Open Thread: Mike Lowell

Yankees outright Kevin Whelan to Triple-A
Pondering the three without options

Every GM has a “the one that got away” story if they’ve been on the job long enough, and Mike Lowell is that guy for Brian Cashman. It was the 1998-1999 offseason and the Yankees had just won 114 games and their second World Championship in three years, but more importantly Scott Brosius just wrapped up a .300/.371/.472 inaugural campaign in pinstripes. He signed a fat new three-year contract after the season, rendering Lowell useless. Thirteen years ago today, Cashman traded the 24-year-old third baseman to the Marlins for a trio of pitching prospects: Todd Noel, Mark Johnson, and Ed Yarnall.

Noel was the 17th overall pick in the 1996 draft and had been traded to the Marlins for Felix Heredia (hah!) at the 1998 trade deadline. He started the 1999 season with High-A Tampa, then blew out his arm and was never heard from again. Johnson was the 19th overall pick in the 1996 draft, and had been traded to Florida before the 1998 season as part of the package for Moises Alou. He opened the 1999 season in Double-A, got hurt, then got drafted by the Tigers in the Rule 5 Draft after the season. He threw 24 ineffective innings for Detroit in 2000, got released after the season, then bounced around the minors until 2005.

Yarnall was the real prize in the trade, or at least he was supposed to be. The Mets drafted him in the third round of the 1996 draft, then traded him to the Marlins in May of 1998 as part of the package for Mike Piazza. Baseball America had rated him the 60th best prospect in the game before the season. Yarnall spent most of the 1999 season in Triple-A, though he did get called in July and then again in September. Baseball America again ranked him as one of the 100 best prospects in the game before the 2000 season (55th overall). He opened that year in Triple-A, went up-and-down a few times, then was traded to the Reds as part of the package for Denny Beagle in July. Yarnall pitched in Japan in 2001 and 2002, then spent a few years bouncing around in Triple-A before calling it quits after 2007. All 20 of his big league innings came in pinstripes.

As you know, Lowell went on to have a long and very productive career, helping the Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and then winning another ring with the 2007 Red Sox. All told, he hit .279/.342/.464 with 223 homers in his 13 big league seasons, with all but eight of his 1,601 career games being played in something other than a Yankees uniform (he went 4-for-15 during a September call-up in 1998). Cashman routinely calls it his worst trade, and it’s hard to disagree considering how much value Lowell produced and how little they got back from Yarnall, Johnson, and Noel.

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Here’s your open thread for the night. The Rangers and Nets are both playing, but talk about whatever you like. Enjoy.

Yankees outright Kevin Whelan to Triple-A
Pondering the three without options
  • RetroRob

    Many of you probably don’t remember Stefan Wever. You probably have to be in your late 30s if you did, and also paying attention to young Yankee pitching prospects.

    Wever was 6’8″, born in Germany, raised in the U.S., threw 95 mph, had a good splitter. At a level when most wash out — AA — he got his game together and the Yankees had decided to give one of the rotation spots to him in ’83. He got his cup of coffee in preparation in late 1982, his only appearance being a klunker. I remember it well as a kid, because I had high hopes for Wever. He never pitched a game again in MLB. I never knew why until I read this article.

    I’ll be honest, this is a long article and could have used a good editor. Yet the story is amazing and a reminder of how life can change in a moment, or a single pitch. Stefan Wever has had several of these moments in his 50 years.

    • pat

      Wow. Hell of a story. Gave me goosebumps.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I definitely remember him. Had no idea either.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        On a lighter note, there were the Brian Dayett and Clay Christensen cameos on that baseball card.

  • Rey22

    Hopefully the Lowell trade continues to be Cashman’s worst trade. I’d hate to see the Montero trade take that title.

  • Jamey

    I remember feeling less worse about this deal a few years back when I found out what a jerk Lowell is. After that I’d have been fine if they traded him for dirt to put around home plate.

    • Jamey

      to expand, was at an italian restaurant when he was in town during the offseason for something. He signs autographs & poses for pictures with a couple of young pretty girls who appeared college aged. Then a couple of kids, maybe 8 at oldest walked up & very politely asked him if he would sign for them and he rolled his eyes and went on a tirade about how he came there to eat (which was bull itself because he was on his way out) not do a free signing. Some people around laughed like he was kidding, then he said “Yeah I’m f**king kidding” and stormed out.

      • MannyGeee

        No owner they loved him on Yawkey Way… His douchebaggery proceeds him.

        • MannyGeee

          No wonder, rather.

          Autocorrect fail

      • Rainbow Connection

        To be fair, I’ve heard the same stories about Jeter. So…what now?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          All hearsay anyway. I never believe a word of it.

