Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • 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. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      My bad, I didn't read the context part, just what he wrote....
    1. matthew0211's Avatar
      matthew0211 -
      One thing to keep in mind is that Diamond, Deduno, and Worley are out of options next year. Knowing the Twins, they will want to give them all another chance as they won't want to risk losing them throught the outright waivers process during the winter. Hopefully this fact won't keep the Twins from using other avenues to bring in better starters.
    1. frightwig's Avatar
      frightwig -
      The pitching issue is the main reason I'm still feeling pessimistic about the Twins' near future, even with the crop of promising hitting prospects due to arrive in the next year or two. The free agent pool isn't deep, and we know that Terry Ryan won't be spending big money on the top talent available. It would be nice to get a few "high-upside" bargains, but correctly identifying those guys can be easier said than done. And the crop of Twins pitching prospects in the high minors isn't all that inspiring.

      Maybe Trevor May and Alex Meyer will stick in the next couple years, if they can refine their command. Kyle Gibson? Before his callup, some hyped him as possibly being the next Brad Radke. Now, after a miserable showing as a 25 year-old rookie, I'd be glad if he can turn into a decent #4 starter for a few years. Vance Worley? He had a 3.88 ERA in 9 starts with Rochester this year, but a 10.1 H/9 and 5.3 K/9. Nobody else at AA and above has a lot of upside.

      Meanwhile, it's nice to think about Stewart, Berrios, and Gonsalves looking so good in the Rookie and Class A leagues. And, hey, look at Lewis Thorpe! And Fernando Romero! Chih-Wei Hu, too! But then a lot of pitchers who look dominant in the low minors wind up going the way of Alex Wimmers, or worse.

      If the Twins are lucky, three of the whole lot will stay healthy and become good pitchers within a few years. Let's say, maybe Meyer, Stewart, and Berrios or Gonsalves. Maybe Gibson turns into a decent, cheap, back-end starter for awhile. And maybe next year's draft nets a future star, too? That would be if the club gets lucky--and even then, it will take awhile for all of that to fall into place.

      If the Twins don't get lucky with the pitching prospects, we might spend the next several years watching Mauer, Sano, and Buxton, etc. tear up the league but still never win anything because the pitching is what it is. If the minor leagues do not develop good major league pitchers, I don't see the Plan B or Plan C.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      matthew, that is my fear....that signing even 1 good FA (of which I am not sure there is one this year) will be viewed as blocking these valuable guys in the minors we might lose.....which baffles the mind. Do other teams care this much about losing replacement level players, when they are flush with them?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Of course ABJ is more than welcome to come back to this thread and clarify it for himself.




      Which I'm sure he will.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      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.
      I was OK with them finding their high upside guys two years away in Meyer and May for 2013. The trouble was the lack of successful medium upside guys this year, ie. Worley, Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks. I agree with you, for 2014, finding at least one, and preferably two SP's that immediately are better options than every current option should be the goal. No excuses for 2014. We have trade chips, at least a couple of FA options, and lots of cash to spend.
    1. frightwig's Avatar
      frightwig -
      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.
      Jack Morris also hoped to sign with the Yankees, according to a book I once read called Those Damn Yankees: The Secret Life of America's Greatest Franchise by Dean Chadwin, but New York passed only because Steinbrenner was playing along with MLB owners' collusion scheme. If the Yankees had been acting like the Yankees at the time, the Twins '91 championship never would have happened.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Supfin99 View Post
      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?
      I'm not talking about turning the team into a contender. I'm talking about making the team better -- something they've essentially failed to do in two straight offseasons.

      I don't doubt that many free agents will fail to pan out, as was the case last year and as is the case every year. It is the duty of the front office, not me or you, to identify pitchers they feel will be productive and worth spending money on. Those pitchers do exist! If the people in charge have no confidence in their own ability to do so, they should step aside and let someone else take over.

