Monday, August 04, 2008

Jed Lowrie is a Lugo Upgrade, Please Keep Him

Bit of a slow news day, I guess, because the Herald decided to remind us of the existence of Jed Lowrie, "plugging" - as they put it - the hole at shortstop left by Julio Lugo and his DL stint. I think the Herald's being a little generous: saying that Lugo's departure left a hole in the lineup and on the field implies that we're actually missing the only player in Keep Your Sox On history who's managed to get his own hate tag. So much for Lugo, but besides being a breath of fresh air, how good has Lowrie been in comparison?

Surprise, surprise: that breeze you're feeling isn't imaginary. Lugo's hitting 19 percent worse than the average player in 2008; Lowrie, 2 percent better than average. Limiting the data to the 13 games he's started since Lugo's blessed departure (the length of time, I feel, that he's really been able to start proving himself), Lowrie's BA/SLG/OBP looks even more attractive: .317/.400/.415, far above what Lugo's put up for the year. Terry Francona calls Lowrie "Bill Mueller-esque," a comparison that - beyond its connotations for a possible Green Lantern-like passing of the Pro moniker to Lowrie at some point in the future - speaks well for Lowrie's success as a hitter, particularly taking Mueller's better years into account. There's also Lowrie's error-free defense, with its (much) higher fielding percentage topped on the same range factor. Overall, it's a compelling package for an upgrade, further floated by Lowrie's age: he's 24. Lugo's 32. Lugo's best days are behind him; Lowrie's got reams of potential. Maybe Lugo will be part of a late-season deal when he comes off the DL? Is that too much to hope?