Lindstrom is an interresting player. He performed quite well in 2007 and 2008, putting up ERAs near 3.00 both year with similar FIPs. 2009 was a very down year, however, as Lindstrom’s ERA ballooned to 5.89 and he also suffered injuries which limited him to 47.1 IP, the lowest of his three year ML career. His FIP didn’t rise as much, coming in at 4.47, but this is still a below-replacement mark for a reliever.
What had made Lindstrom a productive pitcher through 2008 was his ability to suppress the home run. This can be summarized quite succinctly by his career graph.
Even though his HR/9 wasn’t terribly high last season, it was enough to make him unproductive. His K/9 fell quite a bit in 2008 and his BB/9 rose as well, both by over a point. Still, nearly any pitcher who can run a HR/9 of 0.16 can be productive. The other shoe dropped for Lindstrom in ’09, as his HR/FB skyrocketed to a roughly average rate of 9.3%. Thanks to his ground ball tendencies, he still gave up less than 1 HR/9, but with a low K rate and high BB rate, that’s not good enough in the major leagues.
Lindstrom is still an attractive asset despite his down year. His ground ball tendencies are great for a reliever, as it suppresses the home run ball. He has a live fastball, averaging over 96 MPH. The questions for Lindstrom are if he can find his control and lower his BB rate as well as if his crazy home run suppression will return.
The Marlins return comes in the form of two minor leaguers who, according to a tweet from Baseball America’s Ben Badler,
“Neither Robert Bono nor Luis Bryan, the two guys the Marlins got from Houston for Lindstrom, would have made the Astros top 30 ,”
In addition, the Astros farm system is, simply put, not good. Bono had decent numbers (3.62 FIP) in A ball at age 20 and has a very high ground ball rate, but doesn’t seem to be highly acclaimed by scouts. Bryan didn’t walk a single time in 105 ABs in rookie ball, and that lack of plate discipline will not play in the majors.
The Marlins didn’t get much for Lindstrom, and although he was unproductive and is aging, at 30 years old, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to just give up on. Lindstrom is arbitration eligible this year, however, and given the Marlins financial situation, he probably would’ve been non-tendered. The conclusion that I come to given the poor return is that leaguewide interest in Lindstrom just wasn’t there. It that’s the case, this is a better outcome for Florida than a simple non-tender. However, Lindstrom probably won’t cost Houston too much, and as such an intriguing player at such a low cost, this move makes a lot of sense for Houston.
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