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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Chicago White Sox

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Chicago White Sox will enter this season a sleeker, younger, more exciting model than the 2013 version, which finished last season 63-99, owners of the American League's second-worst record.

General manager Rick Hahn began the re-tooling last season, at the trade deadline, sending away Jake Peavy in a three-team deal that netted the White Sox Avisail Garcia, a 22-year-old mini-Miguel Cabrera who hit .304 with five home runs and three steals over 161 at-bats after the trade. In the offseason, the team sent Hector Santiago to the Angels in a three-team deal, which brought back centerfielder and new leadoff hitter Adam Eaton. And less than a week later, closer Addison Reed was traded to Arizona (in a two-team deal) for third baseman Matt Davidson. Throw in the signing of Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, and the starting lineup features four players with tons of potential and an average age of 24, who weren't on the team last June.

2014 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

One of the casualties of the youth influx is Paul Konerko, who has been the team's starting first baseman since 1999, having accrued 7,961 at-bats and 427 home runs over those 15 seasons. With Abreu at first and Adam Dunn at DH, the 37-year-old Konerko will likely shift to a bench role -- Fantasy players should take note of this before casually drafting Konerko in the later rounds of mixed drafts, assuming nothing has changed and he's still a starter. At shortstop, Alexei Ramirez is coming off his first 30-steal season, which followed his first 20-steal season (in 2012). His home runs have essentially dried up -- he's staggered downward from 18 home runs in 2010 to a career-low six in 2013 -- but he hit a career-high 39 doubles in 2013 and his .284 average was his best since 2008. The transformation has basically moved around his value to other areas, instead of him losing any. But Roto players should be aware of this recent shift from power to speed.

One of the more interesting role players in 2014 will be Leury Garcia, a 22-year-old infielder/outfielder who stole six bases over 20 games with Chicago last year, after coming over in the Alex Rios trade with Texas. Garcia stole 12 bases in 33 Dominican Winter League games -- for context, Jean Segura and Junior Lake both stole 11 in that league last offseason. With his positional flexibility, Garcia could fight his way to 300-plus at-bats and be a nice AL-only option for steals at middle infield.

The rotation, led by lefties Chris Sale (3.06 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 over the last two seasons) and Jose Quintana (3.61 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.6 K/9), is probably better than many realize. If John Danks can return to his 2008-2010 form (3.61 ERA and 1.24 WHIP), the White Sox have a solid foundation. Prospect Erik Johnson -- who had a 3.25 ERA over five starts after posting a 1.96 ERA in 24 starts between Double- and-Triple-A in 2013 -- could be a nice surprise for owners willing to take a chance on a relatively untested starter.

In the bullpen, Nate Jones is a solid candidate to replace Reed as closer. His fastball averaged 97.7 mph last season, as he struck out 89 batters in 78 innings. If Jones -- who has never saved a game in the majors -- fails, there may be a darkhorse candidate in Felipe Paulino, who is currently lined up as the fifth starter, but hasn't pitched in the majors since 2012 Tommy John surgery (and a 2013 procedure to remove a cyst in his shoulder). If the White Sox feel Andre Rienzo can excel as a starter, and the team wants a safety net for Jones, it might make sense for the Sox to keep Paulino's innings low with a bullpen stint.

Overall, this is a White Sox team primed for a rebound year. They're young, exciting and full of Fantasy upside. Don't be surprised if some of 2014's biggest Fantasy surprises are on this roster.

