Jack Of All Trades: Mike Lowell

Normally, JOAT likes to look at players who were dealt three or more times. But Mike Lowell, in honor of his participation in two blockbuster trades, rumors for the better part of a year, and impending retirement, gets the wanderer treatment today.

The New York Yankees drafted Lowell in the 20th round of the 1995 draft, and he quickly climbed the prospect lists, crushing a combined 56 home runs in 1997-1998. But with Scott Brosius manning third base, the Yankees viewed Lowell as surplus and dealt him to Florida on February 1, 1999 for three pitching prospects: Todd Noel, Mark Johnson and Ed Yarnall.

The deal turned out to be a massive win for the Marlins. The three pitching prospects amounted to very little. Brosius, meanwhile, posted a 121 OPS+ in 1998 and managed a combined mark of 86 in 1999-2001 before retiring.

Lowell beat cancer in the spring of 1999 and came back to post an OPS+ of 90 that season before achieving stardom in 2000. From 2000-2004, his age 26-30 seasons, Lowell had an OPS+ of 117 with tremendous defense at third base. In 2003, Lowell had an OPS+ of 128 for the World Series-winning Marlins, hitting 32 home runs and finishing 11th in MVP voting.

But in 2005, Lowell, now 31, appeared to lose his ability to hit. His season line of .236/.298/.360 was good for an OPS+ of just 77, though he did win a Gold Glove. Eager to shed his salary, the Marlins worked out a deal with the Red Sox. On November 24, 2005, Florida traded Lowell, Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota to the Boston Red Sox for Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.

Once again, the team that acquired Lowell turned out to be a big winner, though this trade wasn't one-sided. Florida, after all, received a no-hitter from Anibal Sanchez, and Ramirez has blossomed into one of the game's best shortstops.

Beckett, the centerpiece of the deal, performed as expected, but Lowell's resurgence surprised the baseball world. His 2006-2009 in Boston included three seasons of above-average offense and strong, though regressing defense. His 2007, naturally, stands out from the pack.

That year, Lowell's OPS+ was 124. His age-33 season included 120 RBI, a fifth-place showing the the regular-season MVP voting, and a World Series MVP trophy. And Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in the American League. (That may be a paraphrase.)

Lowell gradually broke down, however, with his troublesome hip merely one of many injuries. This past winter, the Red Sox made a deal to send him to Texas for catching prospect Max Ramirez, because Theo Epstein loves grabbing decent prospects when their value is artificially low. The deal was called off, however, when Lowell needed surgery on his right thumb.

Barring a late comeback by Boston, Lowell's career will end when the regular season does. With nine seasons of 103 OPS+ or better, a strong glove for most of his career, and the postseason heroics, it is hard to believe that two teams sold low on Lowell. Stranger still, perhaps, is that Lowell played for three organizations – the Red Sox, the Marlins, and the Yankees – and made postseason appearances with everyone but New York.

21 Responses to Jack Of All Trades: Mike Lowell Leave a Reply

  1. Gland1 5 years ago

    Does Lowell play numerous positions? I’m not sure I understand him as a “Jack of all trades”.

    • j6takish 5 years ago

      If you were keeping up with the series, you would know that it’s a pun. It looks at star players that for whatever reason, kept getting traded throughout their careers

  2. start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

    Fun thing about the second Lowell trade, it’s one of the few trades of big names where everyone could be seen as a winner.

  3. Good tough hardnosed player, A true gentlemen of the game of baseball. Would love to see him stay involved at some level in MLB.

    • leberquesgue 5 years ago

      Agreed. Not only a gentleman, he has always seemed like a smart guy — at the least, emotionally smart when commenting on Manny and other delicate issues in recent years. I’d love to see him return and try management, presumably after a few years away from the game.

  4. It should be added that Lowell won the world series with both the Marlins and the Red Sox. Makes that last sentence all the more powerful.

  5. gargoyle2525 5 years ago

    Has Beckett really performed as expected?

