POTD Kevin Millwood, 3


Q.  Comparable pitchers, to the 37-year-old Kevin Millwood?

A.  The defining attribute of an innings eater:  very low BB's, with gopheritis.  These guys are, on a game-in game-out basis, going to make you beat them, y'feel me?  Good choice for a big park.

Chris Volstad and Jeff Karstens are younger pitchers with K / BB / HR profiles like Millwood's.  Bronson Arroyo on the other side.

Joe Blanton is a pitcher who reminds me a lot of Millwood, nowadays.  Jeremy Bonderman in his last few years.  Jeff Neimann on the higher end.

Blanton and Millwood have homophonic names.  :- )  Their names sound exactly like they pitch.  Millwood's out there in dirty overalls, running cheap lumber through the saw and trying not to cut his thumb off.  Blanton is swinging a sloppy six-ounce blackjack trying to pound his way to a paycheck.

Is Dr. Detecto homophonic, or is jemanji, or should we go with geekalicious?


Q.  Would Millwood bring that Braves Wisdom?

A.  I don't think that a guy like Millwood has tons of magic sparkle dust flaking off him, considering he gives up two homers an outing.  There's no harm in having him discuss pitching with college kids, but from our balcony seats at this opera, the subtlety's going to be lost on us.

Sweeney and Junior, in Wak's rookie season, they had an effect we could see from the balcony.  I wouldn't ask Millwood to bring that swagger, bouncing as he is between AAA and the majors.  Jamie Moyer would.


Q.  So SSI would be in favor of Kevin Millwood?

A.  SSI would be in favor of Paxton and Hultzen, period.  Failing that, SSI would be in favor of Beavan and Furbush, until.

But the 2012 Seattle Mariners have the Win Now dial turned up to 11, and they want a bridge pitcher.  Suppan would send Dr. D screaming into the night; Jamie Moyer would pose a thick, thorny problem during 2012.

Millwood is for choice.  He's a disposable lighter who has been firing up surprisingly well.  This is the idea you're after.


Dr D


ghost's picture

That about sums up my reaction as well.  Millwood is rather like JEFF WEAVER in terms of the meaning of his signing.  Of course that 08 club imploded horribly, but Weaver was signed on a fungible one-year contract because the club wanted to win now without risking long term comitments in the rotation.  The good news is that Millwood will cost about 1/8th as much as Weaver did and the results will probably be a bit better. :)
But the concept is the same...cheap guy you can shed whenever you want to but is a warm body that takes the pressure off of Furbush and Beavan and any other youth.  Maybe Z acquired Furbush and decided he really didn't like his chances of staying healthy?  That would be my first guess.


Ahhh ... a former Brave.  I'm in my wheelhouse now. 
Millwood had (has?) exceptional skill and talent.  Always.  He was the John Smoltz understudy back in the day. But, Millwood's problem was NEVER ability.  It was always, (and remains), CON-SIS-TEN-CY.  He ain't got it.  Never did.  Never will.  And this is why even under the miracle eye of Leo Mazzone, the Braves could never get the goods out of Kevin that his talent promised.  And that's why they let him walk (to the Phillies?  Seriously?). 
Millwood's limitation was (and still is) above the neck not below it.  What SHOULD have been done with Millwood is what was done with Smoltz.  If someone had made him a closer, (perfect MLB spot for neurotics), Millwood might well have been racking up 40 saves a year for the last decade.  Probably too late for that experiment at this point, though.
For a team with a decent offense, Millwood could still be a .500 pitcher.  Because he'll pitch well enough to win about half the time and the other half ... well ... It's not that he implodes ... he's got too much ability to really implode.  He's not Jeff Weaver ... a guy who tended to live 3 pitches in the past.  Millwood is more the guy who lives 15 minutes in the future.  He'll lose focus ("Gee, do I want steak after the game or seafood?"  "Oh, Crap, I just gave up three runs!"), then pull it back together.
So, he'll eat innings.  But, he won't throw shutouts because he literally cannot stay focused for 3 hours at a stretch.  For his career he has 5 ... (3 came in his age 28 season with the Phillies in 2003).  He hasn't thrown one since.  That's 230 starts ago. 
Going to Texas was a disaster waiting to happen because you just cannot afford to let your mind wander in Arlington, (and playing without a defense certainly didn't help).  But, the Ranger offense scored reliably, so he was still a .500 pitcher, just with a lousy ERA.  But, if he came to Seattle, he'd likely have results a lot like his Baltimore season (4-16 with a 5.10 ERA).  He's *ALWAYS* going to give up 2 or 3 runs, but rarely 6 or more.  But with a weak offense, he's going to lose almost every start. 
In the right setting with the right manager with the perfect catcher all working together to try and keep him focused, Millwood might still be able to put together one more magical season.  But I don't think Seattle is where that would happen.  In Seattle, he'd pitch on a pace to throw 190 innings, with something like a 4.75 ERA while going 4-20 on the season. 
Millwood's path to greatness needed to be pitching one inning a day.  If Z wants to bring him in and make him closer .... ahhh, well a man can daydream.  Oh, wait ... that's kind of the problem, isn't it?


