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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
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.

Lance Lynn fans nine in defeat
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Cardinals starter Lance Lynn struck out nine over six innings Sunday, but took the loss in a 7-2 defeat to the Reds. Lynn allowed three runs on four hits, including two homers to Jay Bruce, while walking a pair.

Now 15-10 with a 2.73 ERA, Lynn is scheduled to face Arizona on Saturday.


Alfredo Simon registers 15th win
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon improved to 15-10 Sunday with six strong innings in a 7-2 win over the Cardinals. Simon allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking two, and lowered his ERA to 3.34.

Simon had gone seven innings in four of his previous five starts, and he owned a 17-inning scoreless stretch before the Cards scored in the fifth. He'll take on the Pirates at home Saturday.


Royals done sitting Billy Butler
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Though Billy Butler looked like he may have lost his DH job to Josh Willingham for the first couple weeks after Eric Hosmer returned from a hand injury, Royals manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star Sunday that the longtime Royal will play every day the rest of the way.

Butler went 2 for 4 with an RBI Sunday against the Tigers. It was just his sixth start in the team's last 15 games.


Jed Lowrie exits after getting hit in foot
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie was hit in the foot by a pitch in his first at-bat Sunday against the Phillies, but the Athletics didn't remove him from the game until the fifth inning. Nick Punto took his place.

"He's all right," manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com. "Just got it pretty good on the foot. As a shortstop you have to have your range, and on the ball in the hole he was having a little trouble getting over there."

Lowrie is day to day.


Xander Bogaerts should be back Tuesday
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who left Sunday's game with a stiff neck, should be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Rays, according to the Providence Journal. The injury was the aftereffect of him getting hit by a ricocheted ball in batting practice.

Though Bogaerts is having a so-so rookie season, he has been terrific in September, batting .312 (24 for 77) with four home runs and an .840 OPS.


Pedro Alvarez could return for postseason
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Though Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who hasn't played since Sept. 5, has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season, he could potentially return for the NLDS if the Pirates advance that far, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune. The Pirates are currently tied with the Giants for the top wild card spot.

Alvarez had lost his starting third base job to Josh Harrison even before the injury, but he had begun transitioning to first base, making five starts there.


Jason Heyward has swelling in the thumb
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who was out of the lineup for a third straight game Sunday against the Mets because of a thumb injury, hasn't been able to grip a bat yet because of swelling in the thumb, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He remains day to day.

Chaz Roe designated for assignment
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) The Yankees designated right-hander Chaz Roe for assignment Sunday. Roe made three appearances for them in September, allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks in two innings.

Astros relievers have hurt obliques
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) According to the Houston Chronicle, Astros relievers Darin Downs and Josh Fields are both nursing oblique injuries. Because Downs aggravated a previous injury, he could possibly miss the rest of the season.

Downs last pitched in a game Friday. Fields, who was beginning to earn some save opportunities, hasn't pitched since Sept. 9.


 
 
 
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