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  • State of the Starting Corps

    Through free agent signings and trades, the Twins have added three names to their 2013 starting pitching mix, along with a couple prospects who can help down the line.

    As we assess the progress of this rebuilding unit, can we say with assurance that the three MLB pitchers they've added – Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey – are significantly better than the three that just exited as free agents – Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano and Scott Baker? I don't know that we can, and that is troubling.

    Here's a look at how the best-case starting five would shake out if everything stayed the same:

    1. Scott Diamond
    2. Vance Worley
    3. Kevin Correia
    4. Mike Pelfrey
    5. Kyle Gibson

    It's got the makings of a below-average rotation, with a chance to be respectable but a greater chance to blow up, especially with flimsy defensive support. Keep in mind that the last two on the list won't necessarily be ready to pitch in the majors right off the bat.

    Behind these five names, the depth chart is an assortment of major question marks, including Liam Hendriks, Nick Blackburn, Sam Deduno, Cole De Vries and Brian Duensing. It was quite clear last year that none of those players had what it took to start in the majors, so it'd be somewhat surprising if any (save for perhaps Hendriks) suddenly turned a corner and became an adequate piece.

    Long story short, the Twins' immediate starting pitching outlook remains dreary. At this point, the addition of even one established quality starter would go a long way toward improving the unit's overall chances at staying afloat next season, but it's unclear Terry Ryan intends to do that.

    As things stand, it's impossible for me to believe he could look at his current group and feel confident that they're likely to perform a whole lot better than last year's.
    This article was originally published in blog: State of the Starting Corps started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 202 Comments
    1. Lesser Dali's Avatar
      Lesser Dali -
      Nice write up Nick.

      Smoke and Mirrors. I have been a Twins fan for a quarter of a century. We got our stadium. We were told revenue would increase to stay in the fold of the upper echelon of baseball teams. Except for the opening season at Target Field, I have not seen much of anything.

      Although the Twins signed Willingham and Doumit last off season, they were replacing players that received a lot more on the open market.

      This years speculated rotation looks much worse than last years. I will not lie and say that I did not approve of the trades the Twins have made this offseason, but the signing of Correia was dumbfounding and barring a miracle signing - our SP staff is garbage. If it looks like a rebuild and smells like a rebuild... it must be a rebuild.

      It would have been nice for GM Ryan to at least be honest with the fans. It seems like the new era of successful ballclubs signs billion dollar TV contracts. If that is indeed the case - we are screwed.

      If Hicks win the CF job this upcoming season, I will watch Twins Baseball for the fun of seeing if a top prospect can cut it and impress, If not, I will spend my valuable time elsewhere. Thus far, we might as well have ignored the free agent market.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      I agree with what now seems to be smoke and mirrors. Correia and Pelfrey are just filler. At this point, say rebuild and move out Morneau and think about Mauer and send Willingham packing in mid-season. I would almost rather see a field of prospects than just place holders. Sure, I'll be mad at all the payroll savings going who knows where. I'll be upset that we have to sit thru two seasons at least before we get a glimmer of competitive hope.

      Yeah, I did a quick run thru of free agent and thought the wins could sign Sizemore or Ginzalez and still find a hole for a Rauch/Hawkins, maybe Gonz or Myers or Padilla. ut then, why. Will we actually increase the chances by 5-10 wins over previous seasons? Better to let Hendriks take his licks, see if Hermsen can do anything, let Gibson get his experience. Let's run out Hicks and Benson. Hell, other teams do it. Start Buxton in left and let him swing and learn.

      I am really curious to see what kind of excitement can be created by TwinsFest. Pay money to get an advance look at what? The down-on-the-farm guys will probably be more poluar than the other players (something that happened last year -- overpriced autographs).

      Maybe 10,000 fans dropping season ticket plans will wake these guys up. They still get the coveted $25 million change next year from TV. But you don't sell hot dogs and beer and souvenirs to empty seats.

      I want to find hope, but I can see an 0-10 start out of the central chute!
    1. NoCal's Avatar
      NoCal -
      Pavano, Baker, Marquis, Liriano - last year's starters. Baker did not throw a pitch; Pavano was injured and done by June; Marquis was the worst starter in the AL prior to release; Liriano - inconsistent, no command, frustrating.
      Honestly - even tho you hate Correia, the trio of him, Diamond, the guy from Philly, plus eventually Pelfrey and Gibson will be better than 2012, if healthy. Not great, but an upgrade. The Twins are not competitive, and they know it; they are rebuilding, and it takes time. Frustrating - yes. But managing frustration is part of building the team, and of being a fan.
      It will be ok.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The Twins rotation at the beginning of last year was completely alarmingly bad. I think people forget that sometimes. Correia may be bad, but he is not THAT bad. He is likely a 5th starter. The Twins didn't even start the season with a legitimate 4 starter last year. They were all bad, bad, bad. Starting the year with Diamond and Worley is in itself a big improvement. Also, DeVries and Deduno were much better than Marquis and Blackburn last year.

