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Rangers too generous with Millwood

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The Rangers signed Kevin Millwood to a 4-year, $48 million deal. There is an option for a fifth year at $12 million. What did the Rangers get?

Millwood did lead the AL in ERA last year, but he pitched only 186 innings. In three of the last 5 seasons, he has pitched under 200 innings (121 and 141 IP being the other two). So he can't be counted on to pitch alot of innings. He also just turned 31.  Here are his Win Shares for the last 4 seasons: 19, 11, 5, 14.  Win Shares is the stat invented by Bill James which measures a pitchers contribution to his team wins independent of the fielders and hitters. So Millwood has not been very consistent.

Over the last 4 years there have been 80 pitchers to pitch a total of 600+ IP. Among them, Millwood is 22nd in strikeout-to-walk ratio and 14th in HRs per IP. He is also tied for 51st in RSAA. That is "runs saved against average" from the Lee Sinins Sabermetric Encyclopedia. It is park adjusted, too. So Millwood is not among the elite pitchers in baseball but he is being paid like one.

We should look at the best starting pitchers in 2005 and their salaries to see where this deal fits. Below are the leaders in each league with their WS total followed by their salaries.

AL
Santana-23-4.75 million
Buehrle-22-6 million
Garland-20-3.4 million
Colon-17-10 million
Contreras-17-8.5 million
Garcia-17-8 million
Lackey-16-440,000

NL
Clemens-24-18 million
Willis-22-378,000
Oswalt-21-5.9 million
Pettitte-21-8.5 million
Carpenter-20-2 million
Martinez-19-11 million
Smoltz-19-9 million
Zambrano-18-3.76 million

Quite alot of pitchers with more Win Shares than Millwood and a lower salary than $12 million.

The White Sox gave John Garland a 3-year deal for $27 million and he is coming off of a better season and has been more durable in recent years than Millwood. Garland has averaged about 200 IP a year over the last 4 years with not season less than 190. He is also 26, 5 years younger than Millwood.

Maybe there have not been that many top starters on the market this year. But $12 million dollars seems too much to pay for the number of Win Shares that Kevin Millwood will probably deliver.