• 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. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Freddy Garcia is next.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Right, which part of that is incorrect? Chris Herrmann is far superior of Drew Buetera, it still doesn't mean he's any good.
      I don't see how looking at the rotation we had in Dec 2011 is FAR SUPERIOR to the rotation we're looking at now is what I'm saying. Obviously others disagree.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      You hope your rotation (top four pitchers) can get you 50 wins at least. Ideal would be 65-70 from all five! That means they pitch into at least the 6th holding a lead.
      Only need to go 5 inngs to be pitcher of record...no need to go into the 6th inning to get a win
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Freddy Garcia apparently choosing between Reds (as long-reliever), Rockies, and Twins. Let's see: if Garcia wants to make any money beyond 2013, he certainly won't take his flyball-inducing "skill" to Colorado. Competing might draw him to Cincinnati. Otherwise, methinks he's a twin. Insert Shaun Marcum instead of Kevin Corriea, and I wouldn't have minded adding Pelfrey and Garcia.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmlease1 View Post
      The other advantage I see is we're not counting on Walters, Hendriks, Blackburn, Deduno, and De Vries to fill 2-3 spots in the rotation. We'll be looking at that group to fill maybe 1 slot and/or be ready to go if someone else falters/gets injured. (I want Gibson in the 5th slot even at the start of the season, that way he can get skipped a few times over the course of the season to monitor his innings yet still be stretched out over a full season)
      The problem I see is that we weren't counting on them to fill spots last year either (Sans Blackburn), but at one point, they were what we had. Personally I'm fairly excited about Deduno and I'm wondering if this could be our RA Dickey type pickup, but there's a pretty sizable likelihood there that it won't be anything of that nature. We have two TJ question marks in the system, though I fully expect Gibson to either start in AAA or get delayed this spring. Pelfrey, on the other hand, is a one year rental, so I doubt there will be much for innings limits and what not. Worley isn't exactly injury free, though his was pretty minor. That's a lot of question marks to go with Correia, who won't be very effective, and Diamond, who is a prime candidate to regress... Perhaps Diamond can comp out more like another leftie that people around here covet (Buehrle), but that's a tight line to walk and highly unlikely.
    1. beehles's Avatar
      beehles -
      It is pretty sad they've gathered so much more salary cap capability and put it toward guys like Corriea. I understand not wanting to overpay for a player but come on. Let's give the fans a glimmer of hope. I've been anxiously checking every day this free agency in hopes of making a great aquisition that can help the team now and have been utterly disappointed. I love the trades and the look of the future, but what about now!? Come on man!
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Freddy Garcia is next.
      If this goes down, the Twins will have signed two pitchers who were banished to the bullpen last year. I guess it's like Ryan said though, it's about quantity this year, I just wish it was a tiny bit about quality.

      With no sarcasm intended, hopefully the Twins are able to do something special with three consecutive top five draft picks. The future is bright, it just seems unneccessary to make the present so abysmal in the process.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Durability needs to be part of the equation. Baker gave the Twins 0 innings last year. Pavano gutted out 63 ugly innings while injured. Liriano was healthy but wild. I would take Worely in a heartbeat over Liriano. I would take Pelfrey over Baker. And I would take Corriea over Pavano. And that does not count the guys who are waiting for opportunities, such as Gibson, who were not even an option last year.

      I'm not saying it's a good staff by any stretch. But it's much better than the staff we started the year with last year, which could not get much worse.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      Going into last season the rotation looked ok, but when your two best starters don't pitch the whole year its going to be a tough year. Add in the ineffectiveness of Blackburn and Liriano and its not surprising the team struggled. The rotation to start the year is clearly better, even with Correia. Correia, despite his inadequacies, is a known commodity. He will be below average. The other options the Twins have (which pitched way too many of the innings last season) are terrible. This team will be better than last year and wont lose 90 games again. I see them being a little under 500. The pessimism on this site right now is alarming.
      Uh, the Twins had numerous options who pitched "below average" last year who were playing for the minimum, as a group, they are only marginally worse than Correia, and guys like Hendriks, and even Deduno, have significantly more upside than Correia to be significantly improved in 2013 over their 2012 numbers. I would also remonstrate through past stats and projections that Deunsing, and even possibly Cole DeVries, brought more value to their pitching staff than Correia did in 2012 and have a chance to contribute at a level at least at what Correia offers in 2013 for only 10% on the dollar.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      At no point in the article did I compare the current group to last year's Opening Day rotation. What I said was that if I'm Terry Ryan, I have a hard time feeling confident that this unit will perform significantly better overall than last year's. I'm not saying that the present outlook is worse, I just don't know that it's much better.

