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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Texas Rangers

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The Rangers represented the American League in the World Series for the second straight year, capping off a season that produced a franchise-best 96 regular season wins. If not for David Freese's run-producing shot that soared just over the outstretched glove of Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the ninth in Game 6, the Rangers would have secured their first World Series championship.

After losing their ace, C.J. Wilson, to the Angels via free agency this offseason, one might have thought that the Rangers were preparing to cede the AL West to their SoCal rivals. With the signings of Wilson and Albert Pujols, the Angels made the biggest splashes in the free agent market, but the Rangers didn't exactly sit on their hands, as they signed righty Yu Darvish to a six-year, $60 million deal. In addition to luring Darvish away from the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League, Texas made another tweak to their rotation, moving closer Neftali Feliz back to the starting role he occupied as a minor league prospect. To make room for Feliz, manager Ron Washington sent Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen, where he started his major league career two seasons ago. Along with Mike Adams, Ogando will set up for closer Joe Nathan, who was added on a two-year deal back in November.

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While the Rangers made substantial changes to their pitching staff, they decided to stand pat with their regulars. The team will once again have one of the majors' most potent lineups, with Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus setting the table and Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz filling out the middle of the order. When you boast a lineup that likely features Mike Napoli, who has clouted more than 25 homers in each of the last two seasons, in the seventh spot, opposing pitchers can't expect to get many breaks. The one area of uncertainty in the lineup is in center field. Josh Hamilton started 30 games there a year ago, and he should get some playing time there again in 2012, but Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin will also vie for a share of the starts.

With a packed lineup, the Rangers will continue to be a threat in the AL West. However, their ability to seize a third straight division title may rest on whether Darvish can successfully adjust to the majors and on Colby Lewis' and Derek Holland's ability to help him to replace Wilson's production. Even at their best, the Rangers' rotation probably can't match the Angels', but their offense will keep them in the picture as serious title contenders.

Bust ... Elvis Andrus, SS

Andrus has been very consistent since his arrival in the majors back in 2009 as a 20-year-old. However, consistency isn't necessarily what Fantasy owners are looking for from a young hitter. Before a player reaches his peak, owners would ideally like to see growth, but Andrus hasn't provided many signs of progress. He has yet to develop much power, build on his walk rate or break the 40-steals barrier. Andrus has reduced his strikeouts, though we have yet to see it have much effect on his batting average. He is still plenty young enough to have a breakout season, and because of his youth, many owners may assume that it is coming this year. However, there are no signs of it occurring anytime soon, and he could wind up underperforming his draft position for many owners.

Impact 2012 prospect ... Yu Darvish, SP

At 25 and as a veteran of the Japanese Pacific League, Darvish isn't a prospect in the usual sense, but in making his major league debut this spring, he will face many of the same challenges and uncertainties that young players from the minor leagues face. We won't know until he takes the mound how well Darvish will respond, but we know two things for certain. He will be given a prominent role in the Rangers' rotation and will keep it all year long, barring an injury. Also, he comes to North America with an even better track record in the Japanese leagues than Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hiroki Kuroda and Hideo Nomo. While there is risk involved in drafting Darvish, there is clearly a lot to like here.

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Bounce-back ... Joe Nathan, RP

Coming back successfully from Tommy John surgery is no sure thing, and to look at Nathan's stats from last season, it would be easy to assume that he didn't enjoy much of a triumphant return. Overall, he compiled a 4.84 ERA and a higher-than-normal 1.16 WHIP, but much of the damage was done during the first three weeks of the season. In just his first seven appearances with the Twins last year, Nathan allowed eight earned runs over 6 1/3 innings, and he blew a pair of saves. The rest of the way, his ERA was a more respectable 3.76, and an 0.99 WHIP shows that he mostly suffered from stranding too few baserunners. Now with the Rangers, Nathan is fully recovered from his surgery and should continue to do a solid job of keeping runners off the basepaths, as well as a better job of preventing them from scoring. Though you probably won't need to draft him early, Nathan could return to performing like a No. 1 Fantasy reliever.