Breakout... Avisail Garcia, outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Adam Eaton CF
2. Alejandro De Aza LF
3. Jose Abreu 1B
4. Adam Dunn DH
5. Avisail Garcia RF
6. Matt Davidson 3B
7. Alexei Ramirez SS
8. Gordon Beckham 2B
9. Tyler Flowers C
Bench Dayan Viciedo OF
Bench Paul Konerko 1B

Avisail Garcia and Miguel Cabrera are both listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. They're both from Venezuela and both played their first professional season at age 17. Over their first four minor league seasons, the two produced these lines:

Cabrera: .286 average, 28 home runs, 103 doubles, 23 steals, 1,428 at-bats
Garcia: .275 average, 23 home runs, 56 doubles, 49 steals, 1,534 at-bats

It's not a perfect comparison -- Cabrera walked and doubled a lot more, while Garcia has more speed -- but what's not in this comparison is the fact that Garcia spent another season and a half in the minors (Cabrera was called up after four), with his OPS rising and BB/K rate normalizing. And for a deeper picture of the similarities between the two players, this 2012 article from the Detroit Free Press should convert a few new believers (and be sure to check out the pictures of the two, mid-swing). Garcia's 2013 stretch with the White Sox was encouraging, and showed what he could do with regular at-bats in a hitter-friendly park. A .280 average and a combined total of 40 home runs and steals is not out of the question for 2014.

Underappreciated... Adam Eaton, outfield

Adam Eaton entered 2013 with a ton of promise -- he'd steal bases, hit for average and maybe even throw in some home runs. But a spring training elbow injury that was supposed to have Eaton back by May turned into a series of setbacks that saw him playing his first game of the season on July 9. He finished with a .252 average, two home runs and five steals over 250 at-bats. With a full offseason to rest, strengthen and rehab, Eaton is expected to start 2014 as the leadoff hitter for this revamped Sox lineup, which could get him close to (or over) 100 runs scored. Eaton's minor league career was promising enough to have faith in the 25-year-old for 2014 -- a .348 average over 1,300 at-bats (an average dragged down by his 2013 rehab, when he hit .256 in 26 games), with 106 steals over those four campaigns, along with 26 home runs. Let others be scared off by his major league numbers. Eaton finally enters a season with a favorable set of circumstances, and can contribute with a great average and possibly 30-plus steals..

Impact prospect... Matt Davidson, third base

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Chris Sale LHP
2. Jose Quintana LHP
3. John Danks LHP
4. Erik Johnson RHP
5. Andre Rienzo RHP
ALT Felipe Paulino RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Nate Jones RHP
2. Matt Lindstrom RHP
3. Daniel Webb RHP
4. Scott Downs LHP
5. Ronald Belisario RHP

Addison Reed saved 69 games over the last two seasons, with 40 saves in 2013 alone. And the White Sox traded him -- with no clear-cut backup option -- to the Diamondbacks, getting Matt Davidson in return. Davidson has played in 31 major league games, all of them coming in 2013, as he hit .237 with three home runs and six doubles over 76 at-bats. A three-time Top 100 prospect (according to Baseball America), Davidson has hit 17 or more home runs in each of his last four minor league campaigns, with 30 or more doubles in three. His career minor league batting average (.268) doesn't give a ton of hope for anything over .250 in the majors, but he's slated to start at third base from opening day forward, and can probably be relied on for 20-plus home runs and 75-80 RBI.

Prospects Report

Erik Johnson and Matt Davidson are expected to start the year in the majors, so expect good things right away from the duo. And if we consider Jose Abreu a prospect (technically, he is), he joins Johnson and Davidson at the top of the list. ... Marcus Semien played shortstop, second base and third base last season, while hitting .284 with 19 home runs and 32 doubles. The 23-year-old would probably need an injury to Alexei Ramirez or Davidson (or just a total implosion from Davidson) to make an impact in 2014. Keeping him on the roster as a utility player would likely just stunt his development. ... Micah Johnson has a little Billy Hamilton in him, stealing 84 bases across three levels of the minors in 2013. He also hit .312 with seven home runs and 15 triples, but is likely ticketed for Double-A to start the season. Keep an eye on him in dynasty leagues, though, as Johnson plays second base and could offer lots of future speed potential from the middle infield. ... Daniel Webb excelled in his first season as a full-time reliever, finishing 2013 with a 1.87 ERA and 78 strikeouts over 62 2/3 minor league innings. The 24-year-old may have a shot at a bullpen slot in 2014 if he can put together a strong spring. Fantasy owners in deep AL-only formats who are pessimistic on Nate Jones (this is a very specific subset) may want to consider Webb as a very long shot option for saves.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyBB . You can also follow Nando at @nandocbs .

