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We continue on our tour around the bases though the spring training lens.  Today the first basemen take centre stage.

There are eleven first basemen in camp.  Here they are by estimated level:

Major League: Lyle Overbay; Kevin Millar

AAA: Chip Cannon; Randy Ruiz

AA: Brian Dopirak

A+: David Cooper

A: Manny Rodriguez; Michael McDade; Adam Amar; Kevin Denis-Fortier; Justin McClanahan; 

Extended: Nate Nelson

Other than Millar the Jays are set at first base through most of the organization.  At the major league level Millar could be a platoon partner for either Overbay at first or Adam Lind at DH.  Keeping Millar means that someone like Johnny Mac might be dropped from the roster.  If Millar is willing to play in AAA then that would be bad news for Chip Cannon who has not shown he can hit AAA pitching yet.  I find it hard to believe that Millar would go back to AAA after so many years in the majors and Millar confirmed as much yesterday.  Chip missed half of last season but was not able to deliver before he was hurt.  2009 might be his last chance.  Randy Ruiz is another option for first base; through his career Ruiz has played first base, outfield and DH.  It is not clear where the Jays will play him in AAA, for now I will assume he will be the DH.

Dopirak and Cooper appear set in AA and high A respectively.  Both players were promoted in late 2008 and will need some time to consolidate their gains from 2008.  Before last season Dopirak looked like his career was over, but he signed with the Jays, re-worked his swing, and had an excellent season in Dunedin and finally in New Hampshire.  Cooper was drafted last season and made the big in-season jump as far as Dunedin.  Both Dopirak and Cooper spent little time at AA and high A respectively last season so I would expect them to return there to start the season.

The unanswered question is who will play first in Lansing?  Manny Rodriguez joined the Jays as a minor league free agent prior to last season and had a great first half in Lansing before fading in the second half.  Mike McDade started in Lansing but was demoted to Auburn in mid-season.  McDade is heavy, even by first base standards, and needs to either start hitting the ball out of the park or losing some of his weight.  Last season was his first full year and he should have used the off-season to get physically ready for 2009.  Adam Amar was undrafted and played in independent ball before joining Auburn last season.  Amar also started strongly but faded over the last month.  The second half fade is worrisome for an undrafted player, does it mean the league has figured him out or was his first half just a hot streak?  McClanahan was a GCL all-star but he is 23 years old already.  Denis-Fortier is a Canadian who has been injured and didn't get a lot of playing time last season.

In addition to these guys Jon Talley could play first base also if the Jays decide he will not be a catcher.

My guess is that Millar will be in Toronto or retired.  Cannon, Dopirak and Cooper then fill the next three levels.  If Talley is not catching then he will be the Lansing first baseman.  If Talley is catching then I think it will be Mike McDade for a second try.

Major League: Lyle Overbay

AAA: Chip Cannon (Randy Ruiz as backup and DH)

AA: Brian Dopirak

A+: David Cooper

A: Mike McDade

Extended: Kevin Denis-Fortier; Justin McClanahan

Tomorrow we will look at the middle infielders

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 09:16 AM EST (#196511) #
I think McDade will get a chance at 1B in Lansing again.  He seemed to hit pretty well after getting sent down to Auburn.  Going to Lansing a year after being drafted was probably a little aggressive for him (particularly in hindsight!).

I'd like to see Talley stick behind the plate, but I suspect he's not going to stay there for long.  Even last year he only played 14 of 40 games at C.  My guess is that he'll do the C/1B/DH thing again this year.

Mike Green - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 10:17 AM EST (#196513) #
I'd start Cooper at double A.  He's 22 and can hit.  Dopirak and Cannon can split the 1B/DH roles in Las Vegas; it'd be entertaining there anyway.
John Northey - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 10:50 AM EST (#196514) #
I figured on Cooper in AA and Dopirak in AAA, but I could easily see them starting at A+ and AA for April/May then promoted in June. 

