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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
Chris Archer wins No. 10
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:22 pm ET) Rays pitcher Chris Archer was able to pitch around his control issues Saturday.

Archer allowed two hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out three and walked four during the outing. Archer was mostly unhittable during the appearance. He gave up a first inning single to Jose Abreu, but kept the White Sox from doing much else over the next two innings. Avisail Garcia added the other hit in the fourth inning, but that was it for Chicago. Walks became an issue late for Archer. After putting two men on via the free pass to start the seventh inning, Archer was pulled. 

With the win, Archer improved to 10-8. He’ll take on the Indians in his next start. 


Hector Noesi turns in quality start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:21 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi turned in a quality start Saturday against the Rays.

Noesi allowed three runs on six hits over six innings. He struck out one and issued three walks during the appearance. The long ball has been Noesi’s bugaboo all season, and came back to haunt him Saturday. With a man on in the second inning, Nick Franklin took Noesi out to right for the two-run shot. Noesi would give up another run in the fifth inning after a single plated a runner from second. 

With the loss, Noesi dropped to 8-11. He’ll take on the Royals in his next start. 


Mike Leake knocked around Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:20 pm ET) Reds pitcher Mike Leake got knocked around Saturday against the Cardinals.

Leake allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked two during the outing. After a scoreless first, the Cardinals were able to get to Leake. With two outs in the second inning, the team mounted a mini-rally. After a double and a walk, Tony Cruz belted a three-run shot to left. A home run sunk Leake in the third inning as well. After hitting the leadoff man, Kolten Wong smacked a two-run shot. Leake would give up another run in the fifth inning, but it was due to an error. The run would be unearned. 

With the loss, Leake dropped to 11-13. He’ll take on the Pirates in his next start. 


Michael Wacha fails to go five innings Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:19 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha failed to go five innings Saturday against the Reds.

Wacha allowed two runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out one and did not issue any walks during the outing. Wacha got off to a solid start, tossing three scoreless innings to open the game. He gave up his first run in the fourth inning. After a leadoff single advanced to second on a wild pitch, Brandon Phillips managed to knock the run home with a single. A leadoff single again came around to score in the fifth inning after Kristopher Negron doubled. Wacha was replaced after giving up the hit.

Wacha didn’t go five innings, so he wasn’t eligible for the win. He picked up a no-decision, and will take on the D-Backs in his next start.


Jordan Zimmermann wins 13th game Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:18 pm ET) Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann picked up a quality start Saturday against the Marlins.

Zimmermann allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits over six innings. He struck out four and did not issue any walks during the outing. Zimmermann’s first run came in the first inning. With men on first and second, Zimmermann gave up a run-scoring single to Justin Bour. He would escape the inning without allowing any more damage. His second run would be unearned due to a couple of errors. Reed Johnson hit a double during the fourth inning, but managed to score due to throwing errors by both Denard Span and Zimmermann. 

Zimmermann improved to 13-5 with the win. He’ll take on the Marlins in his next start. 


Jarred Cosart loses despite quality start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:17 pm ET) Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart turned in a quality start Saturday against the Nationals.

Cosart allowed three runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two during the outing. Cosart proved to be somewhat hittable during the appearance, but managed to keep the Nationals off the board until his final inning. After a single and two run-scoring triples, Cosart was pulled from the game. Another run would come around to score, and was charged to Cosart.

With the loss, Cosart dropped to 13-10. He’ll take on the Nationals in his next start. 


Jonathon Niese turns in a strong start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:16 pm ET) Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese turned in a strong start Saturday against the Braves.

Niese allowed two runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one during the outing. Niese was excellent to open the game, throwing seven scoreless innings to start things off. He gave up both his runs in the eighth inning. With one out, Niese loaded the bases on three straight singles. He was pulled from the game at this point. Two runs would come around to score before the Mets could get out of the inning. Those runs were charged to Niese. 

With the win, Niese improved to 9-11. He’ll take on the Astros in his next start. 


Chris Tillman picks up 13th win Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:05 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman turned in a strong start Saturday against the Red Sox.

Tillman allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked two during the outing. Tillman gave up both of his runs in the first inning. After opening the game with a walk, Tillman allowed David Ortiz to belt a two-run homer to left center. Tillman would settle in at that point, keeping the Red Sox off the board for the rest of his outing. 

With the win, Tillman improved to 13-5. He’ll take on the Blue Jays in his next start. 


Rubby De La Rosa drops one Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:04 pm ET) Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa turned in a rough start Saturday against the Orioles.

De La Rosa allowed four runs on six hits over four innings. He struck out four and walked two during the outing. De La Rosa was solid to open things up, tossing two scoreless frames to open the game, but got himself in trouble in the third. After a Delmon Young single, Adam Jones launched a two-run shot out to right center. Christian Walker struck the next inning, hitting a solo shot. Another run came in on a sac fly during the inning. 

With the loss, De La Rosa dropped to 4-8. He’ll take on the Yankees in his next start. 


Chris Young gets knocked around Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:49 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Chris Young had a disastrous start Saturday against the Astros.

Young gave up seven runs on eight hits over three innings. He struck out three and walked one during the outing. Home runs were a major problem for Young. He gave up four long balls during the start. Trouble started in the first inning. With a man on base, Chris Carter launched his 37th home run of the year off Young. The next batter would double, and Alex Presley would follow that up with another two-run homer. Jose Altuve would single in a run in the third inning, while both Matt Dominguez and Carlos Corporan would belt back-to-back jacks in the fourth. 

With the loss, Young dropped to 12-9. He’ll take on the Blue Jays in his next start. 


 
 
 
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