February 24 – Happy Birthday Mike Lowell

I remember when the Yankees dealt their young third base prospect, Mike Lowell to the Marlins after New York had traded for Oakland’s Scott Brosius, in 1998. I was surprised by the deal because though Brosius was certainly a fine third baseman, the Yankees’ had been touting Lowell as a future star back then. Brosius of course went on to have a super 1998 season and postseason and worked his butt off during his four years in pinstripes.

But Mike Lowell turned out to be an even better ballplayer and a class act in the clubhouse. And he would come back and haunt his former franchise for dealing him. He spent seven solid seasons with the Marlins and in 2003, he led them to the World Series where the Fish pulled off an upset 4-games-to-2 victory against the Yankees. That regular season, Lowell set career highs with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs.

By 2005, Florida was looking to unload its highest price players. Red Sox GM, Brian Epstein wanted the Marlin’s top starter, Josh Beckett. In order to get him though, the Boston GM had to give up four Red Sox prospects, including Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez plus also agree to take Lowell and his $18 million worth of remaining salary. Any regrets Boston might have had about having their new third baseman forced upon them were immediately lessened when Lowell had a solid 2006 regular season, hitting .284 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs and providing real good defense at the hot corner. Those regrets completely disappeared in 2007, when Lowell set new career highs in RBIs (120) and batting average (.324) and led Boston to an AL East Division title. He then averaged .352, smashed 18 hits and drove in 15 runs in the Red Sox’ 14-game ’07 postseason, which culminated with a second ring and a World Series MVP award for Lowell.

Epstein rewarded Mike with a new 3-year $37 million contract but that ’07 playoff run would turn out to be the high point of Lowell’s career in Beantown. During the next three seasons, a chronic hip ailment began that would eventually force him into retirement after the 2010 season.

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