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Player News
Orioles' Matt Wieters not in Sunday's lineup
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:46 am ET) Orioeles catcher Matt Wieters was held out of Sunday's lineup at the Chicago White Sox, reports MLB.com.

He was replaced at catcher by Caleb Joseph, who will bat ninth. Over his last 10 games, Wieters is hitting .111 with one home run and two RBI.

The Orioles are the underdogs (+105) at Chicago on Sunday.


Red Sox's Justin Masterson to pitch out of bullpen
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:40 am ET) Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson will be used out of the bullpen through the All-Star break, reports WEEI.com.

Masterson is 3-2 with a 6.14 ERA on the season. He allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings in his last start.


Red Sox to start Wade Miley on Tuesday, Rick Porcello on Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:32 am ET) The Red Sox shuffled their starting rotation and will start pitcher Wade Miley on Tuesday against the Marlins, reports WEEI.com. Miley has won four of his last six starts.

With Miley starting Tuesday, the Red Sox will start Rick Porcello on Wednesday. Porcello is winless in his last eight starts (0-7). 


Cubs give Anthony Rizzo day off Sunday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Marlins, reports MLB.com.

Rizzo was replaced at first by Mike Baxter, who will bat seventh. Rizzo is hitting .107 with one double and two RBI in his last eight games.

The Cubs are favored (-140) over the Marlins on Sunday.


Cubs SP Tsuyoshi Wada to begin rehab assignment Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:20 am ET) Cubs pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada will begin his rehab assignment Monday at Double-A, reports the Daily Herald.

Wada is on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury.


Cubs activate Jorge Soler; option Matt Szczur
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:16 am ET) The Cubs activated outfielder Jorge Soler from the disabled list Sunday, reports the Daily Herald.

Soler will hit sixth and play right field in Sunday's game against the Marlins. Soler has been sidelined since June 3 with a sprained left ankle.

To make room for Soler, the team optioned Matt Szczur to Triple-A. Szczur is hitting .211 with one home run and eight RBI in his last 32 games.


Astros OF Jake Marisnick returns to lineup Sunday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick was back in the lineup for Sunday's game at Boston, the team announced. He will bat ninth and play center field. 

Marisnick had been on the disabled list since June 18 after sustaining a hamstring injury. He is hitting .245 with five home runs and 20 RBI in 62 games this season.

The Astros are the underdogs (+110) at Boston on Sunday.


Padres' Will Middlebrooks not in Sunday's lineup
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:52 am ET) The Padres held third baseman Will Middlebrooks out of Sunday's lineup against the Cardinals, the team announced.

Middlebrooks has been dealing with a sprained right ankle. He was replaced at third by Yangervis Solarte, who will bat second.

The Padres are the underdogs at St. Louis on Sunday.


Brewers CF Carlos Gomez not in Sunday's lineup
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez was held out of Sunday's starting lineup at Cincinnati, the team announced.

Gomez left Saturday's game after being hit by a pitch on his wrist. X-rays on the wrist were negative. He was replaced in center by Gerardo Parra, who will bat first. Over his last nine games, Gomez is hitting .237 with one home run and six RBI.

The Brewers are the underdogs (+112) at Cincinnati on Sunday.


Red Sox start David Ortiz at first base Sunday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:39 am ET) Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will receive a rare start at first base during Sunday's game against the Astros, reports NESN.

Ortiz will play first base and bat fourth during Sunday's contest. Over his last 12 games, Ortiz is hitting .200 with four home runs and 10 RBI.

The Red Sox are favored (-110) over the Astros on Sunday.


 
 
 
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