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2012 Fantasy outlooks: San Francisco Giants

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Despite owning one of the worst offenses in the majors, the Giants' defense of their 2010 World Series title went smoothly well into the second half of the season. They led the National League West as late as August 9, but then they lost 17 out of their next 28 games. A strong September finish was not enough to get the Giants back to the postseason, leaving the organization to ponder how to retool for the 2012 campaign.

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The club's offseason moves suggest the organization thinks it had the right formula in 2010 and 2011. The pitching staff will go largely unchanged, though control-challenged lefty Jonathan Sanchez was dealt to the Royals and bullpen righty Ramon Ramirez was sent to the Mets. The Sanchez trade netted Melky Cabrera, who will replace retired Pat Burrell and departed free agent Cody Ross in left field. Ramirez was packaged with Andres Torres to bring in center fielder Angel Pagan. Midseason acquisition Carlos Beltran was allowed to leave as a free agent, completing the turnover of the outfield and giving defensive whiz Nate Schierholtz an opportunity to play regularly in right field.

The Giants will once again rely on pitching and the upgrade of their defense should reinforce an existing strength. However, they lost their best hitter in Beltran and unless Cabrera can take a step up from his surprising 2011 performance, an already-weak offense will sustain a stomach punch. Pablo Sandoval becomes the Giants' most potent bat and at least he will enjoy the benefit of getting Buster Posey back in the lineup. The young catcher missed the last four months of the season after his nasty home plate collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins, but he enters spring training ready to catch and hit. To minimize the strain on his ankle and leg Posey will spend some time at first base as well as behind the plate this season.

Posey won't be the only key regular to return from a season-ending injury. Closer Brian Wilson faltered last season, particularly down the stretch, as he battled an elbow strain, but he is reportedly pain-free for the start of spring training. Freddy Sanchez will make his return from shoulder surgery, teaming up with sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford as the team's double-play combination. Aubrey Huff wasn't shut down but he was limited to 50 plate appearances in September due to back issues. He is the favorite to return as the regular first baseman, though he will have to fend off Brandon Belt and Brett Pill.

The Giants don't have as balanced of an attack as the Diamondbacks or the middle-of-the-order thump of the Rockies, but their rotation and bullpen are strong enough to make them contenders. In fact, if Posey has a successful comeback and the inconsistent Huff can pull out one more rebound season, the Giants could provide their pitchers with a little more -- and much-needed -- support. A return to the playoffs is not out of the question but with so many uncertainties looming, neither is a record around .500.

Sleeper...Angel Pagan, OF

Pagan has been a very good line drive hitter over the last three seasons and his gap-hitting approach enabled him to hit .306 in 2009 and .290 in 2010. He continued to lace the ball in 2011 but his batting average on line drives was curiously low at .645 (last season, the major league average was .722). Despite a sizeable reduction in his strikeout rate Pagan hit just .262 overall in 2011. If he can maintain the improvement in his contact skills, a .300 batting average could be a fait accompli. Pagan stole 32 bases last season despite a diminished batting average and missed time due to an oblique injury. With the potential for 40-plus steals and a high average in 2012, Pagan could return to being the top 25 outfielder he was two seasons ago.

Bust...Melky Cabrera, OF

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After seemingly everyone had given up on Cabrera as a bona fide starting outfielder, the Royals gave him a shot as their center fielder last year. Cabrera seized the opportuntity and gave the Royals his best season by far, hitting .305 with 18 homers and 20 steals. What really stood out were his 44 doubles, which blew away his previous career high of 28. A .309 batting average on grounders helped Cabrera boost his doubles total, but that batting average bested his marks from the previous two seasons by more than 80 points. That's a trend that has regression written all over it and a lower overall batting average will mean fewer runs and stolen bases as well. Though Cabrera was a top 10 outfielder last season, this year he is likely to perform more like a low-end No. 3 outfielder.

