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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
Report: Padres 'in touch' with Phillies regarding Cole Hamels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) The Padres are "in touch" with the Phillies in an attempt to land pitcher Cole Hamels, FOX Sports reports.

The Padres have made plenty of upgrades across the roster since general manager A.J. Heller took over, and it's possible they don't have the ammunition to land the Philadelphia ace in a deal. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he didn't expect Hamels to be traded before the start of the season. Hamels went 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings in 2014.


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(1/31/2015) The Orioles have signed Mark Hendrickson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, CSNBaltimore.com reports.

Hendrickson, who last pitched in the majors in 2011, spent 2014 with York of the independent Atlantic League, posting a 1.54 ERA and 34:11 K:BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings over 55 appearances.


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(1/31/2015) Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison said Saturday that he expects to open the season on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to recover from spinal fusion surgery, the Dallas Morning News reports.

"My job is to just get as healthy as I can and get myself right so I don’t have something happen like it did last year when I tried to come back," Harrison said. "I’m just going to focus on that and get ready to contribute whenever it may be."

Harrison is dealing with some stiffness in his right side, which will cause him to throw from a distance of 90 feet for a second consecutive week rather than progress to 105 feet. He hopes that he'll get his hips to rotate more and loosen up with more stretching and more throws from the 90-foot distance.


Report: Rays sign Ronald Belisario to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Rays have signed pitcher Ronald Belisario to a minor-league deal with an invitiation to spring training, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Belisaro made 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014, posting a 4-8 record, 5.56 ERA and 47:18 K:BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings. He'll compete for a bullpen spot during the spring.


Dodgers SP Zack Greinke hasn't decided whether to opt out
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke said Saturday that he's yet to decide whether to opt out of his contract at the end of next season but added, "There's not really better options anywhere besides here," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Greinke is set to make $23 million in 2015, and he's due another $71 million over the following three seasons if he remains under his current contract. The Dodgers said earlier this offseason that they wouldn't discuss a contract extension with the pitcher during the winter.

Greinke went 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 207:43 K:BB ratio in 202 1/3 innings in 2014.


Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez hoping to bounce back in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez can't wait to get on the field and get past the 2014 season.

"I can’t wait," Jimenez said at Saturday’s FanFest event. "Whatever happened in 2014 is in the past. There's nothing I can do about it now. I can just look forward and now I’m going to do everything in spring training to get myself ready the best I can for the season and help the team."

Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Baltimore in 2014, went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 125 1/3 innings pitched. 

"It was pretty hard, coming in with a new team and signing a contract like that and not to do what everyone is expecting you to do, it’s hard," Jimenez said. "It’s hard not to be there for the team, but regardless what happened, I fought a lot. I think I was trying to find a way to survive to be there for the team and do whatever I can do the best. We got really far. I didn’t help a lot, but I tried to do whatever I could with whatever I had."


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(1/31/2015) Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is still recovering from his wrist surgery this offseason and plans to take it slow in his rehab.

"We really don’t have a timetable," Gordon said. "We’re just going to see how it feels. Obviously, it’s spring training. So we don’t want to rush anything. If it feels good, we’ll be aggressive with it. But if it’s not feeling good, we’ll take it slow."

Manager Ned Yost wants to continue to take things slow with Gordon.
"We’ll just take it slow," Yost said. "We’ll see how he feels. We’ll play him one day. Then we’ll give him a day off. Play him another day, five or six innings, then give him a day off. We’ll just see how he’s doing."
Gordon hit .266 in 2014 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI.

Angels, Garrett Richards settle on $3.2 million for 2015
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(1/31/2015) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have agreed to a contract for 2015 for $3.2 million, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

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Orioles' Manny Machado expects to be ready for spring training
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(1/31/2015) Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is progressing through his rehab and says he's "ready to roll" for the upcoming season.

"I have a lot of time to get ready. That is the key: having a regular offseason," Machado said Saturday. "Was doing my rehab in Sarasota and then went to Miami to do my regular weightlifting and get ready for the season. Been exciting. Looking forward to spring training."

Machado has taken part in baseball activities for the past few weeks since having surgery on Aug. 27 after tearing a ligament in his knee.

"It will be awesome," he said of the prospect of having a normal spring. "I'm dying to get back on the field. Spring training is key for a lot of players to get your at-bats and your reps. I think some take it for granted but it's a very big key for success for the year."

Machado hit .278 in 2014 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI for Baltimore.


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(1/31/2015) Orioles pitcher Bud Norris said Saturday nothing has changed between he and the organization for a new contract.

"I haven't heard anything of that," Norris said. "I don't see a reason why I'd want to leave, but that's out of my control."

Norris and the Orioles are preparing for arbitration, when Norris filed for $10.25 million and Baltimore offered $7.5 million. He went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA and 139:52 K:BB ratio in 165 1/3 innings over 28 starts in 2014.


 
 
 
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