In an article detailing Melky Cabrera's 2013 campaign posted here a little less than a week ago, me and another fellow BBB'er (the_tbj_fan) delved tangentially into Adam Lind and possible trade scenarios. I wanted to write a reply on the original thread, but I soon discovered there were some issues to be explored more deeply, and it compelled me to write a fanpost.
Before getting right into it, I wanted to thank the_tbj_fan for advancing the discussion. I enjoy thinking about trade proposals and doing the requisite research has been a fun exercise. Anyways, this might be a long explanation about some teams so hang in there. I think WAR is very informative, but it's difficult to evaluate true talent levels when teams experience unprecedented amounts of suspensions/injuries (much like the Jays in 2012/2013, but especially true of MIL/SD). After all, it is a counting stat, and when your best players aren't on the field, a cumulative stat like WAR might not be completely representative of the talent within the organization. Why I'm saying this will become clearer as the fanpost progresses.
I'm going to address each one of the_tbj_fan's rebuttals with one of my own, starting with:
You're still placing fairly weak arguments for Seattle's case
A. Why would Jack Z target Lind when there better options on the free agent market (Loney, Hart, Napoli etc.)
A. Essentially you're getting Adam Lind at 1yr/8$ million dollar deal (w/ team options at 7.5$ million for 2014 and 8$ million for 2015). Now you mentioned James Loney and Mike Napoli among the better options available to Seattle via free agency. Admittedly, I prefer Loney and Napoli as well, but that's in large part because of their defensive adequacy. Adam Lind was a terrible infielder this year, both by my eye test and the defensive ratings attributed to him. Offensively, Lind was Napoli's equal (132 wRC+ v. 129 wRC+, .368 wOBA v. 376 wOBA), and he was superior to Loney's 118 wRC+ and .339 wOBA. Obviously, that's only one facet of the game, but as a DH option, that's pretty strictly what you're looking for. Further, the way Lind's contract is structured, his deal is year-to-year. Napoli and Loney have positioned themselves for multi-year contracts, and that's a significant factor. Having Lind on a year-to-year basis poses much less risk than being locked into a guy who has avascular necrosis in his hips (Napoli), and a guy whose profile relies on playing strong D at 1st and is without the same ceiling in terms of offensive ability (Loney).
*I didn't address Corey Hart, in part because I think he'll ultimately stay in Milwaukee, and also because he's off of two major reconstructive knee surgeries and has just as much/if not more volatility in his range of outcomes as Lind could, at the same price (1/8). That said he does represent some intriguing upside, and I think he's worth exploring.
B. he's an upgrade on Smoak/Montero/Ibanez/Morales - That is very debatable
B. I want to make sure we're clear on the objective of acquiring Adam Lind. He's a short-term solution at the LHH side of a DH platoon. That's my idea of Lind moving forward: a productive hitter who gets the lion's share of AB's at the DH position. I don't think acquiring Lind would necessarily displace Smoak at 1st base. Justin Smoak is an adequate defender with a below-average bat relative to his peers. He's James Loney, under team control. I don't see a scenario where Lind would push him off first base, but a scenario where he would DH and have the same role as Kendrys Morales, which is where this conversation began.
I don't think we need to dig too deep into Jesus Montero's numbers to realize that he isn't a viable option as an everyday C/1B/DH. Given his massive splits (132 wRC+ v. LHP'S, 74 wRC+ v. RHP's), he's best suited to be a bench player on the other side of the DH platoon, with the capacity to play C/1B in an emergency. He and Lind would fit perfectly together as a DH platoon in fact, but he is by no means an option as an everyday DH, and represents a drastic downgrade to Lind.
Raul Ibanez is a 41-year old who's has shifted his approach at the plate in a pretty volatile fashion (as explained here). He posted the biggest K% of his career (25.8%), and it leads me to think his hands have slowed to the point where he is cheating at the plate. Whereas Adam Lind has changed his approach in a positive direction (detailed by J.P. Breen), Raul Ibanez has gone the opposite way. In terms of aging curves and current ability, Adam Lind represents a better option.
Lastly, Kendrys Morales might be the better option as he doesn't need a platoon partner. That said, he'll be a free agent and he will require a multiple year contract. Kendrys Morales at 2/25$ (I'm being conservative in a hypothetical contract) is much less tenable contract than Adam Lind's 1/8$ when you consider their offensive output (Adam Lind wOBA'd .368 to Morales' .342, and Adam Lind is the far superior base-runner) is pretty much the same all factors considered.
C. Milwaukee / Colorado / SD/ Minnesota
Starting Pitching by WAR
When you're amongst the bottom 3 in WAR, it's means you stunk. There was nothing fluky about it. Even the Astros managed better, and they fielded a team of replacement players. It'll be at least 2 years before any of those franchises can even think about the playoffs.
Assessing Milwaukee's situation first, you see there's more talent on their roster than what their 2013 season might have indicated. Firstly, there's their 1B situation. Milwaukee's 1st basemen in 2013 posted a cumulative -4.6 WAR. Just going off of Adam Lind's steamer projection for 2014 (1.7 WAR), that itself would net over 6 WAR. We're talking about 6 wins between their 1st basemen and being league average at the position. They finished 74-88 in 2013; with a league average 1st baseman their end-season results would undoubtedly look much more competitive.
