It was only a few days ago that we were all stressing over the concept of having too much pitching, floating trade ideas for Brad Penny, and wondering if Smoltz's arm would fall off pitching on a major league mound. Well with Dice-K going to the DL, Smoltz still being alive, and Brad Penny producing quality start after quality start, the stress has somewhat subsided.
Enter Mike Lowell's surgically-repaired hip. Since waking up with stiffness on June 18, Lowell is just 1 for 14 and has started just four games for the Sox. Right now, the Red Sox are in Baltimore, ready to kick off a three game series against the O's, but Lowell sits up here in the rainy paradise that is Boston. He is scheduled to have a shot of a lubricating gel today, which may help to coat the joint and relieve some of his stiffness. The key word there is MAY. The gel has been known to work for some, while doing absolutely nothing for others (including Tito himself).
Tito has not ruled out a stint on the DL for Lowell, and the longer this stiffness goes on, the more likely it seems to occur. Lowell's bat is certainly a significant one in a lineup that prides itself on its depth.
Sure Mark Kotsay has been playing pretty well in as a filer, but he's a role player for a reason, and constant starts may expose his weaknesses. With Kotsay at first, the outfield depth suddenly becomes an issue, especially with the seemingly constant band aids of JD Drew and Rocco roaming around out there (ITM note, Drew has been relatively healthy this year, but his production numbers are concerning).
The last related concern with Mike Lowell's hip to consider is Kevin Youkilis and his recent struggles to hit while manning the hot corner. He is hitting just .250 in 11 games while playing third base, managing to whiff 14 times in 36 at bats.....not very Youkilis-like. It could just be a individual slump regardless of position, but it's something to keep an eye on for sure.
This might be ITM making a mountain out of a mole hill, hopefully Lowell needs a week or two to get himself right, but if this becomes an extended issue, the Sox may have different needs come the trade deadline.