Beckett trade rumors warm the Stove

The Florida Marlins are doing all they can to add fire to the Hot Stove. Reports out of Miami have the Marlins on the verge of completing a trade involving fireballer Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell.
These reports, however, are hazy as to the final landing places of these two fish. One story has Beckett and Lowell heading west to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Hank Blalock and a pitching prospect. The other rumor has the two Marlins heading north to Boston with the Marlins landing Hanley Ramirez and either Jon Lester or Anibel Sanchez in return.
The bigger rumor right now appears to be the one that has Beckett heading to Texas. If this were to be the case, it’s hard to see how this trade works out for either team.
First, the Marlins play in one of the best pitcher’s parks in the Major Leagues. According to Baseball Reference, Pro Player had a pitching rating of 95, clearly favoring pitchers. Meanwhile, Ameriquest Field in Arlington had a pitcher rating of 103, favoring hitters.
Beckett’s home/road splits for 2005 (and beyond) show a pitcher who has clearly benefited from a friendly home park and World Series exposure. In 2005, Beckett threw 91 innings at home and 88.2 innings on the road. At home, he gave up just 64 hits and 5 home runs while pitching to an ERA of 2.47. On the road, he gave up 89 hits and 9 home runs while hurling a 4.31 ERA. For his career, his home ERA is 3.15 while his road ERA at 3.83 is nearly 0.70 runs higher. His biggest struggles have come in Wrigley Field and at Chase Park (formerly the BOB in Arizona), two stadiums similar to Ameriquest.
Meanwhile, the other key part to this trade — Hank Blalock — has exhibited similar trends. Playing in hitter-friendly Arlington, Blalock hit .297/.361/.534 with 20 home runs in 313 at bats. On the road, he hit .231/.276/.335 with 5 home runs in 334 at bats. Like Beckett, Blalock’s career lines reflect similar trends. At home, he is a .310/.379/.548 hitter while on the road, he is a .238/.296/.396 hitter.
Last season, Mike Lowell, the Marlins’ third baseman, was awful. He hit just .236/.298/.360, and the Marlins are looking around to unload his contract. However, if history is any indication, if they ship Beckett and Lowell to the Rangers for Blalock and a pitching prospect, the Marlins will be out a top-line starter and will be trading Lowell for a younger version of his 2005 self.
Meanwhile, the Rangers will ship their 25-year-old third baseman out of town and get a 32-year-old third baseman making more money and facing his career decline. They’ll also land a fragile power pitcher who isn’t particularly good at keeping the ball down and is long used to throwing in a pitcher’s park.
While this may make sense economically for both teams, from an on-field standpoint, it’s hard to see the Rangers or the Marlins benefiting too much from this deal. The Red Sox, on the other hand, would be a good fit, but I didn’t include them here because I don’t see them giving up two prized prospects in this deal. If that scenario becomes more likely, I’ll revisit the Sox side of things.
But my final verdict is that this trade is a wash for both teams and neither team will get the players for which they thought they were trading.


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