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  • The Two Week Warning

    You may not have realized it by looking out your window at the new snow Monday morning, but the Minnesota Twins’ Opening Day is less than two weeks away. That means it’s probably time to start taking a more serious look at how the team is rounding in to shape in Fort Myers.
    This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.

    Although Spring Training has officially been in gear for about a month, it’s usually pretty pointless to pay a lot of attention to individual performances during the first couple of weeks of Grapefruit League games. Veteran hitters are just shaking the rust off and working on specific things, such as hitting to this or that specific field or hitting particular pitches. Established pitchers use each early outings as an opportunity to refine deliveries or work on specific pitches. Results are of secondary concern.

    But as the team gets down to it’s final dozen games or so, the hitters start wanting more plate appearances and the pitchers start using all their pitches as they focus more on getting outs. We should also see with some level of certainty how the starting pitching spots are firming up as the Twins adjust their rotation so their pitchers line up they way they want to open the season. Their final 10 Spring Training games will start this Thursday against the Yankees.

    It’s a good thing, too, that we can conveniently discount performances up to this point, because a lot of those performances have been less than awe-inspring thus far. If you were inclined to predict the season’s outcome based on the first few weeks of Spring Training results, it would be pretty difficult to find cause to believe the 2013 Twins will be much better than last season’s version.

    It’s encouraging to see Justin Morneau looking like his former MVP-level self and Aaron Hicks looking like a legitimate Major League centerfielder in the making. But, every fan knows that the pitching rotation must improve significantly if the Twins are to have a chance to show improved results this summer. There hasn’t been too much to get excited about in that area yet.

    With Scott Diamond will start the season on the Disabled List, there are two rotation spots up for grabs among several of the Twins’ young arms. Kyle Gibson was expected to contend for a spot, but he’s already been sent across the parking lot to minor league camp, so he’ll be starting his season in Rochester. Liam Hendriks is another contender, but he’s struggled in most of his appearances. Hitters have averaged .295 against him and have hit him up four home runs in his 15 innings of work. His WHIP is a lackluster 1.40.

    But here’s the kicker - Hendriks arguably has had a better spring, statistically speaking, than any of the three “locks” for Twins rotation spots: Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. Those three haven’t been as prone to giving up gopher balls as Hendriks, but through the past weekend, hitters are batting better than .300 against each of them and Worley’s 1.83 WHIP is the best of the trio.

    On the other hand, if you want to look for encouraging signs for the Twins among their starting pitching corps, you can take a look in the direction of Cole DeVries. DeVries has only thrown 10 innings in his three starts, but he’s not giving up many hits (.121 batting average against), has not given up any home runs, has a tidy little 0.70 WHIP and, if you’re in to small sample size ERAs, he’s sporting a 0.90 in that category, too. Of course, “small sample size” caveats apply to all stat lines at this point.

    Another rotation candidate that’s been at least moderately impressive is a guy who has only thrown only one inning for the Twins this spring, Samuel Deduno. While he hasn’t been in camp for the past couple of weeks, Deduno has been getting work in the rotation for the Dominican Republic’s entry in the World Baseball Classic, where he’s had some success. In fact, he was the starting (and winning) pitcher for the Dominicans in their victory over Team USA last week.

    Because Deduno is not on the Twins’ 40-man roster at this point, the team would have to make a roster move to keep him when they move north to start the season. Since they hope to have Diamond available by mid-April, it’s quite possible they’ll only need their initial fifth starter for one game before Diamond is activated. That being the case, Hendriks should still be considered the leading candidate for that spot.

    So here’s what the rotation seems to be setting up to look like, to my eyes:

    Opening Day starter: Vance Worley (started Sunday, will likely start again Friday and have his last Spring Training Start Wednesday, March 27… five days before Opening Day)

    #2 starter: Kevin Correia (starting today, leaving remaining starts March 23 and 28)

    #3 starter: Mike Pelfrey

    #4 starter Cole DeVries

    #5 starter: Liam Hendriks (may only be needed for one start, March 7, before Diamond is activated in mid-April)

