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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
Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin ready for bounce back 2015 season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin had a tough 2014 season. After injuring his shoulder in spring training, Chacin struggled in 11 starts, posting a 1-7 record with a 5.40 ERA in 63 1/3 innings. He suffered right rotator cuff strain, which forced him to miss nearly half the season.

However, manager Walt Weiss is happy with Chacin's progress this offseason.

"He's doing great. He's been throwing and working out really hard. He's had a really good offseason," Weiss said to The Denver Post.

Teammate and pitcher Jorge De La Rosa thinks 2015 will be much kinder to Chacin.

"He surprised me a lot," De La Rosa said. "He was playing catch with me every day (in Scottsdale, Ariz.), and his arm looks really good. His ball really had some life, and he's lost some weight. I think he's getting stronger. He's going to have a good year."


Report: Braves sign reliever David Carpenter
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) The Braves signed relief pitcher David Carpenter, reports Baseball America.

Carpenter spent the last three seasons pitching for the Angels. During his career, Carpenter has pitched 43 innings and produced a 5.23 ERA.


Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki wants to move past injury concerns
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has heard the rumors about being injury-prone and he said it only motivates him to play better, reports MLB.com.

Tulowitzki only appeared in 91 games during the 2014 season and said his main goal for 2015 is to stay on the field.

"I've heard that I'm injury-prone. I've heard that I'm getting older. I like it," he said. "That stuff fuels me. It makes my workouts better. It makes me want it that much more. I just want to prove that I can do it. For so long, I've worked so hard to try to stay on the field. That's what keeps driving me - to stay on the field, help this team win and try to solidify myself as the best player in the game."

He added that he wants to play between 140 and 160 games, but he knows it will be a challenge as he gets older.

"It's been a battle for me, no doubt," Tulowitzki said. "I do everything I possibly can to prepare for the season and make myself healthy."


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by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) When Hanley Ramirez makes his spring training debut, he’ll be trying to learn new teammates and a new position.

The Red Sox signed Ramirez in the offseason with the intent of having him play in left field. Ramirez has never played in the outfield during his career, but has been working on outfield mechanics, including tracking balls and hitting the cutoff man. Ramirez believes the switch from the infield to the outfield will be seamless, once he receives enough experience, reports ESPN.com.

"I think if I put in all the work that I need to put to get better it's not going to be that hard," Ramirez said.


Tigers sign pitcher Al Alburquerque for $1.725 million
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) The Tigers have re-signed pitcher Al Alburquerque to a $1.725 million contract with a $12,500 bonus for 75 appearances, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Alburquerque originally filed for $2.05 million in arbitration while Detroit offered $1.375 million, according to Heyman. The five-year veteran went 3-1 in 2014 with a 2.51 ERA in 72 games. 


Astros ask third baseman Matt Dominguez to learn first base
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) With the Astros recently acquiring infielder Luis Valbuena, third baseman Matt Dominguez has been asked to start learning how to play first base, reports the Houston Chronicle.

"You get a bigger glove, so it can't be that hard," Dominguez said.

Dominguez has spent the last two seasons as the full-time third baseman for the Astors, but he will compete with Valbuena for the starting role this season. If Valbuena wins the third base job, the Astros want Dominguez to be able to switch to first base.

"[Astros manager A.J. Hinch] thinks I'm going to be a third baseman, but he wants to also help me try to make the team by adding a little more versatility and move around a little bit more," Dominguez said. "Do whatever I need to do."


Citing health, Allen Craig hopes to play well for Red Sox
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(1/24/2015) After declaring himself healthy, Red Sox outfielder Allen Craig hopes to justify the Red Sox’s decision to trade for him, reports the Boston Herald.

Craig suffered a ligament tear in his left foot in 2013 and struggled throughout 2014, hitting .215 with eight home runs and 46 RBI.

"I'm just going to go to spring training and compete wherever I'm at and just play the game like I always have," Craig said. "The Red Sox traded for me because they believe in me, so I want to go out there and play well."


White Sox C Tyler Flowers: 'It's my job to lose' behind the plate
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers told reporters he doesn't plan on giving up his starting job easily, per MLB.com. On Thursday, Geovany Soto signed a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.

"I really don't think there's much of a question going in there," Flowers said. "I would definitely say it's my job to lose. Barring an injury, there's really no doubt I'll be the guy catching opening day."

Flowers avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal, worth $2.675 million for this season. The 28-year-old hit .241/.297/.396 with 15 homers and 50 RBI over 407 at-bats in 2014.

"At this point, there's no reason to move off of that," general manager Rick Hahn said. "Competition is good. It brings out the best in people. And if someone comes in and fights for that job and earns it, I'm sure we'll be flexible. But certainly, we view Tyler as the starter."


Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia: 'I plan on playing 162' games
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is coming off September wrist surgery, told reporters he plans to play all 162 games this season, per Comcast SportsNet Northeast.

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Pedroia has been limited the past three seasons due to a number of injuries. He injured his wrist in the home opener and wasn't the same the rest of the way. The 31-year-old Pedroia hit just .278 with seven home runs, 33 doubles and 53 RBI in 135 games last season. He has hit fewer than 10 home runs in two straight seasons.

Pedroia reiterated that he's at 100 percent to start spring training.

"I'm back...you'll see," Pedroia said. "I'm good, ready to go. If [the season] started tomorrow, I'd be good. I'm very excited. Obviously, after last year, it didn't go very well, so we've got a lot of stuff to prove.'"


Report: Brandon Beachy finalizing deal with new team
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(1/24/2015) Free agent pitcher Brandon Beachy is zeroing in on an agreement with a new team, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities on Saturday. Beachy, who drew interest from several teams this offseason, is not expected to return to Minnesota, per the report.

The 28-year-old missed all of 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He owns a 3.23 career ERA along with a 275:86 K:BB ratio in 267 2/3 innings across 46 starts.


 
 
 
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