Let's compare three pitchers' statistics from last season:
Pitcher A: 13 W/5 L, 170 innings pitched, WHIP of 1.25, 5 K's per 9 innings, 1.8 BB's per 9 innings, 1.8 HR's per 9 innings, 4.07 ERA
Pitcher B: 15 W/8 L, 202 innings pitched, WHIP of 1.62, 5.2 K's per 9 innings, 4.7 BB's per 9 innings, 1.3 HR's per 9 innings, 5.84 ERA
Pitcher C: 14 W/12 L, 182 innings pitched, WHIP of 1.62, 5.2 K's per 9 innings, 3.5 BB's per 9 innings, .75 HR's per 9 innings, 5.42 ERA
All had decent/good records, and all had fairly unimpressive strikeout rates.
Pitcher A has the advantage over the other two in his low walk rate, low WHIP, and much better ERA. He did, however, give up the long ball at an alarming rate. He also pitched in a pitcher's park last season.
Pitcher B doesn't really have any advantages over the other two (though he gives up homers at a lesser rate than pitcher A), but he pitched in an extreme hitter's park, so we should give him some leeway.
Pitcher C has the advantage in his low home run rate, and he pitched in a hitter's park, too, but not nearly as extreme as pitcher B.
So looking at the stats, Pitcher A is the best, but his ballpark helped him to some degree. Pitcher B is the worst, but his ballpark hurt him to a large degree. Pitcher C is kind of in the middle of the two.
Would you blame me if I called them even? All of pitcher A's advantages can be countered by the ballparks they pitched in, so I see them as fairly even pitchers (disagree if you'd like). However, one of those three is not like the others in a very significant way: salary.
Pitcher A is Jose Lima, who just signed a one year contract for 2.5 million. Pitcher B is Shawn Estes, who just signed a one year contract for 2.5 million. Pitcher C is Derek Lowe, who just signed a 4 year, 36 million dollar contract.
Many people have spoken many times about how Carlos Beltran increased his value by catching fire offensively at the right time: the postseason, when everyone's watching. However, he didn't increase his value nearly as much as Derek Lowe did by having a great postseason pitching for the Boston Red Sox last year. If you look at Lowe's stats from 1998 to 2002, you can easily see there's some good pitcher there (though only in 2002 did he start), and Lowe's 31 years indicates he could easily have some good years left, but...I'm thinking that if Lowe's postseason was as crappy as his regular season, he could well have been sitting in the same positions as Lima and Estes right now. One year, 2.5 million.
Derek, there's nothing Lowe about your salary, dude.