When the signing of Matt Lindstrom was first reported last week, many of us expressed qualified enthusiasm while waiting to know the terms.
- $2.3 million salary for 2013
- $4 million club option for 2014 with a $500,000 buyout
This is one of those signings that is pretty much impossible to dislike. There's the performance part of it -- Lindstrom went 1-0 with a 2.68 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP and 40 strikeouts over 47 innings (46 games) in 2012. Pitching for Baltimore and Arizona, he yielded just two home runs in two hitter-friendly parks, and his ground-ball abilities caught Rick Hahn's eye.
It's not just that he pitched well, but that he has done so in certain kinds of situations. His experience should allow the bullpen's dynamics to fall into place.
His presence takes the pressure off Nate Jones, who now gets the opportunity to grow in medium-leverage and earn his way to tougher situations if and when he sheds those inherited-runner issues.
He also helps Robin Ventura with his closer experience. Lindstrom has recorded double-digit save totals in three years, with a save percentage of 89 percent (48-for-54) in those seasons. If Addison Reed isn't an option for whatever reason -- fatigue, injury, extra innings, demotion -- Lindstrom is an obvious second choice, even if he's not the only one. Somewhere along the line, media members decided that a reliever needed have saves in order to get saves, and Lindstrom has saves.
Lindstrom makes so much sense that even he wondered what took the Sox so long:
There's a reason his salary is so reasonable. Even with a 95-mph fastball, he's not particularly overpowering. He's also a little susceptible to left-handed hitting, but not enough to dissuade Ventura for using him for full innings.
No, the biggest hangup concerns Lindstrom's health record. He has spent time on the disabled list in each of the last four seasons:
- 2012: Missed six weeks with a torn ligament in his right middle finger.
- 2011: Missed three weeks at the end of August with a nerve injury in his upper right arm.
- 2010: Missed two weeks at the end of August with "back problems."
- 2009: Missed six weeks from late June through July with right elbow inflammation.
As a result, he has topped out at 54 innings over this time. A good 50-inning reliever is still useful, but Lindstrom's injury history causes him to miss as much time as Jesse Crain missed last season. For somebody who is an important piece of the bullpen, that's a nuisance. So any team interested in a guy like Lindstrom will have to do their due diligence.
But hey, a different body part has betrayed him each time. If nobody can expect him to injure any one thing, maybe he won't injure anything. Working under the supervision of Herm Schneider certainly helps his chances.
Health permitting, Lindstrom should fit right into his role. He certainly is ready for the franchise, as he threw himself right into the proceedings at SoxFest on Friday night:
Addison Reed will not be on panel. Sick. Matt Lindstrom will be on panel though #SoxFest— cheryl (@cherann23) January 26, 2013
Man, the season hasn't even started and he's already bailing out Reed.