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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Toronto Blue Jays

Senior Fantasy Writer
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After almost 20 years of continually building up and tearing down, all the while settling for a middle-of-the-division finish, the Blue Jays finally made their move in 2013, selling the farm for what appeared to be a mass influx of high-end talent. But while adding R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to the starting rotation and Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to the starting lineup looked good on paper, the Blue Jays finished in last place for just the fourth time in 32 years.

With their hand already played, they've mostly stood pat this offseason. Johnson is the Padres' problem now, and J.P. Arencibia will do his swinging and missing for the Rangers. But the Blue Jays' only notable acquisition so far is Dioner Navarro, a former All-Star catcher who appeared to rediscover his stroke in a part-time role for the Cubs last season. He'll play every day in Toronto, but outside of two-catcher leagues, you won't find too many Fantasy owners willing to bet on those numbers translating.

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

You'd think the lack of activity would give us a better idea what to expect from this bunch, and for the most part, that's true. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista will offer early-round production, but with some risk given their injury histories. Colby Rasmus and Adam Lind will provide cheap power late while failing to meet the full extent of their potential. Brett Lawrie will tempt people with his top-prospect pedigree but most likely underwhelm with a middle-round pick. We've seen it all before.

A handful of Blue Jays still leave something to the imagination, though. Is Dickey the Cy Young contender he was in 2012, the underrated innings-eater he was in 2010 and 2011, or on the verge of collapse at age 39? Was Cabrera's decline simply a case of him going off "the juice," or did the tumor on his spinal cord have something to do with it? Is Brandon Morrow a lost cause? Most mixed-league drafts will end before the latter two enter the discussion, but both remain in the periphery.

So what if they falter? Does Anthony Gose, a former top prospect whose stock has fallen the last couple years, get his shot? What about Moises Sierra, who compiled an .827 OPS in 107 at-bats last year? Can any of Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Todd Redmond, Dustin McGowan and everyone else competing for the fifth starter role make a worthwhile contribution, or are they just placeholders until the Blue Jays find something better?

But again, outside of AL-only leagues, it's just a bunch of noise. Mixed-leaguers can limit their focus to the early rounds, where Encarnacion, Bautista and Reyes all have the potential to make or break their teams.

Head-to-Head hero ... Jose Bautista, outfield

2014 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. Colby Rasmus CF
7. Brett Lawrie 3B
8. Dioner Navarro C
9. Ryan Goins 2B
Bench Anthony Gose OF
Bench Moises Sierra OF

Bautista has been a fixture at the top of drafts since breaking out with 54 homers in 2010, but his value has taken a hit with his season-ending injuries the last two years. In Rotisserie leagues, it's understandable. He doesn't help in batting average, and you could get similar power from players like Mark Trumbo and Brandon Moss later. But in Head-to-Head points leagues, where batting average doesn't have the direct impact that peripheral numbers like walks do, the reward still outweighs the risk. Only nine hitters averaged more Head-to-Head points per game than Bautista's 3.58 last year -- a group that includes Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Hanley Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Goldschmidt, David Ortiz, Chris Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Gonzalez. Other than Ortiz, who limits lineup flexibility as a DH and is perpetually on the verge of collapse at age 38, Bautista is the only one not in the discussion for a first-round pick. Given the risk, a third-rounder is most appropriate, and a late second-rounder isn't so bad. But if you nab Bautista with a fourth- or fifth-rounder, you may have already won your league.

Buyer beware ... Jose Reyes, shortstop

For all the flak Troy Tulowitzki gets about injuries, Reyes is just as susceptible. Only once in the last five seasons has he played even 140 games, averaging 109.6 during that stretch. That alone should make you think twice about investing a third-round pick in him. But health isn't the only factor working against him. He's entering his age-30 season -- or what has become the danger zone for middle infielders in the post-steroids era. It hits hardest for players whose main attribute is speed, and it may have already begun for Reyes, who not only ran less last year, projecting for just 26.1 steals over a full 162 games, but succeeded on just 71.4 percent of his attempts, by far the lowest of his career. His Head-to-Head production was still among the best at his position on a per-game basis, but between the injury risk and the potential for another step back, he's scary. Considering you're guaranteed bunches of steals with Jean Segura a round or two later -- and with the potential for growth at that -- why take the chance on Reyes?

Injury-risk sleeper ... Brandon Morrow, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. R.A. Dickey RHP
2. Mark Buehrle LHP
3. Brandon Morrow RHP
4. J.A. Happ LHP
5. Kyle Drabek RHP
ALT Drew Hutchison RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Casey Janssen RHP
2. Sergio Santos RHP
3. Brett Cecil LHP
4. Steve Delabar RHP
5. Dustin McGowan RHP

In truth, Morrow could fill this category every year. Now seven years into his big-league career, he still has yet to throw 180 innings in a season, mostly because he has only once held up long enough to make 30 starts. What makes this year different from previous years is that no one expects anything. Morrow was limited to 10 starts in 2013, none after May 28, and they weren't exactly his best. Most likely, the nerve issue in his right forearm that ended his season and ultimately required surgery had something to do with it. He also pitched with neck and back stiffness for that period he was "healthy." A couple months at less than his best doesn't negate the progress he made in 2012, when he went 10-7 with a 2.96 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 21 starts. The stuff that has made him a strikeout-per-inning guy for most of his career hasn't changed since then, but early results show Morrow going undrafted in mixed leagues. You may not need to draft him yourself, but don't forget about him on waivers.

