"Cleveland Indians designate Derek Lowe for assignment."
Lowe, now 39 years old, has struggled mightily for the Indians of late. He's 0-3 with a 15.88 ERA in his last three starts after getting pounded by the Royals (2 1/3 innings, eight hits, seven earned runs) on Tuesday. It was a fall from grace for a pitcher who was 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA back in mid-May.
Any chance he could help the Red Sox? Lowe spent eight seasons with the Sox from 1997-2003, winning 70 games with a 3.72 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in the clinching game of all three playoff series in 2004, and still has strong feelings about the organization.
In February, before reporting to Cleveland's camp in Arizona, Lowe dropped by JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers to watch Tim Wakefield's retirement ceremony. Lowe told me it was a "no brainer" to come to the event since Wakefield — and the Sox — meant so much to him.
In 2004, Lowe proved that he can handle adversity. He was knocked from the rotation for the playoffs, but pitched the 10th inning of the Game 3 win over the Angels. He got the start in Game 7 against the Yankees (after the rotation had been torn to shreds) and started Game 4 in St. Louis.
He then left as a free agent, signing a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Now, he is nearing the end of his career. These may be the final two months of big league baseball for Lowe. The Red Sox, batting an uphill battle on the public relations front, could use a little goodwill. There's no doubt the fans would love to see Lowe back in a Sox uniform.
That said, you don't make baseball moves for publicity reasons. You do it to improve the team, and it's uncertain that the addition of Lowe would do that.
Yet, there is little downside to such a move. Lowe is making $15 million this season, but the Braves are paying $10 million of it as part of the trade that sent him to Cleveland this offseason. While he has struggled, it could be because he is unable to keep up the workload over an entire season. A break now, and a very pitcher-friendly schedule for Boston (The Sox have six days off over the final seven weeks of the season) could help Lowe get back in the groove.
It’s also hard to imagine Lowe posting worse numbers than his fellow sinkerball pitcher Aaron Cook. Cook is 0-3 in his last three starts, giving up 15 earned runs and six homers in 15 innings. The losses came against the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Tigers — teams the Sox are trying to catch in the AL standings.
Signing Lowe might not help the Sox, but it wouldn't be a costly mistake. And maybe, just maybe, returning to Boston would help Lowe wrap up his big league career with two good months.
At the very least, he could give them a little more pitching depth … something Boston is always on the lookout for.