Sunday Morning Baseball & Breakfast: Mike Lowell Rumors, Joe Mauer's "Cold" Streak, and Your Days Are Numbered?

Does anybody want Mike Lowell?  Anybody?  Bueller?

Kind of like the useless rumors of the Mariners sending Jose Lopez to the Twins, or the maddeningly recurring rumors of Jarod Washburn signing with the Twins, for some reason somebody thinks that Lowell would have a purpose on Minnesota's 25-man roster.

While the Twins front office, and correctly so, has questions about Lowell's health and ability to play defense (even more so considering his ridiculous salary), apparently the field staff has rallied in their support of him.  And it's not only the Twins, but apparently the Rangers, White Sox and Mariners have "expressed interest".

I'm sorry, but does this strike anyone besides me as obscene?  Let's point out a few reasons why anybody choosing to deal for Lowell might be insane, and a few reasons why the Twins, specifically, should stay away.

  1. Mike Lowell is 36.
  2. His 2010 salary is $12 million, which means that any team picking him up would have to try and get Boston to eat the pro-rated portion of his remaining contract.  Right now that's somewhere between $7 and $8 million dollars.
  3. He can't stay healthy.
  4. As a result of #3, the Red Sox have given Lowell just 32 innings at third base this season (over four games).  He's also recorded 31.2 innings at first base.
  5. Lowell is batting .227/.326/.373 in just 75 at-bats.
  6. The Twins already have a pair of designated hitters in Jason Kubel and Jim Thome.
  7. The Twins already have one player who can't play any defensive position in The Gentleman.  Sure, Lowell isn't positionless, but he's the next best thing.  Let's not restrict our bench options any further.
  8. The reason the Twins didn't re-sign Joe Crede was because he wasn't a guarantee to stay healthy.  Additionally, a lot of people have already expressed their displeasure with what appears to be a trend with the Twins:  injured guys who take up a roster spot without hitting the disabled list.  For both of these reasons, there is no plausible explanation for wanting to acquire Mike Lowell.
  9. If the Twins want Lowell and magically get Boston to pick up the tab, we'd still have to give them something.  And anything is too much.

Most recently, Buster Olney has said there isn't a real active trade market for Lowell.  Thank the baseball gods for that.  I can't wat for this to end.

Mauer's "Cold" Streak?

It's something to say when a guy is batting .318/.396/.453 and it's considered a "down" time.  But it's true for Joe.

Since May 18, Mauer is hitting .264/.354/.368.  That's a period of 23 games and 99 plate appearances.  In this stretch he's still picked up nine doubles, and the walk-to-strikeout ratio is still good at 12-to-9...but this isn't the typical Baby Jesus we've come to know and worship love.

None of this is to say we should be worried.  Everyone hits cold streaks, and he'll ride another hot streak eventually, but it's worth pointing out.  Because, having said that, in those 23 games Mauer reached base in 20 of his 22 starts.

Your Days are Numbered?

There are changes on the way.  Of course, a lot of that will be over the next eight days as both Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy come off of the disabled list, which is when things should get interesting.

Hudson - As he comes off this week, it's likely that Trevor Plouffe's second stint with the Twins will come to an end.  This will leave Minnesota's infield as:  Morneau, Hudson, Punto, Valencia, Tolbert and Harris.

Hardy - When he returns next week, the smart money would be on either Tolbert or Valencia to get sent back to Rochester.  But consider this:

There are two questions a team has to ask when making a major move:  what's best for now, and what's best for the future?  Right now, the answers to those questions are the same.  Maybe the Twins start by sending down Tolbert and keeping Harris on the bench, but at some point Harris needs to prove that he can play, and play better than his numbers right now.

Along the same lines as Harris, there has to be a tight leash on a couple of relief pitchers.  None tighter than Jesse Crain's.

It might be next week, and it might be next month, but Pat Neshek will eventually work his way back into the Major League bullpen.  Additionally, pitchers like Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney and Jeff Manship are knocking on the door.

What's frustrating the most about Crain is that he'll pitch well for a week and a half, and then blow up.  Most recently, Crain has allowed five runs in two appearances after a streak of eight appearances without allowing an earned run.  How long can a $2 million dollar reliever pitch inconsistently for, before he's taken out of any kind of a leverage situation?  And if a $2 million dollar reliever can't be trusted to pitch in big game situations, then what?

His peripherals aren't bad.  He's still striking hitters out, and his velocity is fine.  But at some point he has to stop allowing crooked numbers in streaks.

That's all I'll say for now.  It's too early in the day to get frustrated.  I'll see you for the game!

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