Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Scott BorAss Lands Another—Hook, Line, and Sinker with Derek Lowe as the Bait

A couple months ago, I wrote an article questioning the intelligence of some owners in the National Football League. Unfortunately, it's time to ask the same exact questions regarding their counterparts in Major League Baseball. The continued existence and success of Scott BorAss demands it.

Derek Lowe, four years, $60 million.

Derek Lowe.

My only questions would be for whomever is behind the sinking ship known as the Atlanta Braves. What the HELL are you doing?

So let me get this straight. You're perfectly content to pay a 40-year old DEREK LOWE $15 million to pitch. Meanwhile, a 42-year-old (in May) John Smoltz coming off major shoulder surgery apparently wasn't worth $5.5 million. Or maybe Smoltz took less to pitch for Boston as a middle finger to Hotlanta. I won't pretend to know the particulars.

I just know that, on the surface, it looks dumb. Really dumb. And more than a little desperate.

But let's forget the comparison to Smoltz for a moment.

It's unfair to both Lowe and the Braves for many reasons. Smoltz is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer and only pitched to an earned run average over 4.00 only twice in his 20-year career. Furthermore, major shoulder surgery on an aging body kinda calls off all bets. You could make a strong argument that the Braves should be forgiven their skepticism.

Let's just look at the contract itself.

The Atlanta Braves just gave Derek Lowe $15 million per year to pitch for them through 2012. This is a man whose closest approximation from baseball history is Don Robinson. Seriously. Look it up.

Now, like any true San Francisco Giant die-hard must, I love the Caveman. Love him. I still remember the jovial reliever coming out off the bench to pinch hit. He was a joy to watch and a bright spot on some sincerely bad teams.

Notice I said nothing about dominating opposing hitters.

That's because you could never lob that accusation at the big fella. And he retired from baseball after five sturdy yet unspectacular years with San Francisco at the age of 35.

Derek Lowe is 36.

Again, I loved the Caveman. The idea of paying him $15 million a year at any point in his career is hilariously insane. At the end of his career?

Surely, you jest.

Since arriving in Los Angeles circa March of 2005, Lowe has toed the slab to the average tune of 14 wins, 12 losses, 213 innings, 54 walks, 141 whiffs, and a 3.59 ERA while making 35 starts. Those are actually pretty good numbers (excluding the record, which is a poor indicator of starting pitching anyway).

But is that season really worth $15 million? Even in today's game?

Additionally, consider where Derek Lowe pitched. And against whom.

Out in the National League West, he's been facing incredibly weak lineups in incredibly friendly pitching environments. Pac Bell Park, Bank One Ballpark, Qualcomm Stadium, and Dodger Stadium all favor the pitcher. Even the lone minefield in the division (Coors Field) doesn't present as much of a problem to a heavy sinker-baller like Lowe because that pitch is actually helped by the reduced friction of Colorados' mile-high air.

More importantly, even the smallest ballpark is safe when the opposition swings toothpicks.

Since and including 2005, my Giants, the San Diego Padres, the Colorado Rockies, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have been nothing short of putrid as a collective. The D-Backs and Rox have thrown up a couple good seasons and a couple white-hot months, but a handful of peaks cannot atone for the months and months of valleys.

Nay, chasms.

In Atlanta, Lowe must face the fearsome Philadelphia Phillie lineup. Sometimes, he must do it in the bandbox known as Citizen Bank Park. He must face the dangerous New York Met lineup. Shoot, even the Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals have the potential to be more rugged than the best offense he faced in the NL West.

Which brings me full-circle, back to Scott BorAss.

How, HOW could you get suckered by this man? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. So what happens if he fools you every single year?

Somehow, that's what this parasite manages to do. Barry Zito. Alex Rodriguez. Andruw Jones. Manny Ramirez. And now Derek Lowe.

Manny will probably make another appearance on the list before 2009's first pitch.

The man is a coprophagous abomination. A snake in the grass of the highest magnitude. When one team with deep pockets appears on the verge of signing a high-profile free agent, a mysterious and anonymous rumor pops up that the team's biggest rival has suddenly entered the fray.

He pretends his clients get top dollar because they deserve it, they need it. Of course, lost in the spin is his nice fat commission. A commission that gets fatter with each zero he adds to his client's salary.

When one franchise gets burned a couple times and shows the fringes of panic, BorAss slumps in for the kill like a shark to a wounded, bleeding body. He smells that weakness from a private-jet-ride away and is wheels up before anyone else realizes what's happening.

Yet, it takes no genius to see this chump coming from a mile away.

How could the Braves miss it. They had been burned by stabs at Rafael Furcal, AJ Burnett, and Jake Peavy. The last persistent icon from the glory years of constant trips to the National League Championship Series (often beyond) had just walked out the door. A fanbase spoiled years of contention was showing hints of rebellion.

I mean, if a situation ever screamed BorAss exploitation, Atlanta was it.

A good mathematician and psychologist probably could've cooperated to predict the hour Atlanta's phone would ring.

And still, with all that to draw on, the Braves' management became just another fish on BorAss' line. Just another sucker.

Welcome to the club, Atlanta. Meet the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Kansas City Royals.

Oh, and don't worry.

With BorAss' stable stocked with some of the brightest prospects in the minor leagues, more clubs are lining up at the door for admission as we speak.

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