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  • Is Marcum the Twins' Best Hope?

    Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Twins have "checked in" on right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum. This isn't really noteworthy, since Terry Ryan has already told reporters that he's been in contact with the agents for every free agent starter, but Marcum's name in particular is an interesting one.

    Most of the pitchers that the Twins have been specifically connected to thus far – names like Joe Blanton, Brett Myers and John Lannan – are the usual suspects: bargain bin hurlers with middle-of-the-rotation upside and out-of-the-rotation downside. (Of course, "bargain bin" might be a misnomer in this market, even if it includes names like those.)

    But of course, if they want to even feign contention next year, the Twins are going to need to land at least one guy who could conceivably perform at the level of a No. 1 or No. 2 above Scott Diamond. And given the need to fill multiple rotation spots, they're going to have to find a way to do it without coughing up the vast majority of available funds on one player.

    So it is easy to see why Ryan might view someone like Marcum as his best bet to land a potential high-end guy, especially with Dan Haren now off the table after signing a one-year, $13 million deal with Washington. Haren was available at a relatively low guaranteed sum due to concerns about the condition of his arm, and the same will likely be true for Marcum. He missed about two months this season due to elbow soreness, which has been a problem for him in the past. (He missed the 2009 season due to Tommy John surgery.)

    Marcum pitched very well around that injury, turning in a 3.77 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 109-to-41 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 124 innings. In the prior two seasons, he had totaled about 200 innings each with a 3.59 ERA and 1.15 WHIP overall. Since his surgery, he's been consistently effective on the mound. He strikes people out at a solid rate, throws it in the zone and is quite tough to hit (.241 career OBA).

    Based on the numbers Marcum looks like a slam-dunk, but that vague elbow tightness from this past summer is concerning, especially for a club that has seen no shortage of arm injuries and is looking for reliability above all else in its additions to the rotation.

    Of course, the elbow issue could also be a blessing in disguise, because it might be just enough to scare away contending teams from matching a high offer. If the Twins are able to sign Marcum and he stays healthy, he's a legitimate centerpiece to the rotation.

    Spending fairly big bucks on that gamble is… well, a gamble. But in this environment, what isn't?
    This article was originally published in blog: Is Marcum the Twins' Best Hope? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. Danchat's Avatar
      Danchat -
      This is is our best hope. We can't possibly sign anybody better.
      He's a No. 1 on our staff. He's a #3 on a normal staff, or a #4 on the Phillies or Rangers.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS View Post
      In my mind hes a number 3 pitcher.
      On what team, the Phillies?? Seeing him referred to as a No. 3 or a "weak No. 2" tells me that some people have absolutely unrealistic expectations about the rotation. The Twins would be lucky to have a pitcher of his caliber as their top guy next year, as would a number of other teams.
      Yeah. It's probably not just Twins fans that expect too much. Some dude named Jeff Sackmann compiled the results of the 2006 season and found what rotation spots league-wide averaged in ERA.

      Spot_ #1_ #2 _#3 _#4_ #5
      MLB 3.60 4.14 4.58 5.10 6.24

      AL 3.70 4.24 4.58 5.09 6.22

      NL 3.51 4.04 4.57 5.11 6.26

      Marcum posted ERA's of 3.64, 3.54, and 3.70 the past three seasons. So by definition, about half the teams in baseball got less from their 'ace' than the Jays and Brewers did from Marcum. and even if he regresses (age, league switch, etc) to his FIP/xFIP territory, he's still a legit #2 in the AL. I think when people think #3 starter, they tend to think of a guy whose ERA is about 4 or ideally a bit under, but most teams are lucky to get that from their #2 guy. Btw, Sackmann included the injury fill-ins, so the replacement-level guys really drag down the 4th and 5th spots.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS View Post
      In my mind hes a number 3 pitcher.
      On what team, the Phillies?? Seeing him referred to as a No. 3 or a "weak No. 2" tells me that some people have absolutely unrealistic expectations about the rotation. The Twins would be lucky to have a pitcher of his caliber as their top guy next year, as would a number of other teams.
      Five #1s or bust, Nick.
    1. danswanson's Avatar
      danswanson -
      In my opinion this is not the year to sign the top free agent pitcher. We need 4 to compete for the division which thanks to the Pohlad family we will not until our prospects mature. Signing Marcum adds a handful of wins to a ninety loss team. I say we don't waste the first and probably second year of a long term deal this year. Wait until we are competitive again and then go all in. Realistically this is a rebuilding year and anyone who does not see that is blind
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Marcum is actually perfect since he won't require a long term deal. Just because you are rebuilding it doesn't mean that you have to go the Marlins route and not try to win a few games. Marcum clearly won't be blocking anyone decent and it's not like he's going to get this crazy deal like some of the FA starters.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Marcum is a front line type of pitcher and I've been hoping for him all offseason. He's expensive, but not too expensive.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      No he our last hope.
    1. Owl in a Koa Tree's Avatar
      Owl in a Koa Tree -
      Umm, guys, best hope? Not. Hear tell the Mets kinda looking to move Johan Santana and are willing to eat some of the $25 mil/yr contract he has in 2013 (2014 is an option year). Yeah, he's older - he turns 34 on 13 March, hardly OTH (if only I were that young again!). Sure, he got injured a couple times during his NY tenure (with his lack of run support, it's a wonder he didn't have a nervous breakdown), missed 2011 with TJS, and had a losing record last year -- for the Mets (like, who didn't?). Dude threw 199 innings in 2010, 117 last year despite it all, and seemed +/- his old self again. So who are the Twins willing to trade to get braddah Johan back with a goodly part of his salary left back in NY? Willingham, Plouffe, Rivera, Morneau and a percentage on beer concessions at Target Field? Or perhaps it wouldn't eat into the roster that much - remember the Mets are "rebuilding." How about a hot high class A pitcher who was the 23rd pick in the 2011 Amateur Draft and would best ripen on the farm 'til 2015? It could also save face, 'cause from out here the Twins look like they wen' got took by the Nats, again. Just a thought from a distance - perhaps my perspective is skewed by the 90 degrees and 95% humidity.

      P.S. Would the owners please trade Sir Ryan and whatever else it takes to Cincy for Walt Jocketty? Please!
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      remember the Mets are "rebuilding."
      They are not the only team...
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