23 December 2004

Wade Miller a Red Sox

As the non-tender deadline approached, word had it that Houston- in an effort to conserve budget in making a run at Carlos Beltran- was going to non-tender Wade Miller. They had, going into 2005, Roger Clemens (accepted arbitration, said to be leaning towards a return), Roy Oswalt as one of the best #2s in the game, and a (presumably) recovered Andy Pettitte. Wade Miller, off an injury in 2004, was a luxury that needed to be excised in the interest of the bidding war expected for Beltran's services.

As expected, Miller was not tendered a contract, and as soon as it was made official, speculation began in the hopes that Boston would take a look at Miller. Word was coming down though, from sources such as Rotoworld, the Houston Chronicle and the Toronto Globe and Mail that anywhere from 6 to 15 teams were expressing interest in the right hander.

Around 530 today, news came down that the Red Sox had signed Miller to a one year deal. Theo didn't fuck around, stuck his hand in the ring and nabbed the guy quick. It was an unbelievably canny signing, and was accompanied by this quote from Miller's agent:

"The Red Sox were right on it from the beginning," Garber said. "They flew him to town and made him feel welcome. That's what Theo Epstein does. He makes players feel wanted, and they want to come here."

The best part though, were the terms of the deal. Laying somewhere between the likeness of the Matt Mantei and David Wells deals, Miller's pact had a low base with a (relatively) high ceiling through performance baesd incentives. Furthermore, Miller is only arbitration eligible after 05, and should the Sox deem it in their interests, would not lose him to free agency, as he has only 6 years service time to date.

The base was a $1.5 million dollar deal with the incentives pushing it to a max of $4.5. That means that not only did the Red Sox get Matt Clement and Wade Miller for the price the Yankees paid Carl Pavano, they also go Matt Clement, Wade Miller, David Wells and Matt Mantei for the price of Pedro Martinez. Not bad bang for the buck. The Pavano comparisons are crucial- Epstein likely identified his value as being grossly overrated, and instead went for spreading the money around to cheaper, comparable talent. When healthy, Wade Miller is a better pitcher than Carl Pavano, and Matt Clement has more consistency, a higher ceiling, and better stuff. Here are Wade Miller's ERA+ and K/9 the last 4 seasons:

2001: 134, 7.77
2002: 130, 7.87
2003: 107, 7.74
2004: 129, 7.51

If Wade Miller stays healthy and makes his starts, he'll be our #2 starter and earn well above the $4.5 million he'll be paid. It's worth mentioning too that Miller was required to undergo a physical prior to signing, and the Sox were satisfied enough with it to sign him to a contract. If he breaks down, he will cost us a paltry $1.5 million, and we will still be in great shape to fill his hole come trading deadline.

By saving his trading chips now, Epstein has filled his roster with cost-effective options and left the ability to reevaluate on July 31st and acquire with strong mL talent someone that will address a direct need. It appears to me to be the best of both worlds, especially considering the fact that what may be available at the deadline looks a lot more appealing than what's left now. In other news, I love Theo.

It looks like all that remains to be done for the Sox roster would be to trade either Millar, Mientkiewicz, or both, and then sign Varitek. One would hope too that the Red Sox don't get out of hand financially on a 32 year old catcher, especially considering they're the only ones bidding on him at this point. Varitek's deal has to be done by Jan 8th, or the Sox can't touch him until May.


Some more signings...

Moises Alou signs with San Francisco, two years, $13.5 million
Moises is a legit power guy behind Bonds, but he's getting older, moving out of Wrigley into Pac Bell (BIG difference) and his defense, in an already bad defensive outfield that NEEDS good defenders, is not what it once was. Not too much money, but it could represent the down phase of Moises' career, unfortunately. Great player.

El Duque signs a two year, $8 million dollar contract with the Chicago White Sox
I think Kenny Williams might be retarded.

JD Drew signs a five year, $55 million dollar deal with Los Angeles
You inevitably look at this deal in one of two ways- "JD is always hurt, save for his contract year, and is not in the lineup consistently enough. Plus, Buster Olney told me that patellar tendonitis, which Drew has in his knee, is the 'runny nose' for steroid use. This is a bad signing." Or, you may say, "when healthy, the guy is one of the best hitting outfielders in baseball, is on the upswing production-wise, and $11 per is a steal for that kind of offense/ defense." So, pick a side. I have no idea which one I'm on. And by the way, this was one of the "moving parts" on the Randy Johnson trade-that-never-was. I'm not swallowing that ball of wax, but it's fun to mention it.

I'm gonna do some sort of article on "The Wire," seeing as it just finished a brilliant, watershed season on HBO, and the website has some awesome stuff I'd love to link to.

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