      Sometimes you sign a good player and he fizzles, or gets hurt. Can't be helped. At least you made the effort. But bringing in bottom-of-the-barrel options like Correia and Pelfrey, or simply sitting out of FA because you don't want to take the risk, isn't even an effort. And to not make a real effort is an insult to invested fans.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by frightwig View Post
      Jack Morris also hoped to sign with the Yankees, according to a book I once read called Those Damn Yankees: The Secret Life of America's Greatest Franchise by Dean Chadwin, but New York passed only because Steinbrenner was playing along with MLB owners' collusion scheme. If the Yankees had been acting like the Yankees at the time, the Twins '91 championship never would have happened.
      Collusion? That would have had to be after the 1986 season. So in theory the Twins could still have signed him after 1990, but who knows.
    1. dougkoebernick's Avatar
      dougkoebernick -
      Mike Pelfrey is looking better as the season goes on - his ERA in July was 3.25 and his ERA in August was 3.60. I would be okay with the Twins resigning him next year with the thought of him being a #3 or #4 guy who will pitch 200 innings (which will in turn help out the bullpen). I think his past history shows that he is capable of doing that.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      I'm not talking about turning the team into a contender. I'm talking about making the team better -- something they've essentially failed to do in two straight offseasons.
      Was it really the lack of pitching acquisitions that led to our failure this offseason? It far more to do with players who produced in 2012 failing to produce in 2013 (I'm looking at you Diamond). Counting on Worley and Gibson (which seemed reasonable) also turned out to be foolish. I'm not sure it's realistic to expect a GM to replace an entire starting staff. That the Twins ended up with two reliable (though not sexy) pitchers from the free agent class is something of a boon.
      But bringing in bottom-of-the-barrel options like Correia and Pelfrey, or simply sitting out of FA because you don't want to take the risk, isn't even an effort.
      I know it goes against conventional wisdom, but the bottom the barrel guys, Correia and Pelfry (imagine what his numbers would like if the Twins actually let him rehab in the minors), are two of the better SP FA signings from last season, especially in terms of cost. The list of better SP FAs would be pretty short, and likely far more expensive.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      One good starter.....that's all we are asking for....not to replace the entire staff. Anibal Sanchez would add 5-6 wins over the bottom of this rotation, easy.

      I don't care about "in terms of cost", and most other fans don't either, not when there is money to spend.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Was it really the lack of pitching acquisitions that led to our failure this offseason? It far more to do with players who produced in 2012 failing to produce in 2013 (I'm looking at you Diamond). Counting on Worley and Gibson (which seemed reasonable) also turned out to be foolish. I'm not sure it's realistic to expect a GM to replace an entire starting staff. That the Twins ended up with two reliable (though not sexy) pitchers from the free agent class is something of a boon.
      I know it goes against conventional wisdom, but the bottom the barrel guys, Correia and Pelfry (imagine what his numbers would like if the Twins actually let him rehab in the minors), are two of the better SP FA signings from last season, especially in terms of cost. The list of better SP FAs would be pretty short, and likely far more expensive.
      How do you figure? Correia's been OK, Pelfrey's been better lately. But did the Twins really need to spend money on OK pitchers if they were going to lose 90+ games anyway? It looks like a sunk cost to me.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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.....
      Scratching my head here - I was responding to a specific line that seemed to be unnecessary hyperbole about the recent past.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      One good starter.....that's all we are asking for....not to replace the entire staff. Anibal Sanchez would add 5-6 wins over the bottom of this rotation, easy.

      I don't care about "in terms of cost", and most other fans don't either, not when there is money to spend.
      So we'd be closer to a 75 win team? I just don't think the go-sign-an-ace narrative is very viable when the team is this far from competing.

      Part of the problem is that we need five quality starts, not just one ace to compete; if the Twins dump too much money into one rotation slot, they have less money to invest in the rest of the rotation.

      I could be in on signing the 2015 FA version of Sanchez; as it optimizes the acquisition by aligning it with our emerging core.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      How do you figure? Correia's been OK, Pelfrey's been better lately. But did the Twins really need to spend money on OK pitchers if they were going to lose 90+ games anyway? It looks like a sunk cost to me.
      Name ten better SP FA signings. (Heck, name five). Putting their numbers in context of the pitchers that were actually available demonstrates their relative value. Pitching 150 to 200 innings at league average is hardly sunk cost. Those are 300-400 innings that PJ Walters isn't required to pitch.

      diehard checked out the results of the FA class earlier in the year, and provides a handy list to just how many bad pitchers got contracts.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Those are 300-400 innings that PJ Walters isn't required to pitch.
      Thank *deity of choice* for small miracles.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      I'm all for signing some decent starting pitcher but I just don't see any worth over paying for outside of Tanaka. I think the best bet is to trade for an expensive pitcher after a down year or package some prospects together for a solid pitcher. Only problem is I can't really think of many pitchers who fit either of those bills.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Name ten better SP FA signings. (Heck, name five). Putting their numbers in context of the pitchers that were actually available demonstrates their relative value. Pitching 150 to 200 innings at league average is hardly sunk cost. Those are 300-400 innings that PJ Walters isn't required to pitch.

      diehard checked out the results of the FA class earlier in the year, and provides a handy list to just how many bad pitchers got contracts.
      I get that they've been good value for what the Twins paid them. They would have been better signings for a team that needed to round out an already good rotation. For the Twins, the upgrade from Walters and Worley to Pelfrey and Correia is significant, but not enough to make the team a contender.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      I get that they've been good value for what the Twins paid them. They would have been better signings for a team that needed to round out an already good rotation. For the Twins, the upgrade from Walters and Worley to Pelfrey and Correia is significant, but not enough to make the team a contender.
      Right, but that's kind of my point about why it probably wasn't prudent to sign Grienke or Sanchez last offseason...
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.