Sox Agree to Send M. Lowell to Rangers for M. Ramirez

Max Ramirez that is.

The Mike Lowell era ends as the Sox appear on the verge of moving the veteran for former catching prospect Max Ramirez. Reports say the Sox will pay a significant portion of Lowell's contract. Ramirez was a well regarded prospect just two years ago because of his strong hitting skills. Scouts do not and did not think much of his glove work. Still the fact the Sox could be eating as much as $9 million of Lowell's remaining contract suggests to me that they're high on Ramirez (interesting trend developing here, as the Sox appear to like many players with that very surname these days. Alas, the one they truly want plays with the fishes.) It also suggests the Sox want to clear a roster spot and some money for a corner infield pick up. Most people think the Sox want and will get Adrian Beltre. That would be a very good signing as the Sox were a poor fielding team last year and Beltre is among the best at the hot corner.

44 comments… add one

  • I think we’ll see a Beltre announcement very soon. Maybe even today. He and Scutaro would turn the left side of the Sox’ infield from one of the worst in baseball to one of the best. I think correspondingly we could see Jon Lester’s and Clay Buchholz’s numbers jump forward even further.
    I’m curious about Ramirez. On the one hand, he’s a pretty good prospect in his own right — the asking price last offseason was Buchholz — who had a rough transition to AAA thanks to a
    wrist injury. If the Sox feel he’s healthy, he could be the post-Victor catcher of the future. On the other hand, his defense is apparently not all that hot, and he apparently projects as a 1B/DH type. Though the Sox will need one of those in the not-so-distant future, as well.
    Still, I can’t help but wonder if Ramirez is this year’s Andy Marte, and if his tenure with the Sox won’t be very long. And I can’t help but notice that the Blue Jays want a good catcher prospect in a package back for Roy Halladay, and a good catcher prospect was the one piece the Sox really lacked.

    Paul SF December 10, 2009, 8:07 am
  • I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, having an awesome defensive infield would be nice for once. But on the other hand I’m not a fan of Beltre, and think the Sox will probably pay too much for him (Boras has been comparing Beltre’s offense to Bay’s. Wtf). That career OBP of .325 (even less since his monster contract year) makes me cringe. Maybe being in a real lineup will help him, assuming the Sox get Holliday/Bay.
    On the other hand, if Ramirez gets flipped for Halladay I’ll be dancing all the way to spring training.

    Atheose - SF December 10, 2009, 8:22 am
  • Ath, I would look a home/road splits, as well as the relative value of OBP in a lineup that is already OBP-heavy. I would also compare his road stats to Lowell’s road stats. It’s unclear to me that Beltre would be a step down offensively from Lowell.
    For some reason, I am a big fan of Beltre, partly because I think his bat has been underrated because of playing in Safeco, and partly because the Sox could really use the defense at third. But yeah he’s no A-Rod over there.
    Also, Chone Figgins, the No. 1 third baseman on the market, got a deal worth 4/$36. Hard to imagine Beltre equaling that, never mind getting more.

    Paul SF December 10, 2009, 8:28 am
  • Since Boras is his agent, and there are several teams that need a corner infielder, I could see the price going up. Boras has worked crazier magic before. I’d be happy with around 8m a year though.
    I think the reason I’m not a huge fan is because he had one big year in his contract season, and since then has “underperformed”. Defense goes unheralded a lot of the time though, so it’ll be nice to see it in person.

    Atheose - SF December 10, 2009, 9:07 am
  • Over the years hasnt the knock on Beltre been his lack of consistent effort. He had that huge year in his walk year in LA and at that point seemed to be on the verge of superstardom but then things fizzled in Seattle…It will be interesting to see how things play in Boston if they do grab him.

    sam-YF December 10, 2009, 9:14 am
  • “He and Scutaro would turn the left side of the Sox’ infield from one of the worst in baseball to one of the best.”
    Unless you are talking purely about defense, I really dont think this statement is true. There are many SS/3B combos that are better than Beltre and Scutaro

    sam-YF December 10, 2009, 9:16 am
  • Sorry, I should have been clearer. I was referring to defense.

    Paul SF December 10, 2009, 9:40 am
  • Beltre is a nice player, but I really don’t think he’s worth $12 million a year. Especially since now he’s on the wrong side of 30, and had such a terrible year with the bat last year. It would be a risky signing.
    But I agree with the trade regardless. Lowell could barely play third anymore, which makes him nearly useless to the Red Sox. So they get a guy who had a terrible year last year, but was high on the catcher prospect charts the year before.
    But the Sox better sign Bay, or Holliday, or trade for an impact bat, or else that offense is going to look really, really thin.

