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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Chicago White Sox

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Though the White Sox never fully recovered from a 10-18 April last season, they managed to hang around the American League Central race into mid-August before falling out of contention. For the most part, it's been an offseason of rebuilding for the Pale Hose, as Mark Buehrle and Juan Pierre were allowed to leave via free agency and Carlos Quentin, Sergio Santos and Jason Frasor were traded. However, general manager Kenny Williams sent mixed signals, as he re-signed lefty John Danks to a five-year deal and did not trade away nominal ace Gavin Floyd as expected.

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Not only will the Sox have to fill the holes left by Buehrle, Quentin, Santos and others, but they will need Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham to rebound from abysmal seasons if they are to compete this year. The rotation appears to be set, as Chris Sale will move up from the bullpen to fill the vacancy left by Buehrle, who signed with the Marlins. Santos' successor has not been named, but lefty Matt Thornton and rookie Addison Reed are the strongest contenders. Paul Konerko will anchor the offense once again, and Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza will take over the outfield corners formerly occupied by Quentin and Pierre.

Perhaps the most notable change this season will be in the dugout, as controversial skipper Ozzie Guillen departed to manage the Marlins. Robin Ventura, who has no managerial experience at any professional level, will take over the club's reins. While Guillen tended to favor aggressive baserunning, it remains to be seen what impact Ventura will have on speedsters like De Aza and Rios.

With many of the familiar faces gone, it may look like a bleak year ahead for the White Sox. However, with their pitching staff largely intact and Quentin as the only major offensive force missing from last season, they could make things interesting in a division that may be weak aside from the Tigers. A lot will have to go right, from a resurgence for Dunn to a healthy campaign for Jake Peavy to a breakout for Viciedo. The pieces are there for a respectable season, if not a playoff berth, but there are plenty of questions as to how sturdy and reliable those pieces will be.

Late-round flier...Alejandro De Aza, OF

With Pierre gone, De Aza will get his first real chance to be an everyday outfielder for a whole season. As a slap hitter, the 27-year-old won't take advantage U.S. Cellular Field's homer-friendly dimensions, but he has a history of using his speed to leg out base hits. De Aza should produce enough steals and a high enough batting average to help owners in Rotisserie leagues, and he is good enough at avoiding strikeouts and hitting doubles to be of use in Head-to-Head formats. His lack of home run power prevents him from being even a middle-round option in standard mixed leagues, but he does enough things well to be worthy of a late-round pick.

Bust...Matt Thornton, RP

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Thornton got the first crack at the closer's job last season, but after blowing each of his first four save oppotunities, he was demoted to a set-up role. He recovered well enough to post a 2.95 ERA from April 18 on, and that has positioned Thornton as the likely frontrunner to succeed Santos in the ninth-inning role. Despite the respectable ERA there is no shortage of warning signs for another implosion. For the second season in a row, Thornton's control eroded as he threw fewer strikes and issued more walks per nine innings. When opposing hitters have gotten ahold of one of his offerings they have increasingly been able to hit him ... hard. Thornton's line drive rate ballooned to 24 percent, which contributed to a 64-point increase in opponents' batting average against him. Thornton still gets his fair share of strikeouts, but his trends are all running in the wrong direction, making him a risk to count on for saves this season.

Head-to-Head hero...Philip Humber, SP

As a pitch-to-contact hurler, Humber doesn't have much appeal for owners in Rotisserie leagues, but over the last two seasons, he has developed a special talent that should endear him to Head-to-Head owners. Humber has developed a much stronger command of the strike zone, which was first in evidence at Triple-A Omaha (in the Royals' system) in 2010, and it translated to his first season with the White Sox last year. More strikes have meant more efficient outings, as Humber went through plate appearances with a tidy 3.69 pitches on average, and he averaged nearly 6 1/3 innings per start. Humber's place in the Chicago rotation should be more solidified this year, so his potential to rack up innings is even greater. While Humber should go undrafted in most mixed Rotisserie formats, he is a worthwhile pickup late in standard mixed Head-to-Head drafts.

2012 Chicago White Sox Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Alejandro De Aza LF 1 Gavin Floyd RH
2 Alexei Ramirez SS 2 John Danks LH
3 Paul Konerko 1B 3 Jake Peavy RH
4 Adam Dunn DH 4 Philip Humber RH
5 Dayan Viciedo RF 5 Chris Sale LH
6 Alex Rios CF Alt Dylan Axelrod RH
7 A.J. Pierzynski C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Brent Morel 3B CL Matt Thornton LH
9 Gordon Beckham 2B SU Addison Reed RH
Top bench options RP Jesse Crain RH
R Kosuke Fukudome OF RP Jhan Marinez RH
R Brent Lillibridge 1B/OF RP Will Ohman LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Addison Reed 23 RP Majors Majors
Reed will contend for the closer's job this spring, though he may start out in middle relief. He rose all the way from Class A to the majors last year.
2 Nestor Molina 23 SP Double-A Double-A
Acquired from Toronto in exchange for Santos this offsesaon. Molina broke out in Class A last year and could reach the majors later this season.
3 Simon Castro 23 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Castro's command was absent in Triple-A last year, earning him a demotion to Double-A. Gets a fresh start after getting traded from the Padres in the Quentin deal this winter.
4 Tyler Saladino 22 SS Class A Double-A
Saladino has power and patience, which make him attractive as a future Fantasy shortstop. He could arrive in Chicago next season.
5 Dylan Axelrod 26 SP Majors Majors
The soft tosser has good enough control to thrive at the back of the White Sox's rotation. He could settle in there sometime this season.
Best of the rest: Trayce Thompson, OF; Jacob Petricka, SP; Keenyn Walker, OF; Jhan Marinez, RP; Juan Silverio, 3B; Ozzie Martinez, SS; Hector Santiago, RP; Kevan Smith, C; Andre Rienzo, SP; Erik Johnson, SP; Jared Mitchell, OF; Charlie Leesman, SP; Gregory Infante, RP; Jordan Danks, OF; Deunte Heath, RP; Brandon Short, OF.

