Once more unto the Millwood breach

Joe Torre to attend Old Timer's Day
Mailbag: Chapman, Figueroa, Lil' Lefties

For the Yankees as they prepare for the 2011 season, Kevin Millwood is akin to that thing on the bottom of your shoe that you just can’t get off. He’s not on the Yanks; he’s not very good; and yet the rumors just won’t go away. Now, according to recent reports, the Yanks are still kicking the tires on this one.

After the Yanks watched him throw yesterday, Millwood remains on the club’s radar. In fact, according to Jon Heyman, the Yanks have offered him a contract. The Sports Illustrated scribe reports:

The Yankees went to scout Kevin Millwood Wednesday at UC-Irvine and are offering a contract in the low seven figures while Millwood has been seeking about $4 million on a major league deal. While he’d be a help, the Yankees may not need him as much as they once did after Ivan Nova threw six no-hit innings in the 10-0 win over the Orioles. Freddy Garcia has pitched well in two of three outings, and he and Nova look likely to be the Yankees’ No. 4 and 5 starters.

That short paragraph contains quite a few assumptions and a few red flags. First, the idea that Freddy Garcia has a lock on the fifth starter spot is largely unfounded. Through the first few weeks of Spring Training, the Yankees have been far more impressed with Bartolo Colon than with Garcia, and if Girardi had to make a decision tomorrow, Colon would likely have a rotation edge. Second, the premise that the team may not need him is a matter of interpretation.

The problem with Millwood is that his value and impact are both tough to assess, and while he thinks he’s worth $4 million a season, the Yankees seem to disagree. From a traditional point of view, Millwood was terrible last year. He went 4-16 with an ERA over 5.00 in 190 innings. He gave up 33 more hits than innings pitched and 30 long balls while striking out 132 and sporting a 2:1 K:BB ratio. His WAR though came in at 1.3, and absent a significant decline, he’ll be worth the $4 million. Whether he can out-pitch Garcia or Colon is up for debate.

Yet, talent evaluators are lukewarm on Millwood. As Joe noted highlighted last month, no one is that impressed with Millwood. “Millwood is not a help,” one scout said in February. “He’s just a name people know.” In January, Joe offered even lesser praise: Kevin Millwood is better than Sergio Mitre. Nothing has changed.

For the Yankees, Millwood would simply be another piece for the depth charts and another placeholder. If someone goes down and Millwood is still out there, he would be potentially a better and more reliable choice than an unknown AAA kid. He won’t blow the world away, and he won’t throw quality innings. He will though throw innings. Maybe there’s something to be said for that right now, but if the Yanks are willing to offer Millwood seven figures, I have to wonder what that says of the faith they have in the current rotation options than anything else. It’s not a huge vote of confidence really.

Joe Torre to attend Old Timer's Day
Mailbag: Chapman, Figueroa, Lil' Lefties
  • shamcork

    the fact that milwood is even in the discussion makes me very, very nervous as to what the yankees think about the back end rotation candidates this year

    • Ted Nelson

      Well I mean what do you think of them? I’m not as worried as a lot of people, but it’s not all that pretty.

  • Gonzo

    Word, that doesn’t smack of confidence for the crew competing for starting spots. Ouch.

    Also, Millwood had 1.3 fWAR and .5 bWAR last year. 2.4 fWAR was the year before. Doesn’t change the article much except maybe make it look worse if if it’s true.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Fixed the WAR numbers. My bad.

      • Gonzo

        It’s late. Didn’t change much, no worries.

  • J_Yankees

    Not sure I buy that Girardi would give edge Colon for the rotation. I don’t think that assumption is any better then Heyman assuming the opposite.

    While Colon has been impressive in the spring, it also needs to be noted that he didn’t pitch at all last year in the majors whereas Garcia not only pitched in the majors last year, he had some success.

  • NJYankeeFan

    The only thing Millwood offers over Colon and Garcia is durability. He’s pretty much a lock to give you 180+ innings if needed which you can’t really say about the other two. That being said, he’s probably no better than Colon or Garcia.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      What good is 180 shitty innings?

      Vazquez provided 157 innings last year and no one was too happy about that.