One-hit wonder...Ryan Vogelsong, SP

After five less-than-successful seasons with the Pirates and four more years away from the majors, Vogelsong became something like a precursor to the Knicks' Jeremy Lin. Discarded by several organizations, Vogelsong became a phenomenon when he turned a stellar first-half performance into a spot on the NL All-Star squad. Over the first three months of the season, Vogelsong did many things he failed to do earlier in his career: reduce his walks, induce grounders and strand baserunners. Those tendencies, particularly the first two, trailed off in the second half. Vogelsong still posted a 3.26 ERA after the All-Star break but he continued to get a lot of help from a high strand rate. That is unlikely to continue in to 2012 and instead of being the top 40 starting pitcher he was a year ago, Vogelsong could have a difficult time finding relevance in standard mixed leagues again other than as a target for streaming on and off waivers.

2012 San Francisco Giants Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Angel Pagan CF 1 Tim Lincecum RH
2 Melky Cabrera LF 2 Matt Cain RH
3 Pablo Sandoval 3B 3 Madison Bumgarner LH
4 Buster Posey C 4 Ryan Vogelsong RH
5 Aubrey Huff 1B 5 Barry Zito LH
6 Nate Schierholtz RF Alt Brian Burres LH
7 Freddy Sanchez 2B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Brandon Crawford SS CL Brian Wilson RH
Top bench options SU Sergio Romo RH
R Brandon Belt 1B/OF RP Javier Lopez LH
R Mike Fontenot IF RP Jeremy Affeldt LH
R Eli Whiteside C RP Santiago Casilla RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Gary Brown 23 OF Class A Double-A
Brown, a speedy contact hitter, showed surprising power with 14 home runs in Class A. He could be Giants' starting center fielder in 2013.
2 Joe Panik 21 SS Class A Class A
Panik should hit for a high average when he arrives in the majors within the next two years, though he may get moved to second base.
3 Tommy Joseph 20 C Class A Double-A
Joseph has already developed impressive power, though his other skills lag behind. He could eventually move Buster Posey to first base.
4 Eric Surkamp 24 SP Majors Triple-A
The soft-throwing lefty could fare well at AT&T Park eventually but Surkamp needs some time at Triple-A first.
5 Hector Sanchez 22 C Majors Majors
Sanchez has a chance to be on the opening day roster. He has some power potential and may be viable in deeper NL-only leagues this year.
Best of the rest: Andrew Susac, C; Heath Hembree, RP; Francisco Peguero, OF; Brett Pill, 1B; Kyle Crick, SP; Ehire Adrianza, SS; Josh Osich, SP; Clayton Blackburn, SP; Mike Kickham, SP; Seth Rosin, SP; Jarrett Parker, OF; Ricky Oropesa, 1B; Joan Gregorio, SP; Jesus Galindo, OF; Conor Gillaspie, 3B; Charlie Culberson, 2B, Chris Dominguez, 3B; Roger Kieschnick, OF; Angel Villalona, 1B.

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
White Sox reliever Jake Petricka (forearm) has put injury behind him
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(10:31 pm ET) Jake Petricka, who was activated from the disable list on Monday and called up by the White Sox, said his right-forearm strain injury was minor and that he's ready to go for the whole season, per MLB.com.

"It was a matter of getting rid of that soreness, and time wasn't on our side in spring and now we are here," Petricka said. "It was a matter of getting it feeling good again .. But it's over and now let's have a good long season."

Petricka is in his third season as a reliever with the White Sox.

Reds shortstop Zack Cozart cracks second homer of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:21 pm ET) Reds shortstop Zack Cozart went 1 for 4 at the plate in Cincinnati's 6-1 win over the Brewers Monday. 

His one hit was key though, as he broke the game wide open with a three-run home run over the left field wall in the sixth inning off Wily Peralta to give the Reds a 4-0 lead. It was Cozart's second home run of the year and now boasts a .326 average with five RBI in 46 at-bats.


