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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Cincinnati Reds

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Cincinnati's defense of its 2010 National League Central Division title never got on track, and the Reds finished the 2011 season with a disappointing 79-83 record. Strong seasons from former NL MVP Joey Votto and rotation ace Johnny Cueto were not enough to lift Cincinnati above a third-place finish.

The main culprit was starting pitching, as Bronson Arroyo flailed his way to a 9-12 record and 5.07 ERA, and Edinson Volquez and Travis Wood failed to perform to expectations. Though the offense tied for second place in the NL in runs scored the lineup had a few holes, with Scott Rolen playing only 65 games, Drew Stubbs morphing into a singles hitter, Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria contributing little from the shortstop position, and left fielder Jonny Gomes hitting a paltry .211 before getting shipped to the Nationals.

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Volquez, Wood and Renteria are all gone, as are starting catcher Ramon Hernandez and closer Francisco Cordero. The Reds have all but cleaned out their farm system in an effort to win now, trading prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Bradley Boxberger as part of a deal that netted starting pitcher Mat Latos from the Padres, and bringing in Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart to log a significant chunk of the innings at catcher and shortstop, respectively.

Reds general manager Walt Jockety went to the free agent market to find his new closer, ex-Phillie Ryan Madson, and he imported Sean Marshall from the Cubs to fill the set-up role. While the Reds had a busy offseason, they have kept the core of their '10 division title-winning team intact as Votto, Cueto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips will all return in key roles.

With their recent roster shuffling, the Reds will head into spring training with a few question marks. Namely, they will have to determine whether recently-signed Ryan Ludwick or Chris Heisey will be their left fielder, how much playing time they want Mesoraco to have, and if there will be room for Aroldis Chapman or Jeff Francis in the starting rotation. Ultimately, though, the Reds' chances for returning to the postseason will hinge not on these decisions, but on Latos performing like a legitimate No. 2 starter, the bottom of the rotation improving, and Rolen and Stubbs having bounce-back years. At least some of these developments should pan out, but it still may not be enough for the Reds to keep pace with the Cardinals and Brewers.

Breakout ... Homer Bailey, SP

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It has been almost five years since Bailey first arrived as a highly-touted minor-league call-up, and he still has yet to fulfill much of his lofty promise. While Bailey's performance has been spotty, persistent shoulder troubles have been the 25-year-old's biggest obstacle to progress. The Reds have been conservative with Bailey and the team hopes that their caution will pay off this season. If he can stay healthy, Bailey has an excellent chance for a breakout season, as he has made steady improvements in his pitch selection, control and efficiency. Though he may go undrafted in many mixed leagues, Bailey could be one of this year's top post-hype sleepers.

Impact 2012 prospect ... Zack Cozart, SS

Mesoraco projects to be the more impactful player over the long run, but Cozart will make more noise in 2012. If he can build on the gap power that he displayed in Triple-A last season, Cozart just might hit in the .280s. With regular playing time, Cozart is a safe bet to hit double digits in homers, possibly getting as many as 15. The Reds have a bevy of infielders on their roster, but the biggest impediment to playing time for Cozart is his ability to come back from Tommy John surgery quickly. He should play all or most of the regular season and is worth drafting with a late-round pick in standard mixed leagues.

Bust ... Ryan Ludwick, OF

Though Ludwick will compete with Heisey for the starting left field job, he could benefit from manager Dusty Baker's preference for veteran players. That may land Ludwick a starting gig to begin the season, but that's no guarantee that he can keep it. Some observers have pointed to Ludwick's career line at Great American Ball Park (.276/.321/.600) as a sign of an impending comeback season, and it's true that he has had the misfortune of playing in pitchers' parks for most of his career. However, Ludwick has just 19 plate appearances at GABP over the last two years, a time period during which he has seen an erosion of his power numbers, both at home and on the road. Heisey has simply been a better hitter over the last two years, and it will take a significant comeback on Ludwick's part to hold him off. While some owners may see Ludwick as a candidate for a late-round flier in mixed leagues, his recent performance suggests that he will be better suited for NL-only leagues.

2012 Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Brandon Phillips 2B 1 Johnny Cueto RH
2 Zack Cozart SS 2 Mat Latos RH
3 Joey Votto 1B 3 Mike Leake RH
4 Jay Bruce RF 4 Bronson Arroyo RH
5 Scott Rolen 3B 5 Homer Bailey RH
6 Ryan Ludwick LF Alt Jeff Francis LH
7 Drew Stubbs CF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Ryan Hanigan C CL Ryan Madson RH
Top bench options SU Sean Marshall LH
R Devin Mesoraco C RP Nick Masset RH
R Chris Heisey OF RP Jose Arredondo RH
R Juan Francisco 3B RP Bill Bray LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Devin Mesoraco 23 C Majors Majors
Mesoraco will start the season in the majors splitting time with Hanigan, but he has the power and patience to be a top Fantasy catcher in the not-too-distant future.
2 Zack Cozart 26 SS Majors Majors
Coming off Tommy John surgery, Cozart could be ready for opening day. He may not get on base much, but he has good power for a shortstop.
3 Billy Hamilton 21 SS Class A Class A
This is not a typo: Hamilton stole 103 bases in the Midwest League last season. His other skills are a work in progress, though, and he is likely to get shifted to second base before he reaches the majors.
4 Daniel Corcino 21 SP Class A Class A
Corcino has been much more dominant than what you would expect from someone who is 5' 11". He made huge strides in 2011, and now he will have to master the hitter-friendly California League.
5 Robert Stephenson 18 SP DNP Class A
Stephenson, the Reds' first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, throws his fastball in the mid-90s but has plenty of work to do on his secondary pitches. He's still several years away.
Best of the rest: Todd Frazier, 3B; Didi Gregorius, SS; Tony Cingrani, SP; Neftali Soto, 1B; Denis Phipps, OF; Yorman Rodriguez, OF; Henry Rodriguez, 2B; J.C. Sulbaran, SP; David Vidal, 3B; Tim Crabbe, SP; Kyle Lotzkar, SP; Juan Duran, OF; Gabriel Rosa, 3B; Tucker Barnhart, C; Junior Arias, 3B; Andrew Brackman, RP; Donald Lutz, 1B; Donnie Joseph, RP.

