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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
Yankees closer Andrew Miller turns lights out on Braves
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:47 am ET) Yankees closer Andrew Miller achieved something Saturday he had only achieved once since Aug. 2. That is, he retired the side in order to nail down a save.

His victim was Atlanta, which Miller disposed of quickly in the ninth. He fanned Pedro Ciriaco and Nick Markakis along the way to raise his save total to 28.

Miller has not allowed a run over his last six appearances.


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by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Braves starter Matt Wisler needed to be near-perfect Saturday against the Yankees. He was merely good - and that wasn't good enough.

Wisler yielded two runs on four hits in six innings with four walks and four strikeouts. That was two runs too many as his team got blanked during his stint in the game.

The lone runs against him scored on a wild pitch in the first and RBI double by Didi Gregorius in the seventh.

Wisler bounced back quite well from a horrible performance last Sunday, when he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Cubs.


Yankees SP Luis Severino excellent again in beating Braves
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:37 am ET) Yankees rookie starter Luis Severino continued to improve with every outing Saturday against Atlanta. And he had already been performing quite well.

Severino managed his first shutout effort in evening his record to 2-2. He blanked the Braves on four hits through six innings while walking three and whiffing five.

He allowed two baserunners in the fourth and sixth innings, but escaped both jams.

Severino has given up only seven runs in 29 innings through five starts. He his lowered his ERA to an impressive 2.17.


Pirates closer Mark Melancon earns shaky 43rd save
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:31 am ET) Pirates sizzling closer Mark Melancon was merely mortal Saturday against Colorado, but still nailed down his league-leading 43rd save.

Melancon arrived with a 4-1 lead and promptly allowed a single and two-run homer to Nick Hundley. He then surrendered a single and needed a double-play lineout to finally end the drama.

It marked the first time he has given up more than one run in an appearance since April 21.


Twins SP Mike Pelfrey gives up four runs in short outing
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
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Pelfrey allowed four runs on seven hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work. He struck out two batters and gave up a pair of walks.

With the loss, Pelfrey dropped to 6-8 on the year with a 4.04 ERA.


Rockies SP Chris Rusin finds groove too late in loss to Pirates
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
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Rusin surrendered three runs on five hits and three walks in six innings in lowering his record to 4-7. He struck out three.

A three-run homer by Aramis Ramirez in the first got Rusin off to a terrible start, but he settled in thereafter. He retired eight of the next nine batters and allowed just two hits the rest of the way.

Rusin rebounded nicely from his last start, when he gave up 11 runs in only two innings against the Mets.


Astros closer Luke Gregerson strikes out two, picks up save
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:23 am ET) Astros closer Luke Gregerson recorded his 25th save of the season on Saturday against the Twins.

Gregorson strukc out two batters as he closed out the ninth inning of his team's 4-1 victory. He now has a 2.82 ERA this season.


Pirates SP J.A. Happ remains on a roll with third straight win
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:20 am ET) Pirates starter J.A. Happ continued to cut down on his walks Saturday against Colorado. The result was a third straight win.

Happ has found his control since arriving in Pittsburgh after struggling with it throughout his career. He walked just one in 5 2/3 innings with the Rockies in town. He allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts.

The only tally came on a groundout in the third inning.

Happ has been on a tremendous roll with only two runs allowed in 23 innings over his last four starts.


Astros SP Mike Fiers earns seventh win of the year
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:17 am ET) Astros starting pitcher Mike Fiers recorded his seventh win of the season on Saturday against the Twins.

Fiers allowed only one run on three hits in six innings of work. He struck out five batters and issued three walks.

With the win, Fiers improved to 7-9 on the season with a 3.54 ERA.


White Sox SP Jeff Samardzija gives up five runs in loss
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Samardzija lasted just 5 2/3 innings after giving up the five runs on eight hits. He recorded eight strikeouts while allowing three walks.

With the loss, Samardzija dropped to 8-11 on the season with a 4.85 ERA.


 
 
 
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