For the second year in a row the Astros have traded away a late inning reliever in exchange for a starting shortstop. Newly acquired Jed Lowrie will be the Astros primary SS this season. Last year Clint Barmes provided some much needed stability at the position. But Barmes became a Free Agent and his price tag was too high for the rebuilding Astros. Lowrie doesn’t possess the outstanding defensive skills displayed by Barmes, but should be an upgrade offensively.
Lowrie, who turns 28 in April, has a .252/.324/.408 career slash line in 256 big league games. Barmes has almost identical numbers in those categories, but eight seasons in Colorado may have helped to pad his stats. Lowrie got off to a torrid start with the bat last season, hitting .368/.389/.574 in April. He cooled off a bit in May and wound up hurting his shoulder in a May 29 collision with Carl Crawford. Lowrie’s numbers suffered as he tried to play through the injury. Lowrie hit the disabled list in the middle of June when Red Sox doctors diagnosed him with a strained left shoulder. Eventually the Sox would send Lowrie to see Dr. Lewis Yocum for a second opinion. Yocum changed the diagnosis to a bruised nerve and determined that surgery would not be necessary.
The switch-hitting Lowrie was unable to swing a bat for a month. After a minor league rehab assignment Lowrie finally returned to action on August 8. But the shoulder flared up again and Lowrie continued to struggle. He missed more time with the injury before receiving a cortisone injection in mid-September. Lowrie said that the injury hampered his swing from the left side and went on to say that he is now fully recovered. Let’s hope that’s the case. If healthy, Lowrie could find himself batting fifth in the Astros lineup. Lowrie had an excellent second half in 2010 and a great start to 2011. This could be an excellent trade for the Astros if Lowrie can put up the same type of numbers he did before the injury.