Sell High On Mark Lowe?
We’ve talked the Washburn/Bedard trade possibilities to death. However, the most interesting story surrounding the team right now is what they’re going to do in the next month to re-shape the roster for the rest of 2009 and beyond. Those two aren’t the only ones they’ll have to make decisions on, however. I’d like to suggest that now might be a great time for the organization to consider trading Mark Lowe.
Every year, there are teams out there pursuing relief pitching at the deadline. This year is no different, with Colorado, Minnesota, Detroit, Philadelphia, Texas, Florida, and both Los Angeles teams looking to pick up a relief arm to bolster their chances for a playoff run. On the flip side, the M’s have bullpen depth, thanks to the breakout of David Aardsma and the impending return of Shawn Kelley, plus the expected 2010 arrival of Phillippe Aumont and Josh Fields.
Given the way the market is shaping up, I’d like to suggest that the team make Mark Lowe available for offers. He has a lot of things going for him that would make him an attractive trade piece – He’s just 26 years old, makes the league minimum and isn’t eligible for free agency for four more years, has a sparkly 3.28 ERA, and his 96.2 MPH average fastball is the fifth fastest in baseball.
To teams looking for bullpen help, Lowe should have significant appeal. He doesn’t come with a prohibitive contract. He isn’t a rental player. His velocity suggests closer potential. And, in the stat that still dominates how people perceive pitching quality, he’s doing well already.
Of course, we’ll just have to hope they don’t notice that Lowe isn’t actually pitching all that well. While his strikeout rate continues a disturbing nosedive, his walk rate is still above four, and he’s giving up more fly balls than ever. His 3.60 FIP is deflated by the fact that only 2 of his 38 fly balls have left the yard. In addition, Lowe has basically stopped throwing his change-up, which has made him ineffective against left-handed hitters.
Lowe isn’t a bad reliever, but he’s not a particularly good one either. There’s potential there for more, but for whatever reason, he’s regressing instead of getting better. As a guy who has found his velocity again after recovering from arm surgery, you’d like to see improvement in his strikeout rate, but we’re getting the opposite from Lowe.
He might still put it all together, and there is potential in a guy with a 96 MPH fastball and the ability to throw two secondary pitches. But if you’re looking for a guy who could probably bring back more in trade than he’s worth, Mark Lowe would be a prime candidate.
The last time Jack traded an overvalued relief pitcher, it worked out pretty well for us, I’d say. We’re not going to get the next Franklin Gutierrez for Mark Lowe, but I’d bet he could fetch a pretty interesting player. More interesting than a right-handed relief pitcher with a strikeout rate headed the wrong way, anyway.