  • Bizzle

    Obligatory “Cashman will eventually regret trading Montero more than Lowell” post

  • Mattchu12

    Does anyone actually think Jackson and Boras are going to settle for one year?

    Pre-Fielder signing, I probably could have bought it. But now, I can’t imagine he can find a deal like that for Fielder and then not get Jackson at least three years at a decent price.

    • CJ

      That reported offer from Boston 1/5-6 pissed me off. Cashman should step in if he’s going to be that cheap just on principle. Talk was 5/75, RAB fans were hoping for a 3/45

      • Robinson Tilapia


      • Dave203

        Most recent news is that the Sox aren’t expecting to sign anyone “major” before ST. I think they were hoping to avoid arb hearings for Ortiz and Aceves. Now, a chunk of the money they were going to spend on a pitcher is going to them (just my theory).

        • Foghorn Leghorn

          Why do I have this funny feeling that Bud will rule in favor for the Sox and they’ll land either a very good pitcher or SS from the Cubs?

          • YanksFan77

            If Selig just hands Castro over to them, Shenanigans!

  • CJ

    Just for fun, The SportingNews Fantasy Baseball issue (printed pre-trade) projections
    Pineda 15-8 200.7 IP 202 K 3.41 1.12
    Montero 420 AB 22 HR 68 RBI

    Wow on Pineda. A 1.12 WHIP!

    • G

      200.7 IP? The hell? Who writes it that way?

      Anyway, if those predictions end up true, the trade’s a steal.

      • RetroRob

        Well, you know, every micro-fraction on the plus side is critical.

        • G

          Haha seriously the 0.03333333 between 200 2/3 and 200.7 could be the difference between a playoff berth and becoming the Red Sox.

          If the Yankees go with the typical +30 innings, 200 is reasonable. I’d try to keep him around 180-185 just to make sure he’s nice and fresh for the post-season. He could make up to 6 starts in October, I’d hate to see him hit a wall and get a reputation as a bad post-season performer.

          Then again he’s 6’7″, 260, so if there’s a guy we can be aggressive with innings wise, it’s him.

          • Mister Delaware

            I do but I’m an accountant and using .2 for 2/3 offends my very being. When Lackey gets pulled after 2 outs in the 3rd inning, its 2.67 IP, not 2.2.

            • RetroRob

              I’m a man, and every micro-fraction subtracted offends me!

            • G

              That’s bothered me for a while too, so I usually write out 200 2/3 instead of 200.2, but 200.7 is just silly.

      • YankeesJunkie

        200 innings is not unreasonable as he has not been overused in any one year and if he does get the full compliment of starts could be at 200, but 190 sounds better just because they want to save him for the playoffs.

    • Rainbow Connection

      Oh good! MORE projections!

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I graduated BOTH high school and college with Mike Lowell. Although we had a lot of friends in common, we were never really friends. There was one Saturday where a bunch of guys got together at a local park to play baseball, and both me and him were there so, yes, I have technically played with him.

    I also dated a girl who lived next door to Brian Griese and wouldn’t shut up about her goddamn crush on him and how he never gave her the time of day.

  • Eric

    I remember being in attendance when Lowell got his first major league hit. During the standing ovation began thinking how this could be the first of many hits in a great career. That was the case, though unfortunately, not in pinstripes.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Monterian. What could have been.

  • Women’s Lib is Ms.Guided

    Denny Neagle could make that sweet train whistle sound.

    Watching that on YES Network was worth whatever prospects it took.

  • Eirias

    Jim Bowden, the ex-Reds and Nationals GM, has an Insider column over on ESPN. He recommends five possible trades for contenders. This is number 4:

    “4. New York Yankees trade Dellin Betances and Austin Romine to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Andre Ethier

    Ethier is eligible for free agency after this season and this deal would have to be contingent on the Yankees signing him to a long-term deal. That said, as a left-handed pull hitter with power, he is a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium, and he and Nick Swisher could share right-field/DH duties, with Alex Rodriguez also getting some reps at DH.

    From the Dodgers’ perspective they get a future middle-of-the-rotation starter in Betances and solve their long-term catching situation with Romine. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has had a busy offseason satisfying the game’s senior citizens with deals and signings that include: Mark Ellis, Matt Treanor, Adam Kennedy, Jerry Hairston Jr., Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. For Colletti to secure his job with the new incoming Dodgers ownership, he needs to make some deals that improve the long-term outlook of the club.”


    • Pat D

      Yea, I made mention of this last night.

    • Dave203

      Those trade offers are more like fantasy ball trades than what would really happen. Why would we ever be trading top prospects for Ethier? They can have Romine, but netiher B would be in on that trade.

    • CJ

      I’d make that deal in a second.

      • JMK

        I hope you’re trollin’.

