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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Chicago White Sox

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The White Sox missed out on the playoffs again in 2011, but not for a lack of trying. A midseason hot streak compelled them to retool for the stretch run, mortgaging part of their future for what ultimately amounted to a distant second-place finish.

The main casualty was top prospect Daniel Hudson, who looked overmatched in a brief trial with the White Sox but pitched like a stud in Arizona over the final two months. If the deal didn't fetch another promising starter in Edwin Jackson, it might already be known as one of general manager Kenny Williams' worst.

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Really, it was in line with Williams' usual strategy of building a winner from outside the organization. The big acquisition this offseason was Adam Dunn, whose power and patience immediately make him the most feared hitter in the lineup. Gone is closer Bobby Jenks, but his departure could be an addition by subtraction given the way left-handers Matt Thornton and Chris Sale pitched last year. The White Sox do have one home-grown talent in Brent Morel, who stands to take over at third base. What he lacks in home-run power he'll make up for in stability.

But more than any acquisition, the White Sox could use a return to form from their franchise players, especially since they can't necessarily expect Paul Konerko and Alex Rios to repeat their big seasons of a year ago. Will Gordon Beckham rebound from his sophomore slump and live up to his elite potential? Will Gavin Floyd learn to make the most of his top-of-the-rotation stuff? Will Carlos Quentin ever get back to playing the way he did in 2008?

With so much uncertainty, the White Sox should attract plenty of attention -- for better or worse -- in the middle rounds of Fantasy drafts.

Breakout ... Edwin Jackson, SP

Didn't Jackson break out two years ago for the Tigers? Sort of, but he demonstrated an incomplete mastery of his stuff with his poor performance in the second half that year and subsequent dysfunction in Arizona last year. No, the real breakout didn't come until the White Sox acquired him at the deadline last year and turned pitching guru Don Cooper loose on him. Cooper immediately identified Jackson was collapsing his delivery, causing his stuff to flatten and his walk and hit rates to rise. With a slight adjustment, Jackson instantly became a different pitcher, striking out more than a batter per inning and cutting his walk rate in half. He has always had ace stuff and now has the guidance to make the most of it, making that first half in Detroit the starting point of where he can go. Last year's numbers make him a No. 4 starting pitcher in Fantasy, but he could perform like a No. 2.

Bust ... Alexei Ramirez, SS

Paul Konerko and Juan Pierre are the obvious choices here as players on the wrong side of 32 coming off resurgent seasons, but Fantasy owners are generally smart enough to downgrade them on their own. Ramirez, for some reason, has people convinced he's on the verge of revolutionizing a historically weak position. At age 29, he's more or less a finished product, and he has yet to produce an .800 OPS or a .340 on-base percentage. And for all the talk of his power-speed combination, he hasn't come close to a 20-20 season, only once reaching 20 in either of those categories over three seasons. He's more of a 15-15 threat, which is still uncommon for a shortstop but, given his lack of plate discipline, doesn't put him as far ahead of Alex Gonzalez and Ian Desmond as you might think. If you're looking for an upside pick in the middle rounds, Stephen Drew and Elvis Andrus are better choices.

Sleeper ... Chris Sale, RP

Sale is kind of this year's version of Neftali Feliz. You don't know whether he's a starter or a reliever, but he's worth drafting on talent alone. And chances are he'll contribute in Fantasy either way. Shoot, he did last year. The White Sox thought enough of his talent to promote him only two months after drafting him, and he responded with a 1.93 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings, all while serving as a part-time closer. Now, the White Sox want to test him in the rotation, and if he doesn't pan out there, he'll just have to settle for replacing Bobby Jenks as the full-time closer, keeping Matt Thornton in the setup role. Maybe you can't get too specific with your plans for Sale, but something good is coming. And good is all you're looking for in the late rounds.

Chicago White Sox Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Juan Pierre LF 1 Mark Buehrle LH
2 Alexei Ramirez SS 2 Edwin Jackson RH
3 Alex Rios CF 3 John Danks LH
4 Adam Dunn DH 4 Gavin Floyd RH
5 Paul Konerko 1B 5 Chris Sale LH
6 Carlos Quentin RF Inj. Jake Peavy RH
7 A.J. Pierzynski C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Gordon Beckham 2B CL Matt Thornton LH
9 Brent Morel 3B SU Jesse Crain RH
Top bench options RP Sergio Santos RH
R Mark Teahen 3B/OF RP Will Ohman LH
R Omar Vizquel INF RP Tony A. Pena RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Chris Sale 22 SP Majors Majors
First-rounder in 2010 reached bigs two months later. Will factor whether as starter or closer.
2 Brent Morel 23 3B Majors Majors
Line-drive hitter will get shot to start at 3B. Short on pop, but has potential to hit .300.
3 Dayan Viciedo 22 3B Majors Triple-A
One-trick pony's power translated to majors OK. Needs to work on defense and plate discipline.
4 Tyler Flowers 25 C Majors Triple-A
Stock dropping after hitting .220 at Triple-A. Still likely starter if Pierzynski goes down.
5 Gregory Infante 23 RP Double-A Triple-A
Hard-thrower broke through last year. Could win 'pen spot and even close as last resort.
Best of the rest: Jared Mitchell, OF; Eduardo Escobar, SS; Jacob Petricka, SP; Brandon Short, OF; Trayce Thompson, OF; Anthony Carter, RP; Jhonny Nunez, RP; Lucas Harrell, RP; Jordan Danks, OF; Brandon Hynick, SP; C.J. Retherford, 3B; Brian Omogrosso, RP; John Shelby, OF; Jeff Marquez, RP; and Josh Phegley, C.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Team outlooks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Gordon Beckham nearing end of minor-league rehab
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:13 pm ET) White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham started his sixth consecutive rehab game at Double-A Birmingham, MLB.com reports. Beckham is no longer feeling any soreness in his oblique and could be nearing the end of his rehab.

