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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Colorado Rockies

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Just two short years after their last playoff appearance, the Rockies found themselves in a deeper hole than they could overcome midway through last season, forcing the front office to change course. For all the success the team had at the end of the last decade, the status quo wasn't working anymore. The roster was in need of a makeover.

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Certain parts were untouchable, such as the nucleus of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Both are locked up long-term and both are good as it gets at their respective positions. But Ubaldo Jimenez, perhaps the only true ace the organization has ever known, suddenly became expendable and ultimately landed the Rockies two promising young pitchers in Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.

Though Pomeranz showed some potential down the stretch and has a pedigree that suggests he could be the organization's next true ace, the Rockies still didn't feel comfortable with their pitching depth entering spring training and made it their mission this offseason to acquire as many serviceable arms as possible -- most of which are probably too hittable for Coors Field.

Between Jeremy Guthrie, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, Jamie Moyer and Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies should have no shortage of innings. Whether or not they'll be good ones is a different story. Fortunately, any of those five (with the exception of Guthrie) who make the roster will likely become expendable as soon as Juan Nicasio (broken neck) and Jorge De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery) prove healthy and effective again.

As for the offense, the Rockies loaded up on veterans to complement Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, and while old men Todd Helton and Casey Blake may not hold up at the corners, Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro are still productive enough to take advantage of the move to Coors Field. And whenever the Rockies decide they need an injection of youthful energy, they can turn the hot corner over to future star Nolan Arenado and the catcher spot over to slugger Wilin Rosario.

Breakout ... Dexter Fowler, OF

Judging by the final numbers, Fowler was the same player last season as the previous two seasons, when he was widely regarded as an underachiever. But let's not forget the path he took to those numbers. In June of last year, he was hitting so poorly that the Rockies actually demoted him to the minors. Instead of sulking, he adjusted, changing his stance -- which was never a thing of beauty from the left side -- to shorten his stroke. He returned a different player, hitting .297 with 36 extra-base hits, nine steals and a .901 OPS in his final 64 games. That's who the Rockies thought they were getting when Fowler was first breaking into the majors. Granted, the homers aren't there yet, but given his 6-foot-4 frame and extensive number of doubles and triples, they should come as he enters his prime. And even if they don't this year, Fowler still figures to exceed his draft position in Head-to-Head leagues. He's basically a Shane Victorino waiting to happen.

Sleeper ... Rafael Betancourt, RP

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After trading Huston Street to the Padres this offseason, the Rockies plan to make Betancourt their full-time closer. But wait, didn't the Indians try that with him in 2008, when he was coming off his best season? And wasn't it a cataclysmic failure? And didn't no-names like Masahide Kobayashi and, later, Jensen Lewis end up getting saves instead? Yes, yes and -- oh yes -- yes. But that was the old Betancourt. At age 36, he's no longer so easily rattled. Want proof? Hey, he was at his best while filling in for Street last year, posting a microscopic 0.32 ERA over his final 30 appearances, when he recorded all eight of his saves. He has always had great peripherals, from his strikeout rate to his WHIP, and his stuff is as good as ever despite his age. Betancourt is likely to slip in drafts given his limited closing experience, but if you draft him late as your second or third reliever, he might end up being your best.

Late-round flier ... Marco Scutaro, SS

Let's be honest here: Scutaro isn't going to hit 20 homers or steal 20 bases. He might not even be a 10-10 guy. He isn't going to redefine the shortstop position or carry anybody's Fantasy team. So why should anyone care about him on Draft Day? Because what he does offer, at least in Head-to-Head leagues, makes him surprisingly productive at the weakest position in Fantasy. He hits doubles. He walks. He puts the ball in play. As a full-timer in 2009, he ranked fifth among shortstops in Fantasy points, and one year later, he ranked sixth. Best of all, he's going to be batting second for a team that, given its home ballpark, routinely ranks among the highest scoring in the NL. With Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki hitting behind him, how can he not score a ton of runs? Again, you can do better at shortstop than Scutaro, but if you miss out on the big names early, don't forget about him as a fallback option.

