Rumors are abounding that first-half favorite Mike Lowell is being shopped around for starting pitching. Initial rumors, as usual, focused on San Diego, although if they ever had any validity reports are that the talks are stalled, perhaps pending a third team's involvement (per Jayson Stark's ESPN chat). It's hard to know how much of this is just smoke thrown up to influence the Jays in dealing Hillenbrand, but one thing seems apparent: Lowell is in fact on the block.
I count myself one of the number of Lowell's fans. Largely, this is an emotional state where I like that Lowell bounced back from a career-worst year. He's a professional, a good clubhouse guy, a gold-glover at third, and has hit beyond anyone's expectations thus far. I think, just maybe, it's the "thus far", coupled with his $9Mil price tag, that has him being shopped.
Historically Lowell is not a good second-half player. In each of the years 2002-2004 his OPS dropped around 200 points after the All-Star break, which is kind of a collapse. Last year it actually improved, but that was because during the first half of the season he was possessed by Rondell White. His OPS this year dropped from .986 in May to .701 in June, so Theo and co. probably went "uh-oh" and are trying to sell reasonably high, since for July he's back up to .844 (despite being under .600 over the past week like nearly everyone else).
The feeling may be that the writing is on the wall for a poor second half. It's pretty hard to argue with the statistics - Mike has a career second hald OPS of maybe .750, and it's hard to justify paying a guy $9Mil a year for that (or I suppose, $4.5Mil). I am guessing the logic here is that you move Youks over to third, where his .750-.800 OPS will cost far less, and then go get Ryan Shealy using one of the blue-chippers. It's a stretch for me though. I'm not sure that I understand exactly how Lowell gets moved unless you are paying a ton of the freight, and I'm not sure that it makes the team better even if he falls off in the second half since the IF defense gets worse. I would say that I am dubious at best that the FO finalizes a trade I like with him in it.
Won't You Come Home Jeff Bailey, Won't You Come Home?
The other day I talked a little bit about almost-prospect Jeff Bailey. He has intrigued me a little bit, largely because he has no home in the organization, but keeps performing for Pawtucket. He does play a couple positions (mostly 1B and some catcher, looks like) but has DHed for the PawSox. As I noted before the guy can hit. The thing is, he's 27 years old.
It struck me that he reminded me of someone, and that someone was Brian "Cementhead" Daubach. Both guys bounced around a while then figured it out late. Dauber really figured it out at age 26, so he was ahead of Bailey, and his year in AAA was really immense, but Bailey is putting up some decent numbers. Who knows, maybe he can find his way into the bigs yet. Christ, he has to hit better than Doug Miagentsfhhcytucoz, right?
At least, Tito thinks so: ''What Jeff Bailey is," Francona said, ''is a guy I think can hit. I think Jeff Bailey can hit good pitching. I don't want to see him get lost in the shuffle because of what he went through as a catcher. He can hit."
He probably won't hit for the Sox, barring some really bizarre circumstances, but hopefully he'll hit somewhere. Good luck Jeff.