Since making his MLB debut with the Blue Jays in 2006, Adam Lind has been a portrait of inconsistency at the dish for Toronto.
Appearing as a September call up, Lind got off to a strong start over 18 games for the Blue Jays in his rookie season compiling a .367/.415/.600 line to go with a pair of Home Runs over an even 60 At Bats.
2007 was a typical first year performance from Lind as the league began to pick up on his weaknesses and exploit them. After hitting a mere .238/.278/.400 over 311 AB’s in ’07, Lind began to make adjustments at the plate and his numbers rose to a respectable .282/.316/.439 in 2008.
In 2009, Lind turned in one of the best single season performances since the Delgado era ,putting together a .305/.370/.562 line as well as smacking 35 HR’s and driving in 114 through 151 Games (654 AB’s).
Featured primarily as a Designated Hitter, Lind looked to had finally found his stroke at the plate and was living up to his impressive .327/.388/.525 MiLB career totals.
Prior to the start of the 2010 season, Lind inked a contract extension worth $16 million over the next 4 seasons including a trio of club options that could net the former 3rd round pick an additional $22.5 million come 2016.
Since signing his name on the dotted line, Lind has struggled to recreate the success he experienced in ’09. Despite showing flashes of brilliance at the dish, Lind has been plagued with his fair share of inconsistency which eventually resulted in a demotion to AAA Las Vegas during the 2012 season.
The problems? Well simply put, Lind does not hit well vs left handed pitching, has a tendency to be unable to lay off the high Fastball and generally appears to struggle with his approach at the plate.
With the Blue Jays having gone all in for the 2013 season, one of the question marks heading into Spring Training was Lind’s ability to live up to his potential.
In an attempt to address one of the teams possible weaknesses, the organization brought in Luis Jimenez, a 30 year old power hitting 1st Baseman who is coming off an incredible season with the Pacific Coast League Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) posting a .310/.394/.514 line.
In addition to Jimenez, the Blue Jays also inked Andy LaRoche to a MiLB deal with an invite to Spring Training. LaRoche, a career .226 hitter, has appeared primarily as a 3rd Baseman during his time in the MLB however has seen action at 1st over the course of 10 seasons as a pro.
With intentions of silencing his ever growing list of critics, the 29 year old Lind turned in a phenomenal Grapefruit League campaign hitting .365 with 7 Extra Base Hits over 63 Spring Training At Bats. Coming out of Dunedin, Lind looked poised to have a big year at the plate however we all know that success in Spring Training doesn’t necessarily translate in to big numbers when the regular season comes around.
During the Spring, Toronto brought in Lars Anderson, a former Minor League Offensive Player of the Year in the Boston organization. Despite hitting admirably over a sample size showing of spring AB’s, Anderson was DFA’d at the end of camp. Although he cleared waivers, Anderson was sent to the White Sox for cash considerations on April 1st.
With Anderson out of the fold, the Blue Jays were back on the market looking for additional depth at 1st base to compliment both Luis Jimenez and Andy LaRoche at the AAA level.
On Monday, the team welcomed 2012′s International League’s Most Valuable Player, Mauro Gomez into the mix. Gomez, who made his MLB debut with Boston last season, hit .275/.324/.442 over 102 AB’s as a rookie and would appear to be the most polished depth piece at 1st Base despite his lack of experience at the MLB level.
Even with Encarnacion available to play at 1st, we can’t rule out the possibility of seeing Gomez play vs Lefties while Lind rides the pine. Despite hitting only .250 vs LHP in 2012, Gomez recorded a pair of Doubles and a couple of Triples in a sample sized 48 MLB AB’s. Surely, the 8 man Bullpen cant remain a permanent fixture this season…
If Lind is to fall into another one of his slumps during the 2013 season, the Blue Jays have 3 viable options to go with if the team decides to farm the 29 year old out to work on his swing at the Minor League level.
Note: We also saw the team experiment with Mark DeRosa at 1st this spring. The 38 year old utility Infielder has appeared in a total of 37 games at the position during his 16 seasons at the MLB level. With Lawrie still on the shelf and the season in its infancy, DeRosa may be a last ditch effort if things truly go south for Lind in 2013.
That being said, lets call a spade a spade. At this point in the season, Lind has looked rough at the plate falling victim to his familiar weaknesses however were talking 18 AB’s here. Perhaps working with his former teammate (Chad Mottola) will get him back into shape at the plate, it certainly helped following his demotion to AAA last year (Lind hit .301 with 10 XBH following his promotion back to the Bigs in 2012).
Should Lind continue his struggles into May, we could vary well see Gomez make his debut with the Blue Jays as the team may be left without any option but to play the hot hand.
Again, 18 AB’s…
It’s a long season, folks. Let’s see how this thing plays out.