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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
Andrew Cashner's return set for Saturday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:39 pm ET) Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner will return to the rotation Saturday, the team announced Wednesday.

Cashner has been out since June 20 due to a shoulder injury, but his rehab has gone well. He'll return to a 2.36 ERA and 59:22 K:BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings.


Garrett Richards leaves Wednesday's game with leg injury
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:04 pm ET) Angels pitcher Garrett Richards left Wednesday's game with a leg injury.

Richards injured himself running to cover first on a ground ball. His leg seemed to buckle before he reached the base, causing him to fall to the ground. A team trainer came out to look at Richards for a while, and determined he would need to be taken off the field on a stretcher. It's unclear how long the injury will keep him out.

Richards had given up two runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings before leaving the game. 


Salvador Perez scratched with knee soreness
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:00 pm ET) Royals catcher Salvador Perez has been scratched due to knee soreness, according to the Kansas City Star.

Perez complained of tightness Monday, but said he would be fine. He was able to start Tuesday's game and was slated to play Wednesday until he was scratched. Resting Perez is considered precautionary at this time. 


Bartolo Colon on track to pitch Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon will return to the team to make Sunday's scheduled start before returning to the Dominican Republic to attend his mother's funeral, the New York Daily News reports.

Colon missed Monday's start in order to travel to the Dominican Republic to be with his ailing mother. The Mets will have to activate him from the bereavement list before he can make Sunday's start.


Jeurys Familia picks up fourth save Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:23 pm ET) Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia earned his fourth save Wednesday, giving up one hit and one walk while striking out two in 1 2/3 scoreless innings to finish off his team's 8-5 win over the A's.

With closer Jenrry Mejia unavailable due to a back issue, Familia entered with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning, walked the first batter he faced then escaped the inning without further damage. He surrendered a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth but was able to strand the runner. Familia owns a 1.97 ERA and 56:28 K:BB ratio in 64 innings.


Jenrry Mejia dealing with back issue
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:20 pm ET) Mets closer Jenrry Mejia was unavailable to pitch Wednesday due to a back issue, the New York Daily News reports.

The Mets won the game 8-5 but let Jeurys Familia record the final five outs of the outing. Mejia revealed earlier in August that he has been pitching through a sports hernia, but it appears Wednesday's issue was unrelated.


Dodgers shuffle rotation to rest Zack Greinke's elbow
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:17 pm ET) The Dodgers announced Wednesday that pitcher Zack Greinke has had his start pushed back from Thursday to Saturday as he deals with a minor elbow issue.

Clayton Kershaw will take the mound Thursday in Greinke's place and pitch on regular rest, while Dan Haren will pitch Friday. Manager Don Mattingly indicated Wednesday that he doesn't expect Greinke's elbow issue to earn him a trip to the disabled list, MLB.com reports.


Rockies confirm Christian Bergman will start Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:12 pm ET) The Rockies confirmed Wednesday that pitcher Christian Bergman will return from the disabled list and start Sunday's game against the Marlins, the Denver Post reports.

Bergman has been on the disabled list for the past two months while recovering from a fractured hand. He has posted a 7.20 ERA in 15 innings over three starts.


C.J. Cron likely to be called up soon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:10 pm ET) Angels designated hitter C.J. Cron is likely to be called up soon, according to the Orange County Register

Cron has performed well in a nine-game stint in the minors, and could be on his way back up with the team facing two lefties during the weekend series. Cron has hit .266/.295/.462 over 199 at-bats this season.


Steven Souza could begin rehab assignment Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:08 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Steven Souza said Wednesday that he could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Thursday, MLB.com reports.

"It's a matter of just how I feel," Souza said. "Kind of build of slowly and see how I feel from there."

Souza suffered a sprained AC joint after crashing into the outfield wall on Aug. 8 and was placed on the disabled list two days later. He went through a full hitting workout Wednesday and will hope to progress to a rehab assignment Thursday or soon after.


 
 
 
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