Thursday, September 8, 2011

Five Other Guys Who Could Play First

Somewhere along the line, the idea that the Jays could take a run at Prince Fielder (or to a lesser extent Albert Pujols) or could try to pry Joey Votto loose has evolved in the minds of Jays fans from a flight of fancy to an absolute necessity. We fear that even musing about those players has amped up Jays fans to a point where they can't help but be disappointed when none of those players come to Toronto in the offseason.

(And though we think that Alex Anthopoulos is a magical creature who makes the impossible occur with some regularity, we feel pretty comfortable saying that none of those guys will be Blue Jays anytime soon.)

But because we hate to see people disappointed, we offer up the following list of players who we think could be had at a minimal cost, and who could provide the Jays with a decent solution for a year or two at first base/DH, should they decide that Adam Lind is not the best option.

(For a point of reference going forward, Lind's numbers are: .297 OBP, .442 SLG, .739 OPS, and an offensive WAR of 0.4 according to Baseball Reference.)

Carlos Lee: Lee has a year left on his mega-deal with the Astros, worth $19 million. That's a lot of dough, but Houston might be just as happy to let it go for cheap, while the Jays wouldn't be locking themselves into anything onerous in the long term. Lee has posted a not-terrible .330 OBP to go with a .444 SLG this year, and has played 62 games at first with positive UZR numbers (for whatever they might be worth).

Todd Helton: The Rockies' first baseman is in the twilight of his career, having just turned 38. Still, he's managed to post an .859 OPS (.387 OBP/.472 SLG) this year, which slots him just ahead of Mark Teixeira in that "dumber" metric. He has three years left on his long term deal with Colorado, but at $4.9, $5.0 and $1.31 million through 2014, that's a very manageable number. With Ian Stewart looking to get another shot at a full-time big league job, the Rockies might be inclined to let their franchise's most beloved player go.

Carlos Pena: After signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs last off-season, Pena has battled back from slow start and is now putting up numbers that you'd pretty much expect from him (.355 OBP, .461 SLG, .816 OPS). Pena is represented by Scott Boras, so no one should expect a sweetheart of a deal to be forthcoming. But for a guy whose offensive WAR is at par with that of Ryan Howard (2.3), it wouldn't be a terrible idea to see if a reasonable one- or two-year deal isn't a possibility.

Logan Morrison: Morrison's probably better suited to play first base than the outfield. (We have lots of questions about UZR, but LoMo's -15.9 UZR/150 number for his career at least indicates that it's not all bouquets and fruit baskets out there.) His offensive year hasn't been as superb as one might have hoped (.328/.451/.779), but those are still better numbers than Lind's. Also, given the all the ruckus around him, his demotion and his outspoken defense of former batting guru (John Mallee, who was fired by Florida but subsequently hired by the Blue Jays to serve as a roaming instructor), it could be that he didn't have his full focus on the game. He's just 24, and we think he'd benefit from the proverbial change of scenery.

Adam Dunn: Is Adam Dunn really this bad? Does he really not like baseball? Is he really a guy who posts a .576 OPS? Whose uninspiring OBP (.295) is actually higher than his SLG (.285)? Given that over the three previous seasons, Dunn posted a cummulative .380 OBP/.526 SLG/.906 OPS, we be willing to bet on some sort of comeback, especially if he were given the chance to play the field again. Is that bet worth the $44 million remaining on Dunn's contract over the next three seasons? That's probably up for debate, but he'll certainly cost the Jays less than any of the other names being bandied about.

Was there anyone we missed? Any other 1B/DH types who the Jays should consider for next year and beyond? Drop us a line in the comments, and we'd love to hear your take.


BringVottoHome said...


Plus, he's a Marlin, so a pile of relievers should be enough.

The Ack said...

Other than LoMo.... I guess I don't see the point of replacing average/below average with.... average/below average.

None of those dudes have any upside left (again, excluding LoMo) and don't fit the "star at every position" creed set forth, and I hope we're beyond the year or two replacement thing anyway (Pennant!!). Besides, that kinda really only works if there's a 1B slugger coming up in the system's horizon, which I don't really see?

I guess what I'm saying is, for me, it's go big or go home at 1B this offseason. I'd rather give Edwin the everyday job in 2012 than any of Lee, Dunn, Helton, or Pena.

But that's just me.

Bruins2011Gold said...

