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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Los Angeles Angels

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After his Angels missed the playoffs for the second straight year -- the first such drought under his watch -- owner Arte Moreno channeled his inner Steinbrenner this offseason, cleaning out the front office and signing both the top hitter (Albert Pujols) and pitcher (C.J. Wilson) on the free-agent market.

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Call it shortsighted if you want, but with just those two additions, the Angels go from being also-rans in the top-heavy AL West to perhaps the frontrunners in the entire American League.

The Wilson move might actually prove to be the more critical of the two. Coming off another stellar year in Texas, the left-hander gives the Angels a trio of 220-inning aces much like the Phillies have in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Throw in Ervin Santana, who pitched 228 2/3 innings last year, and you could argue the Angels have the best starting rotation in all of baseball -- which, as the Phillies, Athletics and Braves have shown in recent history, is often the difference over a 162-game season.

Of course, the Pujols move is the one that grabbed all the headlines -- and for good reason. Widely regarded as the best player in baseball, he single-handedly transforms the Angels lineup from underwhelming to imposing, and his presence should resonate throughout the batting order, both by rejuvenating veterans like Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu and by providing newcomers like Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout with the support they need to thrive.

The arrival of Pujols does create a logjam at first base, where Mark Trumbo, last year's home run leader, nearly won AL Rookie of the Year and former face of the franchise Kendrys Morales was expected to play whenever he returned from a leg injury. Between those two and Abreu, only one can occupy the DH spot, which could lead to frustration among Fantasy owners. But if such dilemmas are the norm for perennial contenders, the Angels are well on their way.

Bust ... Mark Trumbo, 1B

It's not that Trumbo can't repeat last year's 29 homers. It's just that, given his lack of plate discipline, everything has to go just right for it to happen. And already things are going wrong. The biggest blow came when the Angels signed Albert Pujols, leaving Trumbo without a position. He was supposed to learn third base this offseason as a creative way to keep his bat in the lineup, but a stress fracture in his foot kept him off the practice field. The Angels still might try to rotate him between DH, third base and possibly left field, but such instability often has an adverse effect on a player's batting average, which in Trumbo's case, could lead to an on-base percentage lower than any number of homers could justify. Besides, if Kendrys Morales is healthy, it's all moot anyway. Trumbo will get drafted in mixed leagues given his potential for 30-plus homers, but consdiering all the variables at work here, he could easily be a waste of a pick.

Sleeper ... Kendrys Morales, 1B

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As if Morales' season-ending ankle fracture early in 2010 wasn't bad enough, the 28-year-old slugger then kept Fantasy owners on the hook right up until the end of spring training last year, burning some of the early drafting types for a second straight season. Needless to say, nobody is counting on Morales for much now, which means he's likely to go for next to nothing on Draft Day. So far, his work in batting practice has the Angels cautiously optimistic that he'll be ready for the start of the season. Of course, we were hearing reports just as favorable this time last year only to find out he needed a second surgery, but what are the chances of that happening again? A second surgery was surprising enough. A third would be grounds for a lawsuit. Granted, a healthy Morales would face the same playing time obstacles as Mark Trumbo, but considering Morales is the better all-around hitter, he's a better gamble in the late rounds than Trumbo is in the middle rounds.

Impact prospect ... Mike Trout, OF

The surprise announcement that Trout was on his way to the majors last July was cause for celebration among Fantasy owners. But they soon discovered why so few 19-year-olds get such an opportunity. Though his time in the majors wasn't a rousing success, Trout ended up with five homers and four steals in 123 at-bats, showing that he has the power and speed to go along with his career .338 batting average in the minors. With that skill set, Trout is such a certainty for stardom that some scouts actually prefer him to Bryce Harper. Now that he's gotten his feet wet, you can bet the Angels will jump at the first opportunity to promote him, and in a lineup featuring has-beens such as Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu, that opportunity could come within the first few weeks of the season. Trout may not make the opening day roster, but if you have a place to stash him in mixed leagues, he could pay huge dividends down the line.

2012 Los Angeles Angels Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Erick Aybar SS 1 Jered Weaver RH
2 Bobby Abreu DH 2 Dan Haren RH
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 C.J. Wilson LH
4 Torii Hunter RF 4 Ervin Santana RH
5 Howard Kendrick 2B 5 Jerome Williams RH
6 Alberto Callaspo 3B Alt Garrett Richards RH
7 Vernon Wells LF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Chris Iannetta C CL Jordan Walden RH
9 Peter Bourjos CF SU Scott Downs LH
Top bench options RP LaTroy Hawkins RH
R Mark Trumbo CI/OF RP Hisanori Takahashi LH
R Kendrys Morales 1B RP Rich Thompson RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Mike Trout 20 OF Majors Triple-A
Though rushed last year, Trout is closer to being a star than his age would have you believe. He'll be back this year, but not until the Angels clear a starting spot for him.
2 Jean Segura 22 SS Class A Class A
Segura is already an excellent contact hitter and has enough power potential to rate among the best middle infielders in Fantasy someday. Look for him to make a splash in 2013.
3 Garrett Richards 23 SP Majors Triple-A
Richards has looked good in the minors but wasn't quite ready for his leap to the majors last year. He's next in line if Williams falters, though, and he has the stuff to stick.
4 C.J. Cron 22 1B Rookie Class A
The 2011 first-rounder has massive power potential and is old enough that he might not need long in the minors. He's a legitimate long-term keeper despite his moderate ceiling.
5 Johnny Hellweg 23 SP Class A Double-A
Hellweg broke through as a starter last year after struggling as a reliever. If he can keep his control in check, his high-90s fastball gives him top-of-the-rotation potential.
Best of the rest: Kaleb Cowart, 3B; Taylor Lindsey, SS; Daniel Tillman, RP; Ariel Pena, SP; Alexi Amarista, 2B; Ysmael Carmona, RP; Luis Jimenez, 3B; Kole Calhoun, OF; Randal Grichuk, OF; Fabio Martinez, SP; Jeremy Moore, OF; Matt Long, OF; Cam Bedrosian, SP; Carlos Ramirez, C; Trevor Reckling, RP; David Carpenter, RP; Ryan Mount, SS; Darwin Perez, SS; Donn Roach, RP; Andrew Romine, SS; Chris Scholl, RP; and Travis Witherspoon, OF.

