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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Miami Marlins

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The Marlins dashed out to a 31-22 record after the season's first two months, a 5-23 June got the organization looking ahead to 2012 earlier than anticipated. After the firing of manager Edwin Rodriguez, 80-year-old Jack McKeon led the team through a turbulent and bizarre second half in which Logan Morrison was demoted to Triple-A, Hanley Ramirez underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, Josh Johnson (shoulder) stretched his DL stint to the very end of the season, and Leo Nunez (now Juan Oviedo) was forced to return to his native Dominican Republic to face charges of using a false identity.

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This offseason, the Marlins have done a lot more than just leave a last-place finish behind them. Since November, the team has acquired a new name, switching from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins, a new manager (Ozzie Guillen), a brand-new ballpark, new uniforms and new free-spending ways. Since their first World Series title in 1997, the team has been best known for fire sales and bargain hunting. Surprisingly, the Marlins were legitimate contenders to land Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, and while they lost out on both players, they won't head to spring training empty-handed. Miami signed free agents Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle, and they acquired Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs in exchange for fellow hurler Chris Volstad.

With the anticipated return of Johnson and their bevy of recent acquisitions, the Marlins enter this season as a markedly improved squad. Even so, there are a number of questions that leave the Marlins' status as a contender unclear. Hanley Ramirez could return to being an elite hitter, but will his shoulder be fully healed, and will his transition to third base affect him? Health has been an issue for Reyes in recent seasons as well, and will he be able to play at least 135 games for the first time in four years? Will Mike Stanton make enough contact so that he can become one of the majors' best hitters? Will Stanton be joined in the outfield by Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, whom the Marlins might sign? Can Ricky Nolasco bounce back from a mediocre season, and will a change of scenery help Zambrano? Finally, will new manager Guillen and confessed Twitterholic Logan Morrison get into an online feud that threatens team chemistry?

Even with so many unsettled issues, the Marlins know they now have a stronger rotation, an upgrade at closer with Bell, and the best left side of the infield, at least in terms of offense, in the majors. That should help them exceed last year's 72 wins by a wide margin, but it may not be enough to help them to keep pace with the Phillies and Braves, not to mention an upgraded Nationals squad, in the National League East.

Breakout...Logan Morrison, OF

Morrison hadn't shown home run power in the upper minors, so his 23 homers in his first full year in the majors came as a welcomed surprise. Even with the uptick in power, Morrison's campaign felt like a disappointment. His calling card as a prospect was a high on-base percentage, but a reduced walk rate and low batting average on balls in play (BABIP) left LoMo with a pedestrian .330 OBP. Morrison's track record suggests both his walk rate and BABIP should rebound, and in fact, his .268 BABIP from a year ago looks like the result of some horrendously bad luck. He is a strong bet to improve on his OBP and, at worst, maintain the home run power he displayed in 2011. Add in some improvement and subtract out his minor league demotion and DL time from last season, and Morrison suddenly profiles as a No. 3 mixed league OF.

Bounce-back...Hanley Ramirez, SS

Ramirez had a miserable first half last season, and just when he started to get untracked, he suffered a shoulder injury that led to season-ending surgery. As the season progressed, Ramirez adjusted and started hitting more line drives and flyballs, and his batting average and power numbers rose accordingly. Even though his overall stats were pale compared to his norms, a good sign for Ramirez was that his home run per flyball rate was not much lower than usual. As long as his timing and mechanics are sound, Ramirez showed he can still hit for power, and given the strength of his midseason performance, owners have reason for optimism. Though his recovery from surgery and transition to third base might not go smoothly, it's still a huge risk to pass on the type of production that Ramirez provided over his first five seasons with the Marlins and even part of last year. Ramirez is still worthy of a second-round pick.

Head-to-Head hero...Gaby Sanchez, 1B

Sanchez was an All-Star last season, largely on the basis of the .322/.401/.520 line he put up through the end of May. For those two months, Sanchez was getting home runs and hits on balls in play at rates far beyond his established norms. He came down to earth over the final four months of the season, and at 28, it's unlikely Sanchez is going to develop into someone who hits over .300 with 25-plus home runs. While he is a low-end mixed league option for Rotisserie owners, the skill set that Sanchez clearly owns makes him far more valuable in Head-to-Head. What we know Sanchez can do is hit doubles and draw walks. That makes him a solid middle-round pick in standard mixed Head-to-Head leagues.

