Should Rangers do the Lowell deal?

March, 31, 2010
3/31/10
8:07
PM ET
Don't you just sort of wish this deal would go ahead and get done? Gordon Edes:

    FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A baseball source said Wednesday that talks between the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers over infielder Mike Lowell have accelerated and a trade remained a possibility.

    --snip--

    They may be engaged in a high-stakes poker game with the Red Sox to see how much of Lowell's salary Boston will eat to make the deal.

    The Red Sox were willing to pay $9 million of Lowell's $12 million back in December, before a potential deal was voided over Lowell's injured thumb, but the $3 million difference may be money the Rangers no longer have, having spent it on other players.

I don't know that I've told anyone this yet ... I'm picking the Rangers to win the American League West. Probably for the first time since I've been doing this sort of work. I know the Mariners are the trendy pick and the Angels are the easy pick and the A's are the sentimental pick. But I'm looking at a bunch of numbers, and the Rangers keep coming out on top.

Not by a lot, though. They're not going to finish with Nolan Ryan's 92 wins. They'll be lucky to hit 90, and it'll take close to 90 because ... well, because there are four decent teams in this division and somebody is going to get lucky.

Mike Lowell can still hit. I wouldn't be surprised if can hit better than Vladimir Guerrero, which is irrelevant since Guerrero's locked in at DH. What about a straight platoon at first base, though? Chris Davis is sketch anyway, with all those strikeouts. But he's particularly ineffective against left-handed pitchers. With Justin Smoak roughly a season away from helping the big club, why not load up at first base for the next few months?

Platoons have fallen out of fashion, mostly because the 11- and 12-man pitching staffs suck up so many of the roster spots. But as things stand now, the Rangers are set at every other position. In David Murphy, they've got a versatile and effective fourth outfielder. They're carrying a couple of catchers. Their middle infielders can hit (at least when Ian Kinsler gets off the DL).

As near as I can tell, the Rangers' only candidate for backup first baseman is Wes Bankston. I used to think Bankston would be a pretty good major-league hitter, but in 375 Triple-A games he's got a .311 on-base percentage, and you can guess what happens to a .311 OBP in the majors.

There's still the matter of $3 million (or thereabouts). Granted, it's not my money (actually, I'm not sure whose money it is, or will be this summer). But $3 million seems like a fairly small price to pay for a measurable improvement in one's chances to reach the postseason for the first time since the 20th century.

Update: A friend points out, accurately enough, that Wes Bankston's not really in the first-base mix. The backup job is down to (third catcher) Max Ramirez and Matt Brown, the ex-Angels farmhand who's destroyed Triple-A southpaws. After all the above, I'm now happy to report that if the Rangers aren't worried about Vladimir Guerrero's durability, the presence of Brown would seem to make Lowell extraneous.

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