2012 Texas Rangers Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Colby Lewis RH
2 Elvis Andrus SS 2 Derek Holland LH
3 Josh Hamilton CF 3 Yu Darvish RH
4 Adrian Beltre 3B 4 Matt Harrison LH
5 Michael Young DH 5 Neftali Feliz RH
6 Nelson Cruz RF Alt Scott Feldman RH
7 Mike Napoli C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 David Murphy LF CL Joe Nathan RH
9 Mitch Moreland 1B SU Mike Adams RH
Top bench options RP Alexi Ogando RH
R Craig Gentry OF RP Mark Lowe RH
R Yorvit Torrealba C RP Michael Kirkman LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Yu Darvish 25 SP DNP -- in Japan Majors
A sensation in Japan with a mid-90s fastball, Darvish could quickly become the Rangers' ace, but he will start off in the middle of the rotation.
2 Jurickson Profar 19 SS Class A Class A
Profar has great strike zone recognition for such a young player. He is still at least a couple of years away and may get moved to a new position.
3 Mike Olt 23 3B Class A Double-A
Olt put on a historically-good hitting display in the Arizona Fall League but still has to work on his contact skills. He could rise quickly.
4 Leonys Martin 24 OF Majors Triple-A
Martin will get a shot at being the Rangers' starting center fielder. If he wins out, he could help owners with steals, and he has a strong batting eye.
5 Martin Perez 21 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Perez could eventually be a near-elite starting pitcher, but if the lefty contributes in 2012, it will likely be as a reliever.
Best of the rest: Neil Ramirez, SP; Rougned Odor, 2B; Cody Buckel, SP; Jorge Alfaro, C; Christian Villanueva, 3B; Robbie Ross, SP; Roman Mendez, SP; Tanner Scheppers, RP; Jake Skole, OF; Justin Grimm, SP; Will Lamb, SP; Kevin Matthews, SP; Miguel De Los Santos, SP; Ronald Guzman, OF; Nomar Mazara, OF; Luke Jackson, SP; Odubel Herrera, 2B; Luis Sardinas, SS; Barret Loux, SP; Justin Miller, RP; Matt West, RP; Leury Garcia, SS; Tommy Mendonca, 3B; Johan Yan, RP.

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
Trevor Cahill earns first career save in extras
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:35 am ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Cahill made his first relief appearance of the season Friday, earning his first career save in a 4-2 extra innings win over the Dodgers.

Cahill pitched the bottom of the 12th inning after regular closer Addison Reed blew the save in the ninth. With the Diamondbacks up two, he worked a perfect frame, striking out one batter and finishing the inning on 11 pitches.

Cahill struggled mightily as a starter this season, particularly with his control, walking 13 batters in 18 2/3 innings. Still, he does have 18 strikeouts to go with his 8.68 ERA. 


Addison Reed blows first save on homer
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:30 am ET) Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed was given a one-run lead to protect Friday, and could not hold it as he blew his first save of the season vs. the Dodgers.

Reed allowed a solo home run with one out in the ninth, tying the game, 2-2. He finished the inning by recording consecutive flyball outs to send it into extra innings, where the Diamondbacks would go on to win, 4-2.

Reed now has three saves in four opportunities, and has allowed four runs in nine innings of work on the season.   


Wade Miley solid despite wildness
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:27 am ET) Diamondbacks starting pitcher Wade Miley was effectively wild Friday, but settled for a no-decision in a 4-2 extra-innings win over the Dodgers.

MIley allowed just one run in six innings of work, despite tossing five walks. He limited the Dodgers to just a pair of hits and was helped along by matching a season-high with eight strikeouts. He exited the game without a chance to win, as his seventh-inning solo home run allowed left the score tied, 1-1.

Miley has been a bit hit-or-miss this season, with just two quality starts in five trips to the mound. He is 2-2 with a 4.35 ERA in five starts, heading into his Wednesday start against the Cubs. 


