O's, Millar agree to deal


Published: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
First baseman Kevin Millar agreed to a $2.1 million, one-year contract Thursday with the Baltimore Orioles, who hope the former Boston Red Sox star can provide leadership and some punch in the lineup.
"I see him playing a lot of first base, designated hitter and in the outfield," Orioles first-year manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We get a guy with playoff experience, someone who was part of a World Series team. We can use that kind of player in our clubhouse. It gives us a little chemistry."
The 34-year-old Millar, who can make an additional $2.6 million in performance bonuses, hit .276 with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs with the Red Sox in 2003. It was during that season that he coined the phrase, "Cowboy Up!" - which become Boston's battle cry in September and into the playoffs.
Millar batted .297 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs for the World Series champions in 2004, but his production dropped last year, when he hit .272 with nine homers and 50 RBIs. He did, however, remain a leader in the Boston clubhouse.
"Kevin will be missed," Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield said. "He was the guy that always kept things light and humorous and funny. Baltimore is getting a pretty good hitter and a great teammate, a guy that makes things fun."
Most of all, the Orioles want Millar's right-handed swing to bolster a lineup that struggled to score in 2005.
"It's certainly a piece that helps us along the way," Perlozzo said. "We're starting to fill some holes."
Millar is a career .289 batter over 932 games and exactly 3,000 at-bats. He has 111 homers and 471 RBIs.
In six full major league seasons, he has averaged 17 home runs and 67 RBIs. He is a career .302 hitter with runners in scoring position, and has a career on-base percentage of .365.
Primarily a first baseman during his three years in Boston - he made 102 starts at first base last year, with 12 starts each in left and right field - Millar has played 425 games at first and 352 in the outfield. He also has appeared in 28 games at third base.
DEVIL RAYS: Reliever Dan Miceli agreed to a two-year, $1.5 million contract with Tampa Bay.
Miceli was 1-2 with a 5.89 ERA in 19 appearances with Colorado last season. The 35-year-old right-hander has appeared in 598 major league games with nine clubs, posting a 42-50 record with 35 saves and a 4.51 ERA.
He will make $650,000 in each of the next two seasons. The deal also has a $1 million team option for 2008 that could escalate to $1.45 million.
MARINERS: Seattle agreed to a $1,875,000, two-year contract with reliever Julio Mateo that avoided salary arbitration.
The 28-year-old right-hander made $390,000 last season, his fourth with Seattle. He was 3-6 with two blown saves, a 3.06 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 17 walks in a career-high 55 games. That likely would have been his third consecutive season with 50 appearances, had he not spent six weeks of 2004 on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis.
He is 8-8 with a 3.56 ERA, two saves, five blown saves, 181 strikeouts and 58 walks in 162 career games.
PHILLIES: Brett Myers avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $3.3 million, one-year contract with Philadelphia.
The 25-year-old right-hander went 13-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 34 starts with two complete games for the Phillies last year. His 208 strikeouts were a career high and tied for third-most in the NL.
INDIANS: Having failed to obtain a top right-handed bat, Cleveland figures to use Eduardo Perez in a platoon at first base with Ben Broussard.
"I would have preferred to sign another impact bat to add to this team somewhere," general manager Mark Shapiro said Thursday, a day after Perez finalized a one-year contract. "Sometimes we're forced to be creative in the way we look at things."
Perez is guaranteed $1,825,000 - a $1.7 million salary this year and a $125,000 buyout of a 2007 team option. Shapiro said Perez is likely to play some in the outfield and get about 350 at-bats.
"I'm just happy they consider me as a piece of the puzzle," Perez said.
Cleveland tried to get Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles and Eric Byrnes to boost its offense, but they all wound up elsewhere.
Perez, the 36-year-old son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez, batted .255 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs last season for the Tampa Bay and has a .263 average in his career against left-handers with 47 homers and 168 RBIs.
Cleveland probably won't make any other moves before spring training.
"We're very comfortable going into spring training with the club we've got right now," Shapiro said.
During the offseason, Cleveland's biggest moves were to sign pitchers Paul Byrd and Jason Johnson and re-sign closer Bob Wickman. The Indians also signed outfielder Todd Hollandsworth, infielder Lou Merloni, catcher Einar Diaz, and pitchers Steve Karsay and Danny Graves.
"We've done what we had to do, but we didn't necessarily make some of the improvements that I wanted to make," Shapiro said.
Cleveland designated pitcher Brian Tallet for assignment to make room for Perez. The Indians have 10 days to trade him, release him or send him outright to the minors.
Tallet spent most of last season at Triple-A Buffalo and made two appearances for the Indians. The 28-year-old left-hander had reconstructive elbow surgery at the end of 2003.
Calendar
  • JAN. 17: Exchange of salary arbitration figures.
  • JAN. 18-19: Owners meetings, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • FEB. 1-20: Salary arbitration hearings.
  • FEB. 16: Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.
  • FEB. 21: Voluntary reporting date for other players.
  • FEB. 27: Hall of Fame Negro leagues and pre-Negro league selection committee vote, Tampa, Fla.
  • FEB. 28: Mandatory reporting date.
  • MARCH 2-11: Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players.
  • MARCH 3-20: World Baseball Classic.
  • MARCH 15 : Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days.
  • MARCH 29: Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2006 salary.
  • APRIL 2: Opening day, Cleveland at Chicago White Sox. Active rosters reduced to 25 players.
  • JULY 11: All-Star game, Pittsburgh.
  • JULY 30: Hall of Fame inductions, Cooperstown, N.Y.
  • JULY 31: Last day to trade a player without securing waivers.
  • SEPT. 1: Active rosters expand to 40 players.
  • OCT. 3: Playoffs begin.
  • OCT. 10: League championship series begin.
  • OCT. 21: World Series begins.
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