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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks

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Continuing their up-and-down history that has included five first-place finishes to go along with four last-place finishes in 14 years, the Diamondbacks went from worst to first last year, capitalizing on several breakthrough performances on their way to 94 wins.

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The biggest development for them was the emergence of a pitching staff in the void left by Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson stepped up as legitimate frontliners, with Kennedy finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting. The duo got help in the form of Joe Saunders, whose pitch-to-contact approach fared better in the NL than the AL, and Josh Collmenter, whose deceptive delivery allowed his numbers to exceed his stuff. The offseason acquisition of Trevor Cahill only adds to the mix.

But while Kennedy, Hudson and Cahill all profile as top-of-the-rotation arms, they're not necessarily the best the organization has to offer. Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, figures to take the majors by storm at some point this season, and with high-upside hurlers Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley right behind him, pitching figures to be the Diamondbacks' strength for years to come.

Fortunately, they already have a solid nucleus in place offensively -- one led by Justin Upton, who finally appears to have turned the corner and emerged as a perennial five-category player. Chris Young is a power-speed threat in his own right, and Miguel Montero is one of the 10 best offensive catchers in the game. If Stephen Drew can return from the fractured ankle that sidelined him for the second half last year, then the current iteration of the Diamondbacks lineup will look even deeper than the one that played in the NLDS last year -- and that's assuming slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt doesn't quite live up to his crazy minor-league numbers.

Yes, for all that went right for the Diamondbacks last year, they still have nowhere to go but up, giving Fantasy owners the promise of high-end talent for both the short- and long-term.

Bust ... Ryan Roberts, 3B

Roberts' rise to Fantasy prominence last year was about as unlikely as they come, which is reason enough to question whether or not he can do it again. After all, if a near 20-20 season was really a likely scenario for him, he wouldn't have been a minor-league journeyman. But going beyond just common sense, you can't overlook the fact that his breakout season hinged on an unsustainably hot April in which he hit .313 with a 1.007 OPS. He hit .239 the rest of the way. Power and speed numbers aside, if his batting average is lagging right out of the gate, the Diamondbacks have little reason to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's already 31. It's not like he's any sort of building block. With higher-upside third basemen like Ryan Wheeler and Matt Davidson quickly rising through the minor-league system, Roberts is on a shorter leash than his ranking would have you believe. He's a player to draft only if he falls to you late.

Sleeper ... Jason Kubel, OF

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Think back to 2009, when Kubel hit .300 with 28 homers and a .907 OPS. Hasn't been the same since then, has he? You know what else hasn't been the same since then? The Twins' home ballpark. Back then, it was the Metrodome, a hitter's haven where Kubel put together an OPS about 100 points higher than on the road in both 2008 and 2009. In the two years since, it's been Target Field, a park geared more toward pitching. The connection is easy to see, which is why the Diamondbacks were willing to give Kubel a two-year deal this offseason. They play in a hitter's park, much like the Metrodome, and recognize that a 29-year-old like Kubel is still young enough to salvage whatever he lost to expansive Target Field. Given his improvement against left-handed pitchers last year, a full season of at-bats could feasibly return Kubel to the 25-homer range. It's a reasonable enough possibility that he's worth a late-round flier in mixed leagues.

Impact prospect ... Trevor Bauer, SP

True, Bauer was drafted only a year ago, and yeah, he has just seven minor-league starts to his name, but he comes from UCLA with so much poise and polish that the Diamondbacks were planning to let him audition for the final rotation spot before bringing back Joe Saunders late in the offseason. Bauer gives the "student of the game" moniker a whole new meaning, studying concepts like biomechanics, effective velocity and pitch tunneling in an effort to maximize his delivery, and considering he's often compared to Tim Lincecum, he has apparently done just that. Though his quick promotion to Double-A last year didn't go so well, he was coming off a heavy workload in college and still demonstrated incredible strikeout ability. Given his history and pedigree, Bauer won't need long to maximize his potential. If Collmenter doesn't pan out or some other pitcher suffers an injury, Bauer will get the call midseason, and when he does, he'll be an immediate contributor in Fantasy.

2012 Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Stephen Drew SS 1 Ian Kennedy RH
2 Aaron Hill 2B 2 Daniel Hudson RH
3 Justin Upton RF 3 Trevor Cahill RH
4 Miguel Montero C 4 Joe Saunders LH
5 Chris Young CF 5 Josh Collmenter RH
6 Jason Kubel LF Alt Wade Miley LH
7 Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Ryan Roberts 3B CL J.J. Putz RH
Top bench options SU David Hernandez RH
R Gerardo Parra OF RP Brad Ziegler RH
R Willie Bloomquist UTL RP Takashi Saito RH
R Lyle Overbay 1B RP Craig Breslow LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Trevor Bauer 21 SP Double-A Double-A
The third overall pick in the 2011 draft has knockout stuff and a workhorse mentality. He could be to the Diamondbacks this year what Tim Lincecum was to the Giants in 2007.
2 Tyler Skaggs 20 SP Double-A Triple-A
The prize of the Dan Haren deal would be the ace of most systems, but he has to play second fiddle to Bauer with the Diamondbacks. He's a year further away, too.
3 Adam Eaton 23 OF Double-A Triple-A
Eaton is a player in the Shane Victorino mold: small stature, but big numbers, both in the minors and the AFL. He's an injured outfielder away from being a surprise contributor.
4 Matt Davidson 20 3B Class A Double-A
Davidson profiles as a middle-of-the-order hitter, but with perhaps the same shortcomings that Mark Reynolds had. Still, you could do worse in long-term keeper leagues.
5 Archie Bradley 19 SP Rookie Class A
Bradley went off the board four picks after Bauer in the 2011 draft and has nearly as much upside. But obviously, at age 19, he's a few years from contributing.
Best of the rest: Wade Miley, SP; Chris Owings, SS; A.J. Pollock, OF; Patrick Corbin, SP; Bryan Shaw, RP; David Holmberg, SP; Bobby Borchering, 1B; Ryan Wheeler, 3B; Marc Krauss, OF; Charles Brewer, SP; David Nick, 2B; Yonata Ortega, RP; and Keon Broxton, OF.

