Tag Archives: Adam Lind

Potential Platoon Partners for Adam Lind – Pick Your Poison

Although the Jays’ roster pretty much set for the 2013 season, there remains the need for a right-handed bat to partner with Adam Lind to prevent him from flailing helplessly against left-handed pitchers. Rajai Davis may wind up as Lind’s platoon partner since he’s hit lefties well during his career, but ideally the Jays would like to keep him on the bench to be used as a pinch runner/4th outfielder.

However, considering the Jays’ massive increase in payroll for 2013 after years of running on a constrained budget and ‘if you come, we will build it’ talk from Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos might not have a lot of extra money with which to work. In the wake of the R.A. Dickey trade, AA revealed that the Jays needed to jettison John Buck‘s $6M salary in order to take on more salary. This likely means that as it stands, he will need to find the Jays’ 25th man for close to the league minimum.

Internal Options:

vs LHP as RHB 31 30 12 2 0 2 4 0 0 1 8 .400 .419 .667 1.086 .500

Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table

Internally, the Jays also have a few options in some of their recent minor league free agent signings but the best of those is probably Russ Canzler, the 2011 International League (AAA) MVP. Canzler has hit well against LHP in limited MLB plate appearances over two years. Over the last two seasons in the minors, the 26-year old 1B/OF has hit .299/.370/.496 in AAA in 303 PAs. However, there have already been 3 teams that have given up on Canzler including the Cubs, Rays and Indians. Based on this, the odds that Canzler is a AAAA player that will never quite put it together at the highest level are fairly high.

Free Agents:

Though the Jays might not have the payroll space to sign even a modestly-priced free agent at the moment, it could open up if Darren Oliver decides to retire and the Jays decide that they’re satisfied going into the season with Aaron Loup on the MLB roster and Evan Crawford as the next lefty in line. Loup was dominant for the Jays in 2012, but only in a very limited sample size. Considering the lofty expectations of the team, Anthopoulos may be hesitant to go into the season with such little left-handed pitching depth. However, if he believes in Loup going forward, it could free up some cash to go after a quality platoon partner for Adam Lind in free agency.

vs RHP as RHB 201 185 43 10 0 3 27 1 1 9 23 .232 .269 .335 .604 .244
vs LHP as RHB 138 127 33 4 0 6 20 0 2 9 12 .260 .312 .433 .745 .245
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2012.

The Jays’ much-maligned former left-fielder that arrived in the Vernon Wells trade and purchased in July, 2011 by the Dodgers could actually fit the Jays’ needs if he’s willing to accept a reduced role on a contender for less money. Rivera would likely be cheaper than any of the other free agent options outlined here because he’s coming off his second straight down season. Despite his struggles overall, he’s actually been rather decent the last two years against left-handed pitchers especially when you consider his BABIP was well below his career average and he played his home games in a pitcher’s park. His OPS was 80 points higher away from the Dodgers’ pitchers’ park and a return to hitter-friendly Rogers Centre would likely treat him a little better than in his first tour of duty there.

With the the return of Carl Crawford from injury, the Dodgers have little use for Rivera and there has been little interest in him from other teams. If he were given a minor league contract with incentives based on MLB plate appearances, the Jays could gain a productive player at a bargain basement price if he bounces back anywhere near his career production.

vs RHP as RHB 419 392 97 15 0 11 48 0 2 16 79 .247 .279 .370 .649 .278
vs LHP as RHB 189 182 56 12 1 7 26 0 0 4 33 .308 .333 .500 .833 .345
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2012.

Everybody’s favourite anti-Semitic former 1st overall draft pick, Delmon Young, should also be available on the cheap this offseason. Though fuelled in part by a .345 BABIP against left-handed pitchers, Young managed yet another .800+ OPS in 2012 against LHPs. Considering his off-field issues, horrible outfield defence and an inability to hit right-handed pitchers with any kind of authority, Young is another candidate to fill the Jays’ need for a right-handed bat.

Some people believe that his off-field issues could disrupt a good thing in the clubhouse, the Detroit Tigers seemed to do just fine with him on the team. If Young fails to secure a full-time contract from a good team, he may consider trying to re-establish his value on a one-year deal with a team like the Jays who would use him primarily in favourable situations.

vs RHP as LHB 191 158 38 5 1 8 24 0 0 24 30 .241 .361 .437 .798 .246
vs LHP as LHB 72 61 12 1 1 4 10 0 0 8 17 .197 .306 .443 .748 .195
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2012.
Though he’s left-handed and not an ideal partner for Adam Lind, Travis Hafner, if healthy (and that’s a huge if), could potentially replace Adam Lind when who’s last guaranteed year is 2013. In his career, Hafner has absolutely destroyed right-handed pitching for an OPS of .925. Against left-handers, Hafner has still been quite effective with an OPS of .805. However, he hasn’t played anything close to a full season since 2007 at age 30 and has played more 94 games just once since then.
When he’s in the lineup, Hafner has proven he can be a big-time contributor. If the Jays could sign him to an incentive-laden contract and he managed to remain relatively healthy, he has the potential to be the free agent signing that provides the greatest surplus value. Considering he’s only been to the playoffs once with Cleveland in the last decade, Hafner may be itching to sign on with a team like the Jays for a discount in order to make a run at an elusive World Series ring.

