Not wasting any time at all. After declining the option on Grady Sizemore and picking up the one on Fausto Carmona, the Cleveland Indians struck the first deal of the Hot Stove season. A veteran pitcher is coming to Cleveland and it's now clear what mind-set the Indians are in as this offseason gets underway.
I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. This team wasn't going to sit back. They may not have a lot of cash to throw around, but you knew Chris Antonetti was going to get creative to improve this team if they were going for it. And you knew they'd be going for it after the Ubaldo deal in the summer.
So here we are. The Indians receive Derek Lowe in exchange for Chris Jones, who pitched with Kinston last year in a relief role. Put up decent numbers, but pretty much not someone who you are going to be crucified for giving up, even if he turns into anything at the major league level (and that is a small chance, and if he does, it's nothing more than a reliever). They also take on just $5 million of his owed $15 million in salary for 2012. He will be a free agent after this 2012 season, so it is essentially a one-year rental. And it makes sense with Carlos Carrasco out for the year that you would get someone for one season.
In addition, the Indians picked up the slightly less expensive option on Fausto Carmona, which means that their rotation is complete baring any unforeseen circumstances. They also declined that $9 million dollar option on Sizemore, which is a no-brainer in my estimation. That doesn't mean anything in terms of him not being here next year, but I think both Sizemore and the Indians knew he wouldn't be back with the Indians for that much money and I do not think Sizemore would blame the Indians for not picking that option up.
So I wouldn't rule out his return.
Let's look at Lowe here first.
First off, you know you can count on him to be there. He's pitched in at least 180 innings since 2002 and he was just shy of 190, which is the number he's reached every other year except in 2011 and 2004. He's won a title with Boston, having pitched clinching games, he's been to the postseason multiple times with the Dodgers, Red Sox, and last year the Braves. In fact he has a 3.12 ERA in 12 starts (23 games). He's been around. Have the numbers he has put up the past few years been stellar and what he was doing from the years he was with LA and the final few in Boston?
No, but here's the thing with a guy like Derek Lowe. You put a solid defensive squad behind him in the infield and you will have a chance with him. Plain and simple, he's a version of Jake Westbrook and if last year was any indication as to what the Indians CAN field defensively, then I like the move for that simple fact. The Indians can field a solid defense behind this guy who is a ground-ball pitcher.
You also have to look at two other factors in this. just look at what they are giving up and what they have to pay. $5 million dollars out of the $15 he was owed? Can you find a pitcher like Lowe on the market for that price? I see Mark Buerhle, CC Sabathia (if he even gets there), CJ Wilson, Edwin Jackson, and that's pretty much it. Lowe is a quality arm that you know what you get and you are not paying an arm and a leg for. The prospect you gave up, Chris Jones, is a decent one, but not anyone that is making you ponder hard about making the deal for. This is a creative deal for an Indians who need to be making creative deals if they want to make moves.
Lowe just strengthens this team's pitching depth all around. It would have been another fifth spot rotation battle and with the way people went down last year, it just reinforces everything. Now you have Huff, Gomez, et al in Columbus just in case, rather than all competing for one spot and having to play musical starters if one did not work out.
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