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2012 Fantasy outlooks: San Diego Padres

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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After winning the NL West in consecutive seasons in 2005 and 2006, the Padres have become consistent cellar dwellers.

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The Padres haven't been to the playoffs in their first five seasons under manager Bud Black and have finished fourth or worse in the NL West three times. But they are just two seasons removed from a 90-win campaign in 2010, and San Diego would love to become contenders again. It's just that expectations are low heading into 2012.

The Padres were active on the trade market in the offseason. They acquired Carlos Quentin (White Sox), Yonder Alonso (Reds), Edinson Volquez (Reds), Huston Street (Rockies) and Andrew Cashner (Cubs), while shedding Anthony Rizzo, Mat Latos and Simon Castro in the process.

The front office also has a new look as former general manager Jed Hoyer joined Theo Epstein in Chicago, while former Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes replaces Hoyer as GM.

While the newcomers will be on display this spring, there are still a few leftovers from the 71-91 squad from 2011 worth talking about. Center fielder Cameron Maybin finally settled in at the MLB level and his 40 stolen bases were a welcomed addition. Tim Stauffer emerged as a quality starter. When he wasn't injured, Nick Hundley flashed signs that he can be the Padres' top catcher.

Still, the Padres' lineup isn't exactly going to strike fear into the hearts of pitching staffs in 2012, and San Diego's own rotation has to sort itself out, particularly who will emerge as the team's ace in the wake of the Latos trade.

A plus for the Padres is a strong farm system with plenty of burgeoning prospects, but many of them are a year or two away from making an impact.

Bust ... Yonder Alonso, OF

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Alonso's biggest fan is Byrnes, who traded Rizzo to the Cubs to make sure there was no "quarterback controversy" at first base heading into spring training. There is no denying Alonso is a great talent. His college resume, his draft status (seventh overall in 2008) and minor-league numbers prove that. Also, Alonso put together a .943 OPS in 47 games with Cincinnati in 2011. But there are a few issues heading into 2012 we need to highlight before Fantasy owners reach for Alonso on Draft Day. The first being that he is moving to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Alonso is more of a line-drive hitter, which won't help his power numbers in San Diego. Second, Alonso is just 69 games into his MLB career. Once opposing teams get a better scouting report, the road will almost certainly get tougher for Alonso.

Breakout ... Cory Luebke, SP

You take a look at Luebke's 6-10 record and 3.29 ERA from 2011 and you probably just view him as another middle-of-the-pack arm. But take a closer look at his numbers and Luebke screams breakout. Luebke struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings last season and also posted a 1.07 WHIP. He added nine quality starts and held the opposition to a .218 batting average in his 17 starts. Luebke's struggles surprisingly came at home in pitcher-friendly PETCO Park (4.04 ERA), so if he improves in that area this year, then he will emerge as a reliable Fantasy starter. It's worth noting that Luebke has said he's gotten better at using both sides of the plate thanks to the tutelage of pitching coach Darren Balsley.

Sleeper ... Edinson Volquez, SP

San Diego presents a fresh start for Volquez, who was acquired in the Latos trade. Once the ace in Cincinnati, Volquez hasn't been the same since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2009. He is 9-10 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in his last two MLB seasons (32 starts). Volquez has been plagued by control problems since having elbow surgery, but he showed some promise late in 2011 once he came back from his minor-league banishment. Volquez struck out 19 in 23 2/3 innings and held the opposition to a .250 batting average in four September starts. Another reason to be encouraged is that Volquez has a strong history at his new home ballpark, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. PETCO Park can also help Volquez as he looks to cut down on his home runs allowed. Volquez was plagued by the long ball in 2011, yielding 1.6 homers per nine innings.

