At the beginning of the 2008-2009 offseason, a 22-year old Jair Jurrjens and Jorge Campillo -- yes, that Jorge Campillo -- were essentially the two primary cogs remaining in the Atlanta Braves' starting rotation.
After a disastrous season that saw just about every starting pitcher go down to injury, Frank Wren was a man determined to overhaul the pitching staff.
Enter Derek Lowe, an unspectacular-yet-reliable veteran pitcher.
On January 13, 2009, Wren and the 37-year old Lowe agreed to a four-year, $60 million dollar contract. For better or for worse, Lowe became the de facto ace of the rotation.
Lowe was not the first choice for the franchise, nor was he even the second. After prolonged talks with the San Diego Padres, Jake Peavy never managed to make the trip east to Atlanta. And while many figured A.J. Burnett would be the free agent pitcher for the Braves, he spurned the club in the final minutes for a bigger and better contract with the New York Yankees.
The three year tenure of Lowe in Atlanta will undoubtably be remembered as a failed experiment. Sure, a few great moments were sprinkled in along the way, but consistency was always an issue. One night he would work six shutout innings, the next he would fail to record six outs. That continually drew the ire of Braves Country and led to a strained relationship between the player and fans.
While making 101 starts with the team, Lowe had a record of 40-39 with a pedestrian ERA of 4.57. Taking a closer look at the numbers, he was a recipient of some poor luck and featured a solid xFIP of 3.82, which essentially neutralizes all factors a pitcher cannot control such as defense and park effects.
In three years, Lowe was worth 7.8 WAR, according to FanGraphs. While those are certainly not ace-like results, it shows he was not completely worthless in Atlanta. A "win", something he had 7.8 of, goes for about $4.5 million dollars on the current market in baseball.
Essentially, Lowe was worth $35.1 million dollars while pitching for the Braves. We paid him $55 million.
If there was anything positive to remember from his tenure in Atlanta, it has to be the stellar month of September and two playoff starts he made in 2010. In five September starts, Lowe went 5-0 with a stellar ERA of 1.07. And in the playoffs, he made the start in game one and had a no-hitter through five innings in game four.
Other than this span of 45 days or so, it is tough to gather many fond memories of Lowe. For a guy who has been here three years, it says a lot about his time as a Brave.
2012 will likely be his final year in Major League Baseball. Thank you, Derek Lowe, for all you have done for the organization. The results may not have always been the best, but you gave it your all every time you took the mound, and fans can appreciate that kind of effort. Best of luck in Cleveland.
All of this being said, your belt-high sinkers will not be missed.