Monday, October 6, 2003. Bottom 9. 2 outs. Bases loaded. Down 4-3. Series tied. Final game. It comes down to Derek Lowe versus pinch hitter Terrence Long. This is it. This is the 2003 ALDS. Lowe throws a nasty sinker that cuts back over the plate away from Long. Long is frozen. Strike three. Game over. Series over. For a fourth straight year of disappointment for the Green and Gold and a fourth straight exit in the ALDS. Why bring this up? Because the A’s could use one of these players mentioned above right now, and he is available.
Lowe was recently designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers to make roster space for Josh Lindblom in their rotation (Lindblom pitched against the A’s Monday night). While Lowe struggled in the time he pitched this season, a 9.00 ERA in 13 innings of relief, last year he pitched extremely effectively as a reliever with the New York Yankees. In 23.2 innings pitched he had a 3.04 ERA. He struggled early on last season as a starter with the Cleveland Indians before being released and eventually signing with the Yankees where he became an excellent cog in the Bronx Bombers pen.
Last season, around this time, the A’s made an under the radar move in acquiring a long reliever from the San Francisco Giants via claim. Though he lasted through last season and barely into this one his impact was tangible and key in the A’s run to the postseason. That man was Travis Blackley. Although he was later designated for assignment and claimed by the Astros Blackley’s importance to the club was almost irreplaceable. However another under the radar move could be made.
The A’s should try and claim Lowe from the Rangers and use him in the same capacity as they did Blackley. The A’s starting pitching has been shaky at points this season and in the games where they leave early the team cannot always rely on Evan Scribner to get the job done. The A’s need someone with starting experience and a veteran presence to hold games as they stand to let the bats get a chance to come back into the game when a starting pitcher exits early on. This where Lowe would fit perfectly into the A’s system and help save the team some roster transactions and depth while also limiting other relievers innings. The veteran presence is just a bonus.
If the A’s were to claim Lowe they would only be on the hook for the veteran minimum. For the amount of experience and talent they would get in return it is beyond worth the risk of Lowe continuing to struggle. Sometimes you need to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. In this case it is time to bring in an old enemy into the fold and hopefully replicate the results of Travis Blackley last season. This might be nothing. Or it might end up being another diamond in the rough for A’s GM Billy Beane to hop on.