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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Baltimore Orioles

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Another year, another projected last-place finish for the Orioles.

It's as predictable as a Mark Reynolds strikeout. This year will make it five straight, barring the miraculous, and with yet another change in regime this offseason, the organization doesn't have much to show for its period of futility.

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The future wasn't always so bleak. As recently as last spring, the Orioles appeared to have the pieces in place for the next step forward. But their foundation was supposed to be their young starting rotation, and of Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, the only one whose season didn't end in disaster was Britton.

Granted, young pitchers usually need time to adjust to the majors, but Matusz, Arrieta and Tillman were supposed to have gotten that time already. Their lack of progress at this stage of their development makes them anything but certainties for the Orioles going forward.

Thus, new GM Dan Duquette's primary mission this offseason was to collect as many fallback options as possible, and on that front, he left no stone unturned, signing left-handers Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada of the Japanese League. Between them, journeyman Jason Hammel and the options already in place, the Orioles should be able to find a suitable starting five even if it's not the one that they originally had in mind.

The starting lineup is a little more stable, though its nucleus -- a group that includes Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters -- lacks star potential. Brian Roberts is a lost cause given his concussion woes, and the Orioles are grasping at straws with retreads like Chris Davis, Wilson Betemit and Nolan Reimold.

In the bullpen, Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg and Matt Lindstrom will compete for ninth-inning duties, but on a team destined to finish last, it won't make much of a difference to Fantasy owners. And unfortunately, if Matusz, Arrieta and Tillman remain stuck in neutral, it'll be par for the course in Baltimore until the next wave of talent arrives.

Breakout ... Matt Wieters, C

Coming off a 22-homer 2011, Wieters is already a Fantasy mainstay. But he still hasn't lived up to the potential that made him the No. 1 overall prospect entering 2009. Fortunately, if the way he finished last season is any indication, his next step is on the horizon. The 25-year-old hit .281 with 12 homers and a .927 OPS over his final 167 at-bats -- numbers that, over a full season, would have made him arguably the top catcher in Fantasy. And if his improved walk rate during that stretch is any indication, Wieters is beginning to figure it out against major-league pitching. It's taken a while -- as is often the case for catchers, given their responsibilities on defense -- but it's happening at a young enough age that Fantasy owners can assume the best is yet to come. Given the risks for high-end catchers like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey this year, perhaps you're better off waiting an extra couple rounds and selecting Wieters.

Bust ... Adam Jones, OF

Funny how a subtle boost in homers, from 19 to 25, can change Fantasy owners' perception of a player. Jones' "power breakthrough" had more to do with at-bats than anything else -- his slugging percentage was only nine points higher than his previous career high -- and yet the same people who previously rated him among the mediocre middle are drafting him alongside established five-category threats Shane Victorino and Shin-Soo Choo this year. Jones is no five-category threat. Granted, another step forward power-wise, which is at least possible for the 26-year-old, would help compensate for his shortcomings, but who's to say one will actually happen? Again, his percentages suggest he hasn't made any real progress over the last three seasons and as a player who strikes out 100 more times than he walks, he's always at risk for a collapse in batting average. As a third or fourth outfielder he's fine, but as a No. 2, Jones is better left for someone else.

Sleeper ... Brian Matusz, SP

Believe it or not, Matusz went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA and a strikeout per inning over his final eight starts in 2010, which makes his dismal 2011 even harder to reconcile. But hey, Roy Halladay had a 10.64 ERA in 2000, and he turned out fine. So before you go overboard and suggest Matusz is a lost cause, think back to how the 2011 season began for him. He went down before it even started with an intercostal strain and when he returned, his velocity was the lowest it's ever been. He spent the rest of the season trying to regain his stuff, basically going through spring training while every other player was in midseason form, and by the time his velocity returned, it was September. This year, instead of falling behind, Matusz has committed himself to getting ahead by working out with Brady Anderson in the offseason. The 24-year-old may not win a rotation spot out of spring training, but given his talent, he'll be back soon enough.

2012 Baltimore Orioles Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Brian Roberts 2B 1 Zach Britton LH
2 J.J. Hardy SS 2 Jason Hammel RH
3 Nick Markakis RF 3 Wei-Yin Chen LH
4 Adam Jones CF 4 Jake Arrieta RH
5 Matt Wieters C 5 Tsuyoshi Wada LH
6 Mark Reynolds 3B Alt Tommy Hunter RH
7 Wilson Betemit DH
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Chris Davis 1B CL Jim Johnson RH
9 Nolan Reimold LF SU Matt Lindstrom RH
Top bench options RP Kevin Gregg RH
R Endy Chavez OF RP Troy Patton LH
R Robert Andino IF RP Pedro Strop RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Manny Machado 19 SS Class A Class A
A knee injury prevented Machado's first full professional season from being all it could be, but as far as shortstop prospects go, he's still as good as it gets offensively.
2 Dylan Bundy 19 SP DNP -- signed late Class A
As the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bundy has the upside to compete with Machado for the top spot on this list. The future ace could be several years away, though.
3 Wei-Yin Chen 26 SP DNP -- in Japan Majors
Equipped with low-90s stuff, Chen had great numbers in Japan and could still improve at age 26. He's no Yu Darvish, though, which makes him a gamble better left for AL-only leagues.
4 Jonathan Schoop 20 2B Class A Double-A
Schoop doesn't have quite as much upside as Machado, but he's a solid hitter with decent pop who could give the Orioles an All-Star double-play combination down the road.
5 Tsuyoshi Wada 31 SP DNP -- in Japan Majors
Wada had better numbers than Chen in Japan, but his stuff tops out in the high 80s, which could prove disastrous in the AL East. At age 31, he's a now-or-never pick in AL-only leagues.
Best of the rest: Ryan Adams, 2B; Jerome Hoes, OF; Ryan Flaherty, 2B; Xavier Avery, OF; Daniel Klein, RP; Matt Antonelli, 2B; Matt Angle, OF; Oliver Drake, SP; Trent Mummey, OF; Joe Mahoney, 1B; and Wynn Pelzer, SP.