Personally I wouldn't mind seeing the Jays landing Morrison but I think we are fine with Lind/Encarnacion at 1B. Loewen is another option going forward as well. Not to mention Cooper. Sure Votto, Fielder, or Pujols would be the sexy pick. I dont think the Jays are in a position to make a run for one of them just yet. If AA can pull his magic once again and land Morrison for cheap I wouldn't complain.

Anonymous said...

Latte here! I'd like to order the Ike Davis with a side of Eric Hosmer. Is this something I have to support with fancy-pants stats?

Why don't beards'n'brows count for anything anymore? ~sulk~

GCM1979 said...


Please stop posting comments that make me spill V8 juice out of my nostrils, lol.


I think AA will go big or nothing at all. He only wants the best for the right price. Only LoMo may have any kind of potential in that regard.

tincanman2010 said...

Helton is an interesting idea because he semi-shared the position this year to compensate for his age. An EE-Helton partnership at 1st-DH might work dandy.

James said...

Ha! Good post. It's true - somewhere in the last couple months Jays fans have really jumped on to the Fielder bandwagon.

I have to say though - perhaps it's not extremely likely, but I do think there is a realistic chance that the Jays at least take a shot at one of these guys.

They do have very little money committed. There has been this sense that Rogers has been biding to spend big on someone. And with (presumably) no bidding from the Red Sox or Yankees, the Jays shouldn't necessarily be at too much of a disadvantage. Plus - hey, ESPN and MLBTR seem to think there's a potential match there.

Peter DeMarco said...

I agree with the Ack, I don't see any point in adding a 1st baseman will limited upside. Also, I think the players you mentioned will cost a lot more than you may think, and probably won't give a decent return on investment.

I thought we learned by now that you can't spend your money on mid level talent, it's either get out and get elite talent, high upside or use internal options.

I sure as hell hope that AA didn't get the payroll down as low as he has just to go out and sign a bunch of $7 or $8 million annual annual contract players.

plain_g said...

agree with elite talent. reds have a heisey, stubbs, bruce outfield, and alonso is raking. i think a package centered around d'arnaud and another high-upside talent brings back votto..?

Tao of Stieb said...

I think the larger point here is that you can get a guy who will provide you with decent production out of that slot (at least better than what Lind has) without yoking yourself to a player for the bulk of the next decade.

A lot can change over the course of a year or two. If you need a guy to come in and cover 1B for that period, you don't need to do an 8 year deal at $20 million per annum.

And stop stop stop stop stop please stop with the "we've got a guy and some other guy, and that should get us Joey Votto, right?" Alonso probably leaves Cincy before Votto does.

plain_g said...

i'm not playing "we've got these two relievers and maybe we can get back the best young centre fielder in the game (although AA totally plays that game and wins at it)" i'm saying let's give up the 36th best prospect, one of the best catching prospects in the majors, someone who was traded with roy halladay (along with another high-upside player), so don't act like i'm some nimrod jaystalk caller.

The Ack said...

yeahbutyeahbutyeahbut Tao... if you're going to have 1B manned by elite talent, you're either going to (a) develop one, (b) trade for one, or (c) sign a free agent to a monster, long-term deal. Or (d), I suppose, which would be luck into a Bautista.

(a) I don't see one in the system currently, (b) means you'll inevitably have to sift through "players A+B+C for player D" scenarios, or (c) yoke yourself to a player for the bulk of the next decade. (d) can't be reasonably expected to EVER happen again (even with a Ninja GM).

Or just stick with marginal status quo, ie: Lind or some player of similar production for similar (or more) dollars.

So which, good sir, do you prefer?

Tao of Stieb said...

Mike Mc-Mickey-Fickey-ing-Dade.

Mike McDade.


Go home.

Carterjprine said...

Tao is the first person to bring Mike fucking McDade!!Why doesn't anyone ever talk about this guy. He's got pretty good numbers in AA.

And @Plain_g I don't think Alonso pushes Votto anytime soon. Lets not forget Johnny Gomes played left field for the Reds I'm sure Alonso could hang out there for a while. And To be honest I would trade Aaron Cibia way before thinking about trading D'arnuad. Travis is a really good two way catcher Potentially. And has any body toyed with the idea of putting Travis Snider at first? I mean he eats enough...

Anonymous said...

Tao...on what basis can you suggest that Alonso leaves Cincy b4 Votto?

Votto was not even willing to give up one free agent year when he signed his contract with Cincy, and yet their front office felt the need to guarantee him those 3 arbitration years without much, if any, discount.

Arguably, the one concession Cincy received was the structure & the fact that 50% of the contract ($19 million in salary & signing bonus) is payable in the last year of the deal.

