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2013 Fantasy outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks

Senior Fantasy Writer
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In 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the National League West with a 94-68 record. They were powered by a core of dynamic young players led by a gritty manager, Kirk Gibson, who had taken over for A.J. Hinch midway through the previous season. Last year, however, the Diamondbacks dropped to 81-81, with a third-place finish in their division. The result? A bevy of offseason moves that saw two of their starting outfielders jettisoned, their top prospect shipped off and their roster given a shiny new makeover.

The biggest move Arizona made this winter came in January, when they sent arguably their best player away in a highly anticipated trade. The team sent Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to the Braves for third baseman Martin Prado and a group of prospects led by Randall Delgado. It was the culminaiton of a longer-than-it-seemed winter, in which most of the baseball-watching world waited with bated breath to see how Arizona would deal with its embarrassment of riches in the outfield. They had a minor problem last year, with Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Chris Young (who was sent to Oakland as part of a three-team October deal that brought back reliever Heath Bell and shortstop Cliff Pennington) in the mix for three outfield spots. With Young gone, the team still had to find room for speedy outfield prospect Adam Eaton, who will start in center field for Arizona on opening day. But the team first pulled a head-scratcher of a signing by agreeing to a three-year deal with 32-year-old outfielder Cody Ross, who enjoyed a career year with the Red Sox in 2012 (.267 average, 22 home runs, 81 RBI, 34 doubles). With too many outfielders, the Diamondbacks first agreed to send Upton to Seattle -- a move he rejected by invoking his no-trade clause -- then found a way to unite him with his brother, B.J., in Atlanta.

2013 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

The result of all this fun? An Arizona outfield that now features Kubel, Ross and Eaton (as opposed to the defensively superior Kubel, Young, Upton combo of 2012), some long sought-after stability at third base with Prado firmly ensconced and a new shortstop in the form of Cliff Pennington, who may have an expiration date as a starter, depending on the expected readiness of Didi Gregorious. With the team and Pennington avoiding arbitration in January by agreeing to a two-year deal, as opposed to a one-year deal, drafters may want to consider Pennington as having more of a long-term orange juice-style expiration date than a drink-me-by-next-week milk one.

Wait, Didi Gregorius? Oh right. In the middle of all this offensive re-shaping, the Diamondbacks found time to send away their top pitching prospect, Trevor Bauer, to the Indians in a second three-team deal. This one brought back, among others, Didi Gregorius, a 22-year-old shortstop prospect who hit .300 in eight September games for the Reds last year. It also gave Arizona some room in the rotation to elevate Tyler Skaggs to the fifth starter role, barring Delgado winning the spot out of spring training.

If all this was too much to keep track of, you might have also missed the addition of Brandon McCarthy, who agreed to a two-year deal with Arizona in December. The owner of a 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over the last two years, McCarthy is a former top prospect who didn't quite reach his potential with the White Sox and Rangers, but found a groove the last two years with Oakland. One thing to be somewhat wary of, however, is McCarthy's tendency to induce plenty of fly balls, which could land in the stands with a little more frequency in Arizona's hitter-friendly venue than they did in Oakland's pitcher-friendly park.

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Adam Eaton CF
2. Aaron Hill 2B
3. Martin Prado 3B
4. Jason Kubel LF
5. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
6. Miguel Montero C
7. Cody Ross RF
8. Cliff Pennington SS
Bench Eric Chavez 3B
Bench Eric Hinske OF/IF
Bench Gerardo Parra OF

The rest of the team projects as a gritty, power-happy bunch, buoyed by Kubel, Miguel Montero, and Paul Goldschmidt (whose 18 steals last season led all first basemen). The rotation is anchored by Ian Kennedy, who had a disappointing 2012, and Wade Miley, who will be pressed to re-produce his out-of-nowhere 2012 rookie campaign. One major strength is the bullpen, with no less than three pitchers who could close on any given day (although the saves will go to J.J. Putz). This should benefit the starters, who can leave the game in the sixth with a two-run lead and feel condfident they will have a great shot at the win.

