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2013 Fantasy outlooks: Toronto Blue Jays

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Obviously, no one knows at this point how the 2013 season will unfold, but if offseason wheelings and dealings were all that factored into the equation, the Blue Jays would already have this thing in the bag.

Detecting weakness in the New York and Boston strongholds, general manager Alex Anthopoulos decided this offseason to sell out for the now. It was an approach that most would probably classify as reckless if he hadn't been so thorough in reshaping a team that went a disappointing 73-89 last year.

2013 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

It all started when he convinced the Marlins to trade him their entire roster (or all the pieces that mattered, anyway) for a couple of prospects. Granted, Miami also got salary relief in the deal, but it's not like the Blue Jays saddled themselves with a bunch of albatross contracts that will misallocate their funds for the next decade or so. Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are all potential All-Stars, and Emilio Bonifacio is a pretty nice throw-in as a base-stealing fiend who can play just about anywhere on the diamond.

As if remaking their starting rotation and acquiring arguably the game's best leadoff hitter weren't enough, the Blue Jays then swung a deal for R.A. Dickey, the reigning NL Cy Young winner. They paid a hefty price to get him, including their very best prospect in Travis d'Arnaud, but by adding three high-profile arms to the top of their starting rotation, this team's greatest weakness a year ago is now a legitimate strength.

And oh yeah, they also got All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera at a discount by signing him right after he completed a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. So there's that.

It's a gamble, as is asking the injury-prone Johnson to help anchor a starting rotation, as is paying for career-best numbers from a 38-year-old knuckleballer, as is counting on a bounce-back season from a banged-up Jose Bautista or a repeat season from a surging Edwin Encarnacion. But what team isn't gambling on a few hopeful scenarios this time of year?

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Melky Cabrera LF
3. Jose Bautista RF
4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B
5. Adam Lind DH
6. Brett Lawrie 3B
7. Colby Rasmus CF
8. J.P. Arencibia C
9. Maicer Izturis 2B
Bench Emilio Bonifacio INF/OF
Bench Rajai Davis OF

The fact the Blue Jays were willing to stake their future on these particular scenarios says a lot about their confidence in them.

Bounce-back player ... Melky Cabrera, outfield

Statistically, Cabrera is unlikely to "bounce back" in 2013. After all, he was leading the NL with a .346 batting average at the time of his 50-game suspension last August. But the suspension itself knocked him down a peg in the eyes of many Fantasy owners, creating the need for him to resuscitate his value. Crediting performance-enhancing drugs for his increased production over the last two seasons discounts the role natural progression may have played. His big breakthrough with the Royals in 2011 came during his age-26 season, when breakthroughs are oh so common. Isn't it possible he didn't start using until 2012, when his batting average rose another 40 points and his OPS another 100 points? And even if he used as a Royal, isn't it possible he would have broken through to a smaller degree simply by natural progression? If Cabrera regresses to his 2011 numbers, he's still likely a top-10 outfielder in Fantasy. Drafting him among the top 30 is hardly a reach.

Bust ... Emilio Bonifacio, infield/outfield

Fantasy owners so want Bonifacio -- he of the 80-steal pace at the time of his thumb injury last May -- to start at second base for the Blue Jays that, in their minds, he already has the job. But the Blue Jays signed Maicer Izturis -- a superior defender up the middle -- to a three-year deal this offseason with the intention of making him their starting second baseman. Granted, that signing came before the blockbuster that brought them Bonifacio, but since then, general manager Alex Anthopoulos has declared Izturis the front-runner at the position. Of course, losing the starting job wouldn't necessarily condemn Bonifacio to failure. He can play anywhere, so between the infield and outfield, he'd likely still get enough at-bats to contribute. The problem is the Blue Jays are already rotating speedster Rajai Davis into the outfield, which might limit Bonifacio to the infield. He's still fine as a late-round source of steals, but you wouldn't want to reach for him earlier than that.

Sleeper ... Casey Janssen, relief pitcher

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. R.A. Dickey RHP
2. Josh Johnson RHP
3. Mark Buehrle LHP
4. Brandon Morrow RHP
5. Ricky Romero LHP
ALT J.A. Happ LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Casey Janssen RHP
2. Sergio Santos RHP
3. Steve Delabar RHP
4. Darren Oliver LHP
5. Esmil Rogers RHP

A limited number of saves caused Janssen's breakthrough to go by the wayside last year. But while Craig Kimbrel, Fernando Rodney and Aroldis Chapman made history with the kind WHIPs they were putting up, Janssen's 0.86 mark ranked fifth among closers with at least 50 innings. And it's not like his 2.54 ERA or 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings were anything to sneeze at. So then ... about those saves. Beginning 2013 as the team's closer will help. He didn't claim ninth-inning duties from an injured Sergio Santos until May last year, and by then, the Blue Jays starting rotation was so decimated by injuries that a closer was hardly necessary. They either outslugged the competition, or they lost. Obviously, that formula is destined to change this year with all the upgrades they made this offseason, particularly to their starting rotation. Add, say, 15 to last year's save total, and you'll see why Janssen is a bargain after the top 20 closers go off the board.

