• 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. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Agreed, even more reason to disregard any distinction about Ryan/Pohlads that tries to deflect away from Ryan's accountability.
      Exactly right. As far as I'm concerned, Ryan and the Pohlads are synonymous. Both are equally culpable for failing (this far) to address the current rotation issues in any serious manner. Yes, it's ownership that establish budgetary limits. However, how many times did we hear Jim Pohlad, Dave St. Peter and Terry Ryan say publicly that budget is not an issue... that Ryan doesn't get told he "can't" spend money... that they intended to field a competitive team in 2013, not just rebuild for the future? Didn't Ryan, himself, say that it was his job to assemble a rotation... in fact an entire roster... capable of doing so?

      Does he get off the hook because FA prices were higher than he expected? I would hope not.

      Look, I've been a Terry Ryan fan for years. I still really like the guy and think he's a VERY smart baseball man. But he and his bosses ALL have been telling fans we should expect to see a competitive team in 2013. That being the case, I just can't understand why so many people are willing to accept less from this front office.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Exactly right. As far as I'm concerned, Ryan and the Pohlads are synonymous. Both are equally culpable for failing (this far) to address the current rotation issues in any serious manner. Yes, it's ownership that establish budgetary limits. However, how many times did we hear Jim Pohlad, Dave St. Peter and Terry Ryan say publicly that budget is not an issue... that Ryan doesn't get told he "can't" spend money... that they intended to field a competitive team in 2013, not just rebuild for the future? Didn't Ryan, himself, say that it was his job to assemble a rotation... in fact an entire roster... capable of doing so?


      You still do not know who turned down advances.

      Does he get off the hook because FA prices were higher than he expected? I would hope not.

      Look, I've been a Terry Ryan fan for years. I still really like the guy and think he's a VERY smart baseball man. But he and his bosses ALL have been telling fans we should expect to see a competitive team in 2013. That being the case, I just can't understand why so many people are willing to accept less from this front office.
      In a job market there are scarce professions. Elite level pitchers are propbably the most scarce. They pretty much have options on where to play. Why on earth would any free agent want to play on a last place team despite overtures? That leaves you fighting to get the ones that the top does not want. That usually happens late. The big boys finish their shopping soon. The cellar dwellers will have their chance next. It at this case is not accepting less, rather having enough sense to show some patience.
    1. bmantfan's Avatar
      bmantfan -
      Let's go get Freddy Garcia or one of the top starters like Lohse or Edwin Jackson. People who can win over 15 games and hasn't just come back from Tommy John Surgery or some kind of injury.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      My point on speculation is that, without some sort of direct line to the top level of Twins' discussions, nobody here knows a darn thing, but we're all too eager to pontificate about what we do "know." For all we "know," Terry Ryan offered $140 million to Greinke and got beat out by the Dodgers. I don't know. I doubt you do, unless you were on the phone call with his agent.

      I think there's a lot of speculation going on that ignores that which is called "silent evidence" (by a scholar that I'm particularly fond of). Silent evidence is that which we do not know because we cannot see it and therefore ignore in favor of what we can see, which may not actually be representative.

      To illustrate silent evidence, I posit this [fake] conversation:
      Me: "How do you know that you've cured cancer, doctor?"
      Doctor: "Well, nobody that I've given my cure to has come back to tell me that it didn't work."

      To extend the point, all of the blind speculators here are pointing at the people we didn't sign and assuming that this is proof positive that we didn't try, that we didn't care, that Terry Ryan is one of the three stooges, that the Pohlads are actually descendants of Hitler, that the general management of the club is full of functional retards, that the Twins are pure evil incarnate...

      It doesn't add up. Here's my thought. The Twins are doing the best they can, and it is likely that budget constraints (despite Target Field, we're not the Yankees) as well as general frugality are keeping the general management from splurging on the top of the order free agents. What I cannot accept is the idea that they don't care/hate the fans/are idiots. Until we know for sure, all we can do is speculate. Why would we speculate that the Twins' staff want us to suffer? Isn't it more likely that they're saving as much money as possible while attempting to field a <100 loss team, intending to spend more on free agents when free agent spending will actually matter?

