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2013 Fantasy outlooks: San Francisco Giants

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The San Francisco Giants, reigning World Series champions, enter 2013 looking very much like the team that ended 2012 soaked in champagne and dancing around the locker room. The team returns its entire rotation, the core of its lineup, and even most of its bullpen. The Giants even reached into the past with their biggest offseason signing -- bringing back 35-year-old Andres Torres (a member of the team from 2009-2011 before being traded to the Mets) on a one-year deal. While the Dodgers, their NL West rivals, revamped a lineup with big-name stars and high-priced free agents, the Giants made far smaller headlines and quietly re-signed Marco Scutaro. They also added Chad Gaudin to their relief corps.

For all their real baseball success, the Giants aren't exactly teeming with Fantasy All-Stars (outside of catcher Buster Posey, who should be the first catcher taken in most drafts). Last season, for instance, the Giants hit the fewest home runs in all of baseball. And that was with a juiced-up Melky Cabrera (now with the Blue Jays) in the lineup for 113 games. The deadline acquisition of Hunter Pence, who has five straight seasons of 20 or more home runs, should give the lineup a bit of a full-season power boost. And Pablo Sandoval, who has produced seasons of 25 and 23 home runs, was limited to just 108 games in 2012 thanks to a broken hand and strained hamstring. The darkhorse for power, however, could end up being first baseman Brandon Belt, who had a 1.052 OPS over 189 minor league games before making the leap to the majors in 2011. Granted, he hit seven home runs in what was essentially full-time play last year, but Belt is still young (24) and 2013 will only be his fourth season of professional baseball.

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

Thanks to the out-of-nowhere flop produced by Tim Lincecum last year (10-15, 5.18 ERA, 1.49 WHIP), the Giants' rotation looks a little shakier than usual. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner will anchor the rotation at the top, followed by Lincecum -- who we still scratch our heads about, as there has been no real reason given for his sudden downturn last year -- the resurgent Ryan Vogelsong (a 3.05 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in his two seasons since retuning from Japan, but a messy track record before he went East) and Barry Zito, who shows flashes of brilliance without warning at various points during the season, but has managed a 4.00-plus ERA every year since joining the Giants in 2007.

The bullpen should be a source of strength again. Brian Wilson, who missed 2012 with Tommy John surgery, has departed, but the team has a borderline-elite closer in Sergio Romo, and a nice set of complements in Santiago Casilla (who saved 25 games for the Giants last year before giving way to Romo), Jeremy Affeldt and Gaudin. Even 27-year-old George Kontos emerged as a high-strikeout, low-ratio middle reliever.

Sleeper ... Brandon Belt, first baseman

Belt has a .259 career average, along with 16 home runs and 15 steals in 598 MLB at-bats. All very unappealing to the average Fantasy drafter. But Belt had a .343 batting average and 1.052 OPS in 670 minor league at-bats before his 2011 callup. He was bounced back and forth from left field to first base in 2011, before settling at first last season. While Belt saw gains in average and steals last year, his power actually dipped -- going from nine home runs in 187 at-bats in 2011, to seven home runs in 411 at-bats last year. But he showed flashes of his would-be greatness, with four home runs in June and three in September. He will likely lose starts again to Buster Posey at first base, but with Cabrera gone and the Giants going with Torres and Gregor Blanco in left field, there's a chance manager Bruce Bochy just shifts him to the outfield on those days instead. If Belt gets regular at-bats, and isn't taken out of the playing-every-day rhythm when he has to yield first base to Posey, he could get into a nice groove and rediscover his power swing from the minors. Even if he doesn't, though, Belt has shown he can hit for average, contribute in steals and manage plenty of doubles, which should produce an overlooked player who returns plenty of value for his late-round selection.

Bounceback candidate ... Tim Lincecum, starting pitcher

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Angel Pagan OF
2. Marco Scutaro 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval 3B
4. Buster Posey C
5. Hunter Pence RF
6. Brandon Belt 1B
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Gregor Blanco LF
Bench Andres Torres OF
Bench Brett Pill IF/OF
Bench Joaquin Arias SS

It seems almost dirty and way too obvious to put him here, but there aren't many other candidates on the Giants -- Sandoval was hurt and nearly everyone else had decent enough seasons. Lincecum, though, was a terribly frustrating enigma in 2012. He entered the year with a 2.98 career ERA and two Cy Young Awards. He produced a 5.18 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 186 innings. If you're looking for a silver lining, it's that Lincecum still managed to strike out a batter per inning. And he made 30 starts for the sixth consecutive year. But his home run, walk and hit rates surged. And then there was his fastball. He lost 2 mph on the once-reliable pitch. At 28, this was ... unexpected. And unwelcome. Usually, these leaps in numbers indicate some sort of injury. But either Lincecum is insane and didn't tell anyone about pain he must have been experiencing all year long (he was bad right from the start), or there is some other reason, which we have yet to discover. There were plenty of theories, but none were ever confirmed. So we head into 2013 with the hope that whatever threw him off in 2012 has passed, and Lincecum returns to his old form in 2013. Unfortunately, because he has traditionally been pretty bad in spring training (a 5.04 career spring ERA), we will have to wait until the season starts to know for sure if Lincecum is truly back to his old self. If you believe in him and want to take a risk, there could be no bigger payoff in 2013 than a late-mid-round/$8 Lincecum returning to his old self and producing a ton of Fantasy value.