Checking Baseball Cube I see Dopirak hit just 287/297/425 in 22 games at AA while Cooper hit 304/373/435 in A+ over 24 games. Dopirak better watch out as Cooper will (most likely) be in AA soon. Still, that is nothing compared to poor Chip Cannon as he hit just 231/343/343 last year in AAA after a 241/334/434 year in AA in 2007. I could easily see Chip being released before too long, which is too bad as I think we all wanted to see him in the majors (gotta love that name).
AWeb - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 11:04 AM EST (#196515) #
If Dopirak and Cooper are for real, Cannon's last chance may be the ffirst half of 2009. Neither younger prospect in a lower level is all that young, and the Jays should be pushing one or both up the ranks this year if they succeed. Cannon had a decent year in AA (lots of power, decent BB rate) in 2006, but he's 27 this year...either he puts up a very good year (perhaps a .270/.370/.510 type line, give or take), or it's time to cut bait.

If the Jays are to contend this year (a seeming long shot, I know) Overbay also needs to be better, or more strictly platooned. As a "rightie-masher", he's barely good enough (OPS of mid-800s), but throw in another 170 PAs against lefties like last year (2008 OPS .540) and he's killing you. Last year's terribleness against southpaws was an aberation for his career, but it's not like he's great against lefties in a good year.

greenfrog - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 11:31 AM EST (#196516) #
These position summaries are great, Gerry.

Dopirak is still a long shot because of his age, despite his resurgence last year. But like Loewen, he'll be interesting to watch in 2009. Cooper looks like a really promising prospect, although he'll have more value if he can learn to play an average 1B. It seems easier to find DHs on the open market than capable first basemen (although the Jays struggled in that department last year).
uglyone - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 12:25 PM EST (#196518) #

I agree with the general opinion that if Dopirak and Cooper do indeed start the season in AA and A+ respectively, that the plan will be to move them up a level as quickly as possible.

I doubt they see any potential at all in Cannon anymore. He's at best a placeholder, and might not even be that in the very likely scenario that Dopirak and Cooper are both moved up a level to start the season.

FisherCat - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 01:43 PM EST (#196522) #

The first injury news of the spring is hitting the blogs, as both Downs & Maroth had MRI's.  The bad news is that Downs' injury is to the elbow! (yikes).

JP says it's not serious, yet neither was BJ Ryan's injury at this time 2 seasons ago...

John Northey - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 01:59 PM EST (#196523) #
Hmm.  Wonder if JP had an idea on Downs having issues thus why he went nuts chasing various pitchers for the pen this past winter.  The pen is still deep, but losing your #1 setup man does hurt.
Wildrose - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 02:17 PM EST (#196524) #
JP says it's not serious, yet neither was BJ Ryan's injury at this time 2 seasons ago...

Before everybody gets their shorts in a knot here's the full report on Downs.

The team sent him off for an MRI, the results of which came back negative.
Ricciardi said the dye that was injected into the elbow to enable the test will prevent Downs from throwing again for about five days or so. 
Mylegacy - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 04:23 PM EST (#196535) #
In the GCL McClanahan, R/R 6' 2" 210, at age 22 in 08 hit 282/356/503 with 8 homers in 163 at bats. Interestingly in college at Louisville he was a 2nd baseman playing at 195 pounds. He was old(ish) for the GCL. Given his age he should be at a full season team in 09.

In Auburn Adam Amar, R/R 6' 4" 240, at age 22 hit 302/359/476 with 9 homers in 252 at bats. He'll be interesting to follow this year. I'm a fan.

Here is the comparison of Cooper and Dopirak stats at Dunedin where they both played in 08. Cooper, L/L 6' 175, at age 21 hit 304/373/435 with 1 homer in 92 at bats. Dopirak, R/R 6' 4" 235, at age 24 hit 308/382/577 with 27 homers in 409 at bats.

The guy to RUSH is Dopirak who will play 09 at age 25. I'd push him to AAA to see what he can do - BEAR IN MIND - AAA is now in the Pacific Launching Pad League and the power stats will be askew.