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

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Player News
Athletics SP Sonny Gray to start Tuesday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(3:26 pm ET) Athletics starter Sonny Gray, who has not pitched since June 25 while dealing with a nasty bout of salmonella poisoning, will return to the rotation Tuesday and make a start against the Yankees. 

The announcement likely means that Gray would not pitch in the All-Star game, since his next start would be July 12, the last game before the break. 

Gray is 9-3 with a 2.09 ERA so far this season. He has allowed just 81 hits in 107 2/3 innings pitched with 97 strikeouts.


Starling Marte leaves Sunday's game with apparent injury
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:15 pm ET) Pirates left fielder Starling Marte left Sunday's game in the fourth injury after suffering an apparent injury to his side, per Fox Sports

Marte swung and missed during an at bat in the fourth inning and clutched his side. Pinch hitter Gregory Polanco finished Marte's at bat. 


Pirates claim Travis Ishikawa off waivers
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) The Pirates claimed first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers on Sunday, per the Pittsburgh Tribune

Ishikawa was designated for assignment by San Francisco on Friday. He started the year on the disabled list, and there was no room for him on the MLB club when he returned.

The Giants called him up from Triple-A briefly in late June, and he was 0 for 5 in six games as a reserve.

In his previous stint with the Pirates, Ishikawa hit .206 in 15 games at the start of 2014, before the team granted him free agency at the end of April. 


Nationals place SP Stephen Strasburg (oblique) on disabled list
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:52 pm ET) The Nationals announced Sunday they have placed starter Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain and recalled pitcher Taylor Jordan from Triple-A, per MLB.com. 

Strasburg left Saturday's start against the Giants after throwing 3 2/3 innings, with what was described as tightness in his side. The team said afterward they would evaluate the injury before making a decision on whether to place the pitcher on the DL. 

Strasburg (5-5) has a 5.16 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 18 walks in 61 innings this season and has already missed time with a variety of injuries this season, including a stay on the disabled list with a neck injury.


Blue Jays outright Todd Redmond to minors
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:48 pm ET) The Blue Jays outrighted pitcher Todd Redmond to Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday. 

Redmond was designated for assignment on Thursday and taken off the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and will be sent to the minors per TSN Radio 1050

Redmond had a 7.31 ERA in six relief appearances and one start with the Jays this year. 


Athletics send 1B Nate Freiman to Triple-A after clearing waivers
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:47 pm ET) First baseman Nate Freiman was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville by the Athletics on Sunday after he cleared waivers, per Bay Area News Group. 

Freiman was designated for assignment on Thursday after the team acquired pitcher Cody Martin. He was hitting .171 at the Triple-A level during a rehab assignment. Freiman spent most of the year on the disabled list with a back injury. 


Mets RP Jerry Blevins (forearm) still not cleared to throw
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:27 pm ET) Mets reliever Jerry Blevins, who is on the 60-day disabled list after suffering a fractured forearm when he was hit by a line drive on April 19, still has not been given the green light to begin throwing, per ESPN.com. 

Blevins (1-0) has four strikeouts in five innings of work this season. He was confined to a splint for six weeks and has been examined several times, yet still is not fully healed.


Braves RP Jason Grilli on the trading block?
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:18 pm ET) Braves closer Jason Grilli is being pursued by several teams in a midseason trade, including the Blue Jays, according to a report from the Boston Globe.

Grilli is a valuable asset given that he can be used as a closer or set-up man, and might not cost the trading team as much in a deal as some of the other relievers on the market. 

Grilli has 22 saves in 24 opportunities this season in addition to a 3-3 record and 2.93 ERA. 


Phillies Jerome Williams headed to Double-A rehab stint
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:10 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Jerome Williams will start a minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Reading, per MLB.com.

Williams has been on the disabled list since mid-June with a strained left hamstring.

Williams is expected to make two rehab starts at Reading and then may be ready to rejoin the Phillies' rotation.


Cardinals' Adam Wainwright ditches walking boot
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:09 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright is no longer using a walking boot, reports Fox Sports Midwest.

Wainwright is recovering from a torn Achilles, which he suffered in April. He is hoping to return for the playoffs.


 
 
 
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