Derek Lowe

Derek Lowe Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Last year, I wrote about Lowe that “When dealing with pitchers, the most important thing to look at for the next year is not the age, but what they did the previous season… The main thing I look for when projecting pitchers forward is strikeout rate; if they’re losing strikeouts, they’re about to hit the wall.” So, the bad news is that Lowe had a 4.67 ERA last year, and an 88 ERA+ that was the worst since his rookie year, and that his strikeout rate went from 6.3 to 5.1 per nine. So yeah, it’s not too promising. Lowe has had rough years before, and his 2009 most resembles his 2004, after which he signed a four-year contract with the Dodgers and had maybe the best stretch of his career. Which brings us to his age, which was 32 then and 37 now.

He could bounce back; like I said, he has before. And he could learn to pitch with a strikeout rate like that, but if so he has to cut his walks, which also went up. He occasionally elevated his pitches, which led to more fly balls than usual, though his home run numbers didn’t go up much. His batting average on balls in play was way up, to .333 — which also happened in 2004. I kind of expect Lowe to improve in 2009, but that might just be to league-average or a little below. That has some value, but isn’t what the Braves are paying for. If the Jurrjens-Hudson-Hanson troika pitches like they did last year, Lowe is a good fourth starter, but if one of them isn’t effective or goes down… Effective as a hitter, hit .222 with 12 sacrifices.

78 thoughts on “Derek Lowe”

  1. He’s a guy who will, on average, give you 200+ IP with an ERA around the league average. If we were paying him half of what he’s making, he’d be a steal.

    But we’re not. So, we just have to accept the fact that he’s 45 million in sunk costs, and take what he gives us.

  2. The Braves and Lowe himself said a lot about a mechanical problem that he was struggling with during the season. I didn’t see it myself – anyone have a sense of what it was/is?

  3. #1 I agree. And we are going to have him for the life of the contract, so we had better learn to like him.

    At best he improves this season. But I’m inclined to just hope he has a gradual decline instead of falling off of a cliff.

  4. Lowe is too painful to think about.

    I think that Lowe will improve–but nearly enough to justify his contract. If he pitches like he did in 2009 or just a bit better we will have not only a bad starter, but one who will inhibit our roster moves for the next two offseasons. In fact, if Lowe does not improve substantially, then we may well look back and decide that the big story of this offseason, was Wren’s inability to move Lowe.

    Lets hope for the best….

  5. Jeff K.,

    I sensed that his problem wss related ot his blister problems. Those became public in early July (as I remmber) which was not too long after his performance started to dip. IF loss of control of his sinker was caused by the blisters and IF they can control the blister problem, then he hasa chance at s significant bouce back.

    However, I am concerned that the humidity in mid summer in Atlanta is a culprit in the blisters, so they will really have to be pro-active on that (things like sweat bands, etc.)

  6. I liked the Lowe signing at the time thinking Burnett or Sabathia were too injury prone and expensive for the Braves. It doesn’t look like such a good move in hindsight. Fortunately the Braves have more than enough other quality starters that Lowe’s mediocrity won’t be the reason they don’t make the postseason. His contract just limits their flexibility to upgrade the offense. Hopefully Heyward will make that problem moot.

  7. Hope he bounces back a bit though I’m not counting on it. We’re stuck with him. Nothing you can do. And he is one mean sweater.

  8. Derek Lowe is a sinker baller who had problems with his command last season (couldn’t keep the ball down in the zone), which is way obvious. But Lowe was not the “Ace” pitcher as advertised and hasn’t been since he was with Boston. Fourth starter is about right, overpaid is too.

    Take a look at his splits with the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine and on the road from 2005-2008:

    At Home: 33-22 3.55 ERA

    Road: 21-26 4.26 ERA

    and last season with our Braves.

    Turner Field: 6-4 4.28 ERA

    On the road: 9-6 5.05 ERA

    Simply put, if Derek Lowe isn’t in a pitchers park he gets lit up like a damn Christmas tree. To say that Frank Wren didn’t do his home work before inking Lowe for 4 years and 60 million would be an understatement.

    Lowe is however a winner and durable. Averaging 15 wins with 11 losses, and 33 starts per year over the last seven seasons since his transition to being a starter. I would expect him to do much of the same in 2010 barring injury.

  9. Really terrible news:

    Vandy signee Rajaan Bennett was shot to death by his mother’s ex-boyfriend.

    Great kid by everybody’s observation.

    Just damn.

  10. I was at a few of Lowe’s games last year. He was either way below the knees (for a ball) or belt high (yielding a line drive).

    It was ugly.

    Wren’s total lack of understanding his team led him to bid against himself and award the last of the great stupid money contracts which has hampered us ever since.

  11. 9—Great kid. Came from my high school, was headed to my university.

    Say a prayer or two for his family and friends.

