Thursday, December 10, 2009

More on Millwood

Blogosphere: React!

MLB Fanhouse:

Adding an experienced starter makes a lot of sense for the Orioles. They've
got three talented youngsters in Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman,
but young pitchers come with innings limits and assorted other potential land
mines that keep them from throwing oodles of innings.

Baseball Prospectus, Joe Sheehan:
Millwood at $8 [sic] million for one year is a solid pickup for the
Orioles, who get an innings guy to anchor the rotation as they bring along a
number of good young starting pitchers who will require some careful handling,
and they do so without giving up talent or committing past ’10.
Orioles GM Andy MacPhail, via Baseball Prospectus:
"We think (Millwood) is going to have a positive cascading effect on Jeremy
Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, and Jason
Berken," Orioles vice president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "He
should really anchor our staff."

For the Orioles, they receive a roughly average starting pitcher. As a one
year commitment, 9 million dollars isn’t egregious. It will be probably be near
his market value. With the Orioles not in a position to compete, taking on that
kind of salary doesn’t really make sense. This kind of money could be much
better spent on international signings, draft picks, or other developmental type
of projects. He will give them decent production, but is the marginal value of
his 2-3 wins above replacement really worth 9 million dollars to them? I’m not

Peter Schmuck:

Guthrie did everything he could to fill the No. 1 starter role the past two
years, but everybody knew it was too much responsibility for him, and he wilted
under the weight of it last season. Millwood will assume that role, which should
make everybody in the rotation more comfortable in their own skin. The trade
is just as important from a public relations and marketing standpoint because it
sends a signal that the Orioles are serious about improving the team for 2010.
MacPhail has to follow up with several more acquisitions over the next couple of
months, but he has made good on a key priority with plenty of time left to
concentrate on upgrading the corner infield positions and the bullpen.

In my opinion, this is a solid deal for the Orioles. Teams need roughly 1,000 innings from their starters to make it through the 162-game schedule. Guthrie and Millwood can be penciled in for roughly 60 starts and somewhere between 360 and 400 innings. Brian Matusz threw 157.2 innings a year ago, and is unlikely to be asked to go much beyond 180 IP in 2010. Ditto Chris Tillman (161.2 IP in 2009). Brad Bergesen, who reached just 134.1 IP in 2009 (after 165.1 in 2008) due to injury, will also face innings constraints. If--and that is one giant if--the Orioles can get 180 innings from all of these guys next season, that's 900 innings and the team won't be forced to prematurely consider Jake Arrietta or Brandon Erbe for the rotation. More likely, someone is going to miss some signifcant time and the Orioles will need at least one more starter.

From this perspective, the deal makes a lot of sense. $9mm with no commitment beyond 2010 is a financial risk the Orioles can easily afford to take, and Millwood is about as low risk as 35-year old starting pitchers come. If his presence permits the Orioles to limit the innings for their youngsters and takes a bit of load off the bullpen, his acquisition will be a success. All that nonsense from Schmuck about taking the pressure off Guthrie and providing a PR boost is just fluff. This deal is all about avoiding a repeat of last season, where 4/5ths of the Opening Day rotation (Guthrie, Koji Uehara, Alfredo Simon, Mark Hendrickson, and Adam Eaton) was injured or had pitched themselves out of the rotation by the end of May. Good work by MacPhail recognizing a mistake he made in 2009 and correcting it--at minimal cost--for 2010.

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