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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
White Sox 1B Jose Abreu survives a bit of an injury scare Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:51 am ET) White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu gave the front office and coaching staff a scare Friday when he did a body slam into the infield dirt following a rundown in the third inning. Abreu laid motionless for a few moments after tripping over Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar at second base.

“When he ran down, I think he landed on the foot of the base on his ribs,” manager Robin Ventura said, per ESPN. “It kind of knocked the wind out him, and it was cold. At first I thought it was his wrist or something like that. I think there were a lot of things going on at the same time.”

Ventura added he had "a heart attack" when he saw his star first baseman lying on the ground.

“I'm just glad he's fine. Once he got over that, you could tell he was fine," Ventura said.

Abreu, who stayed in the game, went 2 for 4 before the game was suspended after eight innings due to inclement weather. It is expected to resume Saturday afternoon.

The 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is batting .317 with five home runs and 13 RBI.


Dodgers' Yasiel Puig re-aggravates hamstring, exits Friday's game
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(12:49 am ET) Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig left Friday's game in San Diego after re-aggravating his left hamstring, reports MLB.com

Puig had sat out four of the Dodgers' last eight games with the hamstring isue.

His is status for Saturday is questionable.


D-Backs SP Josh Collmenter throws six solid innings in loss
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(12:33 am ET) Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter (1-3) gave up three runs on six hits in six innings on Friday in a loss to the Pirates.

Collmenter gave up the runs in the first two innings, surrendering an RBI single to Neil Walker and a two-run double to Josh Harrison. 

Collmenter's next start is set for Wednesday against the Rockies.


Twins SP Phil Hughes suffers complete-game loss Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:30 am ET) Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes had his finest start of the season Friday at Seattle and was deserving of his first win. Unfortunately, Hughes was opposing Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who was just that much better in a 2-0 win for Seattle.

Hughes (0-4) allowed just two runs on six hits and no walks in eight innings, while striking out nine. However, Hernandez threw a five-hit, complete-game shutout. He also had nine strikeouts.

Hughes' only mistakes Friday were solo home runs to Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison. Despite the loss, he lowered his ERA from 5.30 to 4.39.

The right-hander had his fourth-career complete game Friday. He will look for his first win in his next scheduled start Wednesday vs. Detroit.


Pirates starter Gerrit Cole keeps rolling with win on Friday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:30 am ET) Pirates starter Gerrit Cole (3-0) allowed one earned run and struck out seven in seven innings on Friday to defeat the Diamondbacks.

After taking a no decision in his first start this year, Cole has won three starts in a row.

Cole returns to the mound for his next scheduled start Wednesday in Chicago against the Cubs.

Mariners ace Felix Hernandez throws complete-game gem Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:25 am ET) Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez threw his 10th-career complete-game shutout during a 2-0 win Friday against the Twins. Hernandez, who also had his 24th career complete game, allowed five hits and no walks, while striking out nine.

Hernandez (3-0) was dialed in from the start Friday. He struck out the side in the first inning and didn't allow his first hit until Trevor Plouffe's two-out single in the fifth inning.

Hernandez put two baserunners on in the sixth and seventh innings, but he escaped both jams unscathed. He retired the final seven batters he faced.

The Mariners ace threw 73 of 102 pitches for strikes. He lowered his ERA to 1.61. He will be back on the mound Wednesday at Texas.


Adam Ottavino closes door for Rockies to notch save
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(12:05 am ET) Adam Ottavino (S,3) locked down the Rockies' ninth-inning lead on Friday to collect a save.

Ottavino allowed one hit and struck out one in the outing.

Giants starting pitcher Chris Heston knocked around in loss on Friday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) Giants starting pitcher Chris Heston (2-2) was knocked around for six runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings on Friday to take the loss against the Rockies.

Rockies leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon hit a second-inning solo homer against Heston.

Heston posted three strong starts to begin the season before Friday's shaky performance.

Heston's next start is set for Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

Rockies SP Eddie Butler gives up four runs, takes win on Friday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4/24/2015) Rockies start Eddie Butler's (2-1) four runs on nine hits in six innings Friday was good enough to earn the win over the Giants.

Two of his four runs allowed came off a two-run homer from right fielder Justin Maxwell.

Butler returns to the mound for his next start Wednesday in Arizona.

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal earns seventh save on Friday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4/24/2015) Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal (S,7) put down the Brewers in order in the ninth inning on Friday to collect the save.

Rosenthal is now seven for seven in save opportunities and has allowed just one run in 8.2 innings (1.04) this season.

 
 
 
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