Lowe & Masterson Bring Painful Reminder to Red Sox Fans


When the Cleveland Indians settle in to Fenway Park for a four game series starting Thursday night, there will be four former Red Sox players who are dawning the Tribe’s uniform and calling Cleveland home.  Dan Wheeler, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon were all, at one point, proud members of the Sox organization and have now found new homes outside of Beantown.  All four also represent a painful reminder for Red Sox fans with what could have been.

Let’s start with Derek Lowe.  How good would the 38-year old look in a Red Sox uniform this year? The 2004 World Series champion is cruising right along this season in Cleveland (4-1, 2.38 ERA) with just 10 earned runs in 37.2 innings of work.  He’s got that gritty, blue collar work ethic to him, something that is clearly lacking in the Sox starting rotation.

Lowe left Boston after the ’04 championship via free-agency and while his name has come up in recent years as a potential trade candidate to return to the city he loves, it seems unlikely Cleveland would let him go given their fine start and sitting atop the division.  Based on how well Lowe was received in 2009 when he returned with the Atlanta Braves, it will be a painful reminder tonight when he takes the mound.

"“Coming in here, you kind of get these old vibes that are fresh in your mind. We had a lot of good memories here, and I have a lot of fond memories of the players. It’s a great place to play, too.” — 6.19.09, Derek Lowe makes a Brave return"

Johnny Damon was a polarizing figure during the 2004 season.  Often referred to as a biblical baseball player, Damon was adored by fans for his rugged, all out hustle style of play; again, something that is missing this year.  Damon signed with Cleveland as a free-agent after the season had started and it’s fair to say that Boston could have taken a chance on him.  Players like Cody Ross and Marlon Byrd are likely better outfield players at this point in time, seeing Damon in an opposition uniform at Fenway Park is always a little difficult, even if he did fly over to enemy camp and signed with the Yankees.  He did a lot for Boston and that won’t ever be forgotten.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the former Red Sox now playing for Cleveland is Justin Masterson.  A once budding prospcet in the Sox organization, the right-hander was traded away for catcher Victor Martinez in 2009.  A deal that didn’t pan out for Boston when V-Mart was allowed to walk into the waiting arms of the Detroit Tigers just 18 months after he joined the Sox.

Masterson is coming off a nice 2011 campaign going 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA and a WHIP of 1.278.  He worked in 216.0 innings last year, a feat no Sox pitcher was able to do, proving he can be used as a workhorse.  He’s rounding into a top three rotation pitcher and at just 27-years old and a salary of just $3.8M, Masterson is perhaps the most disappointing piece the Sox let slip away that will be on display this weekend at Fenway Park.

Relief pitcher Dan Wheeler was only in Boston for one year and although he wasn’t terrible, he didn’t do a lot to prove his worth in bringing back this season.  Considering how the bullpen has been a revolving door for arms this year, Wheeler may have been of some value to the Sox this season. Like Martinez, he was allowed to walk into free-agency before finding a home in Cleveland.

Wheeler isn’t lighting the world on fire this year in a reliever role, but as I said before, the Sox bullpen wasn’t exactly a shining star during the first few weeks of the year.  Although the pen is now the long bright spot when it comes to Boston’s pitching, it’s interesting to think about how Wheeler could have fit in.

Derek Lowe will likely get the biggest ovation from the Fenway faithful throughout the four game set and deservedly so.  When Monday morning roles around and depending on what happens this weekend, these four former Red Sox players could play pivotal roles in causing painful reminders of what was allowed to walk away.  I realize it’s in the past and nothing can be done about it now, but it is at least worth discussing as  two of these players would be a dramatic assistance to the Red Sox given their state right now.

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