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Saberhagen Plus One
2005-12-27 10:02
by Mike Carminati

I've seen teams try to emulate another's highly coveted staff by grabbing former members of that staff. Everyone wanted the Mets' rotation in Eighties and the Braves' in the Nineties. But why are Rangers trying to recreate the 2003 Phils' rotation, a staff with a 4.04 ERA, good for 7th in the NL that year?

The traded for the enigmatic Vicente Padilla earlier in the offseason. Now they have signed Kevin Millwood to either a 4-year, $48M or 5-year, $60M offer, depending on who you ask, to reunite the two 14-game winners from the 2003 Phils rotation. Wake me up when they sign Joe Roa.

The details of the Millwood signing are expected to be made public tomorrow after he passes a physical and takes the anti-Chan Ho Park vitamins. I hope for the Rangers' sake, that they sign him for the full five years, since that will give them better odds at getting at least two good years out of Millwood.

Millwood is sort of a David Nied on steroids—excuse the analogy—a guy from the highly touted Braves coffers who has been somewhat of a disappointment. Or maybe a better comparison is Bret Saberhagen. For a long stretch of Saberhagen's career, the pitcher would alternate good and bad years, sort of like Star Trek movies ("What does god need with a starship?"—Oopha!).

Millwood has produced one good season in every three since coming up with the Braves in 1997. One of the three just happened to be this past one in Cleveland, in which he posted a 2.86 ERA to lead the AL (though he was tied for second in adjusted ERA). The friggin' guy finally had the season that the Phils faithless had hoped for after wading through two years that began with a perfect game and then ran the gamut through mediocrity to just plain awful.

The problem for the Rangers is that he isn't due for another until 2008. Millwood posted a 162 adjusted ERA and won 18 games in 1999, his third year. His numbers in 2002 were 18 wins and a 127 adjusted ERA. And in 2005 though he went 9-11, his adjusted ERA was 143. That's an average adjusted ERA of 143 for those three years

Wow! He looks like a staff ace. Sign 'em up.

Oh, but wait, he pitched six other years in that stretch, and did not have an adjusted ERA better than 104 during the span. His worst was a 90 adjusted ERA in 2004 with the Phils. His average adjusted ERA was just about the league average (100) for these six seasons.

The odd thing is that most of his other ratios besides WHIP stay about the same over the span. Here are his career totals and then his stats divided into his good seasons (1999, 2002, and 2005) and the not-so-good:

Career 107 75 .588 258 1,559.1 3.76 4.28 114 1.243 7.39 2.70 0.91
Good 45 26 .634 98 637.0 2.92 4.18 143 1.118 7.47 3.01 0.85
Bad 62 49 .559 160 922.1 4.34 4.33 100 1.330 7.33 2.52 0.96

I don't know about you, but I'm not paying $12M per season for two years to get the next great season from Millwood. Then again, these are the Rangers. They have to spent that $12M or so that they were handing over to Park for the last few seasons, bless them. (Are they still paying the Padres for taking Park off their hands last year?)

By the way, just to tick off Bill O'-Lie-ly, er, O'Reilly, Happy Holidays!

Oh, and for those who got the Haircut 100 reference in the headline, we salute you. Fire!

2005-12-27 11:53:07
1.   PhillyJ
$12MM for 2 seasons? That would be fiscal responsibility...5 and 60...insane. Does this franchise ever learn a lesson?

I was there at the home opener day for the Roa start...lovely.

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