      I think so.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      I think not. If Ryan had offer any contracts it would have been reported, not one has even been reported so it not hard to tell that he hasn't offer any.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I guess if you want to believe that, despite there being pretty much no hint whatsoever of the Twins doing more than "checking in" with agents of real pitchers, Terry Ryan has actually been working his ass off to sign one or more of those guys and always comes just THIS close, but always gets outbid by another team or the pitcher always wants to sign with better teams (like those perennial champions the Chicago Cubs, for example?), that's fine. I think you're giving him too much credit and I'll actually believe he is seriously going after a real pitcher when he actually gets one to sign on the dotted line... because the next time he lands one will be the first time. Until then, I'm done giving him credit for "trying".
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Much teeth gnashing attacking/defending the FO. True, starting pitching was (still is!) a major problem and the FO admittedly has focused on that problem--but it sure wasn't the only deficiency on the roster. The Twins are under-powered, and quite frankly the back-half of the line didn't have anywhere near high enough OBP to justify their abysmal SLG. Span and Revere (neither with the team anymore!) did provide quality OBP, but their lack of SLG combined with the back half's poor OBP, and their combined RBI total was at best lacklustre (worse IMO). Tall and short of it, Ryan hasn't devoted any resources for improving the offense despite being "under budget" for the acquisition of the three promised starting pitchers. Then there is the question of substandard infield defense and the need to improve there (especially in DP efficiency) considering the Twins lack of Ks and plethora of ground balls. Those defending the actions of the FO by using quantity and not quality as the basis for signing free agent pitching (and its resultant lower cost!) when nothing has been done to improve the other deficiencies in the team by utilizing some (all?) of the money "saved" by signing lower cost pitchers.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I guess if you want to believe that, despite there being pretty much no hint whatsoever of the Twins doing more than "checking in" with agents of real pitchers, Terry Ryan has actually been working his ass off to sign one or more of those guys and always comes just THIS close, but always gets outbid by another team or the pitcher always wants to sign with better teams (like those perennial champions the Chicago Cubs, for example?), that's fine. I think you're giving him too much credit and I'll actually believe he is seriously going after a real pitcher when he actually gets one to sign on the dotted line... because the next time he lands one will be the first time. Until then, I'm done giving him credit for "trying".
      I think perhaps you're missing the point. I don't think it's likely that he offered $140 million for Greinke, but my point wasn't whether that was likely (or anything that is known is likely), but that what is unknown is more powerful than many are giving it credit for, as they only focus on the known and, more specifically, the known negative.

      And I'm on record saying that I find it likely that they are "saving as much money as possible while attempting to field a <100 loss team, intending to spend more on free agents when free agent spending will actually matter."

      Which of course is the smart thing to do.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      I'm going to try this one more time, and perhaps I'll get a better response. Let me go back to that ever-flowing cancer-analogy well.

      If you go into the doctor and have a biopsy, and the biopsy comes back negative, you do not not have cancer. You have an absence of evidence of cancer (i.e., you didn't find any in the biopsy). On the other hand, the biopsy may have missed a small cancer cell cluster that could turn into a major problem. Until all is known, there is not evidence of absence of any cancer cells.

      Note the difference - and it is a crucial difference. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Let's again extend the point. That which is currently known is that the Twins haven't signed anyone of note. There is an absence of evidence that they have attempted to sign or will sign someone that TD can agree is good. On the other hand, without something more substantial than speculation, there is no actual knowledge that we have not tried.