Trade Candidates:

vs RHP as RHB 466 430 113 27 2 24 83 5 2 29 113 .263 .315 .502 .818 .302
vs LHP as RHB 149 131 34 6 0 8 25 1 0 15 40 .260 .342 .489 .831 .310
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2012.
It’s been rumoured for a while now that the Chicago Cubs were looking to move former All-Star turned overpriced left-fielder Anfonso Soriano and that they would be willing to eat most of his remaining $36M in order to bring back a legitimate prospect in any trade. Soriano does not have the pronounced splits that Delmon Young or Juan Rivera possess but the Cubs are still willing to part with him in order to build their future.
It would likely take a prospect like Aaron Sanchez or Roberto Osuna to make a deal happen with so much salary being eaten by the Cubs. A larger package of prospects that are either further away like DJ Davis, Matthew Smoral or Chase DeJong or have a lower ceiling/are closer like John Stilson, Sean Nolin, or injured starters Kyle Drabek/Drew Hutchison might appeal to the Cubs as well, but they would probably prefer one of the Jays’ blue-chip pitching prospects.
In the end, the Jays may choose to roll with one of the cheap internal options to partner Adam Lind. If Oliver doesn’t retire and there are no other moves to shed salary, it’s unlikely that the Jays would add a MLB veteran. However, if they do possess a little extra cash, AA may take a long, hard look at the aforementioned names in an effort to push this team over the top. After all, it could mean the difference between being an also-ran in the style of the 2012 Los Angeles Angels and a division winner.
Is there anyone else you’d like to see in the DH slot for the Blue Jays in 2013?

2013 Blue Jays’ Lineup Optimization: Old School vs. New School

Now that Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays have infused their lineup with premiere talent that has not been seen in such concentration since the glory days of the early 90s. With the additions of speedsters Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio, high-average/on-base Melky Cabrera, and former 20-HR-hitting catcher John Buck, the team’s new/old manager, John Gibbons, will have to decide how to best position these weapons in the lineup to maximize run production. Though an optimized lineup will only result in a modest number of additional runs over the course of a season, the few additional wins could mean the difference between a 1-and-Done Wild Card appearance and a 3-game minimum Division Series in 2013.

(As a backgrounder, it would be helpful to read Sky Kalkman’s “Optimizing your lineup by The Book” which explores the relationship between old school and new school thinking on the construction of a batting order.)

With the selection of John Gibbons, Alex Anthopoulos has put in place a manager who has shown in the past that he is not afraid to mix in some new-school tactics by taking advantage of platoons (Frank Catalanotto/Reed Johnson), batting a high-OBP player leadoff despite them lacking speed on the basepaths, and effective splits-centric bullpen management. In his introductory press conference this morning, Gibbons hinted at his lineup construction when asked about where he saw Melky Cabrera fitting into the order. He felt that because of his ability to put the ball in play and get on base consistently, Cabrera would be best suited to hit at the top of the order, presumably 2nd. He alluded to Cabrera’s ability to get on-base as a reason to have him hit more often (be higher in the order) which is a tenet of the new school.

Gibbons gained the reputation as a bit of a station-to-station Manager during his time at the helm of the Jays, though this may have been more of a product of the lack of speed on his rosters. However, he said that because of the powerful bats hitting in the middle of the order, there was no reason for the players ahead of them to run into ‘stupid outs’. Presumably, Jose Reyes would be given the green light to move up, but the rest of the hitters would be held according to the situation.

