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  • Twins' Rotation Is Out of Whack

    The Twins entered this season with a wide assortment of "maybes" in their starting pitching mix, hoping that over the course of 162 games a couple would separate themselves from the pack and become established as sturdy options moving forward. In a transitional year where there was never any realistic expectation of winning, this was truly the overriding goal.

    The Twins talked about wanting to play meaningful games in September, they talked about wanting to play better fundamental baseball, they talked about wanting to see improvement from the coaching staff and the training staff. But in the end, all that paled in comparison to the need for some positive movement within their ruined rotation.

    And it didn't happen.

    Most of the starting pitching suspects unraveled. Really there was only one case where a borderline pitcher exceeded expectations and positioned himself as an enticing option for next year; that's Samuel Deduno, who has been shut down after struggling through shoulder pain in August and undergoing an MRI that revealed "some issues with his labrum and rotator cuff." (Those are some ominous words for a pitcher.)

    With the exception of Deduno, no Twins starter has pitched especially well or given any indication that he can be an asset in next year's rotation. And that's a rather disastrous outcome, which serves to hamper the excitement and giddiness we should all be feeling about the upcoming crop of uber-talented position players.

    Along with the mediocre Kevin Correia -- who, in fairness, has performed slightly better than expected -- the Twins will return an unexciting group of starter candidates next year that includes Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, Kyle Gibson, Pedro Hernandez, Andrew Albers, Liam Hendriks and Deduno. Those seven pitchers have combined for a 5.25 ERA in the majors this year, and not one of them has a strikeout rate that is even close to the league average.

    Each player has his strengths, and might have a chance to be a useful piece in the big leagues. But none deserves anything more than an invite to spring training at this point, and unlike last year -- where at least Diamond and Worley were coming off solid seasons, and Gibson was looking sharp on the comeback path from surgery -- there are no real positives to sell fans on right now. These pitchers are all wild cards who, based on recent results, seem more likely to struggle than succeed.

    Trying to inspire hope of a turnaround with this group would be unacceptable and inexcusable. I could maybe see the logic in letting these guys compete for one or two spots, with the rest heading to Rochester or moving on, as their production merits. But that leaves an awful lot of uncertainty remaining in the rotation, and as we've seen, it can quite tough to find impact arms to fill those spots. Last offseason, the Twins traded two valuable position players and signed two veteran free agents, and still ended up without anyone that helped them much this year.

    So what to do now? Well, the front office could take an aggressive approach, ramping up spending to pursue a higher class of free agent while making a few of their coveted assets available in the hopes of luring a near-ready pitching prospect or proven MLB starter. This would actually make a lot of sense, considering they have very few payroll commitments and the system is littered with highly regarded hitting prospects.

    The alternative would be to stay the course, sticking with the kind of low-upside moves that have become this organization's signature and praying that a few members of the aforementioned group can rise from the ashes of a dreadful 2013 campaign. The Twins can always point to hope on the horizon, bright young arms like Kohl Stewart, J.O. Berrios and Stephen Gonsalves looking promising, but selling fans on a future built around Single-A pitchers won't be easy.

    In my mind, this is an immensely important offseason for the Twins, and one where the old "business-as-usual" manner of operating will not fly. The storyline entering this winter will be much the same as last year -- pitching, pitching, pitching -- only the pressure will be far greater following a season that has seen too much movement in the wrong direction.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins' Rotation Is Out of Whack started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 92 Comments
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Meyer, May, Dean, Logan, Bromberg (wait, he;'s gone), Hermsen. The return of DeVries. P.J. could be around and around again.

      Looks good enough to stay out of the free agent marketplace.

