Jed Lowrie is hitting just .213 since coming off the disabled list in early August, including a current 0-for-16 slump, and yesterday the Red Sox infielder got a cortisone injection in an effort to play through season-long shoulder problems.
Lowrie missed six weeks after injuring his shoulder in May and told Jason Mastrodonato of MLB.com that getting the injection was an easy decision:
I wanted to do whatever I could to be out there and to help the team and really just get the shoulder feeling better. And [team doctors] said it would do all that. You play the hand that you’re dealt, but I think the hand I’ve been dealt right now, it’s tough to deal with. It’s tough to hit when your shoulder’s inflamed and all sorts of things are going on at once. I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure I can help this team win, however I can.
Prior to the injury Lowrie was hitting well enough to leapfrog Marco Scutaro on the shortstop depth chart, but at this point in the season he’s little more than a utility man. And at age 27 his lengthy history of health problems have kept Lowrie from emerging as a reliable regular.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.