      Don't get me wrong, I want the Twins to pay Shaun Marcum the money he wants to come pitch for the Twins. That one move could significantly alter things chain-reaction style.

      Also, starting Kyle Gibson in the rotation for the Twins would be stupid. He should be on an innings limit in Rochester until June 1st. I would think, right now, that Pelfrey/Deduno/DeVries would hold down that spot in the rotation until Gibson is June-ready to go 5-6 innings. Until then, I would really throw Gibson 3 innings a game in Rochester and have Andrew Albers (lefty) be his personal reliever. This would keep Gibson at 30 innings and then he would have 100-110 for the Twins.

      The only reasonable rotation, barring any other additions, is Diamond, Worley, Hendriks, Correia, Pelfrey/Deduno/DeVries. This group is marginally better than the 2012 group as a whole and much better than the April-May rotation.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Twins may still not be done adding pitchers. Worley alone makes this a better group. Gibson should also help by the end of May. Correia and Pelfrey will hold down spots waiting for the kids. Maybe one of last years starting staff will be able to help. This group should be better, much better not at the start, but by midyear quite possibly.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Ryan is a cheapskate and a liar that is why Pohlad hire him. He can't give his money away the players know him. He is paid to fool the fans into thinking he can get something for nothing. When the fans are gone he will be gone too, but it will be to little to late for Pohlad to pony up.
      It is just sad to have to watch the Twins lose for another 2 years with no chance to win. Empty promises and lies, Just plain greed!
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      Ryan is a cheapskate and a liar that is why Pohlad hire him. He can't give his money away the players know him. He is paid to fool the fans into thinking he can get something for nothing. When the fans are gone he will be gone too, but it will be to little to late for Pohlad to pony up.
      It is just sad to have to watch the Twins lose for another 2 years with no chance to win. Empty promises and lies, Just plain greed!
      '

      While I think ownership is a greedy bunch, just like all billionaires (obviously) it is clear that Terry Ryan isn't that type. He has already improved the team. Absent the Correia signing, the Pelfrey addition is not a terrible idea. Looking back on this whole approach, I would have liked to take the Span money and moved that for Marcum and then signed Jurrjens. Marcum and Jurrjens, with the addition of Worley would have made me fully happy.

      Are you drunk?
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      I wish I was! I don't see a Twins SP capable of winning 10 games. Marcum might be but we don't have him, and doubtful we ever will.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Deduno has electric stuff -- if he could develop more control he could be awesome.

      Hendriks is solid -- if he could develop an "out" pitch, he could be very good.

      If I were the Twins, I would give each of them extra coaching in the hope that they can overcome their weaknesses and maximize their strengths.

      This is likely to be a disaster of a season, but if Deduno could develop more control or Hendriks could develop an out pitch, then they could become valuable assets going forward. And it is at least theoretically possible that Blackburn could get back to his best form.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Scott Diamond and Vance Worley are likely both 13-win pitchers. Even Correia could be 10-14 this year.

      Come on.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      It's not only the SP, it's the offense, the speed, the runs,. the defense. We lost Denard, Ben and Alexi and haven't replace any of them. It's nice to have prospects, but prospects take time are not a reliable answer in the shot-term. I have fallow the Twins since 1961, every game and it's got to be the worst team ever.
    1. mako83's Avatar
      mako83 -
      Still nine weeks til spring training be hopeful. But if these pitchers were 11 wins and 4.75 era would be better than last year.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      While this year's rotation doesn't look wonderful, it looks to be competent, if healthy. Last year's rotation had little health (Pavano pitched hurt for a couple months, Baker didn't pitch at all, Blackburn was disabled and pitched with an injury) as well as limited upside. If Baker, Liriano and Pavano had pitched to expectation, the Twins would have won a lot more games.
    1. Teddy's Avatar
      Teddy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      It's not only the SP, it's the offense, the speed, the runs,. the defense. We lost Denard, Ben and Alexi and haven't replace any of them. It's nice to have prospects, but prospects take time are not a reliable answer in the shot-term. I have fallow the Twins since 1961, every game and it's got to be the worst team ever.
      With all due respect, I have to call BULLS**T on this one. If you followed the Twins since 1961, you would know that teams in the early 80's and mid-90's were far worse than this one. This team actually could be pretty solid with some decent starting pitching. The offseason isn't over by any stretch of the imagination, and the OF situation isn't as dire as you think. I expect that they'll pick up a solid veteran or two late in the offseason (once jobs begin to become scarce) that will shore up some of the weaknesses. However, to say this is the worst team ever is total hyperbole. There are no Scott Stahoviaks, Rich Beckers or Frankie Rodriguezes on this list (outside of Correia maybe - I don't see the upside in that signing).
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      The Correia signing is indefensible. Outside of Blackburn, Correia has arguably been the worst qualifying starer in MLB over the last 3 years. The numbers support this (Gleeman goes in depth on this in his last podcast).