      To me, there is no value to providing innings if they are not league average.

      • Eric

        His innings are league average.

  • cranky

    “While he’d be a help….”


  • bonestock94

    This guy looked completely ineffective last year…and the numbers corroborate that.

  • Sean C

    COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL: Would you take 2011 Javy over Millwood, and more importantly, Garcia or Colon?

    • Ted Nelson

      At his salary?

  • JP

    Millwood’s got a lot of balls demanding a guaranteed contract after that horrendous season he had last year. He and Scott Boras should know better than anyone that underperforming is not gonna get you big bucks. Millwood should be grateful that the Yankees are offering him anything at all, and if he thinks that he’s gonna get a better deal than what the Yanks are offering, he’s in for a rude awakening.

    • Eric

      He wasn’t horrendous last year. He put up a 4.78 XEra (Shandler) on the worst team in the AL in the harders division in baseball. And he never got to face the Orioles:) 191 IP league-average innings in the AL East is impressive.

  • nsalem

    Millwood better than unknown AAA kids? Hope not

    • Eric

      Yes, he is. For 2011, probably. In that he can almost certainly give the team 30 starts wtih league-average results. The kids *might* be able to do that, but to the Yanks want them to pitch 200 innings?

      • Ted Nelson

        I’m not saying Millwood is a bad idea, but I don’t think he’s a no brainer either. Especially if he wants $4 mm in guaranteed $.
        Nova pitched 187 innings last season, so I don’t see why they’d keep him under that this season (health and performance permitting). He’s also got more upside than Millwood, probably even in 2011 but definitely long-term.
        Millwood was no better than Garcia last season.
        Colon is sort of a wild-card having not pitched last season and possibly rediscovering something he’d lost.

  • stunna4885

    once again cc, hughes, and burnett are a pretty good top 3. also if fans or the yankees cant have confidence now considering the way colon, garcia, nova and mitre has pitched thus far when will they be?

  • stunna4885

    millwood also has the worst stuff of all the rotation candidates at this point. the yankees will have by far one of the most underated rotations in mlb going into this year.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Nova #4

    FredoloGarlon can share #5 either within one game-or alternate them-or go with the hot hand until it flames out.

  • Eric

    The thing that Millwood offers that all the other guys do not is he has shown that he can make 30+ starts over the course of a season on a consistent basis and be at or near league average while doing it. There is value in that. Seiously

    Having said that, I think the Yanks would be wise to stick to their guns and not offer him more than a minor league deal and keep him as insurance for if (When) Nova, Colon, Garcia, etc break down or are ineffective

    • Eric

      FWIW: Millwood was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA last season for the Baltimore Orioles. Boras said the majority of that was attributable to 11 starts that Millwood made from late May to early August while nursing a sore groin, when he was 2-7 and his ERA was 8.84. Over 10 starts in August and September, Millwood’s ERA was 3.29.

  • theyankeewarrior

    If he accepts a minor league contract, the Yanks can more easily afford to lose one of Mitre/Colon/Garcia and replace him with Millwood.

    Let’s face it, Nova is our 4th best starter right now. So there’s a good chance one of those three are lost to waivers/released. This could be a cheap way to reestablish depth.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Everybody keeps saying that replacement level pitchers are a dime a dozen. Well, they are right, and Millwood is one of them. If we need one in April/May, one will be available. Maybe Millwood, maybe Gaudin, maybe somebody else. Why are we talking about this now?

    • Eric

      Again. Millwood is not replacement level. League average is not replacement level, any more than the aveerage salary of an American is what the average american can expect to earn if he/she had to find a job in 24 hours.

  • David, Jr.

    All they need is somebody to hold the fort for a year or so. This isn’t the guy.

    For your morning excitement, Kevin Towers, who knows more about such things than almost anyone, commented:

    “Betances – Maybe King Felix”

    “Banuelos – Teddy Higuera with a better arm”

    • Ted Nelson

      “All they need is somebody to hold the fort for a year or so. This isn’t the guy.”

      I don’t love Millwood, but I also don’t know if he’s any less the guy than Garcia, Colon, Nova, or Mitre… I don’t know if he’s any more the guy either, though.

