With the Rangers having practically eliminated themselves from playoff contention, Tim Cowlishaw has a timely money-saving idea:
- Now that they trail Boston by 5 1/2 and the Angels by 6 games, are the Rangers really in any kind of a hunt? I would say only if they sweep the Angels this weekend should they continue in full pursuit.
Anything less than that and I wouldn't pitch Kevin Millwood again this season. Would you?
After pitching like an All-Star the first half, Millwood's now at 10-10 with a 3.94 ERA. I would take that ERA any time in Arlington but, at 35 next season, do you think he has another number like that in him?
If Millwood makes it to 180 innings, the Rangers are on the hook for $12 million for Millwood in 2010. If he's a free agent, Texas could sign him for half of that. Probably even less unless the economy makes a shocking full recovery in the next few months.
Could the Rangers really sign him for "half of that?" Maybe not if he believes he was artificially dropped from the rotation to save $6 million. Players are people and people can be stubborn; some people would rather earn $4 million from an employer that didn't screw them than $6 million from one that did.
Which would be no big loss for the Rangers. If you can't sign Millwood for $6 million, you certainly can sign someone like Millwood for $6 million. Or less. This year his ERA is fine, but his walks are up and his strikeouts are down, and he's giving up more homers than usual. As fullcountpitch.com's Gary Armida writes, much of Millwood's success -- and that of his pitching teammates' -- can be attributed to the Rangers' vastly improved defense (and probably a spot of luck, too). The Rangers might miss Millwood's innings and his veteran leadership, but it shouldn't be real hard to replace his underlying performance.
Fortunately, the Rangers do have an excuse for sitting Millwood: in his last five starts, he's 1-4 with a 7.62 ERA, and only one of those starts was even modestly successful.
Unfortunately, it's not clear that they can sit him enough. One turn in the rotation, maybe. Or even two. But he's just 13 outs away from vesting that $12 million. I think the Rangers are just stuck.