Next is the resurfacing of Ryan Braun in their lineup every day. He was coming off back-to-back 7 win seasons, and the Brewers were only able to accumulate 1.5 WAR from the LF position through the 99 games without Braun. With Braun in the lineup, therein lies another significant upgrade.
Also worth mentioning, Aramis Ramirez was fresh off two seasons where he averaged 4.5 WAR. He dealt with a plethora of injuries in 2013 and was limited to just 92 games. Ramirez' backup Jeff Bianchi managed a .252 wOBA and a 53 wRC+ in 100 games, and it is not dissimilar to the situation of Lawrie and his backups Mark DeRosa and Maicer Izturis. A healthy Ramirez adds at least a couple of projected wins to the pool of talent already in Milwauke.
Lastly, the Brewers dealt with over 100 games of Rickie Weeks and his putrid offense/defense combination. Rickie Weeks was a negative player (-0.3 WAR) in 2013, while his incumbent Scooter Gennett amassed just under 2 WAR in under 70 games. Scooter hit to the tune of a 131 wRC+ and a .364 wOBA, all at the 2nd base position. With Gennett playing full time, there's even more excess value that can be gleaned from this roster.
The Milwaukee Brewers were a team marred by injuries, suspensions, and ineffectiveness by some players. That said, the Milwaukee Brewers have much more talent on their roster than they displayed in 2013, and that's the problem with counting stats like WAR. Without their best players at their respective positions, WAR paints an incomplete picture. With a league-average 1B, a full season of Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, Rickie Weeks being relegated to the bench so Gennett can play, and inserting Tyler Thornburg (he of the 2.03 ERA, 3.11 FIP and 1.1 WAR in 66 innings) into the rotation, the Brewers became a drastically different team. Getting a league average 1B (which Lind has proven capable of being), there's a 6-win difference in their team's record. They're much closer to contending than some people think, and it's why they ought to be in the market for Adam Lind.
I figured any team that's running Chris Colabello, Ryan Doumit, and Chris Parmalee as their 1st basemen/DH's would be open to upgrading that roster spot. While there is more and more credence being lent to the idea that Mauer should move off the catcher position to 1B/DH, it's been confirmed by those within the organization that Joe will do most of the catching in 2014 (even with Josmil Pinto looking so good the last month of the year). Important to this discussion, while Minnesota is operating in a medium-sized market, it's been repeated many times by their ownership that they are going to spend (also confirmed here, and here as well). Adam Lind represents a legitimately available DH who's shown the ability to be a productive member of a lineup. Given the fact that the Twins are looking to compete, they would make a reasonable trading partner with the Blue Jays in this respect.
This is another situation where WAR doesn't account for injuries or suspensions. Much has been made of the Padres injury woes (which are depressingly detailed here), whose situation has been as dire as our beloved Blue Jays. Further, Dayn Perry at CBS sports wrote this eulogy and Corey Brock at MLB.com wrote this obituary to contextualize the dire straits the Padres were in after injuries/suspensions. Corey Leubke, Joe Wieland, Casey Kelly all had Tommy John, Everth Cabrera was suspended for his involvement in the Biognesis scandal, budding star Yasmani Grandal had reconstructive knee surgery, and Carlos Quentin/Cameron Maybin/Logan Forsythe/Kyle Blanks/Yasmani Grandal/Chase Headley all experienced some level of significant injury.
With a healthy season from some of these players coupled with progressions from Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, this team still played .500 baseball in the 2nd half. With an upgrade over Yonder Alonso (whose .116 lifetime ISO and .324 wOBA pale in comparison to Lind's lifetime .339 wOBA and .196 ISO), this team could has the talent of a .500 team. With the Padres apparent interest in Mark Trumbo, by extension they ought to be interested in Adam Lind. With a new ownership group promising to back the Padres with a larger payroll, I see no reason why San Diego would be interested in Mark Trumbo but not Adam Lind, when Adam Lind is the far superior offensive player by any meaningful offensive metric (wRC+, wOBA, OPS, etc).
D. Where did I ever mention that Lind is a good fit with LAA or MIA?
By definition of dream scenario, it means that I think it's unlikely to happen. I even flat out say, ‘THAT SEEMS SLIM'.
You can't assume that ‘dream scenario' and ‘good fit' as synonymous to one another, because they're not.
I can have a dream scenario of having iced cream for dessert tonight, and the chances of that happening aren't terribly un-slim. What I mean to say is that this assumption that a dream scenario is by definition unlikely to happen is just patently false. I know "dream scenario" and "good fit" are not synonymous (it's exceedingly rare in fact for them to be synonymous) but by no means are they mutually exclusive. It's my dream scenario to find a controllable young pitcher with some upside (Brandon Maurer) for Adam Lind's services. The Seattle Mariners have a need at DH if/when Morales departs, and Brandon Maurer is my hypothetical target.
Anyways, I wanted to mention that rebuttals to this are not limited to just the_tbj_fan, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Where is a good fit for Adam Lind? Who would your trade target be? I'd love to discuss this further. Thanks for listening. GO JAYS GO.