    That’s all pure speculation on my part, of course. The point is merely that, with two weeks remaining before the scheduled Opening Day, now is when these pitchers need to start showing me something more than they have already… something to make me believe they’ll make up a better rotation than the disaster we saw on the mound last season.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: The Two Week Warning started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. Old Twins Cap's Avatar
      Old Twins Cap -
      Deduno hasn't shown you enough? Pretty tough for him to get any respect in these parts.
    1. tellis205's Avatar
      tellis205 -
      Pelfrey is getting too much respect here. I don't believe that he's suddenly going to be able to locate consistently just because the season starts in 2 weeks. He needs to go down for a month at least. He's just gonna dig himself into a hole early and it'll be a struggle from there on out. PJ Walters is capable of giving a handful of good starts just like he did last year and he'd be a good bandaid until Pelfrey is ready. I realize that Walters isn't on the 40 man but there's a few boys that should be coming off that roster anyway.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Old Twins Cap View Post
      Deduno hasn't shown you enough? Pretty tough for him to get any respect in these parts.
      Deduno's performance in the championship game of the WBC came after I wrote and published this article. Certainly, another good start there helped his case. I probably actually give his WBC performance more weight than a lot of people do, but even I'm not prepared to say he's shown enough yet to overcome his lack of a 40-man roster spot, especially if we're talking about him being the #5 starter who just gets one start before Diamond returns.

      I'm going to be very interested to see if his success continues with Twins catchers calling his pitches the next couple weeks. I'm rooting for him, if for no other reason than he's got different "stuff" than the rest of the rotation members and if you're going to have 5 right handed starting pitchers, it's probably a good idea to have a couple that at least show hitters a little something unusual.
    1. bear333's Avatar
      bear333 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Old Twins Cap View Post
      Deduno hasn't shown you enough? Pretty tough for him to get any respect in these parts.
      It Looks like Gardenhire and Ryan are finally taking serious notice. Gardenhire says he will try to work him into a start Sunday and that he was impressed with Deduno's performance at the Classic.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by bear333 View Post
      It Looks like Gardenhire and Ryan are finally taking serious notice. Gardenhire says he will try to work him into a start Sunday and that he was impressed with Deduno's performance at the Classic.
      I'm not sure what you mean by finally taking notice?
      They signed him as a FA 15 months ago, then brought him back this year when all 29 other teams passed on him, so they must have seen SOMETHING in him to begin with.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Deduno should be in the rotation. We can send Henricks back to Rochester. He is a great AAA pitcher, who will probably never make it in the bigs
    1. ssmart's Avatar
      ssmart -
      Could not agree with Crikket more.
      I'm sure these pitchers in camp are working on their delivery and pitch control, for the opening of the season.
      Let's see what the next week brings, as things get a little more serious.
    1. NoCal's Avatar
      NoCal -
      Just a note about other camps. Scott Baker has been shut down - elbow issues. Sean Marcum has had shoulder problems. Ryan Dempster is having elbow problems. This winter's free agent pitching market really was a minefield.......
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      I don't think we really can make much of veteran pitchers spring training performances especially those returning from injury. Honestly, I hope our pitchers are working on technique rather than trying to get statistical results, but that probably goes without saying. The younger guys, Hendricks in particular, the statistical outcome of spring training is probably more determinate to making the roster, but not for the likes of Worley, Pelfrey, and Correia. We won't really know what we have with the National league bunch until the season starts.

      Also, if any of the relievers (Wood, Presley, Roenicke) don't make the roster, a spot easily opens for Deduno.
    1. Chris in Osaka's Avatar
      Chris in Osaka -
      Cut Blackburn, Pelfrey, and Correaia right now and seriously begin the process of rebuilding the team for 2016. We should adopt the Astro's model.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris in Osaka View Post
      Cut Blackburn, Pelfrey, and Correaia right now and seriously begin the process of rebuilding the team for 2016. We should adopt the Astro's model.
      This idea sucks because it gives away Mauer's prime and ignores some of the best talent we have in the high minors/rookies (Hicks, Arcia, Meyer, May, Gibson, etc.). Besides, Blackburn was already cut.

      Back to the actual topic - I hope PseudoSABR is right about working on mechanics and not worrying about results. I think that's generally what veterans do in spring training if they don't feel worried about winning a spot. But the fairly abysmal performances thus far are not very heartening.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      Gives away Mauers prime? the idea sucks? Mauer sucks. Oh whoopty doo he hits a lot of singles! Go ask Seattle how much all Ichiro singles helped them over the last decade. Go ask Boston how many titles Wade Boggs thousands of singles brought to bean town. Go ask Padres fans about all the titles Tony Gwynn's seemingly countless singles brought to southern california. That's right it didn't happen because you can't have the best offensive player on your team be a singles hitter and hope to win. Mauer is not good enough or man enough to lead a team to a championship! Just a big boring sissy automaton, that's all Mauer is. The Tim Duncan of baseball without the winning. Is he going to lead the Twins to a championship hitting singles up the middle? NO. Just face it he's not even close to Kirby Puckett and the Twins bet on the wrong horse when they gave him that big contract.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Well that was retarded.