Buyer beware ... Marco Scutaro, second baseman

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Matt Cain RHP
2. Madison Bumgarner LHP
3. Tim Lincecum RHP
4. Ryan Vogelsong RHP
5. Barry Zito LHP
ALT Yusmeiro Petit RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Sergio Romo RHP
2. Santiago Casilla RHP
3. Jeremy Affeldt LHP
4. George Kontos RHP
5. Chad Gaudin RHP

Marco Scutaro had a career year in 2012, hitting .306 (a career high), with 32 doubles, seven home runs, nine steals and 74 RBI. The 37-year-old went batty after a deadline trade sent him from the Rockies to the Giants, hitting .362 with an .859 OPS in 61 games with San Francisco. He even took home NLCS MVP honors. And then we rode that momentum a little too far. Scutaro went from an NL-only middle infield fixture to a legitimate starter in mixed leagues. This was fine for the second half of 2012, but this perception of Scutaro as having mixed league value carried over to 2013, and it may be overrating him a little too much. Scutaro's upside is a .275 average with 30 doubles, eight home runs and five steals. While it helps that he has shortstop and second base eligibility -- two positions that are relatively shallow this season -- owners in mixed leagues (especially Roto formats) with fewer than 16 teams shouldn't really be thinking of Scutaro as much more than a desperation play late. He won't hurt your team, but that isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of him as a standard contributor.

Prospects Report

While the Giants have flipped some solid prospects in trades for Pence and Scutaro recently, they still have an intriguing -- if not promising -- group of players who could have varying degrees of impact. The farm system is anchored by Kyle Crick, a 20-year-old former first-round pick who has drawn comparisons to Matt Cain. He will head back to the lower levels of the minors in 2013 and probably won't make any kind of impact until 2014, at the earliest. ... Gary Brown was the team's 2010 first-rounder and while he took a step back in 2012 at Double-A (average, power and speed all dropped), he still projects as a solid major leaguer with 40-steal potential, a little bit of power and a high average. He'll start in Triple-A this season, but if the Blanco/Torres combo fizzles, Brown could be a mid-season add to the San Francisco roster. He's got tremendous keeper appeal. ... Heath Hembree's name was briefly thrown around when Brian Wilson was injured last year, but the Pacific Coast League was rather unkind to the 24-year-old, as he finished with a 4.19 ERA (but encouragingly low 1.16 WHIP). Hembree throws in the high 90s and could be part of the Giants' bullpen by June. ... Roger Kieschnick is a big power hitter who hit 15 home runs in 58 games in the minors last year, in a season cut short after he fractured his shoulder running into an outfield wall. He may be closer to the majors than Brown and could be a nice sleeper keeper pick.

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
Mariners CF Austin Jackson makes immediate impact Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:01 am ET) In his first game since landing on the disabled list in early May, Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson played an early role in the team's 7-6 win over the Rays on Tuesday. Jackson, who missed time with an ankle injury, singled to lead off the game, then stole second, went to third on a throwing error, and scored on a single. All of this before an out was recorded.

Jackson also made an impressive running catch in center field in the bottom of the first inning.

"I thought he looked fabulous," manager Lloyd McClendon said,per MLB.com. "He really jump-started our offense. A line-drive base hit, stole a base, went to third, scored a run. Next inning took a run away. I don't know what more you want out of a leadoff center fielder."

The first-inning single was his only hit of the game, but Jackson was just happy to be back on a big-league field.

"It's exciting. It almost feels like the first day again," Jackson said prior to the game. "You want to come back and help, but you have to make sure you're ready. You don't want to come back half-speed. Getting to play those [rehab] games and get right physically was important, but I think it helped mentally as well."


Reds 2B Skip Schumaker will bat leadoff against Rockies
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:59 am ET) Skip Schumaker will be at the top of the lineup when the Reds take on the Rockies on Wednesday.

Schumaker will be in the leadoff spot for just the third time this season.

Schumaker was called into Tuesday's game in a pinch-hit situation in the ninth inning. He doubled to left field and Marlon Byrd scored the game-winning run. 

