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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Los Angeles Angels

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After six straight seasons of 89 wins or more, the Angels fell to earth with an 80-82 record last season. Jered Weaver had a breakthrough year, and midseason acquisition Dan Haren gave the rotation a second ace down the stretch, but standout performances were few and far between otherwise.

The lineup, which ranked second in the American League in runs scored in 2009, sank to the bottom half of the rankings last year. Bobby Abreu started to show his age, Hideki Matsui didn't warm up until late and third base was an offensive black hole all season long. Perhaps worst of all, slugging first baseman Kendry Morales was lost for the last four months after breaking his leg during a walk-off home run celebration.

Weaver and Haren aside, the pitching contributed to the team's woes, as the bullpen -- once a team strength -- lacked depth, and closer Brian Fuentes was shipped off to the Twins in August. Scott Kazmir further taxed the bullpen with a career-worst 5.94 ERA, averaging only 5 1/3 innings per start.

The Angels' frustrations continued into the offseason, as they failed to sign Carl Crawford as a free agent. Then they attempted to bolster their offense by taking on Vernon Wells and the $86 milllion remaining on his contract in a trade that sent Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to Toronto. The only other notable additions to the roster were the signings of relievers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, who should help to strengthen the bullpen. For now, last year's late-season closer Fernando Rodney will continue on in the ninth-inning role.

Among this year's projected starters, only Peter Bourjos (age 24) will go into the season under the age of 27. Though the Angels are an aging team overall, help from the minor leagues is on the way. Flamethrower Jordan Walden, who made a brief big league debut last year, could become the closer at some point this season. Likewise, Hank Conger could make an impact behind the plate, and while he may not reach the majors this season, the Angels have one of the best-hitting prospects in all of baseball in Mike Trout. As far as established players go, though, the pickings from Anaheim in this spring's Fantasy drafts will be slim once Weaver, Haren, Morales and Wells are off the board.

Sleeper ... Erick Aybar, SS

After batting .312 in his first full season in 2009, Aybar stumbled badly last year, hitting just .253. In retrospect, that .300-plus batting average from two years ago looks fluky, but he's a much better hitter than what he showed last season. Aybar has always been a good contact hitter, but he fanned much more frequently, particularly early in the season. Even though he was on base less often, he still upped his stolen base total from 14 to 22. He'll never be much of a power hitter, but with a higher average and 20-plus steals, Aybar will have value as a late-round pick in standard mixed league drafts.

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Bust ... Bobby Abreu, OF

Abreu's lowest batting average since his rookie season was .283, but last year he mustered just a .255 mark. Despite the dramatic dropoff, Fantasy owners should not dismiss last season as an aberration. Abreu did manage to hit 20 home runs, but he had to hit a lot more flyballs to achieve the distinction. He is no longer the slashing line-drive hitter who could routinely hit .290 despite a higher-than-average strikeout rate. Abreu might be able to hang onto his 20-homer status, but similar to last year, he will make more outs in the process, paying a price in the form of a lower batting average and shrinking RBI and runs scored totals.

Bounce-back player ... Kendry Morales, 1B

Of course, the biggest reason that Morales lost Fantasy value last year was missing the last four months with a broken leg, due to his now-infamous home plate celebration-gone-bad. However, even in the two months he did play, Morales slugged .487, which was 82 points lower than his rate from the year before. His home run power was still there, but astoundingly, he hit just five doubles through 51 games. A lot of strange things can happen after two months, and this appears to be one of them. Morales was hitting line drives more frequently and striking out less frequently, and one has to think that more of those hit balls would have found their way into the gaps later in the year, had he played the full season. Though he could be a little slow out of the gate, the 27-year-old should regain his 2009 form in 2011.

