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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
Nationals outfielder Denard Span may be activated Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:26 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Denard Span is back with the team after undergoing surgery on a right core muscle in March and may be activated Sunday, reports the Washington Post.

Manager Matt Williams said it's a possibility Span is activated Sunday, but it depends on how he feels. 

"I mean, physically like I said I'm fine," Span said. "I played two games in a row, a little fatigued, but the only way that's gonna get better is by playing games and getting back there every day. Early in season, I think everybody's got a little bit of fatigue, it takes time to get in the swing of the season, but I feel fine."

Span played in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday for Washington's minor league team in Hagerstown.


Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen throws off the mound Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:20 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen was able to throw off the mound Saturday for the first time since foot surgery, reports MLB.com.

Jansen, who is currently on the 15-day DL with the foot injury, is pain free and still targeting a return to the big leagues some time in May. Jansen posted a 2-3 record with 44 saves and a 2.76 ERA in 65 1/3 innings of work in 2014.


Tigers relievers see action Saturday in blowout loss
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) Tigers relief pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny were able to get some extra work in Saturday against the White Sox in the 12-3 loss.

Both worked a scoreless inning, with Gorzelanny recording two strikeouts in his appearance.

"The thing is we've had one guy pitch however many days, which is great," said Gorzelanny to MLive.com. "I'm happy with that -- it means our starters are going deep and we're winning ballgames. I think everyone would like to get in there just to not only get work in, but save the rest of the guys.

"You want to get guys throw a few innings and save the rest of the bullpen. When they call and say we need to get you in there, I just try to do my job and get out of there as quick as possible."

Manager Brad Ausmus chalked it up to the ebbs and flows of how the starting pitchers do.

"It's tough to stay sharp when you've got starters going eight innings," Ausmus said. "As a reliever, you don't get a chance to get into a game situation. I don't read too much into what happened today."


Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton throws 55 pitches in simulated game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:09 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton was able to throw 55 pitches in a simulated game Friday against minor league hitters, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune.

"It went well. It was a step forward," Hurdle said. "(Pirates special assistant Jim Benedict) said it was a good day for him and the delivery is syncing up to what we saw '13 and '14 in good stretches."

Morton is currently on the 15-day DL with a hip injury and is yet to step on the mound in 2015 for Pittsburgh.


Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond struggling with his defense
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:06 pm ET) Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond couldn't get things figured out on defense in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Phillies. Desmond was charged with an error after mishandling a throw from Dan Uggla in the third inning, allowing a run to score.

"Both times Desmond didn't get a grip on the baseball. It's one of those things," manager Matt Williams said to MLB.com. "He is going to be back out there tomorrow playing short for us and helping us win a game."

Desmond now has eight errors on the year.

"Brutal," Desmond said. "But I've done it before and I'm going to work my way out of it. … If this is the biggest problem in my life, I guess I'm doing all right. At the end of the year, I will look back at this and know that I made my way through it."


Cubs closer Hector Rondon opens door instead for Padres
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) Cubs closer Hector Rondon had been a picture-perfect pitcher early in 2015, but was far from perfect on Saturday.

Entering having not yielded a run in six outings, he sought his third save with his team leading 6-2 and two Padres on base in the ninth inning. He allowed a double and two singles, the second of which, by Yangervis Solarte, tied the game.

Rondon did induce a Wil Myers groundout with the go-ahead run on second to escape further damage.


Pirates not considering sending Jung Ho Kang to the minors
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) Pirates utility infielder Jung Ho Kang is still working to find his way in the majors. A path that can prove difficult for players coming from overseas, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune.

With the tough transition, manager Clint Hurdle is looking to find something that works for Kang.

"We have conversations on how we're going to use him. Where we're going to use him," Hurdle said. "We've given (sending Kang to the minors) hardly any thought right now."

Kang is hitting just 1 for 9 to start the season with no RBI.

"It's up to Clint, it's up to the team," Kang said. "I'm open to anything the team wants me to do."


Rare defeat befalls Padres closer Kimbrel on Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:54 pm ET) Every so often super closer Craig Kimbrel proves he's mortal. It's rare, but it happens.

It happened Saturday in Chicago when he entered in a 6-6 tie and exited with a defeat, courtesy of two walks and two singles, the last of which was stroked by Starlin Castro and gave the Cubs a victory over the Padres.

Kimbrel had yet to allow a run this season.


Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia to get the day off Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:50 pm ET) Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia will be given the day off for Saturday's matchup against the Marlins after pitching in five straight games, manager Terry Collins said per ESPN.com.

"We have a game Sunday and then another off day," Collins said. "This will get them refreshed a little."

If the team needs a closer for Saturday, Jerry Blevins will fill in, Collins said.

Familia has picked up five saves this season in 6 2/3 innings of work with nine strikeouts and one walk.

"We didn't see any of the sink [in spring training] that Familia has now," Collins said. "Now the games count, and we're seeing the same stuff we saw last season. When his ball sinks, you see guys swing over the top of it. If it's sinking, it's hard to hit."


Torrid Matt Kemp launches first homer Saturday for Padres
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:49 pm ET) Matt Kemp continued to be one of the premier newcomers to any team this season with another big game Saturday against the Cubs. The only difference between his latest effort and those that preceded it is that this time he homered.

His first blast of the year, a two-run job in the first inning, gave the Padres their only runs until a four-run ninth tied it. He was also involved in the comeback by singling and scoring as he improved his slash line to .340./.358/.540.

Kemp is 12-for-29 with six runs scored and six RBI in his last seven games.


 
 
 
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