      We have absence of evidence. We do not have evidence of absence. I'm not "giving the front office credit." I'm simply not excoriating them for something that we don't know that they haven't done.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I guess if you want to believe that, despite there being pretty much no hint whatsoever of the Twins doing more than "checking in" with agents of real pitchers, Terry Ryan has actually been working his ass off to sign one or more of those guys and always comes just THIS close, but always gets outbid by another team or the pitcher always wants to sign with better teams (like those perennial champions the Chicago Cubs, for example?), that's fine. I think you're giving him too much credit and I'll actually believe he is seriously going after a real pitcher when he actually gets one to sign on the dotted line... because the next time he lands one will be the first time. Until then, I'm done giving him credit for "trying".
      So far this year the Cubs have signed no one. Nor have the Mets, Marlins, Cleveland, Colorado, Houston or SanDiego. Arizona signed McCarthy, KC got Guthrie, Seattle Iwakuma. If I missed a mid market team in a down cycle, sorry.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs have agreed to a deal with Carlos Villanueva.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      CBS Sports' Jon Heyman hears that Edwin Jackson is still "in play" for the Cubs following the signing of Carlos Villanueva.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      My review of the Twins' rotation as it stands would be the same as this magical album review:

      Jet: Shine On | Album Reviews | Pitchfork
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      I'm going to try this one more time, and perhaps I'll get a better response. Let me go back to that ever-flowing cancer-analogy well.

      If you go into the doctor and have a biopsy, and the biopsy comes back negative, you do not not have cancer. You have an absence of evidence of cancer (i.e., you didn't find any in the biopsy). On the other hand, the biopsy may have missed a small cancer cell cluster that could turn into a major problem. Until all is known, there is not evidence of absence of any cancer cells.

      Note the difference - and it is a crucial difference. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Let's again extend the point. That which is currently known is that the Twins haven't signed anyone of note. There is an absence of evidence that they have attempted to sign or will sign someone that TD can agree is good. On the other hand, without something more substantial than speculation, there is no actual knowledge that we have not tried.

      We have absence of evidence. We do not have evidence of absence. I'm not "giving the front office credit." I'm simply not excoriating them for something that we don't know that they haven't done.
      There are a few things wrong with your analogy. First there were many good FA pitchers out there this year that the Twins could have pursued; not just one. Second there are many journalists out there trying to get the inside scoop on each of those pitchers; not just one doctor. So a more accurate analogy would be the patient took 7 or 8 different types of tests and he went to a dozen different doctors who each wanted to run their own tests. Every single one of those tests came back as negative. So sure, I guess everyone of those tests could have been incorrect but a higher likely hood would be that you truly are cancer free.

      To bring this back to the point at hand; if there were only one or two available pitchers out there or if none of the media really tried to ferret out the truth or if the Twins were known as an orginization that was well versed in keeping their dealings secret maybe you would have a point. But the there were many pitchers out there, there are a dozen writers trying to break the news, especially when it comes to the big names, and the Span and Revere trades as well as both the Pelfrey and Correia signings were all swirling in the rumor mill.

      At some point the lack of evidence, while never definitive, becomes so overwhelming as to imply that in fact no big name pitcher was ever being truly considered by the Twins.

      If this post doesn't make sense I apologize in advance. It is currently 4am as I am finishing this up and am thinking to myself, WTF am I still doing up! Stupid TD message boards.
    1. oldgoat's Avatar
      oldgoat -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      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.
      The most lucid blog I've seen. Let's not forget the beauty of baseball is the out of nowhere stories. Last year at this time all those that thought Scott Diamond would win 12 games please raise your hand. That's what I thought. Being a true baseball requires patience. Cub fans laugh at Twins fans impatience! This guy who's going to boycott the Twins....don't let the door hit you in the butt. With fewer fans comes better seat jumping opportunities at the park to watch the greatest game ever invented up close and personal.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      To extend the point, all of the blind speculators here are pointing at the people we didn't sign and assuming that this is proof positive that we didn't try, that we didn't care, that Terry Ryan is one of the three stooges, that the Pohlads are actually descendants of Hitler, that the general management of the club is full of functional retards, that the Twins are pure evil incarnate...
      Seems to me the people really guilty of "silent evidence" were those that believed the Twins were going to remold their pitching staff in one off-season on the basis of a few pre-offseason interviews designed to keep season ticket holders around. The actual evidence is that Ryan doesn't like handing out big contracts to pitchers - never has, never will. (Which, again, I don't mind. I'm not a Ryan basher - I like him.)

