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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
Blue Jays' Aaron Sanchez inching closer to return, role uncertain
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(7:47 pm ET) Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez is on the mend and is close to returning from a strained lat muscle that has had him on the disabled list since June 5. Sanchez threw off flat ground on Monday, and is expected to throw bullpen sessions on Wednesday and Saturday. 

But the question of his role upon his return remains in question. Will he rejoin the rotation, or will he be sent to the bullpen?

"I really loved what he was doing when he was starting," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said, per MLB.com. "He was picking up steam, he was moving the right direction, he was really turning into a dominant pitcher. But this setback, it could be a one-time thing we think, and now we have to build him up.

"We've also looked at the 'pen, we have to make it stronger. We like the way it's starting to set up, but you can always make it stronger, and he's a guy we definitely think can do that."

Sanchez owns a 3.55 ERA through his first 11 starts this year. He was particularly strong in his last four starts, with a 2.57 ERA over 28 innings of work. 


Rays pitcher Drew Smyly throws bullpen session Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:45 pm ET) Rays pitcher Drew Smyly threw his second bullpen session Tuesday since suffering a shoulder injury in May, reports MLB.com.

Smyly has been sidelined since May 5 because of a shoulder injury.


Mariners pitcher James Paxton extends throwing program
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:24 pm ET) Mariners pitcher James Paxton has started playing catch from 60 feet, reports the Seattle Times.

Paxton has been out since May 28 with a sprained finger on his left hand. Despite the progress, manager Lloyd McClendon said Paxton won't be back anytime soon.

"This is going to be a slow process for Paxton," McClendon said. "Pax is going to be out for a while."


Rockies clear pitcher Jorge De La Rosa to start Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:56 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa will make his start Tuesday at Oakland, reports MLB.com.

De La Rosa left his last start after experiencing an issue with his finger. De La Rosa also missed two starts in May because of a cut on his left middle finger.

The Rockies are the underdogs (+155) at Oakland on Tuesday.


Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury held out of minor league rehab game
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from what would have been the second game of his minor league rehab assignment. 

Ellsbury is on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury that has kept him out since May 19. He began his rehab at Class A Tampa on Monday. He was scheduled to play on Tuesday but was held out. 

Ellsbury is suffering from "general fatigue" in both legs, manager Joe Girardi said, per the Daily News. The team is hopeful he'll play on Wednesday. 


D-Backs C Oscar Hernandez (wrist) could be back this weekend
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:37 pm ET) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said catcher Oscar Hernandez could be activated from the disabled list as soon as this weekend, according to Fox Sports Arizona. Hernandez, who is recovering from a wrist injury, has played in 10 rehab games so far, amassing six hits in 28 at-bats.

It is unclear exactly when Hernandez will be activated, and what his role will be with the Diamondbacks upon his return. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Welington Castillo seem to be entrenched as platoon-mates behind the plate. 


D-Backs' Josh Collmenter top candidate to start this Saturday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:35 pm ET) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said that pitcher Josh Collmenter is the favorite to start this Saturday's game against the Rockies, according to FOX Sports Arizona. 

Collmenter could draw the nod with Allen Webster being optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday. Webster struggled in his four starts with Arizona, postin ga 7.11 ERA. 

Collmenter, for the 2015 season, is 3-6 with a 5.09 ERA. 


Athletics call up Chris Bassitt
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) The Athletics recalled pitcher Chris Bassitt from Triple-A Nashville to start Tuesday's game in place of an ailing Sonny Gray. 

Bassitt was 2-6, 3.71 at Nashville. He has a 3.38 ERA in five relief appearances with the A's this season. He made five starts with the White Sox last year. 


Mariners 1B Logan Morrison returns to the lineup on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:22 pm ET) Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison is returning to the starting lineup for Tuesday's matchup with the Padres. Morrison is at first base and batting leadoff against right-hander Ian Kennedy.

Morrison was given the day off on Sunday due soreness in his back. But with the scheduled day off on Monday, Morrison was able to shake off the ailment and return on Tuesday. 


Padres 3B Will Middlebrooks is out of Tuesday's lineup
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:21 pm ET) Padres third baseman Will Middlebrooks was held out of Tuesday's lineup against the Mariners, the team announced. He was replaced at third base by Yangervis Solarte, who will bat fifth.

Middlebrooks suffered a sprained right ankle during Sunday's contest. The Padres are favored (-120) over the Mariners on Tuesday.


 
 
 
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