Would Andrew Miller be a good fit for the White Sox?
Oct 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcherAndrew Miller
(48) pitches in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals in game two of the 2014 ALCS playoff at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
Free agent Andrew Miller has been one of the best left-handed relievers for the past number of years in all of baseball, there is no doubt about that.
Here is my question: Is he worth the money that he is asking for?
Reports are surfacing that he wants $10M per year, which should be reserved for a closer, and as of this past season, Miller was the late inning set-up man, and not a closer for the Baltimore Orioles.
Sep 9, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Andrew Miller (48) stretches before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
With that said, Can Miller close for the Chicago White Sox? That is asked because we all know they are in much need of a closer after what we all witnessed last season.
That is the big question being asked, considering Miller has has never been a closer in the majors.
Miller can get hitters out, which is not the issue at hand. The issue is can he close? Here are his splits, which are important in the ninth inning considering he will face hitters from predominantly from the right side.
Versus left handed batters Miller’s numbers since 2012 are:
AB: 236, BA: .186, OBP: .253, HR: 5, RBI: 27, K: 105, BB: 20.
Versus right handed batters (since 2012):
AB: 239, BA: .176. OBP: .294, HR: 4, RBI: 16, K: 97, BB: 34.
As you can see, it isn’t as though Miller is drastically worse righties or lefties, but the question is could he do it in the ninth inning, because that is an entire different experience.
Next: Should the White Sox have Ronald Belisario return in '15?
Let’s take a look at the saves leader for the White Sox last season, Jake Petricka.
Petricka in ’14 finished with 14 saves with an ERA of 2.96 as one of the few White Sox closers. As a reliever in general, Petricka (RHP) had 55 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.37. He allowed a total of three home runs and 24 total earned runs in 73 innings. He also had four blown saves and 10 holds in 67 total appearances.
Many middle to late inning relievers struggle as a closer due to the mindset that it takes to do that job. Not to mention the fact that he would be expected to fix the White Sox bullpen, adding extra pressure.
Miller has elite stuff, making him nearly un-hittable against lefties. The big question is this: Do you pay a one-inning reliever $10 million, especially when the team has other holes?
Here is why I think this would be a bad idea.
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One arm injury and the White Sox have an albatross on their hands. While I think the Sox need to upgrade the bullpen, is continue to ask should they put so much money into one player?
I would love to add Miller to the Sox pen, however, it is so risky to give $10 million to a reliever. Assuming the White Sox give a three or four-year deal to Miller, he will be in decline for a good part of it.
I’d rather not give a big contract to a relief pitcher, but spread the money around the bullpen instead. A couple of great players won’t win championships. A team needs depth, players 1 through 25. What is the point of having a great closer if the rest of the bullpen struggles and loses the chance at a save opportunity?
The more solid players the Sox can put around Jose Abreu and Chris Sale, the better of a chance the Sox have of winning.