When the Red Sox signed Mike Lowell to a three-year extension after his 2007 World Series MVP performance, this was not the ending they had in mind.
Perhaps Mike Lowell's 2007 was a bit of an outlier. He had two comparable offensive seasons before, in 2003 and 2004, but the fact that his 2008 numbers were similar to his 2006 season should not have been a surprise to anyone. Still, Mike Lowell flashed a plus glove for much of the year, and he wasn't too far off being worth his $12.5 million contract, if at all.
It is what transpired halfway through that season, though, that would lead to what must, inevitably, be the end of Mike Lowell's time in Boston, when he suffered a hip flexor injury. Lowell continued to play through the injury, and after eventually undergoing surgery, his mobility in the field vanished, and with it, his defensive value at third.
Now Lowell spends his time on the bench, filling a role that simply does not exist on this Red Sox team, and occupying a valuable roster spot that's really hurting the team's positional depth.
There's certainly no need for a backup first baseman on this team. If Kevin Youkilis ever needs a break, Victor Martinez can take over just fine while Jason Varitek takes over behind the plate. Even against lefties, the Martinez – Varitek combo (with Victor at DH) makes more sense with both players decimating left handed pitchers.
And what are we giving up with Lowell on the roster? By being forced to use just one roster spot for two positions (backup middle infielder, and fifth outfielder), the Sox are sacrificing competence in the field for so called "versatility" in Bill Hall.
While Hall has managed to avoid being a complete loss with the bat to this point (whether or not that will continue is entirely questionable—he's looked really bad at many times, and seems to just be getting fewer pitches in the zone for whatever reason, bolstering his walk rate), he has been absolutely painful to watch in the outfield. Bad jumps and misplays have been the routine for Hall. And if Marco Scutaro's various medical issues put him on the DL at all, it could be a few painful reminder of how badly shortstop has often been fielded in Fenway if Hall should try to cover the position again for the first time in four years.
Mike Lowell was a standup guy for us, signed for less than he could have gotten elsewhere.
This is not how we expected this to end, or certainly how we wanted it to end.