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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: San Francisco Giants

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The Giants fell hard after their 2012 World Series victory. Returning with a roster that changed little from their championship squad, the team went 76-86, tying for third place in the National League West.

Having become accustomed to owning one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, the Giants had to adapt to what was once a strength becoming a weakness in 2013. Matt Cain had a surprisingly poor first half, compiling a 5.06 ERA before rediscovering his control and runner-stranding ability. Ryan Vogelsong underperformed and missed time with a hand injury, and Barry Zito had possibly his most miserable season of his disappointing seven-year Giants career. Though Chad Gaudin and Yusmeiro Petit filled in admirably as substitute starters, the Giants' staff finished with the third-highest ERA in the National League. Only Madison Bumgarner and closer Sergio Romo stood out as a reliable arms over the course of the season.

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

The offense gets its share of the blame, too. Buster Posey was bound to fall off his MVP pace from 2012, but few likely saw a near-halving of his home run-to-flyball ratio (from 17.8 to 9.4 percent) coming. Angel Pagan missed more than half the season due to hamstring surgery, leaving Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres to man two of the outfield spots for much of 2013. Not only did they fail to make up for Pagan's lost production, but neither one came close to replacing the departed Melky Cabrera. (In all fairness, Cabrera fell far short of the standard he set in 2011 and 2012 in his first season with the Blue Jays.)

The Giants apparently feel that the current cast is capable of contending again, as they made few offseason moves. Michael Morse was signed to provide the outfield production they missed by using Blanco and Torres frequently last season. Zito's tenure mercifully came to an end, and he has been replaced by free agent Tim Hudson, who will try to bounce back from a gruesome ankle injury. Otherwise, the team will count on Posey and Vogelsong to rebound, Bumgarner and Hunter Pence to remain consistent, Brandon Belt to build on his growth from the last two seasons, Tim Lincecum to continue the reversal of fortune he modestly began last year and for Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval to simply stay healthy.

There are a lot of "ifs" that will have to come true for the Giants to contend again, and that also means there are few players who are reliable enough to be trusted with an early-round pick in Fantasy. Posey, Pence and Bumgarner are the sole members of that brief list, though Cain will be a must-start option until he proves otherwise. Lincecum, Hudson, Romo, Belt, Sandoval, Morse and Pagan are all worth having in standard mixed leagues, particularly in Rotisserie formats.

Head-to-Head hero ... Hunter Pence, outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Angel Pagan CF
2. Marco Scutaro 2B
3. Brandon Belt 1B
4. Buster Posey C
5. Hunter Pence RF
6. Pablo Sandoval 3B
7. Michael Morse LF
8. Brandon Crawford SS
Bench Joaquin Arias 2B
Bench Gregor Blanco OF

Because Pence has a couple of fluky-looking .300-plus seasons on his resume, when I've discussed him during draft prep season in the past, it's been to warn of bust potential. Now that he is two years removed from a .314 campaign, expectations for Pence have receded, and he could be underrated now, at least in Head-to-Head formats. Particularly if Pence doesn't approach his career-high 22 steals from a year ago, he can't be trusted to repeat as a top 10 outfielder in Rotisserie, as he doesn't have tremendous power for his position. However, as Depeche Mode once sang regarding Head- to-Head formats, everything counts in large amounts. With standard categories all being of the counting variety, being durable counts for a lot, and Pence has played at least 154 games in each of his six full seasons. While Pence's rate stats might give him the appearance of being a middle-of- the-road Fantasy outfielder, he could wind up being a top 15 Head-to-Head outfielder for the fourth time in the last five years.

