Royals Reportedly Interested in Kevin Millwood


Maybe you’ve heard this line: “Only losing teams have innings eaters”.

So I guess it stands to reason the the Royals would be interested in former Brave, Phillie, Indian, Ranger and Oriole Kevin Millwood (so sayeth MLB Trade Rumors).  In 2011, it’s pretty likely the Royals will still be a losing team, though making the first strides towards changing that while acclimating younger players in the organization to playing in the big leagues.

And to look at the projected Royals rotation next season, they could probably use a guy like Millwood, who has started 25 games or more in 12 of his 14 major league seasons.

Really though, would he be worth it?

After Gil Meche‘s shoulder injuries marooned him in the bullpen and Bruce Chen was allowed to walk away as a free agent, the Royals are left with a rotation of Zack Greinke, Luke Hochevar, newly acquired Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan. Kyle Davies hasn’t been non-tendered, but he has yet to be tendered a contract for 2011, so we can pencil him into the rotation, but he might be a roster casualty this winter. A Millwood signing would probably give us the answer to the Kyle Davies question.

Millwood’s track record tells two things about him as a player: he stays healthy – he is, as the paraphrased quote suggests, an innings eater, and he has pretty average control and strikeout ability. I guess the easiest way to describe him is he’s pretty dull, boring. Flat. Uninteresting. He is what he is.

14 Seasons1591374.114062505.0114377919401071.3279.
162 Game Avg.13114.113420895651611071.3279.
ATL (6 yrs)75463.731601004.14163038401171.2168.
TEX (4 yrs)48464.57125755.03832405281001.45210.
PHI (2 yrs)23184.3460363.0175119294971.3339.
CLE (1 yr)9112.8630192.061521461471.2198.
BAL (1 yr)4165.1031190.210865132831.51010.
NL (8 yrs)98643.892201367.159142211341111.2478.
AL (6 yrs)61734.371861137.25523578061021.42210.

That’s not to say he’s a bad pitcher.  A career K/BB ratio around 2.5 is just fine, though unspectacular.  In 13 full seasons, he’s averaged about 190 innings a year and doesn’t walk many batters at all.  For the right price, sure, he’d be a decent addition.  He may even add some of the mysterious intangibles  to a young and developing group of pitchers.

Millwood led the American League in ERA in 2005 with Cleveland and posted solid numbers with the Braves in his early years in the majors.  He’s been a young starter in the big leagues, dealt with success, and now is a reliable pitcher to make 30 or more starts in a season.  A bunch of kids in their 20s could learn from a guy like that on how to stick in the big leagues, how to keep your arm in shape, and how to keep getting batters out.

My issue is that I fear the Royals will overpay for him.  Dayton Moore did so with Gil Meche back in 2006, tacking on an extra year and signing the righty to what looked like a foolish deal at the time, a steal after two years, and an albatross in its third and fourth years.  In the final year, Meche could be a solid option out of the bullpen if last years results are any indication.  Millwood’s also drawing interest from the Rockies, so Moore might be compelled to tack on an extra guaranteed year or an unnecessary dollar amount if he’s truly interested.

Millwood’s last contract cost the Orioles $9 million ($3 million was paid by the Rangers).  At 36, I can’t expect Millwood to continue to make $12 million a year, but if it takes more than $5 million to bring him in for one year, it’s a bad deal.  I’m not sure one year at that rate is any good either.

Over the last four years, Millwood has surrendered more than 14 baserunners per nine innings in three of those seasons.  In 2009, he gave up only 8.8 H/9 but 3.2 BB/9 and a career low 5.6 K/9.  His ERA was 3.67, so it looks solid on paper.  In the other three years in that span, his ERA surpassed 5.00.

As I said above, if Millwood were to join the Royals, it would likely signal the end of the Kyle Davies era in Kansas City.  I’ve never been a big Davies fan.  I thought he might better serve the Royals out of the bullpen going into 2010 with Robinson Tejeda taking his spot in the rotation.  I don’t know that Tejeda would have done worse, but Davies 5.34 ERA and 126/80 K/BB ratio wasn’t very solid by anybody’s standards.  However, at 27 years old and at a likely contract of less than $3 million once a contract is tendered to him, Davies isn’t much different from Millwood, minus the early years of success.

Now, if Millwood signs for $3 million, fine.  But if my options are a 27 year old starter at $3 million or a 36 year old at $5 million (or more), I think you have to go for the younger player with most of the numbers being equal.  Davies made 32 starts in 2010 and didn’t have any injury issues, so he’s a good bet to provide a similar workload in 2011.  Would I be upset if Millwood signs a one year deal at $2.5-3 million with a club option (just in case they need to eat some innings early in 2012)? Nope, that’s fine.  No big deal.

Anything more is a waste.  We already have a Kevin Millwood, just under a different name.

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