Thursday, December 04, 2003

Kevin KO'd; Eric Arriving

Kevin Millwood's tenure in Philadelphia will remain a one-year hiccup in his career. The Phillies yesterday rescinded their three-year, $30 million-ish offer to the righthander and instead dealt reliever Carlos Silva, backup infielder Nick Punto, and a player to be named to the Twins for lefty Eric Milton.

With Scott Boras, Millwood's agent, apparently demanding much more scratch from the Phils than GM Ed Wade was willing to part with, the team looked in another direction. "Kevin Millwood turned into a long shot for the Phillies, and they couldn't afford to wait," wrote the Inquirer's Todd Zolecki. "So yesterday they moved on."

Milton brings a recent history of injuries to the Phils, but when healthy, he was a solid double-digit winner for Minnesota. He gives up a lot of dingers, and his ERA -- 4.76 in six years with the Twins -- isn't grand, but he can bring a decent fastball, a good curve, a hard slider, and a changeup. The Daily News's Marcus Hayes reported that Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan liked the trade. (Then again, what else would he say?)

Hayes also noted that Boras was seeking five years at $15 million a pop for Millwood. That's too much for a 14-game winner who couldn't deliver the goods in the season's second half. The Phils can offer him arbitration by Sunday, but Millwood then would have until December 19 to decide whether to accept it. Wade apparently was worried that backup policies such as Milton might be unavailable by then should Millwood turn the Phillies down.

The dilemma for the Phillies is that if they don't offer Millwood arbitration and he signs elsewhere, they'll lose out on a draft pick from the team with whom he signs; if they do offer it, they're looking at an $11 million price tag for next season, which would greatly limit their flexibility in shoring up the bullpen and bench.

Neither Silva nor Punto was likely to have any kind of big-time impact on the 2004 Phillies. Silva has never developed into much more than a hard thrower, and Punto brings a slick glove, good speed, and no bat to a utility infielder's role. So I'm okay with taking a flyer on Milton. A more proven starter would have been a great addition, though. Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla, and Brett Myers now must really step it up, and as the DN's Bill Conlin observed perceptively last week, the Phils' big bats must be more consistent this year if the team is going to contend.

I'm not the only one who feels the deal doesn't have the jaw-dropping impact of Phillies acquisitions of the last few years. David Pinto of Baseball Musings writes, "I'd rather have Millwood, but Milton's okay. His main weakness is giving up a lot of HR. It would be nice if you could blame that on the HHH Dome, but he's given up more HR in fewer innings on the road during his time in Minnesota." At the Philling Station, Eric Charlesworth observes, "Milton missed most of last season after having knee surgery but has had solid peripherals throughout his career. Hence he is a perennial fantasy pick for me -- and one who tends to disappoint." Foolishly continuing to hope for a Millwood signing, adding, "I love Milton as a No. 5 though. Love him."

For what it's worth, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis played the trade as a salary dump that will enable the Twins to negotiate better with closer Eddie Guardado and outfielder Shannon Stewart.


Post a Comment

<< Home