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2013 Fantasy outlooks: San Diego Padres

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The biggest offseason move made by the San Diego Padres? Bringing in the fences at PETCO Park, a decision that should inject a little more pop to the power-starved Padres, who finished with the third-fewest home runs in baseball last season. A good deal of this 2013 power production rests on the shoulders of Chase Headley, the team's third baseman. Headley fulfilled years of potential in 2012, hitting a career high 31 home runs in 604 at-bats. But this power surge came somewhat unexpectedly -- after many Fantasy owners had given up on Headley ever developing a big bat. In an injury-shortened 2011, Headley had just four home runs in 381 at-bats. And his previous career high was 12, despite getting more than 540 at-bats twice in prior years. Was 2012 a fluke? Or was it a breakout season at age 28?

Headley had flexed power in the minors before joining the Padres, but he produced a curious set of stats in 2012 -- his ground ball rate was the highest of his career and his home run-to-fly-ball ratio took an unbelievable leap to 21.4 percent (per Fangraphs.com), meaning one of every five fly balls Headley hit was a home run. And he wasn't hitting fly balls very often. Headley's highest HR/FB rate before 2012 was 10.7 percent. This all seems to set Headley up for a heavy correction in 2013, but the fences being moved in may help mask the regression in power.

While Headley's power may take a dip, outfielder Carlos Quentin -- who had his 2012 decimated by knee issues -- should be a nice sleeper candidate for 2013 (see below). The team won't be short on speed, either, led by Everth Cabrera, who stole a National League-leading 44 bases last year despite getting just 398 at-bats. The Padres were second in baseball in steals last year, with Cameron Maybin (26 stolen bases), Will Venable (24) and Headley (17) complementing Cabrera's basepath prowess. Even pitcher Anthony Bass stole a base.

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

On the pitching side of things, the Padres have a long list of could-go-either-way starters, let by Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard, who combined to win 25 games in 2012. Volquez led the league with 105 walks, but still struck out about a batter per inning, while Richard kept his walks low but came nowhere near Volquez's level of strikeouts. Both pitchers enjoyed favorable home/road splits, as Volquez sported a 2.95 ERA with three home runs allowed at home and 5.60 ERA with 11 home runs on the road, while Richard had a 3.02 ERA and 10 home runs at home and 4.74 ERA and 21 home runs on the road. With the cozy confines of PETCO becoming a little less cozy for pitchers this season, both Volquez and Richard could see their numbers rise (although probably nothing drastic).

The bullpen features one of baseball's most underrated closers in Huston Street. While always a candidate to lose some games to injury, Street still managed a 1.85 ERA and 0.72 WHIP last year, along with 23 saves, in 40 games. More importantly, the closer role in San Diego has been a virtual lock for 40 saves, dating back to the mid-1990s, when Trevor Hoffman would regularly record 40 or more. Heath Bell continued the trend for the next three years and Street led a bullpen that hit 40 saves total last year. A healthy Street is a really solid late-round addition to Fantasy bullpens.

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Everth Cabrera SS
2. Logan Forsythe 2B
3. Chase Headley 3B
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Will Venable RF
7. Cameron Maybin CF
8. Nick Hundley C
Bench Chris Denorfia OF
Bench Alexi Amarista IF
Bench Jesus Guzman OF/IF

In suspension news, keep in mind while drafting that catcher Yasmani Grandal will miss the first 50 games of the season after testing positive for PEDs. Nick Hundley should handle catching duties while Grandal sits.

Sleeper ... Carlos Quentin, outfielder

Quentin has become a sort of forgotten man for the Padres. In 86 games last year, he hit 16 home runs and managed an .877 OPS -- the second-highest OPS of his career. And this was while he was returning from knee surgery and then battling issues that arose throughout the season with the same knee. But with Quentin looking like he's healthy heading into 2013, we could see a power-hitting renaissance from the 30-year-old. Quentin has never seen 500 at-bats in a season, but has put up campaigns of 36, 21, 26 and 24 home runs. He's also a threat to hit 30 doubles. His average, which could float anywhere between .250 and .270, is nothing to get excited about, but he should pop up in games with a good amount of runners to drive in. For a late-round pick, Quentin could return a lot of value to a Fantasy owner willing to take an optimistic view on his health.