Los Angeles Angels Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Peter Bourjos CF 1 Jered Weaver RH
2 Howard Kendrick 2B 2 Dan Haren RH
3 Torii Hunter RF 3 Ervin Santana RH
4 Kendry Morales 1B 4 Joel Pineiro RH
5 Vernon Wells LF 5 Scott Kazmir LH
6 Bobby Abreu DH Alt Hisanori Takahashi LH
7 Erick Aybar SS
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Jeff Mathis C CL Fernando Rodney RH
9 Alberto Callaspo 3B SU Scott Downs LH
Top bench options RP Kevin Jepsen RH
R Maicer Izturis 2B/3B RP Jason Bulger RH
R Brandon Wood 3B RP Jordan Walden RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Mike Trout 19 OF Class A Double-A
The complete package offenisvely, rating as one of the minors' top prospects. Owners will get to use him in 2012.
2 Tyler Chatwood 21 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Yet to show an impressive command of the strike zone, but his ability to pitch down in the zone has helped him.
3 Jean Segura 21 2B Class A Class A
Emerging as a speed-and-power threat in 2010, he will get a chance to play shortstop at Advanced Class A.
4 Jordan Walden 23 RP Majors Majors
Recovered from a forearm injury in 2009. Control has been an issue, but the hard-thrower misses plenty of bats.
5 Hank Conger 23 C Majors Majors
Defensive shortcomings may slow his path to everyday at-bats as a major league catcher, but his bat is ready.
Best of the rest: Mark Trumbo, 1B; Kaleb Cowart, 3B; Garrett Richards, SP; Fabio Martinez, SP; Michael Kohn, RP; Trevor Reckling, RP; Randal Grichuk, OF; Cam Bedrosian, SP; Alexi Amarista, 2B; Daniel Tillman, RP; Chevez Clarke, OF; Donn Roach, SP; Luis Jimenez, 3B; Jeremy Moore, OF; Taylor Lindsey, 2B; and Andrew Romine, SS.

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
Jeff Locke pitches well in no-decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:29 pm ET) Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke pitched well in a no-decision at home Friday night against the Brewers. The left-hander permitted two runs on five hits and no walks while striking out three over seven innings of a 4-2 win.

All of Pittsburgh's runs were scored in the eighth inning when Locke was out of the game. Over his last three starts covering 19 1/3 innings, Locke has allowed six earned runs. He owns a 3.60 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP over 20 starts (127 1/3 innings). His next start will come Wednesday at Atlanta.

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by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:26 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Adam Warren picked up a five out save Friday against the Blue Jays. 

Warren entered with a two-run lead, and managed to shut the door. He did not allow a hit or a walk during the appearce, but did notch three strikeouts. It was Warren's third save of the season. 


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by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:24 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo struck out 11 but came away without a decision Friday night against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The right-hander allowed five hits and one walk over seven scoreless innings of work.

Gallardo wasn't backed by much run support and as a result, the bullpen failed to hold on to a two-run advantage, coughing up four runs in the eighth. Over his last two starts covering 13 innings, Gallardo has allowed two earned runs. He owns a 3.46 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP over 31 starts (187 1/3 innings). His final start of the regular season will come Thursday at Cincinnati.

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by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
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Fister allowed a run to score on a groundout in the second inning and permitted a solo home run to Justin Bour in the fourth for his only damage of the night. He was charged with two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out one over 6 2/3 innings of a 3-2 victory. Of his 102 pitches, 65 were strikes.

Fister owns a 2.55 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP over 24 starts (155 innings). His final start of the regular season will come Thursday at home against the Mets.


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A two-run home run by Adam LaRoche in the opening frame proved to be costly. Of his 98 pitches, 63 were strikes. He owns a 3.76 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over 31 starts (184 1/3 innings). He will make his final start of the season Thursday at home against Philadelphia.

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(10:13 pm ET) Nationals reliever Drew Storen made extremely quick work of the Marlins Friday night in Miami, needing only six pitches to retire the side in order to close out a 3-2 victory. He has converted 8 of 11 save chances, with a 1.20 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP over 52 1/3 innings of relief.

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by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:59 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle struggled against the Yankees Friday.

Buehrle allowed five runs on eight hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked two during the outing. The Yankees got to Buehrle pretty early. A run-scoring single by Brian McCann in the first inning opened up the scoring. After a scoreless second, Buehrle had issues in the third and fourth innings. To start the third, Buehrle gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki. Jacoby Ellsbury followed that up with a two-run homer. Ellsbury struck again in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, he knocked in two more runs on a single. 

With the loss, Buehrle dropped to 12-10. He’ll take on the Mariners in his next start.


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(9:58 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda turned in a strong start Friday against the Blue Jays.

Kuroda allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and did not issue any walks during the outing. Kuroda got himself in trouble during the first inning. After a leadoff double, Kuroda gave up a two-run blast against Edwin Encarnacion. He would settle in over the next three innings, but allowed another run in the fifth. After a throwing error put a runner on third, Kuroda gave up a run-scoring groundout. Since the run scored due to the error, it was unearned.

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


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(9:56 pm ET) Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will head for an MRI, according to the New York Daily News.

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