Breakout candidate ... Adam Eaton, outfielder

After the Mike Trout and Bryce Harper explosion last year, Eaton kind of snuck into the majors in September without much hullabaloo. He hit .259 with two home runs and two steals before breaking his hand in late September and missing the rest of the season. All in all, it was a pretty quiet debut, which could work to the advantage of the smart drafter. Eaton, 24, has a career .355 batting average in the minors, with seasons of 20, 34 and 44 stolen bases (the numbers got better in each progressive season). He also hit 50 doubles last year over three levels of baseball. There's never going to be a perfect comparison, but at least consider these numbers:

Mike Trout, minor league career: 286 games, 1,117 at-bats, .342 average, .425 OBP, .941 OPS, 57 doubles, 34 triples, 23 home runs, 134 RBI, 108 steals

Adam Eaton, minor league career: 319 games, 1,210 at-bats, .355 average, .456 OBP, .966 OPS, 83 doubles, 16 triples, 24 home runs, 152 RBI, 98 steals

Granted, Eaton didn't have any of the accolades or appearances on prospect lists that Trout did, but the results -- in essentially the same leagues -- are close enough to make a case that Eaton could be a great Fantasy asset in 2013.

Overlooked arm ... Trevor Cahill, starting pitcher

Cahill has been on a somewhat annoying every-other-year pace so far in his career, rotating between good years and bad ones. But Cahill may be a better pitcher than he's given credit for. After producing a 3.78 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 2012, he now sports a 3.87 career ERA and 1.31 career WHIP. These aren't the greatest of numbers and Cahill's strikeout rate is nothing to get excited about, but he does offer some nice durability (196 innings pitched or more in each of the last three years), lowered his home run rate last season to a career-low 16 and his ground ball rate (2.39 GO/AO) was the best in the majors among starters in 2012. With Pennington and Prado now behind him, Cahill could see even fewer ground balls get out of the infield, meaning more outs and a lower ERA and WHIP. He won't be the ace of your staff, but Cahill could be a nice back-end addition who will return great value for where he's drafted.

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Ian Kennedy RHP
2. Trevor Cahill RHP
3. Brandon McCarthy RHP
4. Wade Miley LHP
5. Tyler Skaggs LHP
ALT Patrick Corbin LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. J.J. Putz RHP
2. David Hernandez RHP
3. Heath Bell LHP
4. Tony Sipp LHP
5. Josh Collmenter RHP

Impact Prospect ... Tyler Skaggs, pitcher

With all the attention on Trevor Bauer as Arizona's pitcher of the future, Skaggs was, like Eaton, quietly brought up without much hype late last year and put up a 5.83 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in six starts. Don't let this be how you remember him. The 21-year-old lefty, acquired from the Angels in the 2010 Dan Haren trade, had a 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in just under 400 minor league innings pitched. He strikes out more than a batter per inning and has two straight seasons of 155 or more innings pitched, meaning he should be primed to handle a larger workload in 2013. Skaggs will likely be overlooked in drafts for three reasons: Everyone's focus last season was on Bauer, those who paid attention saw Skaggs put up mediocre numbers and because Skaggs could seemingly lose his role to Delgado -- or the returning Daniel Hudson -- at some point in the season. But this may not be the case. Skaggs is a top prospect who has nothing left to prove in the minors. He can get some nice strikeout numbers and it's certainly within the realm of possibility for him to produce a 3.50-ish ERA and 1.25-ish WHIP.

Prospects Report

With Bauer gone and Skaggs and Eaton likely ticketed for Arizona, the Diamondbacks' farm system isn't as bereft of talent as one might think. The team stocked up for the future in the offseason deals, bringing in Delgado and Gregorius, as well as Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury. ... Archie Bradley, a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher, is likely headed to Double-A in 2013 and could make his mark in Arizona at some point over the next two seasons. The seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bradley should rise up as a nice source of strikeouts. ... Matt Davidson looks like he's ready for Triple-A in 2013. The third baseman has two straight seasons of 20-plus home runs. ... If the Diamondbacks weren't so stacked in the outfield, their signing of former top prospect Jeremy Reed to a minor league deal might have been a little more interesting than just brushing him off as "organizational depth." Reed, 31, was, at one point, the hitting gem of the Mariners' system, before injuries derailed his 2006 season and sent him into oblivion. He probably has some talent left in his tank, but there's no role for him on this team.

