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Another day passed, another trade rumor thrown out the window and the question Theo Epstein has been facing for nearly a month remains.
What do the Red Sox do with Mike Lowell?
Lowell, an elite third baseman for the majority of his career, has found himself to be the odd man out in this year’s Red Sox team and has sat on the bench for the majority of the last month. Not too long ago, when David Ortiz was stuck in his vomit-worthy early season slump, it looked as if Lowell would be thrown back into the lineup as a designated hitter. However, with Big Papi’s resurgence, Lowell is no longer needed to fill that void.
Why not give Lowell playing time at third base, the position he played in four All-Star games? Two words: Adrian Beltre.
Beltre has rejuvenated his career this season, already accumulating numbers that nearly eclipse his full season statistics from last year (2009: 8 HR 44 RBI, 2010: 7 HR 40 RBI). With Beltre playing at the level he is, both offensively and defensively, Boston has no reason to tinker with their lineup. Even if Lowell is successful in a short stint at third base, he would be, at maximum, a formidable backup to Beltre.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona even tried Lowell at first base for two games this season, but again, regardless of how well Lowell might play there, barring injury, that is Kevin Youkilis’ position for as long as he wears a Red Sox uniform.
The only viable option for Epstein is to make a trade.
Easier said than done.
Many teams have been rumored to be interested in trading for Lowell in recent days, such as the Rangers, Angels, White Sox and Mariners. However, all of them were quickly denied. Of all those teams, Seattle makes the most sense for Lowell. The Mariners are in dire need of any form of offense, as Casey Kotchman and Jose Lopez have essentially been absent at the plate the entire year.
At this point, the Red Sox have made it painfully clear that Mike Lowell is no longer in their plans and that they are looking for a trade. Where to? That remains to be seen.