Tribe Reaching for Lowe?

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians picked up a former 20 game winner to add to their starting rotation. 

Unfortunately, Derek Lowe joined that club way back in 2002, ten seasons ago. 

Still, in trading for Lowe, who will be 39 on June 1st next season, GM Chris Antonetti made a low risk move, particularly since Lowe’s former employers, the Atlanta Braves, will pick up all but $5 million of his contract.

The Tribe reportedly gave up LHP Chris Jones, who has spent the last three seasons at Class A Kinston.

Last season, one of the problems the Indians’ starters had been the inability to soak up innings.  Justin Masterson and Fausto Carmona were reliable in doing this, but with various degrees of effectiveness.

But Josh Tomlin usually can give you six innings at best and the rest of the rotation was about the same.  This created an overload for a very good bullpen.

Lowe will be a remedy for this if he can pitch well.  Since becoming a starter in 2002, the right-hander has thrown at least 182 innings every year, topping out at 219 in ’02. 

He had a poor season last year, going 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA, and he had a terrible September, with an ERA of almost 9.00.  Prior to that month, his figure was 4.54, not great, but respectable.

But the previous two years, he was 16-12 with a 4.00 ERA in 2010, and 15-10, 4.67 in 2009. 

At this point in his career, he’s a back of the rotation guy, and he should project as the Indians’ fifth starter behind Masterson, Jimenez, Tomlin, and Fausto Carmona, whose option was picked up for 2012.

Lowe is another sinkerballer, just like Masterson and Carmona.  In fact, he ranked 2nd in the big leagues in keeping the ball on the ground. 

The veteran is making a little less money than Carmona, and could be a suitable replacement if Antonetti decides to deal the inconsistent righty.

It would free up another $2 million to use in a deal for either a right-handed stick or another reliable starting pitcher.

The commitment to Lowe would be the same as the one to Carmona, who has another club option for the 2013 campaign.  Lowe is a free agent after next season.

You also have to like the move because it was made immediately after the off-season started.  The last few years, the Indians have waited and waited and wound up with the dregs of the market, guys like Chad Durbin and Austin Kearns.

Antonetti saw a team looked to dump a contract, pay the bulk of it, and also saw a veteran who is durable and can help a staff soak up innings.  It’s a bold, decisive move.

It appears the front office is going into attack mode this hot stove season, and they are going to do what they have to in order to make the Indians a contender in 2012.

As for the other moves made on Monday, it was nothing unexpected.  Carmona is still a viable, though inconsistent arm who can provide innings.

The organization passed on Grady Sizemore’s option and that was the correct move, based on his injury problems over the last three seasons.

Sizemore played hard here, and here’s hoping he can get healthy and go back to being a productive player.  There should be no regrets if he does.  Paying him $9 million next season is simply not something the Indians can afford to do.

Today the American League Gold Gloves are announced.  There’s a good chance that Asdrubal Cabrera will win at shortstop.



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