Sands is only 27 years old, but he’s already a bit of a journeyman, having bounced around from the Dodgers to the Red Sox to the Pirates and to the Rays before finally landing in Cleveland this offseason.
In 2010, Sands belted 35 home runs between the Dodgers single and double-a squads, following those years up with 29 and 26 home run campaigns in triple-a. But then Sands fizzled out, in much the same way Matt LaPorta failed to take the next step to the major league level for the Tribe.
It’s now been four years since Sands made his major league debut in Los Angeles, and he has just five major league home runs to show for it.
So why is he in Cleveland?
The answer is pretty single. He’s a righty.
The Indians are desperate for a right-handed bat with some power and Sands was the best they could dig up.
While Sands’ major league career hasn’t panned out and there’s little hope of him ever becoming an everyday player at this point, he’s always been able to hit lefties—which is all the Indians really care about.
Sands has a career .309 average against lefties with a .899 OPS. And while he has some holes in his swing, his production easily trumps that of Raburn, Murphy or Aviles.
So what’s Sands’ role on this team?
The best case scenario is the Tribe catches lightning in a bottle and Sands turns in a 2001 Marty Cordova type career-year in a utility role. More realistically, Sands emerges as the right-handed Jason Giambi and provides some power as their go-to pinch hitter and occasional starter against lefties.
Either way, there’s clearly a role for him on the this team if he can continue to handle left-handed pitching.