Now that the dust has settled around the Jed Lowrie trade we can reflect and begin to see what the A’s actually received in the deal as well as how the A’s plan to use Lowrie. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the A’s potentially landing Lowrie from the Astros, but that GM Billy Beane was refusing to meet the asking price that Houston was looking for. Beane eventually pulled the trigger on the deal sending Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi to Houston for Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez. Beane would later say last week that the trade did not happen until Rodriguez was added in.
Lowrie, who played shortstop with the Astros and, prior to that, with the Red Sox seems to be an extremely valuable piece for the A’s to now have. Manager Bob Melvin mentioned at the press conference that Lowrie will be used as a Michael Young type player. What this means is that Melvin will use Lowrie as a super utility, or in the A’s case a super platoon, player. He will split time at all the infield positions and be in the lineup nearly every day.
Lowrie is a commodity the A’s have not had in recent years. He is an above average defensive player, but also an above average offensive player. In the last couple of seasons the A’s have had injuries in the infield that they could not withstand or replicate the production from the position with in-house players. Players like Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard, and Daric Barton have been the fill-ins but have rarely produced offensively. It is here that Lowrie is a clear upgrade. Most teams do not have a player who can fill in at any time at any infield position and that can still provide offensive value giving the A’s an advantage over the course of a season. On a Sunday afternoon series finale back-ups usually see their first playing time in a few days giving the regulars a rest, but Lowrie will be playing nearly every day and will be fresh. This is a difference in value that Beane saw and capitalized on. Having a better offense on the field every three days equals out to 54 games. That could lead to a few extra wins throughout the season. With the Angels spending spree and the Rangers always being dangerous the A’s will need all the value from their lineup everyday that they can get.
One potential downside, as my colleague mentioned today, is that Lowrie prefers to play up the middle rather than on the corners of the infield. Lowrie has not been a part of a winning team in a couple of seasons so I think once he gets going in spring training he’ll adjust to the new positions and be the player everyone in the A’s organization wants him to be.
Lowrie is a clear upgrade as I showed a couple of weeks ago. He brings good defense and an offense that will improve one of the weak points of the A’s roster last year. If he can adjust to the different positions and stay healthy there is no stopping Lowrie from being a major impact in the A’s lineup in 2013.