Is Jed Lowrie really the answer for the Detroit Tigers at 2nd base? Even if he’s to be traded by the Houston Astros, which is not a guarantee, there are some question marks here.
It’s understandable that Tigers fans have started to chirp his name lately. After all, a 2nd baseman with 14 home runs sounds about as good as a 75 degree day in Michigan these days.
Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago have combined to form one of the least productive positional units in all of baseball this year. Santiago is hitting .221 with 2 homers and 17 RBI’s while Raburn is sitting at a droopy .173 with 1 homer and 10 RBI’s.
By contrast, the 28-year old Lowrie has a decent .256 average, 14 homers, and 35 RBI’s for the lowly Astros. It seems like an obvious upgrade and probably is, but is he worth the price of acquisition?
Houston covets the switch-hitting Lowrie’s skill set and considers him one of their building blocks for the future. They won’t let go of him easily. But before we get into the asking price, let’s discuss Lowrie.
Ignoring his substantial injury history as a negative influence for now one can’t ignore that he has been playing shortstop all season in Houston. He would be required to make a position change to join the Tigers, something that shouldn’t be overlooked as a trouble point.
But even bigger than that is the fact that from a batting average perspective Lowrie has been on a season long freefall. He hit a solid .297 in April and followed that with a strong .275 effort in May. In June he slumped to .218 and is tapping the ball to the tune of a .176 average so far in July. That smells awfully Raburn-y to me.
When you consider some of the other names at 2nd base that are rumored to be available, it’s understandable why Lowrie’s name is intriguing. Marco Scutaro is probably a safer choice, yet less sexy. Certainly Chris Getz or Placido Polanco would add something, but not much.
Houston won’t be looking for spare parts in exchange for Lowrie. They certainly cannot demand a Nick Castellanos-type of price but will want something tangible in return. Detroit has some top-tier catching depth in their system as well as some wild card pitchers such as Andy Oliver and Casey Crosby.
If Houston were to bite on a small package that included Oliver or Crosby as the featured piece then the deal would probably make sense. Anything more than that would be asking too much.
The Tigers need to get some bats going and it is easy to point the finger at 2nd base. However, Raburn and Santiago shouldn’t take all of the heat. Alex Avila can’t stay healthy or consistently productive. Delmon Young is a free-swinging hack and Brennan Boesch is a mental disaster. And where has Jhonny Peralta’s power stroke gone?
The problems run deeper than the spot once occupied for 20 years by Lou Whitaker. Aside from Polanco coming in via trade the Tigers have struggled mightily to fill the void left so many years ago by Sweet Lou.
There seemed to be some middle infield promise coming up through the ranks with the likes of Argenis Diaz, Hernan Perez, Audy Ciriaco, and others but most of that hype has died down and been replaced by Eugenio Suarez. The 20-year old shortstop is tearing up low-A ball with a .310 average, .408 on-base % and 34-extra base hits. Clearly he won’t be helping the Tigers anytime soon though.
We’ve all been waiting for it, and as evidenced by Jim Leyland hitting him 2nd the last two games, apparently he is still a believer, but a patented Raburn hot streak would instantly settle this debate. The problem is he has never been this ugly for this long.
The streak may never come and with a July 31st trade deadline fast approaching he only has about 2 weeks left to convince the front office otherwise.