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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
Pirates' Hurdle on Cole's spring debut: 'A good step forward'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:02 pm ET) Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday that pitcher Gerrit Cole "did fine" in his spring debut, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

"He probably threw more pitches than he wanted to in the first inning," Hurdle said. "But he didn't back off and kept the damage to a minimum. He had some good angle to his breaking balls and used his two-seamer well. A good step forward."

Cole, who surrendered one earned run on one hit and one walk while striking out three in two innings Wednesday, said he wasn't worried about the outcome but wanted to get on the same page with new catcher Francisco Cervelli.

"I told (Cervelli) I wasn't going to shake him off," Cole said. "I was just going to see how he wanted to do my stuff so he could get a feel for how he wants to call the game. I think it'll be that way for probably awhile. He'll get some information. I'll get some information, and then we'll probably sit down (to talk)."


Brewers' Jim Henderson returns to action with strong game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:45 pm ET) Brewers reliever Jim Henderson turned in a strong inning of work on Wednesday.

Henderson, who missed the second half of last season due to shoulder surgery, got in his first game action in months. He pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two during the appearance. Henderson did allow one walk.

Following the game, Henderson said he was glad to be back out there. "It felt great to have that umpire back there and a hitter in there," Henderson said. "I think I threw two balls in a row and had to remind myself, 'Just treat it like a live BP type of thing and just focus on the glove.' That's was all I was concerned about."

The 32-year-old Henderson posted a 7.15 ERA over 11 1/3 innings before being shut down last year. He's expected to open the season in Milwaukee's bullpen.


Melvin: Athletics' Matt Olson 'very impressive' in camp
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:39 pm ET) Athletics manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday that first-base prospect Matt Olson has been "very impressive" this spring in his first big-league camp, MLB.com reports.

"He's been very impressive," said manager Bob Melvin. "Works hard, and you can tell just by watching him take BP that he's our type of hitter. He has the power, he's got a great eye. Even some of the reports I've heard about him pulling the ball, you can see in BP he stays the other way at times and certainly identifies where the baseball is very early."

Olson drew the start at designated hitter Wednesday after Billy Butler was scratched due to a stomach bug. The 2012 first-round pick went 0 for 3 at the plate but did notch an RBI on a groundout. Olson hit .262/.404/.543 with 37 home runs and 97 RBI in 512 at-bats with high Class A Stockton last season.


Padres C Griff Erickson joined Padres for 'opportunity'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:33 pm ET) Padres catcher Griff Erickson is in camp as a nonroster invitee and said Wednesday he chose to join his hometown team for "the opportunity," U-T San Diego reports.

"It's not about the money," Erickson said. "I could've signed somewhere else, got paid more money. It's about the opportunity. I feel like here, not only is it just because it's my hometown, it's a great opportunity."

Erickson is in major-league camp for the third time this season. He hit .297/.384/.510 with seven home runs and 29 RBI in 155 at-bats with Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014.


Angels, Huston Street to exchange offers soon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:28 pm ET) The Angels and reliever Huston Street are expected to exchange offers soon, according to MLB.com.

Both sides are interested in a possible extension, but Street wanted to wait until some time had passed once camp started to begin negotiations. Street does not have an agent, and will represent himself during talks. 

"I treat it just as if I'm negotiating a real-estate lease in Austin -- don't waste my time," Street said. "Either we're moving towards a direction, towards a point, or we're not."

The 31-year-old posted a 1.37 ERA over 59 1/3 innings last year. He's set to make $7 million in the final year of his current deal.


Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles shows his array of pitches in spring debut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:25 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles came into spring training with the goal of making his new changeup becomes a weapon in his arsenal. Lyles faced eight batters in his spring training debut Wednesday and was able to mix in most of the pitches he wanted to throw, reports the Denver Post.

"I wanted to throw everything," Lyles said. "I usually start out slow throwing just fastball-changeup. But I really wanted to work in everything, especially the changeup. I probably threw six or seven of those. That was the gameplan going in. That was my second most-used pitch today."

Lyles allowed no hits with two strikeouts and a walk in his appearance against the Diamondbacks.


Mariners' Taijuan Walker tosses two scoreless frames
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:24 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker tossed two scoreless frames in his spring debut on Wednesday. 

Walker gave up just one hit during his two innings of work. He struck out two during the start. Walker is considered a strong favorite to open the season in the rotation, but is technically competing with Roenis Elias for the fifth spot. 

Walker said he was pretty amped for the start, but calmed down after the Mariners put an early run on the board. "The first inning I was up just because I was amped up for the first game and facing their best hitters and potential starting lineup," Walker said. But for the most part, I calmed down, especially after D.J. hit that home run. I was, 'Whew, OK, we got a run. Let's get 'em now.'"

Walker, 22, posted a 2.61 ERA over 38 innings last season. 


Reds' Anthony DeSclafani goes two innings in spring training debut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:20 pm ET) Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani went two innings in his spring training debut Wednesday, allowing two hits and one run. He did record two strikeouts and feels he has a shot to claim a spot in the starting rotation, according to MLB.com.

"I felt really good. I felt like everything was working," DeSclafani said. "[It was] the same plan as always, just attack hitters. It feels good to get the first one out of the way."


Rangers' Colby Lewis struggles in spring training debut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:14 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis struggled on the mound in his spring training debut Wednesday, allowing six runs in his only inning of work. He threw 36 pitches, but managed to get three strikeouts.

"I actually felt great, threw a lot of strikes," said Lewis, a notoriously poor starter in spring training. "Of course, the results aren't what you want, but it is what it is."


Indians outfielder Carlos Moncrief goes 4 for 4 in spring debut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:08 pm ET) Indians outfielder Carlos Moncrief had a perfect day at the plate, going 4 for 4 with two runs scored in Cleveland's 4-2 win over the Reds Wednesday. Moncrief also doubled in the game. 

 
 
 
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