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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
Marlins place Henderson Alvarez, Matt Latos on disabled list
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:53 pm ET) After throwing five innings during Friday's 8-5 loss to the Orioles, the Marlins placed pitcher Henderson Alvarez on the 15-day disabled list, the team announced.

Alvarez is suffering from right shoulder inflammation. During Friday's start, Alvarez allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits. He struck out two batters and walked four. He is now 0-4 with a 6.45 ERA. Prior to Friday's start, it was revealed that Alvarez had been pitching with a torn UCL for years.

In addition to Alvarez, the team also placed starting pitcher Mat Latos on the 15-day disabled list Friday. Latos is dealing with left knee inflammation. He surrendered six runs during his last start Thursday.


Yankees P Michael Pineda struggles in loss to Rangers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:49 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda gave up seven runs — four earned — in Friday night's 10-9 loss to the Rangers. 

Pineda gave up eight hits and one walk while striking out four. He gave up two home runs — one to Prince Fielder and one to Mitch Moreland. He now has a 3.59 ERA this season. 

After five consecutive games with three earned runs or less, Pineda has hit a bit of a skid with nine in his last two, along with 18 total hits. Pineda's record is still a strong 5-2 with not a lot to be concerned about with him despite his past two outings.

Pineda's next start is projected for May 27 against the Royals. 


Rangers go with Ross Ohlendorf late, he picks up save
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:41 pm ET) With Shawn Tolleson not available, the Rangers relied on Ross Ohlendorf in Friday's save situation. 

Ohlendorf came through, recording his first save of the season in Friday night's 10-9 win over the Yankees. 

Ohlendorf struck out two batters but allowed a home run and a walk. This was the first run Ohlendorf has allowed this season in three innings. He now holds a 3.00 ERA. 


Indians 2B Jason Kipnis collects three hits in Friday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:38 pm ET) Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis went 3 for 4 at the plate to lead the Indians to a 7-3 win over the Reds on Friday.

Kipnis scored two runs and also drove in two runs and walked once during the game. He is now batting .337 on the season.

Prior to his three-hit game Friday, Kipnis had been hitting .222 with no RBI in his last five games.


Rangers P Colby Lewis gets win but gives up 5 earned runs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:38 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis added a win to his record even though his performance in Friday's 10-9 victory over the Yankees wasn't his best. 

Lewis gave up five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. Four of those runs came in the fourth inning, with three on a home run from Didi Gregorius. This is the second consecutive game that Lewis, 35, has allowed five earned runs. 

Lewis allowed 12 earned runs in his first seven starts but has given up 10 in his past two. Lewis now has an ERA of 3.49. 

His next start is projected for May 27 against the Indians. 


Indians OF Brandon Moss drives in three runs Friday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:32 pm ET) Indians outfielder Brandon Moss drove in three runs to lead the Indians to a 7-3 victory over the Reds on Friday.

Moss went 2 for 4 during the game. His biggest hit came in the third inning when he hit a solo home run off Mike Leake.

Prior to his two-hit game Friday, Moss had been hitting .200 with one home run in his last five games.


White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez gets 3 singles
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:30 pm ET) White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez went 3 for 4 during Friday night's 3-2 victory over the Twins. 

This is the second time this season that Ramirez has recorded three hits in a game. All three of hits on Friday were singles. 

Ramirez is now hitting .250/.268/.358. 


White Sox get 8 hits on Twins P Phil Hughes
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:25 pm ET) Twins pitcher Phil Hughes gave up two earned runs in Friday evening's 3-2 loss to the White Sox. 

It was a mixed bag for Hughes, who kept the run total low but did give up eight hits. He struck out three batters and walked one. This is the third game in his last four that he's allowed at least eight hits. 

Hughes now has an ERA of 4.50 this season. 

His next start is projected for May 27 against the Red Sox. 


Reds SP Mike Leake walks five batters during Friday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:23 pm ET) Reds pitcher Mike Leake had trouble with his command during Friday's 7-3 loss to the Indians.

Leake walked five batters during the outing, which was one shy of his season high. He was only able to pitch four innings and gave up five runs on seven hits during the start. He also surrendered a home run to Brandon Moss in the third inning.

Leake has given up 14 runs over his last two starts and failed to pitch past the fifth inning. His next expected start is scheduled for Wednesday against the Rockies.


White Sox P David Robertson converts save opportunity
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:16 pm ET) White Sox pitcher David Robertson picked up his ninth save of the season in Friday night's 3-2 win over the Twins. 

Robertson pitched the ninth inning and struck out two batters, improving his ERA to 0.98 for the season. This is the fourth time Robertson has earned a save in his past five appearances. 

His two strikeouts snaps a two-game streak where he didn't record one. 


 
 
 
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