• 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. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Pelfry (league average) at 5-6 million next year + inexpensive (well above average) bullpen and the fact that Pelfry wants to be here = Terry Ryan formula for inexpensive rotation spot + above average odds for slightly above average pitching in that spot = above average chance to win with average offense. We only need one or 2 above average starting pitchers + 3 average ones to go along with a good bullpen = above league average pitching staff. Resigning Pelfry will help keep that cost down. Twins like keeping costs down. I do not see how this is not an obvious decision to resign him?
    1. AScheib50's Avatar
      AScheib50 -
      Where does everyone stand on the likes of Lincecum and Josh Johnson? I can't get pumped about either, but at the same time I'd happily take one or both because they have the chance to be GIANT upgrades. Both make you pretty nervous, though, Lincecum because of his drastic drop off over the last few years and Johnson because, well, his ERA was somewhere near 6 this year and he's always hurt. He was striking a lot of guys out though before he got hurt again.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      My problem with last years FA pitcher signings was the lack of upside. Even if Correia and Pelfrey pitched as well as they could, and admittedly Correia has, they are still 4th or 5th starters. I do not want the Twins to go with that approach again because it does nothing to help this team return to contention. Either sign a good pitcher like Garza, a high upside reclamation project like Josh Johnson and The Freak, or let our in house options see what they can do over a full season. We need to start finding long term options and Correia, Pelfrey, et al are not it.
    1. golfboy1's Avatar
      golfboy1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Supfin99 View Post
      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.


      This is the crux of the problem. Santana & Garza are decent pitchers but even they aren't really THAT great. Who else is really worth the money they will get? I don't think Lincecum is going to be worth what he will get & most of the rest look like back end filler.

      I guess Phil Hughes might be worth the risk since his splits indicate he is much better away from Yankee stadium.

      I can see resigning Pelfrey if the price is right. His ERA in July was 3.25 & it was 3.60 for August.

      Correia
      Pelfrey
      Gibson
      Hendriks

      & whomever else sticks. Maybe Hughes will sign. It's not looking that great but I think we might as well get ready for one more crappy year before things improve. Hopefully Meyers will debut at some point to give us a legit top of the rotation pitcher.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Go with upside. Josh Johnson, Dan Haren, Phil Hughes and Scott Baker. I think the guys currently in the rotation showed they aren't playoff caliber pitchers.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      What about Will Chase? I remember reading this headline from John Bonnes on Twins Daily last year Terry Ryan: Twins Will Chase "Pretty Darn Good" Pitcher
      but then heard nothing about him after.
    1. frightwig's Avatar
      frightwig -
      Will Chase is the next Sidd Finch.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I know it's a pipe dream, but I'd go hard after Tanaka. The Twins have some decent guys in AA (Meyer, May, Baxendale) and in AAA (Darnell) that are all in the "near ready" state next year to go with some marginal upside guys in Hendricks, Worley, Diamond, and Deduno that should get some time as well. As much as I hate to say it, I think the Twins will make one addition to the rotation.. if that. I'd rather that be the highest upside guy they can get, which I think this season will be Tanaka. I'd settle for Hughes, as I think he'd flourish outside of New York, but I want Tanaka.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I think people need to stop getting caught up with free agent pitchers being "worth" the money they'll get. Yes, the Twins are going to have to take risks and overpay if they want to get guys with mid-rotation potential. That's an inevitability, but the team unfortunately has no choice if they want to get better. The alternative is either trading top prospects to get above-average guys from other organizations or limping through another year of ineptitude with the same old bargain-bin trash while preserving that incredibly low payroll. Why does anyone care so much at this point about how money much is spent on acquiring pitching help?
    1. Supfin99's Avatar
      Supfin99 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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.
      I'm guessing by high priced free agents you mean Jack Morris and Chili Davis? Jack was 36 and signed a 1 yr 3.7 mil deal after not being offered a deal by his longtime team, the Tigers. Chili was 31 and signed a 1 yr 1.8 mil deal. Those kind of signings are fine but I don't think that Garza or Santana are going for 1 yr deals.
    1. OldTwinky's Avatar
      OldTwinky -
      I'm only going to speak the obvious here; there is zero chance that the Twins starting pitching is going to be any better next year. It gives me no joy to say this but I just don't think Gibson is as good as we've been told. I don't think May is ever going to be a big league starter and the durability of Meyer has to be in question going forward. Right now it looks like the Twins traded Revere and Span for maybe 1 guy who has a future in the big leagues. This is probably the reason they don't want to fire Gardenhire because when they do switch management they'd like a team good enough to make the new manager look good in his first couple years. If they just replace Gardy and give the new manager the same terrible players then the fans will be calling for the new mangers head after only 1 season. The only path forward for Twins fans is to try your best to not care or support the Twins in any way. At least until ownership changes.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      You need to put those numbers in context.....Morris was one of the 5 highest paid players in baseball when he signed that deal.

      And the point remains the same, writing off a season before it starts makes no sense, try to get better.
    1. OldTwinky's Avatar
      OldTwinky -
      Quote Originally Posted by Supfin99 View Post
      I'm guessing by high priced free agents you mean Jack Morris and Chili Davis? Jack was 36 and signed a 1 yr 3.7 mil deal after not being offered a deal by his longtime team, the Tigers. Chili was 31 and signed a 1 yr 1.8 mil deal. Those kind of signings are fine but I don't think that Garza or Santana are going for 1 yr deals.
      True but the Twins could get Ryan Dempster on a 1 year deal.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      You need to put those numbers in context.....Morris was one of the 5 highest paid players in baseball when he signed that deal.

