Thursday, March 14, 2013
Lowrie's role in Oakland
By Doug Mittler
Jed Lowrie's fortunes changed dramatically when he was traded from the Astros, a rebuilding franchise that had a major league-worst 107 losses last season, to the Athletics, who won a division title in 2012 and are expected to compete again in 2013.
Oakland acquired Lowrie and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez for first baseman Chris Carter and two minor leaguers.
Lowrie played exclusively at shortstop last season but previously had played also first, second and third base during his four years in Boston. He will need to show his versatility again, since the A's still plan to play Japanese import Hiroyuki Nakajima at shortstop, as A's general manager Billy Beane insisted.
Nakajima actually indicated to the club that he would be willing to play anywhere, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, but the A's want him to focus on shortstop. It's a lot like the Yoenis Cespedes situation last year, when Oakland helped the Cuban outfielder -- new to MLB and the USA -- get acclimated to his new life by keeping things simple and familiar on the diamond.
There are plenty of opportunities for Lowrie, though, including at second base, where Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks are expected to stage an open competition. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle points out Nakajima is still “something of an unknown quantity” at shortstop, and Josh Donaldson did not stake his claim at third base until late last season. With nothing etched in stone at any of the infield positions, Lowrie is likely to see time all over.
ESPN's Tristan Cockcroft explains why Lowrie might just be a fantasy sleeper:
Tristan CockcroftLowrie's hidden value
"Lowrie's horrendous reputation in the health department actually does us a favor by scaring off enough folks that he'll sneak through at a deep discount at what is truly one of the weaker positions in fantasy. Between all the bumps, bruises and Acme safes that have fallen on him (stop chasing that Road Runner, Jed!), Lowrie has sported a walk rate better than 10 percent and fly ball rate greater than 50 percent in his career. He's a little Josh Reddick-/Brandon Moss-ish -- and I'd argue with the better discipline of the three -- and those two clubbed a combined 53 homers in 2012."