NEW YORK - AUGUST 07: Mike Lowell #25 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI double in the second-inning against the New York Yankees on August 7 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
I had a realization last night. Really, I want to call it a revelation, but it's probably not intense enough to count.
It was before the night game, I was wandering around through the mist, waiting to meet up with someone and idly looking through some links on my phone. I opened up the Boston.com Extra Bases page, and saw the lineups for that evening. It read:
I looked at it. First impression was it's not too different from the one in the afternoon game. Essentially we traded Lowrie for Hall and Cash for Lowell (offensively speaking, of course). The part that surprised me was that when I saw it, it occured to me that I'm not sure that this lineup is a downgrade from the one fielded this afternoon. It wasn't the Hall for Lowrie thing, I think Lowrie is a better hitter than Hall, but Hall has actually hit very well lately, and with a lot of power. No, the surprising realization was that I feel about as comfortable with Kevin Cash at the plate as I do with Mike Lowell lately.
First of all, and a large reason I didn't mind this was that Lowell consistently bats 6th when he is in the lineup. This seems to frequently result in a rally starting in the beginning of an inning, only to end up with Lowell popping out on the first pitch. Cash may be a worse hitter than Lowell, but at least with him in the lineup, our 3-4-5-6 are all good, patient hitters who will grind out at bats.
What we've been told all along is that Mike Lowell can still hit. If he sees frequent at bats, he will still be the offensive force he's always been (for the record, the offensive force he's always been- his career average wOBA- would put him squarely in between Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche for first basemen this year. That would be fine. Instead, his wOBA for the year puts him squarely just worse than Jorge Cantu, in the middle of his awful year). The problem is, that just hasn't been the case.
Since the beginning of August, essentially where this stint as a first baseman began, Lowell has hit to a line of .258/.320/.409 which, while marginally better than the atrocious numbers he put up in part time duty, is easily on pace to be the second worst of his career. In addition, he's putting up just awful numbers against left-handed pitchers, who he's supposed to be much stronger against.
So what's my point here? Obviously there's not a lot of options. Adam LaRoche has passed through waivers, but the Diamondbacks seemed inclined to try to work out an extension with him. Really, there's not a ton of first base options available at this point, so he isn't easily replaceable. Lars isn't ready for the majors, and neither is Rizzo. We don't really have another legitimate possibility in the minors, especially with Delgado being injured and unable to play.
What I'd really like to see is Lowrie playing first the vast majority of the time, with Hall playing second. I think that's our best possible option, but I recognize that it's unlikely to happen. I realize that we're probably going to have Lowell be playing first base most of the rest of the year.
So here's all I ask- it's a simple favor really. Tito, when Lowell is probably the worst hitter in the lineup you're putting out, please, until he proves otherwise, don't put him in the middle of the lineup as if he were a legitimate run producer, bat him at the end.