Tigers DH Victor Martinez says he's fine to play on Tuesday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(10:20 pm ET) Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez told manager Brad Ausmus that he was fine after crossing the plate for the Tigers' winning run Monday and that he wants to play on Tuesday against the Yankees, per the Detroit Free Press.

Martinez went 0 for 2 with a walk in the win.

Mariners pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen still not cleared to begin throwing
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:17 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen has still not been cleared to begin throwing since suffering a hyperextended elbow April 11, according to MLB.com.

Wilhelmsen, who is currently on the 15-day DL with the injury, doesn't have any structural damage and is waiting for the dye from the MRI to clear out of his system and the pain to go away before resuming throwing.

"I'm feeling loads better," Wilhelmsen said. "All the fluid from the MRI is finally out of my arm. I was expecting to throw about a week after it happened, but they put the ink in there, and that lingers. Today is the first day where I haven't had any aches or anything due to it."

He is hoping to throw Friday.

"Structurally, everything is strong and secure, and I'm good to go," he said. "The plan now is to throw maybe Friday."


Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke to start Friday, not Thursday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:04 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke will make his next start Friday instead of Thursday against the Giants, manager Don Mattingly said per the L.A. Times.

Mattingly wants to be able to keep Greinke fresh early in the season and has nothing to do with San Francisco's early struggles, according to the report.

"It's too early for any of that," Mattingly said. "This is really just our guys getting rest."

Greinke is 2-0 in three starts this season with a 1.83 ERA and 14 strikeouts.


Rockies' Wilin Rosario still adjusting to first base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:56 pm ET) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario is still looking to figure things out at his new position, first base. Rosario misplayed a couple of ground balls Friday, but manager Walt Weiss still has faith in him figuring it out, according to the Denver Post.

"Both plays at first were not routine plays," Weiss said. "The ball down the line was a difficult play. ... The other was a throw in the dirt that he didn't pick. But he's working really hard and has a great attitude. I haven't backed off that all — having him at first."

Rosario is hitting .333 in 12 at-bats this season.


Mark Teixeira connects for fourth HR, ties A-Rod for Yankees' lead
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) First baseman Mark Teixeira provided the only offense for the Yankees in their loss on Monday, a solo home run in the second inning.

Teixeira now has four homers on the season which ties him with Alex Rodriguez for the team lead.

Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun cracks first home run Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:47 pm ET) Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun went 1 for 4 at the plate in Milwaukee's 6-1 loss to the Reds Monday. Braun was kept quiet by starter Anthony DeSclafani, but found success in the ninth on Burke Badenhop. He ripped the first shot he saw from Badenhop over the center field wall for his first home run of the year.

Braun is now hitting .238 with three RBI in 42 at-bats this season.


Reds first baseman Joey Votto rips fifth home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:46 pm ET) Reds first baseman Joey Votto went 2 for 4 at the plate Monday in Cincinnati's 6-1 win over the Brewers.

Votto struggled in his first two at-bats but was able to reach base in the sixth with a single. He was called out at home when trying to score on a grounder in the infield with the bases loaded. Votto then crushed the first pitch he saw from Wily Peralta over the left center field wall for a two-run blast, scoring Billy Hamilton.

It was Votto's fifth home run and 12th RBI of the year, leading the team in all offensive categories.


Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta allows six runs in losing effort Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:46 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta allowed six runs on eight hits in Milwaukee's 6-1 loss to the Reds Monday. 

Peralta worked efficiently through his first five innings of work before finding trouble in the sixth. He allowed the first three runs to reach base safely in the inning before getting Marlon Byrd to ground into an out at home plate. Then, Brayan Pena hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring in the first run of the game.

Then, Zack Cozart opened the flood gates with a three-run home run over the left field wall, driving in Byrd and Jay Bruce. Peralta also allowed a two-run shot to Joey Votto in the seventh before being pulled in the eighth.

Peralta, now 0-2, boasts a 5.68 ERA and will look for his first win of the year Saturday against the Cardinals.


 
 
 
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