      And the point remains the same, writing off a season before it starts makes no sense, try to get better.
      A team's goal should always be to utilize all avenues to improve their team every chance they get, no matter what....even if they did well the year before. After the 2006 season, instead of identifying problems and aggressively trying to fix them, they dumpster dove for talent. After the 2010 season, they gutted their MI and bullpen and did nothing to improve the team. It's like in both scenarios they expected everything to go the same way it had the year before and said, we can absorb the dropoff in talent cause we won so many games. They did this while other teams were trying to improve their teams....and yet people were surprised about 2007 and 2011? I don't get that.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      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.
      The Twins sat him for a few weeks in June. From that time forward, in 11 starts his ERA is 3.45. League average is 4.34. It's not a full season and he's not Cy Young and I think he's been a little lucky for once; but it's been more than a month and he's been more than merely ok unless your standard for ok excludes most of the league.
    1. Supfin99's Avatar
      Supfin99 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      I think people need to stop getting caught up with free agent pitchers being "worth" the money they'll get. Yes, the Twins are going to have to take risks and overpay if they want to get guys with mid-rotation potential. That's an inevitability, but the team unfortunately has no choice if they want to get better. The alternative is either trading top prospects to get above-average guys from other organizations or limping through another year of ineptitude with the same old bargain-bin trash while preserving that incredibly low payroll. Why does anyone care so much at this point about how money much is spent on acquiring pitching help?
      Nick, I'm not hung up on the money. Who is out that you want? Do you want Santana? Do you really trust him to perform for 5 years? I don't trust him to perform next year, let alone for 5. Aaron always goes on and on about this on the podcast. He said the Twins royally screwed up last year by not signing anyone and this basically screwed us for next year too. WHO WERE WE SUPPOSED TO SIGN? Aaron actually used Edwin Jackson as an example. I just about drove off the road. Would anyone be happy if we owed him 4 more years and 44 mil? I think some would because at least we spent money. I don't care about saving the Pohlad's money. I care about winning. Garza is probably the one guy that I would look at because of age and performance but I highly doubt he is coming back to MN. The rest of the group is more junk like Correa and Pelfrey. I am all for getting better but who should we have signed last year and who should we sign this tear that will make us a contender?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      The Twins sat him for a few weeks in June. From that time forward, in 11 starts his ERA is 3.45. League average is 4.34. It's not a full season and he's not Cy Young and I think he's been a little lucky for once; but it's been more than a month and he's been more than merely ok unless your standard for ok excludes most of the league.
      so his entire career is less important than the last month or so?

      4 years with an ERA over 4.7
      2 years under 3.66

      I'm not going to mine every stat here.....
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      One of the biggest advantages of building through the draft is the cost control of your young players allows you to spend else where. The problem is out side of Tanaka I just don't see any real arms to get excited about.

      -Kuroda/Burnett have said they are only pitching for specific teams
      -Garza...well we all know the story about Garza
      -Ervin Santana is coming off a career year and he is going to be paid like an ace even though his past numbers suggest he is more like a #3
      -Johnson was a guy I wanted the Twins to go for before he was shut down....again. One year deal? Sure, but I just don't see him giving us 150+ innings
      -Lincy is an interesting one. He isn't the pitcher he use to be and the transition from NL to AL always scares me. If he would sign a 2-3 year deal he might be worth it but he is only a shadow of what he used to be.
      -Nolasco, like Santana, is in the middle of a career year and only has two years of under 4.5 ERA ball. Also, as noted above, the transition from NL to AL scares me.
      - The rest of the pitchers are the same old retreads no one wants.

      The 2015 FA market doesn't look like much either. Especially if you believe the rumors that the dodgers and Kershaw are working on an extension. Outside of Tanaka the best option might be to make a trade. Outside of Price, who would cost either Sano/Buxton, I haven't really read many rumors of pitchers who might be on the trade block.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Supfin99 View Post
      Nick, I'm not hung up on the money. Who is out that you want? Do you want Santana? Do you really trust him to perform for 5 years? I don't trust him to perform next year, let alone for 5. Aaron always goes on and on about this on the podcast. He said the Twins royally screwed up last year by not signing anyone and this basically screwed us for next year too. WHO WERE WE SUPPOSED TO SIGN? Aaron actually used Edwin Jackson as an example. I just about drove off the road. Would anyone be happy if we owed him 4 more years and 44 mil? I think some would because at least we spent money. I don't care about saving the Pohlad's money. I care about winning. Garza is probably the one guy that I would look at because of age and performance but I highly doubt he is coming back to MN. The rest of the group is more junk like Correa and Pelfrey. I am all for getting better but who should we have signed last year and who should we sign this tear that will make us a contender?

      Signing 1 FA is not about making the team a contendor, necessarily.....it would be nice to sign guys that were not 40% of the worst staff in baseball, wouldn't it? Why does 1 signing have to about getting themover the hump, why can't it be about being better?

      My name: Anibal Sanchez....that's the guy they should have signed last year. Replace the back of this rotation with him, and you get 6-8 more wins. That puts them at around 80-82 wins right there. Add a decent pitcher this year, add Sano, Ellsbury, boom, you are over 85 wins and in the hunt. Not. That. Hard. If you will spend money.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      so his entire career is less important than the last month or so?
      It didn't look like he was inferring anything like that. It looked like a factual response to a pretty inaccurate assessment of Pelfrey's "last month."
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