The Toronto Blue Jays severed ties with their longest-tenured position player by dealing first baseman/designated hitter Adam Lind to Milwaukee for right-hander Marco Estrada. That ended a nine-year run with the Jays in which the man from Muncie, Indiana batted .273/.327/.466 with 196 doubles, 12 triples, 146 home runs and 519 runs batted in.
Lind made it to the big leagues just two seasons after being drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft out of the University of South Alabama. Two years earlier, he was picked by Minnesota in the eighth round. Lind made his MLB debut at Fenway Park September 2, 2006 and collected a double off Red Sox lefty Lenny DiNardo for his first major league hit. His first home run came in Anaheim against the Angels’ Jered Weaver eight days later. His second home run came in the season finale at Yankee Stadium when his two-run shot off Kyle Farnsworth in the top of the ninth gave the Jays a 7-5 victory.
Lind batted .367 for September and compiled an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.015. He also won the Eastern League MVP award in 2006 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Unfortunately, he struggled to a .238 average and 11 homers in 2007 and he did not get going with the bat at the start of 2008, which included a stint in Triple-A Syracuse. He was called up to the Blue Jays June 21 after the firing of manager John Gibbons and blossomed under the tutelage of new skipper Cito Gastonby hitting .282 with nine homers.
Lind broke through with the bat in 2009 by slashing .305/.370/.562 with 46 doubles, 36 homers and 115 RBI. That earned him a Silver Slugger and the Edgar Martinez Award as the top designated hitter. His OPS the next three seasons dropped by an average of 200 points and his home run output fell to 23, 26 and 11. He was plagued by back problems and went down to Triple-A Las Vegas in 2012. He had cleared waivers, meaning any of the other 29 teams could have claimed him, but they didn’t.
Lind bounced back in 2013 with a .288 average with 23 homers and 67 RBI with just 100 of his 521 plate appearances being limited to left-handed pitchers. In 2014, Lind was limited by a foot injury in early July but still hit .321 with an OPS of .860, facing lefties just 37 times, which was a good thing as he batted all of .061 against southpaws.
Lind had his eventful moments off the field by telling the media his mother was the one who told him to get an MRI on his broken foot and he was outspoken about management’s commitment to win, pointing to the delay of Marcus Stroman‘s arrival with the club. There is a feeling those developments may have helped sealed his fate with Toronto.
It’s too bad Lind never quite reached the heights of 2009 again with the Blue Jays but I’m sure he can help the Brew Crew if he can stay healthy. At least he gets away from the unforgiving turf of the Dome and gets to play on real grass at Miller Park.
The Jays and Brewers have made some interesting deals in the recent past, including Brett Lawrie for pitcher Shaun Marcum, Lyle Overbay and righty Ty Taubenheim for outfielder Gabe Gross and pitchers Dave Bush and Zach Jackson; and Corey Koskie for reliever Brian Wolfe.
A quick analysis shows neither team fared too badly in these deals. Lawrie, when healthy, has shown off Gold Glove ability at third base and the Jays still hope he can reach 2011 levels with his bat. Marcum won 13 games to help the Brewers reach the playoffs in 2011 and won seven more in 2012 with a 3.60 ERA. However, Marcum’s time was tarnished with three loss in the 2011 postseason as the Brewers lost to the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
Overbay batted .268 with 83 homers over five seasons with the Blue Jays while Taubenheim spent the majority of his big league time in 2006, posting a 1-5 record with a 4.89 ERA. For the Brewers, Bush went 46-58 with a 4.80 ERA in five years, posting a pair of 12-victory seasons in 2006 and 2007. He won the Brewers lone playoff game in 2008 in the National League Division Series against Philadelphia, marking the first time Milwaukee won a playoff game since Game 5 of the 1982 World Series. Gross hit .251 in parts of three years with Milwaukee and Jackson was 2-2 with a 5.36 ERA in two seasons in Wisconsin.
Koskie’s time in the bigs was cut short after a career-ending concussion in 2006. Wolfe spent parts of three seasons with the Jays in 2007, splitting 10 decisions with a 3.81 earned run average in 82-2/3 innings. He made his debut during this infamous game.
We’ll see how the Estrada-Lind deal works out for both sides. Hopefully, Estrada can help the Jays in either the rotation or the bullpen and Lind will continue to hit well for the Brewers.
Thanks for all the memories, #26, and best of luck in Wisconsin!