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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: San Diego Padres

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Overall, 2013 was another humdrum year for the Padres, as their 76-86 record gave them their third straight losing season and fifth out of the last six. The team played better after the All-Star break, and the improvement was fueled in large part by skill growth from starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and late-season surges from outfielder Will Venable and third baseman Chase Headley. Over the course of the second half, the Padres found themselves on the right side of a .500 record, going 34-32.

Perhaps because of the relatively strong finish, some writers have tabbed the Padres as a wild card contender, but they are still lacking upper-echelon Fantasy talent. Everth Cabrera will likely be the Padres' most sought-after Fantasy entity, despite having ended his 2013 season with a 50-game suspension stemming from the Biogenesis investigation. Jedd Gyorko and Chase Headley may not be far behind Cabrera in the draft order, as all are likely to be middle-round targets. No other everyday player from the starting lineup is a must-draft in standard mixed leagues, though Will Venable and Carlos Quentin will find at least some homes in those formats. The same could be true for Yasmani Grandal, if he can stay ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery.

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

Among pitchers, Cashner has the greatest Fantasy appeal, due to his mid-90s velocity (and thus, strikeout potential) and strong finish last season, when he compiled a 2.14 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in the second half. Though he struck out a modest 61 batters over 75 2/3 second-half innings, Cashner did get whiffs on 10 percent of his pitches while averaging a robust 6.9 innings per start. That efficiency will help Cashner in standard Head-to-Head formats, just as Tyson Ross' relief eligibility will. Ian Kennedy and Josh Johnson, the latter of whom was signed as a free agent this offseason, will likely attract less interest in standard mixed leagues, as both are coming off their worst seasons since becoming rotation staples, but neither is far removed from having been relevant in Fantasy.

Eric Stults is the leading candidate to begin the season as the Padres' No. 5 starter, but even with Cory Luebke likely needing a second Tommy John procedure and missing the 2014 season, there could eventually be competition. Robbie Erlin leads the charge of a deep group of young pitchers who could be ready to join the rotation.

Huston Street is set to start his third season as the Padres' closer, but the team has acquired plenty of depth to back up the injury-prone hurler. Though Luke Gregerson was dealt to the Athletics for outfielder Seth Smith, they signed Joaquin Benoit and traded for lefties Alex Torres and Patrick Schuster to provide reinforcements in the bullpen. Torres could also be a candidate for the rotation at some point, while Rule 5 pick Schuster is more likely to be relegated to a lefty specialist role, assuming he isn't returned to the Diamondbacks.

Though the Padres have the pieces to be a playoff contender, there may not be another team that has as many players with boom-or-bust potential. If Cabrera picks up where he left off, Gyorko, Cashner and Ross break out, and Headley, Kennedy and Johnson bounce back, the Friars will be a force to be reckoned with. The same could be true for Fantasy owners who draft these players, but each carries a substantial amount of risk.

Sleeper ... Will Venable, outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Everth Cabrera SS
2. Will Venable CF
3. Chase Headley 3B
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Jedd Gyorko 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal C
8. Seth Smith RF
Bench Kyle Blanks 1B/OF
Bench Cameron Maybin OF

Venable quietly became a top 30 Rotisserie outfielder in 2013, just one year after he barely cracked the top 60. Not only did he set a career-high with 515 plate appearances, but Venable shattered his personal best for home runs, clouting 22 (his previous high was 13 in 2010). Prior to last year, Venable's sole Fantasy asset was his moderate contribution to steals, and he didn't disappoint in that category, exceeding 20 for the fourth year in a row. The home run spike may not have been a fluke, though. He hit 15 homers at PETCO Park, which after bringing the right field fence in, now ranks as a top home run park for left-handed hitters, according to the 2014 Bill James Handbook. Owners may be used to viewing Venable as an afterthought in standard mixed leagues, but he could deliver tremendous value with a late-round pick, especially in Roto leagues.

Bounceback candidate ... Chase Headley, third base

After breaking out in 2012, Headley was a major letdown last season, as his home run, RBI and stolen base totals fell by more than half. It turns out that Headley played the whole season with a torn meniscus, which he had repaired in October. Even while being hampered by his knee and possibly also his thumb (which kept him out of action in the early part of the season), Headley still hit for decent power against lefties (nine doubles, two triples and five home runs in 149 at-bats). Entering 2014 fully healthy once again, owners could look forward to Headley coming much closer to his 2012 level of production, which was reflected in a .286/.376/.498 slash line. Because his output was so depressed a year ago, you can probably get Headley for the mere investment of a mid-round pick.