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Player News
Royals RP Ryan Madson (back) expects to play catch Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:52 am ET) Royals reliever Ryan Madson, who injured his back doing squats over the weekend, expects to play catch Tuesday after being scratched from throwing Monday, per The Kansas City Star.

Nationals' Ian Stewart: I feel confident again in the batter's box
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:47 am ET) Ian Stewart is in camp with the Nationals this spring looking to land a spot on the team's bench. Stewart has a lot to prove since his career has been in decline since a 25-homer campaign in 2009 with the Rockies.

Stewart said his offensive struggles had a lot to do with wrist and hand injuries he sustained the last few years, per The Washington Post. He also feels the changes he made to his swing and hitting style to please other organizations also didn't help. 

However, he appears confident going back to his old routine will suit him well this spring.

“This offseason, I just tried to get back to my old ways of hitting and ways of working out in the past,” he said. “Really, just trying to be as comfortable as I can in the box. I’ve gotten into my own head a lot the last few years. Just struggling and letting that affect different parts of my game. … I’m at a point where I’m completely comfortable in the box. I feel like my head is clear because I really felt so good hitting this winter that I feel confident again in the box. I’m comfortable, I’m loose, I’m not in my own head.”


Dodgers manager Mattingly appoints Jimmy Rollins as leadoff man
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:44 am ET) A week after saying he wasn't fully committed to batting Jimmy Rollins at leadoff, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly revealed that the former Phillies shortstop will be the team's full-time leadoff man this year, per MLB.com.

Rollins batted first in just 19 of 131 starts last season for the Phillies. Rollins, 36, hit .243/.323/.394 over 538 at-bats last season. He has a career .277 on-base percentage over 200 at-bats at Dodger Stadium.


Phillies' De Fratus spent offseason adding velocity to fastball
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:38 am ET) Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus spent the offseason working on adding velocity to his fastball after losing a little zip on the pitch last season, per The Philadelphia Inquirer.

De Fratus said he built up arm strength through a long-toss program.

“I look at long toss like weightlifting,” De Fratus said. “The only way to get stronger is to keep doing it. How do you train your arm to go faster? Well, you try to throw it fast. That’s how I did it.

“Knock on wood, I feel good. I’m ready to get after it to see if the work that I put into the offseason helps.”


Mets not in significant trade talks with other clubs for Dillon Gee
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:37 am ET) Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters there's barely any dialogue between other clubs about potential trades for pitcher Dillon Gee, who was on the block during the winter meetings. Gee is scheduled to start Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener against Atlanta, though he's slated to start the regular season as a long reliever.

"I think most clubs, including ours, are focused on what's going on in camp and evaluating what they already have," Alderson said, per ESPN. "If there's going to be any significant trade talk, I think typically it's going to happen later in spring training, unless there's an injury of some sort. By and large, I think that comes more in the second half of spring training."


Astros' Asher Wojciechowski moves to opposite side of pitching rubber
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) In an attempt to improve his delivery, Astros right-hander Asher Wojciechowski has moved from the third-base side of the pitching rubber to the first-base side, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I'm really pleased with Wojciechowski, coming off his health issues and everything," pitching coach Brent Strom said. "He's throwing the ball extremely well.

"Wojo was a right-handed pitcher throwing from the third-base side of the rubber, slightly across body, which created a tough angle. We moved him to the far first-base side of the rubber, freed his arm up."

Strom advised Wojciechowski's new position this spring after the 26-year-old was slowed down by a lat injury in 2014. Wojciechowski is on the 40-man active roster and is considered an outside candidate for the rotation. He's competing against Dan Straily and Roberto Hernandez for a spot on the opening day roster.


A-Rod on spring debut: 'I'll be a little nervous, for sure'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:22 am ET) Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez is battling an array of emotions heading into his spring debut Wednesday against the Phillies. Rodriguez will be making his first appearance in a Yankees uniform since Sept. 2013 after sitting out last season due to a season-long suspension.

“I’ll be a little nervous, for sure,” he said Tuesday, per the New York Post. “I haven’t been in front of our fans for a long time. I’m excited about that. I have some challenges ahead... Ready to go. Not sure how ready, but I’ll give it a shot.”

Rodriguez wants to rack up plenty of at-bats this spring following his long layoff.

“At-bats are key for me. I haven’t seen live pitching in a long time,” he said. “The more at-bats, the better. And I know (manager) Joe (Girardi) talked a little bit about maybe going to the minor leagues and utilizing that, too.”


Brooks Hall outrighted to Triple-A Colorado Springs
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) The Brewers outrighted pitcher Brooks Hall to Triple-A Colorado Springs  on Tuesday, per the team's official website. Milwaukee's 40-man roster now stands at 39.

Twins' Alex Meyer: I'm not far from the other pitchers in camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Twins pitcher Alex Meyer, who missed several days last week due to personal reasons and is also dealing with an illness, tossed live batting practice on Monday and told reporters he's not far from the other pitchers in camp, per the Star Tribune.

The Twins have yet to decide if he'll make an appearance in Wednesday's exhibition game against the University of Minnesota.


Rangers' Derek Holland to throw in 'pen before making spring debut
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland (shoulder) will throw a bullpen session Thursday or Friday before being cleared to make his spring debut, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

 
 
 
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