    AndrewYF December 10, 2009, 9:49 am
  • AT,
    I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but I think that whoever signs Beltre will be paying no less than 10 Mil for 4 years and more likely 13+ a year for three years.
    Remember, Rafael Soriano is set to get about 6.5 mil in arbitration as a closer and Beltre plays a top position and does it better than almost everyone else at that position (A Rod included). His hitting numbers are strong and he has a decent amount of speed (his biggest issue the past couple of years in terms of speed has been bone spurs in his foot/s).
    But if you guys sign him you’ll be psyched to see him field third base in person because he is an amazing fielder to watch over there.

    walein December 10, 2009, 10:06 am
  • I wish the Sox had been in on Figgins.
    Anyone hear the Sox got Boof Bonser for cash or a PTBNL?

    Devine December 10, 2009, 10:30 am
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: An interesting fact about Boof Bonser is that he is called “Boof”.

    Nick-YF December 10, 2009, 10:34 am
  • You beat me to the punch, Devine. He’s pitched exactly one inning since 2008, and those years really sucked.
    Walein, I don’t think it’s really relevant to compare a closer’s arbitration amount to what Beltre will be commanding in the free agent market. Also, I wouldn’t say he’s fast; he averaged 10 SB a year with Seattle, and hits triples as often as Youkilis does.

    Atheose - SF December 10, 2009, 10:38 am
  • It may not feel relevant but no one is getting Beltre at third base for less than what I stated above.
    He will be 31 at the start of this coming season at a position that the Sox themselves have paid a considerable amount for a much older player with similar numbers and less defensive prowess (albeit a very good third baseman).
    Beltre’s last contract averaged 12.8 a year and no one, in general, has had a problem with that (as opposed to Seattle’s Richie Sexson contract which everyone had a problem with).
    The next potential “3rd” baseman of note on the free agency market this year is….exactly–Pedro Feliz…Aaron (just retired?) Boone, Marco Scutaro (who you’ve signed), and Joe (Forget-about-it) Crede, Troy (No) Glaus.
    Scott Rolen is due 11 mil this year!
    The only people better at 3rd base (Hitting included) are named ARod, Wright, Cabrera (who plays first now), Aramis Ramirez and Longoria. ALL of them are tied up in enormous contracts.
    Now, if this trade with Texas ends up with a secret Bucholz for Michael young swap that will be that; but we all doubt it.
    Beltre is looking for at least 13 a year for 3 or something like 4-5 years in low double digits. If Theo can get him for less–amazing. But if he can get Beltre for less then the Phillies can too and they’d quickly jettison Polanco at 3rd for Beltre and the potential that he’ll average 30+ homeruns in that stadium a year.

    walein December 10, 2009, 12:37 pm
  • Walein, is it not relevant that the best third baseman on the market already signed for $9 million per year? I think Beltre is underrated, think even that he might be closer to Figgins’ level than many, biut the market certainly didn’t perceive it that way. Beltre wasn’t even in the discussion of big-name free agents. It was all about Bay/Holliday, then Lackey. Beltre was somewhere with Randy Wolf on the “oh he’s available too?” level.
    I’m glad you like him so much. I do too. The question I have is: Who else is in on Beltre? Boras says he has five or six teams. Who are they? The Angels, probably, since they lost Figgins, but who are either going to sign Lackey or trade for Halladay and need to get one of Bay/Holliday, even though they already can’t afford to cover both areas of need. What big-spending clubs are out there to offer this $50m-plus contract? Not the Yankees, as you note. Not the Mets, as you note. Not the Cubs, as you note. Not the Mariners, obviously. The Tigers are trying to dump payroll, not add it. So basically it’s the Sox and Phils, who already signed a third baseman and are also actively trying to add Halladay’s $20M/year extension to their club.
    The Sox appear to be the only club that both values Beltre’s potential contributions, has an obvious need for those contributions, AND has the money to spend for them. Since Scott Boras is starting his public pronouncements at the level you’re suggesting, Walein, it leads me to believe that even he knows Beltre’s going to fall below $10M a year in this market.
    This is all said, of course, with the caveat that one just never knows when it comes to a. free agency, b. other teams’ general managers, and c. Scott Boras.