Head-to-Head hero ... Tyson Ross, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Ian Kennedy RHP
2. Andrew Cashner RHP
3. Josh Johnson RHP
4. Tyson Ross RHP
5. Eric Stults LHP
ALT Robbie Erlin LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Huston Street RHP
2. Joaquin Benoit RHP
3. Alex Torres LHP
4. Nick Vincent RHP
5. Dale Thayer RHP

In early mocks, Ross is getting drafted well behind Cashner, but it's not unthinkable that the former Athletic could outperform his teammate. Cashner holds out the promise of becoming a strikeout-per-inning stud, but Ross actually delivered that performance during the second half of last season. Upon entering the Padres' rotation after the All-Star Break, Ross recorded a 2.93 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 80 innings over 13 starts. Had Ross carried his 14 percent swinging strike rate from that span over the entire season, he would have had a higher rate than Yu Darvish. It's hard to believe that Ross could maintain that pace over a full season, but even with regression, you have to love his strikeout potential. Oh ... and he's dual-eligible in Head-to-Head leagues, so you can get that production out of a relief spot in those formats. Yikes.

Prospects Report

Burch Smith, Keyvius Sampson and Casey Kelly are all part of a system deep in major-league-ready starting pitching, and each could get a trial in the Padres' rotation in 2014. Kelly will first have to complete his recovery from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in April last year. Matthew Wisler has yet to reach Triple-A, but he has the most potential of the group and could make his debut this season. ... Austin Hedges gets rave reviews for his prowess behind the plate, but he hasn't shown much offense in the minors. Even with a potential late-season callup in his future, single-season owners can ignore him. ... Rymer Liriano, like Kelly, lost 2013 to Tommy John surgery. He could be a serious stolen base threat within a year or two, depending on how well he bounces back this year. ... Pitchers Max Fried and Joe Ross (Tyson's brother), as well as outfielder Hunter Renfroe, have not blown away the lower minors statistically, but each possesses tools that could bring them greater success as they climb the organizational ladder. Don't sweat the stats and look to target each in dynasty leagues.

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
Red Sox trade Anthony Ranaudo to Rangers for Robbie Ross
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) The Red Sox and Rangers announced a two player trade Tuesday where Boston sent Anthony Ranaudo to Texas and the Rangers sent Robbie Ross to the Red Sox, both teams announced.

Ranaudo posted a 4-3 record with a 4.81 ERA in 2014 for Boston in 39 1/3 innings pitched. Ross went 3-6 with a 6.20 ERA in 78 1/3 innings for the Rangers.


Report: Blue Jays also interested in Jonathan Papelbon trade
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:20 pm ET) Along with the Brewers, the Phillies have also discussed trading closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Blue Jays, soruces told MLB.com.

Papelbon is due $13 million next season, which is believed to be one of the sticking points in negotiations. In 2014, Papelbon had 39 saves with a 2.04 ERA.


Report: Orioles, Pirates rekindle Travis Snider trade talks
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Orioles and Pirates have revived trade talks regarding Pittsburgh outfielder Travis Snider, a source told The Baltimore Sun. The Orioles are closing in on a framework for a deal for Snider and are encouraged a trade will happen in exchange for one or two minor-league players.

The 26-year-old Snider is in his second year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. He will make $2.1 million in 2015.


Report: Angels, Garrett Richards set arbitration date
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have reportedly set an arbitration date for Feb. 11, according to the L.A. Times.

Talks for the new contract have been moving slowly with no discussion of a multi-year deal coming, according to the report. Richards asked for $3.8 million, but the team only offered $2.4 million.

Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 2014, amassing 164 strikeouts in 168 2/3 innings.


Giants SS Brandon Crawford agrees to $3.175M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:34 pm ET) The Giants and shortstop Brandon Crawford avoided arbitration Tuesday, agreeing to a $3.175 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Crawford, who is in his first year of arbitration, made $560,000 in 2014.

