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Grist for the Millwood I
2002-12-20 16:25
by Mike Carminati

Grist for the Millwood

I guess I was wrong-mark your calendars. Not only are the Braves willing to trade 18-game winner Kevin Millwood, they did so to the division-rival Phillies for a backup catcher, yet. Millwood is 27, but also had two sub-par years before his 18-8, 3.24 ERA 2002 season. He will also get a bunch via arbitration ($10M, John Schuerholz estimated). Oh, and the Phillies don't end up getting the left-hander that they were jones-ing after.

But the Phillies got one of the best young pitchers in the NL for a player that probably wouldn't even make the team (Johnny Estrada). That's a freebie, folks.

Schuerholz told ESPN, "The economics in baseball stink. The economics stink, and if this isn't a clear enough signal to the doubters and naysayers, to be forced to trade an 18-game winner to your arch enemy ... The economics stink." Apparently the Phillies were the only team with the funds to take Millwood off the Braves' hands. With all of their AOL and cable money, why can't they afford a true 5-man rotation, anyway? Besides, how did the get in this mess to begin with? Well, they acquired two pitchers when it turned out that they only needed one (after Maddux accepted arbitration). By the way, I would rather have Millwood than either of two pitchers that the acquired (Byrd or Ortiz).

The Phils did not get the veteran staff leader that they wanted but they now potentially have one of the best young rotations in baseball. Rob Neyer goes as far as to say "one of the league's best rotations...The odds seem to change every day. But on this day the Phillies are the beasts of the East." I am not that optomistic, but Wolf (26), Padilla (25), Myers (22), and Millwood make a pretty good, young group. Throw in a Duckworth (26), Coggin (26), Hancock (24), Bud Smith (23) or even a Joe-Ah Roa (31), and they might have something there for a few years. I suppose the rotation will be Millwood, Wolf, Padilla, Myers, and ? Millwood had always been at best a number 3 starter in Atlanta, so he will have a little added pressure. The group has a lot of potential but they could also pull a Pat Combs, as happens often in Philly.

According to the ESPN online poll the Phils are 2-to-1 favorites over the Braves to now win the division. I think it's premature, but I have to say as a Phils fan, it doesn't stink.

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