  12. At Home: 33-22 3.55 ERA

    Road: 21-26 4.26 ERA

    Pitcher has better ERA in pitchers park, wins more games when team bats last! This is groundbreaking!

    Simply put, if Derek Lowe isn’t in a pitchers park he gets lit up like a damn Christmas tree.

    1998 – 2004 ERA+ of 127 in Boston, PF ~104.

    /eyeroll.

  13. Saw this on mlbtr. Apparently the Braves gave some 17 year old kid outta Spain a seven-year deal. Alejandro Sanchez? Anybody know anything about the kid? (sorry, if it’s been mentioned before) Also, how many ballplayers actually come out of Spain? Maybe its a hotbed of baseball talent and is just waiting to be mined.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/02/odds-ends-rockies-wandy-damon.html

    And the original article- in Spanish though.
    http://www.marca.com/2010/02/18/mas_deportes/otros_deportes/1266476324.html

  14. 12, your ignorance is magnificent as Derek Lowe didn’t become a full time starter until 2002.

    Lowe broke into the game in 1997, closed from 1998-2001 and has been a starter since 2002.

    Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. I mean, you like playing this little game don’t you???????

  15. Lowe broke into the game in 1997, closed from 1998-2001 and has been a starter since 2002.

    I am not sure how this pearl of wisdom supports your assertion that Lowe can’t perform outside of a pitcher’s park. Keep going though, you’re my favorite waste of time, to quote Marshall Crenshaw.

    Tell me again about your “starters perform better in a pitchers’s park” revalation. I was going to forward it to Bill James for further study.

  16. Oh, and Lowe had an ERA+ of 114 as a starter for games in Fenway. Man that guy just can’t pitch in that kind of park.

    Hey punk, add something to the blog instead of denigrating everything. Ok?

    Quadruple awesome – Ad hominem, and accusation of negativity from Coach. Consider my day made! Kisses!

  17. #19- Thanks for the link. God that kid looks young. I’m only 22 and I look like a rugged old man compared to that baby-face.

  18. Shawn–Thanks for the link and starting the discussion about Alejandro Martinez. Maybe Martinez will be able to help fill the void of quality infielders in the system….

  19. Spike–Going back to the previous thread–I should be around during the first week of March so meeting in Dubai looks good…

  20. Awesome. I’ll ping you when I get there – checking in on Sunday evening, trade show doesn’t start until Tuesday.

  21. @1,

    That got me thinking: how much is Lowe worth? I know there’s some stat/website to determine that, but I have no idea what it’s called or how to investigate it.

  22. @5 – I guess I believed that the “mechanical problem” was something apart from the blisters. Or maybe the mechanical problem contributed to the blisters. Anyway, I could never see any problem with his motion, but now I’m hoping there was, he corrects it, and has a bounce back year.

  23. Wow, wouldn’t have expected it to come in at 12M (though I recall Lowe not being bad the first couple months… and looking at splits he had a somewhat passable July… he was a disappointment surely, but not as bad as we remember really)… nice to see projections have him improving for next year to almost average out the two years of salary to what he’s worth.

  24. By the way, this Sanchez kid has a bit of a baseball pedigree. His dad is Panamanian and a baseball coach. Here’s a Google translation of the profile from the Spanish sports site.

    It’d be cool if he works out, certainly. Heaven knows we need more infield prospects.

    Hey, Stu, I’m deeply sorry. The Vandy community is in my thoughts today.

  25. watching this thread has been, well, interesting (to say the least).

    http://www.mister-baseball.com/atlanta-braves-signed-alejandro-sanchez-martinez/

    other signings

    http://www.mister-baseball.com/atlanta-braves-sign-2-players-tenerife-academy/

    http://baseballdeworld.com/2010/02/11/braves-sign-european-prospects/

    as a person living in Europe, there IS some talent here. there is MUCH in terms of tools (some guys can mash 400 ft no problem…hitting a curve, though, is a different story) but little in terms of skills. IF we get a foothold here for the best tooled kids, we could develop them and Europe could be the next Dominican Republic.

  26. #32+#33–It would be nice to stock up on some infielders before June, because this year’s draft appears to be heavily loaded with pitchers….

  27. @29, I thought the other way round actually, that the blisters caused the mechanical problem!

    Maybe he subconsciously changed his pitching action so that it wouldn’t hurt so much.

  28. Actually, Alex, I’ve heard there’s some reports Harper’s bat is a bit slow… when we trade for him we oughta ask for a little more in the deal for Jo-Jo.

  29. 36, or trade Jo-Jo Reyes for the first pick of the 2010 amateur draft. Funny idea ain’t it?

  30. P.S.

    Bryce Harper is going straight from the draft too the big leagues. Screw the minors, this kid is the real deal.

  31. N.B.: Sean is moving the servers sometime over the next few days. There may be some glitches and it’s possible comments will be lost. Sorry about that.