Deep sleeper ... Andrew Cashner, starting pitcher

Thanks to an unfortunate hunting accident in the offseason, Cashner may not be ready to go at the start of the year. But when he does, he has a few Fantasy elements working in his favor. First, in points leagues, Cashner will have relief pitcher eligibility, meaning owners who may have missed out on Kris Medlen or Aroldis Chapman could still snag Cashner late as a consolation prize. And second, although his 4.27 ERA and 1.32 WHIP from last year don't exactly look stellar, Cashner missed time and probably returned too early from a strained lat, eventually having to be shut down late in the season. He will enter 2013 -- at some point, possibly as early as mid-April -- as a starter. With some really stellar minor league numbers behind him (a 2.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP over 205 1/3 minor league innings, mostly as a starter), Cashner could be an absolute steal in NL-only drafts. Beware of him later in the year, though, as Cashner has yet to eclipse 120 innings in a season and will likely have some kind of cap.

Points league gem ... Yonder Alonso, first baseman

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Edinson Volquez RHP
2. Clayton Richard LHP
3. Jason Marquis RHP
4. Freddy Garcia RHP
5. Andrew Cashner RHP
ALT Eric Stults LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Huston Street RHP
2. Luke Gregerson RHP
3. Dale Thayer RHP
4. Joe Thatcher LHP
5. Anthony Bass RHP

Here's a fun fact about Yonder Alonso: he finished 16th in MLB with 39 doubles last year (good for eighth in the National League). Alonso also hit nine home runs, batted .273 and stole three bases. Granted, he struck out 101 times, which is never fun for points-leaguers, but he somewhat offset those with 62 walks. His strikeouts weren't even in the top 50 of NL batters -- his walks had him 19th. Alonso can go one of two ways in 2013. He can either continue to be an Alex Gordon-style doubles machine, improving on his rookie season and hitting 45 or so doubles while maintaining a nice average; or he can build on his 2012 and turn some of those doubles into home runs (as he did show some nice power flashes in the minors as a prospect coming up with Cincinnati). A hybrid of the two scenarios is definitely possible, but the point here is that Alonso had a very nice table-setting rookie year in 2012 and there's no real reason to think he will falter, outside of some subjective gut feeling that he will fall victim to a sophomore slump.

Prospects Report

The most tantalizing prospect in the stacked San Diego system is Jedd Gyorko, a 24-year-old power hitter who can play second or third base. Gyorko has a .319 career minor league average with 55 home runs in the last two seasons, split across three levels. There's a chance Gyorko can make the team out of spring training as a second baseman, which would move either Everth Cabrera or Logan Forsythe to the bench. A more likely scenario, however, would be San Diego falling out of contention near the end of July and the team trading Chase Headley to make room for Gyorko at third base. In either case, Gyorko is worth a late stash in NL-only leagues and deeper mixed leagues. ... Baseball America considers pitcher Casey Kelly the top Padres prospect. Kelly had a 6.21 ERA in six starts for the team last year, but this was after missing three months with a strained elbow ligament. The 23-year-old has great control, doesn't issue a ton of walks and could turn out to be a fairly decent strikeout pitcher. He could be in the rotation by mid-season in 2013. ... Rymer Liriano has some impressive speed and could develop into a nice power hitter. Still just 21, the outfielder has at least another year of minor league seasoning before he shows up in San Diego…

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 our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Brewers' Khris Davis to work on being a patient hitter in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis realizes he didn't show patience at the plate last year in his first full major-league season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I built a reputation in the organization of being a patient hitter," Davis said. "I felt like I wasn't a patient hitter at all last year. I was a little eager, wanting to please too much, too early. I found out I'm human."

Davis drew just 32 walks in 549 plate appearances while posting a .299 OBP in 2014, a number far away from his career .392 OBP in the minors.

