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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Philadelphia Phillies

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This time a year ago, the Phillies were the talk of the baseball world, having added Cliff Lee to an already formidable rotation to give them a starting five that rated among the best in history.

But for as much success as they had during the regular season, their super-rotation formula fell flat in the playoffs, saddling them with yet another first-round exit. Now, with their payroll tied up long-term, they have no choice but to do it all over again -- only a year older and without some of the players that made it possible last season.

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Roy Oswalt was one of those players. Granted, of the Phillies' quartet of aces entering 2011, he was the one who didn't pull his weight, spending time on the DL with back issues, but when he was healthy, he was an improvement over the Joe Blanton-Kyle Kendrick combo that will attempt to replace him.

Still, with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, pitching won't be this team's problem. Its problem will be a lineup that's quickly becoming long in the tooth, having relied on the same cast of characters for the last seven seasons. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins are all 32 or older and showing clear signs of decline. The Phillies did inject some youth with the acquisition of Hunter Pence last July, but with Howard expected to miss a month or more with a torn left Achilles' -- and only Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome available to replace him -- a lineup that was already treading water will now be bailing it by the bucketful.

No doubt, the Phillies are still an NL powerhouse, and for all their inflated contracts, they did find a way to reel in closer Jonathan Papelbon this offseason. But with the rest of the NL East making even bigger moves, a changing of the guard could happen in the not-too-distant future. Outside of their pitching staff, the Phillies aren't the hotbed of Fantasy talent they used to be.

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Bust ... Hunter Pence, OF

The average Fantasy owner is all-in on Pence, targeting him as a top-10 outfielder in the fourth or fifth round. But before you hop aboard the hype train and ride it all the way to crazy town, you might want to remind yourself that the only aspect of his game that changed for the better last year was his batting average. He didn't gain any power. He didn't walk more or strike out less. He didn't fundamentally change as a player. He simply got better results, putting together a .361 BABIP instead of his usual .305 or so. It wouldn't be the first time. He had a .377 BABIP as a rookie in 2007, when he hit .322. But the peripherals suggested it was too good to be true then, and they do now as well. Pence is an asset in Fantasy because of his job security and 20-homer power, but he's a .280 hitter who can't take a walk. That, to me, isn't worth the price tag.

Sleeper ... John Mayberry, OF

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made the comparison. Manager Charlie Manuel has made the comparison. It's Mayberry's identity now: the next Jayson Werth. For the Fantasy owners who have played long enough to remember when Werth rose from obscurity to put together a 20-20 season in 2008, that's cause for celebration. But is it a reasonable expectation? Hey, Mayberry is more of a certainty now than Werth was then, having hit 15 homers in 267 at-bats last year. Like Werth, he's a former first-round pick who, like Werth, didn't begin to meet his potential until his late 20s. And like Werth, he happens to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage. The Phillies are committed to starting Mayberry in left field this year, so as long as he hits righties well enough to keep Domonic Brown's bat in the minors (where the Phillies want it), 20-plus homers is the reasonable expectation. You won't find a more projectable player in the late rounds of mixed-league drafts.

Fading star ... Chase Utley, 2B

Chase Utley has a long history as the top second baseman in Fantasy, and though most owners recognize by now that younger players like Robinson Cano have leaped him the rankings, a certain segment of the Fantasy-playing community still regards him as elite based on nothing more than reputation. Really, nothing more. When he disappointed in 2010, you could argue it was mostly because he missed six weeks due to thumb surgery, but last year, his numbers simply weren't up to par. His .769 OPS was lower than that of Marco Scutaro, among others, decreasing (along with his batting average and slugging percentage) for the fifth straight season. Optimists will point out that Utley was never fully healthy, having missed the first seven weeks with a knee issue, but at age 33, injuries come with the territory. When a player on a steady downward trend can no longer stay in the lineup for 140 games, the end is near. I can think of better uses for my sixth-round pick than Utley.

