Toronto Blue Jays v San Diego Padres

Adam Lind played so poorly for so long, and had so many fan circling their calendars for the day his contract would be off the club’s books, that I suspect a whole lot of them have it in their heads, completely unquestioned, that this is his walk year.

It’s not.

No, really. And imagine my shock when, after such a long time of simply assuming that Lind’s dead weight could finally be jettisoned at the end of this season, I made my way to the club’s page on Cot’s Baseball Contracts and re-remembered what the actual terms of his deal are.

To wit:

Adam Lind OF
4 years/$18M (2010-13), plus 2014-16 club options

  • signed extension with Toronto 4/3/10, replacing 1-year, $0.41M deal for 2010
  • $0.6M signing bonus
  • 10:$0.4M, 11:$5M, 12:$5M, 13:$5M, 14:$7M club option ($2M buyout), 15:$7.5M club option ($1M buyout), 16:$8M club option ($0.5M buyout)
  • sent outright to Triple-A by Toronto 5/31/12
  • contract purchased by Toronto 6/25/12

That’s right. Lind, whose contract’s vaunted “team friendly” nature I’ve scoffed at for so long around here might still actually turn out to be fucking team friendly.

Yes, it’s dangerous to start making any conclusions at this point in the season. Last season, for example, Kelly Johnson came into June with a wOBA over .340 and then absolutely went into the shitter for four months. And it’s especially dangerous when you’re talking about a guy who’s BABIP (.391) is sitting 92 points above his career norm (.299), and who has, y’know, been awful since the end of 2009. But having already produced a win-and-a-half in value, Lind– at least by FanGraphs’ slightly dubious dollars per WAR calculation– has been worth $7.5-million to the Jays this year.

In other words, more than what they’d have to pay him if they retained him for next year.

Sure, it’s an imperfect way to quantify his value, but the fact of the matter is, Lind has been good enough so far this year that– even with his being shielded from lefties, and even with a whole bunch of regression completely expected– picking up his $7-million option for 2014 genuinely doesn’t sound as completely absurd as it once did.

That amount, while obviously staggering to you and I, is in the same ballpark as the price last winter for the likes of Mark Reynolds, Luke Scott and A.J. Pierzynski, and would– as they’re currently constituted– make Lind just the ninth-highest paid member of the 2014 Jays. (Note: holy shit!)

There is still plenty more data to be accumulated on this new and improved Adam Lind– plenty of time for it to fail, and plenty of time for the club to realize that keeping him may yet be untenable, with Melky Cabrera looking more and more like a future DH each week– but even with the batted ball luck, it genuinely does seem as though the notion that something is different with him isn’t off-base.

Chris Toman wrote about Lind’s new approach back on June 4th at Gamereax, digging into the Pitch F/X data at FanGraphs:

Lind’s swing rate — the total percentage of pitches a batter swings at — is easily at a career-low mark, at 36.7%. Last season it was 44% and in 2011 is was a career high 50.1%. This is the first season that Lind has swung at less than 43% of the pitches he has seen. Not surprisingly, he is swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone, too.

The 29-year-old is swinging at 23% of pitches outside the zone after a mark of 30.4% and 36.4% over the last two years, respectively. For his career, that mark is 32.4%. Lind is doing a better job swinging at pitches he can handle than chasing a pitcher’s pitch.

Eno Sarris of FanGraphs, in the preamble to an illuminating, if somewhat frustrating, chat with Lind, explains that “some of these stats are the first to stabilize — since these are per-pitch stats, we’re talking about a sample size of 760 already.” In the piece, after having some difficulty getting anything too specific and technical from Lind to explain his apparent turnaround, Sarris finally hits on something:

When I asked him if anything was different about his swing itself, Lind did say that he’s “swinging 90%” and trying to “flip it” in play. A career-low swinging strike rate seems to suggest that swinging at less-than-max effort is allowing him to change direction a bit while his bat is in motion. He agreed that he’s less violent, or “under control,” and that maybe that allows him to make more mid-flight adjustments, but mentioned that he still has his swing. Obviously, since he’s still showing some his best power numbers, too.

Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com, possibly in the same scrum in Chicago, gets similar answers from Lind on his strategy versus left-handed pitching, against whom he’s been successful in a tiny sample so far– enough to have John Gibbons reconsidering the way he’s shielded him from them to this point.

“Just not trying too hard,” Lind said when asked of his approach against lefties this year. “Take a nice easy path to the ball and hopefully hit it on the barrel. Hopefully the pitch is over the plate, too, that makes it easier.”

Could it really be something so simple as swinging less and not trying to murder the ball that has unlocked the talent in Lind that has been so absent since his 2009 breakout? Could he actually re-establish himself as a fixture in the Jays’ lineup, with three actually half-decent club options– provided he keeps producing– remaining on his deal?

How the fuck should I know? But it’s an interesting possibility that I sure as shit hadn’t thought much about. And hey, at least we’re no longer hearing constant, insufferable questions about dealing for Justin Morneau, right?

Comments (85)

  1. Or a damn attractive trade chip if nothing else

  2. He’s a fucking rockstar. This is a no brainer.

  3. Another option might be to trade him at the deadline if i) the Jays are truly dead and buried, and 2) Lind’s value is still at a peak. Jays could then move Melky to DH in ’14 and consider other options for LF. Might get decent value given his outstanding year to date and friendly contract.

    I dunno, I’m so confused. I hated this guy so much, and now he’s pretty much Ted Williams…

  4. Whatever the fuck the Jays did with Lind in Triple A last season they should do with Lawrie, Rasmus and JPA

  5. Swinging less and not trying to murder the ball would be a good plan for Arencibia as well. I’m sure it’s already been mentioned to him…

    • Waivers for him then

    • Brett Lawrie does not endorse this strategy of swinging like pussies.

    • Mottola, in his talk with FanGraphs last week, spoke about not implementing major changes too quickly, because he fears it upsets hitters and causes confusion that can make matters worse. He talked about calming Lawrie’s pre-pitch movement down, and said it could take years, because he doesn’t want to take it all away and make the hitter feel stuck, like he can’t pull the trigger and do what’s been successful for him his whole life.

      So maybe it’s not so much that Arencibia is just ignoring what he’s being told and that there’s some kind of process in place that’s harder to see? I don’t know.

      • I realize I’m comparing apples and unproductive yet handsome oranges, but Bautista’s change to his swing took most of 2009 to figure out – with him looking terrible for some time. And down in AAA Mottola had Adam Lind keep changing stances/swings to weed out the uncomfortable to get him comfortable and consistent. Perhaps JPA is a work in progress, despite his insistence that he is perfect just the way he is.

        • Arencibia is certainly very cute to look at. Until he steps into the batter’s box.

          I get that it can take a while to sort out a guy’s swing at the ball, but I checked Jose’s stats for 2009. He had 56 walks and 85 ks. Arencibia’s had 6 walks and 75 ks so far this season. Bautista was working on his swing, yes. But he was getting on base at a far higher clip than Arencibia.

          • I was at a game last season and Arencibia hit a popup with runners in scoring position. A girl in the 500 section yelled out, “Why are you so hot but so useless?!!!”

  6. Just read Parkes’ “rope dream” post from last year which is suggested at the bottom of this post.

    Just enough rope, I imagine.

  7. I was wondering if you’d get to this article. At the beginning of the year, I was wondering what it’d take for Lind to somehow be extended. And here we are. I think he looks the part at the plate, too, and it’s not all luck, even if some regression is in order.

    I think he might even be becoming tradeable which would put major flexibility into the DH position going into next year (hello, Melky + more offdays for others). Or, even might it make a possible Edwin trade (think of the return!)? Wait, that’s blasphemy (isn’t it?).

  8. I wonder if Lind’s team options are different from Aaron Hill’s. IIRC, They had to make the decision on how many of Hill’s options they were picking up before his deal expired.

    • I think Cot’s notes that when it is the case. So for Lind, he has to perform each year to have the option picked up.

    • Different because Hill was much better than Lind (b/c he played a premium position). Lind’s really are beautiful, beautiful team options. Only risk is that he retires like Darren Oliver.

  9. .So what you’re saying is.. there’s a chance they get Justin Morneau!!