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

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Player News
Luke Gregerson blows save vs. Angels Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Athletics pitcher Luke Gregerson couldn't protect a one-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday, giving up one earned run on three hits in two innings and blowing a save opportunity in his team's extra-innings game against the Angels.

The A's are using a closer-by-committee with Jim Johnson struggling in the first few weeks of the season, and Gregerson was able to record saves in two of his previous three appearances before blowing one Wednesday. He stayed on to work a scoreless 10th inning after surrending the lead. Gregerson owns a 1.86 ERA and 6:1 K:BB ratio in 9 2/3 innings.


Tommy Milone turns in quality start vs. Angels Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Athletics pitcher Tommy Milone gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks in six-plus innings while striking out one in his team's extra-innings game against the Angels Wednesday.

Milone entered the seventh inning with a 4-1 lead but was removed after hitting a batter and surrendering a single to put two men on with no outs. Both would come around to score, one on a throwing error, but he was still in line for the win until the Angels evened things up in the ninth. Milone owns a 4.09 ERA and 8:2 K:BB ratio in 11 innings over two starts. He'll get the Rangers at home Tuesday.


Tyler Skaggs surrenders four runs in no-decision Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs gave up four earned runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings while striking out two but didn't factor into the decision in his team's extra-innings game against the A's Wednesday.

After a double scored one run in the fourth inning, Skaggs served up a three-run home run to put the Angels in a 4-0 deficit from which they didn't recover until the bottom of the ninth inning. He's given up four runs in each of his last two outings, leaving him with a 3.43 ERA and 11:4 K:BB ratio in 21 innings. Skaggs is slated to face the Nationals in Washington Tuesday.


Mike Moustakas finally goes deep
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:50 am ET) Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas showed a flash of life Wednesday, as he hit his first home run of the season in a 6-4 win over the Astros. Moustakas entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning and came up with the game-winning hit in the 11th inning, with his first home run.

Moustakes is still hitting just .119/.213/.238 in 42 at-bats, so hopefully his first homer can at least get him going. 


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by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
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Morneau was just about the only player to produce for the Rockies, putting together the team's lone multi-hit performance. He went 3 for 3 in the game, with his second home run of the season, a solo shot in the second inning. He added the team's only other run by way of a late sacrifice fly.

Morneau has started the season well for the Rockies, hitting .354/.396/.542 with five extra-base hits and five RBI in 14 games. 


Jackie Bradley's double gives Red Sox win Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:38 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley went 1 for 6 Wendesday but hit a two-run double in the 14th inning to give his team a lead they wouldn't squander in a 6-4 Red Sox victory over the White Sox.

Bradley's double came off White Sox infielder Leury Garcia after he walked two batters in his first career pitching appearance. The Red Sox outfielder has hit .244/.354/.317 with two stolen bases in 41 at-bats.


Burke Badenhop earns one-out save Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Red Sox pitcher Burke Badenhop earned his first save of the season Wednesday by recording the final out in his team's 14-inning win over the White Sox.

Badenhop was called upon with a man on first and two outs in the 14th inning and needed seven pitches to induce a groundout and tally his fourth career save in the 6-4 Red Sox win. He has posted a 7.36 ERA and 4:2 K:BB ratio in 7 1/3 innings.


Sergio Romo remains perfect in fourth save
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
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Romo has allowed just one run in seven appearances this season, and it came in his first trip to the mound. He has a 1.29 ERA in seven innings, with three hits and one walk allowed, while striking out four.  


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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) Red Sox pitcher Chris Capuano earned his first win of the season Wednesday by pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his team's 6-4, 14-inning win over the White Sox.

Capuano (1-0) did an outstanding job of shutting down the White Sox in extra innings, giving up just one hit and no walks while striking out three. Twenty-six of his 39 pitches were for strikes. Capuano has yet to allow a run in nine innings this season while posting an 8:1 K:BB ratio.


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by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:31 am ET) Padres closer Huston Street remained perfect in his fifth save opportunity Wednesday, in a 4-2 win.

Street allowed one baserunner to reach in his inning, but was never in much trouble. He struck out two to finish the inning, recording his fifth save in as many chances.

Street has yet to allow a run in six innings of work, with just three hits and a walk given up. He has struck out six batters as well.  


 
 
 
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