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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
Report: Mets acquire RP Addison Reed from Diamondbacks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:37 pm ET) The Mets have added reliever Addison Reed in a trade from Arizona, pending a physical, per MLB.com.

Reed owns a 4.20 ERA on the year, but has performed better recently. He has allowed just two runs in his last 14 2/3 innings and has pitched scoreless ball in 11 of his last 12 appearances.


Giants SP Ryan Vogelsong collapses in fifth to take defeat
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:28 pm ET) Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong continued to pitch his way out of the rotation Saturday against St. Louis.

Vogelsong cruised for four innings before falling apart in the fifth by giving up a triple, two singles and a walk. The bullpen completed the collapse as the Giants fell behind 4-0 and never recovered. He finished having allowed all four runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

He has given up seven runs on 14 hits over his last eight innings to raise his ERA to 4.19.


Mets' Jacob deGrom strikes out 10 in loss to Red Sox
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7:27 pm ET) Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom was firing on all cylinders during his start against the Red Sox on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to earn a victory.

deGrom allowed two runs on four hits in six strong innings of work. He struck out 10 batters and allowed just two walks in the loss. At one point, deGrom had a no-hitter through four innings.

With the loss, deGrom dropped to 12-7 on the season with a 2.32 ERA.


Red Sox RP Jean Machi closes out ninth, earns third save
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7:24 pm ET) Red Sox reliever Jean Machi closed out the ninth inning of his team's win over the Mets on Saturday with ease.

Machi didn't allow a walk or a hit in the ninth as he put away New York in the 3-1 victory.

Machi lowered his ERA to 5.21 in 46 2/3 innings this season.


Red Sox SP Joe Kelly tosses gem against Mets
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7:22 pm ET) Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly was very impressive during his start against the Mets on Saturday.

Kelly allowed just one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out two batters and allowed a pair of walks.

With the win, Kelly improved to 8-6 on the season with a 4.94 ERA.


Ankle injury forces Cardinals SP Lance Lynn out of game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:52 pm ET) Cardinals standout starter Lance Lynn rolled his right ankle trying to make a play in the eighth inning Saturday against the Giants and was removed from the game, per the San Francisco Chronicle. He was later diagnosed with a mild sprain.

Lynn made an off-balance throw to first on what resulted in an infield single.

He at least received the pleasure of raising his record to 11-8 after throwing seven shutout innings. Lynn allowed just six hits and two walks while whiffing two.

Lynn has given up only four runs in his last 19 2/3 innings after a disastrous outing against Pittsburgh.


Royals RF Alex Rios (illness) scratched from lineup on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:57 pm ET) Royals right fielder Alex Rios has been scratched from Saturday's lineup due to an illness. Jarrod Dyson will take his place in right field against the Rays.

The severity of Rios' illness had not been made clear.


Royals RP Ryan Madson dealing with extreme case of dead arm
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:47 pm ET) Royals relief pitcher Ryan Madson is dealing with a significant case of dead arm, according to The Kansas City Star.

Madson has not pitched since Aug. 22 because of severe soreness in his right arm.


Weiss: Kyle Kendrick to return and start Tuesday vs. D-backs
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:44 pm ET) Rockies manager Walt Weiss announced that right-hander Kyle Kendrick will come off of the disabled list and start one of the games in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Diamondbacks, according to The Denver Post.

Kendrick's last start came on July 31, and he has been on the DL ever since due to right shoulder inflammation. 


Padres OF Wil Myers (wrist) likely to begin rehab on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:38 pm ET) Padres outfielder Wil Myers is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday. Myers has missed the majority of the season due to a wrist injury that required surgery back in June. 

Myers has played just 35 games in 2015, his first with the Padres. It is not yet known how many rehab games Myers will require before being ready to return to the Padres.


 
 
 
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