Justice Is Served

April 1, 2010 3:26 AM

Indians sour on Sowers in cutting roster


Jeremy Sowers didn't make the Opening Day roster, another failure of the Mark Shapiro regime, another No. 1 pick who arrived with much fanfare but who never amounted to anything.

You might as well get used to calling Sowers a "former" Indian, a term that can be slapped on more men than just him.

But so much had been expected of Sowers, a left-hander with a college pedigree that did look impressive. With the Indians, Sowers, 26, showed glimpses of greatness, breaking into the big leagues in 2006 with a 7-4 record and a 3.57 ERA.

To some people that season, Sowers resembled a Northern-fried version of left-hander Tom Glavine, an artist who worked the edges of home plate with the precision of a heart surgeon.

Sowers had the smarts of a heart surgeon, too.

Yet he was overly aloof, often walking around the Indians clubhouse with a cocksureness that was off-putting. He appeared as if he held insights into the game that were his alone.

Whenever he spoke, Sowers was polite and thoughtful, although in what seemed a condescending sort of way. He had no reason for it, because he was never as good as he thought he was. Nor was he as good as Shapiro & Co. believed he would be.

For after his flirtation with success in '06, Sowers proved a work-in-progress that didn't progress.

Today, he is the same unfinished pitcher that he was in 2006. In the years since, he even became less than what he was. He piled three mediocre seasons on top of each other, putting up the numbers of a journeyman: an 11-26 record with an ERA like a bad mortgage rate.

The organization bounced him between the bigs and Triple A, hoping to salvage something from its wreck of a No. 1 pick. They tried Sowers as a starter, a long reliever and as a mop-up guy. He was ineffective in each role.

In what might have been his last legitimate shot with the Indians, Sowers went into Spring Training with his sights on a spot on a starting rotation, a rotation that had more gaps in it than a hockey player's smile. But Sowers, his arm betraying him, couldn't best either David Huff or Carlos Carrasco for the final rotation slot and ended up as spare part.

On Wednesday, the Indians put Sowers on waivers, essentially exposing him to any Major League team that needed a reliable arm. No team took him, which showed how little the rest of baseball thought of him.

He's now been outrighted to Triple-A Columbus, where he'll drag his 18-30 record overall and a 5.18 ERA in the bigs with him.

As a Clipper, he'll likely settle in behind other Tribe prospects, younger players who have more upside than downside. He'll be an alternative, an option for when all else fails - fails as badly as he has.

No. 1 picks are never a certainty, of course. Under Shapiro's leadership, no No. 1 pick has produced, a record of draft-day failure that perhaps only the Pirates can match. Not since CC Sabathia, drafted in 1998 during John Hart's reign as the team's GM, have the Indians had a No. 1 pick contribute as advertised.

Sowers is the latest to join the other high picks who are either languishing in the Minors, have been traded elsewhere or are out of pro baseball altogether. He is a blood-and-flesh example of why 2010 looks about as promising for the Tribe as his chances of winning the Cy Young Award.

A team in the bigs wins with talent, and talent is in short supply in an Indians organization that has missed year after year in drafting players like Jeremy Sowers.   


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