2012 San Diego Padres Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Will Venable RF 1 Tim Stauffer RH
2 Jason Bartlett SS 2 Clayton Richard LH
3 Cameron Maybin CF 3 Edinson Volquez RH
4 Carlos Quentin LF 4 Cory Luebke LH
5 Yonder Alonso 1B 5 Dustin Moseley RH
6 Chase Headley 3B Alt Anthony Bass RH
7 Orlando Hudson 2B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Nick Hundley C CL Huston Street RH
Top bench options SU Luke Gregerson RH
R Jesus Guzman 1B RP Andrew Cashner RH
R Chris Denorfia OF RP Joe Thatcher LH
R John Baker C RP Ernesto Frieri RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Yonder Alonso 24 OF Majors Majors
Alonso better be ready to tackle the rigors of being an everyday major leaguer because the lights go on in April.
2 Yasmani Grandal 23 C Triple-A Triple-A
Grandal has excellent plate discipline and should post a favorable batting average and OBP when he arrives in the majors.
3 James Darnell 25 3B Majors Triple-A
Darnell could be heir apparent to Chase Headley at hot corner. The career .302 hitter in minors has 20-HR power.
4 Jedd Gyorko 23 3B Double-A Double-A
Gyorko is likely the long-term option at third for San Diego and has a higher ceiling than Darnell. Had .333-25-114 line last year.
5 Robbie Erlin 21 SP Double-A Triple-A
Erlin keeps hitters off-balance with a smooth delivery and works both sides of plate with outstanding efficiency.
Best of the rest: Rymer Liriano, OF; Casey Kelly, SP; Cory Spangenberg, 2B; Austin Hedges, C; Joseph Wieland, SP; Joe Ross, SP; Keyvius Sampson, SP; Jaff Decker, OF; Bradley Boxberger, RP; Juan Oramas, SP; Donavan Tate, OF; Jonathan Galvez, 2B; Blake Tekotte, OF; Reymond Fuentes, OF; Brad Brach, RP

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Michael Hurcomb at @CBSHurc . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Reds sign Brennan Boesch to minor league deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:09 pm ET) The Reds have signed outfielder Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Boesch, 29, is a career .256/.309/.412 hitter over five seasons for the Tigers, Yankees and Angels.

He was in the minors for most of last season, hitting .332 with 25 homers for the Angels Triple-A affiliate. 


Royals acquire infielder Ryan Jackson from Dodgers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:16 pm ET) The Royals have acquired infielder Ryan Jackson from the Dodgers for cash considerations. Jackson was out for most of last season with a wrist injury. 

Jackson hit .278 with 34 RBI at Triple-A Memphis, playing 122 games at shortstop and third base in 2013.


Report: Talks break down between Yanks, Phils about Rollins deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) The Yankees and Phillies reportedly discussed a deal for 35-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins before talks broke down, according to ESPN reporter Jayson Stark.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Rollins is "one of the best shortstops in baseball still" but wouldn't confirm Yankees interest in the veteran. Amaro also said Rollins is "somebody we want on our club and would be very hard to replace."

Rollins is due $11 million this season and his contract is up at the end of 2015. Rollins hit .243 with 55 RBI and stole 28 bases in 2014. 


Padres' Blaine Boyer clears waivers, heads for free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:08 pm ET) Padres right-handed pitcher Blaine Boyer cleared waivers Wednesday and will enter free agency, according to U-T San Diego. Boyer was designated for assignment last week.

Boyer appeared in 32 games last season for the Padres and posted a 3.57 ERA. 


Rays designate Sean Rodriguez for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:04 pm ET) The Rays have designated 29-year-old Sean Rodriguez for assignment. 

Rodriguez hit .211 with 12 home runs last season. 


Jose Molina, Cole Figueroa clear waivers, released by Rays
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) Catcher Jose Molina and infielder Cole Figueroa cleared waivers and were released by the Rays Wednesday. 

Both Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment Thursday. Molina, 39, hit .178 over 225 at-bats last year, while Figueroa hit .233 in 43 at-bats. 


Rays sign right-hander Ernesto Frieri to major-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) The Rays have announced signing of right-hand pitcher Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract. Frieri will make a base salary of $800,000, going up to $3.15 million with incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Frieri, who had a career-high 37 saves in 2013, had 11 last season with a 7.34 ERA.


Yankees' Sabathia confident he can return to being 200-inning pitcher
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia continues to deliver positive updates coming off July knee surgery.

"The knee, I have no complaints," Sabathia told YES Network. "I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in."

Despite coming off surgery and being limited to eight starts (46 innings) in 2014, Sabathia feels he can get back to being a 30-start, 200-inning pitcher in 2015.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely."


Report: Indians expressing interest in Kendrys Morales
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:05 pm ET) The Indians have expressed inerest in DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales

Morales, who split time between the Twins and Mariners last season, hit .218 with 42 RBI.


Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


 
 
 
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