Monday, May 08, 2006

Season so far - Mike Lowell

As part of the Josh Beckett trade, the Marlins let it be known that whoever took Beckett, had to take Mike Lowell. Given the full dump mode that the Marlins were in this off-season, Lowell, with 2 years and $18m remaining on his contract, would have had to have gone in any case. The package element simply recognized that the demand for 3b players hitting .236 / .298 / .658 was, to be polite, minimal.

Given that he has just posted a crazy .429 / .520 / 1.234 home-stand, with 9 hits (including 6 doubles), 6 runs, 6 RBI and 4 walks, to start May, it seems an appropriate time to give him some kudos.

Neil M and I had an interesting debate mid-season in 2005 about Lowell when it was rumored in the July trade season that the Red Sox were one of the teams speaking to the Marlins about AJ Burnett, where again, Lowell had to go as part of the package - my view then was that Lowell was done (at least as a useful chip last year), and probably not a price worth paying to get a guy that was soon to be a FA, while Neil M argued that the price being discussed wasn't high enough given Lowell's ability to bounce back. While no team got a deal done in-season in '05, the Sox took Lowell as part of the package to get a pitcher who will be under their control for at least two years - at least it could be argued that this was a more worthwhile bet.

Lowell, pre 2005, was a career .277 / .346 / .823 hitter (a hat tip as ever to David Pinto's fantastic Day to Day Database at Baseball Musings) and given the absolute collapse in his power numbers, there were the now customary discussion threads connecting Lowell's name to the 'S' word. Lowell, from 2000 through 2004 hit 22, 18, 24, 32 and 27 HR... then 8 in 2005. During that same period though, including 2005, his doubles numbers stayed relatively consistent - a high of 44 in 2002 and 2004, and 36 in 2005.

So far in 2006, and this is still early, the throw in part of the Beckett deal is working out very well for the Sox - he has a .339 / .402 / .952 line, and a major league leading 17 doubles. His hitting chart from his Pro-Player career does suggest that he has the ideal swing to take advantage of the left field wall in Boston, and so far he has. While I can't imagine that he will be hitting at .300 come season end, he has certainly done more than enough so far to suggest the Sox aren't simply pouring $9m per year down the Yawkey Way drains.

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