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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
Jurickson Profar's shoulder still not feeling right
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:27 pm ET) Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar, who has spent all of 2014 rehabbing a torn muscle in the back of his armpit, won't play in the Arizona Fall League as hoped, according to the Dallas Morning News, and will instead visit with sports medicine specialists across the country to try and find a resolution to an injury that should have healed long ago.

"He's worked extremely hard, but he hasn't bounced back," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We need to get him right, so we are gathering additional opinions from a number of the best doctors out there. It's been a frustrating case."

Profar was named the top prospect according to Baseball America prior to 2013. His availability for the start of 2015 is at this point unknown.


Orioles shuffle starting rotation
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:19 pm ET) The Orioles will start right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez at the Yankees on Tuesday, allowing them to stick to their plan of giving each of their starting pitchers an extra day of rest heading into the postseason.

"There's a fine line between not having enough rest and having too much rest, so we're trying to have every guy that pitches get one extra day before the start," manager Buck Showalter told the Baltimore Sun. “We're going to try to give everybody, so you're not too far away from the ball but you get a little extra rest. They all seem to respond well to that."

While left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will start Monday at the Yankees, right-hander Chris Tillman won't start again until Friday at Toronto. Miguel Gonzalez will start the team's final game Sunday at Toronto.

As of now, Bud Norris and Kevin Gausman are scheduled to start Wednesday's and Thursday's games at the Yankees, but that could change. Jimenez could end up making a second start before season's end.


Derek Jeter will play final seven games
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:05 pm ET) Manager Joe Girardi told the New York Daily News that he intends to have retiring shortstop Derek Jeter in the starting lineup for each of the Yankees' final seven games.

"Obviously, some of those days are going to be DH days to keep him going," Girardi said.

Jeter has begun his final homestand with four straight multi-hit games, batting .471 (8 for 17) with a home run and two doubles during that stretch.

"He's hit the ball with more authority," Girardi said. "That's the ups and downs of a hitter. A lot of times, when a guy is older and they're going through it, everyone's ready to write him off. That's what happens. That's the nature of the business. But he's swung the bat extremely well."


Marcell Ozuna's ankle injury does him in
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:54 pm ET) According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the ankle sprain Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna suffered Sunday against the Nationals is in fact a high ankle sprain that will sideline him for the final week of the regular season.

First baseman Justin Bour could get more playing time with Ozuna sidelined, with Garrett Jones shifting to the outfield.


Domonic Brown looks good for Tuesday
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:28 pm ET) Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown was out of the starting lineup for a third straight game Sunday at Oakland, but his right hand had healed enough for him to pinch hit. He struck out in his only at-bat.

According to MLB.com, he expects to return Tuesday at Miami.

"It's just a bruise," Brown said. "We took the X-ray and everything came back negative. I'm all good to go."


Alex Avila could return Monday
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:23 pm ET) Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who has missed the last week with renewed symptoms of a concussion he initially suffered in early September, took part in batting practice and a simulated game Sunday and could return to action Monday against the White Sox, according to MLB.com.

"Basically for the last three days, everything was just kind of like a guessing game, kind of just hoping I felt better," Avila said. "Definitely happy that [Saturday] was a good day and I was able to follow that up [Sunday] feeling very well. As soon as they give me the thumbs-up, I'm playing as soon as possible."


Desmond Jennings' season over
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:17 pm ET) Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings, who has been out since Aug. 28 with a sore left knee, will spend the final week of the regular season rehabbing the knee in Tampa Bay while the team travels to Boston and Cleveland, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In other words, his season is over.

Jennings said his knee has shown some improvement during his time away from the field.


Joaquin Benoit returns for Padres
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:58 pm ET) Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, who had been out since Aug. 26 with shoulder discomfort, returned to the mound Sunday against the Giants, striking out two in a perfect ninth inning of an 8-2 victory.

Benoit was the closer before being sidelined by the injury, and the San Diego Union-Tribune reported earlier in the weekend that the Padres would ease him back into that role. Kevin Quackenbush has closed in his absence.


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.

 
 
 
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