Zack Greinke settles for first no-decision Friday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:23 am ET) Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke twirled another strong start Friday against the Diamondbacks, but received little help in a no-decision.

Greinke limited the Diamondbacks to just one run in six innings of work, while allowing three hits and a pair of walks. He matched his season-high in strikeouts with eight for the third start in a row, but exited the game in line for a 1-0 loss before a rally sent it to extras and got him off the hook.

Greinke has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his three starts, and all but one of his six total runs has come by way of a home run. He has 29 strikeouts to four walks in 22 1/3 innings, and is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA heading into his next start, Wednesday against the Phillies. 


Giancarlo Stanton walks Marlins off in grand fashion
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:18 am ET) Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton played a big part in Miami's 8-4 win over the Mariners, but it wasn't all positive.

Stanton cost the team an early lead with a two-run error in the second inning, and had to make amends late. He drove in one run with an RBI single in the first inning, but made his biggest impact felt late in the game. He clubbed a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning to secure the win, fiishing the game 3 for 3 with a pair of intentional walks.

Stanton is starting to take the next step in his fifth season, and is already more than one-quarter of the way to his first 100-RBI season. Stanton leads the majors with six home runs and 26 RBI after 17 games, while batting .329/.390/.657 in 70 at-bats. 


Wilin Rosario drives in three in blowout win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:11 am ET) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario continued his strong run production Friday, in a 12-1 win over the Phillies.

Rosario drove in three runs in the game, giving him eight in his last six games, including at least one in five. He was 2 for 5 with a two-run double, while adding an RBI groundout.

Rosario got off to a slow start, but has raised his batting average from .206 to .268 over the last six games. He has two home runs and 10 RBI in 15 games on the season. 


Troy Tulowitzki plays a big role in blowout
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:09 am ET) Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was a big part of Friday's blowout win over the Phillies, as Philadelphia's pitching staff simply couldn't get him out.

Tulowitzki reached base all four times he stepped to the plate, and was a terror each time. Slugged a three-run home run in the second inning, and then accounted for two more runs with a double in the fourth and single in the sixth. He finished the game 3 for 3 with two runs, five RBI and a walk, in the 12-1 win.

Tulowitzki had gone five games without an RBI, so he had some catching up to do. He is hitting .360/.460/.620 with two home runs, 11 RBI and 13 runs scored in 16 games this season. 


Carlos Gomez hits fifth homer
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez continued his hot start Friday, as he slugged his fifth home run of the season in a 5-3 win over the Pirates.

Gomez took Pirates start Charlie Morton deep for a solo home run in the fifth, and that wasn't all he contributed. Gomez also drove in a run on an infield single in the sixth inning, finishing the game 2 for 5 with one run, two RBI and three strikeouts.

Gomez is among the league leaders in a plethora of categories after 17 games, ranking second in the NL with five home runs and second in runs with 13. He is hitting .329/.385/.629 in 70 at-bats. 


Steve Cishek picks up first win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:58 am ET) Marlins close Steve Cishek hasn't had many opportunities to pitch so far, as he entered Friday's game against the Mariners with the score tied, for just his fifth appearance of the season.  

Cishek pitched well in the 4-4 game, retiring all three batters faced on 16 pitches, including one strikeout. The Marlins then went on to get him his first win of the season, with Giancarlo Stanton hitting a walk-off grand slam to clinch the 8-4 victory.

Cishek is 1-0 with a pair of saves, and has yet to allow a run in five innings of work this season. 


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by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Athletics infielder Alberto Callaspo smacked his second home run of the season in his team's 11-3 home win over the Astros Friday night.

Callaspo took starter Jarred Cosart deep for a three-run home run in the opening frame. He finished 1 for 5 with a run scored and three RBI. He is hitting .340/.404/.553 with two home runs and nine RBI in 47 at-bats.

 
 
 
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