      That being said, the rotation in it's current form is better than last year. Worley and Pelfrey are upgrades over... well, everybody but Diamond. Gibson and Hendricks will be given every opportunity.

      If this truly is a rebuilding year, why would TR spend any reasonable money on anything? None of the available remaining FA pitchers would be with the Twins 3 years from now. Why waste the money?

      Also, are we really complaining about the roster right now? We still have what, 10 weeks before the start of Spring Training? Chill out people.
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      [QUOTE=Top Gun;72315]Ryan is a cheapskate and a liar that is why Pohlad hire him. He can't give his money away the players know him. He is paid to fool the fans into thinking he can get something for nothing. When the fans are gone he will be gone too, but it will be to little to late for Pohlad to pony up.
      It is just sad to have to watch the Twins lose for another 2 years with no chance to win. Empty promises and lies, Just plain greed![/QUOTEve

      The empty promises and lies are the hardest take. Especially after the new stadium! The organization has enough assets to be competitive until the youngsters arrive. However, I do think that this is mainly a Pohlad issue. If they wanted a winning team, there would be one on the field. Must never forget that the family attempted to move the team and, also , attempted, or approved of contraction. My problem is I that enjoy all aspects of baseball--not much to look forward to!!
    1. NoCryingInBaseball's Avatar
      NoCryingInBaseball -
      I was trying to remember what the starting rotation was at the beginning of 2012 and I was having difficulty. That’s probably because the Twins began the year in a state of turmoil (which seemed to never end). As NoCal offered, Baker was gone by opening day with Tommy John and Marquis was late because of the bicycle accident to his daughter. So the rotation started with a Waiting for Godot…I mean Marquis, type of rotation that was rounded out with Pavano, Liriano and Blackburn. The four pitchers they did start also included Liam Hendricks’s first audition (which he failed miserably), I think the Liam Hendriks that returned at the very end of the season was a different pitcher than his initial starts.

      I am in agreement with everyone that Correia doesn’t seem to add anything to the pitching rotation, but Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Liam Hendriks Part II are much better than opening day 2012. Hopefully Gibson is limited innings in Triple A and lets Correia watch baseball from the bullpen in June. Better yet…sign Sean Marcum now!
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      I wish I was! I don't see a Twins SP capable of winning 10 games. Marcum might be but we don't have him, and doubtful we ever will.
      What free agent pitcher out there has consistently won more than a dozen games per year? What are you expecting a team devoid of tradeable talent to do? Are you even aware that Pelfey pre injury won 15 games for a bad Mets team, Correia at least pitched .500 and 10+ wins on some very bad teams. Diamond won 12 games last year. Based on past performances , what are you basing your claim on? That the rest of the team is less talented?
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      On paper, last year's rotation at this time was far superior. We didn't know Baker and Pavano would have arm issues and we liked to think that Liriano was going to perform well as he usually did in even numbered years. Last year we were complaining because the Twins wasted money on Jason Marquis as the FIFTH starter. This year we are complaining because the Twins signed Kevin Correia, an equally poor pitcher, to be the THIRD starter.

      It wasn't until April that it became clear that the rotation was a mess. There is still plenty of time for Worley to go under the knife and for Diamond to drastically regress.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      On paper, last year's rotation at this time was far superior. We didn't know Baker and Pavano would have arm issues and we liked to think that Liriano was going to perform well as he usually did in even numbered years. Last year we were complaining because the Twins wasted money on Jason Marquis as the FIFTH starter. This year we are complaining because the Twins signed Kevin Correia, an equally poor pitcher, to be the THIRD starter.

      It wasn't until April that it became clear that the rotation was a mess. There is still plenty of time for Worley to go under the knife and for Diamond to drastically regress.
      Due respect, that's not altogether true. There were many, many of us who were upset with the lack of attention Terry Ryan paid to the rotation last year at this time. Pretty much every "offseason blueprint" included upgrades in the rotation. Then the Twins publicly announced that they were cutting payroll 10% and we all knew that meant we could forget about improving the rotation. The "big FA signing" at this point a year ago was re-signing Pavano and while we didn't "know" he would have arm issues, it certainly couldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

      While Ryan did a nice job of replacing Kubel and Cuddyer adequately and for less money, he did fail to address the need to improve the rotation a year ago and there was no shortage of people pointing that out. By slashing payroll a year ago, he left the rotation situation in a position where everything had to break right to get even adequate starting pitching. Obviously, things did not break right. The result was predictable and now the rotation hole Ryan has to dig out of is only deeper... and still he's unable or unwilling to even pick up a shovel.
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