Adam Lind: Ready For His Last Season in the Big Leagues
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Friday January 4th, 2013
Jonathan Hacohen (Baseball Writer and Website Founder): Follow @Jhacohen
Living in Toronto, I have watched MANY Adam Lind At-Bats in my time. Watching Adam Lind recently, I start to ponder back to the days of Russ Adams and Josh Towers. Watching each of these players (hit and pitch respectively), I continually asked myself one question: how do these guys still have jobs? Perhaps the manager really likes them. Perhaps the organization sees immense potential. I am not really sure, but eventually the Adams and Towers bubbles came to burst. In 2013, I sense the same thing will happen to Adam Lind.
Before I jump into the numbers, let’s make one point clear. I have been an Adam Lind supporter in the past. Heck, the man spent a great deal of time on my fantasy league rosters (in another lifetime). I actually carried him as a Minor League keeper, for all you fantasy heads out there. In 2009, I felt a great deal of vindication. When you look at that magical season as a whole, Lind looked like an emerging superstar. At the age of 26, Lind bashed an incredible 35 Home Runs, drove in 114 runs, hit .305 with a .370 OBP and .562 SLG. the Jays looked like they had a real emerging superstar on their hands. In fact, the team felt good enough to hand him a 4-year, $17.4 million deal (with 3 additional option years). A steal of a deal? Not quite. Extending Lind early turned into another Eric Hinske contract. A giant blunder.
A player at the age of 27 is supposed to hit his magical peak. The point when he becomes explosive at the big league level. Lind, coming off his strong 2009 campaign, started to slip in 2010. His AVG dropped almost 70 points to .237, with a .287 OBP, .425 SLG, although he did hit a respectable 23 Home Runs and drove in 72 RBI. Runs scored? Dropped from 93 to 57. Looking at Lind since 2009, he has essentially become a hitter with a OBP under .300 and a SLG hovering around .400. Future All-Star? Try future Minor Leaguer.
Lind in fact played 35 minor leagues last year, between AA and AAA. When he did return to the Toronto in the 2nd half, his numbers were improved although confusing. His AVG jumped to .304 in the 2nd half, compared to .206 the first half. His OPS also increased to .784 from .674. But then the Home Runs actually declined, from 7 to 4. Sure he hit .301 in Sep/Oct, but only managed 2 home runs in 103 At Bats. Is this a sign that Adam Lind is becoming the next Lyle Overbay?
Do you want the truth? Can you handle the truth? Here is the straight goods on Adam Lind. Toronto’s management loves this guy because of one month. That’s it. June 2011, was the month that Adam Lind set the world on fire. Lind did his best Barry Bonds impersonation, bashing 9 Home Runs, hitting .311, with a .385 OBP, .644 SLG, driving in 22 RBI and scoring 14 Runs. With a 1.029 OPS that month, Toronto was buzzing about the breakthrough for Adam Lind. The Lind from 2009 was back. Or was he? No- in reality, the true Adam Lind reared his ugly head. The following months, Lind proceeded to hit .210, .196 and .203 that year. In the 2nd half of 2011, he hit almost as many home runs (10) as he did in June alone (9). So in essence, Adam Lind has been about one really good year (2009) and one really good month (June 2011).
Let me simplify the bottom line on Lind even further. He hits left. But can hit both lefty and righty pitchers? The answer is that the man was born to be a platoon player. In his career, Lind has 1952 At Bats against Right-Handed pitchers. The result is a very good .282 AVG, .335 OBP, .502 SLG and 99 Home Runs. Against Left-Handers, Lind drops to a .220 AVG in 700 At Bats, with a .264 OBP, .343 SLG and 18 Home Runs. As far as MLB sluggers go, those kind of numbers are simply not acceptable. 1B/DH are not positions where you look to traditionally platoon players. Either you can consistently hit, or you can’t. If a player can hit .280+ and slug 30+ Home Runs, he may get a bit of grace. But for around 15 Home Runs and a OBP under .300, one usually gets a one-way ticket to the minors. That may work for a Gold Glove Shortstop, not a First Baseman/Designated Hitter.
