Monday, April 16, 2012

Gone with the Lind



According to Google auto search, Adam Lind is a jerk, a douche, married, engaged.

Basing your judgement of a player based on what Google tries auto-searching for you is not a good idea. It is, however, educational. Actually, its pretty funny. See if you type "Adam Lind is" in to Google, and happen to check the screen before you hit enter, you will learn that Adam Lind is also the 'baby daddy' of one of the misfit children on MTV's show Teen Mom. Actually, if you scroll down, you will find more references to that 'Adam Lind,' than the former Silver Slugger winning Adam Lind. This is perhaps the most joy the name Adam Lind has provided in some time.

Last week, MLBtraderumors.com put together an excellent piece regarding the Jays first basemen, it's definitely worth a read. But it brings to light a very interesting dilemma, is this year the make or break year for Lind. Contractually, it isn't really; following his breakout 2009 season, the Jays rewarded Lind with a contract extension. The contact, which at the time was heralded for being incredibly brilliant and team friendly, guaranteed Lind $18MM from 2010-2013; it also featured club options for 2014 ($7MM), 2015 ($7.5MM) and 2016 ($8MM). So as a technicality, this isn't the make or break year for Adam Lind's career. It is, however, the make or break year for Lind as a Blue Jay, or at least lets hope so.

While most fans have positive views of Lind, nobody seems to be able to make a case for him that consists of any other rationale than his 2009 season. In 2009, Lind posted his only above replacement season as a Major Leaguer. Lind posted a .305/.370/.562 slash line with 33 home runs and 114 RBIs. Unfortunately, to say it's only been down hill from there would be an understatement. In 2009, Lind was good for 3.7 Wins above Replacement. To put that in context, in his other 6 seasons with the Jays (2006-2008, 2010-2012) he as been only good for 0.5 Wins. Since 2009 alone, he has posted negative 0.3 Wins. 

If the Blue Jays intend to contend for a playoff spot in the near future, the Jays cannot succeed with such a lack of production from first base. It is by no means a requirement that you trot out an all-star first basemen to be a playoff team, but it helps. 

Name
Team
AB
HR
OPS
wOBA
WAR
Jose Bautista
Blue Jays
513
43
1.056
0.441
8.3
Miguel Cabrera
Tigers
572
30
1.033
0.436
7.3
Ryan Braun
Brewers
563
33
0.994
0.433
7.8
Matt Kemp
Dodgers
602
39
0.986
0.419
8.7
Prince Fielder
Brewers
569
38
0.981
0.408
5.5
Adrian Gonzalez
Red Sox
630
27
0.957
0.406
6.6
David Ortiz
Red Sox
525
29
0.953
0.405
4.2
Joey Votto
Reds
599
29
0.947
0.403
6.9
Lance Berkman
Cardinals
488
31
0.959
0.402
5
Jacoby Ellsbury
Red Sox
660
32
0.928
0.402
9.4
Curtis Granderson
Yankees
583
41
0.916
0.394
7
Matt Holliday
Cardinals
446
22
0.912
0.393
5
Carlos Beltran
- - -
520
22
0.91
0.389
4.7
Troy Tulowitzki
Rockies
537
30
0.916
0.389
6.3
Michael Morse
Nationals
522
31
0.91
0.387
3.4
Jose Reyes
Mets
537
7
0.877
0.386
6.2
Albert Pujols
Cardinals
579
37
0.906
0.385
5.1
Justin Upton
Diamondbacks
592
31
0.898
0.385
6.4
Carlos Gonzalez
Rockies
481
26
0.889
0.383
4.1
Paul Konerko
White Sox
543
31
0.906
0.383
3.1


The chart above lists the top 20 players in the MLB based on weighted on base average (wOBA). Of the 20 that made the cut, nine of them are first baseman or designated hitters. To put last season in perspective, Adam Lind ranked 110th out of 146 eligible position players. 

If there is a position that the Jays lack in terms of organizational depth, first base is certainly near the top. Drew over at DJF made it quite clear that there is not, and never will be, any love for David Cooper. But the reality is, that with the exception of a few home runs, Adam Lind has not been that much better. According to Baseball America, not one of the top 10 prospects in the organization play first base. Perhaps even scarier is this: their projected lineup for 2015 includes Adam Lind at first, and I can all but guarantee that is not because of a projected resurgence. 

This is where the whole thing begins to effect the Blue Jays moving forward though. Of those first basemen listed above, Cabrera, Fielder, Gonzalez, Votto and Pujols are all signed to 7+ year contracts, or in Jays speak, 5+ year contracts. Given the Jays team policy to not negotiate a deal beyond 5 years in length, the cause for concern, especially considering the BA prospect projection, grows substantially. 

Again, to say this is a make or break year for Adam Lind isn't quite it true, but it's unquestionably his last shot with the Jays. There is no chance that Alex Anthopoulos will continue to settle for below replacement value from the most valuable offensive position in baseball.

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