In their first move of the 2009/10 offseason the Orioles yesterday added the veteran starter they desired in Kevin Millwood. A 13 year veteran who has spent time with the Braves, Phillies, Indians, and Rangers, Millwood should provide much-needed stability in a rotation lacking experience. Millwood has averaged over 185 innings in his 12 full major league seasons and finished 2009 with an ERA of 3.67, which would have led the O’s by almost a full run. Although not necessarily the free agent pitcher with the highest ceiling (others will argue we should have gone after Ben Sheets or Rich Harden) it seems clear Andy McPhail was concerned with consistency. Last year the O’s only had two guys start over 20 games and neither of them (Guthrie and Berken) had an ERA under 5.00. I am hoping Millwood can be something of a poor-man’s Scott Erickson, not necessarily in style but in his consistency to come out every 5 days, let the bullpen rest up a little, and give the team a chance to win. While this isn’t a blockbuster acquisition by any means I think it’s a solid first move of the offseason for McPhail and company and should sure up our rotation going into spring training. They might not light the world on fire, but a rotation of Guthrie, Bergesen, Matusz, Tillman, and Millwood is something I can get excited about heading into the 2010 season.
The other good news that came out of this trade is that we shipped reliever Chris Ray to the Rangers. When Ray first emerged with the O’s I loved his style and I thought he could flourish for years in our bullpen, but after he had Tommy John surgery two years ago he hasn’t been the same. Instead of working the ball all over the plate and going right after hitters he now likes to groove fastballs right down the middle and give up 500 foot home runs to Alex Rodriguez. Not that any of the O’s relievers are prized pitchers, but Ray caused me a higher sense of frustration because of the potential we saw from him after his debut. So adios Chris, good luck in Texas, and hopefully this year it’s Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis driving your gopher balls out of Camden Yards when you come to town.