Cooper - TO ME is a possible MVP as a 2nd baseman (which unfortunately he can't play even a little - in fact he can barely play 1st)- OR a 1st baseman like Overbay with a slightly better average, same OBP and less power - the same power at best.

SO - by July of 2010 our 1st basman of the FUTURE IS .... Adam Loewen!

ayjackson - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 04:47 PM EST (#196536) #

I agree with MG that Dopirik and Cannon will be at AAA.  Cooper can prove his worth at AA and you need the games at first in Dunedin for....ahem....

Adam Loewen.

ramone - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 06:31 PM EST (#196537) #
Well according to Baseball America's Minor League Transactions there is one more guy in the mix for 1B.  The jays signed Brett Harper last week, who played 1B for Fresno in the pacific coast league last year.  So perhaps Cannon may be out the door as Harper is a lefty first basemen as well?
ramone - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 06:35 PM EST (#196538) #
Sorry one more thing, I think you might see Balbino Fuenmayor at first in Lansing, as JP said on the Fan near the end of last year they are considering switching Balbino to 1B for 09.  I guees with Sobolewski at 3rd in lansing this year and Ahrens at 3rd in Dundedin there is more room for him at first base.
Mylegacy - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 06:35 PM EST (#196539) #

My laptop fried. Rest in peace.

I'm getting a new one - prepared to spend between $800 - $1200 (plus taxes). All I want it for is Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. the Internet and WATCHING STREAMING VIDEO - PARTICULARILY MLB.COM. I've Shaw Cable high speed internet and a wireless router. What do I need in the way of - WHATEVER HARDWARE/SOFTWARE - to BEST be able to view streaming video? For instance I was thinking of a 4 gig RAM (I don't really know what that means by the way) and 320 gigs of whatever the other stuff is. Do I need - OR WANT - special graphics cards or brown widgets with matching treddels - OR as my 11 year old neice would say - WHATEVER!

Anyone able to advise me?

Timbuck2 - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 06:52 PM EST (#196540) #
Pretty much any laptop you can buy will be able to handle what you want it for with lots of power to spare.  Unfortunately you are going to be getting Windows Vista with whatever you purchase.  Personally I like Vista but I'm a PC tech so I know how to tweak Vista so it's not so annoying.  Vista is also not compatible with most printer more than 3-4 years old.

Since I deal with Dell for work on a daily basis I would recomend getting something from them.  Don't forget to get the extended warranty too.  They also have a great 30 day 'Lemon Law" that states if they ship you a pc and it has hardware problems within the first 30 days then you can request a complete new machine rather than fixing whatever is broken.

The only downside to Dell is that they only sell PC's through direct purchase although they do showcase a few models for sale at you local Wal-Mart.

It's really easy to shop the Dell website and decide what you want there.  Here's a link to the Studio 15 laptops from Dell.  They feature upgraded video card, Widescreen LCD, and Integrated 2.0 megapixel webcam (that's pretty good!).

Check them out
Timbuck2 - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 07:01 PM EST (#196541) #
Almost forgot - they may come with 3 year return to depot warranties but if you can afford it adding $200 for Next Business day on site is great.  Especially if you are using this laptop for work.  Return to depot can take a week to get back.  Next business day is exactly that!
TamRa - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 08:02 PM EST (#196542) #
the signing of Harper tells me two things-

1. Cannon is looking at the bench - if he's lucky.

2. Dopirak is penciled in for AA to start the year.

Concerning Dop, my view is that his deadline is entierly dependent on Cooper. Cooper almost certainly WILL hit well enough in Dunedin to earn a promotion, no later than the break. Dopirak will either hit AA well enough to earn a simultanious promotion (which will in turn bump some poor soul in las Vegas) OR he will be just fair at AA and Cooper will shove him over into the DH role as he passes him by.
I agree with the poster who mentioned Loewen. i do think that the Jays SHOULD start off with Lowen in RF in Dunedin, but as long as Wells is in the system, the Snider-Rios-Wells trio is locked in as the starting OF...that would seem to imply that Loewen has at least as good a chance to make the majors at 1B as in the outfield. bottom line is that in 2011 (if not before) you will have Snider, Lind, Cooper, and Loewen competing for three jobs. And that's not counting darker horses.
I was going to mention Fuenmayor but someone beat me to him. if indeed the organization plans to move Balbino over, then my guess is he plays 1B in Lansing and McDade is in the mix for DH.