Position Old School Thinking Blue Jays’ Old School Order New School Thinking New School Order Vs. LHP New School Order Vs. RHP
1 Speed is of the utmost importance. OBP is an added bonus. Power is not important. Think Devon White. Jose Reyes OBP is all that matters since they come up most without runners in scoring position and are followed by the power heavy hitters of the lineup. Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
2 This spot requires a bat-control guy who doesn’t necessarily have great power or even hit for a good average but is able to move the leadoff man over. Brett Lawrie Has nearly as important appearances as the #3 hitter, but has them more often. Bats with the bases empty more often that players behind him and should therefore possess strong on-base skills. Should be a better hitter than the #3 and the one of the 3 best overall. Melky Cabrera Melky Cabrera
3 The old-school book says to put the hitter with the best average. Power is not a necessity for the 3-hole. Melky Cabrera Appears with fewer runners on base than the #4-5 hitters that follow him. Should therefore have less power than both. Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie
4 The old-school book says to put your big power bat here, probably a guy with a low batting average, who will hit the big multi-run homeruns. Jose Bautista Comes to bat most often in the high-leverage situations but is equal to the #2 hitter in importance. Best hitter on the team with power. Jose Bautista Jose Bautista
5 The old-school book says the number five guy is a wannabe cleanup hitter. Edwin Encarnacion Provides more value than #3 hitter with non-HRs (1B, 2B, 3B, BB, HBP). Should be the team’s 4th-best hitter, though they should not be a strict HR hitter like Mark Reynolds. Edwin Encarnacion Edwin Encarnacion
6 The old-school book says the rest of the lineup should be written in based on decreasing talent. Hitting ninth is an insult. Adam Lind The Book agrees that the #6-9 hitters should descend in talent, though the manager should consider that base stealers are best optimized in front of high-contact singles hitters. Rajai Davis Emilio Bonifacio
7 Colby Rasmus Emilio Bonifacio Adam Lind
8 JP Arencibia / John Buck JP Arencibia / John Buck / Travis d’Arnaud Colby Rasmus
9 Emilio Bonifacio Colby Rasmus JP Arencibia/John Buck/Travis d’Arnaud

Old School 2013 Blue Jays Batting Order:

The old school mentality would likely result in a Blue Jays’ batting order that started with speedster Jose Reyes at the top of the order with Brett Lawrie slotted into the 2-hole where he could be expected to sacrifice an out to move up Reyes. Melky would likely find himself in the 3-hole because of his pedigree as a high-average hitter that lacks the power necessary to bat 4th or 5th. Don’t be fooled though. If the lineup were a little thinner, Melky could be batting cleanup as a proven ‘RBI-guy’. Naturally, Jose Bautista would be slotted into the cleanup spot with Edwin Encarnacion following him in the ‘wannabe cleanup’ spot.

The 6th through 9th spots are not so clear cut but Old School mentality dictates that veterans are better than younger players, and peak production trumps what they’ve done for you lately. Therefore, Adam Lind would find himself batting 6th behind the top power hitters where he’d be expected to hit the 3rd straight grand slam every time he came to the plate. Colby Rasmus, the 20 HR-hitting center fielder, would probably follow Lind. Fellow 20-HR hitters JP Arencibia/John Buck (who are basically the same player), lack a bit of the batting average/on-base production of Rasmus, and would likely follow him in the order. The last spot in the order would then fall to Emilio Bonifacio who lacks the power numbers to hit higher in the order. He would likely have to split time at 2nd with Maicer Izturis who has less upside but has more experience/wisdom. Though the old school managers have gotten a little better at adjusting based on whether they faced a left or right-handed starter, they still manage to mess it up by doing it inconsistently. So there’s only one lineup listed.

If an old school manager were particularly wary of using young players at the top of the lineup, then Brett Lawrie could be dropped down in the order and a more experienced hitter used in his place. He plays the game the right way though, so it’s unlikely the other options that don’t fit the traditional profile as well would move up. He could also be dropped down to the bottom of the order where there’s supposedly less pressure. In that case, Edwin may be flipped with Bautista with former Silver Slugger Adam Lind moving back to his way too familiar spot 5th in the order.

New School 2013 Blue Jays Batting Order:

The lineup for a follower of The Book’s lineup optimization philosophy would likely look a lot different with Brett Lawrie swapped for Melky Cabrera who’s superior hitting/on-base skills would be better utilized in the 2-hole which is the 2nd-most important spot in the lineup because of the additional plate appearances they receive. Though Melky and Reyes have similar contact/on-base skills, the latter’s edge in speed would see him bat leadoff in a new school lineup. Brett Lawrie’s power was much less evident in his first full season after a blistering debut in 2011 and unless he slows down and it returns, he will likely find himself in the 3-hole of a new school lineup with the current core.

Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion would remain slotted #4-#5 in a new school lineup. However, the 6th through 9th slots would change under a new school manager based upon the starter. Versus lefties, the Jays might try to bat Rajai Davis behind the middle of the order since he brings elite speed and above-average offensive production. Fellow speedster and singles-hitter Bonifacio would likely follow him with JP Arencibia coming ahead of Colby Rasmus who can often struggle against lefties. If Rasmus struggles mightily in CF, he may start losing his at-bats especially versus lefties to the likes of Maicer Izturis or even Moises Sierra/Anthony Gose. However, the Jays will likely afford Rasmus plenty of rope with the quality additions made to the offence.

Versus righties, Emilio Bonifacio might be best utilized immediately after the heart of the order where his speed could be utilized ahead of a hitter like Adam Lind who hits plenty of singles versus righties. Lind does have the power numbers to warrant the 6th spot, but if that were the case Bonifacio might be better used in the 9th spot where he would interact with the top of the order since the Rasmus/catchers aren’t known for hitting lots of singles. These players’ slots could change rapidly though based on their performance since they’ve shown different talent levels/potential during their careers.