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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
Mat Latos officially done for season
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:43 am ET) Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos, who has missed his last two turns in the rotation with a bruised right elbow, will not return to make one last start, according to MLB.com.

"We haven't gotten beyond the game of catch at this time. It hasn't been fluid or completely pain free," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Daniel Corcino will take Latos' final turn Wednesday against the Brewers. After missing the first 2 1/2 months because of surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, Latos went 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 16 starts.


Jay Bruce homers twice, drives in three
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Reds outfielder Jay Bruce sandwiched two solo homers around an RBI single in a 7-2 win Sunday over the Cardinals. Bruce, hitting .217, is up to 18 homers and 65 RBI.

Lance Lynn fans nine in defeat
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Cardinals starter Lance Lynn struck out nine over six innings Sunday, but took the loss in a 7-2 defeat to the Reds. Lynn allowed three runs on four hits, including two homers to Jay Bruce, while walking a pair.

Now 15-10 with a 2.73 ERA, Lynn is scheduled to face Arizona on Saturday.


Alfredo Simon registers 15th win
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon improved to 15-10 Sunday with six strong innings in a 7-2 win over the Cardinals. Simon allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking two, and lowered his ERA to 3.34.

Simon had gone seven innings in four of his previous five starts, and he owned a 17-inning scoreless stretch before the Cards scored in the fifth. He'll take on the Pirates at home Saturday.


Royals done sitting Billy Butler
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Though Billy Butler looked like he may have lost his DH job to Josh Willingham for the first couple weeks after Eric Hosmer returned from a hand injury, Royals manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star Sunday that the longtime Royal will play every day the rest of the way.

Butler went 2 for 4 with an RBI Sunday against the Tigers. It was just his sixth start in the team's last 15 games.


Jed Lowrie exits after getting hit in foot
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie was hit in the foot by a pitch in his first at-bat Sunday against the Phillies, but the Athletics didn't remove him from the game until the fifth inning. Nick Punto took his place.

"He's all right," manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com. "Just got it pretty good on the foot. As a shortstop you have to have your range, and on the ball in the hole he was having a little trouble getting over there."

Lowrie is day to day.


Xander Bogaerts should be back Tuesday
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who left Sunday's game with a stiff neck, should be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Rays, according to the Providence Journal. The injury was the aftereffect of him getting hit by a ricocheted ball in batting practice.

Though Bogaerts is having a so-so rookie season, he has been terrific in September, batting .312 (24 for 77) with four home runs and an .840 OPS.


Pedro Alvarez could return for postseason
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Though Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who hasn't played since Sept. 5, has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season, he could potentially return for the NLDS if the Pirates advance that far, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune. The Pirates are currently tied with the Giants for the top wild card spot.

Alvarez had lost his starting third base job to Josh Harrison even before the injury, but he had begun transitioning to first base, making five starts there.


Jason Heyward has swelling in the thumb
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who was out of the lineup for a third straight game Sunday against the Mets because of a thumb injury, hasn't been able to grip a bat yet because of swelling in the thumb, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He remains day to day.

Chaz Roe designated for assignment
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) The Yankees designated right-hander Chaz Roe for assignment Sunday. Roe made three appearances for them in September, allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks in two innings.

 
 
 
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