Crawford just finished his fourth season in the majors and third full season in 2014. He had career highs in triples (10), home runs (10), runs (54), RBI (69), walks (59) and games played (153).


Mariners' McClendon toying with idea of using Wilhelmsen as starter
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:28 pm ET) The acquisition of J.A. Happ means Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't have to head into spring training with long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen competing for a spot in the rotation.

However, McClendon hasn't totally given up on the idea of Wilhelmsen potentially transitioning to a starting role down the road, per MLB.com.

"I don't think it's totally dead," McClendon said. "I would say it's probably a long shot. My plan, as we speak right now, is to maybe stretch him out in spring and just play with it a little bit and see what happens, but I think it's a long shot. He was just so good in the role he was in, it'd be hard to take him out of that role."

Wilhelmsen pitched multiple innings in 24 of his 57 appearances last year. The former closer went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings.

"I really tried not to change anything at all, [other than] try to simplify a little bit," Wilhelmsen said. "If I was going in in the fourth inning, I knew I'd have to throw two or three innings and I just really attacked the zone. But it's not like you don't attack the zone any other time. It's the same thing. You have to get outs."


Tigers' Castellanos works to be 'more comfortable' at 3B in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:17 pm ET) Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos struggled in his first full year playing third base at the major-league level in 2014, so he is hard at work this offseason improving his defense

"Last year was [about] the actual ground-ball catching," Castellanos said, per MLB.com. "This year is a lot more [about] quickness, working on my range, lateral movement."

On top of committing 15 errors, Castellanos' Ultimate Zone Rating of negative-18.4 was nearly twice as bad as the next-lowest rating among third-base regulars. He also had a Defensive Runs Saved of minus-30 and a plus/minus rating of minus-39, which was lowest in the majors last year.

"I'm going to be more comfortable this year," Castellanos said. "Last year, I knew nobody [in terms of hitting tendencies]. Also I was getting used to the tempo of the game. It wasn't like I was in the big leagues for a while at another position and then had to go to third base. It was pretty much me making my first year in the big leagues at pretty much a new position, or trying to relearn an old position."


Santana, Escobar to compete to be Twins' starting shortstop
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:56 pm ET) While Danny Santana is considered the front-runner to be the Twins' starting shortstop, first-year manager Paul Molitor said nothing has been decided yet. Santana will compete with Eduardo Escobar for the starting job this spring.

"It's probably been one of the more awkward things for me this winter in dealing with that situation," Molitor said, per MLB.com. "Obviously, I have to go in there open-minded about how it will play out. I can't say Santana will be the shortstop because things can change. Escobar deserves an opportunity to play and whether it's spotting around the organization or he has to go back to shortstop, I can't tell you it all will work out."

Escobar started a team-high 86 games at shortstop in 2014 for Minnesota. He made it clear he wants to play every day, but is willing to play where Molitor needs him.

"This season is important for me," Escobar said. "I'm coming in ready to play. I don't know if I'm going to be the starting shortstop or not, but I've been working hard to be ready for spring training. If Molitor wants me to play shortstop, or wherever, I'm ready for it."

Santana said he is excited he is moving back to shortstop after making a team-high 62 starts in center field last year. He's been fielding 200 grounders per day in the Dominican Republic to get ready for the season.

"I'm very happy about playing shortstop. I was waiting for that moment," Santana said. "Shortstop is my natural position. I just need to keep working and I can do the same thing as last year."


Rockies' Bridich: 'Highly unlikely' Tulo, CarGo traded before opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports on Tuesday that it is "highly, highly unlikely" shortstop Troy Tulowitzki or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.

Gonzalez is under contract through the 2017 season on a seven-year, $80 million contract. He is also recovering from surgery in August to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee.


Pitcher Johan Santana shut down in Venezuelan Winter League
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:46 pm ET) Free-agent pitcher Johan Santana has been scratched from pitching in any of the remaining Venezuelan Winter League championship series games, reports FOXSports.

Santana has been experiencing discomfort in his shoulder. Teams that have indicated interest in Santana include the Yankees, Blue Jays, Padres. Santana's agent said Santana may still throw for major-league scouts, but wasn't sure.

He last pitched in the major leagues in 2012 and produced a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts.


 
 
 
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