        • RetroRob

          I’ve seen some of his other trade proposals, and I don’t think he is. He’d trade Bryce Harper for Chris Dickerson.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Since they don’t need Ethier this year, why not sign him as a FA and keep the prospects?

      • CJ

        They do need a real bat at DH. This Andruw Jones with an Ibanez platoon or Jorge Vasquez at DH will not work all season until they overpay for Carlos Quentin in July.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Good thing none of those are what they’re actually doing, then.

          • CJ

            I’m anxiously waiting for a trade. What are they going to do then?

  • Robert The Bruce

    Hey Mike, why so down on Denny Neagle? He was literally not half-bad for the half-season. This in a year where no other Yankee starter not named Andy Pettitte was having a banner year. Coney was flat-out bad, El Duque had a losing record, Doc Gooden was a shell of his former self and in his last year. Considering the other options — Jake Westbrook, Allen Watson, Craig Dingman, Ben Ford, Randy Keissler, Neagle’ s tenure for the team was a resounding success.

    And he had a mean train whistle.

  • Art Linklatter

    So what…some trades come back to bite you. No one would give two craps about Lowell if he didn’t get thrown in with Beckett and end up playing for the hated rival. At the time of the trade everyone thought he was junk.

    Funny how there are a few posts about him being a jerk. Boston fans and media would make you believe he was a class act!

  • nsalem

    I strongly disagree with your statement that “at the time of the trade everyone thought he was junk”. At the time of the trade he had two excellent years in the high minors under belt with an OPS in the mid 900’s in 97 and .890 at Columbus Triple A in 1998. He was an outstanding fielder and at the time he was projected to be basically what he became. The Yankees had resigned Brosius after a career year and they thought they were getting a quality mid to top of the rotation lefty in Yarnell. Unfortunately Lowell panned out and Yarnell bombed out. I would be quite surprised if you can cite any legitimate statements that support ther notion that everyone thought Lowell was junk. Maybe I am wrong but the only doubts I remember associated with Lowell were health issues which he fortunately overcame.

    • 1stbase

      I’am gonna assume he was talking about when he was the throw in with the beckett deal and coming off an awful season

      • nsalem

        That’s most likely correct and would make much more sense. I misunderstood and thought he was making reference to Cashman’s statement about the 1998 deal.

    • Foghorn Leghorn

      There was much written about Lowell being a throw in with Beckett after that awful year in 2005. He proved everyone wrong for 2 seasons.

      Lowell had a decent career. He had a few very good seasons, some avg ones and he also missed a lot of time due to injury. I think he’s a bit overrated.

      • vin

        He’s almost like Brett Gardner… so underrated that he became overrated.

        The guy had a nice career. I’d say he qualifies for the Hall of Quite Good. Not exactly Hall of Very Good material, but not too far away.

        An aging right-handed pull hitter with warning track power goes to Fenway and manages to stave off the inevitable for a couple of extra years… stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

        I think it’s funny he was 5th in MVP voting in ’07. Ahead of the likes of Jorge, Carlos Pena and Granderson.

  • William

    Not the worst trade. That Zach Mcallister trade for Austin Kearns has potential to be really bad, or maybe the vizcaino for Vasquez deal. I think the Montero and Pineda swap is a win win. The best situation is the Yanks get their future ace, and Montero develops into Edgar Martinez 2.0

    • pat

      Considering we have a pretty good amount of pitching depth in the upper minors right now and got Kerry Wood for almost nothing a Kearns/Wood swap for MacAllister is certainly not very damaging. Viz for Vaz could turn out to be even more disastrous if Arodys can stay healthy, but his questionable elbow health could dull the force of the loss a bit.

      • radnom

        Kearns and Wood were separate transactions entirely. The deal was Kearns for MacAllister straight-up.

    • RetroRob

      Zach McAllister? Soft-tossing righty, back-end rotation guy for a second-division team? He’s not going on to any great success in the Majors. The Yankees are sure of this. The Indians are sure of this. Even Zach McAllister’s friends and family are sure of this.

      Fans in general — and perhaps none worse than Yankees fans — are not capable of assessing deals. If McAllister trips around the Majors for the next several years, that doesn’t mean it was a bad deal. Wood gave them what they were looking for in 2010. McAllister is, at best, fungible class.

      Yet I have to say, I am fascinated by your thought process here. Enlighten us.

  • Darren

    Doesn’t Mike Lowell only have one nut, ala Mike Gallego?

  • DSFC

    That trade looked great at the time. Yarnall was a well regarded young pitcher, and IIRC Noel threw really hard (98-99) and was thought to have huge potential. A lot of people thought Lowell was a product of the Yankee prospect hype machine of the time, another Russ Davis.

    You win some, you lose some.