltiple batters in the second, fourth, eighth and ninth innings. The only hits he allowed were Tony Sanchez's infield single in the third, Andrew McCutchen's double in the fourth and Jordy Mercer's infield single in the fifth.

The right-handed hurler, who hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his four starts, is scheduled to be back on the hill Tuesday in a rematch with the Pirates.


Athletics sign Blue Jays castoff Marcus Walden
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:15 pm ET) The Athletics have claimed right-hander Marcus Walden off waivers after he was let go by Toronto on Tuesday. He has been sent to Triple-A Sacramento.

The 25-year-old Walden has yet to pitch in a major league game and has not put up strongly impressive numbers in the minors. He yielded 184 hits in 162 1/3 innings with just 88 strikeouts while compiling a 6-14 record at Double-A New Hampshire in 2013.


Struggling Dustin Pedroia back Wednesday for Red Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) John Farrell has told WEEI that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has overcome a left wrist injury enough to return to the Wednesday lineup. Pedroia will bat leadoff against the White Sox after missing the last two games.

Pedroia has struggled throughout the season. He has not achieved a multi-hit game since April 3, after which he has just seven hits in 45 at-bats. He has no home runs and just one RBI on the season. Pedroia has also yet to draw a walk.


Pirates getting Chris Stewart ready for return from DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:07 pm ET) Pirates catcher Chris Stewart (knee) will catch Jeff Locke's start for Triple-A Indianapolis Wednesday, but manager Clint Hurdle said a "plan is in place" for him to rejoin the major-league roster, per MLB.com.

"There's a couple of steps we still need to accomplish to get him ready to return," Hurdle said.


Manager says Starling Marte's swing 'doesn't look right'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) Pirates outfielder Starling Marte began Wednesday's game at Cincinnati on the bench before he had to replace Jose Tabata, who left the game after crashing into the outfield wall.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle wanted to give Marte a break after his second straight three-strikeout performance.

"I don't know if he's trying too hard, or if the swing is disconnected," Hurdle said of Marte, per MLB.com. "But the swing doesn't look right to me. I just think he needs a day off to rest himself mentally. So we'll back him away from the flame. We've been too soft at the top of the order."


 
 
 
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