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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
Brewers' Khris Davis to work on being a patient hitter in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis realizes he didn't show patience at the plate last year in his first full major-league season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I built a reputation in the organization of being a patient hitter," Davis said. "I felt like I wasn't a patient hitter at all last year. I was a little eager, wanting to please too much, too early. I found out I'm human."

Davis drew just 32 walks in 549 plate appearances while posting a .299 OBP in 2014, a number far away from his career .392 OBP in the minors.

"He was different last year," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Everybody goes through different phases. Guys change. (His walk total) was too low. He's a guy I think should be fairly patient. He sees pitches well. When he starts getting anxious, he becomes more aggressive and chases more. He realizes it, which is the first step. If you don't realize it and don't listen to other people when they tell you that, then you have issues. You have to have good self-awareness to be a good player. Sometimes these players don't have good self-awareness. But if they had better self-awareness they'd be a better player."

Davis is determined to fulfill the potential that caused the organization to move Ryan Braun to right field before the 2014 season and plug Davis into the regular left-field role.

"I can't thank them enough for having patience with me," Davis said. "I'm going to work it out. When you get here, you want to stay. That's the toughest part at first. I don't think this league has seen the best of me yet. I'm ready to pull that out and prove it day by day. I learned so many lessons there are too many to name."

Davis hit .244/.299/.457 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI in 501 at-bats.


Indians' Francona keeping a close eye on Giovanny Urshela
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Indians manager Terry Francona has been keeping a close eye on third-base prospect Giovanny Urshela, who was only recently cleared for a full range of activities after tweaking his knee during winter ball, MLB.com reports.

"He has a tremendous reputation of being a really good defender," Francona said. "I think I've been more wanting to watch his gait, just to make sure he's not favoring that leg. He promised us that, if he was, he'd let us know, but I also know he's a young kid in his first major-league camp."

Urshela suffered the injury on Nov. 15 and has rehabbed the injured knee at the team's spring-training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

"He's worked really hard to get himself to where he can go through a normal spring," said Indians' director of player development Carter Hawkins. "We're very excited about the spot he's in right now, given the possible outcomes of the injury."

Urshela saw his first action at the Triple-A level in 2014, hitting .276/.331/.473 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI in 395 at-bats with Columbus.


Reds' Brennan Boesch to see time at first base this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated Friday that outfielder Brennan Boesch would see time at all three outfield spots as well as at first base as he competes for a roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

"We already know he's a terrific player," Price said of Boesch, who has never played first base professionally. "He kind of got banged up and lost his way a little bit, but I think he feels -- and we feel -- that he's back on top of his game, and maybe his best days are ahead of him."

Boesch said he doesn't see the battle for a reserve outfield role as a "competition."

"I only care about the competition against the pitcher, and that's really as basic as I keep it," Boesch said. "You aren't competing against other players. We're all on the same side here. We're all wearing Red jerseys. Let the chips fall where they may."

Boesch struggled in limited time with the Angels in 2014 but hit .332/.381/.636 with 25 home runs, 85 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 374 at-bats with Triple-A Salt Lake.


Dodgers' Mattingly: Turner has 'put a lot of time in and it shows'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Dodgers infielder Justin Turner earned a nonroster invitation to the team's camp last year and ended up leading the team in batting average, and he's been working on his body like a fiend over the winter, MLB.com reports.

"Going into last year, we felt if he played every day, he'd get in trouble, and we found that out, but this year maybe he can handle more," manager Don Mattingly said Friday. "He's really been diligent about his work, been at Dodger Stadium almost daily. He's put a lot of time in and it shows."

Turner credited strength-and-conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel for his workout success.

"Brandon did everything. He's been a one-man wrecking crew," said Turner. "He and his family deserve the credit. I've been able to establish a routine and train consistently. Before I signed a year ago, I was on my own, going to 24 Hour Fitness, had to coordinate everything myself."

Turner added that he lost 18 pounds this winter through a healthier diet. Mattingly said that he intends to use the infielder at the corner-infield positions and also potentially up the middle.


Nationals' Matt Skole: 'I'm eating healthy and working hard'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Nationals first baseman Matt Skole missed most of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and struggled at the plate in 2014 but showed up to camp in better shape and will look to rebound in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"This offseason, I had a little more time to work on my body," Skole said. "I really got after it in the weight room. I ate right. I ate healthy. I think that was probably the biggest difference for me. I'm about the same weight as I was. I just leaned out a little bit. I'm eating healthy and working hard."

