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2013 Fantasy outlooks: L.A. Angels of Anaheim

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A year ago, the Angels paved their road to contention by signing Albert Pujols to add a spark to a humdrum offense, while adding C.J. Wilson to an already-potent rotation.

While Pujols struggled out of the gate, his midseason rebound, along with surprising seasons from Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter, helped to turn the Halos into an offensive powerhouse. Meanwhile, the pitching staff underachieved, and the Angels missed the playoffs entirely. They finished third in the American League West and four games behind the leagues' two wild card teams, the Rangers and Orioles.

2013 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

This offseason, the Angels further bolstered their lineup by signing Josh Hamilton to replace Hunter (who departed for Detroit via free agency) in right field. Peter Bourjos may not be new to Anaheim, but he is a relatively unfamiliar face in the lineup, as he served primarily as a backup last season. With Kendrys Morales having been dealt to the Mariners for starting pitcher Jason Vargas, Trumbo will move from the outfield to the Morales' old designated hitter slot, creating an opening for Bourjos to get regular play.

Meanwhile, the Angels turned over three-fifths of their rotation, as free agents Zack Greinke and Dan Haren headed back to the National League and fifth starter Ervin Santana was traded to the Royals for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk. Their replacements, Vargas, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton, don't have the same level of star appeal, but each has had success at some point in his career. The bullpen got a minor makeover, as the Angels dealt one-time closer Jordan Walden to the Braves to acquire Hanson, and free agents Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett were signed. As soon as he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Madson will take over closer duties from Ernesto Frieri, while Burnett will take on a setup role.

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Mike Trout LF
2. Howard Kendrick 2B
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Josh Hamilton RF
5. Mark Trumbo DH
6. Erick Aybar SS
7. Alberto Callaspo 3B
8. Chris Iannetta C
9. Peter Bourjos CF
Bench Vernon Wells OF
Bench Andrew Romine SS

With the Angels falling short of the postseason in 2012, they will need the injury-prone Hamilton to stay healthy, the rotation to perform better than expected and for Madson to be a stable and effective closer. Though overlooked among the higher-profile moves, Madson's presence allows Frieri, Burnett and Scott Downs to provide bullpen depth that the team lacked last year. If everything falls into place, the Angels could deliver the championship run that they missed out on a year ago.

Sleeper ... Jason Vargas, starting pitcher

While Vargas was probably the less recoginzable name in the trade that sent Morales to Seattle, he will be more important to the Angels than Morales would have been this season. Whereas Morales would have had to fight for playing time in a crowded 1B/OF/DH mix, Vargas gives the Angels a much-needed reliable arm for their rotation. The seven-year veteran doesn't have electric stuff, but he walks few batters, pitches to contact and tends to allow flyballs. That's a perfect fit for homer-squelching Angel Stadium and the Angels' defensively-gifted outfield. He may not be a top 40 starter like he was last season, but as a late-round pick in standard mixed leagues, he could wind up providing tremendous value.

Bust ... Mark Trumbo, outfield/designated hitter

With 61 home runs over the last two seasons, there is no disputing that Trumbo can wallop a baseball. He can also drive in runs, but that just may be the extent of what Trumbo can do to help your Fantasy lineup. He's not especially prolific as a doubles or triples hitter, strikes out frequently, doesn't walk much and isn't much of a threat to steal. If Trumbo could strike out less often like he did in the minors, he could maintain or raise his batting average, but as last season wore on, he had more -- not less -- trouble making contact. Only a fluky-looking .299 batting average on grounders kept his overall average in the .260s. Trumbo may be more of a liability in the batting average and runs categories than you think, so don't reach for him prior to the middle rounds.

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Jered Weaver RHP
2. C.J. Wilson LHP
3. Tommy Hanson RHP
4. Jason Vargas LHP
5. Joe Blanton RHP
ALT Garrett Richards RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Ryan Madson RHP
2. Ernesto Frieri RHP
3. Sean Burnett LHP
4. Scott Downs LHP
5. Kevin Jepsen RHP

Rotisserie gem ... Peter Bourjos, outfield

Bourjos was a major stolen base threat as a prospect, so it's a bit odd that he has swiped only 35 bags in 299 career major league games. It's not as if Angels manager Mike Scioscia is shy about giving runners the green light, so perhaps 2013 is the year that Bourjos lets loose on the basepaths. His minor league track record also suggests potential for a higher batting average, so Bourjos could be a surprisingly useful player in Rotisserie formats. He doesn't walk much, though, and the probability of a low spot in the batting order will cost him at-bats. Both of these things will hurt his value in Head-to-Head.

