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  • Contemplating Bringing Scott Baker Back

    The Twins held their organizational meetings last week and there are plenty of decisions for the club to make about the pending offseason. Some of those decisions might have already been revealed as the club announced the new members of their coaching staff and the readjustment of the men that were left after the firing frenzy. Phil Mackey from 1500 ESPN has the complete rundown of some of the items discussed by the organization but one of the most interesting items might be the fact the team is looking to add three starting pitchers in the coming months. These pitchers could join the Twins in a couple of different ways including trades and free agency but the team knows this is a weak point for the club.


    One intriguing option for the Twins is a man that could already be under contract for 2013. Scott Baker injured his elbow during last year's spring training and he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. The Twins hold a $9 million option on Baker but there doesn't seem to be much of a chance of the club exercising that option. This would leave Baker as a free agent when he is still recovering from the surgery he had seven months ago. There could be other team's interested in Baker but the 31-year old right-hander has only known the Twins organization and this could play to his favor.

    At the end of the season, Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire spoke to season ticket holders in a conference call to answer a bunch of different questions about the organization. The topic of Baker came up in one of the questions and Ryan had very positive things to say about the pitcher. His rehab was progressing well at the time and he called him "one of the good guys" for the organization. This could be a good sign of things to come with Baker and it seem like a strong relationship exists between the pitcher and the general manager.

    This isn't the only sign from the front office about the pending return of Baker to the Twins for 2013. Reports out yesterday have Ryan saying the Twins would like to keep Baker around for next season. With the very good chance of the Twins turning down Baker's option year, this would mean the team would be free to work out an incentive-laden contract for the future. It would also be nice if the team could include a reasonable option for 2014 for the chance Baker performs better than expectations on his way back from elbow surgery.

    The most recent medical reports have Baker on track to be ready to pitch in game action by the time the Twins are in spring training. This is great news for Baker but one would have to wonder if he will be on some kind of innings limit for next year. He has only reached the 200 innings mark in one previous season so some of the innings limit might take care of itself with time spent on the disabled list. When pitchers are in their first season back from a major surgery, there can be a few bumps along the way. For example, Joe Nathan spent a little bit of time on the DL in his first year back with the Twins. From the Twins point of view, they already have Kyle Gibson working his way back from Tommy John surgery so it might not be ideal to have two recovering pitchers on track to be part of next year's rotation.

    In the last season Baker spent on the mound for Minnesota, he got off to the best start of his career. He went 7-5 in the first half of 2011 with a 3.01 ERA and he was on pace to throw over 200 innings. Injuries forced him to the sidelines for much of the second half of the season and he would only make four more starts during that time. Even with his limited action down the stretch, he would still lead the pitching staff in WAR for the entire season. In his last three full seasons with the Twins, he has averaged 13 wins a year with 181 innings pitched and a 4.11 ERA. If Baker was able to reproduce these results in 2013, he would be a very welcomed member of the Twins starting rotation.

    There are plenty of decisions for the Twins to make in the coming months and Baker will only be a small part of a much larger plan. It's nice to think the Twins would be loyal to a player the organization drafted and developed to see if he can come back strong from a tough injury. Baseball is a business though and the Twins have been at the wrong end of the American League for two consecutive seasons. Loyalty to players might have to be thrown out the window if the Twins want to get back to the top. The comeback story of Baker would be great to follow in 2012 but only if the team can work out an appropriate contract for the team and the player.
    This article was originally published in blog: Contemplating bringing Scott Baker back started by Cody Christie
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      The only thing i remember about Scott Baker is he is great when their is no pressure. Maybe a 1 yr 3 million deal would work.
    1. nick5253's Avatar
      nick5253 -
      I would like to see Bake back next year. He actually has some upside and would sign for a reasonable 1 year deal, perhaps with an option or two.