Skole worked with hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich for a month after the season and learned to keep his hands up in order to hit the ball consistently after having his hands too low during his down 2014 season.

"After taking a year off, it was more difficult than I thought it would be," the left-handed-swinging Skole said. "But coming back, I turned some corners, made some strides as far as getting to know myself as a player and know the things I need to fix. I think everything I did last year was a stepping stone for this year."

Skole hit .241/.352/.399 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI in 461 at-bats with Double-A Harrisburg last season.


Report: Dodgers sign center fielder Travis Witherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) The Dodgers signed center fielder Travis Witherspoon to their organization, according to a report from Baseball America

Witherspoon has previously been in the Angels and Mariners organizations. In six years of minor-league ball, Witherspoon has posted a career batting average of .252 with 68 home runs. He hit a minor-league single-season best 15 home runs in 2014 with the Mariners' Single-A affiliate High Desert Mavericks. 


Phillies' Buchanan 'working on being a complete pitcher'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Phillies pitcher David Buchanan is "working on being a complete pitcher," manager Ryan Sandberg said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The team's coaches spoke with Buchanan in the fall about command and pitch sequencing, executing bunts and thwarting would-be base-stealers, and Sandberg noted while examining the players that arrived early that the pitcher had taken the advice to heart.

"My biggest goal [this spring] is to show our front office and our coaches that I can throw the ball over the plate," Buchanan said. "That's one thing I had success with last year. I wasn't walking guys. I was throwing strikes, and that's what I'm known for. That's why I succeeded in the minor leagues; I was throwing strikes. So that's what I want to do this spring training, is continue to do that, pound the zone, force early contact and keep the ball on the ground."

Buchanan is scheduled to pitch the team's Grapefruit League opener Tuesday against the Yankees.


Giants' Bochy: Hunter Strickland 'needs to get a little smarter'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland is ready to learn from his mistakes from the tail end of his 2014 season.

Starting strong once he was called up from Double-A Richmond, Strickland gave up six home runs in the postseason. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the remedy to put Strickland back on track is simple. 

"He needs to get a little smarter," Bochy said, per MLB.com.  

Strickland will be competing for a spot in the bullpen during spring training. His fastball is a strength, though it's a matter of his command improving on the mound. 

"The failures are what make guys better, I feel like," Strickland said. "I feel like they made me better. Just being in tune with yourself and knowing who you are and what you've got to do. In this game, you're not going to make it too far if you don't have confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, who else is going to believe in you?"


Mets' Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker competing for roster spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Mets left-handed hitters Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker will be battling for one roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

While Nieuwenhuis is out of options, manager Terry Collins indicated that den Dekker has responded to the team's request that he reduce his strikeouts when sent to Triple-A last season.

"We'll just see how it translates this spring into what kind of an offensive player he can be," Collins said of den Dekker. "We know he's got the defensive skills."

Collins said that whichever outfielder shows the most promise will make the initial 25-man roster.

"He plays the game right. He's fearless," Collins said of Nieuwenhuis. "But right now, we've got to get some offense from one of those two guys. Which one of those two guys is going to be able to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter? The best closers in our division are all right-handed, so the left-handed hitter off that bench is going to be a big piece."


Stephen Strasburg wants to stay with Nationals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though Stephen Strasburg's agent Scott Boras denied a report that he wanted to be traded in January, the right-handed pitcher said himself that he wants to remain with the Nationals and has no issues with the organization. 

"I haven't said anything like that," Strasburg said in an interview with MLB.com. "I don't feel like that. You have to accept it because that's how the system works. It's like they pick up on any little thing and they twist it. Some people want to turn it to see how many clicks they can get on the webpage."

Strasburg is set to be the ace of a deep rotation that looks to be on of the best in baseball this coming season. With the Nationals winning their second divisional title in the past three seasons, Strasburg said he's happy with the organization. 

"It's the team that drafted me. I love the players here, I love D.C. Winning cures everything, that's for sure," Strasburg said. "I'm excited to be part of the resurgence so far. It's great to see the type of players we bring in here every year. The expectations keep going up and up. Hopefully, we can do big things this year."


 
 
 
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