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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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Ryan Zimmerman to 'ramp up' throwing sessions
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:11 pm ET) Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman will "ramp up" his throwing sessions, according to MLB.com.

Zimmerman threw for the first time Thursday, and did not report any issues with his hamstring Friday. Manager Matt Williams said Zimmerman was "on his way" back. Zimmerman hit .282/.345/.456 over 195 at-bats prior to tearing his hamstring. 


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(7:40 pm ET) Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock will begin his rehab assignment again Tuesday, according to FoxSports.com.

Pollock will begin his assignment at Triple-A Reno. Pollock had been on a rehab assignment, but needed extra time after being hit on the same hand he broke earlier in the season. He's been out since May 31 with the injury.


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(7:13 pm ET) Athletics infielder Nick Punto is not ready for baseball activities yet, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Punto is dealing with a hamstring injury, and hasn't come along as quickly as expected. He's been out since August 2 due to the issue. Punto is hitting .207 over 179 at-bats.


Kyle Blanks to have MRI Friday
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(7:09 pm ET) Athletics infielder Kyle Blanks will have an MRI on his feet, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Blanks said both his feet have started bothering him on his rehab assignment. He's been sidelined since June 22 due to a calf injury. It doesn't look like he'll be able to join the major-league club any time soon.


Cory Luebke able to play catch
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(7:03 pm ET) Padres pitcher Cory Luebke started a throwing program Saturday, according to MLB.com.

Luebke is recovering after his second Tommy John surgery. His throwing schedule has been slightly altered this time around. Luebke will take more time between throwing sessions. There's still no timetable for his return. 


Hitters to sit in Week 22
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:45 pm ET) So you're thinking of starting Mike Zunino, Allen Craig, Neil Walker, Casey McGehee, Brock Holt or Josh Hamilton in Fantasy Week 22 (Aug. 25-31)? That may not be such a great idea.

Check out the latest Start and Sit Hitters to find out why.


Hitters to start in Week 22
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:44 pm ET) Looking for a sleeper hitter for Fantasy Week 22 (Aug. 25-31)? You may just find him in the latest Start and Sit Hitters. Stephen Vogt, Justin Morneau, Jedd Gyorko, Martin Prado, J.J Hardy and Michael Morse are all labeled "starts" for the upcoming scoring period, with several other sleeper suggestions sprinkled throughout.

Be sure to give it a look before setting your lineup.


Jed Lowrie not ready to throw or hit yet
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(6:42 pm ET) Athletics infielder Jed Lowrie is not ready to throw or hit yet, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Lowrie did say his injured finger was getting better. He's hoping to begin throwing and hitting drills in a few days. Lowrie has been sidelined since August 13 with a fractured finger. 


Marcus Semien could soon factor in Fantasy
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:40 pm ET) By trading Gordon Beckham to the Angels Thursday, the White Sox created a big hole up the middle that, for now at least, they'll attempt to fill with some combination of Carlos Sanchez and Leury Garcia. But neither figures to make as much of an impact long-term as Marcus Semien, who Fantasy owners may remember for the splash he made back in April and May filling in for an injured Beckham and then an injured Conor Gillaspie.

His final numbers didn't look so hot, but he showed his potential with a couple nice weeks. When the White Sox finally shipped him to Triple-A Charlotte, he slumped so badly that he fell off the radar for a while, but he's rebounded in July and August, batting .288 (51 for 177) with six homers and 14 doubles. Most encouraging is his exceptional on-base percentage during that time thanks to a 35-to-30 strikeout to walk ratio. His plate discipline put him on the map as a prospect last year but hasn't been as evident during his time in the big leagues so far.

So why isn't he up yet? Good question, but MLB.com has reported he will be when rosters expand in September. My guess is he gets most of the at-bats then, and with an Ian Kinsler-like combination of power and speed, I could see him making an impact in Fantasy.


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(6:35 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed another bullpen session Friday, according to MLB.com.

Ryu has been sidelined with a glute injury since August 13. He also threw from the bullpen mound Thursday. Ryu has a 3.28 ERA over 137 1/3 innings.


 
 
 
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