D-Lowe: Renaissance man

June 11th, 2007 → 8:21 am @

From today’s David Carr column on sorting through medical information on the web:

“Derek Lowe, a research scientist who has worked for pharmaceutical companies, writes a blog, In the Pipeline. ‘It is falling into a fairly predictable template, in part because we have had a number of drug safety issues and scares, so this story ends up getting slotted into the same mold as Vioxx on parts of the Web,’ he said in an interview. ‘So we end up reading about the evil mustache twirlers in Big Pharma who knew it was toxic and marketed it anyway.'”

He went on to explain the physics behind the sinker and also discussed the subtleties of sports psychology.

Post Categories: Derek Lowe

OK, Gammons, enough cribbing off my blog (The Derek Lowe Year-End Wrap-Up)

October 4th, 2006 → 5:12 pm @

Remember the item I posted yesterday? You know, the one looking at how Pedro had broken down blah blah blah. I ended by saying, “More year-end wrap-ups and report cards — as well as a look back at the free-agent pitching class of 2004 — in the days to come.”

And then today, Peter Gammons has an ESPN column on…Pedro and the free agent class of 2004! Yeah, I’m so sure you just came up with that on your own, Gammo. It’s not like you revolutionized baseball writ…oh. Anyway.

For those of you without ESPN Insider, Gammons’s piece makes a Pedro observation I hadn’t even realized: that since July of 2005, the right arm of god has gone 12-13. Ouch.

Then, Gammons takes a look at the rest of the pitchers who came on the open market in ’04. After Pedro’s 4-year/$52 million deal, there was Carl Pavano’s 4-year/$39.999999 million deal, Lowe’s 4-year/$36 million contract, and Russ Ortiz’s 4-year/$33 million windfall. Neither Pavano (4-5) nor Ortiz (5-19) has managed to even win 10 games in ’05 and ’06 combined, and only Lowe has thrown more than 400 innings (at 440). In fact, out of all of the free-agent pitchers available after the ’04 season — a class which includes Matt Clement (3 years/$25.5 million), Eric Milton (3 years/$25.5 mil), Jaret Wright (3 yrs/$21 mil), and David Wells (2 yrs/$8.2 mil with plenty of bonus clauses) — Lowe’s the only guy who’s thrown more than 400 innings. Pedro and Derek and the only two guys with ERAs under 4 (3.37 and 3.62, respectively), and out of a class of 12, only six guys — Pedro, Derek, Wells (18-12), Wright (16-12), Jon Lieber (3 yrs/21 mil, 26-24), and Chris Benson (3 yrs/$22.5 mil, 21-20) — have winning records.

So what does that tell us? Well, that old straw about pitching being notoriously hard to predict is, in fact, true. And I don’t think there’s a Red Sox fan alive — or a member of the team’s front office — that doesn’t wish the team had re-signed Lowe instead of picking up the equally mopey but not nearly as durable Matt Clement. But what’s made Lowe so valuable isn’t that he’s been that good; a lot of his peripheral numbers, including batting average on balls in play, have been fairly similar in LA compared to what they were in Boston, suggesting that, had he been pitching in the AL East the past two years, he likely would have ended up with a record and an ERA somewhere between what he was doing in ’03 and ’04 — sucking — and what he did in ’05 and ’06. (In Boston, Lowe’s lack of success and his poor BABIP numbers corresponded pretty starkly, which could be due to crappy defense or could be do to the fact that batters pound the ball when they see hanging sliders. But I digress.)

Does that mean the Sox made a mistake when they didn’t even offer Lowe a courtesy contract? Yes and no. The Sox were worried about that Lowe’s off-field activities would become a distraction…and they were right. If Derek had been in Boston when he left his wife for a sportscaster, we’d still be reading about it. And Pavano and Clement were widely considered the two best pitchers of the class (or at least the two pitchers with the most upside)…and not just by New York and Boston.

But looking back, Lowe (and arguably David Wells) has been the best pitching deal of that year. Lowe likely had more pure physical ability than anyone else on the market (and yes, I’m including Pedro), and he’d already shown a remarkable ability to stay healthy. Hindsight being 20-20 and all, both of those things were clearly undervalued.

As it is, Derek Lowe will go down in Red Sox history as a) one-half of one of the great heists of all time (Lowe and Varitek to Seattle for Healthcliff Slocumb)*, b) a remarkable bargain for the years he played in Fenway, c) the inspiration for Bill Simmons’s best-ever coined phrase (the Derek Lowe Face), and d) the only man alive to clinch the deciding game in all three rounds of the playoffs. That’s a great resume.

Right now, it would be awfully nice if Lowe was adding to that resume. I was firmly in the camp of people who thought it was a mistake to offer Lowe a contract. I still understand the reasons why I thought that. I also see much more clearly how important a pitcher’s physical history and his ability to succeed in a specific environment should be taken into consideration.

* It’s amazing how many lopsided trades Boston has had a part in: Ruth; Parish and McHale for Joe Barry Carroll and Rockey Brow (not that simple, but still); Bagwell to the Astros…and then there’re the trades that included future Sox stars, like then-Oriole Curt Schilling, et al, to the ‘stros for Glenn Davis and then-Dodger Pedro to the Expos for Delino DeShields (I shit you not.)

Post Categories: 2006 Wrap-ups and report cards & Derek Lowe

At least Derek Lowe learned something about Grady Little in 2003…

June 23rd, 2006 → 12:15 pm @

…namely that this is a man completely undeserving of respect. (It’s a good thing they don’t care about baseball in LA.) From today’s LA Times:

“Lowe (6-3) was pitching one day earlier than expected because Brett Tomko fouled a ball off his left foot during batting practice Wednesday. After the eighth inning, Manager Grady Little shook Lowe’s hand in the dugout as if to say his outing was over.

Lowe’s reaction? ‘I told him, ‘I’m not coming out,’ ‘ he said.

With one out in the ninth, Little tried again, visiting the mound after Richie Sexson singled. According to catcher Russell Martin, Little said to Lowe, ‘I’m giving you one more chance,’ and Lowe answered, ‘All right.'”

Post Categories: 2003 Playoffs & Baseball & Derek Lowe & Grady Little & Los Angeles Dodgers & Red Sox