  32. Mac, how the hell are you doing? I haven’t seen a health update lately.

    I wish you all the best.

    Man, I can’t wait until we are watching our beloved Braves 5 days a week each night. It is my yearly comfort food.

    Is it just me or is it a sad statement on where the Braves are when they are in the HOT race for a 38-year-old Johnny Damon?

    What the hell is Dayton Moore doing? I think KC is regressing.

  33. If you recall the accountant fight we had a while back, one of my contentions was that teams make use of multiple revenue streams to hide income. The McCourt divorce is exposing this in gory details. McCourts were taking 2.3M per month, AND had both kids on salary at 600k “despite the fact that one is a graduate student at Stanford and the other works full-time for Goldman Sachs.”

    Money quote – “In 2003, the Dodgers reported a loss of $56 million. In 2008, they reported a profit of $23 million. (The Dodgers just about broke even last year, a high-ranking baseball source has told The Times, speaking on condition of anonymity because the clubs need not disclose financial results publicly.)”

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-mccourts19-2010feb19,0,2315522.story

  34. Best Wishes, Mac.
    Please look up Terry Pratchett’s acceptance speech for the Hornbook prize.
    What he says about librarians certainly applies to you.

  35. Rafael Soriano must be allergic to Florida.

  36. PW Hjort @#43:

    I’ve heard the exact opposite about the 2010 draft. I’ve heard that it’s deep and there are some VERY good players in it.

    IF we sign Edward Salcedo, we can consider him our 1st round pick (potential Chipper replacement).

  37. Chris–from what I have read the talent level may not be bad, but most of the best players are pitchers.

    It would be great to sign Salcedo (as well as the other position players from Europe) and then take advantage of the quality arms in the draft….

  38. yeah sdp, I’ve been reading those tweets too… my favorite one was the original version of:

    “What I mean to say: Wagner’s wardrobe stands out. Walked in today in brown cowboy hat, brown work boots, flannel shirt w/ shiny stitching.”

    which was a follow up to:
    “Billy Wagner has impfressed new Braves teammates w/ work habits and his persona.”

    And the original version was something like:
    “Wagner surprised his teammates when he came out today in a brown cowboy hat, brown boots, and a shiny flannel shirt”

  39. @56, re Braves trading for Adrian Gonzalez

    Proposed scenario
    ———————–
    Padres trade:
    1B Adrian Gonzalez

    Braves trade:
    RHP Kris Medlen
    RHP Arodys Vizcaino
    RHP Zeke Spruill
    RHP Robinson Lopez
    LHP Lee Hyde

    The Padres are probably better off just keeping Adrian Gonzalez and attempting to sign him beyond 2012. He is ridiculously cheap. He doesn’t hurt them in the short term and they don’t have to be bad forever.

    That said, if they felt the need to trade him I don’t think the theoretical Braves offer above is anywhere close to enough to get the deal done. You would have to heavily (over?)value Medlen for it to even be a halfway decent offer.

    In trading Gonzalez, the Padres would want at least one good minor league bat in return and then some. The Braves system lacks that commodity outside of Heyward really, maybe Schafer or Freeman if you squint and hope, and possibly Betancourt eventually but he’s so far away.

    Now if those guys could be traded for Gonzalez, do it yesterday, but I just don’t see it.

  40. @69, that said, PW’s analysis is a great read. I agree about the Braves’ location on the win curve (at least before the Melkpocalyse, which is why I hate, hate, hate that trade!) so by all means, you check out what it would take.

  41. Opening day in college baseball today. If you are a Longhorn fan, you can check my blog, which in many ways is inspired by Braves Journal :).

    longhorngameday.com

    The Horns opened with a 6-2 win over New Mexico, if you want to short version.

  42. I don’t know about Rick Wise — he put up barely better than league-average numbers during the Era of the Pitcher. And Maddux is so close to perfect that I dare not speak his name. But if Jurrjens could have the career of Dave Stieb… man, that would be awesome.

    Did they list any comps for Tommy Hanson?

    (By the way, Mel Harder would be an excellent name for a porn star.)

  43. #75–Or he could appear in the Swingtown program which you brought to my attention….

  44. I still want to know why this D. Lowe signing was ever considered a good signing by the Braves. It was awful. It set the club back 4 years.

    The braves biggest issue is that they are paying 2 37 yr. olds 28 million dollars this year, which is Approx. 30 percent of the payroll.

    Wren gave Chipper too much to stay, he gave Lowe too much too be here.

    You guys realize that Lackey is only making 15.25 mil a year after this one (he gets a first year bump counting bonus of 21.5 mil)

    If the braves had not signed Lowe, what would have been different? The team would have been in 3rd place in the division anyway. Javy would still be on the club, and the braves would have had the difference in his salary for an extra hitter on the cheap.

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