Monday, May 14, 2007

To Todd or not to Todd

Reading my favourite Globe journalist Eric Wilbur today I was a bit taken aback when I came across the following in his piece on how maybe it's time to start the Helton trade talks again;

''There’s not a whole lot of chance the Red Sox will look into re-signing Mike Lowell''

Maybe Eric knows something I don't, but, why? Lowell has been absolutely on fire. He has played his usual excellent third base and has been simply fantastic with the bat for the 2007 Red Sox. Lowell sat out last night but had driven in 20 runs in 23 games in April and smacked home runs in three consecutive games against Toronto last week which were all hammer blows against the reeling Jays. Furthermore, Lowell actually leads the Red Sox in batting with runners in scoring position with a whipping .400 average.


Mike Lowell - Red Sox third baseman

His heroics with, in particular, the bat, has been noted in the Sox clubhouse. Uber-Utility player Alex Cora had this to say about the veteran third baseman; "He's very important for us. We know they're going to pitch around some guys at the top of the lineup, and what he's doing right now is balancing everything out.''

Stepping back, Wilbur seems to be struggling mightily internally with the Helton question. In April he said;

''Helton just isn't the powerful force that he once was anymore, for whatever reason. He's still a nice hitter, but not one worth $90 million''

And yet now, with first base and third base actually providing a huge proportion of the Sox '07 offence, Wilbur is talking about revisiting those Helton trade talks? Perhaps it's a slow day in the office or perhaps Wilbur, of Polish heritage, had a few too many Żywiec's last night? At the end of the day, why wouldn't the Sox sign Lowell to a one or two year extension and take their time in selecting a younger, cheaper option for the future at third base?

2 comments:

Dave said...

Hi Cormac. Glad to see the Nation extends across the Atlantic. I spent my honeymoon in Ireland and I can't wait to get back.

I think the lack of interest in signing Lowell comes from a few areas besides the rumored Helton trade. First is his age. At 33, he is beginning to enter that time where infielders see a drop-off in their productivity.

Second, and I think this is the big reason, is that Lowell is a first-half player. If you look at his pre- and post-All Star stats, it's pretty stark. From 2004-2006, here it is:

Pre: .281 BA, .345 OBP, .484 SLG, .829 OPS

Post: .262 BA, .326 OBP, .409 SLG, .735 OPS

That's almost a 100-point drop in OPS. Third is the reluctance of the time to sink $9M+ a year into a 34-year old third baseman. Last could be that they have Hinske in the fold already. Don't forget, he played 3B for the Jays from 2002-2004. And he'll only be 30 this August.

Also, the Sox have a couple of good 1B prospects. You could play Hinske next year, then move Youk to third (where he played in 2004 and 2005) and have one of the young guys come up to play first.

If they do trade for Helton and move Youk to third, it would probably work this year. But long-term I think it'd be a bust. Plus, we'd probably end up trading away some future HOFer.

Cormac said...

Great answer thanks, I think I was wrapped up in thinking Lowell v Helton and frankly I would rather keep Lowell on a 1 yr extension than rock the boat to sign Helton. However, you pretty much cleared everything up!

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