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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
Report: Multiple teams targeting Mariners SP Hisashi Iwakuma
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:26 am ET) Suitors interested in Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma have lined up, but the team has yet to commit to trading him, according to Fox Sports.

Iwakuma has gotten into a groove after losing most of the season to injury. He is 2-0 in his last three starts with four runs allowed and 18 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.


Sizzling Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez blasts off twice Monday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) Forget red-hot. Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez is white-hot.

Gonzalez managed his third multi-homer performance in four games by slamming two out of Wrigley Field on Monday night. He has gone yard seven times in the last five games.

His first against the Cubs was a two-run job in the third that opened the scoring. His second appeared far more crucial - it gave his team a lead in the ninth inning it eventually blew.

Gonzalez, who also singled twice, is 12-for-21 with 10 runs scored and a ridiculous 15 RBI over his last five games. He boasts a slash line on the year of .278/.332/.520. His slugging percentage is at its highest point since April 11.


Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez homers on 40th birthday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:10 am ET) Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez celebrated his 40th birthday in style during Monday's 6-2 win over the Rangers.

Rodriguez hit his 24th home run of the season off Matt Harrison in the sixth inning. The solo shot was his only hit in five at-bats during the contest.

Prior to Monday's win, Rodriguez was hitting .286 with seven home runs and 11 RBI in his last 11 games.


Rockies closer John Axford blows another one Monday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) Walt Weiss had given no indication that he was ready to yank Rockies closer John Axford from that role. But after Monday night, he could certainly be giving it some serious thought.

Axford continued his slide after retiring two batters in the ninth against the host Cubs by allowing a walk-off, two-run jack to Kris Bryant.

The right-hander has been a mess lately. He has given up six runs on six hits in his last 3 1/3 innings with five walks. His ERA has climbed from 2.36 to 3.90 during that stretch.


Athletics OF Coco Crisp goes hitless in rehab game Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:08 am ET) Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp went 0 for 2 at the plate during a rehab assignment at Class A on Monday.

Crisp played seven innings and also walked once and scored a run. Monday was his first rehab game since going on the disabled list in mid-May with a neck injury. He is expected to play three more games at Class A.


Bad outing, bad bullpen cost Cubs SP Kyle Hendricks a win
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) A blown save cost Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks a victory over Colorado on Monday night. But he really didn't deserve it anyway.

Hendricks had been the beneficiary of a six-run fourth inning. He allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings with three walks and four strikeouts.

He fell behind 4-0 on a two-run homer by torrid Carlos Gonzalez in the third and two-run single by DJ LeMahieu in the fourth. He required 104 pitches to get through five.

Hendricks has surrendered nine runs in his last 11 innings and hasn't earned a win since July 5.


Rockies SP Jorge De La Rosa battered at Wrigley
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) Perhaps it's just hitter-friendly ballparks that have Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa struggling so mightily in 2015.

He has allowed 39 earned runs in 50 1/3 innings at Coors Field this season. But he was even worse at Wrigley on Monday night. He allowed six runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings to the Cubs before getting yanked from the game. He walked two and fanned two, but took only a no-decision.

De La Rosa was OK for three innings, but didn't survive the fourth, which began with two walks. Three straight singles chopped his lead to 4-2, then a two-run single by slumping Starlin Castro and RBI double by Addison Russell knocked him out.

The left-hander has yielded 12 runs in 9 2/3 innings over his last two starts to raise his ERA to 5.03.


Yankees SS Didi Gregorius drives in four runs Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius went 3 for 4 at the plate with four RBI to help lead the Yankees to a 6-2 win over the Rangers on Monday.

Gregorius smacked a two-run shot off Matt Harrison in the third inning for his fifth home run of the season.

Prior to Monday's win, Gregorius was hitting .256 with two doubles and two RBI in his last 12 games.


Rangers SP Matt Harrison allows six runs in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison struggled throughout his start Monday against the Yankees, which the Rangers lost 6-2.

Harrison allowed six runs on six hits over six innings of work. He also struck out two and walked two. He gave up a two-run home run to Didi Gregorius in the third inning and a solo home run to Alex Rodriguez in the sixth. His ERA rose from 5.40 to 6.75.

Harrison (1-2) has one quality start over his three starts this season.


White Sox closer David Robertson shaky in earning save
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) White Sox closer David Robertson continued to be shaky in his role Monday night, but a three-run lead gave him some leeway.

Robertson retired the first two Red Sox at Fenway Park before trouble ensued. A walk, RBI single to Pablo Sandoval and another walk allowed the winning run to come to the plate. But Robertson induced Ryan Hanigan to ground out to secure his 22nd save.

The right-hander has given up two runs on three hits and three walks over his last three appearances.


 
 
 
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