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    Five spots in next year's rotation. One guy locked in.

    It's hard to look at the daunting uncertainty in Minnesota's rotation as a good thing, but there are some fringe benefits to the situation. One is that it may be easier for Terry Ryan to lure in pitchers who are left without a seat and forced to sign minor-league contracts when the music stops on this offseason's free agent class.

    There could be quite a few of those guys standing around in January and February. While every pitcher would like a guaranteed big-league deal, there may not be enough to go around for this deep group, especially considering the risk involved with some of the bottom-of-the-barrel names below.

    These are just a few examples of pitchers that could miss out on big-league deals due to miserable 2012 campaigns. There's virtually no risk involved with a minor-league contract, and many of these pitchers would carry considerable reward.

    Roberto Hernandez - RHP
    2012 Stats: 14.1 IP, 0-3, 7.53 ERA, 2/3 K/BB, 1.40 WHIP

    It's been a tough year for the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona. In the aftermath of his false identity scandal, he spent the first half of the season in the Dominican Republic waiting on a U.S. visa, then served a three-week suspension upon his return to the States in July. When he finally rejoined the Indians, he pitched horribly for three starts and then missed all of September with an ankle injury. Ouch.

    Hernandez has plenty of baggage and has certainly been more bad than good in his big-league career, but he was effective as recently as 2010, when he put up a 3.77 ERA in 210 innings, and at 32 he's hardly ancient. His career ground ball rate of 58.5 percent is elite.

    Chien-Ming Wang - RHP
    2012 Stats: 32.1 IP, 2-3, 6.68 ERA, 15/15 K/BB, 2.01 WHIP

    The Nationals signed Wang to a one-year, $4 million deal last offseason – a sizable sum considering that he'd pitched only 104 innings in the prior three years thanks to shoulder problems.

    The good news is that Wang's shoulder stayed intact this year. The bad news is… well, everything else. He suffered a hamstring injury in spring training, then after returning in May he missed time due a hip injury, and between those drawn-out ailments he struggled mightily in both the majors and minors.

    He hasn't been able to stay healthy since 2007, but it's worth noting that he won 19 games in back-to-back years for the Yankees and at 32 there's still a chance he could rediscover that heavy sinker.

    Jonathan Sanchez - LHP
    2012 Stats: 64.2 IP, 1-9, 8.07 ERA, 45/53 K/BB, 2.09 WHIP

    After acquiring him from the Giants during the offseason for Melky Cabrera, the Royals watched Sanchez absolutely implode, posting a 7.76 ERA over 12 starts while yielding a .937 OPS and handing out more walks than strikeouts. They unloaded him on the Rockies midway through the summer and he was even worse during three starts for Colorado before being shut down for the year.

    It was one of the worst campaigns we've seen from a pitcher in some time, but Sanchez had been an effective starter in San Francisco for three years prior to his trade to Kansas City, overcoming his shaky control with a gaudy strikeout rate to post a 3.75 ERA from 2009 to 2011. He'll turn only 30 this offseason. Does any of that previous ability still reside within him?

    Bartolo Colon - RHP
    2012 Stats: 152.1 IP, 10-9, 3.43 ERA, 91/23 K/BB, 1.21 WHIP

    Colon is a different type of case from the guys above in that the anticipated lack of interest in him this winter has nothing to do with his performance over the past season. He was actually very good for the A's… up until he was suspended for 50 games in August after testing positive for Testosterone.

    Following his travesty of a Cy Young in 2005, Colon failed to reach even 100 innings in four consecutive years and was then out of the game in 2010. He came back last year with the Yankees at age 38 and was shockingly good, and this year with the A's he was even better. Of course, now we might know why. Tough to see the Twins giving him a chance, but who knows, maybe he can keep the magic working even without the juice.
    This article was originally published in blog: Lottery Tickets started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. nfisch22's Avatar
      nfisch22 -
      Ok let's be honest the chances of the twins even thinking about Sanchez is 0%. The twins love control pitchers who pound the strike zone. Unless Ryan is willing to change philosophies I don't see that one happening. The other ones are intriguing I'd love to see Hernandez (formerly Carmona) in a twins uniform. I think his problem this season was the fact he didn't get a full spring training with the Indians staff. After an off season of healing and a solid spring to get ready he could be a steal for the twins.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      These pitchers are all terrible aside from Hernandez, and who knows how he will be in the future. If the Twins sign Bartolo Colon, I will stop being a Twins fan.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I've always liked Carmona/Hernandez. In 2011, when both were struggling mightily, I thought a Delmon for Fausto trade made sense. Now, a year and a half later, I think taking a flyer on the guy would make sense.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      I'm on the Hernandez bandwagon for sure. I think he'll get a big-league deal, but Cleveland can't wait to send him on his way and I would think he would jump at the chance to get to face them a bunch next season.

