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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Kansas City Royals

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For a team coming off its eighth straight losing season, the Royals have generated a surprising amount of excitement this offseason.

The seeds of the anticipation for the 2012 campaign were sown in 2011, when the team gave regular roles to rookies Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Johnny Giavotella. A collective surge in production for the outfield of Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur didn't hurt either.

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While the Royals' young lineup started to attract some notoriety last season, the pitching staff compiled the fourth-highest ERA (4.45) in the majors. The front office made a few offseason moves to address the team's pitching woes. They moved Cabrera to the Giants, acquiring lefty Jonathan Sanchez, who could quickly become the team's best starting pitcher, and they re-signed Bruce Chen, who was last season's most effective starter. Jonathan Broxton and Jose Mijares were signed to bolster the bullpen. Joakim Soria, coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, will once again assume the closer's role.

The offense will have much the same look that it had at the end of last season, but the Royals will have to fill the hole in center field left by the departure of Cabrera. Lorenzo Cain, who got a brief look last fall, will get his first chance to be an everyday center fielder. Though the lineup hasn't changed much this offseason, it could be more productive this year if Hosmer, Moustakas and Giavotella can continue to develop in their sophomore seasons. However, the Royals will also have to rely on Gordon and Francoeur repeating their surprising success from 2011.

The young Royals are certainly a team on the rise, and they could break their string of losing seasons this year. With even more prospects -- including Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi -- on the way, it may not be long before the Royals find themselves in the thick of contention on an annual basis.

Bounce-back ... Jonathan Sanchez, SP

While Soria also gets the "bounce-back" label, no one is due for a more dramatic turnaround than Sanchez. His 2011 season was derailed first by poor control and then by disabled list stints for biceps and ankle injuries. Though Sanchez fell out of favor with the Giants organization, he had been as reliable as ever through early June last year. Though he has never been very adept at throwing strikes, he induces enough swings-and-misses to be valuable to standard mixed league owners. Sanchez will also get the benefit of playing his home games in a pitcher-friendly park, just as he did in San Francisco.

Rotisserie gem ... Lorenzo Cain, OF

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Cain finally showed some home run power in his first full season at Triple-A last year, but even if that doesn't translate to the majors right away, he is a worthy Rotisserie target. With good gap power and decent contact skills, Cain could toy with a .300 batting average. Though his minor league stolen base totals weren't gaudy, Royals manager Ned Yost likes to have his players run, so 25-30 steals are not out of the question. While Cain is strictly an AL-only option in Head-to-Head formats, he is a viable No. 5 outfielder for mixed Rotisserie leagues.

One-hit wonder ... Jeff Francoeur, OF

It's probably not fair to call Francoeur a "one-hit wonder" since he fared well in his early years with the Braves. Still, 2011 was a career year and entering his late 20s, one might be tempted to think that it was a breakout. However, Francoeur's improved batting average (.285) and run-production stats (77 runs, 87 RBI) were helped by a .330 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) -- a mark that doesn't square up for a player who pops out a lot and is a below-average line drive hitter. Even if he manages to be a 20-20 player again, Francoeur will have a hard time matching last season's production. He profiles more as a low-end No. 3 Fantasy outfielder than the No. 2 outfielder that he looked like last year.

2012 Kansas City Royals Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Alex Gordon LF 1 Luke Hochevar RH
2 Johnny Giavotella 2B 2 Jonathan Sanchez LH
3 Billy Butler DH 3 Bruce Chen LH
4 Eric Hosmer 1B 4 Felipe Paulino RH
5 Jeff Francoeur RF 5 Aaron Crow RH
6 Mike Moustakas 3B Alt Danny Duffy LH
7 Lorenzo Cain CF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Salvador Perez C CL Joakim Soria RH
9 Alcides Escobar SS SU Jonathan Broxton RH
Top bench options RP Greg Holland RH
R Chris Getz INF RP Louis Coleman RH
R Yuniesky Betancourt SS RP Jose Mijares LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 William Myers 21 OF Double-A Double-A
The former catcher disappointed in his first go-around at Double-A, but a good Arizona Fall League campaign and sharp batting eye bode well for a turnaround.
2 Mike Montgomery 22 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Montgomery is much better than his 5.32 ERA from Triple-A would indicate. Could figure into the Royals' rotation sometime in 2012.
3 Jake Odorizzi 22 SP Double-A Double-A
Odorizzi struggled after his promotion to Double-A, though park factors likely played a role. A long shot to contribute this year, he should be a target in long-term keeper leagues.
4 Bubba Starling 19 OF DNP Class A
The athletic prospect was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. Though he is probably several years away, Starling is still a top keeper target in long-term leagues.
5 Cheslor Cuthbert 19 3B Class A Class A
Another long-term keeper league target, Cuthbert played extremely well as an 18-year-old in A-ball.
Best of the rest: John Lamb, SP; Kelvin Herrera, RP; Jason Adam, SP; Chris Dwyer, SP; Yordano Ventura, SP; Christian Colon, SS; Elier Hernandez, OF; Brett Eibner, OF; Bryan Brickhouse, SP; Kyle Smith, SP; Jorge Bonifacio, OF; Cam Gallagher, C; Clint Robinson, 1B; Timothy Melville, SP; Brian Fletcher, OF.

