Wagner and Millwood Revisited

Tom at Shallow Center took issue with my analysis of the Billy Wagner trade, in which I argued that “Wagner has to help [the Phillies’] bullpen, but the victory will be Pyhrric if they can’t re-sign Millwood.” His point:
Millwood was exactly the stud we hoped he’d be in the season’s first half, even mixing in a no-no to boot, but fell apart in the latter half of the year. Scott Boras, his agent, will shop him hard, and probably will land him somewhere, at a huge cost — that’s what Boras does, after all. Millwood’s new team then will cross their fingers and pray that he’s a legit No. 1. Millwood never was that kind of guy with the Braves, and he wasn’t one with the Phils. He’s a good pitcher, but until he shows me a Maddux/Schilling/Clemens level of domination, I don’t think he should be paid as such.
That’s a fair argument, and I agree completely with Tom’s drumbeat in favor of bringing back Curt Schilling instead of Millwood. I still think Millwood’s a solid pitcher, assuming he’s healthy, and thus a good investment in the abstract, but I can understand the frustration of Phillies fans for his reversal of his usual pattern in falling apart in the second half this season, and the fact that Millwood is useful doesn’t mean you bring him back if he’s asking for an unreasonable pay raise. My point is a more basic one: if you don’t re-sign Millwood and don’t replace him with a comparable starter or one who’s an upgrade, such as Schilling, then spending the money to shore up the bullpen instead by the addition of the highly-paid Wagner is no substitute, and in fact is a bad idea if it means you passed on keeping that money available to spend on starting pitching.

5 thoughts on “Wagner and Millwood Revisited”

  1. I wish someone would tell AOL/Time Warner that you’re supposed to replace a stud with another front-liner.
    The buzz around Atlanta is that they’re willing to let Maddux walk ($15 million) & not make a pitch at Millwood, Colon or Vazquez, but rather rely on the remaining starters & use the recovered Paul Byrd ($5 million) in Maddux’s slot. That, plus the potential loss of Sheffield and Lopez could mean a loooooong summer for Braves fans.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Crank. Ricky, pardon me for saying so, but Braves fans are about due for a long summer. Paul Byrd is a good guy, but of course he’s no Maddux. . . .

  3. I support bringing Schilling back, but it’s worth noting that all of the Phils’ starters, except Padilla, had lousy second halves. It wasn’t just Millwood.
    Maybe it was Bowa fatigue factor….the team underperfomed by at least 5 wins, if you at their Pythagorean numbers. Which raises the question-why get Wagner, Schilling, etc. only to have the team continue to be led by the obnoxious yet inept Bowa? The first order of business for the Phillies should be to hire a capable, mentally stable manager.

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