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Fantasy Baseball 2011: NL East Injury Rebounds

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The Phillies continued to upgrade their rotation by adding Cliff Lee to make a quartet that should make more noise than System of a Down and they look like the class of the NL East as a result. With few notable injuries it will be hard to knock them from the top spot. If the Braves hope to gain ground they will need healthy seasons from Prado, Heyward, Chipper and their rotation. The Mets, Marlins and Nationals have injuries of their own and even with all of their key players they would be hard pressed to see postseason play.

Carlos Beltran - 2009's knee injury looks like the beginning of the end for this once potent power speed threat. He should still hit a few HR, maybe something in the upper teens and steals some bases but not enough to make him a weapon on your team. There are sure to be owners betting on a comeback but I'm not buying it.

Stephen Strasburg - The phenom is ahead of schedule in his rehab but it remains unlikely he will see time in 2011. The Nationals would be wise to take it slow with him as they don't need him this year and his value lay a few years down the road once their blue chip prospects have emerged.

Johan Santana - Santana will miss most of the 2011 season and his future after the return is hazy. He had already begun declining before the injury and was no longer a fantasy ace. He should still provide plenty of points upon his return but his name will probably make the price you have to pay higher than what he's worth.

Jair Jurrjens - Everything fell in line for Jurrjens in 2009 then things returned to normal in 2010. Last year's numbers are more of a reflection of his talent than 2009's and owners should expect something between 2010 and 2008 when trying to project his future value. Lean more toward 2010 to avoid disappointment.

Chipper Jones - Jones could have taken the easy way out and ended his career after suffering a blown knee on an amazing defensive play ranging past the bag and firing a bullet across the diamond to make the out. It would have been a beautiful way to end a Hall of Fame career but Chipper is determined to fulfill his contract and give it one more shot. His skills were fading even before the injury so it is unlikely he will have much of a fantasy impact in 2011. If anything this return proves he is one of the grittiest players to ever play the game. Chipper doesn't chew tobacco, he chews rocks.

Martin Prado - Nagging injuries wore on Prado and his production dipped as a result. He should come into 2011 better prepared for the rigors of a full schedule and should do a better job of staying healthy this year.

Jason Bay - Concussion or no concussion Bay still needs to learn how to hit in Citi Field. Still, he's only a year removed from being one of the game's better hitters and could return to form in his second year at Citi the way David Wright adjusted. I wouldn't give up on him yet just don't pay a premium price for him. If you can grab him for a bargain price it's worth the risk.

Chase Utley - Injuries limited Utley's production last year but the Chase of old made a sparkling return in September. At his age it's best to expect a few missed games here and there but when in the lineup he should still be an elite producer.

Cliff Lee - Lee has been bothered by abdominal issues over the past year but reports have been optimistic at the start of spring training. He remains an elite pitcher and the injury troubles shouldn't deter you from picking up this stud.

Jordan Zimmermann - Zimmermann was a mixed bag when he returned from Tommy John surgery but he flashed some of the stuff that made scouts gaga for him before going under the knife. The Nationals plan to limit him to 150 IP this year but they could be 150 valuable innings.

Chris Coghlan - Like Kendry Morales, Coghlan was enjoying the sweet taste of victory when he got a bitter shot of injury. While hitting a teammate in the face with a pie he blew his knee out and missed the remainder of the season. The Marlins are confident enough in his recovery to hand him CF duties in 2011 so as long as he keeps the clowning around to a minimum he should be fine. Expect more so-so production from the 2009 NL ROY.

John Baker - The Marlins inked John Buck over the winter to fill the hole left by Baker. Questionable for the start of the season, Baker will likely be the back-up when he returns. He could be a decent option at catcher if starting but that is unlikely to happen this year.

Chris Young - Unable to stay healthy for the third straight year, Young moved his fragile arm to another pitcher's park in Citi Field. I wouldn't count on him with my fantasy team but if he can make it to the mound 30 times this year he has a shot at holding some value but probably not much.

Jimmy Rollins - His numbers last year can be taken with a grain of salt as he was never able to be on a roll due to numerous injuries. He is supposedly 100% heading into the new season but at his age you may want to have a shot of tequila after you take the grain of salt.

Francisco Rodriguez - The injury he suffered was to his reputation so it shouldn't have too much effect on his performance. We've seen how personal issues can derail a career in the case of Milton Bradley so it will be interesting to see how K-Rod returns. The Mets will likely be looking for takers after his clubhouse incident so don't be surprised to see Rodriguez moved at some point in 2011.

Josh Johnson - One of the game's most dominant pitchers, Johnson is also one of its most fragile. Back and shoulder soreness put the brakes on a Cy Young calibre season last September. He claims to feel great heading into spring training and until we hear otherwise we have to take his word for it and hope for the best. And the best is really really good.

Ricky Nolasco - Nolasco missed the Marlins final 29 games with a knee injury. He seems to be healed but it remains to be seen whether it will effect how he pushes off the rubber. He remains a sleeper candidate due to his great xFIP. The injury brings a cloud of doubt but he should be fine. A thumb injury is keeping him off the mound right now but it doesn't appear serious.