  10. Baseball really is such a weird fuckin sport.

    One day you’re awesome one day you suck for 2 years then you’re awesome again.

  11. I’d take whatever value Lind provides through the end of the contract and let him walk. Even if he does end the season with a 130 or so OPS+, what’s to say he doesn’t go back to sucking again next year?

    • Only $7-million to find out. There’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal.

      • I understand the option is at 7 mil, however I believe the Org will see it as a 5 mil swing due to the fact that if the option does not get picked up the Org will owe him 2 mil anyway. So for 5 mil for one year deal how can you say no to that even as a worst case scenario Lind can be seen as part time 1b with EE and platoon DH with Melky

        • But they would also have to use his $1 mil buyout next season if he flops. So factor that in. If Lind’s a guy who only plays when his contract is up, then he’ll be trying hard next year too.

  12. Lind was my favourite player from ’08-’11, really. I was young and naive and following the ’09 season thought he was gonna light the world on fire with his kittenish looks. I defended the shit out of him in the two terrible years that followed and only finally gave up in 2012. I am honestly so fucking happy that he’s back to what we all thought he could be***, and now once again wish I had bought that powder blue Lind jersey in ’09 like I wanted.

    Note***: Assuming he keeps this up to some degree.

  13. I’m pretty convinced that Johnson was probably hurt (as many people claimed) for most of the second half of last year. I never thought I’d be missing Kelly Johnson at this point in 2013. He was one of my least favorite Blue Jays of the AA era.

    Either way, the Adam Lind renaissance is pretty inspiring for me. He still looks completely overmatched against lefties, but his approach at the plate has been beautiful. Gives me real hope for Colby. Not JPA, though, that guy totally fucking sucks.

  14. Podcast today stoeten

  15. My first thought was to pick up Lind’s option, keep Melky at LF next year, and then make a decision about who to hold onto after 2014. Then I remembered that the org. would be facing a game of musical chairs in the outfield, assuming no roster moves are made this season. The outfield currently consists of Bautista, Melky, and Rasmus, but one has to figure Gose needs to be in the Major Leagues next year.
    Who gets left without a chair? I don’t know about you guys, but the play of Lind and Rasmus in 2013 (and still not being clear what the Blue Jays have in Gose) has definitely left me more conflicted than before the start of the season.

    • Fuck Gose. Unless we make a trade to free up a roster spot, I don’t see any reason not to keep playing both of them next year (provided the production continues).

      • Agreed

        Gose is the one without a chair. Unless he’s setting the world on fire in AAA he can wait for 2015.

  16. If Lind keeps his average abovee.280 and maintains that same patient swing rate and power then the option is a no brainer.

    Unless (as I dreamt about in a post a few days ago) they can flip him in a package for Jamieson Tallon and make Choo their new LF in 2014.

    There is a pretty good match with the Pirates who could upgrade first base for their playoff run.

    Huh? Huh?

  17. Having melky as a full time dh in the AL would be fucking lunacy. He doesnt have the bat for it plus his hamstring problems arent chronic, I believe. If he still cant run next year let him go in the offseason after 2014. Anyways, Ive been very impressed with Lind. He is an idiot though for taking so long to realize he was being way too impatient at the plate and swinging at bad pitches.

    • Kind of true.

      Except that he’s probably the best DH option the Jays have had in years. With the exception of EEs time at DH.

      Seems like it would be an easy spot to fill but the Jays havent been able to do it.

    • I’d have to agree with this. And fwiw Melky might also not be too keen about switching to DH during a contract year.

  18. Lind is a doofus.When he’s got the security of a contract,he’s a non motivated piece of shit.
    He’s actually admitted to an off season regime of a 20 minute a day workout,he’s admits that the difference this year to previous years is “not playing stupid”.
    When he was outrighted last year, removed from the 40 and no team was interested in picking him up,it had to be a wake up call.
    Sorta wondered,how it was gonna work out, before the season started.
    Lind was either gonna get with the program or he’d be released and out of baseball.
    Lind had 7 million reasons (maybe 22.5 million) to actually try to turn it around.
    He did ,he’s a different player.Let’s se what the rest of the season brings before making the decision about his option.