      But the fact is those that took him at his word that he was going to add significant pitching have a right to hold him accountable to those words. All the spinning and deflecting being done from that is the problem.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      The rotation has improved just by the addition of Worley and the subtraction of Blackburn over last year. Marquis and Correia are a wash, both horrendously bad. I like Diamond and Worley. It's a start and they both know how to pitch. I kind of wish they'd let Deduno pitch. He was the only guy in the rotation that could miss bats. His control could come around. He's honestly better than Hendriks or DeVries just by way of he has upside. I'd go Worley, Diamond, Deduno, Hendriks, and Gibson after May when Correia is Marquis 2.0 and Pelfrey is shut down in Spring Training with arm soreness.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      It is not Ryan's job to try to make the team better, it is his job to make the team better. Drew Buyers tries to hot, does not mean he should keep his job. I do not care what Ryan tried or did not try. So far, he has failed to do what he said he would do.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      I'm going to try this one more time, and perhaps I'll get a better response. Let me go back to that ever-flowing cancer-analogy well.

      If you go into the doctor and have a biopsy, and the biopsy comes back negative, you do not not have cancer. You have an absence of evidence of cancer (i.e., you didn't find any in the biopsy). On the other hand, the biopsy may have missed a small cancer cell cluster that could turn into a major problem. Until all is known, there is not evidence of absence of any cancer cells.

      Note the difference - and it is a crucial difference. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Let's again extend the point. That which is currently known is that the Twins haven't signed anyone of note. There is an absence of evidence that they have attempted to sign or will sign someone that TD can agree is good. On the other hand, without something more substantial than speculation, there is no actual knowledge that we have not tried.

      We have absence of evidence. We do not have evidence of absence. I'm not "giving the front office credit." I'm simply not excoriating them for something that we don't know that they haven't done.
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      Seems to me the people really guilty of "silent evidence" were those that believed the Twins were going to remold their pitching staff in one off-season on the basis of a few pre-offseason interviews designed to keep season ticket holders around. The actual evidence is that Ryan doesn't like handing out big contracts to pitchers - never has, never will. (Which, again, I don't mind. I'm not a Ryan basher - I like him.)

      But the fact is those that took him at his word that he was going to add significant pitching have a right to hold him accountable to those words. All the spinning and deflecting being done from that is the problem.
      I hope I'll get "credit" for "trying" to unravel all of the triple negatives and FO analogy-spinning going on in this discussion.

      A few questions:

      1) Is TR not having John Lannan thrown into the Span trade evidence of absence- or- absence of evidence?

      2) Is TR's continual failure to take advantage of his waiver wire position " patiently shrewd frugality"- or- putting 2013/2014 on automatic pilot while maintaining to the public that the Twins will be "competitive"?

      3) Does the "actual" evidence presented, Ie, the "actual" current roster, the "actual" FA signings, gives the club license to shout a unifying rallying cry to all the fans in Twinsland? Is anyone in the FO in possession of "actual" optimism that 2013 will be an improvement on 2011/2012? ( You yourself already stated that they are merely "trying" to field a "< 100-loss team" as signatory of how hard they're trying and how shrewd they are in spending money only when it matters)
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      So far this year the Cubs have signed no one. Nor have the Mets, Marlins, Cleveland, Colorado, Houston or SanDiego. Arizona signed McCarthy, KC got Guthrie, Seattle Iwakuma. If I missed a mid market team in a down cycle, sorry.
      I think any objective observer would concede that the Cubs' signings of Villanueva, Baker and Feldman is a significantly better offseason SP upgrade over the Twins efforts.
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