My first thought when seeing Beckett and Lowell to Texas for Blalock and a prospect was, "Wow, what a steal for Texas." When the prospect gained an identity, I backed up like sort of like this. Danks is not an established commodity, whereas Beckett seems to have become one. Granted, that established commodity is a pitcher who cannot make 30 starts a year in any given year due to health problems, but he is established and very effective when he does pitch. Of course, outside of Florida he has a 3.83 career ERA, which is not bad at all, but I'm sure Arlington would love to knock that into the low-to-mid 4.00 range. He is a slight groundball pitcher, with a 1.25 G/F the past two seasons and a 1.14 mark for his career, so it is not like he is a flyball pitcher who may get knocked around elsewhere, which does give some hope for success in Texas. I do not feel that it is an extreme enough groundball figure to save him though. Let's not forget the fact that Beckett would all of a sudden also find himself in a league with the Designated Hitter, which is not as much of a problem in the AL West as it may be in the AL East, but it will still tack extra runs on to the board. Also, the track record of NL pitchers converting to the American League has not been so hot as of late, although Beckett, in anywhere except Texas, may do better than former teammate Carl Pavano did in his American League debut this year. It is possible that we are undervaluing the importance of the talent differences between the two leagues, and maybe even the difference by having the DH, although I prefer to think of the former first.
As far as pitcher worth, it really depends on what school your from. Do you prefer established major league veterans about to hit their prime? Or would you rather wait for your own prospects to come up through the system in the future? Danks did after all get hammered in Double-A in 17 starts, but he is only 20 years old, and the main problems were homeruns and walks, which over time should come down. Texas, barring some major offseason moves to their lineup in the OBP department and pitching staff, do not look ready to compete as of yet. Trading for Beckett (and sticking Lowell in at third base) certainly do not qualify as moves that will allow the Rangers to instantly compete against the Athletics, Angels, and even the Mariners when they are finished. If they deal Danks (the future) away for Beckett and Lowell (the present), then they should do their very best to move any other pieces like Blalock that cannot hit on the road or carry down their team in other ways. Moving Alfonso Soriano for either more pitching help or someone who may be able to hit on the road (or field...fielding helps too) might help justify the deal between the Marlins and Rangers. With those qualifiers out of the way, let's take a look at Lowell versus Blalock to see what, if anything, would be gaind by dealing away a younger player who may or may not be a legitimately good hitter versus an older player with old player skills who may be on the downward spiral.
Lowell's Established Performance Level looks very good thanks to his 2003 and 2004, which we cannot entirely discount. It is interesting to note that Lowell's decline may have started midway through the 2004 season, which makes 2005 less of a surprise.
mOPS is modifiedOPS, developed by our own SalB, and the formula is (2.2*OBP)+ISO. This eliminates the double counting of singles by OPS and weights OBP properly. The league averages for mOPS in 2004 and 2005 were .892 and .874 respectively. Lowell seems to have started his decline in June (or August if you count July as a rebound and June as a slump) and it continued onward into 2005. His 2005 season line looks better than his season really went, thanks to his July where his mOPS rose all the way to .975, well above league average. Of course, it quickly fell back down to .710 the next month. Putting Lowell into Texas would certainly help to sweep some of the decline under the proverbial rug, due to its nature as a severe hitter's park, but he does still have to play 81 games on the road, and they would look very much like his 2005 season if we are to believe this graph. As for Blalock and his home/road splits:
Florida should not want any part of Hank Blalock in their home ballpark. His road stats are awful, even worse when compared to his home statistics, and moving to the pitcher's haven in Miami is not going to help things any. Unless Blalock can get back to 2004's somewhat above average road mOPS, he has no real value to the Rangers, since he is a hole in the lineup 81 games a year. Mike Lowell may be the same way though, and there is less chance of improvement from him at this stage. Coupled with the aforementioned point that this team will not immediately be a playoff caliber team after making this trade, and it is obvious that Texas should bail out immediately. Interesting side note: If Tom Hicks is orchestrating this trade after naming Jon Daniels General Manager, is it possible Daniels leaked it to the media in order to kill the trade via the increasingly critical press and public? Probably not, but something to consider anyways if you like conspiracy theories.