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.


  • Timmy

    Look we have a dearth of experience, talent, and professionalism on this current team. A guy like Lowe could put in 150-200 innings when healthy as a #5 starter and school some of the younger guys. Lowe at his best was pretty good, he’s just in the twilight of his career. I say for a good rate he’s definitely worth signing.

    • Patrick

      I thought in the off season when we passed up other cheap veteran players we more or less proved that we weren’t going to sign guys just to come in for influence. Also, it wouldn’t be a good thing if we signed him, he came in went 0-5 with a 4+ ERA, hes going to be down in the dumps and wouldn’t be teaching much of anything I imagine.

      • Timmy

        All good points — but for a small contract it’s worth the gamble. We lost big on the trade market and there’s just not a lot to work with at this point. Can’t just play rookies for 4 years until something works.

        • bbmoney

          How’d we lose big on the trade market? I mean we gave up some MLB players for prospects obviously, but that doesn’t mean we lost. Unless you’re just saying we lost some experience.

          • Timmy

            Actually this whole conversation, and the lack of available free agents over the next few years, is making me super depressed. Maybe this whole blowing up the team without a plan wasn’t such a good choice? Our best trade piece that we got was a guy currently without an arm.

            • bbmoney

              “Maybe this whole blowing up the team without a plan wasn’t such a good choice?”

              I don’t even know what to say. This is going to take a couple years. But this is the plan. I’m not sure what you were expecting to get for 2 months of Ryan Dempster and a SP we signed off the scrap heap. Plus we’ve still got our most valuable guy who we refused to move for less than full value because of a freak injury. We’re building for 2014 and beyond by being agressive in the foreign FA market before the spending cap came in, trading verts who have no long term value to us, and through the draft. I for one was sick of the ST band-aids and quick fixes tried by the previous FO.

              • Timmy

                I like this comment — thanks for the positive spin bro!

  • Dustin S

    I’m with everyone else and would rather see what Volstad and company have with the rest of this year. But trying to think what the FO might be thinking I am guessing it would have to be 1 of 2 things. One thought would be that they think they might be able to get him for nothing now, have him get on a nice streak, and turn into a small trade chip in early 2013. The other more likely thought is that Theo has said that the Cubs owe it to ticket owners and fans to keep a (somewhat) competitive team on the field. Lowe at 39 wouldn’t help much anyway I doubt, but we’ll probably still see them mix in a few vets like they did this year with Wood/Camp/etc. They don’t want to completely trash ticket sales with a team made up of all 22 year-olds that wins 30 games in 2013, even though it might make the most sense from a pure rebuilding standpoint.

    It looks like the Lowe question might be moot anyway though, the Orioles and Red Sox also have interest for some strange reason. In Lowe’s shoes either of those choices probably make more sense than the Cubs. The Cubs aren’t a very good fit for him from his standpoint either unless he has no other options.

  • Jim

    If I am going to watch the Cubs lose, I would prefer it to have possible glimpses of the future. I can see signing a 30 year reclamation project in hope you can spin then for value, but giving a guy on his last legs really doesn’t do anybody any good.

  • Nick Pipitone

    I really don’t see why anyone is shocked by this. Theostein wants guys to get innings in the minors, Volstad is terrible, and Lowe is cheap. He’s a veteran leader who has a ring. And he’s theo’s old buddy. I’d rather watch Lowe than Volstad. And as one astute commenter said, maybe a new team will bring out the best in him.

  • baseballet

    My guess is that the Cubs are worried that they need some warm bodies to eat innings so that they don’t kill the bullpen. Maybe just promoting from the minors wouldn’t achieve that if the FO believes that their AAA guys wouldn’t last four innings in starts in the majors.

  • donnie kessinger

    Lowe comes with his personal catcher… Koyie Hill – It’s a package deal!

  • Cubs1967

    Hello theo; it’s a tanked season! Going for the draft pick! Forget Lowe. Where’s Vitters & BJax?

  • http://Bleachernation.com Ramy16

    I think we should pick up Lowe… His ground ball rate is ridiculous His issue is when he leaves his slider up.. No skin off our ass for picking him up

  • fromthemitten

    The upside is not having Casey Coleman pitch every five days

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He’s not pitching now. But, that’s kind of beside the point, right? If Lowe is better than Coleman and helps the Cubs win a couple more games … so?

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  • 2much2say

    Theo alluded to turning Maholm and Johnson into prospects on the cheap. Lowe may be that next year.

  • 2much2say

    Grab some veterans cheap trade them for prospects.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/laughhammer Bill In Plainfield

    I just don’t want 39 years old and declining. If you wanted to keep an elder statesmen on the squad to school the young guns, you had that in Dempster. You also could’ve convinced Wood to retire after the season if that was the case. I like what the Cubs did in bringing up Vitters and Jackson today. I’m looking forward to Vitters hopefully fitting in with the rest of the infield. That infield could have the potential to be awesome defensively. Castro is improving by leaps and bounds, Barney is gold glove caliber, and Rizzo looks like a natural at 1st. If Vitters can flash some good leather at 3rd, Jackson can do his thing in center, the next thing we’ll need is starting pitching, middle relief, and a closer. The Cubs are giving me a good feeling going into to next spring. Now I’m off to watch some preseason football.

  • Heath S.

    Hey Theo, let’s forget this rebuilding stage we are in. Hell you got nothing for Ryan from thee Rangers. I would like to see the Cubs win a championship before I die. That was one hell of a Trade Theo by trading Big Z for the loser Chris Volstad and letting A-Ram going to the Brewers and get a nobody that is on the DL in Ian Stewart.

    Good job Theo and the gang.

    • Jack Weiland

      This is probably the least informed/most irrational stance you could take.

      But thanks for playing!

  • http://ticet.org Voyage

    Je m’appelle Faye.
    J’ai 27 ans .
    Mon boulot: aide vétérinaire … Je suis plutôt d’un naturel enjoué.

    • college_of_coaches

      Du baseball comme dans le temps.