      Of the five pitchers I listed as the top candidates, two are coming back from TJ surgery and four have never thrown a pitch in the American League. Outside of Pelfrey, there is a total of ONE MLB season with 175+ IP in the entire collection (Correia in 2009).

      That's a lot of uncertainty and if they moved forward counting on the five guys I mentioned, it's hard to imagine they wouldn't have to once again dip into Triple-A repeatedly.

      Also, I'm not assuming that Ryan is done by any means. This is a snapshot of the current situation, nothing more. As I said, I believe it would help a lot to add an established quality pitcher that can push others down the depth chart, and there are still some guys like that out there. The fact of the matter is that we haven't seen the Twins tied to such players, and instead we see them popping up next to names like Freddy Garcia.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmlease1 View Post
      Baker & Liriano are more talented than any of the new 4 pitchers, save Gibson perhaps. But injuries and inconsistency made them bad options last season. As correctly noted, Baker didn't throw a single regular season pitch last year. Marquis was abysmal. Pavano was declining, injured, and terrible. Liriano was inconsistent and overall bad.

      If Worley, Correia, and Pelfrey are all healthy throughout the season the performance of the pitching staff will probably improve. Correia's my least favorite signing of the off-season, and even he should put up better numbers than the combination of Nick Blackburn/Carl Pavano did last season in 30 starts. Worley should give the team better numbers than the combo platter of Liriano/Walters over 33 starts. Pelfrey could do better than the 27 starts we got from Hedriks/Duensing and shouldn't do worse.

      The problem is, we're talking about marginal improvements. I actually have pretty high hopes for Gibson, but I also expect his innings to be limited and lessen his impact this season. But getting the starting pitching from abysmal to competent could have a pretty big impact. If the new starters can get through the early innings without putting the team in a big hole, maybe that's a big enough step up to show improvement. The bullpen should still be very solid, especially with Duensing there and not messing around with him as a starter.

      The other advantage I see is we're not counting on Walters, Hendriks, Blackburn, Deduno, and De Vries to fill 2-3 spots in the rotation. We'll be looking at that group to fill maybe 1 slot and/or be ready to go if someone else falters/gets injured. (I want Gibson in the 5th slot even at the start of the season, that way he can get skipped a few times over the course of the season to monitor his innings yet still be stretched out over a full season)
      How much marginal improvement are you really getting for your $10M commitment?

      Correia (NL Numbers) IP-171...K/9-4.68...BB/9-2.42...FIP-4.43...WAR-0.9

      DeVries (AL Numbers) IP-87...K/9-5.95...BB/9-1.85...FIP-4.90...WAR-0.4

      Deunsing (AL Numbers) IP-109...K/9-5.70...BB/9-2.23...FIP-3.82...WAR-1.3

      Hendriks (AL Numbers) IP-85 (+106AAA)...K/9-5.27...BB/9-2.74...FIP-5.57...WAR--0.2 (AAA): IP-106...K/9-6.94...BB/9-2.37...ERA-2.20
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      At no point in the article did I compare the current group to last year's Opening Day rotation. What I said was that if I'm Terry Ryan, I have a hard time feeling confident that this unit will perform significantly better overall than last year's. I'm not saying that the present outlook is worse, I just don't know that it's much better.

      Of the five pitchers I listed as the top candidates, two are coming back from TJ surgery and four have never thrown a pitch in the American League. Outside of Pelfrey, there is a total of ONE MLB season with 175+ IP in the entire collection (Correia in 2009).

      That's a lot of uncertainty and if they moved forward counting on the five guys I mentioned, it's hard to imagine they wouldn't have to once again dip into Triple-A repeatedly.

      Also, I'm not assuming that Ryan is done by any means. This is a snapshot of the current situation, nothing more. As I said, I believe it would help a lot to add an established quality pitcher that can push others down the depth chart, and there are still some guys like that out there. The fact of the matter is that we haven't seen the Twins tied to such players, and instead we see them popping up next to names like Freddy Garcia.
      If anything, the level of uncertainty has been significantly raised over last season- and signing Freddy Garcia would only raise the certainty of one more guy on the staff at or near the top of the gopher ball leader board. (Freddy's #s were around the top 5 for both HR/9 and HR/FB).
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      $5.5 million to Blackburn, $4.5 million to Correia, $4 million to Pelfrey, and let's say $3 million to Garcia. That's $17 million towards, um, bad. Last year it was $25 million or so to very bad. And people will still contend that Mauer's contract is the problem.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      If this goes down, the Twins will have signed two pitchers who were banished to the bullpen last year. I guess it's like Ryan said though, it's about quantity this year, I just wish it was a tiny bit about quality.

