When the Cleveland Indians designated pitcher Derek Lowe for assignment on Wednesday, I regarded the news with almost no reaction. There was no obvious connection to the Cubs – what use to they have for a 39-year-old, poorly-performing starting pitcher? I didn’t think much about it.

But then Gordon Wittenmyer tweeted this:

Facing post-deadline depth issues, Cubs looking into DFA’d pitcher Derek Lowe.

I mean, sure, the Cubs do have some serious starting pitching depth issues. But what’s the upside in grabbing Lowe? An added win or two this year? How much value does that really have?

Isn’t it more valuable to get a full and complete picture of what you have in guys like Justin Germano and Chris Volstad? Maybe they’ll end up getting blasted as starters for the rest of this year, but, when the offseason rolls around, don’t you want to have complete confidence that you don’t want to keep them? Doesn’t letting them show what they can do make that decision easier and more informed?





Or maybe the Cubs should want to look at a fringe AAA starter or two in these final months. Chris Rusin? Brooks Raley?

How would giving Lowe starts help the Cubs for 2013 and beyond?

I suppose there’s a tiny chance that it improves the likelihood he would, for example, sign a cheapo contract with the Cubs in 2013, but, again, is there a lot of upside there? He’s in serious decline (that happens to 39-year-olds), and hasn’t had a 100 ERA+ season since 2008. There’s very little reason to believe he suddenly turns that around next year, in his age 40 season.

And, given his relationship with the guys in the front office, might he sign a cheapo deal with the Cubs in the offseason anyway?

Ultimately, this isn’t a huge story. The Cubs, as we’ve learned, will explore just about every available option, so the fact that they’re looking at Lowe doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot of anything.



Even your worst case scenario here isn’t all that terrible – the Cubs pick him up, he sucks, and the Cubs lose the opportunity to give a couple more starts to, for example, Volstad. Shrug.

The medium case scenario has Lowe serving as pure depth, and starting only when the Cubs absolutely need a starter. The best case scenario is he shows up, pitches well, and the Cubs finagle a cheap contract for a guy who proves to be an adequate fifth starter in 2013.

 


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