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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
Carlos Quentin exits game with apparent injury
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:13 pm ET) Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin was forced out of Friday's game against the Braves with an apparent injury, according to the U-T San Diego.

Quentin doubled in the third inning and struck out in the fourth inning for the second time on the night. He appeared to be frustrated with himself after striking out and was taken out of the game. He was replaced by Wil Venable in the fourth. Quentin owns a .178/.286/.318 slash line with four homers and 18 RBI in 129 at-bats. His status remains up in the air for Saturday's game.

GM expects Ryan Howard to stay put with Phillies
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:05 pm ET) Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters that first baseman Ryan Howard still has a future with the club. This comes a day after CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported that the Phillies were trying to deal Howard before the July 31 deadline.

"I fully expect him to be our first baseman next year," Amaro said. "I don't know where people are coming up with him not having a future with us. He's a very big part of our organization."

Jack Hannahan could be back from DL Monday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8:59 pm ET) Reds infielder Jack Hannahan could be back from the disabled list as early as Monday against Arizona, MLB.com reports. Hannahan has been sidelined all season after undergoing right shoulder surgery in the offseason. His minor-league rehab stint ends on Sunday, making him eligible to be reinstated Monday.

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by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8:52 pm ET) Giants outfielder Angel Pagan is hitting off live pitching and should be back from the disabled list in the near future, the Bay Area News reports Friday. Still, manager Bruce Bochy has not established a timetable for Pagan's return.

Pagan has been sidelined since June 14 due to a back injury. He was hitting .307/.356/.411 over 241 at-bats prior to the injury.

Brandon Belt making progress in recovery from post-concussion symptoms
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8:49 pm ET) Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that first baseman Brandon Belt is making progress and is "feeling much better" in his recovery from post-concussion symptoms, according to the Bay Area News Group on Friday.

Belt has yet to be cleared to begin physical activities. He owns owns a .242/.304/.455 slash line with 10 homers and 23 RBI in 165 at-bats before the injury. 


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by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) Astros outfielder George Springer has yet to do exercises on his injured quad, according to the Houston Chronicle

Springer hasn't played since July 19 due to the issue, and hit the disabled list July 23. He is currently receiving treatment on the injury, but hasn't been able to do any exercises yet. Springer is hitting .231/.336/.468 over 295 at-bats. 


Ryan Sweeney deposits one into stands, plates four runs vs. Cards
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8:10 pm ET) Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney launched his second home run of the season and plated four runs in a win over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon.

Sweeney took Joe Kelly deep in the second inning for a game-tying three-run home run. He also slapped a run-scoring single in the following frame. He finished 2 for 4 with one run scored and four RBI in a 7-6 victory. He owns a .221/.264/.302 slash line with 15 RBI in 149 at-bats.

Justin Grimm picks up relief win vs. Cards
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8:07 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Justin Grimm (3-2) picked up a relief win Friday afternoon at home against the Cardinals.

Grimm allowed one hit and one walk while striking out two over a scoreless inning of work in the seventh. In the bottom of the frame, Luis Valbuena launched a two-run go-ahead home run, which proved to be the difference. Grimm owns a 4.87 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP over 44 1/3 innings of relief this season.


Travis Wood helps his own cause with HR, settles for no-decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8:04 pm ET) Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood helped his own cause with his third home run of the season, but was unable to factor into the decision Friday afternoon at home against the Cardinals. The southpaw permitted five runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and one walk while striking out five over five innings of a 7-6 victory.

Over his last three starts covering 16 1/3 innings, Wood has allowed 14 earned runs. He owns a 5.06 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP over 21 starts (121 innings). His next start will come Wednesday at home against Colorado.

Kevin Siegrist serves up go-ahead home run vs. Cubs
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(8:00 pm ET) Cardinals relief pitcher Kevin Siegrist (1-2) took the loss Friday afternoon against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Making his first appearance since his return from the disabled list, Siegrist allowed a two-run home run to Luis Valbuena in the seventh inning, which proved to be the difference. The left-hander was charged with two runs on two hits and no walks while striking out two over 1 1/3 innings of a 7-6 defeat. He owns a 4.22 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP over 21 1/3 innings this season.


 
 
 
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