Bust ... Pablo Sandoval, third base

Time missed due to injury is an old story for Sandoval, and in 2013, it was foot and back issues that kept him off the field at times. He did play 141 games, his highest total since 2010, and he lost more than 40 pounds this offseason. Maybe that will help Sandoval to play more games this season, but even if it does, it doesn't mean he will reverse two seasons of disappointing power numbers. Sandoval has hit 20-plus homers in two out of his five full seasons, so he has the potential to repeat that feat, but with underwhelming production in the other three seasons, it's a big risk to bank on it. Because he doesn't strike out much, Sandoval has some Head-to-Head appeal, but that's limited due to playing time concerns, and in Rotisserie, the likelihood of moderate power and run production with no speed leaves him with minimal standard mixed league value.

Bounceback candidate ... Tim Lincecum, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Matt Cain RHP
2. Madison Bumgarner LHP
3. Tim Hudson RHP
4. Tim Lincecum RHP
5. Ryan Vogelsong RHP
ALT Yusmeiro Petit RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Sergio Romo RHP
2. Santiago Casilla RHP
3. Jeremy Affeldt LHP
4. Javier Lopez LHP
5. George Kontos RHP

Through the first two months of last season, Lincecum looked headed for another disaster. He stood at the end of May with an ERA over 5.00, even though he notched more than a strikeout per inning, just as he had done in 2012. Though Lincecum's ERA did not improve dramatically over his remaining 21 starts, he showed signs of a turnaround. He threw a respectable 62 percent of his pitches for strikes and walked 3.1 batters per nine innings, and both stats reflect marked improvement in control. Because Lincecum was still allowing extra-base hits at a higher rate than he did during his better years and was stranding runners at a subpar 69 percent rate, his final ERA was a less-than-impressive 4.37. An upward swing in strand rate is not unthinkable, so if he can maintain decent control, Lincecum's contributions to strikeouts, ERA and WHIP can return him to relevance in standard mixed leagues.

Prospects Report

Righty Kyle Crick and lefty Edwin Escobar are not only the consensus top prospects in the Giants' system, but they could be the first among the organization's best minor leaguers to reach the majors and make an impact. Since both could receive callups sometime this year, both can be targeted in the late rounds of NL-only drafts. ... Andrew Susac will have a hard time cracking the Giants' lineup thanks to the presence of Buster Posey, but the 24-year-old catcher should be able to contribute in the majors at some point within the next year or two. ... The same may not be true for outfielder Gary Brown, but perhaps he can regain his prospect status if he can cut back on strikeouts. He's worth hanging onto for at least one more year in dynasty formats. ... Shortstop Christian Arroyo, outfielder Mac Williamson, second baseman Joe Panik and pitchers Chris Stratton, Adalberto Mejia and Clayton Blackburn have all toiled almost exclusively in the lower minors so far, but all are legitimate dynasty league targets. ... Starting pitcher Michael Kickham and reliever Heath Hembree have some big league experience, and while neither projects to make a major Fantasy impact in 2014, both could make a contribution in deeper NL-only leagues this season.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

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Player News
White Sox recall four players from Triple-A on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:09 pm ET) The White Sox added four players to their active roster on Tuesday. Right-handers Erik Johnson and Frankie Montas , infielder Leury Garcia and catcher Rob Brantly were all recalled from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Tuesday's series-opener with the Twins.


Braves SS Andrelton Simmons (ankle) still sidelined Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:58 pm ET) Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is not in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Marlins. Simmons was scratched from Monday's starting nine due to right ankle inflammation and he is expected to be sidelined for a couple of days.

Daniel Castro, who was just recalled from Triple-A on Tuesday, will get the start at shortstop in place of Simmons.


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by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:30 pm ET) The Braves made a flurry of roster moves with the expansion of the roster on Tuesday. 

Left-hander Manny Banuelos (elbow) was activated from the 15-day disabled list, and he'll start Tuesday's game against the Marlins.

Additionally, right-handers Danny Burawa and Brandon Cunniff , as well as infielders Hector Olivera and Daniel Castro were recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett


Rockies' Kyle Kendrick, Boone Logan activated from DL Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:47 pm ET) The Rockies have reinstated a pair of pitchers from the disabled list. Starter Kyle Kendrick and reliever Boone Logan were activated on Tuesday, as the rosters expanded.