    Paul SF December 10, 2009, 12:55 pm
  • My guess is that Beltre would sign a 2 year deal for 28 million before he would sign a 4 year deal for 36; but you’re right, Figgins went for less. Of course, Seattle is still in on Beltre since their GM said that they were still very in on Beltre and that Figgins wasn’t necessarily going to be their 3rd baseman.
    I think the Sox will have to overpay for Beltre, that’s my feeling.

    walein December 10, 2009, 1:04 pm
  • Astros just signed Pedro Feliz.

    walein December 10, 2009, 1:15 pm
  • Also,
    There are a few teams with money and 3rd base needs.
    Dodgers, Giants, Cards…
    Astros (off the list now).

    walein December 10, 2009, 1:19 pm
  • So, if I read this correctly: Keeping Lowell for another year would have cost the Sox only an additional $3 million ($12M-$9M) and this prospect?

    Hudson December 10, 2009, 2:10 pm
  • Keeping Lowell for another year would have cost the Sox only an additional $3 million ($12M-$9M) and this prospect?
    And either the bench slot they could have used to sign a younger, healthier backup 3B/utility infielder, or the runs lost through Lowell’s declining bat and glove.
    Or, sure, they could DFA a guy who took less money to stay with the club and was the MVP of their second World Series win in the last 90 years, and by all accounts is as classy a guy and clubhouse leader as exists on the Red Sox right now.

    Paul SF December 10, 2009, 5:21 pm
  • Wouldn’t a player prefer being DFA’d rather than being traded, presuming he cleared through waivers? Relatively speaking, he would have more of a choice in picking the team he was going to play for and the money is all the same. In any case, Lowell was reportedly bothered by all the Teixeira talk last offseason and I assume he’s not very happy about the reported trade. He liked playing in Boston. I’m also sure he knows it’s a business and will embrace his opportunity with the Rangers.
    I think this trade speaks to how badly Lowell deteriorated in the field last season. His bat, even last year, wasn’t bad (in fact,his stats are relatively similar to Beltre), but it seems his body is pushing him to a 1b/dh role, and that’s not that valuable on the Sox. I guess the Rangers aren’t giving up much, especially if they don’t believe in Ramirez, but I don’t get what role they have for Lowell.

    Nick-YF December 10, 2009, 9:42 pm
  • Lowell’s glove was fantastic last year; the problem was his range. Anyone who watched the Sox on a daily basis saw how diminished it was.
    Back in 2007 I think all of us knew that resigning Lowell was a bad idea. Well maybe “bad idea” isn’t the right phrase, but we all knew he wouldn’t remain healthy. It felt right, what with the parades and MVP’s and Varitek signs, but deep down we knew it wouldn’t end up being a great contract for the Red Sox when all was said and done.
    Trade trade makes me sad, but it’s the right move. Lowell will be a leader on that Texas team; Millwood was the most veteran player there (both in terms of age and leadership), and that role now falls to Mikey.

    Atheose - SF December 11, 2009, 7:53 am
  • I don’t understand this move. As a DH, Lowell will have a better season than Ortiz, but they could have asked him to learn 1B for flexibility. And the kid they got is a 1B/DH who doesn’t hit like one. It makes no sense, unless they’re banking the money for 2011.

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 9:30 am
  • As a DH, Lowell will have a better season than Ortiz, but they could have asked him to learn 1B for flexibility.
    From June onward Ortiz had an OPS of .917. Lowell trended in the opposite direction; he started off hot, then OPS’d .774 over the same period. I think it’s a pretty big stretch to say, definitively, that Lowell will have a better 2010 as a DH.

    Atheose - SF December 11, 2009, 9:38 am
  • I can’t imagine Lowell playing first base with a bad or weakening hip, frankly.

    SF December 11, 2009, 9:40 am
  • A right-handed hitter at Fenway is more likely to have a stronger season. But I don’t see why he couldn’t get stronger as he comes back from the surgery. Utley and A-Rod did. And his glove is sound. With Pedroia at 2B he wouldn’t need alot of range at 1B – just a sound glove.
    If they sign Beltre, I’ll really be confused.

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 1:28 pm
  • So Lowell gets the benefit of the doubt regarding recovering offensively, but Ortiz doesn’t? I don’t see the logic in this.

    Atheose - SF December 11, 2009, 2:03 pm
  • Ditto that.