Prospects Report

The Blue Jays pretty much gutted their farm system in their dealings with the Marlins and Mets this offseason, so you won't find much Fantasy value here, at least not in the immediate future. ... With a mid-to-high-90s fastball, Aaron Sanchez has the look of a top-of-the-rotation starter, but at age 20, he's still at least a couple years away. ... Likewise, speedy outfielder D.J. Davis, the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, is more of a project than a prospect at age 18. ... Deck McGuire, the team's first-round pick in 2010, has a chance to contribute this year if enough injuries befall the starting rotation, but given the way he has stalled at Double-A, compiling a 5.88 ERA and 1.56 WHIP there last year, you wouldn't want to dedicate a roster spot to him right now.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also send us an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Blue Jays' Michael Saunders, Danny Valencia out of the lineup
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:45 pm ET) Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders and utility man Danny Valencia are out of the starting lineup again Wednesday against the Yankees, the team announced. 

Saunders has missed the last two games for Toronto after having his knee drained on Monday. Chris Colabello will draw his second start in right. Valencia will miss his second straight game with an ankle sprain.


Athletics OF Mark Canha not in starting lineup Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:42 pm ET) After starting six games in a row, Athletics outfielder Mark Canha was absent from the starting lineup on Wednesday against the Twins. While his .235 batting average over his last 10 games is rather pedestrian, he has hit three home runs and has seven RBI in that span. 

Coco Crisp, who was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday, took over in left field for manager Bob Melvin.


Athletics activate OF Coco Crisp; Craig Gentry optioned to Triple-A
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:36 pm ET) As expected, the Athletics have activated outfielder Coco Crisp from the 15-day disabled list, the team announced on Wednesday. Crisp has been out all season after undergoing elbow surgery in early April. 

In a coresponding move, the A's have optioned fellow outfielder Craig Gentry to Triple-A Nashville, meaning Billy Burns will remain with the team, for now at least. Gentry has struggled mightely this season, collecting just three hits in 35 at-bats.

Crisp was immediately inserted into manager Bob Mevlin's starting lineup, playing left field and hitting in the lead-off spot. 


Indians catcher Brett Hayes back in the starting lineup Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:33 pm ET) Indians catcher Brett Hayes is back in the starting lineup Wednesday against the Royals, the team announced. 

Hayes got the day off Tuesday and has been alternating with Roberto Perez behind the plate since Yan Gomes went down with an injury. Hayes is hitting .111 with four RBI in 18 at-bats this season.


Cubs' Jorge Soler batting fifth Wednesday vs. Cardinals
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:29 pm ET) Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler has been dropped to fifth in the order for Wednesday's matchup with the Cardinals.

It's the third straight game in which Soler has been moved down in the order, as he saw his first action leading off Friday before resuming his familiar role in the second slot Saturday. After a day off, he batted cleanup in the team's matchup with a lefty Tuesday.

Soler had hit in one of the top four spots of the lineup in all of his starts this season before batting fifth Wednesday. The move down isn't due to production, as the right fielder is 6 for 17 over the last seven days.

The Cubs are underdogs (+109) against the Cardinals Wednesday.


Braves' Johnson moves to cleanup spot with Pierzynski resting
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:28 pm ET) With A.J. Pierzynski given a breather, the Braves moved Kelly Johnson to the cleanup for Thursday's contest against the Phillies. It's the fourth time this season and the first time since
Sunday the Braves have Johnson batting fourth.

Johnson is hitting .266 (17 for 64) with two doubles, six homers and 17 RBI in 22 games. Pierzynski is hitting .344 (21 for 61) with three doubles, three homers and 14 RBI in 16 games. 

Atlanta is favored (-132) at home against Philadelphia.


Astros prospect Carlos Correa could reach majors in a few weeks
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:20 pm ET) Astros shortstop prospect Carlos Correa may get the call to the majors very soon, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Correa, who is currently playing in Double-A, may be called up in the next couple of weeks to Houston, according to Heyman. Correa is considered Houston's top prospect and is hitting a blistering .398 with six home runs and 28 RBI in 98 at-bats for Double-A Corpus Christi.


Rockies' Weiss on Rex Brothers: 'Control is still an issue'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:19 pm ET) Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Wednesday that pitcher Rex Brothers has been up and down in his stint with Triple-A Albuquerque and that "control is still an issue" with the pitcher, the Denver Post reports.

Brothers walked 6.2 batters per nine innings last season while posting a 5.59 ERA in 56 1/3 innings. He was surprisingly optioned to Triple-A before the start of this season and has given up seven earned runs on 11 hits and 11 walks in nine innings while striking out 14.


Royals CF Lorezno Cain back from suspension, starts Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:15 pm ET) Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain returned from his two-game suspension on Wednesday. He was in the starting lineup, batting third for manager Ned Yost. Cain was suspended for participating in the bench-clearing brawl with the White Sox that occured on April 24. 

Cain is batting .333 on the season with three home runs and 13 RBI. With Cain's return, Jarrod Dyson slides over to right field and Paulo Orlando was out of the lineup. 


Brewers' Scooter Gennett batting second Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:48 pm ET) Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett has been moved to the No. 2 spot in the batting order for Wednesday's matchup with the Dodgers.

Gennett returned from the disabled list Tuesday and went 1 for 3 while batting sixth, but with Tuesday's No. 2 hitter Gerardo Parra on the bench in favor of Khris Davis, Gennett is making his first start in the top third of the lineup this season. He has hit .219/.306/.219 in 32 at-bats.

The Brewers are home underdogs (+108) against the Dodgers Wednesday, per VegasInsider.com.


 
 
 
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