If you haven’t heard, the Dodgers signed righty reliever Justin Miller to a minor-league contract today. You’re probably thinking that I’ll be frustrated with this, as I have been with the rumors of the last few days. I mean, all of the signs are there, right? Signing an over-30 reliever with increasingly mediocre performances – and who is yet another ex-Giant, no less – is exactly the sort of thing I should hate.
But I don’t hate this. No, it’s not because Justin Miller is any good. If he’s good at anything, it’s being a poster child for how ERA (especially for relievers) can be unreliable. I guarantee that there’s Dodger fans out there who read about this signing, saw his 3.18 ERA, and think he’s a stud. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. After spending 2006 in Japan, Miller’s pitched in at least 44 games in each of the last three seasons, the first two with Florida. How’d that work out? Well, there’s been a declining strikeout rate each year (10.8->8.3->5.7), an increasing walk rate (3.5->3.9->4.3), and an increasing homer rate (0.7->0.8->1.1). That nice ERA in 2009 was largely due to luck, since his BABIP was a far-below-average .227. Put that all together, and his FIP was 4.91, which sounds a whole lot more like it should be.
Still, as I said, I don’t hate this. Yeah, he’s not any good, but it’s encouraging to see that guys like this aren’t being evaluated strictly on misleading ERA’s anymore. And it’s a minor league deal, so how can I complain? With bullpen turnover so high from year to year, it’s smart to pile as many arms like this as you can in the minors. Besides, Vin Scully loves talking about Miller’s crazy tattoos whenever he’s faced the Dodgers in the past, so it’s hard to not want to root to hear that on a more regular basis.
From that same article, the Dodgers also signed Prentice Redman. Now, you’re probably asking the same question I am, and that’s “who the hell is Prentice Redman?” My first thought was that maybe it was former Pirates OF Tike Redman, and it turns out I was close – they’re brothers.
Prentice is 30 and his major league career consists of 3 hits in 27 plate appearances with the 2003 Mets. He did manage to get on the board with a homer among those 3 hits, and who was it against? Jose Mesa. Of course it was.
Since then, he’s bounced around between AA and AAA in the Mets, Nationals, Cardinals, and Mariners organizations without getting a sniff of the bigs. The minor league stats are impressive, though. In 2008 he hit 25 homers with a .920 OPS split between Seattle’s AA and AAA clubs; in 2009 it was 21 homers with a .900 OPS in AAA. Is he worth giving playing time to ahead of Xavier Paul if you need another outfielder in the bigs? Probably not, but if he can put up numbers like that in Tacoma, you can expect him to put up huge numbers in Albuquerque. On a minor-league deal, another fine signing.
Not to harp on something that probably wasn’t a big deal in the first place, but Vinny Rottino signed with the Marlins today. You may remember that he’s who Claudio Vargas was traded for in July, which I thought was stupid at the time. It didn’t get any smarter by the time of our off-season reviews:
Vargas went to Milwaukee and continued to excel (1.78 ERA, .530 OPS against), Rottino went to Chattanooga, never to be heard from, and I still can’t find a good reason for any of it.
In exchange for Vargas, the Dodgers got a total return of 89 AA plate appearances. Because somehow that’s a fair trade.