      Assuming they sign him, I'd like to see the Twins get creative in how they limit innings for him as well as Gibson. I would recommend going with a 6 man staff, but not a 6 guys taking each turn type of rotation. I would do:

      Normal 5 man rotation type workload:
      #1 FA Signing (Marcum, Sanchez, whomever they sign from that 2nd tier group)
      #2 Diamond

      Take 3 out of every 4 turns in a normal 5 man rotation:
      Baker
      Gibson
      Hendricks
      Deduno

      Basically keep 4 guys on your 25 roster to take up those 3-5 spots in the rotation. It would slightly limit your bullpen, but having a 12 man bullpen is over-kill anyway. This would result in the FA signing & Diamond getting 33 starts and the other 4 guys getting 24. Obviously injuries would play a part. but this plan would keep the young & recovering arms to around 160 innings instead of 200+.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS View Post
      The only thing i remember about Scott Baker is he is great when their is no pressure. Maybe a 1 yr 3 million deal would work.
      There's nothing wrong with bringing him back on a one year deal with incentives, just as long as he's not counted on as one of the three pitchers Ryan says he needs to find in the offseason.

      But that won't happen. The Twins would absolutely count on him to duplicate his best season, and if/when he gets hurt, they'll probably misdiagnose it again, and he'll end up missing half the season or more, again. When that happens, there will be no backup plan in place, and Ryan will try to wave away the injury as both unforeseeable and unpreventable. And when the fan base questions the credibility of a front office that obtuse, Ryan will politely instruct them to shut up and eat their seven dollar bratwursts.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      Would Baker want to come back? They (the Twins) never seemed too thrilled with him while he was healthy and called him out in the media at the very time they couldn't figure out he needed TJ procedure. Not to mention other teams will surely show interest in his services.

      I hope they say goodbye. He's never been durable, or as you mention been an innnigs eater. At this time I think they're better off with some of their younger guys or just about anything else. Truth be told, the guy could flat out dominate at times and I wouldn't be the least bit suprised if he comes back strong. But is it worth paying and waiting and hoping?

      I would put odds at 95% the Twins don't offer him anything after they reject his option.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I am convinced Baker will be back--and will count as one of three "new" pitchers referenced. Let's face quality pitchers will not be eager to play for the Twins next season and it appears that Baker is interested (at least) to stay.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      How is bringing Baker back at the right price not a good idea? So he's had some health issues, so have lots of guys.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      I am convinced Baker will be back--and will count as one of three "new" pitchers referenced. Let's face quality pitchers will not be eager to play for the Twins next season and it appears that Baker is interested (at least) to stay.
      So...Baker, Gibson, Diamond, Marcum (maube) and maybe, Deduno?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      any rotation that is nothing but a bunch of names from this organization is a failure. They need new pitchers.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      They can guarantee his return by picking up the option. At one year, I would pay the premium to guarantee he is on the roster.

      I would not count on his public comments that he would like to return as a sign that the Twins can get him at a bargain price.

      My guess is his agent will push for him to go elsewhere once the option is declined. It is very rare for a player to have an option declined and then return to the same team at a bargain rate.
    1. Teddy's Avatar
      Teddy -
      There are only two rock-solid sure things we can count on right now regarding this rotation:

      1. Scott Diamond will be back
      2. Nick Blackburn will be given every opportunity to make it back onto the 40-man roster

      I doubt we'll see Gibson until mid-June, to avoid Super-2 status on him. If the comments of Ryan are to be taken seriously, and they are targeting adding three pitchers, Baker will likely be one of the three. Marcum would be a typical Twins-type acquisition, and I'd be fine with that. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Ryan count another year from Pavano as one of the three. I'm not so enthused about that choice, as he wasn't too effective this year before the injury.

      So, don't be surprised to see your 2013 Twins' opening day roster of starters to be Marcum, Diamond, Baker, Pavano and Blackburn (with Deduno back in Rochester working on his control and Hendricks waiting for an injury or for the inevitable Blackburn-sucks demotion to occur).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
      There are only two rock-solid sure things we can count on right now regarding this rotation:

      1. Scott Diamond will be back
      2. Nick Blackburn will be given every opportunity to make it back onto the 40-man roster

      I doubt we'll see Gibson until mid-June, to avoid Super-2 status on him. If the comments of Ryan are to be taken seriously, and they are targeting adding three pitchers, Baker will likely be one of the three. Marcum would be a typical Twins-type acquisition, and I'd be fine with that. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Ryan count another year from Pavano as one of the three. I'm not so enthused about that choice, as he wasn't too effective this year before the injury.