"He was different last year," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Everybody goes through different phases. Guys change. (His walk total) was too low. He's a guy I think should be fairly patient. He sees pitches well. When he starts getting anxious, he becomes more aggressive and chases more. He realizes it, which is the first step. If you don't realize it and don't listen to other people when they tell you that, then you have issues. You have to have good self-awareness to be a good player. Sometimes these players don't have good self-awareness. But if they had better self-awareness they'd be a better player."

Davis is determined to fulfill the potential that caused the organization to move Ryan Braun to right field before the 2014 season and plug Davis into the regular left-field role.

"I can't thank them enough for having patience with me," Davis said. "I'm going to work it out. When you get here, you want to stay. That's the toughest part at first. I don't think this league has seen the best of me yet. I'm ready to pull that out and prove it day by day. I learned so many lessons there are too many to name."

Davis hit .244/.299/.457 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI in 501 at-bats.


Indians' Francona keeping a close eye on Giovanny Urshela
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Indians manager Terry Francona has been keeping a close eye on third-base prospect Giovanny Urshela, who was only recently cleared for a full range of activities after tweaking his knee during winter ball, MLB.com reports.

"He has a tremendous reputation of being a really good defender," Francona said. "I think I've been more wanting to watch his gait, just to make sure he's not favoring that leg. He promised us that, if he was, he'd let us know, but I also know he's a young kid in his first major-league camp."

Urshela suffered the injury on Nov. 15 and has rehabbed the injured knee at the team's spring-training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

"He's worked really hard to get himself to where he can go through a normal spring," said Indians' director of player development Carter Hawkins. "We're very excited about the spot he's in right now, given the possible outcomes of the injury."

Urshela saw his first action at the Triple-A level in 2014, hitting .276/.331/.473 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI in 395 at-bats with Columbus.


Reds' Brennan Boesch to see time at first base this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated Friday that outfielder Brennan Boesch would see time at all three outfield spots as well as at first base as he competes for a roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

"We already know he's a terrific player," Price said of Boesch, who has never played first base professionally. "He kind of got banged up and lost his way a little bit, but I think he feels -- and we feel -- that he's back on top of his game, and maybe his best days are ahead of him."

Boesch said he doesn't see the battle for a reserve outfield role as a "competition."

"I only care about the competition against the pitcher, and that's really as basic as I keep it," Boesch said. "You aren't competing against other players. We're all on the same side here. We're all wearing Red jerseys. Let the chips fall where they may."

Boesch struggled in limited time with the Angels in 2014 but hit .332/.381/.636 with 25 home runs, 85 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 374 at-bats with Triple-A Salt Lake.


Dodgers' Mattingly: Turner has 'put a lot of time in and it shows'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Dodgers infielder Justin Turner earned a nonroster invitation to the team's camp last year and ended up leading the team in batting average, and he's been working on his body like a fiend over the winter, MLB.com reports.

"Going into last year, we felt if he played every day, he'd get in trouble, and we found that out, but this year maybe he can handle more," manager Don Mattingly said Friday. "He's really been diligent about his work, been at Dodger Stadium almost daily. He's put a lot of time in and it shows."

Turner credited strength-and-conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel for his workout success.

"Brandon did everything. He's been a one-man wrecking crew," said Turner. "He and his family deserve the credit. I've been able to establish a routine and train consistently. Before I signed a year ago, I was on my own, going to 24 Hour Fitness, had to coordinate everything myself."

Turner added that he lost 18 pounds this winter through a healthier diet. Mattingly said that he intends to use the infielder at the corner-infield positions and also potentially up the middle.


Nationals' Matt Skole: 'I'm eating healthy and working hard'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Nationals first baseman Matt Skole missed most of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and struggled at the plate in 2014 but showed up to camp in better shape and will look to rebound in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"This offseason, I had a little more time to work on my body," Skole said. "I really got after it in the weight room. I ate right. I ate healthy. I think that was probably the biggest difference for me. I'm about the same weight as I was. I just leaned out a little bit. I'm eating healthy and working hard."

Skole worked with hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich for a month after the season and learned to keep his hands up in order to hit the ball consistently after having his hands too low during his down 2014 season.