  • Yank the Frank

    Millwood = pinata

  • Mike HC

    I would definitely take Millwood. For all the optimism that has been building for Nova, Colon and Garcia, chances are still pretty good that all end up being replacement levelish, or maybe only slightly better. Tack AJ on to that, and adding more starting pitchers, whoever they are, can’t hurt.

    • Ted Nelson

      I’m fine with getting Millwood, but how much above replacement level do you think he’ll be in 2011?

      Perhaps Millwood can bounce back from a rough 2010, but it may not be adding more starting pitchers so much as replacing one with Millwood since rosters will have to be finalized in a couple weeks. Probably not enough time for Millwood to really compete with the other guys, so it would seem if he’s signed (especially to a major league deal) it would be with a spot pretty well locked up… suppose the could send Nova to AAA, one of Colon/Garcia to the pen, and only lose Mitre in the shuffle… then again that assumes Mitre’s the least desirable.

  • Accent Shallow

    I think I speak for all of us when I note that this blog needs more irresponsible rumormongering. One of my favorite tags.

  • Ted Nelson

    “That short paragraph contains quite a few assumptions and a few red flags.”

    It’s kind of odd to call Heyman out for making assumptions, then turn around and assume you know what the Yankees would do with the rotation spots if the season started tomorrow… based apparently on statements they’ve made to the media and performance in meaningless games. You may well be right, but it seems to me like it’s largely speculation.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Are you now just arguing for the sake of arguing? The Yanks have made it very clear in a few ways that Colon is a front-runner for a rotation spot. It’s a bit more than an assumption right now.

      • Ted Nelson

        I’ve seen people argue that all 3 are the front-runner for a rotation spot based on things they and the Yankees have said. So, yeah, I think it’s speculation and a huge assumption to think you know not only what Girardi thinks, but also Cashman, Rothschild, etc. If that’s your argument, at least substantiate it with a link or quote. To just suggest you know what the Yankees are thinking based on public statements they’ve made and Heyman doesn’t have a clue… Why are you so much smarter/more telepathic than Heyman or anyone else?

        I believe there was literally an article on this site that said Garcia came into camp as the 4th starter and the others are competing for the 5th job (I’m not saying that’s the case, just that you or one of your colleagues made that case recently… based as I recall on statements Garcia and the team made). I don’t think the Yankees brass is so small minded as to think one poor ST performance drastically changes the picture, but at the same time of course they’re not going to reign praise on Garcia for getting rocked or criticize Colon/Nova for pitching well. Again I’m not saying Garcia is necessarily a front-runner, but even when he was a legit #2 starter he still stunk in ST. I’m not jumping to any conclusions and will just wait to see what the team does. I think there’s a case for all 3 as well as Millwood.

      • Tony S

        Get over yourself. You have very thin skin. You are pompous with a capital P

        Why dont you grow a pair.

        • Tony S

          That was dirested to Ben not Ted

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

          Yet you’re the only one calling names.

  • Mickey Scheister

    Move AJ to set-up/long relief, his stuff would play better outta the pen. Send Hughes back to AAA with an “injury” for “rehab”, have him refine his offspeed pitches. Your Fab Starting 5…CC, Nova, Millwood, Garcia and Colon.

    There’s a way to ensure CC opts out and doesn’t even answer Cash’s calls in FA next year.

    On the real, I really hope the only way Millwood gets signed (with NYY) is if he accepts a minor league deal. CC, AJ, Hughes, Nova and Garcia/Colon/Millwood would be very under-rated and build depth so the ManBans and Brackmans aren’t rushed and depended on to be a 3-4 starter, they’d be a luxury, as they should if we see them in the Bronx at all this year.

    The “glass half empty” side of me… CC is a horse, will this be the year he breaks down? AJ was extremely inconisent, to be nice, last year. Has he started his decline, will he be worse? Hughes showed signs of wearing down as the year winded down, with the big innings he’s pitched over the past 2 years, will he stay healthy? Then the risk with Colon, Garcia and Millwood is just that they suck and/or get injured.