Generally in the off-season, I eagerly devour any news or rumor related to the Royals. A big part of not being very good for a number of years is the ever present hope of getting better. The quickest way to get better is to make moves in the off-season. Right now, however, I click on MLBTraderumors or other sites with one eye closed, ever fearful that the ‘Kevin Millwood signed by the Royals’ headline will appear.
It is not that I despise Kevin Millwood. He has, in the past, been a pretty solid major league pitcher. Signing him reminds me of the scene in ‘Major League’ when Jake Taylor shows up for spring training;
“Hey, that’s Jake Taylor. I wish we had him two years ago.”
“Well, I wish we had him four years ago.”
Sure, the very real possibility exists that Sean O’Sullivan or Kyle Davies or Vin Mazzaro or even Luke Hochevar might post months worth of plus six earned run averages. That is something that Millwood is unlikely to do. At this point in his career, Kevin is probably a guy you can count on to gut out five innings or so with an ERA around five. He is Odalis Perez or Scott Elarton or Mark Redman or whomever.
The point is, what’s the point?
When you factor in that a number of teams ‘have interest’ in Millwood, that likely means he is not one year bargain priced veteran to help the transition of the soon to be arriving youngsters to the majors. Instead, a Millwood signing by the Royals would seem to fall into the ‘couple million dollars too many with an extra year for no reason’ category in which all too many of Dayton Moore’s free agent signees fall.
A saw a tweet or a comment somewhere along the lines that ‘only losing teams seem to have a need for an innings eater’ and I could not agree more.
The big supposed upside to a signing of Millwood or a Millwood-type is the veteran leadership quality. Over here on the statistical side of baseball, that is a quality often mocked or discounted, but it is a very real part of successful baseball teams. That said, I am reminded of Terry Pendleton back in his brief days with the Royals saying ‘it’s hard to be a leader when you are hitting .213.’
In the leadership category, don’t the Royals already have one in Gil Meche? Sure, he is not a starter anymore, but he is still pitching. Gil, in fact, is pitching out of the bullpen when he could be sitting on a beach somewhere earning $12 million while he waited for his shoulder to heal.
It seems like a lot of my columns of late lead back to The Process and this one turns out to be no different. Do you trust it or not? If you do, then you soldier on in 2011 and patiently wait for the great infusion of young talent to appear next summer and certainly the year after that. If you don’t, then you sign Kevin Millwood and Jeff Francouer in a misguided hope that you can go 72-90 instead of 68-94.
Kevin Millwood, I’m sure, is a heckuva guy and solid professional, but let me put in my vote for ‘no thanks.’