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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
Mariners OF Kyle Seager slugs third home run of season Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager connected on his third home run of the season during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Angels.

The two-run home run was hit of Mariners starter Roenis Elias in the fourth inning. Seager also added a double later in the game to finish 2 for 4. It was his first multi-hit game since April 26. He is now hitting .255 on the season.


Angels' Johnny Giavotella hits walk-off double Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:34 am ET) Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella drove in the winning run during Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Mariners.

With the game tied at 3-3 in bottom of the ninth inning, Giavotella hit a double to drive in Erick Aybar for the game-winning run. The double was Giavotella's only hit in four at-bats during the game. He has now hit safely in three-consecutive games.


Angels' Mike Trout smacks seventh home run of season Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:30 am ET) Angels outfielder Mike Trout connected on his seventh home run of the season to help lead the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Mariners on Wednesday.

The two-run home run occurred in the third inning and was hit off Mariners starter Roenis Elias. It was Trout's lone hit in four at-bats during the game. Trout is now hitting .300 on the season


Mariners P Roenis Elias receives no-decision during Wednesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) Despite a solid seven innings of work, Mariners pitcher Roenis Elias was not able to earn a win during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Angels.

Elias surrendered three runs on six hits over seven innings. He also struck out five and walked one. His biggest mistake came in the third inning when he gave up a two-run home run to Mike Trout and he received a no-decision for his effort.

Elias is now 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA on the season. It was his third-consecutive start allowing three runs or less.

His next expected start is scheduled for Wednesday against the Padres.


Angels P C.J. Wilson earns quality start in Wednesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:59 am ET) Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson failed to earn a win during Wednesday's 4-3 victory over the Mariners, but he did receive a quality start for his effort.

Street tossed seven solid innings of work after giving up two runs on seven hits. He also struck out four batters and walked none. His lone mistake was a two-run home run to Kyle Seager in the fourth inning. He lowered his ERA to 2.70.

Wilson was in line for the win during the game, but closer Huston Street was not able to close the game in the ninth. The Angels won the game on a walk-off double from Johnny Giavotella.

Wilson's next expected start is scheduled for Tuesday against the Rockies.


Angels P Huston Street blows first game of season Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:51 am ET) Angels pitcher Huston Street was unable to convert his 10th save of the season during Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Mariners.

Street entered the ninth inning with a one-run lead, but he surrendered two hits to open the inning, which led to Dustin Ackley driving in the tying run on a sacrifice fly. It was his first blown save of the season in 10 opportunities. 

Despite blowing the save, Street picked up the win when the Angels won the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Street is now 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA on the season.


Royals DH Kendrys Morales homers in loss to Indians
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:50 am ET) Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales hit his fourth home run of the season in Wednesday night's 10-3 loss to the Indians. 

Morales homered in the bottom of the fourth inning, which also brought home Lorenzo Cain. The homer didn't matter much as the Indians blew out the Royals in the end. Morales finished the game 1 of 3 and struck out in two other at-bats. He also drew a walk. 

He's now hitting .306/.364/.486 for the season. 


Indians' Brandon Moss hits fifth home run in win over Royals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Indians outfielder Brandon Moss hit his fifth home run of the season in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's 10-3 win over the Royals. 

Moss took a 2-1 pitch to deep right field for the solo homer. He finished the game 2 of 5 with three RBI. The other two RBI he recorded came on a double to right field in the seventh inning. 

Moss is now hitting .241/.298/.506 this season. 


Indians rough up Royals P Danny Duffy in first inning
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:42 am ET) Royals pitcher Danny Duffy had a disastrous start in Wednesday night's 10-3 loss to the Indians. 

Duffy only lasted one inning and allowed four earned runs on six hits. He didn't record any strikeouts and didn't walk anyone. This is his first loss of the season as he's now 2-1. Duffy's ERA is 3.86. 

Duffy's next start is projected for May 11 against the Rangers. 


Indians P Carlos Carrasco strikes out 6 against Royals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco struck out six batters during Wednesday night's 10-3 win over the Royals. 

Carrasco went seven innings and allowed three earned runs. Carrasco threw 98 pitches, gave up five hits and walked two batters. He improved to 4-2 and now has an ERA of 4.71 this season. 

Carrasco's next start is projected for May 12 against the Cardinals. 


 
 
 
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