Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Does David Cooper Have a Future at First Base?

By
Image courtesy of Fantasy CPR
It's incredible to think it's been nearly three weeks since the Blue Jays sent Adam Lind down to Triple A Las Vegas. I say incredible because it seems like the team has not missed him one bit. It's been business with usual, even with Adam Lind off the 40-man roster.

Part of that can be attributed to the lack of offense on Adam Lind's part, but part can also be linked to the recent resurgence of David Cooper.

As the Tao of Stieb would say, Cooper's about as exciting as a mayonnaise sandwich, but David Cooper certainly cuts the mustard as the Blue Jays first baseman ... for the time being.

I figured by now the ghost of Adam Lind would be haunting the Blue Jays roster, but honestly I've barely even noticed that Lind has been out of the lineup for the past 17 games. 

Most are quick to dismiss Cooper's PCL batting title from last season because ... well, it's the Pacific Coast League. The offensive statistics are inflated, but hitting at a .364 clip over the course of 120 games in a hitter's league is still pretty impressive in my books.

Going into this season, David Cooper's future was very uncertain in the organization. With Adam Lind locked in for several years, it seemed as though Cooper's destiny might be that of trade bait or he might become stuck in limbo as a quadruple A player.

But ever since the wheels came off with Adam Lind, that's opened the door of opportunity for David Cooper. And I have to say, I like what I've seen so far.

Not that Lind was the worst defensive first baseman out there, but I much prefer to see Cooper at first at his natural position. He really does remind me of John Olerud out there, and fields the position very well.

Having David Cooper at first base also takes the pressure off Edwin Encarnacion to step in as the first baseman. Sure, Eddie is okay in a pinch at first base, but I don't think he's a viable option as an everyday first baseman.

Offensively, Cooper doesn't quite have the pop that Adam Lind did, but I'm okay with that. David Cooper had 50 career home runs in the minor leagues, so power is not one of Cooper's strong suits. But racking up hits and getting on base have been his hallmarks in the minors.

For some reason, there's this stigma that in order to compete in the American League East, the Blue Jays need to have a slugging first baseman. Honestly, I think so long as the power is made up elsewhere in the lineup (say right field for example), then the Blue Jays don't need a slugger at first.

Just take a look around the rest of the division; the only first baseman in the AL East who has more than 10 home runs right now is Edwin Encarnacion.

Also, ask the Detroit Tigers  how they're feeling about the early returns from their $214 million dollar contract to Prince Fielder, and ask the Los Angeles Angels where they stand on their $240 million dollar contract to Albert Pujols.

That's not to say these players won't pick it up in the second half, but that's what the prototypical slugging first baseman are doing for their prospective teams. So having one of these players on the roster doesn't necessarily equate to success.

That's where it all comes back to John Olerud once again. He wasn't the typical big-bodied first baseman that hit 30+ home runs and drove in 100+ RBI's year after year. Johnny O was still an offensive threat, but a different kind of offensive threat.

If the closest comparison to David Cooper is John Olerud, then that's pretty promising. Of course, this is all very easy to say as Cooper has only 37 at bats this season, but the early results are very encouraging.

A few years ago, before he decided to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, I advocated that the Blue Jays should resign Lyle Overbay. Part of it was because it would be fiscally smart thing to do, but mostly because it would be better to sign the devil the Blue Jays knew rather than the devil they didn't.

And I think the same thing applies to the first base situation right now for Toronto. Over his tenure with the Blue Jays, we pretty much knew what to expect from Lyle Overbay. And I believe the same could be true for David Cooper.

When it comes to planning for the future at first base for the Blue Jays, better the devil you know than the devil you don't for over $200 million dollars and 7-10 years.

7 comments:

  1. I'd be estatic to have a John Olerud as my 1B. I'm not sure how Cooper really compares but if he's close to JohnnyO, then I believe we have our firstbaseman. But, of course, at this point, even replacement-level is better than what Lind has given us lately.

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  2. I'd like to see a full season of ABs from Cooper to see if he holds water- he's done well so far, though, better than a lot of us expected. But you figure there's a reason the org kept him buried for a while.

    I figure we're looking for a new 1b before spring training, but we may as well ride Cooper for a while at this point.

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  3. He does fit. We have power all over the place. We dont have many .300 hitters. I think his power is a bit underrated too. He'll hit some. He looks like he'll hit for avg and get on base. He'll balance our lineup out a bit. It's been an upgrade over Lind. He just flat disappeared for too many long stretches.

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  4. If Coop keeps hitting even close to how he's been hitting, AA should get a big bat for LF. Another option would be to trade him while he's hot for a solid veteran SP like Dempster or someone a little younger. Then, they could sign Morneau in the offseason. I just don't want them to trade their top prospects for a rental. They're not ready for that yet.

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  5. I'm a Coop fan and like the comparison. The results so far are nice, but even nicer is the obvious strike-zone control - the on base ability is for real.

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  6. Small sample size warning. Let's get him though 300 ABs before we start comparing him to a former batting champ and career Almost .300 hitter with an almost .400 OBP. Who actually walked 20% more than he struck out in his career. He was one of my favourite players all time. Unfortunately our crappy manager couldn't figure him out

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    Replies
    1. True true ... I'm probably getting ahead of myself, but it's always fun to make a comparison to a former Blue Jay. Cooper definitely has some tough shoes to fill as there have been many great first baseman in franchise history - Olerud, Delgado, McGriff, etc.

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