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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
Dodgers fans, meet the Gidget.
Dodgers sign Derek Lowe.
More affectionately known as the mental gidget, or simply Gidget for short, Derek Lowe somehow finagled a four year deal from the Dodgers. He also managed to extract $36M for his services.
In case anybody forgot, Derek Lowe had a 5.42 ERA last season. He's now making more money (and for more years) than other free agent signings like pitchers Kris Benson, Matt Clement, Kevin Millwood, Odalis Perez, John Lieber, Brad Radke, and Matt Morris. All of those pitchers I'd rather have than Lowe, and I like the guy more than most, just not more than Paul DePodesta it seems.
Now that I think about it, Matt Morris has had better years than Lowe the last two seasons, has better career numbers, and is two years younger. And Morris got a one-year $2.5M contract with incentives. Somebody get to Morris, tell him to fire his agent. If I were Lowe's agent (the incomparable Scott Boras) I would place a friendly call to Morris and ask him what he thought of Lowe's new deal.
Derek Lowe is a good pitcher, with tons of talent. Lets not so quickly forget his very strong career as a reliever, and the Cy Young-caliber season his first as starter. His second year, in 2003, was not so successful. He was really hit-lucky in 2002, and was decent at times in 2003, but struggled with his control for most of the year. In 2004, most people figured he'd be somewhere in the middle, maybe with an ERA around 3.50, and 15+ wins. That didn't happen. Not even close.
Having followed the Red Sox a little too closely, and having been utterly frustrated by the inconsistently disappointing pitching of DLowe, I think I'm in a great postion to question what in god's name the Dodgers are thinking?
People always ask why DLowe has pitched like crap for the better part of the last two seasons. A lot of easy answers are out there. Most people just say he's a headcase and leave it at that. There is another, more accurate reason, that is just as quick and easy: its his control.
When Lowe is going good, he hits his spots, locates his fastball, and gets people to pound groundballs by throwing mostly sinkers at the knees. When his control is off, or when opposing batters lay off the sinker, or when some combination of the two exists, Derek Lowe is painful to watch.
I mean really, really, bamboo shoots under the fingernail, painful. And as if his 5.42 ERA wasn't painful enough, don't overlook the fact that he also had 28 more unearned runs (6.8 runs allowed per nine innings). And I watched them all, a lot of those should have been charged to Lowe. Here is how a typical DLowe implosion went: bleeder through the hole, bleeder through the hole, error, walk, walk, bleeder, towering home run off a 3-1 fastball letter high.
And with a poof, four or five earned-unearned runs later the Red Sox are down 6-0 before Tito could mercifully rescue Lowe from his own ineptitude.
Now, I'll go on the record as saying Lowe will have a good season next year. Dodger Stadium will help him, as will the best defensive shortstop in baseball in Cesar Izturis playing behind him. The Dodgers know that, but by nature of the four-year $36M deal, the Dodgers are also saying that the last two seasons were the flukes, and not 2002.
I think thats a very dangerous way to spend $36M. I could see some team giving Lowe a one or two year deal for around $4M plus incentives that could make it worth $9M. I certainly would have. But to risk $36M to see if his control will magically return is idiotic in my mind. And I like the guy.
Expect to see a lot of the "Derek Lowe Face" in LA next season. If you don't know what that is, you will soon.