Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Hustlin Schedule

Quote of the Day:

"Somebody has to sit."
-Terry Francona on why it's a problem to DH Mike Lowell. Source: Boston.com Extra Bases.

There probably isn't much of a problem with somebody sitting. Especially if, in the case of tonight's game, the guy sitting could possibly mean the team gets two extra offensive innings. Think about that. Two strikeouts and two GIDPs is six outs. Mr. H once referred to Mike Timlin as "Old Yeller." Well, Ortiz is now Old Yeller plus the irresponsible use of vitamins and supplements. The other eight Sox beat the Angels with literally six offensive innings tonight. Probably the best news of the entire year.

Bottom line is, Mike Lowell's hustlin schedule should resemble Rick Ross's--as in, it should be everyday. This is 15% because of Ortiz (whom I have already talked about enough) and 85% because of Lowell. I wouldn't quite go nuts to the point where I'd agree whole-heartedly to Lowell's comments about how 11 years of production gives him a license to start. Because you don't even need that much data. Nobody cares how well you did in 2004 except for arguably Theo Epstein.

Mike Lowell has been extremely productive. On the aggregate. LATELY.

And we're not just talking about this year where he's rocking a .317 spot. Let's just say the record was wiped clean, for better or for worse, when he had his hip surgery. Since the surgery, Lowell was overused, playing almost everyday at the beginning of the year before he was fully recovered. Then, once the team acquired Victor Martinez, he had become as recovered as he will be--but Francona underused him.

The overall result: The guy still hit .290 and had twice as many hits as he had strikeouts. He very nearly matched his pre-surgery numbers (exceeded them, probably) in 2008. Just imagine how good he would have been if he were used more responsibly in April and May and if he had been played like a guy near 100% at the end of the season. Hitting .300 with 25 home runs is NOT out of the question.

Yes, Lowell is a year older this year, and expecting .300 with 25 home runs may be a little too much to offer. But it's not inconceivable that the guy will hit .285 with 15-20 home runs from here on in. After all, half of his games are played at Fenway. While this is not going to land him among the best designated hitters in baseball by a long shot, it is something that will enhance this team's ability to score runs. Unless Drew keeps on using the whole field like he has in the last two weeks, Mike Lowell very well might be the third-most productive member of the Red Sox' lineup. Yes, you'll see a lot of double plays. But keeping your third-most productive player off the field is a problem.

Especially if it's so the team can give more at bats to the hitting version of 2008 Mike Timlin. If Ortiz turns it around, he will be as good as Lowell. Lowell is as good as Lowell is. Immediately.


jason said...

cant wait till interleague play, thatll really mess with them

Anonymous said...


Mike Lowell has been much better than I expected him to be. Not that I expected him to be bad, but he's been awesome. Couple that with the fact that Ortiz has been even worse than I imagined (I didn't think we were going to get 2007 Ortiz, but I thought he'd at least be useful) and I have to admit that all signs point to getting Lowell more at-bats.

The question is, how many more at-bats should Mike Lowell get? I almost think that he should be getting used in a way similar to Varitek. Not that he should be a back-up. But I don't know that he should be playing every single day. For instance, Varitek is best used maybe twice a week. Lowell may be best used 4-5 times a week. I just don't know if physically he's up to the task of playing 6-7 times a week, even if only as a DH.

This way, you can get Lowell playing more and keep him healthy, while still leaving the door open for Ortiz to play a few times a week and hopefully come around. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. But I'd hate to see Mike Lowell fade in August due to overuse in the same way that Varitek has faded so dramatically the past few seasons.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

If he's DHing (in other words, sitting on his butt for 2:40 of each 3:00 game), this should not be an issue. DH. Everyday.

TimC said...

I think if the DH switch is to be made Francona will manage it smoothly, with the split in Lowell/Ortiz at bats reaching about 50% in the coming weeks. As the season moves into the summer this number should steadily climb.

I just can't envision a scenario where Francona would "flip a switch" and hand the entire role to Lowell, especially with his reputation as an excellent man-manager.

the gm at work said...

Update: Ortiz is in the lineup against Joel Piniero tonight. As Peter Abraham pointed out, Ortiz has good numbers against the former semi-disastrous Red Sox reliever back in 2006 and before. However, Ortiz has good numbers against all pitchers in 2006 and before. Lowell has good numbers against pitchers in the years 2009 and 2010.

Maybe he gets it together. Piniero's the only thing standing in the way of a sweep of a good team, which would erase the impact of the Baltimore series.

Patrick said...

gunn/timc -

i agree with both of you. i agree with gunn on how lowell should be used. people underestimate how taxing even DHing can be on guys breaking down, and i think gm is here, though he is perhaps doing it for a good reason (to get ortiz less at bats). yankees fans watched this first-hand with hideki matsui. he had to be used carefully to get the most out of him. maybe not as carefully as the red sox need to use lowell, but it's the same idea.

i agree with timc because i do not think this is the way the red sox will do it.

gm -

unless the kazmir/matsuzaka match-up tomorrow is already getting marked down as a sox win, they'll need to win tonight and tomorrow to complete the sweep.

the gm said...

Yes, right, unbalanced schedule. Ask Tim C whether it's a guaranteed win. But let's say that under normal circumstances, they win 2/3 against Baltimore and they lose 2 out of their first 3 against the Angels. So they are exactly where they should be before Baltimore.

I will say that Beltre is hitting well and Papelbon is looking quite a bit better than he has in the last two years.