      Other than that, none of those guys do anything for me. In fact, I'd rather watch the same group as last year pitch over the other guys.
    1. BD57's Avatar
      BD57 -
      Please tell me there are better "realistic" options ....
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Don't forget to add Minnesota's own Carl Pavano to the list of pitchers looking at minor league deals this offseason.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      No doubt two of guys like this are signed. I anticipate losing interest in the twins before the season even starts. I am exactly the kind of fan this team should be worried about right now.
    1. Higuys's Avatar
      Higuys -
      I just have this feeling that if we sign Hernandez/Carmona, that he'll turn out to be another Jason Marquis (in his stint w/ the twins)
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      I think Hernandez might be worth a "nothing guaranteed-incentive heavy" contract. Chances are they'll know prettty quickly wether he'll be worth throwing out there or not pretty early in the season, if not before the end of spring training.

      Although, it would have been much better if he was still Fausto, that's a much cooler name.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      I hadn't really put much thought into Jonathan Sanchez, but I really thinking that signing 2 or 3 guys with high upside like THAT is a better formula for success than signing 2 or 3 Jason Marquis/Roberto Hernandez types that aren't really going to miss any bats.

      Everybody knows that the Twins had bad starting pitching and injury problems with starters this year, but the dirty little secret is that the rest of the team was surprisingly healthy. You're not realistically getting anything BETTER than you got out of Mauer/Morneau/Willingham in 2013. It's very possible you'll get something worse. And to sign just a couple of placeholder starters that just throw innings and put the ball in play...I'm not really seeing how that formula makes this any better than a 70-win team next year. On the other hand, Jonathan Sanchez COULD figure things out and miss enough bats to be a Liriano-esque starter. And lets face it, if you try these high risk guys out and they implode, you'll just be sticking DeVries/Deduno/Blackburn/Walters/whoever in their spot again by June.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      I am sure everyone understands that fans scruntinize players on our favorite team more than we do players on other teams.

      That said, Cleveland Indians fans would LOVE to have a shot at Francisco Liriano and be forever over the roller coaster that is Fausto Robert Carmona Hernandez! These two guys are the biggest teases available in FA.

      All the talent in the world with inconsistent mechanics and very little mental toughness. Who am I describing? Both, Liriano and Hernandez. Maybe he gets a deal that includes an invite to Spring Training.

      Caution: Other than the slider vs. sinker philosophy, these guys can be brilliant one start and terrible the next. If the Twins get on the Hernandez roller coaster, expect fans to be having Liriano-type de ja vu!
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Man, that list reminds me too much of our originally-projected starting rotation for last year. Baker, Pavano, and Blackburn are three more Lottery Tickets. I sure hope Ryan's crystal ball is still working.
    1. fslbaseball's Avatar
      fslbaseball -
      Like most people that play the lottery. You hope to win big and in the end you only wasted your money. It is pretty sad that year after year the Twins draft big pitchers with great arms only to see them injured before the majors. Like other posts have pointed out the recoveries are delayed by 6 months as the team either misdiagnoses or waits for a miracle.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      dont know how many minor league starters Mn 'can' sign if they get 2 legit starters out of the offseason. I see Blackburn, DeVries, Gibson & probably either Walters or Deduno will start in AAA.
      The 4 listed are almost 'legit' style MLB pitchers....not the Walters/Deduno style of retread.
      If Mn has to sign a 5th starter type out of this group, Id probably go Colon as he's shown the past 2 yrs...performance enhancing or not....that he can give a team a few months of good starts.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      If and when the Twins pitching acquisitions don't work out, I hope we're not supposed to take consolation in knowing they didn't spend a lot of money.
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      If we sign one of these guys and they have success as Peter Griffin would say "Oh my god i just took a shot in the dark" haha
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      None of these guys have a better upside than Pavano, Blackburn, or Walters...for each of them...best thing that could happen is to actually pitch in AAA next spring and do well and get a shot...odds are that one of them could come back and win 10-12 games...but which one.

      I would much rather see Twins give shots to Gibson, Hendricks and Deduno.
    1. Rick Blaine's Avatar
      Rick Blaine -
      I understand your thinking-- not really in favor of it. Dumpster diving has never proven that successful. I agree with others that say you can add Pavano, Baker and Liriano to this list. We could always try Livan Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz and/or Sidney Ponson again. Not sure we will like the results regardless.
    1. Rick Blaine's Avatar
      Rick Blaine -
      quoting StormJH1 "You're not realistically getting anything BETTER than you got out of Mauer/Morneau/Willingham in 2013. It's very possible you'll get something worse."

      I agree with you on this and it makes me nervous. All three have had a history of injuries and in 2012 all three were relatively healthy. I think we may be playing on borrowed time. Even though Justin Morneau is one of my all time favorite Twins, and I loved what Josh Willingham brought to the team--- I think you trade them now while their value is high. They are both on the wrong side of 30 and both have spent a lot of time on the DL during their careers. Both could fill the coffers with prospects and MLB ready players. The Twins may have to eat some of Justin's salary.

      I would do it now before they get hurt in April or May and then we're stuck. I doubt Joe Mauer could ever get traded unless his contract is re-negotiated ---and why would he do that!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      Don't forget to add Minnesota's own Carl Pavano to the list of pitchers looking at minor league deals this offseason.
      Marquis, too...

      (and he did better than the others last season )
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