Obligatory Mike Lowell PostBy: Brendan Bilko
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune speculated this past Saturday that the Mets were scouting Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. Naturally we have one of the better third basemen in the game, and it is assumed Lowell would be acquired to man first base. While nothing has been confirmed by the Mets front office from what I have seen, the argument of whether a move for the thirty-six year old is a worthy one is on.
I’ve made a few quick graphs comparing Lowell to current in house options Daniel Murphy and Mike Jacobs. Chris Carter was left off as it appears management is unaware of his existence, and this is a team to be built around strong defense (see: Cora, Alex).
The difference in projection between the options is a negligible .002. Where the real difference lies is that Murphy is a bit of a wild card and Lowell is a known quantity.
Thanks to an inflated BABIP of .382 Murphy looked like the man in 2008 while his numbers took a big hit in 2009. Offensively he is probably somewhere in-between what we have seen from him over the last season and a half. As for Lowell, his wOBA was .344 in ’08 and .346 in ’09. He should regress a bit due to age, but odds are he is going to put up numbers comparable to what he has consistently put up over the past few years. Mike Jacobs registers where he does for one reason and one reason only:
He has some pop. He also strikes out a ton and can’t play defense. Realistically, Jacobs should not even be in this argument, however I have a feeling Manuel will turn to him at some point should Murphy not get off to a hot start. This is unfortunate as it is presumably because the guy can hit home runs.
Lowell’s projection is based on assumed time at third base, while the other two are naturally pegged for time at first. While one would presuppose Lowell’s numbers would improve switching to the “easier” position, such might not be the case. Consider this part of the post “to be continued” for now, as later we’ll take a look at his range splits. UPDATED: I took a look at his +/- numbers to his left and right (numbers courtesy of Bill James Online):
We can see that Lowell has been much better on balls to his right over the course of the last few seasons. Obviously that would translate well at first base. However his numbers are in precipitous decline and he has never played the position before (meaning there would be an adjustment period). The potential upside just seems too limited.
As for the rest of the data, it appears a move for Lowell is completely unnecessary. He and Murphy project quite comparably, and the team already has sufficient backup at the position should it be needed. This move would also require a chip be sent back to the Red Sox. Over the off-season the Rangers were prepared to send former Baseball America top 10 organizational prospect Max Ramirez in exchange for him. I would expect the Sox would want someone tantamount in return for Lowell and the majority of his salary this time around as well, though I could be way off. In the end this supposed move just doesn’t seem to be worth it given the minimal reward.