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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
Mike Olt hits fourth homer Tuesday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:19 am ET) Cubs third baseman Mike Olt continued his all-or-nothing season Tuesday, clubbing his fourth home run of the season in a 9-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

Olt went 1 for 4 in the game and struck out twice, giving him eight strikeouts in the last four games. Still, he clubbed a three-run shot in the fifth inning to provide what would ultimately be the winning margin in the game.

Olt is hitting just .195, but is providing the kind of power that became his calling card in the minors. Of his eight hits in 16 games, four are home runs and five are for extra bases. He has a .195/.250/.512 line in 41 at-bats. 


Chase Headley hits second home run in big spot
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:12 am ET) Padres third baseman Chase Headley is showing some signs of life, as he ended a power drought and brought his batting average to the Mendoza line in a 2-1 win over the Brewers Tuesday.

Headley slugged his first home run in nine games Tuesday, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. He went deep in the 12th inning to provide the winning run in the game, and finished 2 for 4 overall with a  walk and strikeout added.

Headley is hitting just .200 through 18 games with two home runs and seven RBI, but has hit safely in four of five games to raise his average 40 points. 


Ben Revere racks up four hits in win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:09 am ET) Phillies outfielder Ben Revere did his job Tuesday, reaching base four times in a 3-2 win over the win over the Dodgers.

Revere doesn't walk much in general, so each of his times on base came via a single, as he went 4 for 5 at the top of the order. He scored just once, while adding his sixth stolen base of the season.

Revere has raised his batting average in recent days, and is now hitting exactly .300 through 18 games. He has a .319 on-base percentage and .329 slugging percentage in 70 at-bats as well, with 10 runs scored. 


Dee Gordon passes concussion test
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:06 am ET) Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon took and passed a concussion test after leaving Tuesday's game, as he told the O.C. Register. He suffered a head injury while sliding into third base in the seventh inning, but appears to have avoided the worst-case scenario. His status is likely day to day moving forward. 

Jonathan Papelbon nearly flawless in return from illness
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:03 am ET) Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was able to take the mound for a save opportunity Tuesday against the Dodgers, despite missing the team's previous game with an illness. He had little trouble taking care of the Dodgers in the outing, retiring them on seven pitches despite allowing a two-out single. He induced a trio of flyballs to retire the side, earning his sixth save in seven chances.

Papelbon has allowed a run in just one of his nine appearances this season, as he has pitched better than his 3.24 ERA might indicate. He has seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings, while allowing three walks and seven hits total. 


Hyun-Jin Ryu settles for no-decision in extra-innings loss
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:59 am ET) Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu continued his strong pitching Tuesday against the Phillies, though he did allow runs for just the second time in the 3-2 loss.

Ryu settled for a no-decision despite tossing his fourth quality start in six trips to the mound. He allowed just two runs despite scattering nine hits and a pair of walks. Ryu didn't have his best stuff, striking out just three batters for the second straight start, while throwing 68 of 106 pitches for strikes.

Ryu has been mostly stellar this season, and has a 3-1 record and 2.12 ERA in 34 innings of work. His next start is set for Sunday against the Rockies. 


A.J. Burnett remains solid, winless
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:53 am ET) Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett had a good day at the mound and the plate Tuesday, but ended up having to settle for a no-decision in a 3-2, extra-innings win.

Burnett limited the Dodgers to just two runs in 6 2/3 innings of work, his third quality start in five trips to the mound. He scattered six hits and a walk in his six-plus innings while striking out five, but remains winless on the season, as the Phillies offense gave him little support in the no-decision.

Burnett is off to a solid start to the season, despite an 0-1 record. He has a 2.73 ERA in five starts, and will look for his first win in his next start, Sunday in Arizona. 


Dee Gordon forced out with head injury
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:49 am ET) Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon was forced to leave Tuesday's game against the Phillies late, due to an apparent head injury. He suffered the injury sliding into third base on a steal in the seventh inning, and left after scoring later in the inning.

The extent of Gordon's injury is not yet known, though he will likely go through the league's concussion protocol Tuesday night. He went 2 for 3 before suffering the injury to raise his season average to .369. 


Pedro Figueroa exits game Tuesday with elbow injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:47 am ET) Rangers pitcher Pedro Figueroa was removed from Tuesday's game against the A's after suffering an elbow injury, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Figueroa threw just one pitch in the game, hitting a batter. He immediately began shaking his arm and was removed after a visit from the trainer. The team will likely have him undergo an MRI. Figueroa owns a 4.00 ERA and 3:3 K:BB ratio in nine innings.


LaTroy Hawkins pitches around trouble for save
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins didn't have to pitch the full inning for the save Tuesday, but still almost blew his first save before finding his way in a 2-1 win.

Hawkins entered the game with one out already recorded in the ninth, thanks to lefty-specialist Rex Brothers' work against Brandon Belt. Hawkins played with fre by allowing the first two batters faced to reach base via a walk and single, before ending the threat and recording his sixth save in as many tries.

Hawkins has six saves, a 1.23 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in eight appearances this season, though he also only has three strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. 


 
 
 
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