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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
Orioles-White Sox game postponed again Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) The Orioles-White Sox game was postponed for a second straight day Tuesday due to protests near Camden Yards. No makeup date has been announced for the game yet.

White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija and Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez were scheduled to start Tuesday's game. No word yet on how this will affect both teams' rotations moving forward.


Blue Jays' Gibbons continue to show confidence in Castro, Osuna
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:43 am ET) Blue Jays rookie relievers Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna have both endured some struggles as of late

Castro suffered his second loss of the season Monday against the Red Sox, which came two days after he suffered his second blown save. He has allowed at least one run in four of his last five appearances.

Osuna has allowed one run in two straight appearances and suffered his first blown save Monday.

"[Castro has] had a couple of tough ones," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after Monday's loss, per MLB.com. "Maybe we'll back him down a little bit. But same way with [Roberto] Osuna, we have confidence in these guys. We're asking a lot out of them, but it's just the way it goes. You find some things out.

"I love both of them, I think they're both going to be great pitchers when it's all said and done, but we're asking a lot out of them, and I'm not sure how fair that is."

It appears Castro might be pitching his way out of save opportunities, as Brett Cecil could return to the closer's role shortly. Still, Gibbons is hoping the 20-year-old Castro can overcome his recent struggles.

"I hope he understands the reason I'm putting him in there is because I have confidence in the kid," Gibbons said. "I also understand how tough it is in the big leagues, and you take your lumps. He's a tough kid, he really is. He's going to be a [heck] of a pitcher."


Rangers' Choo working through some major offensive struggles
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:27 am ET) It doesn't matter where Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo bats in the lineup these days -- he still can't buy a hit

Choo, who was dropped to seventh in the batting order Saturday, went 0 for 4 on Monday against Seattle, extending his hitless slump to 20 at-bats. He last got a hit April 19.

"You watch him and he's definitely not getting the desired results," manager Jeff Banister said of Choo, per MLB.com. "It's been a challenge for Choo this month. He continues to work. He continues to study."

Choo is batting .096 (5 for 52), which is a league-low among qualified hitters. His only multihit game came on April 9. 

"This is a guy that has proven to be a professional hitter, lifetime .290 hitter, this is a guy that we believe in what he's going to be," Banister said. "This has been a tough stretch for him."


Astros OF Colby Rasmus thriving on the road in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus has been a different hitter on the road than at home in 2015. Through 17 games, he is batting .067 (1 for 15) with no home runs or RBI at home, while he is batting .350 (14 for 40) with one triple, three doubles, three home runs and seven RBI on the road.

Rasmus is batting .345 (10 for 29) with four multihit games, two doubles, two home runs and five RBI through seven games on the team's current road trip.

"I say in the last homestand I was just seeing some things and feeling my way through what was going on with my swing and where I needed to be, and in this road trip I've been able to make some adjustments on what I felt I needed to do and they helped me a lot," he said, per MLB.com. "Yeah, I feel good about it, just battling."


Rockies' Weiss expects Tyler Matzek to make next start
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) Rockies pitcher Tyler Matzek said he was just suffering from cramping Monday when he came out of his team's 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks prematurely due to a hamstring injury, MLB.com reports.

"It was just cramping up," Weiss said. "It cramped up on a few of those warmup pitches and on the first pitch of that inning, and I didn't want to push it."

Manager Walt Weiss considers the injury a short-term issue and expects it won't keep Matzek from pitching later this week in San Diego.

"Yeah, he'll make his next start," Weiss said. "I expect him to make his next start."

Matzek moved to 2-0 with his win Monday and owns a 2.70 ERA and 13:13 K:BB ratio in 20 innings over his first four starts.


Dodgers' Mattingly: 'We're going to have to find at-bats for' Guerrero
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Monday's game that the team has to find more playing time for infielder/outfielder Alex Guerrero after the rookie's hot start, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"We're going to have to find at-bats for Alex the way he is swinging," Mattingly said.

Mattingly said that Guerrero could play at shortstop, third base and left field. He may start to see extended action in left field if Carl Crawford, who is dealing with an injury to his side, has to go on the disabled list. Guerrero is 11 for 22 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 11 appearances.


Dodgers to evaluate LF Carl Crawford Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:55 am ET) Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Monday's game that left fielder Carl Crawford will be evaluated Tuesday after coming out of the game with pain in his right side, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Mattlingly added that the issue "sounds like" an oblique injury, which typically take about a month to heal. That timetable would likely land the outfielder on the disabled list.

"Historically, things like that don't really go away overnight," Mattingly said. "But we've got to give it a shot."

If Crawford does need a trip to the disabled list, it would be his fifth stint in four years, all for injuries to different parts of the body. He has hit .245/.260/.408 with one home run, three RBI and one stolen base in 49 at-bats.


Astros OF George Springer swipes three bases Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:42 am ET) Astros outfielder George Springer didn't have a hit or RBI on Monday against the Padres. However, he still found a way to make an impact in a 9-4 win.

Springer drew three walks Monday and had a career-high three stolen bases. He had never had more than one stolen base in a game prior to Monday. He also finished with two runs and two strikeouts.

Springer, who is 7 of 8 in stolen-base attempts this season, is batting .235 (8 for 34) with a .500 slugging percentage, .872 OPS, two home runs, three doubles, four RBI, eight runs, eight walks, 12 strikeouts and five stolen bases in his last nine games.


Mets recall Rafael Montero from Triple-A Las Vegas
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:33 am ET) The Mets recalled pitcher Rafael Montero from Triple-A Las Vegas Tuesday.

Montero will make his first start of the season Tuesday in Miami after opening the season in the bullpen and being send down to the minors to prepare for a starting role. He is expected to stick in the rotation, as the team will turn to a six-man rotation temporarily to help reduce the workload on Matt Harvey's arm.

Montero struggled in two Triple-A starts, giving up six runs (five earned) in 7 2/3 innings but racking up seven strikeouts against only one walk.


Astros not ready to promote Preston Tucker, but is on team's radar
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:13 am ET) Astros outfield prospect Preston Tucker is off to a torrid start for Triple-A Fresno. The 24-year-old outfielder is batting .338 with a .689 slugging percentage, eight home runs and a minor-league leading 26 RBI in 18 games. 

Still, the Astros opted to promote L.J. Hoes on Monday to occupy a spot on the bench instead of Tucker, despite his hot start to the season.

“Tuck’s in the time of his career where he he’s trying to get himself noticed and he wants to be the next guy called up,” manager A.J. Hinch said, per the Houston Chronicle. “And right now our outfield’s playing very well. (Jake) Marisnick obviously is playing the best in the outfield on both sides of the ball. George Springer’s obviously a big part of our future and our present. (Colby) Rasmus is playing well.

“So I think it’s difficult for any of these young guys to break in. And when you have a good roster that you’re comfortable with, it’s even harder. But that doesn’t mean that their time wouldn’t come based on injury or based on extreme performance, and Tuck’s being very noticed with what he’s doing down at Triple-A.”


 
 
 
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