The Blue Jays seemed to be oh so close just a few years ago, but their solid rotation was ravaged by injury -- err, multiple injuries -- and a significant free agent deflection to New York in A.J. Burnett. The Jays are left to pick up the pieces and, if they take too long doing it, they very well could wind up back in the cellar of the AL Beast, easily the toughest division in baseball.
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Roy Halladay is perhaps the best veteran pitcher in baseball, but he will be pretty lonely in the rotation that has lost Burnett, Shaun Marcum (elbow) and Dustin McGowan (shoulder). Jesse Litsch, David Purcey, Scott Richmond and a slew of converted relievers like Casey Janssen and Scott Downs will compete for the other spots in the rotation -- at least until prospects Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Brad Mills are ready.
What the Blue Jays lack in rotation depth, they make up for it in the bullpen. Frankly, it is the best bullpen in baseball. Closer B.J. Ryan leads a slew of interchangeable arms from both sides of the rubber, including those that lose out on the rotation above and Jesse Carlson, Brandon League and Jason Frasor, among others.
The offense has potential, but it still could be the weakest in the division -- yes, even weaker than that of the Orioles. Vernon Wells hasn't been a star since he turned 27 and no one is going to be scared of the name Marco Scutaro. Nothing against Scutaro. He is a solid utility man, not a game-changer of a starting shortstop.
The Blue Jays have a year or two more to get beat on by the Yankees, Red Sox and now the Rays before their young talent -- pitching or hitting -- will be ready to really contend.
Sleeper: Travis Snider, OF
Jay Bruce will get picked a dozen -- perhaps two? -- rounds earlier or dollars more than his fellow outfield prospect. That makes Snider a wonderful consolation prize if you cannot bring yourself to pay the price for Bruce. Snider isn't quite as ready to star, but he is that intriguing of a prospect. After a slow start in Double-A last season, Snider picked up the pace and hit everything there on out, giving him the left fielder's job to lose this spring. He won't, even if teammate Adam Lind also finds his big-league niche. Snider will be on the board late in mixed leagues, perhaps not getting drafted at all, but he should prove to be a nice steal for a patient owner that can ride through a mediocre start.
Bust: Roy Halladay, SP
How in the name of complete games and 20 victories can we possibly consider this Fantasy ace a bust? We know. It hurts us to do so. But the Blue Jays look like a team more on the verge of utter collapse than the postseason. That should be bad news for a pitcher you will have to draft real, real early this spring. His supporting cast is so unimpressive, we might advise you to avoid him altogether. He just might not be worth the freight. Really, we think the world of Halladay -- his numbers and consistency make it easy to do so -- but the price you have to pay for him on Draft Day is better paid to a hitter or a pitcher on a better team perhaps. Of course, if more than a few owners in your league feel this way too and avoid him like we say, we reserve the right to completely change our tune and consider him a good value. Grin.
Breakout: Adam Lind, DH/OF
At times, Lind has looked like a masher in his pro career. Other times he has looked like someone suited for the Japanese Leagues. It is our belief the truth is somewhere closer to the former. Lind enters spring training as starter at this point, even thought Kevin Millar was added on a minor league deal this February to provide leadership, insurance and a push at first base, DH and perhaps left field. We project Lind for a .271 average, 18 homers, 70 RBI and 63 runs -- modest numbers for a player at his position(s) -- but those are a function of his uneven career to date. Expect more consistency and something closer to the .290-25-100-80 player we think he can be.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Marco Scutaro||SS||1||Roy Halladay||RH|
|2||Aaron Hill||2B||2||Jesse Litsch||RH|
|3||Alex Rios||RF||3||David Purcey||LH|
|4||Vernon Wells||CF||4||Casey Janssen||RH|
|5||Adam Lind||DH||5||Scott Richmond||RH|
|6||Scott Rolen||3B||Alt||Dustin McGowan||RH|
|7||Lyle Overbay||1B||Top bullpen arms|
|8||Travis Snider||LF||CL||B.J. Ryan||LH|
|9||Rod Barajas||C||SU||Brandon League||RH|
|Top bench options||RP||Jesse Carlson||LH|
|R||Kevin Millar||1B||RP||Scott Downs||LH|
|R||Jose A. Bautista||3B/OF||RP||Jason Frasor||RH|
|Although he has to contend with rookies in his own division, David Price and Matt Wieters, Snider is a potential AL ROY.|
| A mashing catcher just a few months away from from big big-league ready? Wow, sign us up. The next |
|3||Brett Cecil||22||LH SP||Triple-A||Triple-A|
|The 2007 first-rounder needs to start the year in Triple-A, but if he keeps pitching like he has, he won't be held back.|
|4||Brad Mills||24||LH SP||Double-A||Double-A|
|Mills has been dominant thus far in his pro career. You must want to see him finally fail just to see him bounce back.|
|5||David Cooper||22||1B||High Class A||Double-A|
|This first-round from Cal in 2008 should be able to arrive quickly and might be the starting 1B in spring 2010.|
|Best of the rest: SP Ricky Romero, SP Scott Richmond, SS Justin Jackson, 3B Kevin Ahrens, SP Marc Rzepczynski, 3B Anthony Hatch, RP Danny Farquhar, OF Ryan Patterson, 3B Brad Emaus, 2B Scott Campbell, C Brian Jeroloman, 2B John Tolisano, RP Alan Farina, SP Joel Carreno, SP Robert Ray, OF Eric Eiland,. SP Luis Perez, 3B Mark Sobolewski, SS Gustavo Pierre, OF Kenny Wilson, RP Andrew Liebel, SS Tyler Pastornicky, SP Kenny Rodriguez, SP Trystan Magnuson and 3B Balbino Fuenmayor.|
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