StrategyFebruary 26, 2012


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30 Teams in 30 Days: Toronto Blue Jays

By ensanimal

In today’s 30 Teams in 30 Days feature, we’ll be looking at your 2012 Toronto Blue Jays. 2011 brought along another fourth place finish in the AL East, the fourth straight year that they landed behind the big boys. It was also the 18th straight year without making the playoffs. The addition of an extra playoff spot (probably) coming soon (along with the aging Yankees and Red Sox) should at least give the young Jays some hope moving forward.

As it stands, the 2012 Jays will be fighting it out again in an attempt to move up and wrestle a top two spot from the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. This young team has the talent to challenge, but is still probably a year or two away. If the bullpen had held up last year, a better finish may have been in the cards. The bullpen blew 25 saves, by far the highest in the AL East. An improved bullpen, full seasons from the Jays young players/acquisitions and another season of experience for Manager John Farrell should at least make for an entertaining year for fans of Canada’s own.

In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.

Offensive Starters

2011 StatsAVGOBPSLGRHRRBISBABNotes
C J.P. Arencibia.219.282.4384723781443 
1B Adam Lind.251.295.4395626871499 
2B Kelly Johnson.222.304.41375215816545w/2T
SS Yunel Escobar.290.369.4137711483513 
3B Brett Lawrie.293.373.580269257150 
LF Eric Thames.262.313.4565812372362 
CF Colby Rasmus.225.298.3917514535471w/2T
RF Jose Bautista.302.447.608105431039513 
DH Edwin Encarnacion.272.334.4537017558481 

Unsettled: Left field. Travis Snider was given the job out of spring training last year and proceeded to play himself back to the minors. His uninspiring slash line of .225/.269/.348 is sadly not that far off from his career numbers with the Jays. Thames should end up winning the spot out of spring training this season as he showed good power potential in his half season with the Jays. In 2010 as a 23-year-old in Double-A, he hit 27 HRs with OPS of .896. If Rasmus finds his game though, both of these guys are holding an OF spot until prospect Anthony Gose is ready, who may even be a late season call up.

Target: Kelly Johnson. Bautista is an obvious target, but he’ll be gone in the early first. Lawrie is a future stud and already being drafted like one. Johnson is the guy I like as a late round pick to fill a 2B hole. He had a down season in 2011 with the Diamondbacks but started to bounce back in his short time in Toronto. He’s in a good offense and in a good home ballpark. There is talk he’ll be batting in the second spot in the order, which could do wonders for his numbers. Hitting in front of Bautista has some advantages. He is a 2B who can knock 25 HRs and grab you 10-15 stolen bases that can be had in the latter part of the draft. Rookies and cream’s MDP list has him at 198 at the moment.

The Rotation

2011 StatsW-LERAWHIPKBBIPNotes
Ricky Romero (L)15-112.921.1417880225.0 
Brandon Morrow (R)11-114.721.2920369179.1 
Henderson Alvarez (R)1-33.531.1340863.2 
Brett Cecil (L)4-114.731.338742123.2 
Dustin McGowan (R)0-26.431.57201321.0 

Unsettled: The 4th and 5th rotation spot are tossups. Cecil has performance question marks, McGowan has health concerns and prospect Kyle Drabek has not proven that he can handle the big leagues yet. Drabek needs another year in Triple-A to work on his command after posting a 6.3 BB/9 with the Jays in 2011; he had shown some promise with a call up at the end of 2010. His Triple-A time in 2011 didn’t improve the command much, posting a 4.9 BB/9. McGowan is a wild card. After being a much hyped prospect in the early part of the decade, arm troubles caused him to miss almost three years of action. He came up at the end of 2011 after posting good numbers in the minors and struggled, which was to be expected. Hopefully a full spring training camp and clean bill of health can get him back to being a solid Major League starter.

Target: Brandon Morrow. You like strikeouts? Morrow has strikeouts. A career 10.1 K/9 pitcher, Morrow should again crack the 200-K threshold. It seems that Morrow has been on the unlucky side of things the past few seasons. He ended 2010 with a 4.49 ERA but a 3.16 FIP; in 2011, a similar disparity resulted in a 4.72 ERA and 3.64 FIP. Of the pitcher’s with a minimum of 140 IPs, Morrow had the highest (ERA-FIP) in 2010 and fourth highest in 2011. Hopefully a correction is around the corner. An article on FanGraphs brought up the fact that his peripherals don’t change much with the bases empty or when there are men on, but his BAPIP takes a drastic turn for the worse. In 2011, his BAPIP with the bases empty was .273, while with men on it was .335 and with men in scoring position it was .355. Similar trends happened in 2010. All this is to say that I see big things for Morrow in 2012 if he can get a few lucky bounces and keep that wonderful K rate. At worst, you can get 200 Ks past the midpoint of the draft as well as 15 or so wins from someone that has the potential to do so much more.

The 8th and 9th Innings

2011 StatsSVERAWHIPKBBIPNotes
Sergio Santos (R)303.551.11922963.1w/CWS
Francisco Cordero (R)372.451.02422269.2w/CIN

Chasing Saves: The bullpen that caused so many problems last year has been revamped at the back end. Gone are Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, who seemingly wanted to stick together to ruin the back end of the Mets bullpen this year. Santos emerged as a force last year. He has some control problems, but a 13.1 K/9 and 30 saves in 36 opportunities should give Jays fans hope. His friendly contract should mean he’ll be saving games for a while in Toronto. Cordero brings experience to the back end and will hopefully mentor Santos on how to be a closer. He doesn’t have the stuff that Santos has, but he has been a solid closer for the past decade. Casey Janssen had a fantastic 2011 and veteran Jason Frasor is back with the Jays to provide bullpen depth, which may be needed depending on the back end of the rotation.

Final Thoughts

With a stocked farm system and potentially a new playoff format, the future is certainly bright for the boys in the North. 2012 will be yet another struggle in the tough AL East, but they have some exciting fantasy performers all over the field, on the mound and in the bullpen. Hockey is not all there is in Canada, and these Jays are out to prove it.

Check back tomorrow for our look at the Chicago White Sox.

 
From Montreal, now living in Toronto. At least I have a hometown MLB team to root for again. I love talking baseball, real or fantasy, and taking long walks along the beach. Since the beach is a little cold in Toronto in the winter, I'll stick with talking baseball.
 
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