Lowe Working To Turn It Around

By: T.J. Zuppe

Right-handed pitcher Derek Lowe had some issues he needed to work through in the offseason. Following a September collapse by the Braves, he had a pretty good idea it would be somewhere else.

Atlanta dealt the veteran righty to the Indians on the last day of October and from that moment, Lowe knew he would have to work even harder to improve on his disappointing season in 2011.

After all, the 38-year old hurler lost 17 games last season. He attributed his performance to one big factor when he chatted with members of the Cleveland media on conference call.

Indians Pitcher Derek Lowe

“I got in such a mechanical funk… and I couldn’t stop it,” Lowe said. “We tried to change it in a short period of time and it didn’t happen.

“You learn from what you were doing and you make sure you don’t do it again.”

He has already started working on those mechanics over the last month, making positive muscle memory a top goal in the coming months.

Lowe is ready for the challenge and is excited to pitch again for a good ballclub. He joined the Really Big Show on ESPN 850 WKNR and noted not every team can compete. That is why he is excited to join the Tribe.

One thing you do not doubt is his durability. An innings eater, Lowe regularly comes close to 200 innings and 30 starts every season.

Even though he admitted some luck is involved, the rest is no accident.

“Hard work is something that I’ve always kind of believed in,” Lowe said. “I love the game. I enjoy putting in the time. For me, its more mental. It’s putting in the time and effort to be able to make every start.

“That is the number one important thing; to be able to pitch every five days.”

One of the biggest reasons general manager Chris Antonetti invested five million dollars to add such a playoff veteran pitcher was the influence he could have on a young rotation. Headed by righties Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting staff could use a back-end anchor with leadership qualities.

Lowe takes pride in that role.

“Spring training is going to be so important for everybody,” Lowe said about getting to know his new teammates, on WKNR. “I love working with young pitchers to try and advance their career, and that is what I’m going to try to do.”

Lastly, Lowe spoke highly of his new place of work.

“I feel that city is a great baseball city, Lowe said of Cleveland. “We have got to work harder to get those people back in the stadium.”

If he rebounds to win double digits, posts 200 innings and leads the team to the playoffs, he will have done his part. That should not be so hard, right?

Follow TJ on Twitter @TJZuppe


Tribe Goes “Lowe” Risk, Lands Arm

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.

Cleveland's Newest Arm - Derek Lowe

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.

Follow TJ on Twitter @TJZuppe

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