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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
Indians sign Jeff Manship to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:41 pm ET) The Indians have signed pitcher Jeff Manship to a minor-league deal. Manship posted a 6.65 ERA and 16:14 K:BB ratio in 23 innings with the Phillies in 2014.

Rockies sign Roger Bernadina to minor-league deal
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(6:21 pm ET) The Rockies have signed outfielder Roger Bernadina to a minor-league deal. He hit .167/.304/.258 in 66 at-bats with the Reds and Dodgers in 2014.

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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) Rockies outfieler Carlos Gonzalez revealed this week that he has been cleared to practice hitting for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in August, MLB.com reports.

Gonzalez had been having issues with the troublesome knee for more than a year before undergoing a procedure to repair a patella tendon on Aug. 18. He also dealt with appendicitis in January and a persistent finger injury throughout the season. The issues led to a down year for the outfielder, as Gonzalez hit just .238/.292/.431 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI in 260 at-bats.


Reds sign Michael Bowden to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:14 pm ET) The Reds have signed pitcher Michael Bowden to a minor-league deal, MLBDailyDish.com reports.

Bowden, who has 133 2/3 innings of experience in the majors, spent the 2014 season with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball, where he delivered a 4.50 ERA and 30:24 K:BB ratio in 40 innings.


Cardinals release Robert Stock
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(6:10 pm ET) The Cardinals have released pitcher Robert Stock. A converted catcher, Stock posted a 4.12 ERA and 43:46 K:BB ratio in 63 1/3 innings between Class A Peoria and high Class A Palm Beach last season.

Report: Orioles interested in Padres' Will Venable, Seth Smith
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:08 pm ET) The Orioles have continued dialogue with the Padres regarding trading for an outfielder, with Padres outfielders Will Venable and Seth Smith drawing the most interest from the team, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Either player would address the team's need for lefthanded hitters who fare well against righthanded pitching. While neither figures to receive significant playing time in San Diego after the Padres imported three outfielders via trade this offseason, either Smith or Venable would be expected to assume a platoon role with Baltimore at the outset of the season with the potential to earn a full-time starting position.


Rays outright Brandon Gomes to Triple-A
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(6:02 pm ET) The Rays have sent pitcher Brandon Gomes outright to Triple-A Durham. He delivered a 3.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 24:11 K:BB ratio in 34 innings in 2014.

Cubs announce David Ross signing
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) The Cubs finalized a deal with catcher David Ross Tuesday. The two sides came to terms on a two-year deal worth $5 million, per a previous report.

Ross hit just .184/.260/.368 in 152 at-bats with the Red Sox in 2014.


Orioles, Delmon Young agree to one-year deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) The Orioles have agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Delmon Young worth $2.25 million, CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman reports. The deal is pending a physical in January.

Young had been in dicussions with the Orioles in November but was reported to be seeking a two-year deal after hitting .302/.337/.442 line with seven home runs and 30 RBI in 242 at-bats with Baltimore in 2014. The two sides were said to be back in discussions earlier in December and have now come to terms on a deal. Young made more than half of his appearances with the team in the designated hitter role last season, but it's possible he could be used more in the outfield with the team losing multiple outfielders this offseason.


Braves, A.J. Pierzynski agree to deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Braves have agreed to a deal with catcher A.J. Pierzynski, CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman reports. Pierzynski's deal is expected to be for about $2 million, but it won't be finalized until January.

Pierzynski will fill a veteran presence to complement young catcher Christian Bethancourt, and the agreement also means the Braves are serious about moving forward with Evan Gattis in left field full-time, according to Eye On Baseball.

Pierzynski hit .251/.288/.337 in 338 at-bats between Boston and St. Louis in 2014. However, he managed to smack a combined 44 home runs over his previous two seasons.


 
 
 
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