HT: tommy for first posting on this issue.
So...where do we go from here folks? To some degree, it's going to depend on what teams are interested in Mike Lowell. I'm pretty sure the guy has winning on his list of priorities, so it's not like we're out of it. If a playoff-calibre team doesn't come in with a significantly better 4-year offer than the Sox's 3-year offer, I do think he'll call Theo and accept.
One of the great things about this Sox team, however, is that we have Kevin Youkilis. A GG winner at 1B, as we all know, I feel pretty confident in saying that he would at least be league-average at 3B defensively. I'm not exactly breaking new ground with this information, but this improves our standing in the trade market. We don't HAVE to trade for a 3B. It could be for either IF corner.
One of the reasons that Randy pays me the big bucks is to do the type of analysis I'll attempt right here, right now. Let's look at that trade market:
Conor Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks.
It's been speculated that one of he and Chad Tracy (IIRC, Jackson most likely) will be on the move with the emergence of Mark Reynolds at 3B. Jackson is coming off of a season (110 OPS+) that showed a slight improvement in power from his first full campaign in 2006. THT's defensive systems have him as slightly worse than Ryan Garko (ed: ugh). I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect a lot more power from him either. He showed some in the minors, but most could be attributed to the hitter-friendly PCL and California Leagues. Likelihood? 1/10, because I'm sure the Sox FO knows all of this better than I do.
Adam Dunn, Cincinatti Reds.
Dunn is a bit of a polarizing figure in baseball, due to his gaudy K totals. That being said, the name of the offensive game is to not make outs, or to have as high an OBP as you can. Dunn over his career checks in at .381. Dunn is kind of a ridiculous butcher in the field, but as a #5 hitter/.OBP/HR threat, we could do a helluva lot worse. The Reds might see him as expendable due to A) budget concerns and B) the probability that both Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are both at least near-ready for full-time gigs in the ML. Likelihood? 6/10, Dunn's offensive game fits in our philosophy to a T, though the Sox FO might not be willing to sacrifice the D.
Richie Sexson, Seattle Mariners.
...talk about your all-time buy lows. Terrible season in '07. However, a couple things. We could pay all the salary and give up next to nothing OR try to get the M's to pay some of the salary and give up a mid-level prospect. His BABIP was .217 last season against a career mark of .294. The only question is, was he all of a sudden cooked last year, or just extremely unlucky? Likelihood? 3/10, too many negatives despite the (likely) low price in terms of prospects.
Chad Tracy, Arizona Diamondbacks.
Most likely the one the D-Backs hold onto, if only because of his recent injury (played in only 76 games in 2007) and being older than Jackson will make his trade value lower. Which is okay, because that's what Tracy is: okay. 100 OPS+ in limited time last season, 98 over a full year in 2006. He's not good with the glove at 3B, I guess I'm just listing him here because it's where he's played most, most recently with the D-Backs. He'd probably shift to 1B if we acquired him, though...Likelihood? 2/10. As a LHH with less than impressive pure power, Fenway could suck the limited value he does have from him.
Hank Blalock, Texas Rangers.
He's been rumored to be on the block. Bounced back well from having rib surgery (134 OPS+ in 58 games). However, had two very subpar years in 2005-2006, and his home/road splits are atrocious. (career on the road? .699 OPS. Yikes.) Likelihood? 2/10, again, I'm sure the Sox FO has all the data I presented. He's (likely) an Arlington creation.
Andy LaRoche, Los Angeles Dodgers.
.898 OPS in his career in the minors.. To me, there's no downside here to us aside from the likely cost. LaRoche is a quality prospect with good potential. He'd require the same back, and might be held in reserve for a trade for a marquee player. Likelihood? 4/10. We've got the pieces to make this happen, I think, if the Dodgers are interested in young pitching. However, I do think they'll hold out on trading him unless a bigger fish comes into play.
Scott Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals.
Will go down, justly, as the greatest defensive 3B of our time. Still has those tools. Hitting-wise? He slipped a bit last season. We'd be locked in for 3 years, folks. $12M annually. Likelihood? 6/10. Getting warmer here, especially given that coming off an off year, the Cards' demands for Rolen can't be too high.
Who I left out, and why.
Joe Crede: At what point is a guy with a .305 career OBP going to be a realistic target for the Sox?, The Disgruntled (Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada): No thanks. One was never that good, and the other is in obvious decline with no real defensive upside at 3B. Garrett Atkins: I completely believe the Rockies FO when they said they weren't trading him. Not saying I think it's a good idea...Paul Konerko: The White Sox are a team that will never admit that they should rebuild.