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2013 Fantasy outlooks: Chicago White Sox

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The 2013 White Sox look a great deal like the 2012 White Sox, with the core of a team that won 85 games returning nearly en masse to try and challenge the Tigers for the American League Central crown (or, at least, the Athletics for the second wild card spot). There isn't much new with Chicago: A.J. Pierzynski left via free agency to sign with the Rangers, which elevated Tyler Flowers to starting duties at catcher. Flowers hasn't exactly set the world on fire so far -- in 108 career games, Flowers has a .205 batting average with 12 home runs and two steals. But the 26-year-old former top prospect has been relegated to backup catching duties the past two years. When he was given more regular playing time in the minors, Flowers was much better, hitting .275 with an .876 OPS in more than 1,800 at-bats. He hit 15 or more home runs four times, despite getting more than 400 at-bats just once. Look for flowers, given regular playing time, to flex a decent amount of power, while bringing his average up to the .250 to .260 level.

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

The White Sox also brought in Jeff Keppinger to play third base. The team had acquired Kevin Youkilis halfway through 2012, but Youkilis jumped ship to the Yankees in the offseason. Keppinger has quietly put up impressive numbers in his career, with a .288 average -- buoyed by a .325 average in 385 at-bats last season as a member of the Rays. The 32-year-old will have first, third and second base eligibility in 2013. Despite his lack of power -- he could top out at 15 home runs if he manages full-time at-bats and gets a few lucky swings in a hitter-friendly park -- Keppinger is a decent bet to hit for average and score a good amount of runs in a lineup with plenty of power behind him. Mixed-leaguers desperate for middle infield help can consider him a late option that won't hurt your team, while AL-only leaguers should consider Keppinger a mid/late-round sleeper option.

The pitching staff seems to be Chicago's possible weak spot, as every member of the rotation has question marks: Will Chris Sale's 2012 elbow issues pop up again? Can Jake Peavy stay healthy for two straight seasons? Will John Danks rebound from shoulder surgery? Can Gavin Floyd finish a season with a sub-4.00 ERA? And was the Jose Quintana we saw last year the real deal? Granted, the talented rotation could also shine if things break the right way, but the lingering doubt about each of them should give drafters pause when their names reach the top of the queue. Additionally, Addison Reed, who was a revelation after the White Sox cycled through their first few choices at closer, had a higher-than-we-may-remember 4.75 ERA last year. And while 29 saves for a rookie is a solid start to a career, Chicago has a lot of safety nets in that bullpen (Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Donnie Veal) in case he falters.

Deep sleeper ... Hector Santiago, pitcher

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Alejandro De Aza CF
2. Jeff Keppinger 3B
3. Adam Dunn DH
4. Paul Konerko 1B
5. Alex Rios RF
6. Dayan Viciedo LF
7. Alexei Ramirez SS
8. Tyler Flowers C
9. Gordon Beckham 2B
Bench Jordan Danks OF
Bench Hector Gimenez C

Santiago is currently slated for a role out of the bullpen, which will give him value in AL-only leagues as a low-ratio, high-strikeout reliever, but if any member of the starting rotation falters, Santiago could be a surprisingly solid option in his place. Many owners may not have noticed, as it all took place in September, but Santiago made four starts in 2012, allowing four earned runs in 19 1/3 innings, good for a 1.86 ERA. He struck out 26 batters and had a 1.19 WHIP. His sleeper status is meant for deeper AL-only formats, where this type of risk-taking could pay off, but it wouldn't hurt for mixed league owners to keep an eye on his situation, as a few strong starts in this scenario could elevate Santiago to mixed-league worthiness (think Hisashi Iwakuma last season).

Breakout ... Dayan Viciedo, outfielder

One would think a 25 home run season from a 23-year-old would already be considered a breakout performance. But Viciedo's 2012 has been mostly overlooked by Fantasy players. Viciedo had two straight 20 home run seasons in the minors in 2010 and 2011, while keeping up a decent average. An improvement on his average is within reason and an uptick in power isn't out of the question, so a .280 average and 30 home runs from Viciedo in 2013 is a real possibility, making him a solid late-round pick in mixed leagues.