All these signs point towards Votto at least wanting to keep his options open in regards to his 1st yr of free agency.

If I am Cincy, I wouldn't really consider trading Alonso unless I'm blown away.

Rather, it makes sense to try and contend next year and if they are out of the race by the trade deadline (and I suspect they will be), you try and get as close to a Mark Teixiera to ATL haul as you can. You could always wait longer and get less for Votto if you feel you're in contention...but it's obviously a big gamble if the player hasn't shown a willingness to give up even one free agent year.

Toronto has the prospects, money for an extension and, possibly, the advantage of being the team Votto grew up rooting for as a child. I am not saying "Votto wants to come home" because I do not know where he wants to play, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising if TO is his destination of choice.

This has nothing to do with trading a bunch of bums for Votto; but to suggest that Votto is a pipedream is misguided IMO.

Tao of Stieb said...

I honestly don't think Votto wants to come home.


I said it.

Roberto said...

If those 5 are the only other options, I think I'd be inclined to give the job to EE. And that's only if there isn't something physically wrong with Lind.

Anonymous said...

"I honestly don't think Votto wants to come home.


I said it."

The problem is that you haven't said anything, nor have you given a shred of evidence or a logical explanation as to why it is ridiculous for fans to dream on the possibility of Votto.

Again, I have no idea where he wants to play and it's not like I've heard every soundbite he's ever recorded so I don't know if he's tipped his hand one way or the other as to where he wants to play or if he wants to test the free agent market in 2013 or whatnot.

All I am saying is that it seems like a realistic possibility that the Blue Jays will be in on Votto if/when he becomes available, espescially if they (rightly IMO) avoid the Pujols/Fielder insanity this winter.

Anonymous said...

If you want to run with the big dogs, you better play with the big dogs. The Yanks have Texeira and the Sox have AGon.

None of those 5 help the Jays case in hope of winning a WS.

I agree that 200 million for one of the big three (which is probably what it'll cost) is probably prohibitive. But it?

If AA wants to settle the issue in the fans minds, he needs to acquire a top first baseman prospect like...well there isn't a lot out there after guys like Rizzo and Hosmer who almost certainly wouldn't be dealt.

Woodman663 said...

Mike McDade is not a good prospect. He doesn't have an impressive OBP, strikes out too much and doesn't hit for enough power.

w3leong said...


Scrappy said...

I'm with the "go big or stay home" camp with the leading option some combo of the collection of DH/1B/LF guys the Jays have. I'm pretty sure Farrell understands the concept of platooning (DH memories of Clifford Johnson and Al Oliver anyone?)

Outside of his arm, just how good a RF is Jose Bautista?

Darrell said...

Replacing Lind with one of those players is treading water. Either go big, trade for a young guy with lots of upside, or give someone internally a chance (Lind included)

JaysFanExiledinOTT said...

Tao.. Respected your work thus far, but this 'Checkmate' attitude is BS, bud. Disagree with the dreamers, but I think you need to respect people's differing opinions. I bet you hated on people calling for the Colby trade too, but guess what it happened.

Not that it worked out for us, but the Raptors signed Turkoglu when he was highly-sought after monster playoff performances. Sometimes good things happen to Toronto sports teams.

I'm not advocating for the Jays to break the bank on any of these guys, but I am of the opinion that having an elite bat at 1B would really fill in a large hole that Lind/EE cannot fill consistently so I would like to see them platoon at DH with a Superstar at 1b. Why wouldn't I as a Jays fan who would like to win in the next couple years?

A) It'll cost too much. So what? It's not your money and any of those three would increase our chance of winning, attract fans, and fill seats. Rogers just applied to open a bank, trust me friend, they can afford it. Not that I think we should knowingly rush into a Rios/Wells deal just for the sake of spending money, but you've got to at some point. J Bau is not getting any younger. You've got to take a chance at some point.

B) They'll be garbo in a few years and we'll be stuck. Ya, some FAs/trade pieces turn into pumpkins. So the lesson is don't ever try. You know who turn into non-MLers far more often than Superstars? Draft picks. It's always the risk in any sport. So don't try?

C) They won't be any better than our homegrown options. Do you honestly believe that Mike McDade (who I like and hope blossoms into a Superstar) will ever become an elite 1B along the lines of Pujols, Fielder, Votto (or Tex/AGonz for that matter)? If so, where do I apply for your job because they must be hiring crazies without qualifications.

JaysFanExiledinOTT said...

