As it is well known, the two most sought after third baseman this offseason will be Alex Rodriguez and Mike Lowell. One of them is well on his way to obtaining the largest contract in history for the second time in his career. The other, Lowell, will be cashing in as well, but what he should really be looking for is a long term deal. Why? Well that's a simple question with a simple answer: He isn't worth the money he's going to make.
On the surface, Lowell looks like he had a season for the ages. He collected 120 rbi's, 191 hits, and batted a cool .324. Teams have been drooling over this guy since the all-star break, and it would seem Lowell would deserve it.
There are a few, slight, miniscule......well, HUGE, things teams should be taking a hard look at before paying Lowell the money this contract year would garner.
1. The RBI Illusion- Yes, he did have 120 rbi, but he did so hitting in the middle of a Red Sox lineup with the second highest OBP in the league. When people are getting on base, people are getting hte opportunity to drive them in. No one is a bigger beneficiary of this than Lowell. Not only was he hitting in the second best OBP concerned lineup in the league, he was hitting behind none other than David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, IN THE FLESH!!! Ramirez, he had a down year. His obp was .21 points lower than his career average, which still makes his obp a ludicrous .388. Ortiz, on the other hand, had a freaking ridiculous obp of .445, good for 1st in the American League. Notice any correlation with Lowell's career high in RBI's and the guys hitting directly in front of him in the order?
2. His age- Lowell will be 34 by opening day of 2008, and you can expect he will be seeking a four or five year deal from any team willing to shell it out to him. Is a player who is rapidly entering a ballplayer's declining stage worth the money he's bound to get?
3. Declining fielding ability- Lowell is in his eight full season in the bigs, and he set personal lows(and highs), in some pretty important fielding categories. After setting a career high in range factor with a 3.17 RF last year, Lowell did the exact opposite this year, clocking in with a career low 2.51 RF. Not only was his range down, he set a career high in errors at 15(he hadn't had more than ten since 2002). Those errors can only mean one thing, a career low in fielding percentage(not very important in my eyes, too many other things factoring in to overall fielding ability).
4. This was his career year- Before this year, Lowell had never batted over .300, not once in his entire career. The closest he came was .293 in 04, and no other year has he hit higher than .285. Not only does he not hit for average on a yearly basis, he has never been the best guy at drawing walks. His career high was 65, and he usually is good for about 45. Of course, this lead to his very average .344 career obp. His career ops would be .811, not a number you want coming from a position that is supposed to produce some of your best offensive numbers.
The bottom line is, Lowell is simply not worth the money that some idiotic team is going to pay him this offseason. You can counter and say there is a dry market for third baseman this year, but that would be a perfect reason for team's to just sit on their money. Look at the two teams in the NLCS: They both have rosters full of home grown talent and have made very smart moves to get them where they are. Signing Lowell MAY be a good move next year, but in the long run will hurt your team very much.