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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
Yonder Alonso to return Saturday, Jake Goebbert heading back down
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:39 pm ET) Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso is expected to be activated from the disabled list Saturday, according to U-T San Diego. Alonso has been sidelined since mid-June with a hand injury. The team will option Jake Goebbert to Triple-A El Paso prior to the game in Atlanta.

Charlie Morton can't grab a quality start Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:39 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton couldn’t pick up a quality start Friday against the Rockies.

Morton allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked one during the outing. Morton was solid throughout most of the game. Other than a run-scoring double in the third inning, Morton has solid until his final inning of work. Morton came in to pitch in the seventh inning, and immediately ran into trouble. He allowed two doubles to open the frame, and followed that up with a single. At that point, Morton was pulled from the game. After he left, both of his inherited runners came around to score. 

With the loss, Morton dropped to 5-10 on the year. His next start will come against the Giants.


Tyler Pastornicky sent back to Triple-A
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:36 pm ET) The Braves optioned infielder Tyler Pastornicky to Triple-A Gwinnett following Friday's loss to San Diego. Pastornicky hit .200 (8 for 40) with two RBI in the majors.

Josh Hamilton exits game with knee soreness
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:33 pm ET) Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton was forced out of Friday's game at home against the Tigers with a sore left knee. Hamilton left the game in the fourth inning and has been listed as day to day moving forward. He owns a .291/.366/.427 slash line with five homers and 29 RBI in 206 at-bats.

Neftali Feliz picks up his first save
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:29 pm ET) Rangers reliever Neftali Feliz picked up his first save Friday against the Athletics. 

Feliz entered the game with a three-run lead in the ninth inning. He made things interesting, giving up a single and a walk. Feliz was able to work out of the jam, getting the final two outs without giving out a run.

It was Feliz's first save since 2011. 


Jenrry Mejia Ks three, notches 14th save
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:27 pm ET) Mets closer Jenrry Mejia struck out three and worked his way around one walk in a scoreless ninth inning for the save Friday night against the Brewers in Milwaukee. He has converted 14 saves in 16 chances, with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP over 68 1/3 innings of relief this season. 

Yordano Ventura picks up a no decision
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:20 pm ET) Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura picked up a no-decision Friday against the Indians. 

Ventura gave up four runs, three earned, on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked one. Carlos Santana was the main culprit behind Ventura’s struggles. Santana belted a solo shot off Ventura in the fourth inning, and added a two-run shot in the sixth. Ventura pitched into the seventh inning, but was pulled after putting a man on. The runner would come around to score on a sac fly. The run was credited to Ventura.

The game was tied when Ventura left, giving him a no-decision. His next start will come against the Twins.


Josh Tomlin struggles against the Royals
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:19 pm ET) Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin had a tough start against the Royals Friday.

Tomlin allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and did not walk any batters. Home runs proved to be an issue for Tomlin. In the second inning, he allowed two solo shots to Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas. Trouble struck again in the fourth inning. After giving up a single, Tomlin allowed a triple to Raul Ibanez. Ibanez would score on an error. 

The Indians managed to tie the game up, meaning Tomlin received a no-decision. His next start is slated to come against the Mariners. 


Jerome Williams turns in a strong start Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:18 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Jerome Williams tossed a strong start Friday against the Athletics.

Williams allowed one run on five hits over six innings. He struck out four and did not issue any walks against one of baseball’s best offensive clubs. Williams got off to a fantastic start, tossing five scoreless innings to open the game. He started to run out of gas in the sixth. After giving up two singles to open the inning, Williams allowed a run-scoring single to Yoenis Cespedes. He was able to get out of the inning unscathed after that play. 

With the win, Williams improved to 2-4 on the year. If he gets another start, it would likely come against the Yankees. 


Carlos Torres picks up relief win Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:17 pm ET) Mets reliever Carlos Torres (5-4) picked up a relief win Friday night against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

The right-hander permitted one hit and struck out one in a scoreless eighth inning. The Mets exploded for three runs in the top of the ninth, which proved to be the difference, Torres owns a 2.93 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP over 61 1/3 innings of relief.


 
 
 
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