      So, don't be surprised to see your 2013 Twins' opening day roster of starters to be Marcum, Diamond, Baker, Pavano and Blackburn (with Deduno back in Rochester working on his control and Hendricks waiting for an injury or for the inevitable Blackburn-sucks demotion to occur).
      I think you're on the right track but I don't think we'll see Pavano back on the team. Maybe someone like him but not Carl himself. As a second or third FA option, I'm not against that kind of pick-up as long as the org picks up a legitimate free agent alongside him.

      I doubt we'll see Blackburn back on the 40 man unless he absolutely shuts down Spring Training hitters (I mean, really shuts them down). Teams don't take guys off the 40 man without the expectation that they will stay off of it. Moving guys on and off the list is too complicated, especially mid-season.

      Besides, I think the team is probably more keen on De Vries at this point than Blackburn anyway (as they should be).
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Baker is a no-doubter in my mind. The dude is a quality pitcher (albiet not super durable) on a staff that is full of question marks to say the least.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      What can the Twins get for $20 million in 2013, and add another $30 million to the mix in 2014...all earmarked for starters. That is the question. One $10 and two $5, and how much for a second, not to bring up options for a third.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      I support bringing back Baker. No sure thing there, but he should be ready early enough next year, and let's not forget that this guy was essentially our "ace" before everything fell apart. Not Liriano (too erratic), not Pavano (had one good year), but Baker. So if he could've made $9.25 million without the TJ surgery, I don't think he's taking $1 million or $2 million next year. He can get a better 1-year deal somewhere for sure, but even in the $3 to $6 million range he's a better value than paying a healthy guy in the FA market.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      I support bringing back Baker. No sure thing there, but he should be ready early enough next year, and let's not forget that this guy was essentially our "ace" before everything fell apart. Not Liriano (too erratic), not Pavano (had one good year), but Baker. So if he could've made $9.25 million without the TJ surgery, I don't think he's taking $1 million or $2 million next year. He can get a better 1-year deal somewhere for sure, but even in the $3 to $6 million range he's a better value than paying a healthy guy in the FA market.
      Colby Lewis got a 1 year deal for $2 million with up to an additional $4 million in incentives. That's about the same range I expect for Baker. I just hope they add a second year option.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by JP3700 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      I support bringing back Baker. No sure thing there, but he should be ready early enough next year, and let's not forget that this guy was essentially our "ace" before everything fell apart. Not Liriano (too erratic), not Pavano (had one good year), but Baker. So if he could've made $9.25 million without the TJ surgery, I don't think he's taking $1 million or $2 million next year. He can get a better 1-year deal somewhere for sure, but even in the $3 to $6 million range he's a better value than paying a healthy guy in the FA market.
      Colby Lewis got a 1 year deal for $2 million with up to an additional $4 million in incentives. That's about the same range I expect for Baker. I just hope they add a second year option.
      Baker and the Twins are a good fit--and both know it. Baker will have a savvy agent and will have "sniffed around" to gauge Baker's market value. The Twins will assuredly have a codicile in the contract to allow them to extend it beyond 2013--the need for pitching goes beyond 2013 and they won't want to lose Baker without compensation should he have a strong season.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by JP3700 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      I support bringing back Baker. No sure thing there, but he should be ready early enough next year, and let's not forget that this guy was essentially our "ace" before everything fell apart. Not Liriano (too erratic), not Pavano (had one good year), but Baker. So if he could've made $9.25 million without the TJ surgery, I don't think he's taking $1 million or $2 million next year. He can get a better 1-year deal somewhere for sure, but even in the $3 to $6 million range he's a better value than paying a healthy guy in the FA market.
      Colby Lewis got a 1 year deal for $2 million with up to an additional $4 million in incentives. That's about the same range I expect for Baker. I just hope they add a second year option.
      The Rangers take on the risk that Lewis will not pitch until after the all star break and possibly much later. Even then, it may take some time to get back to speed and he may be on reduced pitch counts. Baker is much further along on the recovery path.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post

      I doubt we'll see Gibson until mid-June, to avoid Super-2 status on him.
      Just to pick a nit here, but if Gibson made the rotation out of spring training, he would not be super 2 elligible after his second season, as he would have exactly 2 years of service time. Super 2 tends to affect people who get called up for a good chunk of a partial season (i.e. calling him up in say June and he stays on the roster)... you have to have aproximately 2 1/3 years of service to be a super 2.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by jm3319 View Post
      Clearly you don't understand the nature of this option.
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