[j-ball] Doug Creek and Kurt Miller
- <Quoting the weekly update from Latham-san in his web page>
June 29, 1999
New foreign acquisitions:
[Image]Since the deadline for acquiring new foreign players is June 30,
several teams have been scrambling to bolster their rosters with imported
help. Among those reportedly on their way to Japan are pitchers Kurt Miller
(Hanshin), Rick Batchelor (Yakult), Matthew Randall (Daiei) and utility
infielder Nelson Liriano (Chunichi). Of these, the signing of Miller is
probably the most perplexing move.
>[Image]Miller, a 27-year-old right-handed relief pitcher who will join the[Image]The team can only have two foreign pitchers on their varsity roster
>Tigers, has compiled a career 2-7 record with a 7.48 ERA in 80-2/3 innings
>since 1994 with the Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs. At Triple-A Iowa this
>season, Miller has compiled a 1-2 record with one save and a 5.09 ERA in
>eight games (17-2/3 innings). One thing that's not too clear is how Miller
>>figures into Hanshin's plans.
>and Ben Rivera (1-0, 10 saves, 0.98 ERA) has been indispensable. Darrell MayLatham-san:
>has been more reliable than his 6-5 record and 4.09 record may indicate --
>he usually has two or three solid games for every one that gets out of
>control. With 91 strikeouts in 84-1/3 innings, May has been averaging over
>one strikeout an inning, which is second only to Yakult's Kazuhisa Ishii (92
>strikeouts in 79-1/3 IP).
>[Image]Would Miller be much of an improvement over May? At this point,
>there's not much to indicate he would. But if the Tigers were really looking
>for a solid pitcher to replace May, they should have signed Miller's
>teammate at Iowa, Doug Creek who compiled a 4-0 record with a 2.63 ERA and
>86 strikeouts in 75-1/3 innings.
>[Image]If Creek's name is familiar, that's because he played for the Tigers
>last season, spent almost the entire season on Hanshin's farm team, where he
>posted a 9-1 record with a 2.16 ERA (second in the Western League) and 101
>strikeouts in 100 innings.
>[Image]Unfortunately, Creek's release from Hanshin was simply part of an
>organization-wide purge to account for the team's last place finish a year
>ago. Although the Orix BlueWave were big enough to admit a mistake (they
>released Troy Neel in 1997 but re-signed him when the team fell to last
>place early the following season), it seems that the Tigers would rather
>take a chance on Miller than sign a pitcher who has proven his ability to
>adapt to Japanese baseball.
(1) IMHO, I think you over-estimated Doug Creek's ability.
From my osbervation, Creek had almost always pitched well in AAA level then
got bombed at MLB level. The SF Giants gave him not only one, but several
chances to keep him on the 25-man roster, then they gave him up.
Yes, he was brilliant on Cub's AAA Iowa this season, so brilliant that
Cubs called him up, then you can check out what he did for the Cubs,
and his stay at the Cub was very short. Considering the serious problems
of the Cubs' pitching staff this season, the quick demotion of Doug
Creek made it easy to think how good the Cubs think
Creek is. Not only the Giants and Cubs, I remember before he went
to Japan, he was claimed on waivers by the Chicago White Sox, but
the Sox gave up on him very soon. IMHO, Neel's case is different than Creek,
Neel has established himself at the varsity level, Orix did make a mistake
by releasing him. But how about Creek? His stats on the varsity team last year
was very unimpressive, comparing to his 9-1 record with a 2.16 ERA in the Western League.
And the difference of performance was pretty much in sync with the difference he had done between
AAA and MLB level. You can explain Creek's release as the scapegoat factor, but for me, based
on his nature of performance, it is not that unreasonable. If Hanshin gave him 2nd chance
to come back to start 10 games in the varsity team, I would estimate his numbers to be:
1-5, with ERA around 6.00, which wouldn't help Hanshin much.
(2) Kurt Miller was a starter until this year. His number in Iowa last year was pretty
impressive(13 or 15 wins). Cubs tried to convert him to be a short reliever but it didn't
work out. Miller does throw hard(around 94 mph fastball), but I assume he needs lots
of work for his control and his offspeed pitches. A change of scenery may not be bad
for him, but I cannot guarantee.
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