Toronto Blue Jays

Closer Report: Blue Jays

The Blue Jays currently have a three-man competition at closer, with Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, and Scott Downs duking it out.  Gregg is a recent free agent signee, while Frasor and Downs are entering their walk years and are trade candidates.  Since all three pitchers are being drafted in the 26th round or later, Toronto presents a nice fantasy opportunity if you pick right.

Right now all we know is that Gregg signed in part because he'll get a shot at closing, and manager Cito Gaston will make the decision ('s Jordan Bastian reporting).  According to Mock Draft Central, fantasy owners are currently voting for Downs (311.73), Frasor (323.34), and Gregg (327.29) in that order.

There is reason to believe Downs won't be the guy.  The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin notes that Downs is not the lights-out type for the ninth inning.  That's understandable; Downs is a southpaw who averages about 90 mph on his heater.  Frasor throws harder and he's right-handed.  Downs and Frasor both had better peripherals than Gregg in 2009, though they lack his closing experience.  Of the three, only Downs had a strong groundball rate.

So while you could make a case for any of the three, I'd be surprised to see Downs get the nod with two capable righties also in the mix.  If you're drafting now, take Gregg.  Unlike Frasor, Gregg's not a spring trade candidate.  And I'm guessing Gaston will choose the experienced closer even if Frasor stays.

David Purcey Being Overlooked?

Blue Jays starter David Purcey was not drafted in most mixed leagues this year.  He was on my radar on draft day but completely slipped my mind. Fortunately, I was able to grab him in a bunch of leagues yesterday after his 7 IP, 2 ER performance against the Tigers.  What's Purcey's outlook for '09?

Projections for Purcey suggest nothing special...ERA under 5.00 with a decent K rate, that's it.  But let's take a closer look.

Purcey, a southpaw, will turn 27 in April.  His Triple A numbers last year: 117 innings, 2.69 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9. His Major League numbers in '08: 5.54 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9.  Who's to say he can't find the good control he showed at Triple A?  Purcey seems like a guy who can, at the least, give you some cheap Ks.  Baseball Prospectus likens Purcey to Bruce Hurst circa 1985, which is a good thing.

Back in February David Golebiewski profiled Purcey for FanGraphs and liked what he saw as well.

A Look At Travis Snider

Today let's take a look at Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider.

Snider was drafted 14th overall out of high school in 2006.  He ascended very quickly, starting 2008 in High A ball and making it to the Majors.  Only 20 years old, he hit .301/.338/.466 in 80 big league plate appearances.

More importantly than his brief Major League stint, let's look at Snider's Major League Equivalent.  This is a translation of his minor league work in Major League terms.  That line: .277/.358/.485.  23 HR in 480 ABs.  In a way, that's what we might've expected if he spent all of 2008 in the bigs.  Would've been a phenomenal rookie season for a kid so young.

Scouting-wise, Baseball America loves Snider.  They say he has the tools to hit for average and power, but has below-average speed. 

Much like Jay Bruce in 2008, Snider's '09 opportunity is in question.  At present, the Jays are undecided at left field and DH.  However, they could sign a DH-type and continue trying Adam Lind in left.  Assuming Lyle Overbay stays, Snider could be in line for more Triple A seasoning (he's only had 18 games at the level, and keeping him there for a few months could delay free agency by a year).

Last spring Bruce was drafted in the 27th round on average, so in a 12-team mixed league you could've waited til the reserve round or picked him up midseason.  It figures to be a similar situation for Snider, and he's not the double-digit steal threat Bruce was.  Snider is certainly a top keeper, a guy who could hit .300 with 30 HR in 2010.  But for '09, he seems like more of a 20 HR type with playing time questions.  Worth a flier, nothing more in non-keeper leagues.

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