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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
Red Sox C Ryan Hanigan (calf) scratched from lineup Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:16 pm ET) Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan was scratched from Saturday's lineup against the Mets due to a tight calf muscle. Hanigan was set to make his first start behind the plate since Tuesday, but instead he'll give way to Blake Swihart.

The severity of Hanigan's injury is not yet known.


Braves' Williams Perez gets lit up by Yankees, optioned to minors
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:04 pm ET) Braves starter Williams Perez was torched by the Yankees in his outing on Friday. The rookie right-hander was lit up for eight runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings, as the Yankees clobbered the Braves 15-4.

Perez (4-5, 5.56 ERA) gave up five runs in the very first inning, including a three-run home run to Didi Gregorius. He allowed three more in the second before finally getting the hook.

Perez had a dreadful month of August, as he went 0-4 with an ugly 8.44 ERA in five starts--and that includes a complete game, two-run outing that resulted in a loss.

Following his latest blowup, the Braves optioned Perez down to Triple-A Gwinnett.


Giants SS Brandon Crawford (oblique) still out Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:55 pm ET) Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford remains out of the starting lineup Saturday against the Cardinals. Crawford will miss his fourth consecutive game due to an oblique strain.

He is making progress however, as Crawford played catch Saturday for the first time since sustaining the injury on Tuesday. He is also expected to take some swings, though a clear timetable for his return to the lineup has not been revealed. 


White Sox relievers Daniel Webb, Zach Putnam swap places on DL
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:40 pm ET) The White Sox have activated right-handed reliever Daniel Webb from the 15-day disabled list. Webb had been out since early August with a back issue.

To make room for him on the 25-man roster, Zach Putnam has been placed on the 15-day DL with a right groin strain (retroactive to August 27).


Giants C Buster Posey sitting Saturday following rough night
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:48 pm ET) Giants catcher Buster Posey is out of the starting lineup for Saturday's game against the Cardinals. Posey got banged up behind the plate and at the plate on Friday, including getting hit by a pitch in his elbow.

He was likely going to have Saturday off anyway, with a day game following a night game. But his availability for late-inning duties remains in question. Manager Bruce Bochy did say he only expects Posey to miss one game, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Andrew Susac will be the battery-mate for starter Ryan Vogelsong on Saturday.


Red Sox LF Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) still out on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:26 pm ET) Hanley Ramirez's fatigued shoulder will keep him out of the Red Sox lineup for at least one more game, as he is sitting against the Mets on Saturday. Ramirez was scratched from Friday's lineup when his shoulder started acting up, and he was not used in the game.

Alejandro De Aza will take over in left field on Saturday. It is not yet known if Ramirez will be available off the bench.


Blue Jays recall Drew Hutchison to start Saturday; Thole optioned
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:28 am ET) Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison has been recalled to start Saturday's game against the Tigers. Hutchison was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo following his most recent outing, a start on August 16. The Blue Jays did not need a fifth starter up until now, so they moved the young pitcher to the minors to keep him fresh.

Hutchison is 12-2 this year, but he does own a 5.06 ERA over 24 starts with the Jays--a testiment to Toronto's offensive prowess.  

Hutchison did make a start for the Bisons since his demotion, allowing two runs on three hits over four innings on Sunday.

To clear room for him on the roster, catcher Josh Thole has been optioned to Triple-A. He is expected to return to the club shortly after rosters expand on September 1.


Tigers OF J.D. Martinez gets rare day off on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:15 am ET) The Tigers are giving outfielder J.D. Martinez his first day off in over two months, as he is being held out of the starting lineup on Saturday against the Blue Jays. Martinez had started every game for the Tigers since June 24.

The All-Star outfielder has been enjoying a career-year in 2015, and he has maintained his good fortunes lately. Over his last 10 games, Martinez owns a .308 average with three home runs and eight RBI.


Red Sox DH David Ortiz has tight heel, likely to sit Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:24 am ET) Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was lifted from Friday's game against the Mets in the bottom of the eighth inning due to tightness in his left heel. Ortiz left his mark before leaving the game, as he went 2 for 3 with his 27th home run of the season in the 6-4 victory.

Ortiz is unlikely to play on Saturday, and his status for the series-finale on Sunday is still in question.


A's summon Aaron Brooks to start Saturday; Max Muncy optioned
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:10 am ET) Athletics rookie right-hander Aaron Brooks has been called up and will start Saturday's game against the Diamondbacks. Brooks has made four appearances (three starts) since coming over from the Royals in a deal right before the July 31 trade deadline.

His last start came back on August 12, when he was rocked for eight runs over 1 2/3 innings. He pitched in relief two days later and was then sent down to Triple-A. 

To clear room on the roster, infielder Max Muncy was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.


 
 
 
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