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.