Why I don’t sign Mike Lowell

Gardner shows some rare power
Five prospects that aren't as good as you think

Today, in his blog, Buster Olney echoes some of my thoughts from yesterday: If A-Rod fires Scott Boras and attempts to personally make amends with the Yankees, he could still be the Yankees’ third baseman come 2008. But since that’s about as likely as the Pirates winning a World Series next year, we best be movin’ on.

The biggest free agent third baseman out there is this year’s undeserved World Series MVP Mike Lowell, and his impending free agency is the subject of an article in today’s Boston Globe. The article, written by Captain Obvious, notes that Lowell, 34 by Opening Day and not getting younger, will have plenty of suitors, chief among them will be the Yankees.

But if I’m the Yankees, I pass on Mike Lowell with a vengeance. Who needs another overpaid aging player on the team? Plus, he won’t hit.

Wait, you may say. How can I claim that Mike Lowell won’t hit? This is after all the same Mike Lowell who hit .324/.378/.501 with 21 home runs and a team-leading 120 RBIs. Of course he can hit!

But that hitting is a product of Fenway Park. Take a look at this:

This is Mike Lowell’s Fenway Park hit chart. How did he manage to hit a whopping .373/.418/.575 with 73 RBIs at home? By spraying the crap out of the Green Monster. Nearly all of his Fenway Park extra-base hits seemed to be a product of that wall. Meanwhile, on the road, Lowell hit just .276/.339/.428, numbers much more in line with his career stats and 2006 numbers.

So in Yankee Stadium, Lowell just wouldn’t be the same force he was at home for the Red Sox this year, and there’s no reason to spend $12-14 million a year over four or five years to sign a player that just isn’t going to be much of an offensive force. Pass.

Gardner shows some rare power
Five prospects that aren't as good as you think
  • http://breakingballs.riveraveblues.com Tommy

    Wow. That’s incredible. I had almost forgotten the Mike Lowell who hit .236/.298/.360 in 2005. I’d still put him at about 4 wins above replacement with the glove, though, which is something ARod was never able to do.

  • Marsha

    Better share your post with Cashman.

  • brxbmrs


    We coul;d probably get that +D from a Crede or even Betemit, maybe the best solution is to get a slugging 1st baseman and go for a good glove stop gap at 3rd.

    Neither is going to be easy, the real solution may be not to contend this year – hard to fathom, but that might be the ultimate reality – don’t trade any of the young starters and see what 09 brings.

    • http://breakingballs.riveraveblues.com Tommy

      I’m a big Betemit fan. I think the Yankees’ best option would be to just let him play, and maybe sign a Mike Lamb/Morgan Ensberg (anyone, really, as long as he’s an Astros castoff) to give him some competition/platoon partner.

      I was just making the point that Lowell doesn’t have to have a huge year at the plate to contribute to a team. Considering the Yankees would give up their first-round pick if they signed him, I’m not sure it’s a good idea.

      • http://breakingballs.riveraveblues.com Tommy

        And according to the probabilistic model of range, Betemit was -4 runs at 3rd in 2006 (2007 numbers not available).

  • Pfistyunc

    Completely agree. We already got stuck overpaying for former Boston hero and I surely don’t want to make that mistake again. This whole thing makes me want to punch Eric “El Busto” Duncan in the fact that much more.

    • Jamal G.

      He’s 22 years old in AAA, can not be labeled a bust yet. The Yankees did rush him through the system, that is a well-known fact and you can not argue that the position change from 3B to 1B did not affect him. I still say he has a bright future, I really like this kid.

      • Pfistyunc

        I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one, but I admire your patience. I guess Drew Henson should be coming around anytime now too.

        • Mike R.

          Wow! I’m in shock. You are pessimistic on that. That is incredible.

  • http://breakingballs.riveraveblues.com Caleb

    Nice points, Benkie. All of Lowell’s power comes as a pull hitter, and he lives or dies by the distance to the left field power alley. I have to say, however, that the Pirates aren’t that far out of the chase for next year….it’s the NL, after all.

  • Count Zero

    No argument from me.

  • Tom O.

    I don’t think the Yanks should get another aging vet. I think they should try to trade for a 2b/3b (Cash said Cano could move to 3rd). Maybe Josh Barfield? He’s on the block with Cabrera taking his position in CLE.

  • luke

    i knew lowell hit better at fenway but looking at that hit chart…wow
    lol as anybody seen this? getting santana for that…a man can dream

  • Dave

    With the Mariners looking to dump salary you have to wonder if what it would take to get Beltre would be also taking back Sexton and sending something like Clippard /White back.

    Sexton could take Giambi’s place as over paid / under achiever on the bench after this season. This saves those precious draft picks by not signing a free agent. And it would solve the righty power problem, allow Betimit to be the super utility player, actually giving Jeter and Cano a fewe days off.