Prospects Report

The Angels have few prospects who are close to making an impact in the majors, but Nick Maronde could be an exception. The 23-year-old lefty made 12 appearances out of the Angels' bullpen last year, and he could fill that role again or serve as a starter if someone in the rotation needs replacing. ... Kaleb Cowart is at least a year away, but he is the Angels' top prospect among position players and can bring some power and on-base potential to the third base pool. ... First baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk also have a shot to arrive in 2014, but both are riskier options in long-term keeper leagues. Both players have to work on their plate discipline and need to prove they can hit for power outside of the California League.

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 us an e- mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Giants' Sabean: No plans to talk to Max Scherzer
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Giants general manager Brian Sabean said that the Giants have not talked to free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer and have no plans to do so, the Mercury News reports.

Scherzer is the biggest name on the pitching market and could be seeking a deal north of the $155-million pact signed by Cubs pitcher Jon Lester. His price tag may not be feasible for the Giants' budget. The 2013 AL Cy Young winner went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA and 252:63 K:BB ratio in 220 1/3 innings with the Tigers in 2014.


Report: Nick Hundley has two-year offer, unlikely to rejoin Orioles
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Free-agent catcher Nick Hundley has a two-year offer on the table from an unidentified team, making him unlikely to return to the Orioles, masnsports.com reports.

The Orioles declined a $5-million option on Hundley for the 2015 season but had interest in bringing him back into the fold at a lesser salary. He hit .243/.273/.358 with six home runs and 22 RBI in 218 at-bats between Baltimore and San Diego in 2014.


Report: Phillies could join Asdrubal Cabrera market
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) The Phillies could become involved in the market for free-agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, ESPN.com reports.

The Phillies traded their longtime starter at shortstop to the Dodgers this offseason and will be looking to fill that hole in the infield. However, the team will have to shed some additional payroll in order to make a run at the infielder, according to the report. Cabrera hit .241/.307/.387 with 14 home runs, 61 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 553 at-bats between Cleveland and Washington in 2014.


Rangers release Ben Rowen
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) The Rangers have released relief pitcher Ben Rowen . Rowen, who was designated for assignment earlier in the week, posted a 4.15 ERA in 8 2/3 innings with the Rangers in 2014 as well as a 3.45 ERA and 31:9 K:BB ratio in 47 innings with Triple-A Round Rock.

Nationals sign Mark Minicozzi to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) The Nationals have signed infielder Mark Minicozzi to a minor-league deal.

Minicozzi, 31, hit .298/.400/.470 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI in 315 at-bats with Triple-A San Jose in 2014. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game in the majors.


Indians sign pitcher Scott Downs to minor-league contract
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) The Indians announced they signed pitcher Scott Downs to a minor-league contract Saturday.

Downs also received a non-roster invite to MLB camp.


Red Sox, Padres complete Hanigan-for-Middlebrooks trade
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) The Red Sox and Padres completed a trade Friday, with catcher Ryan Hanigan heading to Boston in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox announced.

Hanigan, 34, is signed for two more seasons with a team option for 2017. He hit .218/.318/.324 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 225 at-bats in 2014.

Middlebrooks, 26, is eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2015 season. He hit .191/.256/.265 with two home runs and 19 RBI in 215 at-bats in 2014.


Giants get Class A hurlers for Marlins 3B McGehee
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) The Giants are trading minor league right-handers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo for Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee.

Both pitched at a Class A level last season and averaged more than a strikeout per inning.


Dodgers dump RHP Brian Wilson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) Three days after designating reliever Brian Wilson for assignment, the Dodgers have released him.

Wilson struggled in 2014 after a strong stint upon his arrival with Los Angeles in 2013. He finished the year with a 4.66 ERA and 29 walks in 48 1/3 innings.


Report: LHP Craig Breslow staying with Red Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) Left-hander reliever Craig Breslow is set to sign a one-year deal with the Red Sox for $2 million, per WEEI.com.

Breslow pitched for Boston the last two years, but collapsed in 2014 after compiling a 1.81 ERA the previous year. He finished with a 5.93 ERA and 73 hits in 54 1/3 innings.


 
 
 
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