Braves finding market hard for Lowe

Bullpen lets him down.The Derek Lowe signing of last season is proving to be a pain this off-season as the Atlanta Braves seek a trade partner for the right hander who has 3 years and $45 million left on a four year contract he signed last winter.

The knocks on Lowe are that he turns 37 on June 1. He is guaranteed $15 million in each of the next three seasons. And he had a 6.65 ERA in his final nine starts.

With a surplus of pitchers following the resigning of Tim Hudson the Braves have made it clear they are shopping both Lowe and Javier Vazquez and while they have made it obvious they’d rather trade Lowe other teams are likely to take the wait and see approach especially with comparable pitchers as free agents this winter.

The Braves’ most extensive discussions concerning Lowe have been with the Brewers for outfielder Corey Hart. Hart appeared in 115 games for the Brewers last season hitting .260/.335/.418 with 12 homers, 48 RBI and 64 runs scored. He was 11-for-17 in stolen base attempts. If he was acquired by the Braves he would figure to play right field and the Braves would hope he regains some of the pop he showed in 2007 when he hit .295/.353/.539 with 24 homers and 81 RBI.

Lowe finished 15-10 with a 4.67 ERA last season and his 232 hits allowed led the league. He is coming off his eighth straight 180-plus inning season, a streak dating back to him moving into the rotation at the start of the 2002 season. Lowe was pretty good in his first 12 starts, average in the next 12 and a mine filed in his last 10.

He’s only getting older and when I said giving him $15 million because they were jolted by AJ Burnett was a less then wise decision I pretty much envisioned everything that could go wrong once Lowe moved outside of Dodger stadium.

Truth is Lowe is still going to rack up innings, he can have games in which he’s pretty darn filthy out there but the Braves can’t expect there to be a huge list of teams lining up to pick up the majority of his remaining salary considering Jon Garland, Randy Wolf, Joel Pinerio and Jason Marquis can all be had for less and they won’t have to give up anything.

The only way this type of trade gets done is if a team such as Milwaukee is looking to get rid of an overpaid player (like a Corey Hart) who just isn’t the everyday player they are looking for their lineup. Hart was so terrible at the plate last season that he actually began losing at-bats to utility man Frank Catalanotto in August and September.

Hart figures to make around $3.5 million in arbitration this year and by cutting his salary there is no way the Brewers are going to add $15 million back on the books for Derek Lowe. Even if they were to pick up half the salary remaining the

Braves are going to have a tough time selling them on this one as the Brewers as well as every other team know cheaper pitchers who likely will put up the same numbers Lowe did last season are available via free agency.

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