      Unless they resign Blackburn.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Hope Twins sign some upper level FA pitchers. This group just will not do it.
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      We need to "find" starters from what we have. Last night Hernandez gave us a complete game. Diamond has been good in Rochester. Lets see what he does in the playoffs. Gibson will be a year older and hopefully wiser. The season isn't over yet. Lets see what Hendriks and Albers give us. Don't count on Deduno. His sore arm could end "effectively wild" career.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      I really hope Terry Ryan puts some money into the rotation. There really isn't much high potential in that entire group. I can see legitimate starters in Correia, Hendriks, Diamond, Worley. Problem is that each of those guys would likely be a 5th starter or bubble guy in many rotations.... and that is them performing to their ability, any slip and you get 2013 versions of Worley and Diamond. Not good. The only way out of this mess is if Gibson, Meyer and May all develop to their ceilings or a few good FA acquisitions. I don't want another 90 loss season in 2014....
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      I don't think it is so much about money in 2014. The FA pitchers are horrible, for the most part. The Twins are going to have to work with what they have.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I bet the Twins resign Pelfry. He's been an ok pitcher the last few months. That gives the rotation 3 ok starters for next season assuming Dedunno comes back. and I am counting Corriea and the other ok starter. Meyer should be up at some point so the beginning of the season would be a tryout for 2 starting pitchers until Meyer is ready unless the Twins go out and sign another pitcher. With the bullpen as good as it is the Twins just need pitchers that can pitch 5-6 ok innings per game occasionally going longer to give the pen a rest. The Twins were banking on a better offense this season to get us to .500. I feel like we will still be one starter short next year though.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I see Deduno has likely having some serious arm trouble and would be out of the picture.

      I would want the Twins to pursue one of the top 3-4 FA pitchers, throw money at one of them, and then hope for the best. I would NOT want them to try two mediocre pitchers again.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Pelfrey? Pelfrey? He has been merely ok for the past month after being TERRIBLE for much of the season. I am flabbergasted every time someone mentions resigning complete mediocrity or worse for millions of bucks. The Twins can toss that out there for the league minimum and also hope that one or two of them turns the corner (Gibson and Worley or Hendriks).
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Pelfrey? Pelfrey? He has been merely ok for the past month after being TERRIBLE for much of the season. I am flabbergasted every time someone mentions resigning complete mediocrity or worse for millions of bucks. The Twins can toss that out there for the league minimum and also hope that one or two of them turns the corner (Gibson and Worley or Hendriks).
      This. 1000x this.

      The Twins don't need any more #4 or #5 starters, they already have more than a whole rotations worth of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      It's time to spend some of that money they say they have and fix the freakin' problem, or at least atttempt to fix the problem in a way they really have never tried before, because the way they've always done it is what got them here in the first place.
    1. blindeke's Avatar
      blindeke -
      They should sign one quality starter (expensive), maybe take a flier on 1-2 guys w/ upside. Then they should pray.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Right, if you are going crappy, go with the cheap AAA pitchers, don't sign bad veterans that have proven they are bad. I'd rather Swarzak get another shot than watch KC, Pelfry, Marquis v2.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by blindeke View Post
      They should sign one quality starter (expensive), maybe take a flier on 1-2 guys w/ upside. Then they should pray.
      Great 4th post!
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post

      The Twins don't need any more #4 or #5 starters, they already have more than a whole rotations worth of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Actually, if the Twins had a rotation of true MLB 4-5 starters, they'd be close to .500.

      This lot is more like 6-7 starters.

      As Pelfrey's fastball velocity has returned to the mid 90s, he has gotten better results. He would be worth keeping at the right price. (Remember, this guy was on the same timetable roughly as Scott Baker, who is just now getting his feet wet again in A ball.)
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I am more ok with rolling the dice (eventually) with pitchers who COULD be 2s or 3s for a good team--Meyer, Gibson, and May--then I have been with rolling the dice to find out who could be a 5th starter for a good team.