"He's been doing good," manager Robin Ventura said of Beckham. "He's getting closer. You want to make sure you get a good five, six in a row where you don't feel anything, so you know, even when they do it, there are no signs. It just happens. Knowing that he's had it before, you want to just nip it."

Wednesday return in L.A. looking likely for Cole Hamels
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:59 pm ET) The Phillies know pitcher Cole Hamels will join the rotation at some point during their series against the Dodgers next week, and they are starting to close in on a specific date for his expected return. Manager Ryne Sandberg told MLB.com he expects Hamels to start Wednesday in Los Angeles, in order to give the team the chance to split Hamels up with fellow lefty Cliff Lee, who pitches Monday.

Hamels has been working his way back from inflammation in his left shoulder, but has looked sharp in recent rehab starts. He will join the team in Colorado during their upcoming series, and will likely be activated from the disabled list Wednesday. 


Jacob Turner tosses 45 pitches off a mound
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:55 pm ET) Marlins pitcher Jacob Turner was able to throw off a mound Friday, as he continues to recover from a sprained right shoulder. He tossed 45 pitches Friday at Marlins park, and will throw another bullpen session Sunday, before possibly going off to extended spring training.

"If everything goes well, he will go up to Jupiter," manager Mike Redmond told MLB.com. "He will go to Jupiter while we're on the road and pitch."

Turner could begin a minor-league rehab assignment within the next week, though no official timeline has been determined as of yet.


Andy Dirks limited to aquatic rehab until end of month
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks has been limited to aquatic rehab at the team's spring facility in Florida, MLB.com reports. Dirks is expected visit a back specialist at the end of the month, seeking clearance for more rehab work.

Dylan Bundy completes 40-pitch side session
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:45 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy completed a 40-pitch side Friday, MLB.com reports. The right-hander just fastballs and changeups in his latest session.

Bundy plans to start throwing his breaking ball soon, as he's working his way back from Tommy John surgery.


Daisuke Matsuzaka give Mets a backup plan
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:59 pm ET) The Mets recalled pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka from Triple-A Las Vegas in recent days, and they have a plan for how they might use him in the coming days. Manager Terry Collins told MLB.com Matsuzaka will be around Saturday and Sunday in case either Bartolo Colon (back) or Jenrry Mejia (finger) suffers a setback that keeps them from pitching.

"If Bartolo's back stiffens up on him, [Matsuzaka] has got to be ready," Collins said. "He'll come tomorrow as if he's going to pitch. If Bart's O.K., he'll need to do the same thing with Jenrry. If his finger flares up today or if he can't throw today or tomorrow, we've got to have a backup plan, and right now Daisuke is our best option."

Matsuzaka appeared in two games for Las Vegas, allowing three runs in 12 innings of work. He last appeared in the majors in seven games with the Mets last season, posting a 4.32 ERA in 38 2/3 innings of work. 


Jordy Mercer leaves with ankle discomfort
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:43 pm ET) Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was forced out of Friday's game against the Brewers, after taking a shot to the ankle while playing in the field.

He initially stayed in the game after a Brewers baserunner slid into his right ankle, but left shortly after, as Clint Barmes replaced him in the fourth inning. The team announced he was removed from the game with discomfort in the ankle, though nothing more is known at this point. 


Blake Treinen will resume starting in minors
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:33 pm ET) Pitcher Blake Treinen spent his time with the Nationals pitching out of the bullpen, logging 6 2/3 innings over three appearances before being sent down Friday. The team wants Treinen to work as a starter at Triple-A Syracuse, in case he is needed for the rotation down the road.

"He is going to build his innings down there, certainly work on his secondary pitches. He has a pretty electric fastball," manager Matt Williams told MLB.com Friday. "He pitched really well for us."

Treinen will join the rotation Tuesday for Syracuse, a role he is used to. He made 20 of his 21 appearances for Double-A Harrisburg as a starter in 2013, posting a 3.64 ERA over 118 2/3 innings of work. 


Wilson Ramos increasing work in rehab
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:27 pm ET) Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was able to grab a bat and take five dry swings Friday, the first time he has done so since suffering a broken hamate bone in his left hand. He said the hand feels strong, but he needs to build up strength in his wrist now.

"I was swinging easy, swinging the bat," Ramos told MLB.com. "Right now I'm working hard with my hand. My hand feels good. It's a just a matter of getting my wrist strong. That's what I'm working right now."

Ramos had the stitches taken out of his hand earlier in the week, and has been able to begin minor exercises to strengthen it. He is expected back sometime in May. 


Jonathan Broxton closes out win over Cubs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:14 pm ET) Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton picked up his second save in a row Friday, in a 4-1 win over the Cubs.

Broxton got through the ninth with little trouble, walking just one batter while striking out two. He has now appeared in three games since returning from the disabled list, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out four batters in three shutout innings. 


 
 
 
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