Bosox Brimming at Third Base

The Red Sox made official the signing of third baseman Adrian Beltre, and at the same time announced the trade of Casey Kotchman for Bill Hall. Hall can play every outfield and infield position, but has played more MLB games at the hot corner than anywhere else.

These announcements virtually guarantee that incumbent 3B Mike Lowell will be traded as soon as possible.

However, there hasn’t been much interest in Lowell since his trade to the Rangers fell through. There simply aren’t many teams with a hole at 3B, and Lowell’s recent injury history plus his high salary make him difficult to move. Now that Beltre and Hall are on the team, the Red Sox will be forced to give Lowell away for almost nothing, and likely will have to pay most or all of his contract in the process.

A few days ago it was suggested that Lowell might be an idea for the Mets — as a backup plan or platoon partner at 1B. Lowell has never played the position in his big league career, but has been a Gold Glove winner at the opposite corner — so we know he can field a ground ball. Whether he can learn to catch throws from other infielders and work his feet around the bag is unknown, but thinking he’d be at least adequate at first base is no more far-fetched than placing Mike Piazza at the position.

Consider this: Dan Murphy was a defensive liability at 3B both in the minors and in college, and the Mets were fine with moving him to first base. Personally I don’t think Murphy is as wonderful at 1B as others believe, but he wasn’t as bad as Marv Throneberry (though, in the spirit of Marvelous Marv, he did once lose a ground ball in the lights).

Maybe it doesn’t make sense to plan on two inexperienced first basemen at first base, but it’s something to think about — IF indeed Lowell can be obtained for very little, and the Bosox will pay the tab. Though his homerun numbers most certainly will go down when he moves away from Fenway, Lowell still has a good bat with gap power and a reputation as an RBI man (though I’m sure a stathead has a number to disprove that notion). His championship background and leadership skills would be nice to have around the clubhouse (and he’ll provide more on offense than Alex Cora!). Would he take over 1B from Murphy? Probably not, and it’s probably best he doesn’t, considering his injury history. He could, though, prove to be a valuable part-time bat, if limited to 300-350 ABs — and Murphy might benefit from less exposure as well.

Thoughts?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. guest January 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm
    francesa said delgado is coming back so this article is moot
  2. isuzudude January 8, 2010 at 3:44 pm
    How so, guest? Even if the Mets bring Delgado back, it would be completely irresponsible for them to expect to get 500+ atbats out of him in 2010 – I think 400-450 is a little better, and that’s if Delgado remains perfectly healthy. That leaves at least another 150-200 ABs to be collected by his backup, which is about the same amount the departed Fernando Tatis figured to get when he was penciled in as Delgado’s backup last year.

    But now Tatis is gone and the Mets could very well be on the lookout for another ‘jack-of-all-trades’ type player. Though Lowell doesn’t fit that mold perfectly, he has played 2B aside from 3B, and figures to transition well to 1B, also. With that extra versatility, Lowell should trump Dan Murphy for the backup 1B job, as well as because Lowell is right-handed opposed to Murphy being a lefty, which is important considering it would be nice if Delgado’s backup didn’t hit from the same side of the plate. And when Delgado starts, Lowell becomes the top righty off the bench or a possible replacement for either Wright at 3B or Castillo at 2B.

    This plan leaves Dan Murphy on the outs, which may not be such a bad idea. If he can’t be traded, Murphy can work on transitioning to a new position (2B, 1B, C???) at AAA without the pressures of screwing up at the big league level. Remember, Murphy had virtually no seasoning at AAA before being called up in ’08. He burst onto the scene very well that year but obviosuly regressed in ’09 and still could use the work at AAA to hone his craft, both on offense and defense. The addition of Lowell would also mean the Mets could rely less heavily on questionable quantities such as Nick Evans, Chris Carter, Mike Hessman, and Mike Cervenak. Who would you rather have as the top right-handed pinch hitter coming off the bench: Lowell, or any of those 4? Especially if Lowell can be had on-the-cheap from Boston?

    The more I think about Lowell, the more I’d like to see the Mets make an attempt to acquire him. He’s a gamer, he’s an asset in the field, and he’s a veteran with leadership qualities. Regardless of whom the Mets have projected to be their starting 1B in 2010, Lowell still figures to be a useful bench player and a viable pinch hitter.

  3. Walnutz15 January 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm
    To my knowledge, the Rockies have shown interest in Tatis. Has he actually signed yet?

    I don’t think he has.

  4. isuzudude January 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm
    Correct, ‘nutz. Tatis is still a FA.
  5. Paul January 8, 2010 at 8:00 pm
    If you can get Lowell for a minimal cost in terms of talent and salary, it would be worth taking a chance to pair him with Murphy (or Delgado) at first. But if the Mets have to give up anyone they value highly or have to pay a significant chunk of Lowell’s contract, I’d rather pass.
  6. IveMetsFan January 9, 2010 at 2:35 am
    The Mets need to focus on pitching. NOT BACK UP OLD PLAYERS WHO ARE GOING TO PLAY OUT OF POSITION. Unless we are able to trade Castillo for Lowell I wouldn’t be interested. The Sox need to get rid of Lowell more than we need to get rid of Castillo. I’ll take a Lowell for Castillo contract swap with the Sox throwing in a couple of million.

