For those of you how read this on a relatively consistent basis, I apologize for the spotty posting over the last two weeks. I'm up against finals and a couple paper deadlines for school and the next couple of weeks after this aren't going to be any better. Regardless, this is something I wanted to get to. So I will.
Mike Lowell signed a three year deal for $37.5 million last week and thus the World Series MVP will be manning the hot corner through his mid thirties til 2010 for the Sox. And that's really good. But the thing that I don't get is that this was portrayed as some kind of victory for the Sox. Some have even gone so far as to call it a steal considering he likely could have gotten that fourth year and probably could have commanded somewhere near $13-14 million per. But here's the thing, while Mike Lowell has had a resurgence with the Sox and is very valuable for them, his value anywhere else is highly overrated. Check out his home / away splits.
At Fenway, Mike Lowell hit .373, hit 14 home runs and had an OPS of .993. On the road he batted .276 with 7 home runs and had a .767 OPS in almost the exact same number of at bats. Lowell is a pro anywhere but he is dangerous at Fenway. And if he is ever going to sign a new contract after Fenway, he knew that the stats he accumulates over the next 3 years at Fenway will go a long way towards getting him 2-3 more years if he wants it. I'm not saying he couldn't have put a few out in Philly our used the alleys in Anaheim, but Mike Lowell will be at .300 and 100RBI at Fenway over the next 3 years because of Fenway and not necessarily Mike Lowell. The hometown discount Mike Lowell took may earn him a 3 year contract and 20 million more dollars at 36 years old that he may not deserve in another park.
But with all that being said, I love the fucker. He's a pro. He hits in all counts and plays to the situation. When a guy with no control is walking Manny and Ortiz in front of him, Mike Lowell is driving a first pitch curveball down the line or taking a fastball into the gap because he knows the guy is gonna try and get ahead against him. He understands the situation better than any hitter in that lineup and never tries to do too much. He takes pitches when the starting pitcher is nearing his limit and swings at first pitch strikes when a righty reliever has been brought in after Ortiz just got intentionally walked. He's not light tower dangerous but in the same way Paul Byrd and Greg Maddux are crafty and know a hitter's holes, Mike Lowell sees a drawn in infield or the position of the outfield and recognize how the pitcher's gonna pitch him and he reacts accordingly. He's not the most talented hitter and dollar for dollar isn't going to produce like a Carlos Lee or some other young stud earning $12 million a year but I'll take a Mike Lowell at-bat in almost any situation over a $15+ million Soriano at-bat or watching $20+ million of Giambi swing for the hills only able to use 1/4 of the field.