The Toronto Blue Jays stayed relatively quiet in the offseason after finishing in third place in the AL East last year.
Their biggest move was swapping third basemen with the St. Louis Cardinals. Toronto traded Troy Glaus, who had 58 home runs and 166 RBIs in two seasons with the Blue Jays, and received Scott Rolen, who hit .265 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs for the Cardinals in 2007. It will be interesting to see how Rolen performs in Toronto this year.
Toronto also added David Eckstein to play shortstop. Eckstein isn't worth a spot on your fantasy team, but he's a scrappy player that will hit around .290 and steal 10-15 bases. He's a veteran infielder who brings along two World Series rings to Toronto.
While it doesn't look like the Blue Jays will be able to win the AL East in 2008, they'll likely finish around .500 again this season. Unfortunately, that may not be good enough to remain in third place in the division because the Tampa Bay Rays are expected to be much better in 2008.
Toronto Blue Jays
2007 record: 83-79 (3rd in AL East)
Key additions: 3B Scott Rolen, SS David Eckstein
Key losses: 3B Troy Glaus
Most valuable fantasy performers:
1. Roy Halladay, RHP – Halladay is an old-fashioned workhorse who will pitch more than 225 innings if he remains healthy for the entire season. He won 16 games in each of the last two seasons. He'll win 15-20 games again this season with an ERA around 3.50. Halladay led the AL in complete games in three of the last five seasons, so he has extra value if your league counts that statistic. Halladay is one of the most consistent starters in the major leagues and he should be selected in the third or fourth round.
2. Alex Rios, RF – Last season, Rios hit .297 with 24 home runs, 85 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. Look for him to hit around .300 with 25-30 home runs and 100-110 RBIs in 2008. Rios should be drafted in the seventh or eighth round, but don't be afraid to pick him as early as the fifth round if you think he'll surpass his 2007 totals.
3. Aaron Hill, 2B – After two relatively mediocre seasons, Hill emerged as a potential power-hitting second baseman in 2007. He hit .291 with 17 home runs and 78 RBIs in 160 games last year. It's hard to tell if Hill will put up similar numbers this season, but he should be selected in the middle rounds of your draft. He'll probably hit around .290 with 10-15 home runs and 60-70 RBIs this season.
4. Frank Thomas, DH – After 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, it looked like Thomas' career was winding down. However, he had 39 home runs and 114 RBIs with the Oakland Athletics in 2006 and 26 home runs and 95 RBIs last season with the Blue Jays. He'll be 40 in May, but Thomas will still be able to help your fantasy team. Get him in the middle to late rounds of your draft and he'll likely have 20-25 home runs and 90-100 RBIs again this season.
5. Vernon Wells, CF – Wells suffered a tremendous letdown last season after hitting .303 with 32 home runs and 106 RBIs in 2006. He only hit .245 with 16 home runs and 80 RBIs last year. Wells needs to bounce back in 2008 and will help your fantasy team if he can hit around his career batting average (.281) with 20-25 home runs and 90-100 RBIs. Wells should be drafted around the 11th round, but he could put up numbers comparable to some outfielders that are picked in the first seven rounds.
6. A.J. Burnett, RHP – Last season, Burnett was 10-8 with a 3.75 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 25 starts. He's capable of winning 15-20 games and striking out more than 200 hitters if he pitches a full season. Unfortunately, he's only been able to throw more than 200 innings twice in his career. Draft Burnett in the middle rounds of your draft, but beware that you'll likely need to put him on your disabled list at least once this season.
1. Dustin McGowan, RHP – McGowan won 12 games last season in his first experience as a full-time starter. He had 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings and posted a 4.08 ERA. He could prove valuable as a late-round pick because he'll likely win 10-15 games again this season with 150-160 strikeouts.
2. B.J. Ryan, LHP – It looks like Ryan will be ready to make an impact in Toronto as early as the first month of the season. This looked nearly impossible following Tommy John surgery last year, but Ryan seems to be making excellent progress. Grab him with your last pick if you think he'll regain his status as a dominant closer.