The Treebeard Problem and Other Things on Theo Epstein's To Do List
This Column Originally Published at GetOutofMyBallpark.com
We all know how it works. As soon as you get comfortable, you realize there is a whole crapload of stuff that you still need to do. It's the same even for Theo Epstein, whose arrival at spring training isn't the end of his winter's work, just a change in location.
Other than deciding on the two or three spots on the bench and in the bullpen that haven't been settled yet, Epstein has plenty to do. Fortunately for him, I'm here with some solutions.
1. The Treebeard Problem. Seems like no matter how hard he tries, Epstein just can't get rid of that damned Mike Lowell. After 2007, when he was a free agent, Epstein tried to lowball him in the hopes that he would go to the Phillies and break down physically there. Didn't work, and Lowell took a shorter deal to stay in Boston (I really can't blame him).
After 2008, he attempted to sign Mrs. Leigh Teixeira (does it surprise anyone that the Yankees keep finding douches to sign?), which would have sent Youk to third and made Lowell the odd man out. We all know what happened there. This winter, Epstein tried to send Lowell to the Rangers (along with $9 million) for Max Ramirez, but his injured thumb got in the way of that one.
He was severely limited defensively last season but hit 17 home runs and had .811 OPS in 119 games. He is still a viable offensive force, and if his hip and thumb can get healthy he will still be able to catch the ball with the best of them (not Beltre, but all the others). The real problem is that he simply doesn't have a spot on this team unless the Sox want to carry two DHs (or something terrible happens).
Not a bad idea, considering Ortiz' struggles in the first two months of 2009, but not something I can see them doing. The most likely move is another trade, possibly the same one as before, but not until Lowell can prove he's healthy, and according to reports, not likely before the regular season. If the move for Max Ramirez is still on the table at that point, and no better deal is out there, Epstein should definitely go back to that well.
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