Playing in Boston, New York, Philadelphia or even Chicago is just plain different. There is nothing like the bright lights of the big city, if you produce. That is the root of how you’ll fair with the fans and media of those cities, can you produce and sustain it. Jed Lowrie knows the expectations that can be placed on a young player and how quickly it can come crashing down. One day, the starting shortstop for the mighty Boston Red Sox, the next moment on the DL, again. Two things bug big market media and fans more than anything, lack of production and injury prone players- they will just not have any of it. Lowrie felt his share of criticism and after the Sox finally gave up on the young shortstop, he now finds himself in Houston. The great city of Houston is a completely different creature, pressure will come eventually but not right now. The Astros’ organization is rebuilding and Jed will attempt to do the same with his career.
Why did the mighty Red Sox give up on a potential masher at the shortstop position? It could be a variety of things, including the aforementioned health issues that linger with Lowrie. It could also have been the fact that Marco Scutaro is coming off a good year and a bit more dependable in the field. Both reasons are very possible but what might have been the biggest reason is simply patience or the lack of it. From their point of view, how could they afford to wait on the 27 year old 1st round pick any longer? The Red Sox are in a win now mode and they very well know it. They can’t afford to show patience when other options are available. With all that said, a curious thing happened a few months after dealing Lowrie, they traded Marco Scutaro to the Rockies. The Boston Red Sox have no legitimate option at shortstop, they simply don’t and they did it to themselves. If the seed had been planted to move Scutaro, why move Lowrie before him. Could it be that they figured prospect Jose Iglesias, their shortstop of apparently right now, is ready? He is ready defensively but offensively he will struggle. But do the Red Sox even care though, with their lineup? The Astros might have taken advantage of a perfect situation, an undervalued player with some obvious warts becoming available. The Astros don’t have that worry about time, they will be more than happy to let Lowrie develop into the player that he could become.
After Clint Barmes, the Astros best shortstop in almost half a decade, decided to leave for greener pastures, it created a full blown mess at the position. Angel Sanchez, as we’ve discussed before, isn’t a starting caliber shortstop even on a rebuilding club. Marwin Gonzalez, a rule 5 selection, has potential but also must stay on the 25 man roster if the Astros truly want to keep him in the organization and simply isn’t ready for everyday duties. So that led Jeff Luhnow moving his closer for Lowrie in a trade that, to be honest, pleasantly surprised the masses in Astroland. Melancon was viewed as a good reliever who would do just fine as a stop-gap closer but not the future. Lowrie, even with prospects hot on his trail, is viewed as someone that could grow and be a core member of the Astros today and tomorrow.
Some experts predict that Lowrie will never stay healthy enough to make that big of an impact while others say he shouldn’t even be given the shot to prove doubters wrong. I keep hearing that he is simply a utility guy and nothing more. I, along with the Astros, disagree with that thought process. I mean the guy has played shortstop on a contending club and done relatively well, when healthy. During last April, when the Red Sox were desperate for offensive help, Jed would have a very impressive OPS of .962 while hitting .368. Lowrie hit well enough in spurts that you could even say he carried the Sox for stretches, when healthy. Now that doesn’t sound like a traditional shortstop does it? Ah, but the caveat in all of this is health. Can Jed Lowrie buck his depressing trend and stay off the disabled list? To be fair, the last few times have been freak occurrences but they happened nonetheless. A lot of those same people who question Jed also point out, if by the odd chance he can stay on the field, he can do some serious damage with the stick. Buster Olney caught up with Jeff Luhnow and he appears to be seeing some of the effect that Lowrie might have on his younger players, already.
"Jed Lowrie looks like a 10- year veteran in the way he does everything."
Clint Barmes did damage but I believe Lowrie can do more and, again, if healthy could make his acquisition one to remember much like another deal in which we sent a reliever to Boston for a pretty successful infielder.
As I write this, I notice I have included a lot of “if”s, sadly that is where the Astros and Lowrie are at this time. They both need to take a few chances to make their relationship work. We have to play a dangerous game with Lowrie’s expectations and that is the assumption game. We have to literally assume Jed will, for the first real time in his big league career, stay healthy. If they get the type of production that Jed showed last April then the assumption made by Luhnow would have been the right call and made the Astros very happy.