Writing this kind of post is among my least favorite things about this job, so I am going to try and be succinct. The decision to trade Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki, and Freddy Peralta to Milwaukee for Adam Lind was a perfectly fine trade. Lind’s track record against right-handed pitching (126 career wRC+ vs. RHP) filled a need for the roster, and anything other than utter collapse would have resulted in at least league average production at first base.
Adam Lind has collapsed, whether due to age, poor luck, or a relapse into whatever caused him to almost wash out of the league from 2010-2012, when he as worth a total of -0.6 fWAR over three seasons. Baseball players are fickle entities, hitting in the major leagues is very difficult, and Lind has bottomed out this year. Here is the list of major league first basemen with a wRC+ lower than Lind:
Earlier in the year, with no obvious replacement in house, waiting for Lind’s numbers to regress made sense. Even still, there is a temptation to point at his .244 BABIP, twenty-one points lower than his career low, and comically low for almost any hitter, and say the prudent thing is to simply ride out the season with Lind as the platoon first baseman. This ignores two factors:
Firstly, Lind is not currently a platoon first baseman. He is the first baseman. Due to the Mariners' ceaseless bullpen churn, and Dae-Ho Lee cratering since the All-Star Break, Lind will more likely than not receive at-bats over the next three days against Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, effectively putting the offensive equivalent of 2015 Mike Zunino at first base over the weekend. This is not tenable for any team, let alone one trying to make the playoffs.
The latter issue I have with Lind’s continued play is the total lack of an ability to get on base. From 2013-2015 Lind ran walk percentages of 9.8, 8.8, and 11.5. In 2016 that has plummeted to 4.5, a career low. Combined with that low BABIP and the Mariners have given over 350 PA to a first baseman with a .266 OBP this year, which is precisely the kind of black hole that Jerry Dipoto spent all offseason trying to avoid.
Dan Vogelbach, acquired for Mike Montgomery, has not lit the world on fire in Tacoma in his limited time in the organization, running a whelmtastic 110 wRC+ in 150 PA. However, his season line in PCL play is .296/.417/.505. His K/BB ratio on the year is a delicious 93/87. This is a man with an excellent idea of the strike zone, and the power to punish a mistake when it’s made. While he is running a not insignificant split in 2016 (.962/.806 OPS) his BB% shows minimal variation (17.4/14.6).
A decision to designate Adam Lind for assignment less than a week before roster expansion on September 1st may seem to be an unnecessary waste. However, the Mariners are playing six games between now and then. That is ~17% of their remaining schedule. Every single game has gigantic importance from hear on out. Adam Lind and the Mariners are out of time. While Vogelbach could certainly fail to provide a substantive upgrade, there exists the very real possibility that he will succeed in Seattle, and provide the team with a much needed quality bat for the season’s final stretch.
Adam Lind is cool, in a very uncool way. That's how I like my cool. I like Adam Lind. He drives a white beetle. He has a goofy smile. He has crushed two unforgettable home runs this year for the Mariners, and capped them with a wonderful celebration. I have nothing against him. But his performance has been a season long drain on this roster. With the team already acquiring his likely replacement for next year, it’s time for both sides to move on. DFA Adam Lind, call up Daniel Vogelbach. Do it today, and don’t let Lind get one more at bat against a left-handed pitcher during a playoff push. It’s not a perfect move, but it’s the right one.