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      He got a WS trophy. There should be a lot of worth put into that.

  6. gargoyle2525 5 years ago

    And noted that Brosius did have a role in the Yankees winning 3 World Series titles and put up a .314/.333/.529 line in 20 WS games. But I guess that would be saying something positive about the Yankees which is not allowed.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      Of course because everything ever written is anti-yankee. Get over it.

  7. Or because it is an article about Mike Lowell and not him.

  8. gargoyle2525 5 years ago

    Brosius has 3 of them. Is there any worth in that?

    Beckett’s career ERA is higher tha AJ Burnett’s – yet Beckett is considered an “Ace.”

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      I would say so. A few years ago there wouldn’t be many pitchers you would pitch over Beckett in a 1 game series. You could never really say the same about Burnett though. And he was hurt a lot

  9. thevauntedchris 5 years ago

    jwredsox wrote: “I would say so. A few years ago there wouldn’t be many pitchers you would pitch over Beckett in a 1 game series. You could never really say the same about Burnett though. And he was hurt a lot ”

    And this means what? Nothing. The guy at least gave you one stat as to why Beckett is definitely not an ace and you respond with “Well, Beckett would have been really good in a one game series a few years ago.” Terrible. Just like Beckett, who is one of the most overrated, arrogant pitchers in baseball.

    • johnsilver 5 years ago

      Imagine the dislike would be here from NYY fans had Beckett actually gotten the Cy Young award he actually deserved over Sabathia in 2007 when he was still with the Tribe. Amazing how Yank fans dislike every Sox player so much, even when Becket had the dominant 20 win 2007 season and has been a post season monster most of his career, something Burnett never managed to even appear in until he got to the Yanks.

      The topic at hand… Classy and gritty veteran all the way around. Makes you wonder if he had not put off the hip surgery so long in 2008 he would not have gotten so bad in the end perhaps? Just a thought.

      • thevauntedchris 5 years ago

        So Beckett is an ace because he had a very good 2007 and threw a few good games in the postseason? I now understand that baseball history has been littered with aces. Thank you.

        • johnsilver 5 years ago

          I doubt few people with an understanding of the game questioned Beckett’s status at all until this season when he got hurt and has never been the same since his return.

          Big game pitcher btw is what helped him get his reputation, then if you were watching the 2003 WS and that clincher at YS, you would remember a classic 1st hand example.

      • thevauntedchris 5 years ago

        The generalization that Yankee fans dislike every Sox player must be gathered from another thread. I made one comment about one player. Your response leads me to believe we have a communication or comprehension problem. The internet doesn’t seem to be the right place for you. It can be a jungle out there.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      That is important because that who your ace is. If you don’t trust a guy to take the ball in a one game series then is he really the leader of your staff? I just felt a comparison between Burnett and Beckett wouldn’t be worth my time. Would you like me to compare John Macdonald and Scutaro too? STRIKE ZONE WHATSA STRIKE ZON made more than an adequate argument to Beckett’s value that you should read.

  10. thevauntedchris 5 years ago

    If you truly believe that I used overrated and arrogant as arguments against his on field value, you ruined an actual good argument on your side. During 40% of his time in Boston, he has been not very good. I think we would agree on that. ’06 and ’10. The other 60%, he has no doubt been an ace. The debate comes in what you think your ace should do. Should he be an ace every year, or at least close to it. There is a great article on fangraphs from a few days ago about him. People seem to be split on this dude. Carl Pavano is having an ace like season, but I don’t think we would get many people who are clamoring to have him be their number 1 year in and year out. I’m looking at the whole body of work. Injuries, consistency, etc. No doubt he nasty stuff though.

  11. nancyl224 5 years ago

    no, I wasn’t mad, just upset that thevaunted chris could make such a stupid comment about Mike Lowell and his bout with cancer. Some people don’t stop and think I guess.
    I notice his comment was removed, so that at least tells me this site has scruples.

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