      With no sarcasm intended, hopefully the Twins are able to do something special with three consecutive top five draft picks. The future is bright, it just seems unneccessary to make the present so abysmal in the process.
      Hopefully, with the warming up to Boras, Appel is their prime target in the draft in 2013. I ask again, who has the names of the top 3 projected picks in 2014?, 'cause that's where the Twins are likely to slot. 2 major league-ready draftable SPs on the 40-man roster going into 2015 is about the best thing to be hopefully optimistic about.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Uh, the Twins had numerous options who pitched "below average" last year who were playing for the minimum, as a group, they are only marginally worse than Correia, and guys like Hendriks, and even Deduno, have significantly more upside than Correia to be significantly improved in 2013 over their 2012 numbers. I would also remonstrate through past stats and projections that Deunsing, and even possibly Cole DeVries, brought more value to their pitching staff than Correia did in 2012 and have a chance to contribute at a level at least at what Correia offers in 2013 for only 10% on the dollar.
      What possible upside does Duensing, Deduno or DeVries have? Last year was an extended enough period of time each showed what they could do as a starter. Duensing was put back in the bullpen, Deduno regressed as the season wore on. DeVries does a workman like effort but appears to be a 5 inning 6th starter.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      $5.5 million to Blackburn, $4.5 million to Correia, $4 million to Pelfrey, and let's say $3 million to Garcia. That's $17 million towards, um, bad. Last year it was $25 million or so to very bad. And people will still contend that Mauer's contract is the problem.
      Cmon, there's at least some evidence in the Twins reluctance to spend that there is at least a minor causal link in the Twins not wanting to spend what it takes based on the commitment and resulting circumstances to Mauer. I still think the Twins are still in psychological recovery of the Gobsmacking they got from Mauer's disastrous season and all the other injuries they incurred in 2011, which carried over to the high-dollar SPs in 2012.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      What possible upside does Duensing, Deduno or DeVries have? Last year was an extended enough period of time each showed what they could do as a starter. Duensing was put back in the bullpen, Deduno regressed as the season wore on. DeVries does a workman like effort but appears to be a 5 inning 6th starter.
      Correia 171 IP in 32 Games Played. That works out to 5.34 innings per appearance. At an average salary of $5M, that's $156,250/gm played. DeVries averaged 5.12 innings per appearance and he obviously makes less than 1/10 of Correia for similar numbers (3 Correia games pitched=DeVries entire season salary).

      For the record, if you carefully read my post, I made no mention of "upside" for Duensing or DeVries.

      On the other hand, I don't think anyone argues that Hendriks can't be a lot better than Correia, and Deduno has the electric stuff that Correia could only dream about, not saying he will ever get there, but at least his Dominican performance and occasional strong start last year suggests he could catch lightining in a bottle for a couple of years- all for the League Minimum.

      I am mostly arguing the economics of this signing and I don't see how this was money well spent.
    1. rickyriolo's Avatar
      rickyriolo -
      posed this question yesterday to David Schoenfield of ESPN on yesterday's chat: Are the Twins finished dealing after trading Span,Revere and signing Correia & Pelfrey? Will they finish dead last again in the AL? Schoenfield's response: Shaping up to be quite a race between the Indians and Twins. Correria , Pelfrey Worley.....doesn't inspire much confidence
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Freddy Friggin Garcia? Seriously?

      Is it possible to astonished and yet not surprised much at all?

      It has become obvious that Ryan decided to spend his money on 3-4 crappy options at $3-5 million a piece, rather than 2 legitimate Major League pitchers at $10+ million each. Could be a complete overreaction to the injuries last year but nobody should be at all surprised if the results are 100+ losses. And the most frustrating thing is that it didn't have to happen. The money is... or should be... available to have significantly improved the top of the rotation, not just add a few guys who might arguably be better #5 starters than the 2012 crew.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by rickyriolo View Post
      posed this question yesterday to David Schoenfield of ESPN on yesterday's chat: Are the Twins finished dealing after trading Span,Revere and signing Correia & Pelfrey? Will they finish dead last again in the AL? Schoenfield's response: Shaping up to be quite a race between the Indians and Twins. Correria , Pelfrey Worley.....doesn't inspire much confidence
      I caught the Joe Posnanski live chat yesterday, too. He was asked by one desperate Twins fan to say at least one positive thing he liked about the Twins. His answer is that he likes the interlocking TC on their caps, beyond that there's nothing. I reluctantly have to agree. Barring an unexpected addition to the top of the Twins rotation, rather than more possible #5s, I can't see any reason to spend money to watch the 2013 Twins.
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