The World Series is over which means it’s time for the
NBA season to get started MLB hot stove season to get started. In the next few weeks we should see a cornucopia of transactions ranging from meaningless trades to blockbuster signings. It’s these coming weeks that will play the biggest part in shaping the upcoming season for every team in baseball. Throw in the fact that there’s no NBA right now and even the smallest deal should make major headlines.
Things got started on Friday with the Indians coming completely out of nowhere to acquire veteran right handed pitcher Derek Lowe from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor leaguer Chris Jones. In the deal, Atlanta is picking up $10 Million of the $15 million owed to Lowe in 2012. This makes the deal a win for the Indians and a real no brainer. With Carlos Carrasco lost for all of 2012 thanks to Tommy John surgery, the Indians needed to find a competent right hander that could complete the rotation. For $5 million dollars, that’s not bad.
On the surface, the deal looks like a bit of a reach. Lowe finished the 2011 season 9-17, which admittedly is awful… there’s no denying or defending that. However, since 2002 Lowe has been one of baseball’s most consistent and durable starting pitchers. In that time, excluding last season, Lowe was 137-97 which is good enough for a winning percentage of .585. Throw in all of the playoff experience Lowe piled up from his time with Boston… and the few playoff seasons in L.A. and Atlanta… and you have to love what the Indians have added for 2012. I like the move. I like it a lot. I think Lowe is totally capable of a comeback season despite his age and all the piled up innings on that arm and again, at the price they acquired Lowe if he doesn’t work out we’re not completely doomed.
The Indians also decided to exercise the option on Fausto Carmona for 2012. Despite what many of you may think about Carmona and his performance in recent years, this was a move the Indians had to make. The free agent talent pool for starting pitchers this year is about as deep as one of those plastic molded kiddie pools you’d buy at Wal-Mart. Other than C.J. Wilson, who the Indians won’t be in play for, there is literally no one worth the time or money it would take to bring them to Cleveland. Carmona has shown flashes of the player he can be at times, but he just hasn’t been able to keep it together. That doesn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence, but with the addition of Derek Lowe’s leadership and a friend in Ubaldo Jimenez, maybe Carmona can find what’s been missing. It’s a smart, affordable move. Let’s just hope it all works out.
Monday was a sad day for women all across Cleveland. The Indians decided not to exercise their option on Grady Sizemore for 2012. I can’t say I blame them, the Indians that is. Sizemore hasn’t been able to stay healthy the past two and a half seasons or so. He’s suffered knee injury after knee injury and for a player whose entire game is built around speed that’s a huge problem. Paying $9 million dollars for a player who can’t stay healthy and strikes out more than any Indian in recent memory, just isn’t a smart move in a baseball sense or business sense.
But hold on a second! This doesn’t mean Sizemore is gone. I think there’s a very strong possibility that the Indians bring Sizemore back, but at a significantly lower salary and contract with a lot of built-in performance incentives. Everything you hear coming from the Indians indicates they still like him as a player and feel he can be a key contributor. It also doesn’t hurt that despite what’s happened over the past few years Sizemore is still a highly marketable player. There is probably also a fear of letting Sizemore go and then watching him regain his all-star form somewhere else. No one wants that.
So can I see Sizemore in an Indians uniform in 2012? Absolutely. Do I want him in an Indians uniform in 2012? I’m not really sure. In all honesty while I can see the value Sizemore could potentially provide after a full offseason of normal conditioning, he creates a log jam in the outfield and doesn’t solve the right-handed power issue. The most likely scenario is the Indians explore other opportunities and if they don’t line up well, then they bring back Sizemore.
So ladies, please… relax. Grady isn’t gone yet.