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2013 Fantasy outlooks: Detroit Tigers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Detroit Tigers, losers of the 2012 World Series, didn't have to do a lot of tinkering this offseason with their roster, as the team had most of its key players returning. Detroit's biggest move was bringing in Torii Hunter on a two-year deal to shore up right field, which was a rotating area of weakness for Detroit last year. Hunter finished 2012 with a career-high .313 average, scoring 81 runs and driving in 92 (with most of the production coming in the season's final month). It was, however, Hunter's first season not hitting at least 20 home runs (he had 16 in 140 games) since 2005.

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

Detroit's other major offseason move was re-signing Anibal Sanchez. The 2012 trade deadline acquisition went 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 12 games for the Tigers last season and gives the rotation a nice boost, while knocking either Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly to the bullpen (or another team). With top-of-the-rotation skill, Sanchez may slot as low as fourth in the Tigers' rotation. That gives him a chance to rack up more wins, as Detroit's offense will face pitchers of a lesser caliber throughout the season on days when Sanchez takes the mound, allowing them to light up the scoreboard.

The Tigers let closer Jose Valverde walk and general manager Dave Dombrowski spent the winter singing the praises of Bruce Rondon, a 22-year-old flamethrowing righty who has dominated the minor leagues, but has yet to throw a pitch in the majors. Rondon has a career 2.53 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in the minors and is, by all accounts, looking like the closer for the Tigers in 2013. Even manager Jim Leyland has said Rondon is the favorite to start the season as closer, and he'll give him a somewhat long leash. If Rondon falters, the team has solid backup options in playoff hero Phil Coke and the always-dependable Joaquin Benoit.

And while it wasn't technically a move at all, Victor Martinez returns to the Tigers in 2013 after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee early in 2012 and missing the entire season. Martinez, who has a career .303 average and .840 OPS, will serve as the designated hitter. The Tigers have said Martinez won't catch, but with interleague games the norm in 2013, Martinez may see some time behind the plate, just to keep his bat in the lineup. It's important to note that Martinez, who hasn't been a regular catcher since 2010, will be eligible only at DH this season in CBSSports.com Fantasy games. This is based on him playing the majority of games in his last season -- which was 2011 -- at DH, and not in anticipation of him being only a DH in 2013).

With Hunter and Martinez being added to the lineup, and no major bats leaving (Delmon Young was the biggest departure), Detroit looks primed to score plenty of runs in 2013. That should benefit pretty much everyone, as they will see more at-bats, have more opportunity to drive in runs and should be in better position to get knocked in, as well.

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Austin Jackson CF
2. Torii Hunter RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. Victor Martinez DH
6. Andy Dirks LF
7. Jhonny Peralta SS
8. Alex Avila C
9. Omar Infante 2B
Bench Quintin Berry OF
Bench Brennan Boesch OF

Bounceback ... Alex Avila, catcher

Avila followed up his 2011 breakout season (.295, 19 home runs) with a major fall in nearly every offensive category, hitting just .243 with nine home runs in 367 at-bats. Granted, Avila dealt with a litany of injuries in 2012, including a hamstring strain, patellar tendinitis, a concussion and a wrist injury. But Avila started off cold, with a .220 average at the end of April, so we can't blame it all on injuries. It's tough to consider Avila's 2011 a fluke, especially given the success he had in the minor leagues with power and average. And with Martinez and Hunter in the mix, Avila will see better pitches and have more opportunities to drive in runs and score. He's worth a late shot in deeper mixed leagues.

Impact Prospect ... Bruce Rondon, relief pitcher

We've seen plenty of young and/or unheralded pitchers claim the closer role on several teams recently -- Ernesto Frieri, Tom Wilhelmsen, Jordan Walden, Addison Reed, Glen Perkins and Ryan Cook are just a few examples. And with the team's general manager telling anyone who will listen that Rondon is "special" and is all but penciled in as the 2013 closer, it's tough to not like him. Rondon was Detroit's minor league pitcher of the year in 2012 and can hit 100 mph with his fastball on the radar (you may remember him as the young prospect who hit 102 on the radar gun in the Futures Game last year). He may encounter some control issues along the way, but it should all be mitigated by a low ERA/WHIP, lots of strikeouts and around 35 saves, if things break right for him.

Sleeper ... Omar Infante, second baseman

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Justin Verlander RHP
2. Doug Fister RHP
3. Max Scherzer RHP
4. Anibal Sanchez RHP
5. Drew Smyly LHP
ALT Rick Porcello RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Bruce Rondon RHP
2. Phil Coke LHP
3. Joaquin Benoit RHP
4. Octavio Dotel RHP
5. Al Alburquerque RHP

On a stacked team like the Tigers, it's somewhat difficult to peg a player as a sleeper, just because essentially every player is a known commodity. But Omar Infante, he of the super-hot 2012 start with the Marlins, could slip through a lot of cracks. He plays a shallow position (second base) and managed double-digits in both home runs (12) and steals (17) last year. While he probably won't reach those heights again -- it was just the second time in his career he had more than 10 steals or home runs -- Infante has only seen 500 at-bats three times in his career, so he should be able to at least get close. Additionally, Infante has a .291 batting average over the past five seasons -- his dependability in that category is woefully underrated. A second baseman who plays every day, all but guarantees a .280 average and could put up a 15/15 season should have more value than Infante currently does, giving him legitimate sleeper status for 2013.