    Plus, there is no long term commitments.

    I am not against grabbing Crede if the Sox want to just give him away inorder to not pay him, but I think Beltre is the better solution, just as we do not give up any of the top prospects…

  • Rob

    Duncan has consistently shown great plate discipline. I would not be surprised in the least for him to have a step forward year. And his career mL line:

    .250 .338 .428

    is exactly league average for a 3B in the majors.

    Who knows if he can out it together. But he’s got at least two or three more years in my book before I call him a bust.

    • Rob

      I do wonder if this is CF all over again. I can easily see E.Duncan having a very strong first half in 2008 back at 3B.

      Recall this was Melky’s 2005:
      AA: .275 .322 .411 (406 AB)
      AAA: .248 .309 .366 (101 AB)

      From that, there’s no way he looked ready. So the Yankees signed Damon. Then Melky exploded for:

      .385 .430 .566 (122 AB)

      And never looked back. Meanwhile, he’s never shown the plate discipline that E.Duncan has.

  • Chris

    This is a very helpful chart on Lowell and definitely mitigates against signing him. It should be noted, however, that most of those HR over the monster would likely still be HR at Yankee stadium.

  • Jon

    Also, his OPS with runners in scoring position was nearly 200 points higher than with the bases empty. That’s unsustainable and a product of luck. In his career, it’s been about 50 points better. The result is 120 RBI, and that high number is a mirage.

    His BABIP was very high as well, at .342, which is the difference between 2006 and 2007. He is the exact same hitter as he was in 2006 – he got lucky to have all this good luck in his walk year, I guess.

    He’s a pretty good player – an OPS in the low 800s from a decent defensive 3B is nothing to sneeze at. But he’ll probably be worth about $8M a year over the next 3 years, and he’ll surely get more than that.

  • http://www.yanksblog.com Patrick

    Totally agree. We have to pass on Lowell, especially coming off this tremendous walk off year. He’s going to be paid for those numbers when he’s just not that player.

  • Rob

    BTW: Great find on the hitting chart. But how do you explain Lowell’s 2006 splits where he was much better on the road than at home?

    2006 – H: .260/.327/.436 A: .310/.352/.514
    2007 – H: .373/.418/.575 A: .276/.339/.429

    I don’t know where I fall on the sign or not sign him. For the price, probably not, but then I’d have no trouble trading Hughes or Kennedy for FLA Cabrera.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      In 2006, his Batting Average on balls in play was .260. That’s fairly low. I think it was simply a matter of luck. Even in 2006, his spray charts shows that he took advantage of that Green Monster.

      • Rob

        Still that doesn’t explain how good he was on the road in 2006.

        I don’t think he’d be a bad acquisition, just overpriced, and his glove would keep him in the field as his bat declines.

  • DKA

    I graduated high school and college with Lowell and, someone, he’s managed to look about 10 years older than I do. I also don’t see him as far removed enough from his drop-off with the Marlins to fully believe that “he’s back.” I’d rather have the smaller risk with Crede or, if we’re going to take on a big name, try to pry Chavez off the A’s.

    …and no, that doesn’t mean trading Hughes.

    • SG

      Joe Crede has a career OBP of 305 and is coming off a fairly significant injury. I really don’t want to see him at 3B next season, regardless of how good his glove is. We’d be better off putting Betemit there.

  • DKA

    i meant “somehow, he’s managed to look 10 year older….”

  • B-rad

    3rd base is simple:

    1st choice: COREY KOSKIE (say 20M/3yrs) who has better than average fielding percentage (.966) and better than average range factor (2.56) and good OPS (.825). Plus he is a free agent so we can buy him, no need to trade anyone. He is a great value and a clear best choice.

    2nd choice: MIGUEL CABRERA (probably >60M/5 yrs) who is an awesome hitter (.930) and okay fielder. the marlins say they’d need phil hughes but who knows once you start talking…..just be sure his contract is incentive laden because cabrera is known for his bad attitude.

    3rd choice: Try to pry the overpriced ERIC CHAVEZ from Oakland. He is declining in offensive production (steadily dropping in OPS the last few years) but he is consistently oustanding in the field. Maybe Oakland will even throw in cash to get rid of him…

    Lets just all thank god Gay-Rod is done in the bronx. I hope the mets sign him, then he will truly understand the meaning of being a loser.

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  • B-rad


    He has an average OPS (.751) and he is coming of a very subpar season, even for him (a .575 OPS but in 47 games, maybe he was injured, i dont know). still, crede certainly isnt worth it at the expense of Damon who is far more of an asset even as a pinch runner (crede has 4 career stolen bases in over 700 games) and is a leader in runs scored (17th among all active MLB players). Plus you never know who wil get hurt in the outfield and since the yankees can afford why not have a platoon of four first string outfielders?

    KOSKIE is the answer.

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