StrategyMarch 14, 2009

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Toronto Blue Jays

By Patrick Martin

For the next installment of “30 Teams in 30 Days,” we look at the Toronto Blue Jays. It is a rough outlook for Toronto as the Blue Jays play in the same division as the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays and the $350 million combined payroll of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. This is a team dealing with a myriad of losses. A.J. Burnett took his 18 wins and 231 strikeouts to New York. Shaun Marcum, a surprise in 2008 with a 3.39 ERA, is out for the year after Tommy John surgery. As if the baseball gods did not think this or the 78-cent Canadian dollar were enough, third starter Dustin McGowan is out with a frayed labrum and top hitter Vernon Wells is already shelved with a strained hamstring.

Blue Jay fans watched the bad news pile up in the off-season and waited for the bleeding to stop. “Doctor” J.P. Riccardi stood over his patient with a handful of cash and a rabid fanbase. However, true to form, Dr. Riccardi was the only general manager in all of baseball not to make an offer to a free agent in the off-season until offering a minor league deal to retread pitcher Matt Clement. Sweet.

For a closer look at the Toronto Blue Jays and the rest of the AL East, be sure to check out the The Can of Corn AL East Preview Podcast.

Offensive Starters

C Rod Barajas.249.294.4104411490349
1B Lyle Overbay.270.358.4197415691544
2B Aaron Hill.263.324.361192204205
SS John McDonald.210.255.269211183186
3B Scott Rolen.262.349.4315811505408
LF Alex Rios.291.337.46191157932635
CF Vernon Wells.300.343.4966320784427
RF Travis Snider.301.338.4669213073
DH Adam Lind.282.316.439489402326

Unsettled: John McDonald, Rod Barajas, Travis Snider, and Adam Lind. Michael Barrett will back up Barajas but neither is worth owning. Marco Scutaro and Joe Inglett will steal at-bats from McDonald. I’m sure that they’re all very nice people and their mothers love them but they have no business being on a fantasy team. Snider and Lind are the future of the team but they are 21 and 25 respectively and may lose some at-bats to Kevin Millar and Jose Bautista.

Target: Alex Rios, Lind, and Snider. Rios swiped 32 bags last year and will get even more this year. The entire team will run more with Cito Gaston at the helm so the Jays may offer some cheap waiver wire steals this year. Snider and Lind are good targets for a keeper league but in all other respects the Jays offense is a fantasy wasteland.

The Rotation

Roy Halladay (R)20-112.781.0520639246Stud
Jesse Litsch (R)13-93.581.239939176 
David Purcey (L)3-65.541.48582965 
Matt Clement (R)3-05.231.41201632.2Minors
Scott Downs (L)0-31.781.15572770.2RP

Unsettled: Everything after Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch. David Purcey, the man drafted three times, may finally make the big team out of spring training. Other names out there for the last three rotation spots are reliever Scott Downs, former Brave and Red Sox Matt Clement, Scott Richmond, and Casey Janssen.

Target: Halladay and Downs. Nothing needs be said about Halladay but I would definitely target Downs if he makes the starting rotation. Downs had a 1.78 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 70 innings in relief last year. He is an extreme groundball pitcher who benefits from an active McDonald at shortstop. Look for him to be this year’s Justin Duchscherer if he starts.

The 8th and 9th Innings

B.J. Ryan (L)322.951.28582858
Brandon League (R)12.181.30231533

Chasing Saves: B.J. Ryan made a successful return from Tommy John surgery last year and on a stronger team he would be a top-ten closer. Still, the Jays will not blow anyone out and Ryan has a shot at 35 saves this year. Brandon League is an absolute stud who has gotten his head together and will share eighth inning duties with lefty Jesse Carlson. League is the closer if Ryan runs into injury woes again.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, Toronto is a bit of a fantasy abyss these days. The studs Halladay, Rios, and Ryan are probably overvalued and would be lucky to match last year’s stats. There are a number of good prospects in Lind and Snider and the farm system is loaded with great young arms. If you are preparing for a dynasty minor league draft you will want to look at the Jays’ pitchers. Brett Cecil dominated Double-A ball last year and Brad Mills, Scott Richmond, and first rounder Ricky Romero are all good prospects that should be up in the majors this year or the next.

Yesterday we previewed the Tampa Bay Rays. Check back tomorrow for our look at the Chicago White Sox in the next edition of “30 Teams in 30 Days”!

Patrick Martin is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Patrick in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Mookie4ever.
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