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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
Giants sign Ronny Cedeno to minor-league deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:18 pm ET) The Giants have signed infielder Ronny Cedeno to a minor-league deal, according to the PCL transactions page.

Cedeno, 32, spent most of the year in the minors. He hit .313/.368/.431 over 281 at-bats in Triple-A. Cedeno received nine at-bats with the Phillies, but failed to record a hit. 


Brewers' Scooter Gennett glad to have full-time role
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:03 pm ET) Brewers infielder Scooter Gennett is glad to have a full-time role heading into 2015, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Gennett spent last season in a platoon with Rickie Weeks, but with Weeks gone, he'll assume the full-time role. Gennett said he feels far less stressed about his position on the team this spring. "Seeing as I'm pretty much the everyday guy, that eliminated the stress, or whatever you want to call it, off my back," he said. 

"Just not having to worry about stuff out of my control. I've put myself in this position where I've earned the job, I've shown them what I can do, and now it's about consistently doing it," he added. 

Manager Ron Roenicke has already said he'll give Gennett plenty of opportunities to prove himself against left-handers. 

Gennett, 24, hit .289/.320/.434 over 440 at-bats last season. 


Cubs' Arismendy Alcantara will play all over the place
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) Cubs utility man Arismendy Alcantara is going to play a lot of positions this season, according to ESPN.

Alcantara saw time in center last season, but the team's trade for Dexter Fowler will alter his role. Alcantara says he's ready for the challenge. "Mentally you have to be ready for that," Alcantara said. "They want me to play second base and the outfield." He's also expected to see some time at third base. 

Manager Joe Maddon is glad to have such a versatile player on the team. "When you get a guy like that and you want to give someone a rest, you don't feel like you're losing anything," Joe Maddon said. "And the big attraction there is also in-game. It's like having an extra guy on the bench."

The 23-year-old Alcantara hit .205/.254/.367 over 278 at-bats last year. 


Rockies ask Corey Dickerson to be more patient
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:31 pm ET) The Rockies want Corey Dickerson to be a little more patient at the plate, according to MLB.com.

Dickerson had a breakout season in 2014, hitting .312/.364/.567 over 436 at-bats. He walked in 7.7 percent of his plate appearances, which was actually just above the league average. Still, the team wants Dickerson to be slightly less of a free-swinging this year.

"I talked to Corey about adding this much discipline to his game," manager Walt Weiss said. "We don't want that much, because then he wouldn't be Corey Dickerson." Weiss explained that it's difficult to deliver this type of message, as Dickerson's aggressiveness makes him effective. 

Dickerson said he would work harder to study pitchers and work on his approach during games. 

The 25-year-old is expected to open the year as the team's starter in left.


Marlins unlikely to add reliever now
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:16 pm ET) The Marlins are unlikely to add a reliever now that Francisco Rodriguez is off the market, according to MLB.com.

The Marlins were involved in negotiations for K-Rod through at least Wednesday, and were reportedly willing to offer $10 million over two years. The club has been looking for a veteran reliever for some time, but may pass now that Rodriguez has signed with the Brewers.

Both Rafael Soriano and Phil Coke have been connected to Miami, but the team would likely only sign those players to minor-league contracts.


Diamondbacks' Chase Anderson a favorite for the rotation
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:42 pm ET) The Diamondbacks consider Chase Anderson a favorite to break camp in the rotation, according to azcentral.com.

The club wants to create a lot of competition for the rotation, and it was initially believed Anderson would be competing for a spot. General manager Dave Stewart sort of quashed those rumors, saying he perceives Anderson as a strong favorite right now. "Chase Anderson won nine games for us last year; you have to strongly consider him as part of our rotation," Stewart said. 

Anderson is expected to pair with Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson for now. The club will determine the final two spots in the rotation during camp.

Anderson, 27, posted a 4.01 ERA over 114 1/3 innings last year.


Indians' Francona: Swisher 'swinging the bat really well'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:14 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona has been satisfied with Nick Swisher's performance during batting practice, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

"He's swinging the bat really well," Francona said. "He's under control and he probably has to be (because of his knees). But he's using the whole field. He really looks good." 

Swisher has been working with the team's hitting coaches on trying to go up the middle more often. Francona said that strategy has already translated to his batting practice sessions. 

Running still remains an issue for Swisher, however. He was able to do some drills on Thursday, but reportedly looked uncomfortable during the session. The club expects he'll be ready for games in mid-March.

Swisher, 34, hit .208/.278/.331 over 360 at-bats last year. 


Rockies' Jordan Lyles hoping new changeup leads to success
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:55 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles is hoping a new changeup will lead to success this season, according to the Denver Post

Lyles started experimenting with a split-change last year, and spent all offseason honing the pitch. I've been working on that all offseason," Lyles said. "I wasn't paying too much attention to my curveball and cutter. I really wanted to give a bigger gap between mph."

Manager Walt Weiss came away impressed with the offering. "His confidence in that pitch has skyrocketed," he said. Weiss added that he views Lyles as "a staple for [the Rockies."

Lyles is expected to open the year in the team's rotation. He posted a 4.33 ERA over 126 2/3 innings last season.


Royals looking at Joe Blanton as a reliever
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:48 pm ET) The Royals will use Joe Blanton as a reliever, according to MLB.com.

Blanton has not pitched in the majors since 2013. While he started 20 games that season, the Royals view him strictly as a reliever. "The only way he is really going to help us is in the bullpen," manager Ned Yost said. "We're not going to stretch him out [to be a starter]."

Blanton posted a 6.04 ERA over 132 2/3 innings in 2013. He'll compete for a job in the Royals bullpen this spring. 


Giants' Santiago Casilla avoids injury during BP session
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:41 pm ET) Giants reliever Santiago Casilla avoided a major injury on Thursday after he was hit by a comebacker during a batting practice session, according to MLB.com.

Casilla took a line drive off the shin during the session. He laid on the ground for about a minute, but was able to walk off the field under his own power. X-rays came back negative, so Casilla is not dealing with a fracture. He may miss a day or two due to the injury, but that's it. Casilla said he wanted to simulate a real game, which is why he decided not to pitch behind a screen.

The 34-year-old posted a 1.70 ERA over 58 1/3 innings last year. He's expected to open the season as the team's closer. 


 
 
 
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