Kevin Millwood was signed by the Yankees to provide a fallback option for the rotation and now Phil Hughes is struggling enough to make removing him from the rotation a possibility, but it doesn’t sound like Millwood will be back in the majors any time soon.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spoke to a scout who saw Millwood pitch in extended spring training and said he was “terrible.”
Of course, the same scout also said of Millwood: “Here’s a guy who used to throw 94-95. Now he’s throwing 86.”
There may have been a point when Millwood threw 94-95 miles per hour, but it hasn’t been for a very, very long time. At least a decade, in fact. During the nine seasons in which Fan Graphs has velocity data Millwood’s fastball has averaged 90.8 miles per hour and going back to 2002, when he was with the Braves, his fastball averaged 91.4 mph.
None of which makes the fact that “now he’s throwing 86” any less of an indictment of Millwood’s current abilities, but it does say something about always taking the word of scouts as gospel. Sometimes the numbers tell plenty.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”