(Photo by Associated Press)
After his two-hit masterpiece last night, a reporter said to Kevin Millwood that he looked like he had found a home with the Mariners, and asked if he felt that way, too. The question seemed to take him aback. Millwood’s no dummy. He’s happy to be here, certainly, but he’s savvy enough to know that there is likely no long-term future in Seattle for him. It may be his home right now, but it’s a transient one.
Here’s what he answered, diplomatically: “I hope so. I hope they’re not going to kick me out any time soon. I feel comfortable here. There’s a lot of good people here. I enjoy the staff and the front office. It’s a fun place to play.”
But let’s be realistic here: Millwood is 37 years old and at the tail end of his career. The Mariners have Erasmo Ramirez and Andrew Carraway (who is 5-0 with a 2.24 ERA this season between Double-A and Triple-A after another good start for Tacoma last night) knocking on the rotation door. They have the Big Three in Jackson creeping ever closer to the majors. And the team is going nowhere in the pennant race.
Millwood is the classic stretch-drive trade chip – a savvy veteran with postseason experience. So every good outing by him is a boost to his trade value. He’s had two in a row now after it looked for awhile like he might not be long for the rotation. Last night’s outing was the sort of performance that can’t help but catch the eye of teams that might be looking for some help down the road. His Game Score on the Bill James scale was 89, compared to 87 for Felix Hernandez in his one-hit gem over eight innings against the Twins.
(Here’s the formula for this interested. Highest score ever for a nine-inning game is 105 by Kerry Wood when he struck out 20 with no walks in a one-hitter in 1998):
1. Start with 50 points.
2. Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 points for every complete inning pitched.
3. Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.
4. Add 1 point for each strikeout.
5. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
6. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
7. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
8. Subtract 1 point for each walk.
Let’s not get too carried away here – Millwood is not going to fetch a blue-chip prospect. But the better he pitches, the better will be the Mariners’ return if they trade him. Brandon League, their other obvious trade chip, isn’t doing the team any favors with three blown saves, but there’s still lots of time for him to right himself, as he did last year after a rough stretch.
So kudos to Kevin Millwood on a gem last night. Understand that I’m not trying to run him out of town. I think the Mariners’ young pitchers can learn a lot from him. Last night’s performance was a doctorate in the art of pitching, and one can only hope they were paying rapt attention. But I would be very surprised if Seattle turned into a long-term home for Millwood.