    • Some of your facts are right, but you’re drawing a lot of conclusions here that you couldn’t possibly know for sure.
      i.e. Linds motivation or lack thereof.

      • That may be true IMW.
        I should have stated IMHO.
        That said, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest, that going into the last gauranteed year of his contract,being released with no other team interested in him that Lind would need to work at improving to ensure that his option would be picked up.
        After looking lost for 3 years and his back against the wall concerning his career,I think we are able to draw a conclusion rather than being specutative about his motivation.
        IMHO,if it walks like a duck………

  19. Buy low, sell high. Everyone screams to trade a player when he is sucking, but that is precisely when he will get the least in return. In Lind we have a previously underperforming player having a career season. I’d be sorely tempted to see what he could fetch on the trade market if we are eliminated from the playoff hunt. Not only is there a chance he will regress next year, but DH-First Basemen are the easiest players to come by

  20. “be a Blue Jay instead of a guy working for the Blue Jays.” Adam Lind

    Love this quote

  21. On Baseball Central, the Rangers (spanish) analyst alluded to a hypothetical Profar for Bautista swap. I still think that sounds intriguing…Profar would allow the team to fill a potential premium defensive position and perhaps extend the expiry date on the competitive window of the team. It would be impossible to replace Bautista, but with Reyes coming back and the Outfield being easier to fill with quality bats regardless, there might not be as much of regression as one would initially think. Any thoughts?

    • And the Rangers would do this…. out of the goodness of their hearts? Why the hell would Texas do this? 1. I’m waiting to see if I like Profar or Andrus as my future SS still. 2. Bautista? Is Nelson Cruz or David Murphy playing CF after this trade? I don’t know…

      • No. The rangers would do this because it’s a great deal. Especially with Bautista on a great contract and Andrus locked up.

        Are you kidding me? Even the top prospect in the game is still a prospect. You don’t trade one of the top actual players in the game straight up for any prospect.

        Shit. Bautista is much more valuable than Dickey. But you could argue D’Arnaud/Syndergaard is equal value to Profar. Maybe.

    • I agree. I had the same thought when reading all of those posts regarding a Bautista trade being crazy. Maybe the Rangers wouldn’t do this particular trade, maybe this wouldn’t be enough for the Jays to trade Joey Bats, but why rule out a trade completely? I sure wouldn’t go looking to trade Jose, but if someone comes along and offers you the moon, if you’re AA you have to at least think about it!

    • For one of the games top players on a great contract? When the Rangers are in a pennant race and the Jays are looking to compete in 2014?

      I want Profar, Ogando, Leonys Martin and Cody Buckel.

      If you don’t like it. Fuck off.

      Oh. And you can fuckin have Darren Oliver too. Whatever.

    • The Jays convinced Encarnacion to sign because Bautista sold him on it and he’d have the opportunity to play with his friend, if I remember well. Trading Bautista at this point would make the sort of waves you shouldn’t experiment with unless you have a really good payoff expected. I don’t see it here, as good as Profar looks. And I don’t think the Rangers would go for it, still based on how Profar looks over the long term.

      • I don’t think they’d ever do for the smell factor even if the value looked good.

        And as for that value, while I know Profar’s supposed to be special…but how many middle infield prospects wind up being huge offensive threats while staying in the middle infield? I know Tex was a relative baby when he was traded but he was a year and a half rental (compared to 4 for JB), and he netted Andrus PLUS three top prospects.

  22. Great analysis. I guess it took 2 years to get rid of the ‘grip it & rip it approach’?

    If he maintains anything like today’s numbers through the rest of 2013, Lind’s option should be picked up. Worry about where all these OFs, DHs & 1Bs go later.

  23. So he’s not swinging as much or as hard and it’s translating into more walks, less power, and a better average. Problem is that while some of that BA increase can be linked to the new approach, the sky-high BABIP is inevitably gonna come down. To what degree is obviously the question. I’m thrilled he’s not the shitbag he’s been the past three seasons anymore, but there’s still so much unknown. But yeah, the option looks automatic at this point, especially considering you’re already locked into him for 2M with the buyout.