    I would focus on the Reds however. The Reds and the Mets should be joined at the hip this offseason. The Reds need to shed payroll and have the players that would help the Mets. The Mets have the money and need the players the Reds have.

    I would propose a trade of Pelfrey, Parnell, Castillo and a low level minor leaguer for Arroyo and Phillips. The Reds shed payroll get good young live MLB ready arms a .400 obp second baseman and a prospect. The Mets get an innings eater and a pitcher who can win 15+ games who is under contract for only 2 YEARS. As well as a stud 28 year old secondbaseman with speed power and defense.

    Arroyo on his worst season is comparable to Pelfrey on his best. I hate to give up Pelf but I’d do it to get a Brandon Phillips.

    Then I would sign a high risk high reward guy like Sheets to an 1 year incentive laden deal.

    Mets lineup
    Reyes
    Phillips
    Beltran
    Bay
    Wright
    Delgado
    FCore
    Thole
    Pitcher

    Pitching
    Santana
    Sheets
    Arroyo
    Maine
    Perez

    Niese in the minors with Nieve

  7. isuzudude January 9, 2010 at 9:42 am
    IMF: Who’s to say the Mets can’t be looking into a trade with the Red Sox for Lowell, as well as checking in with the Reds about Arroyo/Phillips, and trying to sign Sheets, all at the same time? Pidgeon-holing your time and resources into only upgrading one position is irresponsible and lazy.

    So you want the Mets to look into acquiring pitching and nothing else. Well, then, you’re going to have one horrible looking bench, a conglomeration of mediocrity at 1B, a bunch of backups platooning at C, and nothing in the way of backup OFs aside from Angel Pagan. That’s not the way to construct a GOOD team. I agree, the Mets need pitching, but they need more than just pitching, and Mike Lowell would be a very solid contributor if the Mets could get him at the right price.

    Do you not remember the offseason prior to 2008 when the Mets thought all they had to do was upgrade their starting pitching and concentrated on nothing else? It landed us Johan Santana, which was great, but also left the bullpen completely vulnerable and the bench highly inadequate. And 2008 ended in disaster. And then, prior to 2009, the mindset was only fix the bullpen, and so KRod and Putz were brought in. Yet nothing else was addressed, and 2009 was a catastrophe. So history has proven that when your focus is singled in on only improving one aspect of your team, it ends badly. Again, I agree that the Mets need pitching and should be looking into the moves you suggested, but what is wrong with also looking into acquiring a gold glove caliber player who can play multiple IF positions and provide a very solid bat and voice of leadership at the same time? I’m not saying trade Mike Pelfrey or Fernando Martinez for him, but if Lowell can be had for a minor leaguer or cash, then what’s the problem? The Mets need a backup 1B/IF anyway, as well as some more right-handed hitters off the bench. And since signs point to the Red Sox becoming increasingly desperate to give him away, it would seem like going after Lowell would be slam dunk decision.

  8. CatchDog January 9, 2010 at 11:11 am
    IveMetsFan and dude;

    I like both of your thinking.

    Here’s what I’ve heard: the Mets are targeting both Pineiro and Molina but are holding the line on the dollars/years. If/when they sign Molina, Santos may become expendable (Molina and Blanco at Citi with Coste working with Thole in Buffalo). This allows the Mets to target Arroyo & Phillips with a Pelfrey, Castillo, Santos, Eddie Kunz and Brian Stokes combo, enabling the Mets to keep Parnell. Perhaps adding a prospect such as Jeurys Familia would seal the deal.

    A straight up trade would cost the Mets 10.35 million this season. And Phillip’s strong glove at second would make Murphy, Lowell or Delgado’s presence a bit more palatable at first.

    As Isuzudude suggested, acquiring Lowell for a bargain price would add a nice platoon at first with Murphy, better defense than Delgado and more flexibility in the infield. A bench of Lowell, Pagan, Cora, Chris Carter/Nick Evans and Blanco is not a bad start.

    Moreover, a lineup of Reyes, Phillips, Wright, Bay, Beltran, Frenchy, Murphy/Delgado/Lowell & Molina would be quite formidable.

    As for pitching, with the off season signings of Escobar, Igarashi, Everts and RA Dickey, the return of a healthy Nieve, combined with incumbents Green, Stokes, Parnell, Figgy and KRod will provide the Mets with 10 righties in the pen. Assuming two lefties to go along with Frankie, the Mets will only require the services of four righties. In my opinion, Stokes appears the odd man out and is probably the best trade chip. Brian is still under club control for three more seasons, has had no injury history and throws in the mid 90s. Not to mention, it’s obvious Jerry likes him as much as Nick Evans. That said, I’d try and push Stokes over the younger and higher ceiling’d Parnell. As for Kunz, he seems to have been buried by the organization as well. Perhaps the Reds may see value in a young ground ball style pitcher in their fly ball park.

    I am also a proponent of Sheets or Wang but neither will be ready to start the season. Sheets has just begun a throwing program and is targeting a May return, while Wang is likely not going to be ready before June. Therefore, considering the injuries of Santana, Perez and Maine last season, the Mets might be better suited to acquire two innings eater pitchers for the rotation. Pineiro and Arroyo would fit well although I’d still make an incentive offer to the other two.

    It’s going to be an interesting month. Omar needs to be looking at all of the options. From my point of view, there are plenty of them.