2012 Colorado Rockies Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Dexter Fowler CF 1 Jeremy Guthrie RH
2 Marco Scutaro 2B 2 Jhoulys Chacin RH
3 Carlos Gonzalez LF 3 Juan Nicasio RH
4 Troy Tulowitzki SS 4 Guillermo Moscoso RH
5 Todd Helton 1B 5 Drew Pomeranz LH
6 Michael Cuddyer RF Alt Josh Outman LH
7 Ramon Hernandez C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Casey Blake 3B CL Rafael Betancourt RH
Top bench options SU Rex Brothers LH
R Wilin Rosario C RP Matt Belisle RH
R Tyler Colvin OF RP Matt Reynolds LH
R Eric Young OF/2B RP Edgmer Escalona RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Drew Pomeranz 23 SP Majors Majors
Even at reduced velocities with the extended workload, Pomeranz was more effective than not in a late-season call-up. He's a worthy late-rounder in mixed leagues, provided he wins a job.
2 Nolan Arenado 20 3B Class A Double-A
Despite his young age, Arenado is already a good enough contact and power hitter to play in the big leagues. Considering only Blake stands in his way, it'll likely happen midseason. A future star.
3 Wilin Rosario 23 C Majors Majors
Rosario's power hitting should play well at home, but his poor plate discipline could make him another Rod Barajas. He'll eventually supplant Hernandez, making him worth a flier in deeper leagues.
4 Chad Bettis 22 SP Class A Double-A
Bettis was overpowering in the heavy-hitting California League last year, causing him to shoot up the prospect rankings. He likely won't arrive in 2012, but he's a worthy long-term keeper.
5 Tim Wheeler 24 OF Double-A Triple-A
Wheeler emerged as a power hitter last year and is also an adequate base-stealer. His struggles against lefties might confine him to a platoon role, but he's not far from reaching the bigs.
Best of the rest: Tyler Matzek, SP; Trevor Story, SS; Tyler Anderson, SP; Kyle Parker, OF; Jordan Pacheco, 1B; Charlie Blackmon, OF; Christian Friedrich, SP; Edgmer Escalona, RP; DJ LeMahieu, 2B; Kent Matthes, OF; Joe Gardner, SP; Edwar Cabrera, SP; Zach Putnam, RP; Rob Scahill, SP; Hector Gomez, SS; and Ben Paulsen, 1B.

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

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Player News
Phillippe Aumont's bid for spot on Phillies' roster not off to great start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:39 am ET) Phillies reliever Phillippe Aumont is out of minor-league options, so if he doesn't make the team this spring, he is subject to waivers. Thus far, however, his bid for a roster spot is not going well.

After allowing a run in his lone inning of work Sunday against the University of Tampa, Aumont allowed solo homers on consecutive pitches in the fifth inning of Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Astros.

"This is a big spring training for him as far as the Phillies go and him (being) with the Phillies," manager Ryne Sandberg said after Thursday's game, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. "He's had multiple chances and this is a clean slate opportunity for him in spring training coming in with opportunities and with some spots available.

"It should be a fresh start for him after the offseason. The biggest thing for him is to work ahead, and really, he has a good breaking ball when he can get to those counts. But sometimes he gets hit before he gets to those counts."


Braves' Minor doesn't appear to be overly concerned about injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:01 am ET) Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor appeared confident Friday his shoulder injury is not serious, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Minor doesn't have a date yet on when he will meet with Dr. James Andrews next week, but he is hoping Andrews can clarify what is wrong with his shoulder.

Minor said his shoulder started to get sore after throwing batting practice last week, and the soreness increased following a second batting practice session.


Tigers' Ausmus: James McCann can be very good major-league catcher
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(8:00 am ET) Tigers catcher James McCann, who is vying for a spot on the roster as a backup to Alex Avila, allowed a passed ball during Thursday's spring game against the Braves. After the game, McCann was very critical of his play and vowed to make sure no more pitches skip by him. 

McCann's relentless work ethic is one trait that manager Brad Aumus likes about the 24-year-old catcher.

"I don't have to worry about him working," Ausmus said Thursday, per the Detroit Free Press. "I think Mac does an excellent job. He is very alert. His head is into the game at all times. He understands that his value is greater on the defensive side of the game than it is when he is standing in the batter's box. That's not to say he doesn't take his hitting seriously.

"I think he has a chance to be a very good major-league catcher. I'm more concerned about how he handles a staff, how he calls a game, how he blocks balls in the dirt (than his ability to throw out runners)."


Phillies SP Cliff Lee having no doubts coming off elbow injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7:31 am ET) Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee appeared to be brimming with confidence Thursday, as he said following his first start since missing the final two months of the 2014 season due to an elbow injury that everything is "so far, so good."

While some folks still might have some doubt regarding the 36-year-old's durability moving forward, Lee has no such doubts.