So what are the Blue Jays going to do with Adam Lind? Play it smart and ride it out. They really have full flexibility with Lind. Only one more year guaranteed (2013 at $5 Million), and pay the $2 Million buyout rather than the $7 Million option in 2014. Now, there is always the chance that he discovers greatness again. Heck, he is still young. Plus the Jays have a stacked lineup including Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. If he can’t make it there, he won’t make it anywhere. With the lineup protection offered by the Jays and the hitters haven known as the Rogers Centre, Adam Lind has the chance to make or break his career in 2013. Clearly John Farrell was not a big fan of his last year. Maybe things will change with the return of John Gibbons, who did manage Lind in the past. If Lind goes out and hits 40 bombs, bring him back at $7 Million. But if he tanks early…it’s curtains.
Let’s face it- the odds are not in Lind’s favor. Firstly he has to stay healthy, something he has not been able to do consistently in the past. Secondly, he will need to earn his spot on the big league roster in spring training and early on in the year. Any false moves and the Jays will not be afraid to cut bait. After the many giant moves they made (including acquiring star pitchers R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle), the room for error in Toronto will be slim. Heck, if Ricky Romero repeats his doomed 2012 season, he will certainly end up in the pen or Buffalo quicker than you can say playoffs. It’s one thing when a team has little talent, a small payroll and low expectations. When you build up a team the way Toronto did, you simply can’t afford to keep many weak links. Perhaps the Jays will give David Cooper a chance. After all, there is always room on a major league roster for a .300 hitter who can hit doubles. But for the 1B/DH positions, consistent power is required to keep a job. Edwin Encarnacion rebounded his career from the waiver wire abyss to superstardom. Clearly, having Jose Bautista around rubbed off well on him. The result was a failed 3B prospect to a solid 1B leader in Toronto. Now Encarnacion has Lind’s job- and Lind is fighting for his own baseball life.
With the evolution of today’s game, the Jays may very well not go with a full-time DH. Teams like to rotation the DH, in order to give star hitters off days and rest from the field. As the summer months hit, Cabrera, Bautista, Encarnacion and company will certainly see time at DH. The result will be even less At Bats for an Adam Lind, if he can’t prove himself early. Lind is a career .270 hitter in the first month of the season. He better hope for a better start to the season, if he even breaks camp with the big club. Remember Russ Adams? He played on and off for 5 seasons in Toronto. He had a decent 2005 campaign and ended his major league career with 8 games in 2009. Josh Towers? Also 5 seasons on and off in Toronto. He played a total of 7 MLB seasons, and only 1 season after leaving Toronto. Towers was done in Toronto by age 30. Lind? He’s turning 30 this coming July. He may not be the same type of player as the aforementioned Adams and Towers. But watching all three over their careers, they actually did share one element. Frustration. You only get so many chances in this game.
If Adam Lind was a cat, I would say he was on his 9th life. Jose Bautista and the rest of the Jays elite are looking for the playoffs come 2013. If Adam Lind won’t cut it, Alex Anthopoulos won’t be afraid to find someone who can. Justin Morneau? He’s in the last year of his Twins contract. If he can prove his health, perhaps there will be a Canadian reunion for him by the All-Star break. Either way, if Adam Lind stumbles out of the gate, 2013 could be his last season in the big leagues. Maybe he will become a career Minor Leaguer. Or better yet, Japan loves picking up power hitting North American hitters. Maybe Adam Lind could become the next Cecil Fielder? Or was that Tuffy Rhodes…
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
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Posted on January 4, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged @Jhacohen on twitter, adam lind, alex anthopoulos, barry bonds, baseball, Brendan Morrow, brett lawrie, cecil fielder, colby rasmus, david cooper, edwin encarnacion, eric hinske, j.p. arencibia, japan, john farrell, john gibbons, jonathan hacohen, jose bautista, jose reyes, josh johnson, josh towers, justin morneau, las vegas, las vegas 51s, lyle overbay, mark buehrle, melky cabrera, mlb, NPBL, r.a. dickey, ricky romero, russ adams, toronto blue jays, tuffy rhodes. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Adam Lind: Ready For His Last Season in the Big Leagues.