Remember When We Wanted To Sign Derek Lowe?

Today we chastise Omar Minaya for the contract that he handed out to Oliver Perez. It hamstrung us for a couple of seasons, and he gave us virtually nothing in return for our investment. But there were some other contracts handed out that off-season that were not so great either.

Every year we go into the off-season as fans with a list of players we want the Mets to target. Up until very recently we had no issues spending money. The past few years have not been kind to us in the financial department thanks to Bernie Madoff, but hopefully that is changing.

Earlier this season the Mets were granted a gift of not having to pay back millions of dollars as a result of Madoff scandal. We are not out the woods yet, as we are still losing money, have an empty ballpark, and many holes to fill with limited funds. The point is that the days of being able to spend some money to fill of our needs may be returning soon, just probably not this off-season.

Derek is cheesing in this picture because like Perez did with the Mets, he also stole money from the Braves

Anyway, back to the point of this article. Every year we discuss and debate the hot topics of the MLB hot stove season. We make our opinions about who we want to sign, and the people that we do sign, very well known. We discuss and debate all rumors and moves in our circle of friends, through blog posts, comment threads, and even on the airwaves via WFAN or ESPN radio.

During the 2008-2009 off-season we had a need for starting pitching. Oliver Perez was a free agent, as was Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and CC Sabathia among others. The Yankees struck early and grabbed both Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, leaving Lowe as the best available starting pitcher remaining.

As the winter moved on all the other chips fell and towards the end it was basically down to Lowe, Perez and some other well traveled veterans. Lowe and Perez had the most potential, but there was a nine year age gap between the two, as Lowe was 36 and Perez just 27.

The Braves ended up signing Derek Lowe to a 4-year deal worth $60 million dollars. The signing left the Mets Perez, and the scraps left on the Free Agent wire. Minaya out of a lack of choices and the desperate need for an arm, re-signed Perez a 3-year deal worth $36 million. A sizable sum, but far smaller than what the Braves gave Lowe.

At the time Lowe was the much better and more established pitcher. He was coming off a nice run with the Dodgers where he went 54-48 and pitched to an ERA under 4.00 in each of the four seasons he was there. Prior to landing in LA he had a great career with the Red Sox, as he had a 21 win season and a 42 save season under his belt. He was the better option for sure, but he came at almost double the cost.

It didn’t take very long to see that Atlanta did not get the pitcher they thought they were from his days with the Dodgers. He made the opening day start in 2009 and pitched great for eight innings allowing just two hits and no earned runs. In his first two seasons with the Braves he did win 31 games, but his overall numbers across the board were way up and his run-support was making things look better than they actually were.

Here is what Atlanta got out of their investment.

His 2012 stats are with both the Indians and the Yankees, and continue to show a downward spiral.

He signed a 4-year contract with the Braves, but was not on their Opening day roster in 2012. They paid for 3 years of mediocre garbage totaling $45 million, before shipping him to Cleveland in the off-season of 2011 for a minor leaguer. As part off the deal they agreed to pay $10 million of the $15 million remaining to make him go away. In other words they paid a net total of $55 million for three years.

He pitched so poorly for the Indians to start this season, that he was eventually designated for assignment, and was picked up by the Yankees after they had a rash of injuries.

Are you kidding me? That production is awful for $60 million. It was so bad they decided it was better to pay him to play for someone else.

Perez didn’t give us very much production for the money we spent on him, which is why he is so disliked by the fan base. Perez won just 13 games for us over three injury plagued seasons, and pitched to an ERA of 5.17.

But I’m sorry, but if I had to choose one of the two, I would choose Oliver Perez’s contract. Derek obviously pitched better than Oliver, but not even remotely close to what was expected of him. He was paid like an ace and pitched like a number 4 starter.  He also got paid almost double what Perez did, and didn’t even finish out the contract. The Braves are still currently on the hook for $10 million this season when the contract comes off the books at years end.

Today Derek Lowe toils away in the Yankees bullpen collecting the rest of the $15 million that is owed to him.

When both deals were signed you would have thought Atlanta was the clear winner. I guess that’s why we aren’t really supposed to judge moves until a few years have passed.