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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
Brewers release reliever Chris Perez
(8:18 pm ET) The Brewers have released reliever Chris Perez , the team announced.

In camp on a minor league deal, Perez pitched in 10 spring games, surrendering three earned runs in 10 innings (2.70 ERA). 

Perez pitched in Sunday's game but left with a right ankle sprain.

With the departure, the Brewers will consider Rob Wooten, Tyler Thornburg and Michael Blazek for their remaining two bullpen roles.


Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson allows just one hit Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:56 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson surrendered just one hit Sunday in 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. Jackson, who missed his last start after his GPS sent him to the wrong ballpark, is battling with Travis Wood for the final spot in the starting rotation.

"It was a little bit of everything working in my favor today," Jackson said to MLB.com.

Jackson is now 2-1 with a 5.28 ERA in five spring training starts.


Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez strikes out eight in outing Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:51 pm ET) Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez surrendered an opening-inning home run, but settled down to throw eight strikeouts over five innings Sunday against the Cubs. Manager Ned Yost was happy to finally see why the team signed him this offseason, reports MLB.com.

"I don't see him struggling," Yost said before the game. "The importance I place on Spring Training performance and the importance you place on Spring Training performance are two different things. I'm looking for him to gain arm strength and I'm looking for him to refine his mechanics where he's down [in the strike zone] consistently. To me, he's right on schedule."

Volquez allowed two runs on six hits, making his ERA now 7.79.


Brewers pitcher Michael Blazek struggles in outing Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:44 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Michael Blazek allowed three runs on four hits, including a home run, in 3 2/3 innings of work Sunday against the Athletics. Blazek, who is competing for a spot in the bullpen, knows it just wasn't there, reports MLB.com.

"I just didn't really feel like I had my best stuff today," said Blazek, who entered the game with a 3.29 ERA. "I didn't really have the breaking ball like I had the last few outings. I was kind of battling trying to get command of that. It was kind of an off-mechanics day, really is what it felt like. I was kind of fighting it."


Brewers pitcher Chris Perez leaves game Sunday with ankle sprain
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:29 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Chris Perez left Sunday's game after recording just one out with a right ankle sprain, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Although it appears to be a slight sprain, Perez is competing with Michael Blazek, Tyler Thornburg and Rob Wooten for the final two spots in the bullpen and could make this injury the deciding factor.

"They did (struggle)," said manager Ron Roenicke. "But it's one outing. We're not concerned with that. We still have seen enough of guys that we have a pretty good idea. We’ll probably make a decision here in a couple days on a couple of them, and then we’ll see."


Athletics reassign three players to minors Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:22 pm ET) The Athletics decided to reassign three players Sunday including: shortstop Andy Parrino, catcher Luke Carlin and first baseman Max Muncy, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Carlin git .273 with six RBI in 22 plate appearances this spring while Muncy hit .375 in 32 at-bats with two home runs and 10 RBI. Parrino hit just .196 with four doubles and 11 strikeouts in 46 at-bats.

Carlin is likely to be back with the team Tuesday to catch for Barry Zito, according to the report.


Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney likely to be sent to Triple-A
(7:02 pm ET) Angels manager Mike Scioscia has indicated that pitcher Andrew Heaney will begin the season in Triple-A, according to MLB.com.

The team's top pitching prospect, Heaney has allowed 13 earned runs in 14.0 innings (8.36 ERA) in four starts this spring.

The Angels are expected to open the season with a four-man rotation that will included Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker, C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago.

Starter Garrett Richards is recovering from knee surgery.

"One of the things is, a lot of guys who are playing well, it might come down to what the fit is on the team. So there's a couple different ways," Scioscia said. "There's some things that might happen that might affect somebody's standing on the team in a positive or negative way, just to get the whole roster to be as deep as you can."


Reds pitcher Jason Marquis continues to make case for pitching staff
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:49 pm ET) Reds pitcher Jason Marquis gave up three earned runs on seven hits in six innings of work Sunday. Marquis, who also added three strikeouts, now has a 3-1 record with a 3.46 ERA in six starts.

"He's really taken advantage of his opportunity," manager Bryan Price said. "I'm pleased with the way he's thrown the ball. When he’s been down in the zone with that sinker and slider and split combination, he's been pretty effective. He had another pretty good start today."

Marquis used 96 pitches to get through his outing.

"After the last outing, I felt pretty good with going deep into games," Marquis said. "I responded really well after the last start. Today coming in, I didn't know what my pitch limit was but I felt good enough to treat it like a regular season game. I was glad I was able to get that far."


Orioles reassign three players to minor league camp Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:45 pm ET) The Orioles made another wave of cuts Sunday, reassigning outfielder Dariel Alvarez, utility man Chris Parmelee and pitcher Chaz Roe to minor league camp, reports MASN.com.

Alvarez hit .343 in 35 spring training at-bats with two home runs and seven RBI. Parmelee hit .241 in 29 plate appearances with one double and two RBI. Roe posted a 5.91 ERA in seven appearances in 10 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts.


Angels 'most likely' to start year with four starting pitchers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:39 pm ET) Angels manager Mike Scioscia thinks he will start the season with a short staff, reports MLB.com. The team will "most likely" start the year with four starters in the rotation and 12 pitchers overall, Scioscia said Sunday.

The expected starters would be Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker, C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago with Garrett Richards still recovering from knee surgery.

"One of the things is, a lot of guys who are playing well, it might come down to what the fit is on the team. So there's a couple different ways," Scioscia said. "There's some things that might happen that might affect somebody's standing on the team in a positive or negative way, just to get the whole roster to be as deep as you can."


 
 
 
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