"After taking a year off, it was more difficult than I thought it would be," the left-handed-swinging Skole said. "But coming back, I turned some corners, made some strides as far as getting to know myself as a player and know the things I need to fix. I think everything I did last year was a stepping stone for this year."

Skole hit .241/.352/.399 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI in 461 at-bats with Double-A Harrisburg last season.


Report: Dodgers sign center fielder Travis Witherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) The Dodgers signed center fielder Travis Witherspoon to their organization, according to a report from Baseball America

Witherspoon has previously been in the Angels and Mariners organizations. In six years of minor-league ball, Witherspoon has posted a career batting average of .252 with 68 home runs. He hit a minor-league single-season best 15 home runs in 2014 with the Mariners' Single-A affiliate High Desert Mavericks. 


Phillies' Buchanan 'working on being a complete pitcher'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Phillies pitcher David Buchanan is "working on being a complete pitcher," manager Ryan Sandberg said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The team's coaches spoke with Buchanan in the fall about command and pitch sequencing, executing bunts and thwarting would-be base-stealers, and Sandberg noted while examining the players that arrived early that the pitcher had taken the advice to heart.

"My biggest goal [this spring] is to show our front office and our coaches that I can throw the ball over the plate," Buchanan said. "That's one thing I had success with last year. I wasn't walking guys. I was throwing strikes, and that's what I'm known for. That's why I succeeded in the minor leagues; I was throwing strikes. So that's what I want to do this spring training, is continue to do that, pound the zone, force early contact and keep the ball on the ground."

Buchanan is scheduled to pitch the team's Grapefruit League opener Tuesday against the Yankees.


Giants' Bochy: Hunter Strickland 'needs to get a little smarter'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland is ready to learn from his mistakes from the tail end of his 2014 season.

Starting strong once he was called up from Double-A Richmond, Strickland gave up six home runs in the postseason. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the remedy to put Strickland back on track is simple. 

"He needs to get a little smarter," Bochy said, per MLB.com.  

Strickland will be competing for a spot in the bullpen during spring training. His fastball is a strength, though it's a matter of his command improving on the mound. 

"The failures are what make guys better, I feel like," Strickland said. "I feel like they made me better. Just being in tune with yourself and knowing who you are and what you've got to do. In this game, you're not going to make it too far if you don't have confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, who else is going to believe in you?"


Mets' Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker competing for roster spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Mets left-handed hitters Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker will be battling for one roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

While Nieuwenhuis is out of options, manager Terry Collins indicated that den Dekker has responded to the team's request that he reduce his strikeouts when sent to Triple-A last season.

"We'll just see how it translates this spring into what kind of an offensive player he can be," Collins said of den Dekker. "We know he's got the defensive skills."

Collins said that whichever outfielder shows the most promise will make the initial 25-man roster.

"He plays the game right. He's fearless," Collins said of Nieuwenhuis. "But right now, we've got to get some offense from one of those two guys. Which one of those two guys is going to be able to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter? The best closers in our division are all right-handed, so the left-handed hitter off that bench is going to be a big piece."


Stephen Strasburg wants to stay with Nationals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though Stephen Strasburg's agent Scott Boras denied a report that he wanted to be traded in January, the right-handed pitcher said himself that he wants to remain with the Nationals and has no issues with the organization. 

"I haven't said anything like that," Strasburg said in an interview with MLB.com. "I don't feel like that. You have to accept it because that's how the system works. It's like they pick up on any little thing and they twist it. Some people want to turn it to see how many clicks they can get on the webpage."

Strasburg is set to be the ace of a deep rotation that looks to be on of the best in baseball this coming season. With the Nationals winning their second divisional title in the past three seasons, Strasburg said he's happy with the organization. 

"It's the team that drafted me. I love the players here, I love D.C. Winning cures everything, that's for sure," Strasburg said. "I'm excited to be part of the resurgence so far. It's great to see the type of players we bring in here every year. The expectations keep going up and up. Hopefully, we can do big things this year."


 
 
 
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