Prospects Report

The Blue Jays mostly depleted their farm system in the deals that landed them R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle last offseason, but they do have at least two impact prospects in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. Sanchez is the safer bet long-term, profiling as an ace -- or close to it -- with his high-90s fastball and unquestioned aptitude, but Stroman is already on the verge of reaching the majors at age 22. He has good stuff as well -- averaging well more than a strikeout per inning at Double-A last year, and with fantastic control to boot -- but at 5-feet-9, he may not hold up in the starting role long-term. Still, he's a sleeper for AL-only leagues, given how close he is. About the only hitter worth mentioning in the Blue Jays system is D.J. Davis, the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft. In a best-case scenario, he's a Carlos Gomez type, but maybe not until 2018. At age 19, he's too much of a project even for some dynasty league owners.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Twins' Tim Stauffer struggling with changeup
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:28 pm ET) Twins reliever Tim Stauffer admits that he's not "where I'd like to be at this point in the year," per TwinCities.com.

Through five appearances, Stauffer has a 9.00 ERA.

"I’ve always been a little bit of a slow starter," he said. "Obviously, I don’t want to make any excuses. I’d like to be able to go out there and get in a groove. I really don’t feel like I’ve hit that groove quite yet." 

Stauffer said that his changeup "is still not where I want it to be".


Dodgers P Daniel Corcino clears waivers, sent to Double-A
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(8:16 pm ET) After designating him for assignment on Wednesday, pitcher Daniel Corcino cleared waivers on Friday and was sent outright to the Dodgers' Double-A team in Tulsa, per TrueBlueLA.com.

Corcino was selected off waivers by Dodgers from the Reds on April 17.

Corcino appeared in five games for the Reds, starting three, in 2014, where he went 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA.

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by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(8:09 pm ET) Giants outfielder Justin Maxwell earned his fourth straight start Friday against the Rockies.

He is batting .417 (5 for 12) with one triple, one home run and three RBI in his last four games. He also had the game-winning hit in the 10th inning Thursday against the Dodgers.

"Right now with the way he's playing, he's earned it," manager Bruce Bochy said, per CSN Bay Area. "I like his at-bats, and not just the hit to win the game, but the quality of the at-bats has been very good. I look at the patience he's shown, particularly with two strikes. He's not panicking. He's quiet up there and not expanding the zone. He's keeping his composure up there. He's not chasing."


Giants OF Hunter Pence might begin rehab assignment next week
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(8:05 pm ET) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence (forearm) was not restricted while taking swings Friday, manager Bruce Bochy told reporters. Bochy added Pence could be ready to start a rehab assignment late next week, per CSN Bay Area.

"He was hitting off a tee, going to right (field), pulling the ball, hitting soft toss," Bochy said. "It was really amazing. He had incredible bat control today. He was going toward (the right-center portion of the cage) and every ball was to the same spot. It was pretty impressive."


Dodgers send P Mike Bolsinger to Triple-A
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(7:46 pm ET) With the call up of reliever Sergio Santos earlier on Friday, the Dodgers have sent pitcher Mike Bolsinger to Triple-A, reports the Orange County Register.

In his one appearance this season on Thursday, Bolsinger started and allowed one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings for a no decision.


Astros OF Jake Marisnick held out of lineup Friday due to leg injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7:44 pm ET) Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick said he was held out of the starting lineup Friday against the Athletics for precautionary reasons after dealing with right leg discomfort during Wednesday's game at Seattle, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Colby Rasmus started in center field for Marisnick, who is batting .389 (14 for 36) with one triple, one home run, two doubles, five RBI, six runs and four stolen bases in his last 12 games.


Twins' Ricky Nolasco has rehab start pushed back a day
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) Injured Twins pitcher Ricky Nolasco will start his minor league injury rehab assignment a day later than expected. 

Nolasco was originally supposed to start for Class-A Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Instead, he'll take the mound on Sunday, per the Star Tribune.

There is a 90 percent chance of rain on Saturday, which led to the change in the schedule. 


Rangers agree to trade for embattled Angels OF Josh Hamilton
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7:28 pm ET) The Angels have agreed to trade embattled outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Rangers, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

However, there are a few minor issues left to be ironed out, according to Heyman. It will likely take another day or two to finalize the trade.

MLB.com was first to report this afternoon the Rangers were in talks with the Angels about a deal for Hamilton, who was a five-time All-Star for the Rangers from 2008-12.

The Angels have not been happy since the news broke in February that Hamilton suffered a drug relapse. Major League Baseball made the announcement in early April that Hamilton will not be suspended for the relapse since it did not violate his drug treatment program.

Hamilton has yet to play this season, as he is working his way back from shoulder surgery. Hamilton is rehabbing in Houston and could begin full baseball activities next week, sources told FOX Sports.

Hamilton's tenure with the Angels was not a pleasant one. On top of his drug relapse, he hit just .255 with 31 home runs and 123 RBI in 240 games since he signed a five-year, $125 million contract following the 2012 season.

Hamilton had a great run with the Rangers, posting a .305/.363/.549/.912 slash line in five seasons with the club. He won the 2010 AL MVP award with the Rangers as well.


A's P Sean Doolittle throws off mound on Friday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:25 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Sean Doolittle threw 15 pitches off of a mound on Friday as he continues to rehab his injured shoulder, according to the San Jose Mercury News. 

Doolittle is expected to throw 20 to 25 pitches from flat ground on Sunday and gradually move to the next step from there. 

"It was the best I've felt," Doolittle said.

Doolittle tore his rotator cuff this past January. 


Cardinals' Randal Grichuk may not be ready by early May
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:14 pm ET) Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk is on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain. He's eligible to come off on May 2, but he'll likely need longer than that. 

Manager Matt Matheny said that progress in Grichuk's rehab has been "slow", per MLB.com


 
 
 
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