Why Not Wuertz?
The Twins are one week away from the start of spring training when pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Florida. The team is eagar to put behind one of the worst seasons in franchise history. There has been quite a shakeup this winter to an organization that lost 99 games in 2011. Bill Smith was fired as GM in November and Terry Ryan was brought back. The Twins lost fan favorites Cuddyer, Kubel, and Nathan to free agency. Those players were replaced by solid clubhouse guys Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, and Matt Capps. They also added Jamey Carroll, Jason Marquis, and Joel Zumaya to strengthen their pitching and defense. The roster appears to be set as the club is near the expected $100 million dollar payroll.
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Why Not Wuertz?
It is possible the Twins could make one more move before spring training. The obvious place to upgrade would be the bullpen. The front office has about $1 to 1.5 million left to spend before reaching the magical threshold. The signing of Joel Zumaya to a major league deal might prevent the team from bringing in anybody else. However, Zumaya has not pitched since May 2009 and struggled to stay healthy before his elbow injury. Fans have seen dependable veteran relievers like Wheeler, Coffey, and Linebrook sign cheap deals with other clubs over the last few weeks while the Twins have done nothing. There is one intriguing name left on the board and it's Austin native Michael Wuertz.
Wuertz (33) was released by Oakland on October 25th and has been on the market for over 3 1/2 months. There are health concerns regarding Wuertz and this is the reason he has not been signed yet. He dealt with tendinitis in his right shoulder during 2010 and hand/wrist injuries for most of 2011. His ERA spiked up to 4.31 for 2010 and 6.68 for 2011. Wuertz had a terrific 2009 season, going 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 78.2 IP. He has a devastating slider with a career 9.6 K/9 ratio and a 3.71 ERA. The Twins have a little money to spare and Wuertz would make an excellent low cost addition to a bullpen that needs strikeout pitchers. It would also help to sell some tickets because Wuertz is a hometown kid. Please feel free to leave me any comments because your opinion matters to me.