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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Brandon Belt, Mat Latos, Brad Lidge and Other Spring Training Thoughts

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It was reported yesterday that Phillies closer Brad Lidge would start the season on the DL with a shoulder injury. I saw an interview with Lidge and he said he would be back soon. Nevertheless, Jose Contreras got the first save opportunity for the Phillies yesterday, and he is one to grab in drafts if Lidge is out longer than expected. Charlie Manuel wants either Contreras or Ryan Madsen to close, so he won't be going with a closer by committee, and will be making a decision early this week. My money is on Contreras.

Speaking of closers, Nationals closer Drew Storen earned his second spring save yesterday. Storen struck out two of the three batters he faced looking, a good sign. As a Storen owner, I am happy to hear he has pitched better of late. Manager Jim Riggleman said he will go with a closer by committee, and here is one owner who is hoping that arrangement is short-lived.

More after the jump:

Giants manager Bruce Bochy stated on Saturday that outfielder Pat Burrell will be his starting left fielder on Opening Day. This could lead to prospect Brandon Belt starting the year in the minors. I am not sure Burrell is better than Belt at this point, but he did help them win a World Series last year. Belt is one prospect I think can be an early call-up this year....meaning before June when most other top prospects will be called up. 

Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz had a solid bullpen yesterday and will pitch in a game tomorrow, and again on Tuesday. Should he not be ready for the season, David Hernandez and Sam Demel would be two options for DBacks manager Kirk Gibson.

Rangers starter Tommy Hunter will be out for six weeks. I am not sure if he is draftable in any leagues except deep AL-only leagues.

Buster Olney puts the Phlilies injuries woes in perspective in his blog today:

The Phillies are now without their No. 3 hitter from last year, given the absence of Chase Utley, and their No. 5 hitter, given the departure of Jayson Werth, and their closer. To put that into perspective, imagine the New York Yankees without Mark Teixeira,Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera, or the San Francisco Giants without Buster PoseyAubrey Huff and Brian Wilson; imagine the Boston Red Sox without Carl CrawfordAdrian Gonzalez andJonathan Papelbon

Needless to say, the Phillies injuries and the loss of Werth are tough to replace.

White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham is hitting well this spring, and I think he can have a breakout year this year, building on his solid second half last year. I can see a 15-75-10-.280 season from him, with the chance for more.

I was listening to XM175 this afternoon, and Casey Stern was talking about Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman. He said he was told by manager Dusty Baker that Chapman isn't ready to face the middle of the batting order yet. Based on that statement, the possibility that Chapman closes this year seems slim, but that could change as the season goes on.

Update:

Padres starter Mat Latos missed his start today, and will miss his Opening Day start due to a shoulder injury. But there was word from Latos on Saturday that the shoulder was fine. I think he will start the season on the DL, and miss a few starts, but it sounds like there is nothing to be worried about here, yet.