Tommy Milone is right (and so are the A's)

Rob Neyer

As our Ken Rosenthal reported Monday, Tommy Milone wants the A's to trade him.

You certainly can't hold that against him. After all, he got sent back to the minors when the A's traded for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Basically, Milone is now sixth on the franchise's depth chart. And the six-man pitching rotation isn't de rigueur. Yet. But as Ken points out, Milone's hardly a replacement-level pitcher: 

It is not unusual for players to request trades after getting demoted. Milone, though, is more established than most – in 468 2/3 major-league innings, he has a 3.84 ERA.

His demotion was his third in 12 months – and occurred after he had gone 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in his previous 11 starts.

But as Ken also (cannily) points out, Milone's "ERA, when adjusted to his park and league, is league-average."

What's more, he's not really been improving. His fielding-independent pitching (FIP) and strikeout-to-walk ratio have actually declined from season to season. So it's not like he's just lately growing into his abilities. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that! As an average starting pitcher -- actually, better than average if you consider his demonstrated durability -- Milone's got a great deal of value. He just doesn't happen to be one of this team's five best starters right now. I'll bet there are at least half-a-dozen contending teams that would love to him right now, though.

So why don't the A's trade him to one of those teams? Well, because there's no accounting for Hammel and Jesse Chavez; there's a good chance the A's will need another good starting pitcher this season. So give up their sixth-best if he's pretty good? It would probably make sense to trade Milone only if he brought back a second baseman. And there don't seem to be any interesting second basemen on the block right now.

You can feel sorry for the guy. But the A's are trying to win this thing.