Prospects Report

Outside of Rondon, the prospect most likely to make an impact in 2013 is outfielder Avisail Garcia, a 21-year-old who appeared in 23 games for Detroit last year, hitting .319 in 47 at-bats. At 6-foot-4 and (listed at) 240 pounds, Garcia has been compared to fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, who has taken the young Garcia under his wing. And just like a young Cabrera, Garcia has not only shown an ability to hit for power in the minors, but he also has some speed, with three straight seasons of 14 or more steals. Garcia made the jump from Double-A to the majors last year and landed on the postseason roster, proving he could play at both the major league level and in high-pressure situations (Garcia hit .261 in 23 postseason at-bats). Garcia's best bet for playing time would be wresting away the left field job from Andy Dirks, something that is unlikley, but still possible. ... Pitcher Casey Crosby had a tough debut for Detroit, with a 9.49 ERA in three starts. A top prospect in the system, Crosby has the potential to be solid, but won't be pitching much this year outside of injury callups or doubleheaders. ... The big name in Detroit's system is Nick Castellanos, whose name you may recognize as the prospect Detroit has refused to trade in would-be high-profile deals. He has performed at every level so far and should start turning those 68 doubles he's hit over the last two seasons into home run power this year. He's still at least a year off from the majors, but makes for a solid keeper pick.

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Player News
Bud Norris remains without update for contract extension
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:24 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Bud Norris said Saturday nothing has changed between he and the organization for a new contract.

"I haven't heard anything of that," Norris said. "I don't see a reason why I'd want to leave, but that's out of my control."

Norris and the Orioles are preparing for arbitration, when Norris filed for $10.25 million and Baltimore offered $7.5 million. He went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA and 139:52 K:BB ratio in 165 1/3 innings over 28 starts in 2014.


Orioles' Chris Davis calls using Adderall in 2013 'a moment of weakness'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:56 am ET) Orioles first baseman Chris Davis told reporters Saturday he was denied an exemption for Adderall in 2013 but he took it anyway.

"It was a moment of weakness," Davis said. He was diagnosed with ADD in 2008 and it isn't a performance enhancer for someone who needs it for medical reasons, according to Davis.

"For me, it was off the field, just an everyday life thing," he said. "I was a little overwhelmed, just kind of with everything that was going on with the (oblique) injury. There were a lot of different things that were taking my focus away from baseball. It was a mistake that I wish I could undo, but I can't, so I've just got to move forward."

Davis has one game remaining on his 25-game suspension for amphetamines, which he test posted for in September last year. He finished with a .196 batting average with 26 home runs and 72 RBI.


Report: David Aardsma to throw bullpen next week for teams
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) Free-agent pitcher David Aardsma will throw a bullpen session for interested teams next week, according to his agent, Jamie Murphy.

"(Aardsma) is looking to showcase added velocity after a change in mechanics and an extremely intense offseason workout regimen," Murphy told FoxSports.com senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal.

Aardsma missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a torn adductor muscle. He was last with the Mets in 2013 when he posted a 2-2 record with a 4.31 ERA and 36 strikeouts.


Orioles' Jonathan Schoop trying to cut weight for upcoming season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:37 am ET) Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop wants to raise the level of his game for the 2015 season. The 22-year-old is hoping to be more mentally and physically prepared for the grind of the 162-game season.

"My weight is lower than last year. I want to have more range and be faster. Trying to steal some more bases and be faster for the team on the bases to help put more pressure on the defense." Schoop said. "I learned a lot from my teammates. They helped me a lot. One year of experience. I'm better than last year. Mentally and physically, everything. My ups and downs helped me a lot to know myself better too."

Schoop, who hit .209 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI in 2014, is also taking more advice from his teammates about his approach at the plate.

"Be patient. Don't chase too many pitches. Let them throw strikes and swing at strikes. Just have to work on getting better pitches to hit. See how they pitch you. If I can do that, I'll be better," he said. "I worked on everything (this winter). I want to get faster. You have to work on all of it, speed, defense. I want to be a better player than last year."


Twins' Byron Buxton named No. 1 prospect by MLB.com
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was named the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com Friday.

Buxton played just 31 games in 2014 due to wrist and concussion issues and finished with a .240/.313/.405 line along with four home runs, 16 RBI and six stolen bases in 121 at-bats with high Class A Fort Myers. He also went 0 for 3 at the Double-A level. Buxton is making his second straight appearance atop MLB.com's top prospect list.

The rest of MLB.com's top-five prospects (in order) are Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Astros shotstop Carlos Correa, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. None of the quartet appeared in the top five of last year's MLB.com prospect list, though all four cracked the top 12.


Red Sox designate Drake Britton for assignment
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox designated pitcher Drake Britton for assignment Friday, clearing a roster spot for pitcher Alexi Ogando.

Britton appeared in seven games with the Red Sox in 2014, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out four batters and walking two. He posted a 5.86 ERA and 37:38 K:BB ratio in 58 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket.


Peter Moylan 'doing fantastic' in return from Tommy John
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Free-agent pitcher Peter Moylan indicated Friday that he's "doing fantastic" in his return from his second Tommy John surgery, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I’m doing fantastic, mate. Dropped 35 pounds," Moylan said. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring. Ball is coming out great, though. Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging."

Moylan underwent the procedure last March after receiving a non-roster invitation from the Astros. He's throwing from about 70 percent strength off a mound and in the process of deciding whether to sign a a deal in the near future or after the season begins. He hopes to resume pitching in the big leagues by midseason at the earliest.

Moylan has made 309 appearances since debuting in 2006, compiling a 21-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 213:121 K:BB ratio in 276 innings.


Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

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"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


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Baker made 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Rangers in 2014, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
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Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


 
 
 
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