11-15-2010: The Andrew Miller trade

On Friday, the Red Sox swapped young lefties with the Florida Marlins, obtaining former first-rounder Andrew Miller for 26-year old Dustin Richardson. They are both big lefties who don’t look like they will pan out as big league starters, but might have some promise in a bullpen role.

The two significant differences between them that led to this trade? Miller made $1.8M last year and is out of minor league options, while Richardson is making the league minimum and can be sent to the minors. That’s always a consideration for the Marlins. So what do we get out of this? We get a guy who was once truly dominant in the low minors and with the Tar Heels in college – he was the Anthony Ranaudo of his day. Sure, he hasn’t impressed in a while now, but once a guy’s demonstrated a high level of talent, there’s always some chance he can replicate it later on; Richardson lacks that distinction. At age 25, Miller is actually a year younger than Richardson.

I am somewhat disappointed to see Richardson go; I really liked his stuff, but thanks to his lack of a changeup and wildness he wasn’t likely to become much more than a LOOGY-type player on this team. That’s limited value for a 26-year old who doesn’t figure to develop any further.

Miller has lost some velocity and a lot of confidence after several average-to-bad years in the Majors, but he still throws low-90s heat, a slurve and a changeup. If he can gain some command over those secondary offerings, he could be very good, very quickly. He is kind of a low-percentage lottery ticket, much like Jeremy Hermida was last year. I like this move because the Red Sox are lacking in lottery tickets relative to other teams in our division, because we usually draft late and tend to SIGN big free agents, not let them walk. What this system needs to add, when we can cheaply, is upside, even long shots.

I’m sure Theo Epstein is thinking that, at worst, Miller becomes an expensive Richardson. At best, he regains some of his old form and can be a passable starter or a strong left-handed reliever. Let’s sit back and watch Curt Young work his magic.


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