2012 Miami Marlins Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Jose Reyes SS 1 Josh Johnson RH
2 Emilio Bonifacio CF 2 Mark Buehrle LH
3 Hanley Ramirez 3B 3 Anibal Sanchez RH
4 Mike Stanton RF 4 Ricky Nolasco RH
5 Logan Morrison LF 5 Carlos Zambrano RH
6 Gaby Sanchez 1B Alt Wade LeBlanc LH
7 John Buck C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Omar Infante 2B CL Heath Bell RH
Top bench options SU Juan Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) RH
R Greg Dobbs 3B RP Steve Cishek RH
R Brett Hayes C RP Mike Dunn LH
R Bryan Petersen OF RP Edward Mujica RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Matt Dominguez 22 3B Majors Triple-A
Dominguez is the Marlins' prospect who is closest to major-league ready, but his bat is still suspect, and there is no role for him currently.
2 Christian Yelich 20 OF Class A Class A
Yelich already has good gap power and the home runs could still come. A solid choice in long-term keeper leagues, he is still a couple of years away.
3 Rob Rasmussen 23 SP Class A Double-A
Rasmussen wasn't overwhelming in the Florida State League, but he is probably on the fastest track of the Marlins' young pitchers. He could potentially reach the majors late in 2012 as a reliever.
4 Marcell Ozuna 21 OF Class A Class A
Ozuna already has great power potential, and he made huge strides in his strike zone recognition last year.
5 J.T. Realmuto 21 C Class A Class A
Realmuto won't be in the majors anytime soon, but his combination of speed and power at the catcher position will be worth waiting for.
Best of the rest: Jose Fernandez, SP; Chad James, SP; Kyle Jensen, OF; Kevin Mattison, OF; Noah Perio, 2B; Adam Conley, SP; Mason Hope, SP; Jose Ceda, RP; Charlie Lowell, SP; Mark Canha, 1B; Grant Dayton, RP; Jose Urena, SP; Jesus Solorzano, OF; Chris Hatcher, RP; Omar Poveda, SP; Kyle Skipworth, C.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Braves sign pitcher Eric Stults to minor-league deal
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:49 pm ET) The Braves announced Thursday they signed pitcher Eric Stults to a minor-league deal, per MLB.com. He also was invited to spring training.

The 35-year-old Stults went 8-17 with a 4.30 ERA in 32 starts last season for the Padres. He is 4-2 with a 4.26 ERA in four career outings (two starts) at Turner Field.


Red Sox's Daniel Nava agrees to $1.85M salary to avoid arbitration
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) The Red Sox announced Thursday they agreed to terms with outfielder Daniel Nava, avoiding arbitration. Nava's 2015 salary will be $1.85 million, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Nava is in his first year of arbitration. He made $556,500 in 2014.


Rockies SP prospect Tyler Anderson will be limited at start of camp
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) The Rockies announced Thursday starting pitcher prospect Tyler Anderson will not be ready to pitch when spring camp opens Feb. 21, per The Denver Post.

"We are taking our time with this and we think it's best to take a conservative approach," trainer Keith Dugger said. "He will participate in camp, but he won't pitch. He'll take part in PFP (pitchers' fielding practice) and other activities. We think the prognosis is good for the long term."

Anderson had his season end in the Double-A playoffs last season due to elbow soreness. General manager Jeff Bridich said in December that Anderson's rehabilitation was going well and said it was "conceivable" he would be in the mix for a roster spot this spring. However, his slow recovery from the elbow injury could hinder his chances of making the opening day roster.

Anderson had a great year in 2014 before getting hurt. He went 7-4 with a 1.98 ERA in 23 starts for Double-A Tulsa. The 2011 first-round pick is 23-10 with a 2.39 ERA in 59 minor-league starts.

"We are going to do what's best for Tyler's long-term future with our club," Bridich said of having no specific timetable for Anderson.


Twins OF Torii Hunter plans to mentor Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:38 pm ET) Twins veteran right fielder Torii Hunter said one of his goals this season will be to mentor outfielder Aaron Hicks and top outfield prospect Byron Buxton, per MLB.com.

"I know Hicks can play, but with Buxton -- I haven't seen video or seen him play, but every word I hear is good about him," Hunter said. "I definitely think when we get to spring training we'll sit down and I'll work out with them and evaluate what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong."

