Today’s physical in Arlington came up with a radial collateral ligament
tear in Mike Lowell‘s right thumb. Some Red Sox fans feel this is a
bad situation, whereas others are jumping for joy now that Lowell is sticking around
in Boston. He is scheduled for surgery just after Christmas, and should be out for
6-8 weeks. In other words, he should be healthy for Spring Training, and while his
throwing programs may be halted, the rest of his training program should be able to
go on as per usual, preventing him from a long recovery. Personally, I see this as a
blessing in disguise, and this is my reasoning:
Lowell comes back in Spring Training and gets traded some time into the
year: If this happens, either we can make the trade for Max
Ramirez again, as double jeopardy doesn’t apply in baseball, or Epstein
could look to another team that needs a decent DH. His value should be higher if
Boston will still front the bill and he has proven himself to be healthy. If Max
Ramirez was indeed a potential trading piece for Adrian Gonzalez,
Epstein will find another way to get the prospect, or he will rearrange his
bargaining chips and find another way to Gonzalez.
Lowell comes back in Spring Training and stays with Boston for the entirety
of the year, playing 3B: If this happens, Boston keeps the offensive
power of Lowell, while sacrificing the speed he lost last year, and taking a risk with
his rumored decrease in defensive ability (which could become increasingly more
true if his hip gets any worse). With the increased defense on the left side thanks
to Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron/Jacoby Ellsbury, it
shouldn’t be TOO much of a problem for the team. Who knows, maybe he’ll pull
the hidden ball trick out of his hat a couple times this season to make up for his
lack of physical ability (he’s
done it twice before, afterall).
Lowell proves to be a liability in the field and sits on the bench: If
this happens, either Casey Kotchman becomes an everyday starter at
first and Lowell sits on the bench, or Epstein has to work out a trade for a decent
corner infielder during the season. The best way to account for this is to find said
corner infielder before the beginning of the season and make Lowell work for a
starting spot. However, I’m happy with Kotchman as a defensive replacement if
Lowell doesn’t work out, as his strong defense will solidify the infield.
Lowell turns into a part-time player in the field: If this occurs,
Lowell would play fewer games, meaning Kevin Youkilis would play 3B
on occasion while either Kotchman or Victor Martinez would find more
time at 1B, potentially meaning Jason Varitek could find more time behind
the plate. While I don’t feel Varitek should be behind the plate any more than
necessary, it’s not a terrible alternative if Lowell can’t play everyday anymore.
Lowell could also be used off the bench as a pinch hitter in crucial situations,
which we all know he tends to thrive in.
Lowell platoons with David Ortiz as the DH: It was proven
last year that Ortiz sometimes has trouble with quality pitching nowadays, so why
not sit Lowell on the bench and use him against certain starters, or LH pitchers?
Platooning these two players gives you the most optimal DH situation every game,
and leaves a power hitter on the bench in case you need that bat later on in a
game. Also, with Lowell being a DH, you get the capability of platooning him at 3B
whenever someone else needs a day off, while keeping him fresh as well.
In my mind, the only bad thing that can come from this is that you’re stick with a $12
Million man sitting on your bench and/or eating up a spot on your 25-Man Roster that
could be used for another arm in the bullpen or a more capable utility fielder.
Although, the 25-Man Roster can be altered throughout the season, and others will
almost definitely get injured, so it’s not really an issue.
As you can see, it’s win-win for everyone in Red Sox Nation.