Think back to the days before Tim Lincecum. Back to the days when Matt Cain was still a teenager. There was a time when it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that the Giants were going to spit out healthy and productive young pitchers. Back before the dimensional gate of suck opened over 24 Willie Mays Plaza. Noah Lowry came out of this era. And, lo, he was exciting.
Lowry was a first-round pick, sure, but it was in the latter half of the round, and his minor league career was solid, not spectacular. So when he came up and started striking folks out with a beautiful changeup, it was a fantastic surprise. At the risk of repeating myself – and at the risk of repeating myself, too – this was the magical game that made everyone giddy. Nine innings, nine strikeouts, three hits in just his fourth major league start. What if the Giants had a young pitcher who actually lived up to his promise? Why, maybe they could build on those 91 wins from 2004!
(An aside: Hey, do you know who on that 2004 team would have made a good middle-of-the-order hitter on this year’s team? Everybody. It’s kind of funny that a catcher with a .729 OPS used to be our biggest lineup concern. Well, before they dumped the .232/.276/.295-hitting Neifi Perez, who was probably the difference between winning the division and watching man-buzzard Steve Finley hit a grand slam off Wayne Freaking Franklin. But I digress.)
And, well, the Giants built on the 2004 season, but the blueprints were for an outhouse. But that wasn’t Lowry’s fault. He pitched 200 really good innings in 2005, and in April of 2006, he signed a four-year extension. The Giants had a cheap pitcher locked up, and Lowry had financial security in case something went wrong. You know, just in case. He was a young pitcher, after all. Not that anything was going to happen. It’s not like doctors were just going to randomly cut him open to solve some sort of mystery injury, removing ribs if all else failed with the first 15 surgeries.
It’s almost certain that Lowry’s Giants career is over, even if he pitches again. His agent is claiming that the Giants botched the diagnosis, which makes it sound like Brian Sabean went on WebMD for a few minutes before sending Mike Murphy into the clubhouse with a roofie and a penknife. The Giants claim that they "never performed any medically inappropriate procedures on Lowry." This is probably going to get uglier before it gets prettier, so let’s just take a moment to appreciate what Lowry did as a Giant:
- Three years of 150+ innings, including two with an ERA+ of 113
- Dude could hit.
- He was responsible for 5,023,140 separate trade-related comments, culminating in the Lowry-for-Milledge rumor, which probably would have left both teams sad.
- Did I mention that Reds game from ’04? That was one of my all-time favorite games, for sure.
It’s a shame that Lowry was never able to get healthy, so this here is an Open Noah Lowry Appreciation Thread. Best of luck, Noah, even if a small part of me is still hoping you get healthy for the Giants.