I know, odd, why would I be thinking about David Cooper over the holiday season when, quite obviously, nobody else is. Like many other Jays fans, I was hooked on Sportnet’s genius advertising idea to show the 1992 World Series in its entirety. And one thing that I have taken away from the experience, aside from mourning the death of stirrups, is how alike Cooper and John Olerud look. From their upright stance, quiet hands, and swing planes…..Olerud has more in the chin department, but there are many striking similarities.
Even with the rather major deals that Alex Anthopoulos has pulled off this winter, Adam Lind, and his struggles to hit any pitching, but especially left-handed pitching, are still very popular topics. General consensus, at the very least, has a right-handed platoon partner needed, while the hopefuls have Lind sent away in shame and a full time replacement signed. The latest story I read had Lance Berkman as the knight on a white horse, but the off-season has also seen names such as Jonny Gomes (now with Boston) and even recently signed Russ Canzler and his whopping 102 major league plate appearances bandied about as possible platoon partners.
Internally, Rajai Davis has been mentioned as a possible DH against lefties. Admittedly, I do believe Rajai would be better than Lind, as his 230 point OPS advantage against left-handers in 2012 suggests. However, giving so many at bats to Davis would detract from what his role should be, and what he is best suited for. A fourth outfielder and late game pinch runner.
Organizationally, both the manager and gm are paying lip service to Adam Lind’s place in the team. Both have him pencilled in as the full-time DH. While this is all well and good during the off-season, as soon as spring training begins and Lind shows up either out of shape, or with a back complaint from ‘working out too hard’, a replacement will be sought.
Which brings us back to our Olerud look-a-like. Cooper has proven he can hit AAA pitching (albeit in a very hitter friendly environment), so I don’t think his development is best served in Buffalo. If Lind falters, I don’t see why Cooper as a like for like replacement is not the best course of action.
In a limited sample size, Cooper put together a pretty decent season in 2012. He may not be the proto-typical slugging first basemen but the cyclicality of baseball has us going through a down period for power at the position. Cooper’s 2012 .464 slugging percentage, if maintained for a full season, would have put him about middle of the pack for qualified players.
Cooper is a gap to gap doubles hitter. With the radical reconstruction of the Jays lineup this off-season, Cooper’s skill-set may be exactly what the Jays need. He would probably slot into the seven hole, behind the higher on base players like Bautista, Encarnacion, and (hopefully) Lawrie. If given the opportunity, he may drive in a lot of runs hitting behind those players.
Defensively, Cooper rated as below average in 2012. Again, small sample sizes, but you would have to believe he would be an upgrade over Encarnacion. On paper at least, the rest of the infield should be quite respectable defensively, allowing Edwin to focus solely on hitting wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Of course, I’m writing this article in a vacuum, assuming the 2013 choices at first base are already within the organization. Based on the off-season thus far, that may very well be a mistake. And Adam Lind may very well have a bounceback season, although if you believe that, you’re probably still spiking the remains of the egg nog. This is my first big prediction of 2013, David Cooper starts over one hundred ball games at first next season and puts up an above average wOBA to boot.
Probably not the last incorrect one I make this season, but hey, you gotta be in it to win it.