By: T.J. Zuppe
In what is shaping up to be a busy start to the Indians offseason, the Tribe fired another shot towards attempting to make the club better in 2012. The team added depth and innings to its rotation by trading for right-handed pitcher Derek Lowe from the Atlanta Braves.
In return, Cleveland sends Atlanta Class-A minor league relief pitcher Chris Jones, but more importantly, some salary relief.
Lowe is owed 15 million dollars in 2012, which will be split between the Braves and Indians. According to several outlets, Atlanta will pick up roughly 10 million, leaving Cleveland to pay the remaining amount next season.
The 38-year old starter had a rough season last year, going 9-17 with an earned run average of 5.05. He won 16 games in 2010.
The two-time all-star brings one distinct thing with him to his new squad – innings and lots of them. Since 2002, Lowe has averaged 203 innings per season, the fewest being 182.2 in 2004.
With a rotation anchored by Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin, Fausto Carmona and now Lowe, there is will be a great deal of innings eaten by the starting five – on top of a lot of ground balls to be had for the Indians’ infield.
While there are a plethora of questions regarding how much Lowe has left in the tank and what his effectiveness will be, there is little doubt that an inning-eating veteran was at the top of the club’s list this offseason.
Lowe will be asked to hold down one of the last two spots in the Indians starting staff, provide some depth in addition to provide his valuable playoff experience on a young club. That experience could prove to become the most important portion to his add.
While his performance will be indicated on the hill, the team should be commended for its savvy in picking him up. General manager Chris Antonetti gave up a former 15th-round pick in Jones, who projects more as a left-handed specialist years from now.
Also, owing Lowe five million dollars in 2011 makes him the ultimate low-risk, high-reward the Tribe should focus on. If Lowe does not pitch well next season, the team can feel good about moving in another direction quickly.
If he responds, the Indians will have a dependable horse to ride into another pennant chase, with the track record to help those young arms along that need someone to lean on.
Hard to find the negative there.
After all, it is pretty difficult to sneeze at the seven different trips to the postseason, or the career 3.21 ERA in October. Not to mention, a career 7-2 record against the Detroit Tigers, with an ERA of 1.87.
The next move is on Lowe’s shoulders to respond.
Bottom line: You truly can never have enough pitching and it appears the Tribe is adopting that slogan heading into the winter months. He will bring some veteran moxy and presence to a staff that needs it.
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