Monday, 3 February 2014

Platoonmates for Lind

This will be me, if the Jays give Adam Lind 200 AB against lefthanders next year.

Lost in all the current talk about the Jays’ pressing need to find a starting pitcher (and, ideally, a second baseman) before the season starts, is the question of who will platoon with Adam Lind in 2014.  Lind looked pretty good last year, partly on his own merits and partly because John Gibbons kept him away from lefthanded pitching, which has almost always been Lind’s Achilles heel.

When Lind sat against lefties last year, the at-bats went mostly to Rajai Davis and Mark DeRosa.  As we know, DeRosa’s retired, and Davis is a Detroit Tiger.  Somebody has to be found to take their place as Lind’s platoon buddy(ies), as letting Adam Lind play full time isn’t an option anymore.  (I hope.)

Here are the candidates, as I would suggest them:

Moises Sierra:  Sierra's a candidate due to his having a career OPS of .804 against lefthanded pitching.  Yes, it’s only over 98 PA in the majors, but Sierra is a cheap, already on-hand solution to the problem, which makes him the frontrunner for the job.  He’s also out of options, meaning that the Jays need to find someplace for him on the 2014 roster, or risk losing him, something Alex Anthopoulos has proven to be loathe to do.  The Jays have reportedly been getting Sierra some work at 1st base, but he’s likely better suited to be half of a DH platoon.  As a plus (??), Sierra can play some (bad) outfield, in a pinch. 

Jeff Baker:  Who’s Jeff Baker, you ask?  He’s a utility infielder (listed as a 2B-1B-DH) who can hit lefthanded pitching and is passable defensively.  He can even play some 3B and outfield... technically speaking.  If the Jays want a more seasoned alternative to Sierra who kills LHP (1.073 OPS last year, .875 career), he’s the guy.

Kendrys Morales:  A longshot, admittedly, but a big improvement over what the Jays had in 2013 and over what the likely options are for 2014.  If the Jays signed him, he’d probably replace Lind, altogether.  Will be more expensive than the others (and would cost a draft pick), but on the other hand, he’d make Lind into a useful trade commodity and free up a roster spot.  While he isn’t a great defender at 1B, he hits fairly well against LHP and quite well against RHP.  Unlikely to happen, but if some kind of trade came up that involved Lind, he’d become almost a necessity.

There were other candidates as well - guys like Mark Reynolds and Ty Wigginton, who are horribly flawed as everyday players but passable as the RH half of a platoon.  They're signed now, and it's likely that Baker and Morales will sign before long, too.  Even if they stop being available, though, the model solutions remain the same: 
(1) Sierra
(2) a cheap free agent utility player
(3) replace Lind altogether.

1 comment:

Roberto said...

Naturally, Baker signs somewhere else the day after I write about him...