Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Trade for Eric Milton

No, not really

Sometimes you hit a lull as a blogger, where boredom and duldrums set in; where you can't think of any novel way to say, "Gee, I really hope Nick Johnson's not hurt too badly"; where you have absolutely nothing novel to note about the team's roster or strategy or statistics; where even genuflecting in front of your hallowed and beatified Washington Post beat writer seems hollow.

It's at this point that you just start saying idiotic things, hoping that the idiocy will be the catalyst of a purging of the tired insignificance and stagnation that hinder your ability to think creativity. And, out of that idiocy, a new blogging day eventually dawns.

I was going to try it tonight, especially after reading this portion of
Ken Rosenthal's Monday Sporting News column:

Here's how the Reds can trade beleaguered lefthander Eric Milton: By offering to pay half of his remaining salary to a team that plays in a pitcher-friendly park. The Nationals, Giants or Tigers might be willing to take a chance on Milton if they were paying him $4.25 million per season instead of $8.5 million.

Trade for
Eric Milton? Hey, this is just crazy enough to work! I can advocate this!

No, I can't.

Back when I was in the eighth grade, there was this guy---I think his name was "Cam"---who would do anything for money. (Hey, get yer mind out of the gutter!) One time we were in science class, fooling around---as Professor Frink might say---with the Bunsen burner and the chemicals and the beakers and the smoke that smells. Someone offered Cam a dollar if Cam would, instead of "wafting" the smoke, actually duck his head next to the beaker full of the smelly stuff and "snort" in the smell for one whole minute.

Cam drove a tough bargain, and wouldn't assent to the challenge until all of us agreed to throw a buck into the pot. Having agreed to the bargained-for exchange, Cam performed as instructed (who knows what the teacher was doing in all this?), and after one minute . . .

. . . well, all this stuff flowed out of his nose. It was sort of cool at the time, but in retrospect seems a bit disgusting. Cam was certainly disgusted, that's for sure.

Even if the Reds were to subsidize half of the salary, Eric Milton's acquisition would likely lead to a similarly disgusting result. It just isn't worth it. The guy was decent pitcher in 2001-02, probably not much better than that. And he's done now---shot, spooked, kaput.

When Milton pitches, Major League Baseball issues special balls with Yuri Gagarin's profile on the MLB logo.

But don't trust my cursory analysis here; let's itemize some positives and negatives concerning Milton, from the Nats' perspective.


---> His strikeout-to-walk ratio (basically 2-to-1) is still pretty good.
---> His adjusted cost of $4.25 million is, well, it's not a fortune---as long as I remember it's not my money we're talking about.
---> Presumably, we need to acquire somebody as an extra pitcher and Milton, as a hominid who breathes oxygen, ostensibly qualifies as a somebody.


---> Every other possible consideration.


---> His record is 3-9.
---> But, if won-lost record is not your thing, consider that his ERA is 7.70.
---> But, if you think he could just be extraordinarily unlucky on balls in play, consider he's surrendered 27 homers in 87.2 innings pitched.
---> But, if you think his problem is a band-box home park, consider his home/road splits:

LOCATION . . W/L . . ERA . . HR/9IP
HOME . . . . . . .3-4 . . . 5.71 . . . 2.60
AWAY . . . . . . .0-5 . . . 10.60 .. 3.03

That's right, gang: his ERA on the road would be above 3.00, even if you threw everything out but the home runs.

Last year, many media types rationalized the disconnect between Milton's 14-6 record for the Phillies with his 4.75 ERA by announcing that Milton knew "how to win" and that Philly's new park hurt him, anyway. I can't say much about the first point, except to point out that Milton's forgotten "how to win" awfully quickly; the second point, however, I can announce (as have hundreds of bloggers before me) that it's complete bunk.

Here's the 2004 splits:

LOCATION . . W/L . . ERA . . HR/9IP
HOME . . . . . . .6-3 . . . 4.40 . . 1.73
AWAY . . . . . . .8-3 . . . 5.12 . . .2.14

Milton's done for, if you didn't know if already.

Maybe he'll regroup in a couple of years and be able to contribute to a winning team on a limited, spot-starting basis, but the guy's days as an impact (i.e., expensive) pitcher should have ended prior to this season. Milton's contract was ridiculous from the day he signed it, and making it only half as ridiculous in no way makes it virtuous for the Nats.

A few years back, there was another guy who, despite respectable K/BB numbers, became a human solid rocket booster upon moving to a homerific park. When traded to a better park for pitchers, his fortunes did not change---not for a few years, anyway, and he's not worth much money even today.

I wonder if Eric Milton's wife is, uh, a good singer, too.

Oh, hell no! I am a Reds fan from birth, and he has been the worst of all pitchers.
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