2012 Philadelphia Phillies Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Jimmy Rollins SS 1 Roy Halladay RH
2 Chase Utley 2B 2 Cliff Lee LH
3 Hunter Pence RF 3 Cole Hamels LH
4 Ryan Howard 1B 4 Vance Worley RH
5 Shane Victorino CF 5 Joe Blanton RH
6 John Mayberry LF Alt Kyle Kendrick RH
7 Placido Polanco 3B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Carlos Ruiz C CL Jonathan Papelbon RH
Top bench options SU Antonio Bastardo LH
R Ty Wigginton UTL RP Jose Contreras RH
R Jim Thome 1B RP Michael Stutes RH
R Laynce Nix OF RP Dontrelle Willis LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Trevor May 22 SP Class A Double-A
For all of Matt Moore's exploits last year, May actually led the minors in strikeouts per nine innings. He'll be ready to carry the baton once Halladay-Lee-Hamels is done.
2 Brody Colvin 21 SP Class A Class A
Though his stock dropped last year, Colvin still has top-of-the-rotation stuff if he can rediscover his delivery. Clearly, the Phillies don't have any reason to rush him.
3 Jesse Biddle 20 SP Class A Class A
Though maybe the safest of the Phillies' big pitching prospects, Biddle is also the furthest away. He'll need to show more consistent velocity to take another step forward.
4 Sebastian Valle 21 C Class A Double-A
Valle has a high ceiling both offensively and defensively, but his progress has been slow so far. You shouldn't expect to see him in the majors for a few more years.
5 Jonathan Pettibone 21 SP Class A Double-A
The hard-thrower with good command might be the pitching prospect closest to joining the Big Three in Philadelphia, but it still likely won't happen in 2012.
Best of the rest: Phillippe Aumont, RP; Justin De Fratus, RP; Michael Schwimer, RP; Joe Savery, RP; Freddy Galvis, SS; Larry Greene, OF; Tyson Gillies, OF; Matt Rizzotti, 1B; Austin Hyatt, SP; J.C. Ramirez, SP; Darin Ruf, 1B; and Harold Garcia, 2B.

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Player News
Nationals' Denard Span leaves Monday's game with back issue
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:34 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Denard Span was pulled from Monday's game against the Reds after suffering back spasms, the team announced.

Span left after two innings. He has been battling back spasms recently. He will be reevaluated Tuesday. Matt den Dekker replaced him in the outfield.


Doug Fister takes no-decision in Nationals' loss
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:30 pm ET) Nationals starter Doug Fister scattered eight hits over six innings and allowed one earned run, taking a no-decision, Monday against Cincinnati. 

Fister, who had lost three of his previous four starts, had his first no-decision since May 9. He also surrendered an unearned run and left with the score tied. 

Fister struck out two and walked one. It's his ninth straight start allowing two or fewer walks. 


Blue Jays SP Mark Buehrle allows nine hits in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:25 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle produced a solid outing Monday, but the Blue Jays lost 4-2 to the White Sox.

Buehrle did not allow an earned run, but four runs were scored against him with the help of two errors. Buehrle struck out two and did not walk a batter over eight innings of work. He is now 9-5 with a 3.38 ERA.

During the start, Buehrle was bothered by an ankle issue and had X-rays after the game, which came back negative, reports SportsNet. 

Prior to Monday's loss, Buehrle was 4-0 in his last seven starts. He has allowed a total of eight earned runs in his last six starts.


White Sox SP Chris Sale throws complete game in Monday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:17 pm ET) Although White Sox pitcher Chris Sale did not reach double digits in strikeouts, he was dominant throughout Monday's 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.

Sale allowed two runs on six hits over nine innings of work. He also struck out six and did not walk a batter. His lone mistakes were giving up solo home runs to Chris Colabello in the third and Josh Donaldson in the sixth inning.

Sale broke his eight-game streak of double-digit strikeouts during Monday's outing, but he did receive his first win in his last five starts. He has allowed a total of three runs over his last two starts.


Astros pitcher Chad Qualls to begin rehab assignment Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) Astros pitcher Chad Qualls is expected to begin his rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The rehab stint is expected to last at least two outings. Qualls has not pitched since June 24 because of a pinched nerve in his trapezius and neck.


Cubs SP Tsuyoshi Wada allows four runs in rehab outing
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:34 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada surrendered four runs on eight hits over four innings of work during his first rehab assignment Monday at Double-A.

Wada gave up two home runs during the outing. He also struck out four without walking a batter. Wada is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.


Rays SP Jake Odorizzi tosses 5 2/3 shutout innings in rehab game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:29 pm ET) Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi began his rehab assignment Monday at Class A by tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings.

Odorizzi also struck out six and walked one while only giving up two hits. Odorizzi is on the disabled list with an oblique injury.


Hunter Pence has successful BP, Giants may move up return date
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(9:22 pm ET) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence took batting practice on Sunday as he continues to recover from a wrist injury that has had him sidelined since June 2.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he was thrilled with Pence's progress after watching his BP. Pence visited the doctor on Monday, and Bochy is optimistic that he could be ready to return by the All Star Break, per CSN Bay Area.


Pirates add Travis Ishikawa to roster
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:19 pm ET) The Pirates added Travis Ishikawa to the active roster Monday, reports CSNBayArea.com. Ishikawa was recently claimed off waivers from the Giants. Ishikawa was 0 for 5 in six games for the Giants this season.

Cardinals' Matt Holliday has rehab interrupted by illness
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(9:19 pm ET) Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday was scheduled to test his injured quad on Monday, but that plan hit a roadblock. 

Holliday has been on the 15-day disabled list dealing with the quad for nearly a month. He was supposed to do running and agility work on Monday, but a virus kept him bedridden in the team hotel, per MLB.com.


 
 
 
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