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Player News
Report: Athletics talking to Braves about Upton, Gattis
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) The Athletics are talking to the Braves about outfielder Justin Upton and catcher Evan Gattis, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Oakland was involved in a shocking deal on Friday, and it doesn't appear the club is done making deals just yet. Upton is coming off a season in which he hit .270/.342/.491 over 566 at-bats. The 27-year-old is entering the final year of his contract.

Gattis hit .263/.317/.493 over 369 at-bats. He was hindered by a back injury over the second half of the year. Gattis won't be a free-agent until 2019.


A's deal Josh Donaldson to Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Athletics have dealt third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays for third baseman Brett Lawrie and pitcher Kendall Graveman, according to FoxSports.com. CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman has confirmed the deal.

Pitcher Sean Nolin and shortstop Franklin Barreto are also heading to Oakland, according to Yahoo! The 28-year-old Donaldson is entering his first year of arbitration. He's under team control until 2019. Lawrie is also entering his first year of arbitration, but will become a free-agent in 2018. Lawrie is entering his age-25 season. Graveman sky-rocketed through Toronto's farm system last year, jumping multiple levels. The 23-year-old posted a 1.83 ERA in 27 starts over four levels. He made his major-league debut as well, coming out of the bullpen five times at the end of the year. 

The 24-year-old Nolin posted a 3.43 ERA over three levels in the minors last season. He tossed one inning in the majors last season, giving up one run. The 18-year-old Barreto hit .311/.384/.481 over 328 at-bats in Class A ball. 


Athletics' Jeff Samardzija has not been informed of possible trade
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Athletics pitcher Jeff Samardzija has not been informed about a possible trade, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

There was an earlier report suggesting Samardzija was involved in a deal, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Samardzija is a high profile player, and likely would have been contacted by the team if a deal was close. Oakland is said to be working on something, but it's unclear which players are involved. 


Update: Athletics 'close' to making a deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Update: The Athletics are close to making a deal, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Oakland is looking to acquire hitters in a possible deal. The initial rumor had pitcher Jeff Samardzija in a potential deal, but that may not be the case, according to FoxSports.com. First baseman Brandon Moss is also not included in a possible deal, according to MLB.com. The reports seem to indicate the A's are actively pursuing a deal, but the players involved are not known at this time. 


Report: Nationals' Ross Detwiler open to a trade
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler is open to a trade, according to The Washington Post

The 28-year-old has been a starter most of his career, but was shifted to the bullpen last season. Though he was effective, Detwiler was relagated to being the team's long relief option/mop-up man. Detwiler doesn't have much of a role with the club, and his camp has suggested that the Nats pursue a trade if possible. Detwiler posted a 4.00 ERA over 63 innings. 


Report: Nationals have checked in on Asdrubal Cabrera
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Nationals are one of several teams to have checked in on second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, according to The Washington Post

Cabrera spent the second half of 2014 in Washington, and has expressed a desire to remain with the club. The Nationals are said to be in pursuit of a middle infielder. Shortstop Ian Desmond is in the final year of his contract, and it's unclear if the team wants to go with Danny Espinosa at second. The 29-year-old Cabrera hit .241/.307/.387 over 553 at-bats last year.


Giants pitcher Juan Gutierrez elects free agency
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Giants pitcher Juan Gutierrez has elected free agency.

Gutierrez was designated for assignment by the club on November 20. The team attempted to send him to the minors, but Gutierrez rejected the assignment, becoming a free-agent. He's now free to sign with any club. Gutierrez posted a 3.96 ERA over 63 2/3 innings last season. 


Marlins will consider using Aaron Crow as a starter
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Marlins will consider using newly-acquired pitcher Aaron Crow as a starter, according to the Sun Sentinel.

There's no guarantee Crow will be stretched out during spring training, but President of Baseball Operations Michael hill praised Crow's versatility. "We love the thought he could possibly be a starting option for us, but at a minimum we know he’ll be a valuable bullpen piece," Hill said. Crow started 48 games in the minors before converting to the bullpen. He's been solid with the change, posting a 3.43 ERA over 233 2/3 career innings as a reliever. 


RHP Belisario opts for free agency after assigned by White Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Reliever Ronald Belisario has chosen free agency over a minor league assignment from the White Sox.

Belisario struggled in 2014 to the tune of a 5.56 ERA and 78 hits allowed in 66 1/3 innings.


White Sox sign OF Tony Campana
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The White Sox have signed speedy veteran outfielder Tony Campana to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

Campana spent brief periods of time with the Diamondbacks and Angels this season and managed just 14 hits in 75 at-bats.


 
 
 
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