Roto gem ... Adam Dunn, first baseman

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Chris Sale LHP
2. Jake Peavy RHP
3. John Danks LHP
4. Gavin Floyd RHP
5. Jose Quintana LHP
ALT Hector Santiago LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Addison Reed RHP
2. Jesse Crain RHP
3. Matt Thornton LHP
4. Matt Lindstrom RHP
5. Donnie Veal LHP

When a player hits 39 home runs in nine of his past 10 seasons, that one year without the power production looks almost certain to be the outlier. Chalk up Adam Dunn's 2011 failings to any factor of your choosing -- the switch to a different league, the move to full-time DH, injury -- but know that it was the exception, not the rule. Dunn will get you home runs in bunches while dragging your average down. But 40 home runs bring at least 95 RBI and 80 or more runs scored. Dunn even stole two bases last year. You might luck into one of those .260 seasons from Dunn, but you won't have to worry about a lack of doubles or leading the league in strikeouts, which haunt those in points leagues.

Prospects Report

The White Sox have a pretty shallow group of top prospects heading into 2013. Not from lack of building, but mainly because many of them have been promoted recently, clearing out space at the upper levels. ... Trayce Thompson and Courtney Hawkins lead their farm stars, but the most intriguing prospect is Nestor Molina, a converted outfielder/third baseman who didn't start pitching until 2008. Since then, he's compiled a 2.92 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in more than 400 minor league innings. Pickins are slim here for Fantasy vultures -- you may want to look elsewhere for minor league impact.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @nandocbs . You can also send us an e- mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Diamondbacks pitcher Rubby De La Rosa could be No. 2 starter
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:33 pm ET) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale has named his Opening Day starter, Josh Collmenter, but has yet to unveil the rest of his starting rotation. Because Collmenter and another starter, Jeremy Hellickson, have similar styles, Hale is considering Rubby De La Rosa as the No. 2 when the season begins, reports MLB.com.

"We are in serious discussion about doing something like that," Hale said.

De La Rosa has a 3.75 ERA in four appearances this spring. He's recorded 11 strikeouts with five earned runs allowed in 12 innings pitched.


Padres P Tyson Ross feeling good, ready for start of season
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:46 pm ET) Padres pitcher Tyson Ross is feeling ready to get the season under way, according to the Press-Enterprise.

“Physically I felt good,” he said. “It’s been a good spring so far, another step in the right direction … I had a good feel for my sinker today and I was able to get some strikeouts with that, running it back away from right-handed hitters and not just using my slider.”

Ross is working on his changeup and he wants to use it more often.

“It’s kind of hard when the other pitches are working well, but it’s going to be a pitch I need to use the third time through the lineup, to get a little separation (in speed) off the fastball and slider,” he said. “I mixed in a couple today and I’m going to keep working it in.”

Manager Bud Black said that could be what he needs to get to the next level.

“It’s tough, because if you take a regular season game and he’s fighting like heck to keep the other team from scoring, you never want to get beat on your third or fourth pitch,” Black said. “The other two are so devastating, it’s tough not to go in that direction.”

Ross, 27, has a career ERA of 3.70 with 416 stirkeouts and 186 walks in five years of play.


Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta does it all in start Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:43 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta tossed five strike outs over four scoreless innings of work Saturday. Arrieta also added a three-run home run and an RBI double to help his own cause, something he simply called a good work day, reports MLB.com.

"i like it," Arrieta said. "I think it allows us to put a little speed behind me. I feel I can handle the bat well. Depending on the situation, I feel I can put a bunt down efficiently."

Arrieta feels comfortable with the bat in his hand, partially why manager Joe Maddon is considering batting the pitcher eighth in the order.

"It is the pitcher, and it seems like a break in the lineup, but we feel we can do some damage there and help us out," Arrieta said.


Astros pitcher Roberto Hernandez making final staff decision difficult
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:39 pm ET) Astros pitcher Roberto Hernandez is still in the fight for the final spot on the pitching staff. He continued to prove why he belongs Saturday, allowing one run on three hits in five innings of work against the Marlins.

Manager A.J. Hinch continues to like what he's seen from the veteran, who is battling with Asher Wojciechowski, reports MLB.com.

"He had a nice game by getting through some very difficult jams and also getting a lot of ground balls," Hinch said. "I don't know what his total was, but it felt like they were pounding the ball into the ground, which is vintage Roberto Hernandez. There's a reason he's lasted this long in the league and you know what you're going to get and he found a way today."

Hernandez threw 71 pitches Saturday with 43 going for strikes.

"I don't think about that," Hernandez said when asked about his chances of making the team. "I want to continue my work and I never think about, 'Is it my last start?' I'm happy."


Cardinals pitcher Carlos Villanueva expecting to make team
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:29 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Carlos Villanueva wants to make sure he is on the major league roster this season, reports MLB.com.

