Cooper was giving Lind a run until injury
* 1B David Cooper is met by teammates after his walk-off single against the Chicago White Sox. He was impressing in the clean-up role with Adam Lind out, until Cooper re-injured his back ….
By Josh Gordon
September is looming and for the Toronto Blue Jays they cannot wait to turn the page on what has been an absolutely dismal month.
In fact since the all-star Break, the Blue Jays have won 15 of their 43 games including Wednesday’s 8-5 win over New York.
The team has been plagued by injuries since the middle of June, during which the Blue Jays have seen the likes of Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, Adam Lind, JP Arencibia and Jose Bautista land on the disabled list.
It has been a merry-go-round of prospects being shuffled back and forth between the team and their minor league affiliates. Some, as is to be expected, have struggled in their first go around in the bigs, while others have blossomed into promising young players.
One of those bright lights for the Blue Jays has been first baseman David Cooper. Cooper, who has hit for a .300 average and a .464 slugging percentage this season, has turned into an interesting piece in the team’s very interchangeable puzzle.
Blocked most of the season by Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion, Cooper found his way back after injuries began to take a toll on the everyday position players. At the time of his promotion, Cooper was hitting .314 with 10 homeruns and 52 RBIs in Las Vegas.
Although he struggled at times last year, and has never been known much as an offensive first baseman, Cooper has rebounded nicely in his 145 plate appearances this year. He has shown that he can handle the bat at the plate with strong, extra-base power to all fields. His four homeruns this year has already doubled his production in that category from last season.
In a recent interview with Sportsnet, the former No. 1 draft pick cited that he has been more successful this season because his previous experience in the big leagues gave him a better idea about what to expect this time.
Manager John Farrell noticed Cooper’s improved play and had been slotting Cooper into the clean-up spot in the lineup, in favour of his more experienced players Colby Rasmus, Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. His consistent offensive presence in the middle of the Blue Jays order was a much-needed addition to the struggling offense.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and Cooper, the recurrent injury bug struck him last week. Cooper was placed on the 15-day disabled list with upper back soreness.
If Cooper had been able to continue playing on a full time basis, with extended playing time, he would have been able to prove his worth to the Blue Jays. If he were to impress to club further he could have forced the Blue Jays hand on making a decision about first baseman Lind. Instead, the Blue Jays will likely see how Lind is going to rebound now that he is back to full health and hitting clean up again.
Needless to say, Cooper becomes an interesting player to look at in this coming offseason. Both President Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopolous have stated that they feel their team is ready to become a contender and that they are looking to add through free agency or via trade. If Lind is to return to full health and play full time at first base, Cooper might fit into a trade for a front of the line starting pitcher or a big time middle of the order bat.
Although Cooper himself wouldn’t be able to produce big time power numbers, he would be an interesting look for a young rebuilding team who wants to take a chance on a kid who can hit for average, a kid yet to been given an opportunity to showcase his talent for an extend period of time in the majors.