      Clearly Meyer is going to be on an innings limit next year. If he can manage to get back to 2012 numbers through the AFL and whatever else, they can build towards 150-160. Now, DEAR GOD, can I get a witness on this now . . . don't do with Meyer what they did with Gibson this year. Do NOT do that. 100 innings for the Twins is what I want. There's a way to, you know, limit innings in AAA. Christ, this year's Albers might be Pat Dean down there next year, so let Pat Dean be Meyer's personal long relief guy. Hopefully the Twins can roll with Gibson, May, and Meyer all together by July 1st. Maybe Diamond's injury is figured out. Correia returns to mediocrity. Keep Hendriks and Hernandez around and shed more oldster AAA pitching. Give Darnell a try if things get that far in the toilet. These later three are young enough and have a modicum of upside. No more multi-millions spent on aging, declining pitchers who have no future in baseball.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      It's pretty bad that even our most encouraging MLB starter performance from 2013 (Deduno) posted 3.4 BB/9 and only 5.6 K/9.

      And our next most encouraging is Mike Pelfrey, who's had a strong second half to boost his ERA+ to 84. I'm sure now that he's fully recovered, we will see that figure continue climbing all the way up to his career mark of... 91.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      MBL and NPB have already started negotiations that would cap posting fees for players. The resuilt of this would be that when high profile arms like Tanaka post, multiple teams can win the right to compete with each other over salary (posting fees don't count against the luxury tax, salaries do).

      We are all well aware that TR doesn't like to outbid other teams on FAs. So if Tanaka elects to post this winter (every indication is that he will) then it could be his only chance to get exclusive bargaining rights with one of these aces from Japan.

      They need to make that happen. They need to win Tanaka's posting auction.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      I believe the Twins' got what they expected from Correia. I also believe that they like what they see from Pelfrey and will re-sign him. Remember the Pelfrey is only 18 months removed from TJ Surgery. Is performance is very similar to Nathan's (struggled the 1st half of the season and performed very well in the 2nd half).
    1. Supfin99's Avatar
      Supfin99 -
      What free agent should the Twins go after? The market for starters this year is the same as last year, basically junk. Last year there were 2 good startes available, Greinke and Sanchez, and neither were coming anywhere near the Twins unless we gave them offers that were so ridiculous they couldn't say no. This year you have Ervin Santana and Matt Garza. @ more guys that you would have to overpay to come here. The rest of ot is a scrap heap of guys who will make more than they deserve. The Twins line-up is about 2 years away from being talented enough and experienced enough to possibly contend. Why waste money now of overpriced free agent pitching so we can win 72 ball games next year instead of 68. Let the young guys like Sano, Hicks, Arcia, Dozier, Rosario, Pinto and Buxton play next year and gain experience. Let Diamond, Worley, Hendricks, and Deduno work thru things and see who can make it. Let May, Meyer and Gibson get their taste. Get to 2015 and you might have an idea who is major league quality and have a lineup that is just seasoned enough to make some noise. Contending and winning championships is why I am a fan. I still watch most games but this time of year I could care less about wins. I am watching to see how the young guys perform and develop. I could care less if we avoid 100 losses or whatever nonsense the media writes about at this time of year. Honestly, if 100 losses would get a higher pick with a higher ceiling, it wouldn't bother me at all.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      In 91 the Twins were coming off a terrible year, and signed two high priced FAs and won the world series......you should always be trying to make your team better.

      Gibson is over 25, he should not be getting a "taste" next year.
      Pelfrey, before the injury, was not a very good pitcher, as pointed out above.

      You can add a good player next year, w/o blocking a legit prospect.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Very good synopsis, Nick. The SP dilemna has been exasperating on so many levels. It starts with the failure to find a single SP who deserves to be regarded as a #2-3 guy. That's on Ryan, although the thin FA market last winter didn't do him any favors, and neither did the lack of surplus trading chips.

      Equally exasperating to me was that so many pitchers with the prospects of being at least a serviceable #3 starter faltered. Diamond and Worley being the most obvious.

      To me, they're in the same situation as last year. They need to find two SP's from outside the organization who pan out as legit #2-3 guys. Ryan didn't get results last winter. If he fails to get results again this upcoming winter, then I'll agree with much of the harsh criticism that he perhaps a little unfairly received this year IMO.
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