... and do we gather, from your commentary, that Millwood's stuff isn't far off from what it has been during his 30's?   Fangraphs had him at 89.2 average last year, 89.7 back in 2003.  His slider and cutter seem to be moving.
Wonder *why* it would be out of the question to let him pitch relief.  His repertoire is that of an innings eater, but located 90-92 (one inning) plus a change and slider, that can work.


Kind of made me stop short.
... I bust the M's chops when they deal for young players and then quickly move off them, but when you think about it, they might collect TONS of data in those six weeks, and/or CRITICAL data.
I mean, if they identify a fatal flaw in Wells' strike zone during weeks 3-4, there's nothing inherently wrong with the whole process.  You gamble when you trade for the guy.


I haven't seen him pitch lately, so judging decline is difficult.
My belief is that like most pitchers that age, the first (and most subtle) thing to go is not 'stuff' ... but the ability to generate the stuff on the same percentage of pitches.  With a guy prone to losing focus, this gets doubly difficult to identify.  When he groves a gopher is it because he lost focus or because he's lost ability?
The only question about making him a reliever is willingness, IMO.  In baseball, the difference in stature from starter to reliever is substantial in terms of ego and personal perception.  The development of the closer creates a position that can at least be perceived as potentially on par.  But even the greatest closers of all time are not viewed with the reverence of the greatest starters.  Mo Rivera will not be as revered as a Sandy Koufax. 
When you've been a starter your entire career, being moved to the pen can be viewed only as a demotion.  Maybe Millwood could accept such a much, (and I personally think, after a brief erratic adjustment period, Millwood could still be a plus reliever).  But, HE has to buy into the idea. 


Wow.  That's great for us.
Has Z mastered the Jedi Mind Trick?
Z:  "You will sign a MiLB contract".
Milwood: "Maybe I will"!
Maybe they will indeed make him a reliever.

glmuskie's picture

Jack Z does this every offseason, loads up with 2 rosters full of pitchers.  Awfully shrewd.  He refuses to be stuck without any pitchin options, and he knows that 1-3 of the 5-10 guys who are probably not going to make the team, are going to show something and make the team.  And 1-3 of the 5-10 guys who are pretty sure to be on the team, get hurt or can't pitch well or something.
Millwood and Perez I love as low-risk guys who could be very effective, either in relief, or spot starting, or taking a rotation spot if everything breaks right for them.

OBF's picture

Not just for the fact that the M's will hopefully never have to start the year with a guy like Anthony Vasquez in the rotation but also the trade chips it can create.  Why not let a guy like Millwood with a good strong reputation come into our spacious dead air park put up nice numbers for a half season and then flip for something at the trade deadline?  seems like a good, easy free way to pan for gold to me :)  Either because the pitcher gives us great performance, or if the team isnt doing so well he can be traded for prospects!

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