  24. Interstingly, last year , in April, Lind said “walks are overrated and I don’t think about them”
    Now, somehow , between April 2012 and now he has changed his approach dramatically as these stats indicate. The big one is a tremendous reduction in swings on balls out of the zone, which, by inference leads to more swings in the zone.
    All of which leads to a better player. EE did the same thing last year and now no longer flails at low and away sliders but takes them and he too had been DFA’d, sent to Oakland and they sent him back!
    You would think that JPA could learn by observing and start improving in this regard both to be a better player and remain on the team.
    Zaun ahs alluded to 2 palyers who are arb eligible that may be dealt by eom july.One of them is obviously JPA and the other is likely Rasmus. JPA needs to make adjustments soon if he dosen’t want o be singing in Houston or some such place

  25. Ugh…so tired of all the “trade them while they’re hot” attitudes…this isn’t fantasy baseball. Don’t people notice that most good teams have spent years together to be good? If the Jays have Edwin, Jose, and Lind locked up at team-friendly prices, why trade them? They should be looking to supplement them with other pieces.

    Every year, most good teams have 10-20 million dollars on the bench of guys that are having down years, but they’re not constantly trying to flip those pieces. The hope is that they bounce back again the next year, when somebody else is having a down year.

    The Jays problem year after year is the same: they always need everything to break right for them to contend, and it of course never does.

    They need to get to the point where there is so much proven talent on the team that two or three guys can tank and they’re still contenders. To me, that’s what the offseason’s trades were more about than anything. They have to keep everything the same, make a couple of very shrewd moves to upgrade it, and try again next year.

    • This.

      Agree with everything you say here.

      • +2. Especially given Lind & Rasmus looking better, what we really need is starters to pitch better. Hopefully a lack of injuries for two months in a row would take care of that fucking problem, and the Jays could be the team we thought they might be….

  26. There’s no such thing as batted ball luck. Do you people not understand that a player with low babip can be getting more hits than a player with high babip???

    • There is such a thing a batted ball luck, that is why the BABIP stat exists. The only real way to get hits without increasing your BABIP is to hit homeruns. Errors don’t count and neither do walks.

      A .391 BABIP is completely unsustainable over the long term. It most likely will regress towards .300. That said, in Lind’s career year in 2009 he had a BABIP of .323 which doesn’t mean that he is going to suck.

      I would be interested on how you reason a player with low BABIP can be getting more hits than a player with a high BABIP. A power hitter can have lots of impact with a low BABIP but they are most likely not getting more hits than a player with high BABIP

      • wrong, babip is a made up stat. It doesn’t measure hitting.

        colby rasmus has a .344 babip. wow he really is getting lucky with that .254 avg isn’t he?

        melky has a .317 babip but he is hitting .283

        so who is getting more hits? rasmus just struck out a lot raising his babip. he didn’t get more hits.

  27. I’ve always been a fan of Linds. It started when he played for the Indiana Bulls before he was anybody. He hit a bomb in a game against my team that likely reached orbit.

    His recent struggles forced me to hate him but I’m happy to be back on his bandwagon, he’s been nothing short of amazing and if he can do this or close to it consistantly the offence becomes a absolute juggernaught.

  28. The nice thing about the contract from here on out is that it’s a year-by-year thing. So in that sense I would say it IS a team friendly contract now even if it was debatable over the past couple of years. Because the second he regresses, they can just pay him off for one year and say bye.

  29. One other thing – has anyone addressed the prospect of Lind playing some outfield again? I know he was always pretty bad out there, but when did he go from “viable starting LF” to “someone who can’t play there in a blowout”?

  30. THE NEXT THING!!!

  31. There’s something amusing about one post ripping JPA and the very next one praising Lind, who was getting the JPA treatment (and deservedly so) for the last few years. Patience, folks.

  32. This is all true, but it also happens that he has been money only in “money years…”
    He still only has 1 excellent season and parts here and there over his tenure with the Jays that were solid. There have also been long stretches of horrendous play.
    While it certainly looks good now, I need consistency from this lazy fucking teaser.

  33. THIS!!!

  34. haha oops. meant to reply to the first comment

  35. THAT!!

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