There’s always one team every offseason that pulls out all the stops and overhauls their roster.
In 2012, that was the Blue Jays.
Toronto brought in six new starters this offseason, in attempts to become the latest team in the AL East to make a playoff push.
What they should learn from their division rivals is that paper teams never pan out the way that they want.
Rather than take the Yankee-approach, the Jays actually did most of their deal through trades.
The major deal that kicked things off was with the Marlins.
Toronto sent SS Yunel Escobar, SP Henderson Alvarez, 3B Adeiny Hechavarria, SP Anthony DeSclafani, SP Justin Nicolino, C Jeff Mathis, and OF Jake Marisnick to Miami for SP Josh Johnson, SP Mark Buehrle, SS Jose Reyes, UTL Emilio Bonifacio, and C John Buck.
It was the final straw of the Miami fire sale that they started at mid season with the Dodgers.
Toronto took almost every major acquisition from Miami’s previous offseason and signed them up.
They would then send Escobar to Tampa Bay and John Buck to the Mets in a separate deal.
That deal would boost the Toronto offseason even more by bringing in an ace pitcher from New York, in R.A. Dickey.
The Blue Jays would also send their top catching and pitching prospects to the Mets, in exchange for a 38-year-old knuckleballer.
Travis d’ Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard were enough of a price to convince the Mets to part with the 2012 NL Cy Young winner, as New York is in “development” mode.
The only free agent acquisition that Toronto really made was with former Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended for most of the second half of 2012 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Toronto enters the 2013 offseason as “a favorite” in the AL East.
You could call them “THE” favorite, but we are talking about the best division in baseball.
There’s no question that they drastically upgraded their lineup from a year ago, but their rotation might still be in question.
When you break things down, there’s some factors that you have to consider: How much longer can Dickey play at a high level, the NL East is not the AL East, and Johnson and Buerhle were expendable for a reason.
Ricky Romero is the biggest beneficiary from all of these deals.
He goes from having to be the ace of the staff, to being at the bottom of the rotation.
By now, you know about the Cole Hamels rule: ace pitchers that are later in the rotation are sometimes more valuable than aces.
Romero is looking to bounce back and Toronto might of just put him in the best possible position to be one of the biggest steal in fantasy drafts this season.
The Blue Jays are on a mission to be great, but don’t forget that paper teams never win.
Let’s take a look at the revamped Toronto Blue Jays…
BLUE JAYS PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Jose Reyes SS He’s still an elite option for the position, can be a solid .280 hitter, steal 40 bases, and can generate 100 runs, and 60 rbi’s. He wasn’t the stud in MIA that he was with the Mets, but he’ll return to that in this offense.
2. Melky Cabrera LF This guy was making an MVP run before he was caught, he’s had back-to-back seasons of hitting .300, double digit HRs, 80+ runs, and 60+ rbi’s. Hitting second will boost his value. Don’t forget that he put up better number in ’11 with KC, and probably would’ve repeated if he hadn’t been suspended.
3. Jose Bautista RF He was a bargain on the trade market in the early parts of 2012, after hitting around .185. Injuries ruined the second half of his season, still an elite OF option with the ability to hit 40+ home runs. You don’t draft him for his batting average.
4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B Was one of the hottest free agent pickups at the beginning of 2012. Coming off of a career high season, going from 17 home runs in ’11 to 42 in ’12. You can expect at least 25+ this year, draft in the middle rounds.
5. Brett Lawrie 3B Did well at times last season, but will reach his full potential now that he’s out of the leadoff spot. Lawrie is an aggressive batter, which had to become conservative in the leadoff role. Now that he’s down the lineup, expect him to blow up this season. You can get him in the middle to late rounds.
6. Colby Rasmus CF If it wasn’t for his horrible batting average, at .223, he’d be a decent outfield option. Unless you’re a die hard fan, look elsewhere.
7. Adam Lind DH He has been dropped and brought back on the team multiple times, he has the tools to be a solid player, but at this point is more of a late round-post draft pickup.
8. JP Arencibia C Wouldn’t even be in the discussion to start if d’Arnaud wasn’t traded. He’s a late round option or post draft pickup just because he plays in this lineup and you’ll need to draft a catcher.
9. Emilio Bonifacio 2B Injuries ruined his 2012 season, but the fact that he stole 30 bases in 64 games has to turn some heads. Still he’s only an asset in category leagues.
1. R.A. Dickey Threw 100 more strikeouts in 2012 than ever before, he’s 38, playing in a tougher division, but does have better run support. Very risky pick in the early rounds, don’t reach for him.
2. Josh Johnson He’s been on the decline for the past two seasons, injuries have ruined his career, could bounce back, but don’t overpay for him
3. Brandon Morrow Injuries ruined the tail end of his 2012 season, great game manager, and a great option late in the draft.
4. Mark Buehrle He’s the ultimate innings-eater, he’s a game manager, not a strikeout artist, he has a relatively high ERA. He’s a late round-post draft consideration option.
5. Ricky Romero The former ace of the staff drops down to the number 5 spot. Don’t let his 2012 season fool you, he’s has ace ability, will benefit for playing against weaker matchups, has a high strikeout ration, and will come at a major discount this year.
RP-Casey Janssen Coming off of a shoulder injury, not 100%, might not get a lot of save opportunities with this high-powered offense. He’s a second tier closer option on draft day.
He’s not a lead-off hitter, yet the Blue Jays put Brett Lawrie in that role anyways. He’s one of the rising stars in the league, he can contribute in every category, and will see a major boost this season. Lawrie is an aggressive batter, which is a completely different mindset for a lead off hitter. He has the potential to his in the third spot in the lineup one day, but for right now he’ll hit fifth. It’s a good spot for him because he’s surrounded by players that can get on base. He spent a good amount of time on the DL in 2012, but with a new lineup spot and a clean bill of healthy, Lawrie is set to have a breakout season. Look to draft him in the middle rounds as a solid third base option.
It’s one thing for an ace to move down a spot or two in the rotation after the team brings in a better arm, but to drop to the number five spot? Ricky Romero just might be one of the biggest bargains in this year’s fantasy drafts. This guy was one of the hottest pitchers to own in 2011, but had a rough season in 2012. He can generate a ton of strikeouts, he can pitch deep into games, and he will benefit greatly for going against weaker matchups on the fifth day. He might be the youngest guy on the staff, but he’ll be the best by season’s end. If you can get him late in drafts, he’s a major steal.