I expected today that fans would receive confirmation the the Indians declined Grady Sizemore’s option, and picked up Fausto Carmona’s option. However, I did not expect to see that the Tribe traded for pitcher Derek Lowe.
I have mixed feelings about the Lowe trade, but overall I think it’s a positive move. The Indians did not surrender much for him – just 23-year-old Class-A reliever Chris Jones. The Braves will pay $10 million of Lowe’s $15 million 2012 salary, so the Tribe only contributes $5 million toward a solid, veteran starter. That’s actually kind of a steal on the Indians’ end.
Now the negatives – Lowe posted an 8.75 ERA this past September, which aided Atlanta’s collapse and loss of the Wild Card to the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s had mediocre numbers with Atlanta since he signed with the team in 2009 (an ERA north of 4 each year), but his ground ball rate in 2011 was second in all of Major League Baseball. So while Lowe’s best days may be behind him, he still maintains a respectable strikeout rate, and a good ground ball rate.
When I talked about what I’d like to see this offseason, one of the things I mentioned was a veteran starter to fill out the rotation. I wasn’t calling for some dynamic All-Star pitcher either; just someone who could eat innings and provide leadership to some of the young pitchers on the staff. I think Derek Lowe is a good fit in this regard. While he’s not exactly the pitcher he was in Boston, or even Los Angeles, he still maintains a good ground ball ratio and eats innings – he’s averaged 180+ innings a season, every year since 2002. He’s been in pennant races and has success in the postseason, something that could come in handy if the Tribe is able to contend in 2012.
So I guess before the end of October, the Indians pretty much have the 2012 rotation worked out (barring any kind of off-season injury). Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin, Fausto Carmona and Derek Lowe will be the starting five for the Indians next season. At one point or another, Jimenez, Carmona, and Lowe have all been considered #1 starters…you have to hope they can recapture just a little bit of that glory for next season.