    Brad December 11, 2009, 2:36 pm
  • Lowell gets the benefit of the doubt being a right-handed hitter in Fenway. And it’s not like Ortiz goes the other way.

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 2:52 pm
  • Which would be sweet if the other 81 games were at Fenway, but I’m not sure how recovery ties into where a player hits the ball? Is recovery easier from hip problems because of the park? And, how does A-Rod tie into this at all with regards to the park? Did ARod recover faster due to the park he played in? Was it easier for him to gain his range back, and hit the ball without pain because Yankee stadium?
    This is a feeble attempt to discourage the Red Sox making the move on Beltre, so when and if the time comes, you can say “it’s not big deal” or “I don’t understand, Lowell is a better player”, and if it doesn’t happen, you can turn and say “the Red Sox had the chance to improve on defense and not lose that much with the bat, and wen’t cheap”.
    Beltre>Lowell at this point in their careers, so the move isn’t that “confusing” at all. Regardless of the parks magical powers to heal.

    Brad December 11, 2009, 3:01 pm
  • Fenway helps right-handed hitters more. That really shouldn’t be a surprise.
    As for Lowell, I’m confused by trading him with $10M just to get back a middling 1B/DH prospect and open a hole in the lineup. Beltre’s defense is solid, but his bat is horrid even outside of Safeco. If you’re excited by Beltre, then you’re in the small minority of baseball fans.

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 3:07 pm
  • Again, nobody is arguing that Fenway helps righties, just as much as YS helps anyone with a bat.
    Your argument revolves around Fenway v. ability to recover from hip surgery. If a player is not able to move left and right as well as he once did, or is not able to swing as gracefully as he once did, what the heck does it matter what kind of fence is in left field? You said “Lowell gets the benefit…” because of Fenway park? Really? Your argument is that Lowell is able to recover because of the park?

    Brad December 11, 2009, 3:21 pm
  • So yeah, Paint me in the “small minority” if the Red Sox get Beltre since I think as a player, he’s better. Yes, he may not be the hitter, but who knows how he performs in Boston, but he’s much better with the glove, which is a glaring concern for Boston at that spot, and thus an improvement.
    Lowell doesn not equal Ortiz as a DH, so that argument is just not even worth getting into at any point at all. Maybe Ortiz doesn’t return to form, but maybe he does. Point is, you and I don’t know.

    Brad December 11, 2009, 3:23 pm
  • “just as much as YS helps anyone with a bat.”
    In its first season, YS actually slightly favored pitchers.
    “Your argument is that Lowell is able to recover because of the park?”
    It’s not about recovery. It’s about benefits. And year long trends from Lowell suggests his hip didn’t affect his swing. He started hot. Fenway helped there too.

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 3:26 pm
  • It’s not about recovery..
    No, it’s exactly about the recovery. Hip doesn’t effect the swing? Have you ever swung anything? Of course he started hot, but it’s not about the start – it’s about the finish. The wear and tear on a bad hip ultimately left Lowell unable to move laterally, jump, or run at all. It’s always easier to start than sustain, but clearly, you’re not understanding that.
    And, tell Johnny Damon how much YS helped the pitchers. As much as Lowell benifits from Fenway, Every left hand batter has the same advantage in YS, however that argument is better suited for a timeline longer than one season.

    Brad December 11, 2009, 3:36 pm
  • I have to side on Brad side of things here. I’m a big Beltre fan. I think the Sox signing Beltre would be a huge improvement for them now and going forward for the next few years (unless they have a super awesome third base prospect that he’s blocking-and I don’t think that they do–but I’m not positive about that–but I feel pretty sure they do not).
    If Ortiz can build on his second half of last season he is a considerably better DH to have than Lowell.
    Historically Ortiz destroys rightie pitching but he also hits Lefties considerably better than Lowell hits righties. The point in this case is that there are just more righties in any given season for a DH to have to face and Lowell doesn’t offer the same threat of hitting against the majority of the league that Ortiz does.
    I think that the other issue with the hip injury is that age/recovery is a big deal for certain kinds of injuries. In this case Lowell is at an age where the chances of a big bounce back season in the field (range wise) is less likely.

    walein December 11, 2009, 3:37 pm
  • I think it’s silly to say “As a DH, Lowell will have a better season than Ortiz.” At their respective ages, can we all agree that Ortiz has a much higher upside than Lowell? To say “Well Lowell will obviously be better because he’s a right-hander in Fenway” is ridiculous.

