While Kevin Millwood pitched well earlier in the season, he is 2-4 with a 5.92 ERA and has been walking a lot of guys in his past 11 starts. What’s more, as Baseball Time in Arlington’s Joey Matschulat notes this morning, Millwood has greatly reduced the number of fastballs he has thrown in the second half, which could suggest an injury.
Is he hurt or is he just ineffective? These aren’t merely baseball questions for the Rangers, they’re business questions too, because Millwood needs eight more innings to reach 180 for the year, and that would trigger his $12 million option for 2010. In light of (a) his performance, (b) Texas’ plethora of young pitching talent; and (c) Owner Tom Hicks’ severe financial problems and the impending sale of the team, there is at least a reasonable argument to be made that Texas should shut Millwood down.
Anyone willing to go on the record is saying that won’t happen, however. Millwood is slated to start tonight, and both GM Jon Daniels and team President Nolan Ryan are saying that they won’t consider sitting him in order to prevent his option from vesting. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, however, adds an ominous sounding note when he says “It may be
others besides the Rangers baseball people who decide that Millwood
won’t pitch beyond Friday.”
That seems like a very odd thing for him to just throw into an article like this. Sullivan is a good reporter and knows the Rangers better than anyone, so I can’t help but think that he’s heard something from someone suggesting that Millwood’s season could be over soon.
I suppose a lot of this depends on how he pitches tonight. If he’s effective, I can’t see how the Rangers could keep him off the mound without losing both the clubhouse and the fans. If he’s shelled, however, all bets are off.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.