Kendrick was placed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation earlier this month. He is scheduled to start the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Diamondbacks.

Logan has been sidelined since Aug. 12 with elbow inflammation. The veteran left-hander has a 4.75 ERA in 48 relief appearances this season. 


Rockies recall Wilin Rosario, two others from Triple-A on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:42 pm ET) Rockies slugger Wilin Rosario has been recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque. Rosario had two stints with the Rockies earlier this season, but was rather disappointing at the plate. 

The catcher/first baseman hit .273 with just five home runs in 183 at-bats for the Rockies. His numbers were a little bit better with the Isotopes, hitting .297 with five dingers. 

Rosario is in the starting lineup for Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Diamondbacks. He will be at first base and bat cleanup. 

The Rockies also recalled infielder Cristhian Adames and left-hander Rex Brothers from Triple-A, as rosters expanded on Tuesday.


RP Miguel Castro called up to make Rockies debut
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:38 pm ET) The Rockies have recalled right-hander Miguel Castro from Triple-A Albuqueruqe. Castro was acquired from the Blue Jays in the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto. 

Castro made the Blue Jays out of spring training, and began the year as the team's closer. But he struggled in his first taste of the big leagues, going 0-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 appearances before being sent down to Triple-A. He was particularly bad in his last five outings, posting an unsightly 12.27 ERA. He was 4-for-6 in save opportunities with the Jays.

The Rockies have not declared what role Castro will play in the final month of the season. John Axford is the team's current closer, but it is possible Castro could see some late-inning action in September.


Orioles summon pitchers Steve Johnson, Oliver Drake from Triple-A
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:15 pm ET) The Orioles have recalled a pair of right-handed pitchers from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday. Steve Johnson and Oliver Drake have been added to the active roster and will be available for Tuesday's game against the Rays.

Johnson hasn't appeared in the Major Leagues since making nine appearances--including one start--in 2013. At Norfolk this season, Johnson was 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 32 appearances.

Drake, a 28-year-old rookie, spent five games with the Orioles earlier this season, posting a 3.52 ERA in 7 2/3 innings of relief. 


Tigers' Kyle Ryan, Bryan Holaday join active roster Tuesday
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(12:30 pm ET) The Tigers have recalled left-hander Kyle Ryan and catcher Bryan Holaday from Triple-A Toledo

Ryan has made 10 appearances with the Tigers this year, including five starts. Things have not gone well for him however, as he is 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA over those 10 outings.

Holaday will provide depth behind the plate for manager Brad Ausmus. He went 13 for 48 with a home run in 16 games with the Tigers earlier this season. 


Indians activate Floyd, Johnson from DL; recall Armstrong
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:26 pm ET) The Indians announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday. The Indians activated right-hander Gavin Floyd and infielder Chris Johnson from the disabled list. They also recalled Shawn Armstrong from Triple-A Columbus.

Floyd has not pitched this season after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. He was expected to miss the entire 2015 campaign but his recovery went better than originally thought.

Johnson, who came over from the Braves in a waiver deal earlier this month, was placed on the DL back on Aug. 18 with an infection stemming from a spider bite. He was 9 for 21 in six games with the Indians prior to the injury.

Armstrong was up earlier this year with the Indians, pitching 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. 


Diamondbacks add three players to active roster on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:19 pm ET) The Diamondbacks announced the recall of a trio of players on Tuesday. Right-handers Enrique Burgos and Matt Stites , as well as infielder Brandon Drury have all been summoned from Triple-A Reno.

Burgos and Stites have both seen time with the D-Backs this season. Drury, however, has yet to get a taste of the big leagues. The 21-year-old was a 13th-round draft pick by the Braves back in 2010.

He is making his Major League debut on Tuesday, as he is the starting third baseman for Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Rockies.


 
 
 
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