Hicks said he will lean on Hunter this spring, as he competes with Jordan Schafer for the starting job in center field.

"I'll be all in his ear the whole time," Hicks said. "He might get annoyed I'll be in his ear so much. He's definitely a guy I'm going to go to.

"I believe that I have the ability to play center field here for a long time. I've just got to go out there and show people that I can be the center fielder that everybody wants me to be and also that I want myself to be."


Latest MRI on Jurickson Profar's shoulder comes back clean
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:43 pm ET) The latest MRI on Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar’s shoulder appears to show the shoulder is healing properly and Profar can increase his workload, reports FOXSports.com/southwest

Profar has been throwing from 60 feet, but will begin throwing from 75 feet starting next week. He'll also begin taking dry swings from the right side.


Free-agent pitcher Brandon Beachy delays contract decision
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:31 pm ET) Free-agent pitcher Brandon Beachy has decided to delay his decision on which team he'll pitch for in 2015, his agent told FOXSports.com.

The former Braves pitcher is recovery from Tommy John surgery and wants to wait until closer to spring training before making his decision. Beachy did not pitch in 2014 because of the injury.


Nationals' Jayson Werth pleads guilty, sentenced to 5 days in jail
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:24 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will serve five days in jail after pleading guilty to reckless driving, reports The Washington Post.

Werth was pulled over in July by Virginia State Police after driving 105 mph in a 55 mph zone and Werth did not necessarily disagree with the assessment.

"It's possible I exceeded 90 miles per hour," Werth said in court.

Werth was initially convicted of reckless driving Dec. 5, but appealed the verdict. He was originally sentenced to 10 days in jail, but it was reduced to five after Werth's guilty plea.

The prosecutor said Werth will turn himself in Friday and begin serving his sentence, according to NBC4's Northern Virginia Bureau. 


White Sox DFA Dayan Viciedo to see if any trade interest remains
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said putting outfielder Dayan Viciedo on waivers could be the final step to trading him, which is something the team has explored all offseason. Viciedo was designated for assignment Wednesday, which means Chicago has 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minors.

"It got to the point where Dayan didn’t very likely fit on this club in a meaningful way for 2015,"  Hahn said, per CSNChicago.com. "The thought with designating him was flesh out any interest over the next 10 days or so and find him a better home going into the next season."

Viciedo, who will turn 26 years old on March 10, has hit more than 20 homers in two of the last three seasons. But he has yet to reach his full potential, batting just .254 with a .424 slugging percentage in five MLB seasons. 

The White Sox seem OK if they deal Viciedo and he finally reaches his full potential with another team.

"He's still young and he still has a world of talent and a great deal of power that we’ve all seen on display over a number of years," Hahn said. "It's not going to surprise any of us in the least if he goes on to have a very successful career elsewhere."


Reds' Price 'realistically' targets Mesoraco to catch 145 games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:54 am ET) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated catcher Devin Mesoraco could see a lot more time behind the plate in 2015, per the Dayton Daily News. He appeared in 114 games in 2014, starting 109 at catcher.

“I’ve been asked that question a lot about Mesoraco playing first base,” Price said. “How much would he play? Only if (Joey) Votto was injured. Realistically, I see him as a Yadier Moilina-type guy, who is going to catch 145 games a year, more so than I see him catching 110 a year and playing 20 or 30 at first base.

“It stood out more last year because I linked up Johnny Cueto with (Brayan) Pena catching. I anticipate Mesoraco catching a lot more games this year, especially if he stays healthy. We won’t pair Pena with Cueto as much. Devin did a real nice job with Johnny the times he caught him.”


Report: Blue Jays making a push to sign Ronald Belisario
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) The Blue Jays are making a push to sign reliever Ronald Belisario, according to FoxSports.com.

The 32-year-old Belisario posted a 5.56 ERA over 66 1/3 innings with the White Sox last season. While his performance looks spotty on the surface, Belisario managed to cut his walk rate by three percent last season. He had awful luck with men on base, which may have contributed to his struggles. Belisario actually posted a 3.54 FIP, so there's a chance at a possible rebound. 

The Blue Jays have been linked to a number of free-agent relievers, including Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez and Burke Badenhop. 


 
 
 
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