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Player News
Giants pitcher Jake Peavy expected to two more bullpen sessions
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:20 pm ET) Giants pitcher Jake Peavy is planning to throw two more bullpen sessions this week before he begins his rehab assignment, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Peavy, who tossed a bullpen session on Saturday, is currently on the 15-day DL with a back injury. He is able to go through his daily chiropractic and strength work while recovering from the injury.

Peavy is 0-2 on the year with a 9.39 ERA in 7 2/3 innings of work this season.


With call up of Chris Taylor, M's may find other positions for Brad Miller
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(7:16 pm ET) Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said that shortstop Brad Miller may move around in the defense and that he is "Not the forgotten man. He's certainly not the culprit in all of this," according to the Seattle Times.

Miller has started 23 of the Mariners' 25 games this year at shortstop but, with the call up of Chris Taylor, he's not in Monday's starting lineup.

Miller is hitting .250 this season with a .301 on-base percentage for the 10-15 Mariners.

Rangers' Josh Hamilton goes 0 for 4 in first extended spring game
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton had his first game action of the year in extended spring training on Monday. 

Hamilton went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and three hard-hit grounders to first, according to a report by MLB.com.

Hamilton is returning from shoulder surgery. 

"It's been seven months since I've had some game action, but I felt good, and the body felt good," Hamilton said. "The legs feel good, and for the most part, I swung at strikes. I think I only swung at one pitch out of the zone today. Other than that, I was amped up, and that comes with getting at-bats and getting in game situations."


Report: Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle battling pain to take mound
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle is battling aches and pains, a source familiar with the 36-year-old's situation told TSN.ca.

The source didn't deny that Buehrle's back may be bothering him and said, "it's all he can do" to take the mound every fifth game.

Buehrle has a 6.75 ERA and 1.929 WHIP this season.  


Recently promoted SS Chris Taylor in Mariners' lineup on Monday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(6:50 pm ET) Chris Taylor, who was promoted from Triple-A earlier on Monday, will be in the Mariners' starting lineup Monday night in Los Angeles against the Angels, playing shortstop and hitting ninth.

With Austin Jackson (ankle) being placed on the 15-day disabled list, Justin Ruggiano gets his second start of the season in center field, batting second.

Taylor was competing for the M's shortstop job in spring training but got derailed with a broken wrist on March 13.

Taylor hit .313 in 21 games for Triple-A Tacoma this season.

Last season for the Mariners, Taylor hit .287 in 47 games.

Athletics get good reports on Coco Crisp, Jarrod Parker rehab games
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) The Athletics had two players play in minor league rehab games on Sunday. Outfielder Coco Crisp played the first of a two-game stint in Class A Stockton, while pitcher Jarrod Parker took the mound for Triple-A Nashville. 

A's manager Bob Melvin said he received good reports on both players after their respective games. 

Crisp went 1 for 3 with two ground outs and an RBI single to right. He was doubled off first base and made three putouts in left field before leaving in the eighth inning. He's returning from an elbow injury. 

Parker threw 75 pitches, 51 strikes, getting five groundouts, four fly outs and four strikeouts in 18 batters faced. He allowed a home run and made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt. 


Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel not expected to miss start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:37 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel is not expected to miss a start this week after being bothered by a cracked nail on his middle finger during Sunday's game. 

Hammel allowed three runs on five hits in his start on Sunday against the Brewers, but did not factor into the final decision. He currently boasts a 3.73 ERA in 37 1/3 innings of work this season.


Athletics' A.J. Griffin (elbow) close to beginning rehab assignment
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:34 pm ET) Athletics pitcher A.J. Griffin is close to beginning a rehab assignment, the Bay Area News Group reports.

Griffin saw some work in simulated games during April and appears ready to proceed to the next step of his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He missed all of last season while recovering from the procedure and was 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA and 171:54 K:BB ratio in 200 innings in 2013.


Dodgers option pitcher Matt West to Double-A Tulsa
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:31 pm ET) The Dodgers have optioned pitcher Matt West to Double-A Tulsa, according to the Orange County Register.

West was acquired earlier Monday from the Blue Jays for cash considerations. West appeared in seven games in 2014 for Double-A New Hampshire while a member of the Blue Jays' organization, posting a perfect 0.00 ERA with 17 strikeouts and four walks in 12 1/3 innings of work. 


Giants 1B Travis Ishikawa starting rehab assignment again
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:30 pm ET) Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa is restarting his rehab assignment Monday night with Single-A San Jose, according to the San Jose Mercury News

Ishikawa endured a setback after his back injury began experiencing tightness during an earlier rehab assignment in Triple-A. He took some time off to recover, which is why he's starting from scratch in trying to return to the Giants. 


 
 
 
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