..and the name you forgot... David Ortiz

Dave said...

We just built up the farm system and everyone's already jumping back on the bandwagon to sell it for a high priced big name. Welcome back to the JP years...

JaysFanExiledinOTT said...

Well, if we just built it up in 2 years time from utter crap to top 5, it seems like JP just did both poorly. Frank Thomas/Lyle Overbay are also no comparison to Votto, Fielder or Pujols.

I'm not saying that we should drastically overpay for Votto and I don't think he wants to come 'home' (he's said he doesn't feel such special connection to Canada, can't source that but remember reading it).

I just think if the opportunity arises to acquire a proven elite bat with his near-peak production years ahead of them, then it warrants a serious look. Despite our strong farm system, we don't have an elite 1B/DH type on the horizon. If one can be added for picks/prospects which we have a lot of, then I feel it makes sense.

My issue is with automatically deriding such a move and their proponents under any condition. For example, we have an overstock of top notch catching prospects. We can only justify paying top dollar to one in the big leagues. I know the Reds aren't looking for a C, but someone always is. If we shipped out D'Arnaud to a third team to acquire a piece that the Reds would be interested in and then packaged them with some of our elite pitching prospects, I wouldn't see the acquisition of an elite 1B with great years ahead as selling out the future. You can only have five pitchers in your rotation after all.

I don't think this will happen and I don't think either Prince or Pujols will sign with us, but to rule out these moves automatically because JP got burned repeatedly with bad signings is foolish. These players are leagues ahead of the moves JP made.

The Ack said...

^^ makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm not firmly entrenched in ANY camp on the "1B of 2012 and beyond" topic (or approach), but remember the quote from AA himself regarding prospects.... "they aren't all going to play up here...."

Tao of Stieb said...


Okay, the "checkmate" comment was a joke directed towards Ack, who I thought would take it nicely. I think he did. I wasn't trying to be a jerk...I was pretending to be a jerk.

(I kinda thought it was funny. I really hate explaining jokes.)

As to your other points:

"It's not your money and any of those three would increase our chance of winning, attract fans, and fill seats. Rogers just applied to open a bank, trust me friend, they can afford it."

Rogers isn't opening a bank, and even if this credit card business were that, they wouldn't do it so that they can spend the profits on the Jays. It's been clear ALL ALONG, but especially since Beeston came along: The Jays are going to sink or swim as a business on their own merits. They aren't going to spend mobile or cable money on the Jays.

And I'm not even sure that those guys guarantee the wins you claim, nor do they guarantee the crowds that you seem to think will follow. They might not hurt the cause, but there's a significant investment involved that I'm not sure that fans are weighing out.

You next point suggests that I'm saying "Don't ever try", which is not at all what I'm saying. I just think that there are decent alternatives to strapping this team down to a long term deal. Look at what's happened to Alfonso Soriano in Chicago or Carlos Lee (yes, the same guy) in Houston. They invested hugely in these guys, and what has the return been? It's wrecked their franchises.

Finally: I think that the Jays' homegrown options might not be great, but I'd rather pay $400K for a 1.5 win player than to pay $20 million for a 3.5 win player.

Anyways, y'all can continue to lecture me as though I have just fallen off the turnip truck. I'm sure I'm just to blind to see the brilliance in shovelling heaps of money onto a weakness in the lineup and hoping it goes away.

Oh, by the way...Who's the 1B for the eventual AL Champion Texas Rangers? Because I forgot...they must not be ready to play with the big boys/big dogs.

You gotta, you gotta, you gotta. All day long, all I hear is: "You gotta."

JaysFanExiledinOTT said...

I didn't read the twitter convo until after so I'll admit I jumped on you pretty hard. We are all entitled to make jokes, misinterpret them, and be misinterpreted. I never thought you were a jerk, so that's why it took me by surprise.

Hate to be that guy but while maybe not in the same class as the 'Big Three', Michael Young is getting paid 16+ to fill a 1B/DH role with Texas even if he is not the prototypical power-hitting 1B/DH that I am seemingly advocating for.

While I was glossing over the financial details and making hasty generalizations, it is clear to me at least that the Blue Jays have the backing to up its payroll to the mystical $120-140M/yr. figure that we hear bandied about so much and this will not necessarily be generated by ticket sales and merchandise. Let's not forget that Rogers also has an interest in the Jays doing well for the sake of their sports channel.

