Friday, December 18, 2009

Derek Lowe & the rush to judgement

Derek Lowe did not have a good 2009. One year after accepting a 4 year, $60 million contract to come to play for the Braves, Lowe is all but being run out of town on a pole. Wren may have no choice but to trade Lowe at this point, as all the trade talk understandably has the veteran righty all hot and bothered.

Though there may be disagreement about the order I have chosen, few would dispute that the following are the Braves' top starters going into 2010.

1) Javier Vazquez
2) Tim Hudson
3) Tommy Hanson
4) Jair Jurrjens

The uncertainty in the rotation arises from the fifth starter spot. Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and (maybe) Kris Medlen are Atlanta's most viable contenders for the vacancy. It seems that everyone is assuming that Derek Lowe isn't the Braves' fifth-best starter. I don't think this is a safe assumption.

At minimum, I think Lowe is at least as good as Kawakami going forward (and probably better) and also happens to have a long track record of being an outstanding MLB pitcher. Consider two pitcher-seasons:

Pitcher A: 1.8 K/BB 42%/39% GB/FB ratio
Pitcher B: 1.8 K/BB 56%/26% GB/FB ratio

Which do you prefer? Pitcher B? Me too. You, my friend, have just indicated that you preferred Derek Lowe's 2009 to Kenshin Kawakami's.

Sure, at $15 million a year, Lowe is badly overpaid. But, in a league where contracts are guaranteed, bad investments are sunk costs. And when you're dealing with sunk costs, you have to forget the fact that Lowe is overpaid and go with the best player.

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