For the season, Schumaker is hitting .254 in 51 at-bats.


Rangers CF Delino DeShields back in the lineup Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:55 am ET) Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields is back in the starting lineup for Wednesday's matinee with the Indians. DeShields will be in center field and bat lead-off for manager Brian Bannister.

DeShields got the night off on Tuesday in favor of Leonys Martin. But with the former swining the bat well, he'll get the start on Wednesday. DeShields is riding a modest six-game hitting streak, during which is he batting .304 with a double and a triple. 


Nats' Williams on Strasburg: He's healthy but struggling with command
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET) It has been a frustrating start to the season for Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who is 3-5 with a 6.50 ERA through his first nine starts.

His ERA has not been lower than 4.50 after a start this season, and manager Matt Williams pinpoints the right-hander's issues on not having a good feel for his fastball.

"The issue has been fastball command," Williams told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday. "The command hasn't been there. For all intents and purposes, he's healthy."


Indians David Murphy will have extended role against Rangers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:49 am ET) Indians' David Murphy will start in right field for just the fourth time this season on Wednesday against the Rangers. 

Murphy, who sees the majority of his playing time as a designated hitter, is hitting .322 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 93 at-bats this season.


Yankees SP Masahiro Tanaka to make rehab start Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:48 am ET) Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to make his second rehab start on Wednesday, and will throw around 65 pitches with Triple-A. Tanaka is nearing his return from the disabled list, as he recovers from forearm soreness and wrist tendinitis. And the Yankees are very much looking forward to Tanaka's return.

“We know how much he means to this team,” general manager Brian Cashman said, per the New York Post. “Him being healthy changes this team a lot.”

Tanaka's next step could be to rejoin the rotation if Wednesday's start goes well.

“I think you want to hear that the stuff was sharp, that he was able to locate his pitches, that he was able to use his pitches and he feels comfortable the next day,” manager Joe Girardi said.


Braves ace Julio Teheran frustrated with struggles through 10 starts
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:47 am ET) Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran is not happy with how his season has gone through the first two months of the season. Following Tuesday's loss against the Dodgers, the right-hander has a 4.91 ERA and .303 opponents' batting average through 10 starts.

"I've never gone through this kind of thing," Teheran said, per MLB.com. "But I'm just trying to learn from it and trying to do my best to get through it. Hopefully, I can work hard and get back to where I want to be like I did the past two years."

Teheran is having a lot of struggles against left-handed batters. The right-hander has a 5.66 ERA and .371 opponents' batting average vs. lefties.

"It comes down to execution of pitches," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Those pitches he's trying to get to come back against left-handers are getting left right over the middle of the plate. He's not missing barrels. We need to work on that."


Indians SS Mike Aviles gets the start against Rangers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:41 am ET) Indians shortstop Mike Aviles will make his second consecutive start against the Rangers on Wednesday. 

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Yankees RP Dellin Betances strikes out the side in Tuesday's win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:40 am ET) Yankees reliever Dellin Betances pitched another perfect inning in Tuesday's victory over the Royals. He struck out the side in the eighth inning, continuing his dominant season thus far.

The hard-throwing righty hasn't allowed an earned run this season. And perhaps even more impressive is the fact he hasn't given up a hit in his last 8 2/3 innings, spanning seven appearances. 

"We get paid to get outs," Betances said, per the New York Post. "I try to do the best job I can out there. I always try to improve on whatever I need to do. I feel good, I’ve felt good for a long time."

And he's looked good too. He has a terrific 13.7 K/9 ratio after Tuesday's performance.

"His confidence just seems to be growing," Tuesday's starter and winner Adam Warren said. "He’s always had that stuff, but he knows how to harness it now. It’s getting to the point of ridiculousness."


D-Backs' Chip Hale: Archie Bradley relying too much on fastball
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:28 am ET) Diamondbacks rookie starting pitcher Archie Bradley had another rough outing Tuesday at St. Louis and has struggled since returning from the disabled list. Bradley, who was struck in the head by a line drive during an April 28 start vs. Colorado, has an 11.89 ERA in three starts since returning to action.

"No, the injury is past," Bradley said, per MLB.com. "It's just bad baseball, it's bad pitching, it's bad pitches, it's bad sequences, it's just everything is not good right now and I know that. I don't feel sorry for myself. I don't think anyone else should. I've just got to get it fixed, I've got to get it fixed quick."

Manager Chip Hale said Bradley is relying too much on his fastball and not enough on his curveball and changeup.

"He was relying on the fastball early again and was not throwing enough strikes," Hale said of Bradley's outing Tuesday. "The good hitters, like they are, ambushed him a couple of times. He's got to get control of those other pitches so he can use them. He can't just be a thrower in this league. You've got to be a pitcher."


 
 
 
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