Noise has been made the last couple days about Mike Lowell being shipped off to the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have been looking to upgrade the hot corner for a while now, as their third baseman, Nick Punto, is not doing well. Punto is hitting an anemic .227/.324/.294, while Mike Lowell is at .316/.373/.553.
Acquiring Lowell would give the Twins a big offensive boost, and Lowell would have the second highest slugging percentage on the team right behind Justin Morneau.
Quite frankly, I dismissed this newspaper report, because it sounded like speculation; not based in fact. When I start hearing names being thrown around, I start listening. When these names make sense, I pay attention.
A reader named DeShaun commented on today’s game thread, saying that:

Rumors here in Minnesota have Pat Neshek or Juan Rincon and a prospect going to Boston in exchange for Mike Lowell and cash. IǃÙve also heard that the Sox then plan to turn around the guys they acquire and ship them to Philadelphia in a deal for CF Aaron Rowand and 1B Greg Dobbs.

This move makes a little bit of sense with Neshek, and a lot of sense with Rincon. The Phillies are looking to upgrade their starting pitching with Freddy Garcia out for the year, but they also need to get bullpen help and can afford to move Aaron Rowand. This could also lead to Ryan Madson or Brett Myers moving back into the rotation.
Pat Neshek is in his second year of pitching at the major league level, and the 26-year old has a sparkling ERA of 1.16, and a 0.74 WHIP in 31 innings pitched so far. Juan Rincon, 28, has pitched 22.2 IP on the year with a 2.38 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. Sending Neshek and a prospect or Rincon and a higher-level prospect for Lowell is feasible … but not for the Red Sox.
Sure, the Sox need to upgrade their bullpen, but we’re not in that dire straits, and that leaves us a hole at third. Sure, Kevin Youkilis could fill the hole, but then who plays first? Eric Hinske?
That’s why this flipping to Philadelphia trade makes a lot of sense. Aaron Rowand has been tremendously popular in Chicago and Philadelphia for his hard-nosed play, and is hitting .318/.389/.492 on the year: spectacular numbers. For his career, the 29-year old is at .283/.340/.451. Dobbs, age 28, had three years of experience with the Seattle Mariners before being claimed off waivers by the Phillies. Dobbs is hitting .284/.323/.526, getting into 54 games, 116 AB (Lowell is at 62, 228). Dobbs’ career line is .266/.302 /.411, but that also includes his first two years in the bigs, which were awful. His year so far this year and last year have seen a marked turnaround. Dobbs also plays all over the diamond, as he is a first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, left fielder, and right fielder. Reminds you of Eric Hinske, no?
Now, if this trade is consummated, is this a panic move? Maybe, maybe not. Lowell is producing … but so are Rowand and Dobbs. Lowell is getting up there in years, and has been a sieve at third base lately (I think it may have to do with his reflexes slowing down) and the offensive black hole that Coco Crisp contributes has been just awful. Crisp can be sent to Minnesota as Torii Hunter’s eventual replacement as part of a package, or to Philadelphia to be a backup outfielder. Meanwhile, Rowand slots into center and provides solid defense and a livelier bat. Dobbs presumably starts at first base or third base, and if his statistics are a fluke, then that is a problem to worry about in the future (ah, if only Wily Mo could play first).
I don’t know if this is a deal I would make or not… but I have to lean towards doing it, because I fear Lowell is slowing down, and he’s set to become a free agent. (But I still love the guy. He’s a great presence on the team.) All I know is that it would address a very concerning hole in our team (centerfield) while potentially creating another hole (first/third base) … and that this trade rumor may have some legs, after all. But in the end? Not going to happen. Lowell is way too valuable, and we have Jacoby Ellsbury, David Murphy and Brandon Moss waiting for a shot.