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

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Player News
Report: Angels' Hamilton likely to receive suspension
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2:05 am ET) Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will likely be suspended for at least 25 games, according to FoxSports.com.

Hamilton met with Major League Baseball on Wednesday for a disciplinary hearing. CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported that Hamilton experienced a drug relapse a few months ago, and confessed that relapse to MLB. 

This is technically Hamilton's second violation as a major-leaguer. Hamilton was on the Rays 40-man roster during his first suspension, making him a major-league player. Typically, players who violate their drug treatment program for the first time are subject to a 15-25 game suspension. Given that this is Hamilton's second violation of his drug treatment program, it's unclear how severe the punishment will be.

With that said, commissioner Rob Manfred is reportedly trying to be lenient with any punishment. The league has a "favorable view of Hamilton's efforts to remain sober." Since his return to the majors, Hamilton has spoken honestly about his struggles with addition.

On top of that, Manfred is concerned about making the punishment too harsh. Hamilton's past relaspes have come when he's been away from the game. Manfred reportedly is not close to making a final decision on Hamilton's punishment at this time. 

Hamilton was already expected to miss the beginning of the season due to a shoulder surgery. It's unclear how much longer he'll be out due to a suspension.


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(1:11 am ET) The Angels and closer Huston Street have not talked about an extension yet, according to MLB.com.

Both sides are reportedly interested in a deal, but Street wanted to wait a week in order to settle in to camp. Once that happens, the two sides are expected to start negotiating a new deal. Street is entering the final year of his contract, and will make $7 million in 2015.

Street, 31, posted a 1.37 ERA over 59 1/3 innings last year.


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(12:20 am ET) Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is working on his swing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Howard has spent time working with Charlie Manuel during camp. Manuel was brought in as spring training hitting instructor. Manager Ryan Sandberg has noticed the change in Howard's approach already. "As far as making some adjustments there, to really zone in to something that can really be productive for him and a little bit more consistent," Sandberg said. "I think there has been a little tweaking going on there."

Howard apparently has looked different at the plate. His stance has been described as "looser" and his hands are much lower when he starts his swing. 

The 35-year-old hit .223/.310/.380 over 569 at-bats last year. 


Dodgers unsure how Grandal, Ellis will split time
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Dodgers aren't sure how they'll platoon their two catchers, according to the Orange County Register.

A.J. Ellis has been the team's primary option the past few seasons, but the club brought in Yasmani Grandal during the offseason. While Grandal has a much higher offensive upside, it's unclear how much he'll play once the regular season begins. 

"There’s nothing going to come out of this camp where we’re going to say, ‘OK, this guy is going to start 72 percent of the time’" general manager Andrew Friedman said. "It’s going to be much more about Donnie (Mattingly) writing the lineup each and every day for what gives us the best chance to win that day."

Mattingly admitted that Grandal has "tremendous upside offensively," so it's possible he could lead that way more often. While Mattingly has indicated that he doesn't want to assign any personal catchers yet, there's a sense Ellis could be used when Clayton Kershaw is on the mound. 

Grandal hit .225/.327/.401 over 377 at-bats last year. Ellis hit .191/.323/.254 over 283 at-bats. 


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"Just not having to worry about stuff out of my control. I've put myself in this position where I've earned the job, I've shown them what I can do, and now it's about consistently doing it," he added. 

Manager Ron Roenicke has already said he'll give Gennett plenty of opportunities to prove himself against left-handers. 

Gennett, 24, hit .289/.320/.434 over 440 at-bats last season. 


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The 23-year-old Alcantara hit .205/.254/.367 over 278 at-bats last year. 


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Dickerson said he would work harder to study pitchers and work on his approach during games. 

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The club wants to create a lot of competition for the rotation, and it was initially believed Anderson would be competing for a spot. General manager Dave Stewart sort of quashed those rumors, saying he perceives Anderson as a strong favorite right now. "Chase Anderson won nine games for us last year; you have to strongly consider him as part of our rotation," Stewart said. 

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Anderson, 27, posted a 4.01 ERA over 114 1/3 innings last year.


 
 
 
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