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Player News
Phillies 2B Chase Utley could start hitting within a week
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:45 am ET) Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who is on the 15-day disabled list due to right ankle inflammation, might start hitting within a week, general manager Ruben Amaro said Sunday, per the The Philadelphia Daily News.

Phillies SP Jerome Williams set to rehab with Double-A team
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:34 am ET) Phillies starting pitcher Jerome Williams (hamstring) will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday with Double-A Reading, the team announced Monday.

Prior to going on the disabled list in mid-June, the veteran right-hander had a 3-7 record and 6.43 ERA. He had been particularly bad over his last nine starts, going 1-6 with an 8.06 ERA.


White Sox rob Orioles' Chris Davis of two HRs in weekend series
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:29 am ET) Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was robbed of not one but two home runs over the weekend against the White Sox.

On Saturday, Davis crushed a pitch down the right-field line that would have tied the game at 3 in the ninth inning, but White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia was able to reach over the fence and bring back what would have been Davis' 19th home run.

Davis came close again to hitting his 19th home run Sunday, but this time it was J.B. Shuck in left field that robbed Davis of the celebration in the eighth inning with Baltimore ahead 8-1.

"Both plays were great plays," Davis said, per The Baltimore Sun. "I think the one (Saturday) was a little more hard to swallow because it would have tied the game. Today, obviously with the big lead, runner on third with less than two outs, a little bit easier to digest.

"You just tip your cap, man. They made two great plays. It didn't feel like the ball was really flying today or any of the days for that matter. They made two great plays."


Astros SP Scott Feldman looks average in Double-A rehab start
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:35 am ET) Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman didn't look overly impressive during a rehab start for Double-A Cospus Christi on Sunday.

Feldman allowed three runs, two of them earned, on four hits in three innings of work. He walked three batters, but did manage to strike out another three.

Feldman has been on the 15-day disabled list since late May because of a knee injury.


Yankees RP Andrew Miller could return after one rehab game
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(12:28 am ET) Yankees relief pitcher Andrew Miller might be able to return to the club after just one rehab appearance, per the New York Post.

Miller will pitch for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, and could possibly come off the 15-day disabled list and rejoin the team after that.

“We will see where he is at. The thing is we don’t have to build him up [like a starter.] We have him throwing 25 pitches [Monday],’’ manager Joe Girardi said. “We will see how he feels. If he feels good we have to make a decision.’’


Mets manager Terry Collins reacts to Matt Harvey's complaints
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:12 am ET) After a 4-3 loss on Sunday, Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey put some of the blame over his recent struggles on the team's six-man rotation. On Sunday, manager Terry Collins fired back and told Harvey to get over it, per MLB.com.

Collins ultimately said that Harvey and the other pitchers need to "get over it"

"They've got to," Collins said. "Matt knows that. I know he's frustrated by it, and he and I have talked about it. But you've got to come up and be creative between starts. I certainly understand it. I certainly do understand it. He's a tremendous competitor and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis. I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, 'Matt, we'll go back to a five-man, but I hope you enjoy watching the rest of the season sitting on the bench in September when we need you.' So we've got to make the adjustment."


Rays OF Steven Souza gets stitches on hand after HBP
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Rays outfielder Steven Souza had to get stitches on on the pinky of his right hand after being hit by a pitch during Sunday's game against the Yankees.

Souza remained in the game temporarily after being hit. He ran the bases and scored a run but didn't return to the game after that. He isn't sure how much time he will miss because of the injury.

"Right now it's just day to day," Souza said.

Souza received x-rays on the finger, which came up negative. He will undergo more tests on Monday.

"It was a really deep cut, it was deeper than the doctor thought it was when he opened it up," Souza said. "We don't know what's in there. We're going to see a specialist in Kansas City.

"It's just my pinky. A giant laceration that runs up my pinky. I can't really bend it too well now. I'm hoping I wake up tomorrow and it feels little better. But I don't have much feeling in my pinky right now, which is kind of a worry for us. So we'll go from there."


Mariners 2B Robinson Cano hit by pitch, should be OK
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano says he should be OK after being hit by a pitch on the ankle during Sunday's game against the Athletics, per Mynorthwest.com.

Cano has a slash line of .248/.289/.363 this season with five home runs and 27 RBI.


Marlins recall 2B Jordany Valdespin from Triple-A
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) The Marlins have recalled second baseman Jordany Valdespin from Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday.

The Marlins called up Valdespin in a corresponding move after they optioned outfielder Marcell Ozuna earlier Sunday.


Giants SS Brandon Crawford slugs 12th home run of season
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford was the lone offensive bright spot for his team during a 3-1 loss to the Nationals on Sunday.

Crawford went 1 for 4 with a solo home run, his 12th of the season.

Crawford is hitting just .228 over his last 10 games, but he does have eight hits, three home runs and seven RBI.


 
 
 
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