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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
A's unable to cash in on seven scoreless innings from Scott Kazmir
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:15 am ET) Athletics starting pitcher Scott Kazmir tossed seven scoreless innings Friday against the Astros. However, he did not factor into the decision, as the game went to extra innings.

Kazmir was involved in quite the pitcher's duel with Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel. While Kazmir went seven scoreless innings, Keuchel threw nine scoreless innings. Kazmir allowed five hits and three walks, while striking out seven.

The veteran left-hander lowered his ERA from 1.33 to 0.99. His next scheduled start is for Thursday against the Angels.


Astros RP Chad Qualls closes out extra-inning win at Oakland
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:10 am ET) Astros reliever Chad Qualls earned his second save of the season during Friday's 5-4 win in 11 innings at Oakland, after closer Luke Gregerson and reliever Pat Neshek both struggled to close out the win.

Gregerson blew his first save of the season in the 10th inning, allowing Oakland to tie the game at 2. Neshek then came on to open the bottom of the 11th inning, but he was gone after allowing two runs on three hits in two-thirds inning. 

Astros manager A.J. Hinch brought on Tony Sipp to face Sam Fuld for the final out, but Sipp walked Fuld to put two runners on base. Hinch then called on Qualls, who retired Brett Lawrie on a fly out to deep center to end the rally.


Astros' Gregerson earns first win after suffering first blown save
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:57 am ET) Astros closer Luke Gregerson earned his first relief win of the season Friday against the A's.

The right-hander entered the game in the bottom of the 10th inning, with Houston ahead 2-0. Unfortunately, he could not hold the lead, as he allowed Oakland to tie the game on a two-out, two-RBI double by Josh Reddick.

He was charged with two runs on three hits and no walks, while striking out one in one inning of work. He suffered his first blown save Friday.

Gregerson (1-0) picked up the win as Houston won the game, 5-4, in the 11th inning. Friday was the first time all season Gregerson allowed a run. He had opened the season with seven scoreless innings.


Astros' Dallas Keuchel throws nine scoreless innings in no-decision
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:51 am ET) Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel tossed nine scoreless innings Friday against the A's. Unfortunately, he did not get the win, as Friday's game was scoreless after nine innings and wasn't decided until the 11th inning.

Keuchel allowed just two hits -- both singles in the third inning. He also walked two and struck out four.

The left-hander, who is 2-0, has now allowed zero runs in three of four starts. He has a 0.62 ERA.

Keuchel will be back on the mound Wednesday at San Diego.


Dodgers reliever Yimi Garcia picks up first save of season
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(1:45 am ET) Dodgers reliever Yimi Garcia (S, 1) tossed a perfect ninth inning against the Padres on Friday to earn his first save of the season.

Garcia struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Garcia has now allowed just one run in 9 2/3 innings (0.93 ERA) this season.

Padres' Andrew Cashner tosses seven strong innings but takes loss
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(1:36 am ET) Padres starter Andrew Cashner (1-3) gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings on Friday but suffered the loss against the Dodgers.

Cashner gave up a home run to Carl Crawford, the left fielder's first of the season.

Cashner struck out six and walked one in the defeat.

Cashner's next start is scheduled for Wednesday against the Astros.

Dodgers SP Zack Greinke moves to 3-0 with seven shutout innings
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(1:32 am ET) Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke (3-0) gave up four hits and struck out seven while not allowing a run in seven innings on Friday to defeat the Padres.

Greinke lowered his ERA to 1.35 following Friday's performance.

Greinke will look to stay perfect in his next start set for Wednesday against the Giants.

Indians' Nick Swisher totals three hits in first rehab game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:31 am ET) Indians first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher (knees) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Friday. Swisher had a pretty good game, going 3 for 5 with two runs and one RBI. He also struck out twice.

Swisher is expected to stay with Columbus through the weekend before the Indians re-evaluated his status early next week.


Nationals' Rendon doubles as he begins rehab assignment Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (knee) began a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on Friday. He went 1 for 2 with one double before being lifted from the game.

Rendon is expected to play at least five days on a rehab assignment.


Angels closer Huston Street improves to 6 for 6 in save chances
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:13 am ET) Angels closer Huston Street ran into some trouble in the ninth inning Friday against the Rangers. However, he still successfully closed out the 3-2 win for his sixth save.

Street opened the inning with two quick outs. However, he then walked the next two batters. Luckily, both runners were stranded as Elvis Andrus grounded out to end the game.

Street had one strikeout. He has not allowed a run in six innings this season.


 
 
 
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