I never once said "You gotta get a super slugger to play 1st no matter what the cost" and if that is how I came off, I am sorry. My message was more simply: "If the opportunity arises, acquire a superstar." I just don't want it ruled out automatically because its riskier than going with the cheap home-grown option. I love it everytime we develop a special player, but it doesn't happen every year, nor every decade.

We didn't homegrow (hopefully) future franchise player Brett Lawrie, we traded for him in a move that was quite unpopular at the time. It was risky and many thought we gave up too much (our staff Ace). Today, there aren't many Jays fans out there that would undo the deal despite the success that Marcum has had with the Brewers.

I am not advocating trading Drabek, Alvarez, D'Arnaud, Marisnick, Hech, Cooper, Snider and Thames in a mega package for one (albeit proven) Superstar, but if one could be had for three of those names I would hope AA would at least give it some consideration.

I understand that acquiring one of these names is a significant investment and I agree that many fans blindly assume that we'll be able to get one of them for a bag of wooden bat. But if we're going to compete with the rest of the AL Beast, I feel we need to consider calculated risks up to and possibly including signing/trading for one of the 'Big Three'. To not consider adding one of these players would be, borrowing from the Greek philosopher AA, would be failing to conduct our 'due diligence'.

While wins aren't guaranteed if you're paying the most for players, I think there is no denying that we'd be more likely to win this year if we had David Ortiz as our DH and Mark Texeira as our 1B. Sure you can criticize those that advocate signing a 'closer' to satisfy the blown save hounds, but I personally feel the bullpen is something that is much easier to fill internally than the heart of the order. As much as it means nothing to you or me, the Canadian element would almost certainly play with an acquisition like Votto. While I consider it unlikely because the cost would be so prohibitive, having two Superstar Canadians would draw fans to the stadiums, merchandise stands, and tv/radio broadcasts.

By the way, which comes first? The chicken or the egg? The 120-140M payroll or the competitive team?

keith72 said...


Great blog and great posts of late. I was worried that this sportsnet gig would cause a serious deterioration in what you were doing here. Not True!

Now I differ completely with you on the need to go out and get a big bat to hit in the middle of this line up. However the Jays do it, is fine by me. because this year has proven that Lind will not bat clean up on a club that can win anything. I'd be fine if Lind was hitting 6th. But to put him in the middle of an order and expect him to protect Joey Bats is kidding yourself. Thanks for making up the back injury in you tweet back post. Lind is the only guy I have ever seen who missed a month of the season because 1B was too "rigorous" on his back. Que the jokes about baseball players not being athletes.

Your comment about who the Rangers have at 1B is irrelevant as that is their only weak position. Let's put it like this Napoli is coming off the bench. When you have Cruz, Andrus, Beltre, Young and last years MVP, you are just fine. If we had that type of supporting cast around Joey Bats and played in the AL Jest we would be playoff bound too. And anything can happen in a short series

In addition, how often will a bat like Feilder's come available? Especially at 28?

So the real question is how do you obtain that bat and do the least damage to your future? Obviously going free agent. Worst case you don't finish in the bottom half of teams and you lose your 1st rounder. We already have a first round pick because we didn't sign Beede. If we have to trade for that type of bat, it's gonna cost Drabek (yes he is still a big time prospect), Hutch, Molina, Gose AND D'Arnuad to START the talks.

When you look at this and know that AA does nothing without a long term strategic view, realizing that the Jays have a 1st round pick next year, it makes me wonder if that crafty, best GM ever, wasn't planning to sign a big free agent.

The decision is clear. prove Tao wrong (again) and get Feilder.

Tao - We'll call you when the parade starts

The Ack said...

Put another way, Tao.... where would you advocate spending money then? Because not spending for the sake of not spending seems just as silly to me as spending for the sake of spending.

I don't have the number (b/c I'm lazy, and I do fuck all on the weekends now), but I'm sure payroll commitments for the forseeable future are prettty, prettty, pretty low.

If we are assuming a sizable chunk of the core is locked up, and 1B is one of the few(ish) holes to fill... doesn't paying up for a slugger in that spot make as much sense as any?

I feel weird debating this, because I'm not entirely sure I think making a big spend move in that position is the best way either.... but I don't think I can get behind that rationale of not spending just to... not spend.

Tao of Stieb said...

I'm not saying I don't like Fielder or Votto. I think they're both awesome. I had them as keepers on my roto team this year.

I just don't like the amount of years, money and/or prospects that I think the Jays would have to give up for them.

That's all I'm saying.

Anonymous said...

You know who looks pretty good? Adam Lind. Cito Gaston rulez.

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