Coming off of a World Series win, keeping most of the nucleus intact, nearly all of us fans were feeling pretty damn good about the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies. We liked our chances in the East, despite the Mets putting on another off-season dog and pony show, acting as though signing = winning. Still, how many of us can honestly say we thought that on the last Saturday of August, the Phillies would be leading the next highest divisional foes by eight games, and that it could easily be more? Not to mention, those same Mets have officially been declared DOA for 2009.
One of the teams within "striking distance" is the Braves, whom everyone always loves to say cute things about in their season previews. When Atlanta added Derek Lowe, today's starter, the scribes got to scribblin'. I could see why, too. I was among the many who thought Lowe would have been a great addition to the Phillies rotation. Slotting a sinkerball pitcher behind Cole, the ace... If we weren't going to be in the running for the big fish, Lowe sounded just right. Understandably, the duration and money he ended up getting weren't right for the Phils, who'd spent a lot of money stretching the deals of their WS team and were ultimately bringing in Raul Ibanez too.
Turns out, like many of Ruben Amaro's moves in his first season, not signing Lowe was brilliant.
First of all, Lowe hasn't been all that great (although I absolutely hated his first start as a Brave). His 12 wins are all well and good, but he hasn't exactly dominated his way to a 4.48 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Don't get me wrong, there are nights when he's been everything they needed him to be. But about once a month, he just gets absolutely pounded for 6 ER. He's been outpitched by some of the younger guns in the Braves rotation, and at age 36, you have to wonder what Atlanta is going to get in the remaining three years of his $60 million deal.
Secondly... If the Phils were currently on the hook for Lowe's money, and he remained healthy, would they have just traded a few mid-level prospects, Jason Knapp, and a used microwave on Craigslist for Cliff Lee? We already believe the Lee/Francisco acquisition was a steal for Amaro, but when we also look at what Lee will cost over a season and a half, Ruben's passing on Lowe really shows us that he has known what he was doing from day 1 (and, incidentally, that I haven't, although once I saw the price and length of Lowe's deal, I was glad he wasn't going to be retiring here).
So, it ain't Halladay-Lee, but tonight at CBP, fans will get to see a little display of "what might have been" versus "what came to be."
Recommended: Crashburn Alley looks at the Braves whining about Phillies power more so than their park.