After St. Louis announced the trade of Sam Freeman earlier Saturday, it opened things up for another arm to make the team. Villanueva also has an opt-out clause in his contract to be released if he is not on the roster for Opening Day.

"My preference is to stay here with this group," Villanueva said. "After that first game out there, I felt that I've thrown the ball very well. I have no regrets about how I've pitched. It's not like they haven't seen it before. I think what they needed to see from me is what they've seen in previous years. It's a decision that's out of my hands after that."

Manager Mike Matheny still doesn't know what he plans to do.

"It's coming down to the wire," Matheny said. "We probably have more questions than most clubs do late because we've given ourselves flexibility to not have it done halfway through. We're taking our time to watch these guys compete and also allowing for the potential if something doesn't go right."


Indians Closer Cody Allen changes regimen to be ready this year
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:15 pm ET) Indians closer Cody Allen has changed his throwing routine in order be ready to go for opening day, reports MLB.com.

The team has mixed in Minor League appearances with his Cactus League play.

"I think what happened the last two springs, I was ready too far ahead in the spring," Allen said on Saturday. "So, when they'd try to pull me back a little bit, I'd lose my rhythm a little bit and then try to get it again before the season started. This year, I've been able to build up to being in that perfect spot right at Opening Day."

Allen has posted an ERA of 1.50 with two walks in six innings of work this spring. Last season he finished with an ERA of 2.07 with 24 saves, throwing 91 strikeouts and 26 walks in 69 2/3 innings pitched.


Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia not concerned with runs allowed
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:05 pm ET) Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia isn't worried about how spring training has gone so far. The former Cy Young award winner doesn't care that his numbers, an 11.57 ERA in 4 2/3 innings, look so bad, reports the New York Daily News.

"I don't give a (expletive) what stock (people) put in it," Sabathia said. "It is what it is. I've had spring trainings where I've given up a lot of runs and went out and had a good season. I've had spring trainings like last year where I didn't give up no runs and I gave up five in the first game. Y'all can put stock in whatever you want. I'm not really worried about it."

Manager Joe Girardi expressed a similar mindset.

"The bottom line is that he's right Opening Day," Girardi said. "You try to evaluate his stuff and how you feel about that. What we've seen this year is much more positive than what we’ve seen the last, you know, in velocity, the discrepancy between that and the change up and slider, so now to me it's just ironing out and being more consistent."


Braves P Shelby Miller looking forward to new start
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) After being traded from the Cardinals, Braves pitcher Shelby Miller is looking forward to a new start with his new ball club, reports MLB.com. He spent his first three years with the Cardinals.

"I'm looking forward to a clean start to the season because getting traded over from St. Louis, you never really expect that," Miller said. "It's everything I've known, being drafted by them and coming through the farm system and stuff like that.

"But it's exciting. You're getting traded from a good team to another. I'm excited about the opportunity with my new teammates. I think we have a great chance to do something special here in Atlanta, and I'm looking forward to helping however I can."

Over his career, the right-hander has an ERA 3.33 with 312 strikeouts and 134 walks.


Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes shines again in outing Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:58 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes continues to impress the club with his poise and prowess on the mound, reports the Boston Herald. Barnes was called on with two runners on and two outs after previous pitcher, Stephen Wright, gave up five unearned runs.

He managed to get a groundball and get out of the inning. He finished with four strikeouts and no runs allowed  in 2 1/3 innings of work.

"It was good to be in a situation like that, coming in, especially in the middle of an inning, I haven't done that in a while, starting an inning with a guy on second and having to pitch through that," said Barnes. "I was happy with all of it."


Athletics' Tyler Ladendorf pushing for spot on Opening Day roster
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:51 pm ET) Athletics utility man Tyler Ladendorf is increasing his chances by the day of making the Opening Day roster in Oakland, reports MLB.com.

Ladendorf, who was suspended for 50 games last year after testing positive for a drug of abuse, has turned heads just about every day he's been on the field.

"Tyler's really emerged this year for us," manager Bob Melvin said this week. "To me, he looks a lot more confident here. We put him on a roster for a reason. His versatility stands out, and we're all about versatility. He has a similar versatility to Ben Zobrist. He can play any of the outfield positions, any of the infield positions, and does well defensively, and his bat emerged last year as well. He's one that's stood out."

Ladendorf just hope it translates into a roster spot.

"Any time you got them talking about you," Ladendorf said, "you're doing something right."


 
 
 
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