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.


Adam Lind

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.

Prince Fielder

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.

Carlos Pena

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. 


Adam Dunn

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.

Lance Berkman

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.

Russell Branyan

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.

Mike Jacobs

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.**

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

11 thoughts on “Who’s On First?

  • October 18, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Well how about that? I guess we can cross him off the list of candidates then. I was wondering why he wasn't on the 40 man roster anymore!

  • October 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    That gets a big sigh of relief from me. Mike Jacobs would have been a step down in 1B quality.

  • October 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Matt, he would be a step down defensively from Overbay, but at least he would be an extremely cheap alternative!

  • October 18, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Agreed, but I don't want to see Rogers sacricing quality for cost. I think that sends a message that is contradictory to their claim that they are building a competitor. It will risk further alienated an already disgruntled fanbase. I would much rather they take the gamble of putting Lind at 1st to see how he handles himself over a larger sample size than 11 games.

  • October 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Matt, good point – but personally I'd rather see a cheap option at 1B than grossly overpaying someone to play first base. That being said, Prince Fielder is the only guy on that list who I would throw money at.

  • October 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    No no no. Not Prince.

    Not at the price the Brewers would want.

    And not when the post-2011 alternatives are:
    – overpay Prince and his Mo-Vaughan-to-be body, because he'll probably have to be overpaid to play here, or
    – watch him walk for draft picks, which would likely be worth less than what they gave up to get Prince in the first place.

    Given what I've seen from AA thus far, I'm expecting someone along the lines of Branyan at 1B next year, if not Lind. All signs point to an attempt to contend in 2013, not 2011.

  • October 19, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Wow, I had no idea Jacobs was 1) still in the majors and 2) on the Jays roster. You might as well see what Calvin Pickering and Ken Harvey are up to if you want to give him another chance.

    I think Berkman or Branyan would be the best fit for the Jays, since I view next year as a consolidation year for them. Hopefully, Morrow continues to improve, Drabek has a first season similar to a Lester or Buccholz (up and downs but with an eye toward being a good regular in 2012), and Jose retains most of his value.

  • October 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Robbie, I imagine AA wouldn't do the deal unless he could lock up Fielder long term. There's no sense in trading him if he's going to walk as a free agent a year later (although AA would value those 2 picks due to Type A free agency).

    Steve, shockingly yes … Mike Jacobs is still out there. But apparently he's a FA now, so that option is out the window. Like you, I'm leaning more towards the Branyan camp. When he isn't running into tables and hurting himself comically, Branyan's still a pretty good player.

  • October 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I could live with Berkman on a one-year deal with a team option.

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