Who’s On First?
If you’ve ever heard Abbott & Costello’s classic “Who’s On First” skit, you know how utterly confusing it is to answer that conundrum. Perhaps even more perplexing though, is that very same question posed to the Toronto Blue Jays.
There are plenty of options within the organization, on the free agent market, as well as others that can be made available via trade. So which one will Alex Anthopoulos choose?
Only time will tell, but in the meantime here are a collection of the top candidates to play first base for the Blue Jays next year.
Career OPS: .796
Career HR’s: 80
Career Games at 1B: 11
Adam Lind at first base seems like the simplest and the most natural decision for the Blue Jays. The only problem is Lind started just 8 games at first base, and that hand full of experience still doesn’t instill a ton of confidence.
If Lind is going to be the starting first baseman for the Blue Jays, the club needs to make that commitment right now and have him go through the ringer in Spring Training and see what he can do in 150+ games at first base.
The other advantage to having Lind at first base is there wouldn’t be a relatively young 27 year old relegated to the designated hitter spot, which could be taken up by any of the candidates below.
Career OPS: .919
Career HR’s: 192
Career Games at 1B: 789
This is obviously the kind of big splash that Alex Anthopoulos could make to really put the Blue Jays on the map. The downside to getting Prince Fielder is they would undoubtedly have to clear the cupboard of top level prospects and maybe even a couple of major leaguers just to pry him from the Brewers.
Even if they do trade to get Prince Fielder, he only has one year left on his contract. So locking him up long term would be paramount to increasing the Blue Jays chances of competing in the American League East.
Lyle Overbay has been a defensive mastermind these past five years, but trading to get Prince Fielder would bring back the kind of power the club has been lacking since the days of Carlos Delgado.
Career OPS: .841
Career HR’s: 230
Career Games at 1B: 1011
With the Tampa Bay Rays cutting payroll for next season, that means their veteran first baseman is all but guaranteed to be in a different uniform come Opening Day 2011.
Now would be an opportune time for the Blue Jays to buy low on Carlos Pena and get him for a reasonable price over the next 2-3 years.
Pena is a Gold Glove winner and a fairly solid first baseman defensively, but can also contribute quite a bit of power to the position. The upside of having Carlos Pena is he can provide much more pop than Lyle Overbay did while still providing a similar skill set on the field.
Career OPS: .902
Career HR’s: 352
Career Games at 1B: 347
For someone that doesn’t even like baseball, he sure knows how to crush them. Adam Dunn has posted 38 home runs or more in his last 7 seasons in the National League.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why Adam Dunn would want to stay in Washington, so why not tempt him with a chance to play with the big boys in the American League East?
Dunn is your prototypical slugger and he will always be a perennial strikeout victim, but that also comes with the territory of signing a player like him.
Career OPS: .954
Career HR’s: 327
Career Games at 1B: 717
Lance Berkman has a $15 million dollar club option with the Yankees for the 2011 season, but if they choose to not pick up the option they will be forced to pay the $2 million dollar buyout.
That could be the opening the Blue Jays are looking for. Coming off a down season marred by injuries, it would be crazy to give Berkman anything more than $5 million in 2010. Don’t rule it completely out though, as AA could come up with some creative way to get Lance Berkman to come to Toronto.
Career OPS: .820
Career HR’s: 189
Career Games at 1B: 217
This is exactly the kind of move I can see Alex Anthopoulos making: sign Russell Branyan to a one year deal with a couple of options, only to see him flourish and then flip him at the trade deadline for some prospects.
Branyan definitely still has some pop left in his bat, and although the Blue Jays might be leaning more towards using him as a designated hitter, Branyan can still hold down the fort at first base if need be.
The Mariners got Branyan at a bargain, as they only had to pick up a fraction of the $1.5 million dollar contract. What might scare them off is Branyan’s $5 million dollar option for 2011, something that the Blue Jays might want to consider taking on if they are desperate for a veteran bat.
Career OPS: .787
Career HR’s: 100
Career Games at 1B: 401
Listen, I’m not crazy about Mike Jacobs either, but he would be another player within the Blue Jays organization that could make the transition back to first base and he could do it very cheaply.
Jacobs has played 401 career games at first base with a fairly decent .990 fielding percentage. He’s slated to be the starting first baseman for the Las Vegas 51’s next year, but if he has a decent Spring Training maybe the bluebirds can look at bringing him on the 25 man roster next spring.
**Update: It turns out Mike Jacobs has declared free agency, and is therefore off the Blue Jays 40 man roster.**