Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Crystal Ball '10: Kevin Millwood

I've covered the Millwood trade a bit before but I thought we needed to take a closer look at what to really expect from Mr. Millwood the Oriole. First, the projections:

IP      ERA    K    BB
CHONE 177.0 4.83 112 64
Bill James 175.0 4.37 126 55
B.P. 143.3 5.19 100 46

I think that Millwood has to pitch for a league average ERA (or approaching it) and at least 180 innings to be really useful for the Orioles in 2010. That means somewhere between a 4.60 and a 4.70 ERA. From the above projections, Millwood is, at best, at the high end of the ERA and at the low end of the innings pitched.

The good news is that Millwood is leaving The Ballpark at Arlington. Camden Yards is a homer haven but on the whole has been a neutral hitting environment for three straight seasons. The Rangers' stadium is even more homer-prone than OPACY and is a much better hitter's park overall. Millwood may be able to take advantage of pitching is a better environment in 2010.

What is more difficult to tell is how much help Millwood will need or get from the defense behind him. The strikeout rate dropped last year and he's a flyball pitcher, (although not an extreme one) so there's going to be a lot of balls put in play. A Markakis/Jones/Reimold/Pie outfield should be plenty busy but have the potential to help Millwood a lot. Izturis is top notch at short and Roberts is still passable at second. When we know who will hold down third and first base in 2010 we will know a bit more.

If his health holds, Millwood should be a good bet to approach league average and pitch north of 175 innings which would have made him one of the better pitchers in the O's rotation in '09. It's certainly a risk but it's short term risk If he pitches well enough to keep Jake Arrieta in AAA and Jason Berken and David Hernandez in the bullpen, it will be worth it.

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