"I don't have any uncertainty," Lee said, per The Philadelphia Daily News. "I definitely have confidence and expect to go out there and be successful, and I'm doing everything I can to prevent something like that from happening again. That's really all I can do. There's no worry or uncertainty or anything like that. I'm just going to go out there and be confident and expect to have success and not really even think about it, to be honest with you."

Lee threw only 22 pitches (16 strikes) in two innings Thursday in his spring debut. He still has a long ways to go in getting back to his previous form, but Lee is confident it will happen.

"As a starting pitcher, you've got to go out there and throw a hundred-and-some-odd pitches, get deep into games to do your job effectively," Lee said. "Personally, until I do that I don't think that I've proven that I can do that yet. I don't have any doubts, but still you have to build up to do that and prove you can do that . . . I don't think anyone is going to know that I can do that until I go out there and show it."


Mets' Jacob deGrom working on perfecting his curveball
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is working on perfecting his curveball this spring, according to the New York Post

"This spring is so different," deGrom said. "I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training."

After experiencing some success in the majors, deGrom said he is more willing to work on stuff this time around. While he actually started using his curve more late last season, it seems like deGrom is going to work on perfecting the pitch during camp. 

"It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch," deGrom said. "Talking to Gee, Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens. Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance."

deGrom, 26, posted a 2.69 ERA over 140 1/3 innings last season.


Rockies' Charlie Blackmon hoping for more consistency
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon is hoping for more consistency in 2015, according to the Denver Post

Blackmon had a breakout season in 2014, but admits it's hard to be on every single game. "Last year, I swung the bat really well at certain times," he said. "But you go through a lot of ups and downs over 162 games, and that was a learning experience. I think that's going to help me this year."

Blackmon said his strong start made him a target for other teams, and that may have contributed to a slight slump during the season. Blackmon added that he's hoping to hit the ball to all fields this season.

Manager Walt Weiss is hoping Blackmon can deliver more of the same. "I don't know if he necessarily has to have an encore. I'm thinking more of the same," Weiss said. "I think Charlie would say that he wants to be more consistent."

The 28-year-old Blackmon hit .288/.335/.440 over 593 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Gibson feels 'a little more comfortable' with curveball
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson surrendered one run on two hits and one walk in two innings while striking out two in his spring debut Thursday, using the outing to work on his curveball, the Associated Press reports.

"I felt really good," Gibson said. "I'm working on some stuff, and some stuff worked out that I was working on. I threw more curveballs than normal. That's what spring training's for. It's just fun to be able to work on a particular pitch. I feel a little more comfortable."

Gibson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, completed his first full major-league deal in 2014, going 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA and 107:57 K:BB ratio in 179 1/3 innings.


Blue Jays' Barton hoping his glove wins him a spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Blue Jays first baseman Daric Barton is hoping his glove can win him a spot on the 25-man roster, according to the Toronto Sun.

Barton isn't much of a power hitter, but gets strong marks for his defense at first. Manager John Gibbons is well aware of Barton's skills. "One thing that put Daric on the map was that he was such a disciplined hitter and a great defender," Gibbons said. He added that the first baseman is involved in a large chunk of plays, so defense at the position is probably more important than people realize.

With that said, Barton may need a trade to make the opening day roster. As currently constructed, the Blue Jays may carry three catchers. If the team retains Dioner Navarro, Barton could find himself in the minors.

The 29-year-old Barton hit .158 over 57 at-bats last year.


Pirates' Pedro Alvarez feeling comfortable at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Pirates infielder Pedro Alvarez is feeling comfortable at first base, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After playing third the past couple of seasons, Alvarez will transition to first base full-time in 2015. The 28-year-old is still getting used to the position, but he seems comfortable with the change.

"It’s just a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view, get the reps in so that the responsibilities that come with playing the position become second nature," he said. "That’s just with time and repetitions."

Alvarez hit .231/.312/.405 over 398 at-bats last season. 


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman gets strong marks at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman received strong reviews after playing his first game at first base this spring, according to MLB.com.

"He is still in the stages of having to think about it out there, because it's not natural yet," manager Matt Williams said. "He looked fine. He has fantastic hands." Zimmerman was tested during the start, and had to make two scoops in order to prevent possible throwing errors. 

He's been taking extra practice at the position this spring, and was fairly happy with how his first game turned out. "You can do so many drills, exercises and things like that until you have to go out there and play," Zimmerman said. "So it's nice to have a few chances. The more I play over there, the more comfortable I will get. I feel fine."

Zimmerman, 30, hit .280/.342/.449 over 214 at-bats last year. 


 
 
 
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