In 2005, the last
time he was pitching for a contract, Kevin Millwood posted a 2.86 ERA that led
the American League. Vicente Padilla,
one year away from his first shot at free agency, went 9-12, 4.71, after which Philadelphia decided to trade him to Texas for Ricardo Rodriguez.
In 2006, Millwood
and Padilla’s first season with the Rangers, their results were nearly
identical: Millwood went 16-12, 4.52 in 34 starts, chewing up 215 innings, while
Padilla went 15-10, 4.50 in 33 starts, logging 200 frames.
Things change quickly
in this game, sometimes overnight and without warning. Millwood and Padilla can look around the
clubhouse in Surprise to hammer that point home.
Dial back to those
2005 and 2006 seasons.
In 2005, Andruw Jones
had a .922 OPS, 51 home runs, and 128 RBI, and was runner-up for NL MVP. Eddie Guardado saved 36 games and had a 2.72
ERA. Brendan Donnelly won nine games in
relief and posted a 3.72 ERA for a 95-win Angels team. Kris Benson went 10-8, 4.13 in 28 Mets starts.
In 2006, Omar
Vizquel hit .295/.361/.389 and locked down his 11th Gold Glove
(second most in history for a shortstop).
Derrick Turnbow saved 39 games, won seven more, and posted a 1.74 ERA under
Mike Maddux’s tutelage in his first full big league season (other than his scattered
Rule 5 season six years earlier). Jason
Jennings went 9-13, 3.78, logging 212 Rockies
innings, completing three of his 32 starts, two of which were shutouts.
All seven of them
are in camp with the Rangers on minor league deals.
If you think that’s
not incentive enough for Millwood and Padilla, consider the following free
agent deals signed this winter:
C.C. Sabathia: seven
years, $161 million. A.J. Burnett: five
years, $82.5 million. Derek Lowe: four
years, $60 million. Ryan Dempster: four
years, $52 million. Oliver Perez: three
years, $36 million.
Then there’s a
dropoff. A huge one.
Randy Johnson: one
year, $8 million. Jon Garland: one year,
$7.25 million. Andy Pettitte and John
Smoltz: each one year, $5.5 million.
Brad Penny and Randy Wolf: each one year, $5 million.
The chasm between
the top tier and the second tier is bigger than ever.
Millwood and Padilla to be as motivated as they’ve ever been, and to deliver Texas as much as they
did in 2006.