All in all, it's probably become the deepest position in the organization outside of pitching (I say that thinking that we have a lot of good minor league catching but most of them don't translate into quality major league catchers)

Marc Hulet - Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 08:07 PM EST (#196543) #
I talked to Dick Scott during the winter meetings in Las Vegas, and asked him about the plan for the first basemen for 2009. He said Cooper has a good shot at starting in Double-A if he has a good spring and Amar is in consideration to skip all the way to Dunedin (but could be affected by Cooper). He still really likes McDade, too, despite his struggles in 2008. From the sounds of it, Dopirak will start in Double-A but could move up quickly if he hits well early.
Denoit - Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 08:02 AM EST (#196546) #
Lucky - Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 08:15 AM EST (#196547) #
I missed reading the article about catchers until today, but I noticed that David Corrente wasn't mentioned.  Anyone know what happened to him?  Was he a free agent this year?
christaylor - Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 11:29 AM EST (#196558) #

Mac Book. You'll be very glad you did. Mac Books start at right in the middle of your price range and you can customize them to suit. Word/Excel are available for Mac OS and Apple even has its own in-house versions (Pages/Numbers) that outshine the MS products in many ways (and of course they're compatible with the MS products you advise) especially when it comes to user-friendliness (Apple thinks about design in all aspects of their products everything they do shows intelligent design rather than the ad hoc-ery of PC world).

Mac OS is different from windows, but these days Windows is significantly different from Windows. Don't be turned off by the silly I'm a mac, you're a PC ads. Apple's products will change your computing experience for the better. I'm no fan boy by the way, I did Comp Sci at U of T during under-grad and I've used every OS under the Sun. I hated Mac OS prior to the switch to UNIX with Mac OS X which happened about 2001.

To all, I know people get religious about the Mac/PC divide. I'm not looking for a debate. I'm just offering advice to fellow Jays fan who I like, respect, have run into on the interwebs for year and who, importantly, asked.  The one thing I will mention though is - in a typical day in the lab, I use PCs (windows), macs and Linux, heck there was a piece of equipment that I was using in the early 00s that ran DOS to control lasers to produce images directly on the retina to by pass the cornea/lens. This is not unusual in my field (vision science) but I think it is telling that scientists in my field have to use every type of system to do their research, but when they pull out their personal laptops out at conferences. They are, almost without fail, Apples.   

Dewey - Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 12:40 PM EST (#196562) #
My Legacy, I second the suggestion to get a Mac.  They just work, and very, very well.  I, too, promise you'll never regret it.  And have I ever lied to you before?


John Northey - Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 02:07 PM EST (#196569) #
Of note: someone at my office got a Mac after being a pure PC guy and now he is in love with the MacBook.  Be sure to insist on getting a dongle for connecting to a standard monitor though when you get it as a freebie as those things are $30-$50 each otherwise.  It can remote desktop to a PC easily (do a search for remote desktop mac and you get the link to Microsoft's site with a free download that works immediately) thus covering any work aspects.  My wife got a Mini-Mac a couple of years ago and loves it too after using only PC's before.  If you can afford the bit extra a Mac costs, go for it.

92-93 - Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 05:28 PM EST (#196583) #
I was a PC user for over 15 years and switched about a year ago to Macintosh. There really is no comparison, and I would never think of going back.
greenfrog - Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 05:47 PM EST (#196584) #
I recently switched to a macbook after years of being a PC user. I'm really happy I did. I have MS Office for the mac, so I can use those apps as well.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.