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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
Report: Rays sign Ronald Belisario to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:23 pm ET) The Rays have signed pitcher Ronald Belisario to a minor-league deal with an invitiation to spring training, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Belisaro made 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014, posting a 4-8 record, 5.56 ERA and 47:18 K:BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings. He'll compete for a bullpen spot during the spring.


Dodgers SP Zack Greinke hasn't decided whether to opt out
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:12 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke said Saturday that he's yet to decide whether to opt out of his contract at the end of next season but added, "There's not really better options anywhere besides here," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Greinke is set to make $23 million in 2015, and he's due another $71 million over the following three seasons if he remains under his current contract. The Dodgers said earlier this offseason that they wouldn't discuss a contract extension with the pitcher during the winter.

Greinke went 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 207:43 K:BB ratio in 202 1/3 innings in 2014.


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by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez can't wait to get on the field and get past the 2014 season.

"I can’t wait," Jimenez said at Saturday’s FanFest event. "Whatever happened in 2014 is in the past. There's nothing I can do about it now. I can just look forward and now I’m going to do everything in spring training to get myself ready the best I can for the season and help the team."

Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Baltimore in 2014, went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 125 1/3 innings pitched. 

"It was pretty hard, coming in with a new team and signing a contract like that and not to do what everyone is expecting you to do, it’s hard," Jimenez said. "It’s hard not to be there for the team, but regardless what happened, I fought a lot. I think I was trying to find a way to survive to be there for the team and do whatever I can do the best. We got really far. I didn’t help a lot, but I tried to do whatever I could with whatever I had."


Royals' Alex Gordon plans to take it slow in recovery
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:12 pm ET) Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is still recovering from his wrist surgery this offseason and plans to take it slow in his rehab.

"We really don’t have a timetable," Gordon said. "We’re just going to see how it feels. Obviously, it’s spring training. So we don’t want to rush anything. If it feels good, we’ll be aggressive with it. But if it’s not feeling good, we’ll take it slow."

Manager Ned Yost wants to continue to take things slow with Gordon.
"We’ll just take it slow," Yost said. "We’ll see how he feels. We’ll play him one day. Then we’ll give him a day off. Play him another day, five or six innings, then give him a day off. We’ll just see how he’s doing."
Gordon hit .266 in 2014 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI.

Angels, Garrett Richards settle on $3.2 million for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:32 pm ET) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have agreed to a contract for 2015 for $3.2 million, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Richards was asking for $3.8 million while the Angels offered $2.4 million. Richards posted a 13-4 record in 2014 with a 2.61 ERA and 164 strikeouts for Los Angeles.


Orioles' Manny Machado expects to be ready for spring training
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:18 pm ET) Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is progressing through his rehab and says he's "ready to roll" for the upcoming season.

"I have a lot of time to get ready. That is the key: having a regular offseason," Machado said Saturday. "Was doing my rehab in Sarasota and then went to Miami to do my regular weightlifting and get ready for the season. Been exciting. Looking forward to spring training."

Machado has taken part in baseball activities for the past few weeks since having surgery on Aug. 27 after tearing a ligament in his knee.

"It will be awesome," he said of the prospect of having a normal spring. "I'm dying to get back on the field. Spring training is key for a lot of players to get your at-bats and your reps. I think some take it for granted but it's a very big key for success for the year."

Machado hit .278 in 2014 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI for Baltimore.


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(12:24 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Bud Norris said Saturday nothing has changed between he and the organization for a new contract.

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Norris and the Orioles are preparing for arbitration, when Norris filed for $10.25 million and Baltimore offered $7.5 million. He went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA and 139:52 K:BB ratio in 165 1/3 innings over 28 starts in 2014.


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(11:56 am ET) Orioles first baseman Chris Davis told reporters Saturday he was denied an exemption for Adderall in 2013 but he took it anyway.

"It was a moment of weakness," Davis said. He was diagnosed with ADD in 2008 and it isn't a performance enhancer for someone who needs it for medical reasons, according to Davis.

"For me, it was off the field, just an everyday life thing," he said. "I was a little overwhelmed, just kind of with everything that was going on with the (oblique) injury. There were a lot of different things that were taking my focus away from baseball. It was a mistake that I wish I could undo, but I can't, so I've just got to move forward."

Davis has one game remaining on his 25-game suspension for amphetamines, which he test posted for in September last year. He finished with a .196 batting average with 26 home runs and 72 RBI.


Report: David Aardsma to throw bullpen next week for teams
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(10:07 am ET) Free-agent pitcher David Aardsma will throw a bullpen session for interested teams next week, according to his agent, Jamie Murphy.

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Aardsma missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a torn adductor muscle. He was last with the Mets in 2013 when he posted a 2-2 record with a 4.31 ERA and 36 strikeouts.


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"My weight is lower than last year. I want to have more range and be faster. Trying to steal some more bases and be faster for the team on the bases to help put more pressure on the defense." Schoop said. "I learned a lot from my teammates. They helped me a lot. One year of experience. I'm better than last year. Mentally and physically, everything. My ups and downs helped me a lot to know myself better too."

Schoop, who hit .209 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI in 2014, is also taking more advice from his teammates about his approach at the plate.

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