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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
Report: Orioles in 'continuous dialogue' with pitcher Chris Tillman
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) The Orioles and pitcher Chris Tillman are reportedly engaged in "continuous dialogue" for a long-term extension and have been for the past several weeks, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Tillman signed a one-year, $4.315 million deal in January to avoid arbitration and the discussions for a new deal are still considered preliminary, according to the report.

Tillman posted a 13-6 record in 2014 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 starts.


Tigers bullpen decision coming down to Ian Krol, Kyle Ryan
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is running out of time to finish off his bullpen for Opening Day. The final bullpen role will likely be a left-handed pitcher and is expected to come down to Kyle Ryan and Ian Krol, according to MLB.com.

"If I'm there, hopefully it's a good situation, whether it's long or short," Ryan said. "For them to have enough confidence in me to go into Spring Training as a reliever, and actually for them to believe that I might be able to make the team as a reliever, that makes me proud."

Ryan has given up seven runs on seven hits in 11 innings of work this spring. 

"When he throws it right, it's good," Ausmus said of Krol. "He has a tendency to occasionally slow his arm down on his cutter and curveball. He did it a couple times today. But when he doesn't slow his arm down, it's very good."


Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson continues to make his case
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson still doesn't know what his role will be when Opening Day rolls around, but he's showing he belongs on the roster, reports MLB.com.

"There's always stuff I need to work on, and I need to continue to impress," Pederson said after launching his fifth home run of the spring Saturday, boosting his batting average to .373.

Manager Don Mattingly remains quiet on what he will do when the decision has to be made, but Pederson is doing what he can to impress.

"[Opening Day] is out of my control," Pederson said. "It's something you dream about as a kid, playing in the big leagues, and you do anything you can to make that dream come true."


Angels P Matt Shoemaker gives up three runs in loss to Dodgers
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) After pitching six scoreless innings in his last start, Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker struggled a bit in the team's 5-4 to the Dodgers, reports MLB.com.

Shoemaker gave up three runs on four hits in six innings, striking out two. One of the hits he surrended was to Joc Pederson on a two-run homer.

The 28-year-old completed last season with a 3.04 ERA, 124 strikeouts and only 24 walks.


Reds third baseman Todd Frazier feels ready for Opening Day
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Reds third baseman Todd Frazier feels his swing has come back and is ready to tackle the long haul ahead of the regular season, reports MLB.com.

"It comes quick, like usual," Frazier said on Saturday morning. "I get goose bumps thinking about it right now -- another year, it's crazy."

Frazier struggled early in spring training, but has rebounded to go 8 for 23 in his last seven games.

"I hit in the Minor Leagues for about 10 at-bats [on Friday], just to try and feel it back-to-back. I do, and I feel really well," said Frazier, who is batting .262 in 14 games this spring. "I feel like if I had to play tomorrow [in the regular season], I'd be ready to go. It's all about preparation, and offseason stuff. I feel like it's so far, so good."


Angels OF Mike Trout homers in loss to Dodgers
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Angels outfielder Mike Trout homered in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Dodgers, reports MLB.com.

Trout, 23, robbed the Dodgers' Alex Guerrero of an extra-base hit in the first inning, making it a successful day for him, despite the loss. 

This spring he has a batting average of .477 with four home runs and 14 RBI. 


White Sox hope to have Robertson, Petricka back by Opening Day
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Two key members of the White Sox bullpen are working their way back from forearm injuries, but manager Robin Ventura is confident he'll have both back by opening day. 

Closer David Robertson is scheduled to pitch on Sunday. 

"We're trying to make sure we’re extra careful with him," Ventura said, per Comcast's Dan Hayes. "He doesn’t seem to be concerned about it as much as we do."

Setup man Jake Petricka isn't as far along as Robertson. He played catch on Saturday for the first time in five days.

The Sox are taking it slow, so that the team will have both pitchers for Opening Day as well as the rest of the season. 

"You’re just making sure you’re cautious enough that you feel good about when (they go) out there that there won’t be any setbacks,” Ventura said. 


Indians pitcher Zach McAllister fans nine in outing Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Indians pitcher Zach McAllister went five innings Saturday against the Brewers, allowing two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts. McAllister, who is expected to make one more start before Opening Day, touched 97 mph with his fastball in the appearance, according to Cleveland.com.

"He's been impressive and he's been doing it all spring," said Francona. "He's not just throwing strikes, he's down in the zone when he wants to and then he can elevate with some velocity. I think his hard work is really paying off."

McAllister has felt he always had the added velocity.

"Throughout my career I've always felt I've had a little more (velocity) in there if I could maintain it," said McAllister. "For whatever reason, whether it's being more consistent with my delivery or my arm action, I'm just trusting that when I let it go it's going to go where I want it to go. I'm not trying to place anything."


Pirates Pedro Alvarez looking to stick at first base
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez is hoping to stick at his new position after converting from third base, reports triblive.com.

On opening day, Alvarez will be the team's 54th first baseman in its 129-year history.

“It's a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view,” Alvarez said. “I need to get the reps in so the responsibilities that come with playing that position become second nature to me.”

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington talked about the team's past efforts of platooning the position.

“You can't develop something you don't have. You can't buy something you can't afford,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “That's why we've tried to platoon. Over the last couple of years, we've realized that's a challenge for a National League manager. Platoons are much harder here than they are in the American League, especially with a one-dimensional player who can only play one position.”

The hope around the organization is that they can get quality production from Alvarez.

“Our hope that is between Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart, we'll get quality major league production,” Huntington said.

The 28-year-old is batting .306 with two home runs, nine RBI and eight strikeouts this spring.


Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton can't find a rhythm Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton tossed six innings Saturday against the Blue Jays, allowing six hits, including two home runs and no strikeouts. Morton, who is fighting for a spot in the starting rotation, is still recovering from labrum surgery six months ago.

"Physically, Charlie is in a good place," manager Clint Hurdle said to MLB.com. "He is trying to make some mechanical adjustments in his delivery, but we don't have any health concerns about him."

Morton isn't worried about fixing mechanical issues just yet.

"Now is a tough time to put a lot of emphasis on mechanics," said Morton. "I gotta go pitch, adjustments or no adjustments."


 
 
 
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