Rangers and Millwood

By | December 26, 2005

Wow, the Rangers are signing Kevin Millwood. A lot of people didn’t think this would happen for the Rangers, because they have had a bumpy relationship with Scott Boras every since they gave two of his clients, Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park, about a billion dollars each, then finished in last place for the next several years. The Rodriguez deal was flat-out stupid, but the Park deal is the one that really broke them, because he, unlike A-Rod, completely failed to produce.

So now the Rangers have given Millwood, another Boras client, an almost identical contract: five years, $60 million (just $5 million less than Park’s five-year contract). So what are the Rangers seeing that makes them confident that Millwood will produce better than Park did? Well, let’s look at the differences:

Park was 28 when he signed his contract; Millwood is 31. Park was coming off five straight years of at least 29 starts and 13 wins (averaging a 15-10 record over those five years), four of which he had an ERA well below 4.00; Millwood is coming off a season in which he led the American League with a 2.86 ERA, one of three times in his nine-year career that he has dropped below 4.00. Millwood has a history of arm problems; Park had no such history.

Here’s the bottom line, as I see it: At their peaks, Kevin Millwood is a better pitcher than Chan Ho Park. However, based on their histories and ages at the time of signing their contracts, I see Millwood as MUCH more likely to break down at some point in the five years than Park. History has shown us that Park did, in fact, break down, and it makes me scared for the Rangers and Millwood.

This is a weak free agent class. Millwood was one of the top names on the market, and A.J. Burnett’s contract drove up the price. But if Millwood starts over 30 games for all five seasons of this contract and actually earns his $60 million, I will eat my hat. The Rangers have made a splash on starting pitching by signing Millwood to go along with their trades for Vicente Padilla and Adam Eaton, but I fear that, just as in 2001, they may be mortgaging the future by trying too hard today.

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