    Atheose - SF December 11, 2009, 3:47 pm
  • To expand on that: Ortiz has a career 1.000 OPS at Fenway. Lowell’s is .874. And yet you’re saying that, definitively Lowell would have had a better season at DH in 2010 than Ortiz would have.
    I hope this shows how silly that assumption is.

    Atheose - SF December 11, 2009, 3:52 pm
  • I don’t think Adrian Beltre will be significantly better than Mike Lowell with the bat. That said, Lowell is overrated because his hitting style loves Fenway Park, and he had an incredibly lucky 2007. He’s basically what OPS+ says he is — slightly above league average when you offset his low OBP with the fact that the Sox have an absurdly high OBP-based lineup that adds value to the slugging he has.
    Conversely, Beltre has been underrated because his hitting style hates Safeco Field (most hitting styles hate Safeco), and he had an injury-plagued year that hurt his production last season. In all, he too is basically what OPS+ says he is — slightly above league average, also offsetting his low OBP with the fact that his slugging should provide more value than normal because he’ll be coming up in a lineup with tons of OBP guys.
    In the last four years, Beltre’s road numbers have been:
    2006: .283/.343/.462
    2007: .288/.320/.538
    2008: .292/.349/.512
    2009: .279/.324/.393
    Versus Lowell’s home stats through the same period:
    2006: .260/.327/.436
    2007: .373/.418/.575
    2008: .254/.335/.431
    2009: .307/.344/.588
    Beltre away from Safeco has been better than Lowell in Fenway two of the four years Lowell’s been in Boston. Again, I see no reason to believe a healthy Beltre will not outperform Lowell offensively (i.e., do better than what Lowell has done in Boston) once he’s given Lowell’s home advantage.

    Paul SF December 11, 2009, 4:09 pm
  • Plus, no matter what ailments Beltre has with this knee or elbow, Fenway has magical powers to heal them, thus allowing him to be a much better player in the end.
    :)

    Brad December 11, 2009, 4:18 pm
  • I hope the Sox sign Beltre. Then we can read fantastical 2,000 word missives of cherry-picked stats throughout the next three seasons about how he’s really excellent even as 95% of the fanbase hates him and his sub-.320 OBP.
    Meanwhile, Lowell still has some defensive value. Ortiz has none. That’s why Lowell was worth almost twice as much in 2009 even as he played in 43 fewer games. Bah, but why quibble with the details?

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 8:47 pm
  • Of course, Lowell to Beltre is apples-to-oranges because of the different contracts. If the Sox were going to trade Lowell, why weren’t then in on Figgins? And why have they dithered all off-season? Hardy + Figgins has significantly more upside than Scutaro + Beltre.

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 8:51 pm
  • Beltre had 19 walks last year in 111 games.
    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your enthusiasm for him.

    Jeff December 11, 2009, 9:06 pm
  • I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m laughing at your poorly feigned contempt for everyone at this site. Just admit you love us and be out with it. It’s OK. We’ll all hug it out. I’ve never met anyone who just wants to be included. Changing names over and over, just trying to find one that will fit… It’s sweet, really.

    Paul SF December 11, 2009, 10:33 pm
  • I understand.
    I’m a Yankee fan and I really hope the Sox do not sign Beltre because I think all in all it would be a very good move for them. The talent pool at the hot corner is very thin because the best of the best are locked into very large and long contracts.
    Strong defense is important all the way around. I realize that this isn’t specifically a statistical argument I’m about to relay but I believe that besides the obvious benefits of not having extra runners on base because of poor fielding mistakes, that pitchers and fielders alike are made better when they have confidence in the people playing the field.
    The first baseman knows the throw is probably going to be on target, the pitcher knows that he can throw the 2 seam fast ball because he doesn’t HAVE TO strike out everyone with the fielders behind him. I’ve watched and followed too many games where young pitcher and veterans lost their s@#t after an error or two in the field.
    Also, there are so many times in the course of the year where a pitcher is having a rough go of things in the early innings and a good play or an error can turn a tough 5.2 inning 2 run outing, into a 3.1 inning routing (and flip that).
    Beltre is a terrific fielder and a strong batter. He isn’t the greatest hitter all around but he has proven to be productive even in terrible lineups.

    walein December 12, 2009, 12:41 pm

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