      Yeah, let's get rid of exceptional players because that will somehow make it easier to win titles. Geez.
    1. bl4ckduck's Avatar
      bl4ckduck -
      Quote Originally Posted by tellis205 View Post
      Pelfrey is getting too much respect here. I don't believe that he's suddenly going to be able to locate consistently just because the season starts in 2 weeks. He needs to go down for a month at least. He's just gonna dig himself into a hole early and it'll be a struggle from there on out. PJ Walters is capable of giving a handful of good starts just like he did last year and he'd be a good bandaid until Pelfrey is ready. I realize that Walters isn't on the 40 man but there's a few boys that should be coming off that roster anyway.
      Why not start Pelfrey on the DL and let the young ones duke it out?
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Gives away Mauers prime? the idea sucks? Mauer sucks. Oh whoopty doo he hits a lot of singles! Go ask Seattle how much all Ichiro singles helped them over the last decade. Go ask Boston how many titles Wade Boggs thousands of singles brought to bean town. Go ask Padres fans about all the titles Tony Gwynn's seemingly countless singles brought to southern california. That's right it didn't happen because you can't have the best offensive player on your team be a singles hitter and hope to win. Mauer is not good enough or man enough to lead a team to a championship! Just a big boring sissy automaton, that's all Mauer is. The Tim Duncan of baseball without the winning. Is he going to lead the Twins to a championship hitting singles up the middle? NO. Just face it he's not even close to Kirby Puckett and the Twins bet on the wrong horse when they gave him that big contract.
    1. cwzimmerman's Avatar
      cwzimmerman -
      Quote Originally Posted by bl4ckduck View Post
      Why not start Pelfrey on the DL and let the young ones duke it out?
      That sounds like a marvelous idea! Give some healthy arms a shot. May not provide better results, but you never know.
    1. cwzimmerman's Avatar
      cwzimmerman -
      Quote Originally Posted by NoCal View Post
      Just a note about other camps. Scott Baker has been shut down - elbow issues. Sean Marcum has had shoulder problems. Ryan Dempster is having elbow problems. This winter's free agent pitching market really was a minefield.......
      As we've been seeing with Mike Pelfrey.

      Interesting regarding the Cubs shutting down Baker, although not all that surprising to me given his past history.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Gives away Mauers prime? the idea sucks? Mauer sucks. Oh whoopty doo he hits a lot of singles! Go ask Seattle how much all Ichiro singles helped them over the last decade. Go ask Boston how many titles Wade Boggs thousands of singles brought to bean town. Go ask Padres fans about all the titles Tony Gwynn's seemingly countless singles brought to southern california. That's right it didn't happen because you can't have the best offensive player on your team be a singles hitter and hope to win. Mauer is not good enough or man enough to lead a team to a championship! Just a big boring sissy automaton, that's all Mauer is. The Tim Duncan of baseball without the winning. Is he going to lead the Twins to a championship hitting singles up the middle? NO. Just face it he's not even close to Kirby Puckett and the Twins bet on the wrong horse when they gave him that big contract.
      You realize I could make a list just as long with a bunch of guys who hit a ton of HR's and dont have rings as well?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Gives away Mauers prime? the idea sucks? Mauer sucks. Oh whoopty doo he hits a lot of singles! Go ask Seattle how much all Ichiro singles helped them over the last decade. Go ask Boston how many titles Wade Boggs thousands of singles brought to bean town. Go ask Padres fans about all the titles Tony Gwynn's seemingly countless singles brought to southern california. That's right it didn't happen because you can't have the best offensive player on your team be a singles hitter and hope to win. Mauer is not good enough or man enough to lead a team to a championship! Just a big boring sissy automaton, that's all Mauer is. The Tim Duncan of baseball without the winning. Is he going to lead the Twins to a championship hitting singles up the middle? NO. Just face it he's not even close to Kirby Puckett and the Twins bet on the wrong horse when they gave him that big contract.
      Have you ever thought about therapy?
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Gives away Mauers prime? the idea sucks? Mauer sucks. Oh whoopty doo he hits a lot of singles! Go ask Seattle how much all Ichiro singles helped them over the last decade. Go ask Boston how many titles Wade Boggs thousands of singles brought to bean town. Go ask Padres fans about all the titles Tony Gwynn's seemingly countless singles brought to southern california. That's right it didn't happen because you can't have the best offensive player on your team be a singles hitter and hope to win. Mauer is not good enough or man enough to lead a team to a championship! Just a big boring sissy automaton, that's all Mauer is. The Tim Duncan of baseball without the winning. Is he going to lead the Twins to a championship hitting singles up the middle? NO. Just face it he's not even close to Kirby Puckett and the Twins bet on the wrong horse when they gave him that big contract.
      Joe Mauer Career stats (BA/OBP/OPS): .323/.405/.873
      Yup... those numbers scream "this guy sucks!"
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