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  • Samuel Deduno and Strange Decisions

    In 2013, the Oakland Athletics averaged 9.7 runs per game in their seven tilts against the Twins, and 4.5 runs per game against all other opponents.

    Oakland's reign of terror against the team that ruined its happy ending in Moneyball continued this week, as the A's thoroughly dismantled Minnesota in a rather sparsely attended home-opening sweep.

    After investing $84 million into the rotation during the offseason, the Twins have received painfully similar results from their starting pitchers. The first series at Target Field was all too familiar: three games in which the starters dug an early hole and the offense couldn't dig out.

    In total, the Twins have gotten one quality start from their rotation in nine games during a 3-6 start. They are getting blasted. Meanwhile, their best starter from 2013 sits in the bullpen waiting to mop up the messes that have been created.

    The decision to move Samuel Deduno into a relief role seemed strange at the end of camp and seems stranger now. He's certainly among the top five pitchers on the club in terms of stuff, and he's been on a heck of a run the last couple years, but he's being forced to sit around in the bullpen while the Twins' signature brand of bat-seeking two-seamers gets plastered all about the yard.

    Deduno as a reliever just doesn't look like a fit. He's pitching in a role where the situations are often close and late, and every mistake is magnified.

    Case in point: in his first appearance of the season, Deduno entered in the 11th inning of a 6-6 game. He put a couple runners on base and then ended up letting the winning score in on a wild pitch.

    In one of the games against Oakland, he turned a three-run deficit into a four-run deficit by balking in a run.

    Even Deduno's fiercest proponents (I consider myself one of them) would not deny that he is erratic and mistake-prone. He's a wild card on the mound.

    When given six innings, he can make up for his missteps by baffling the majority of opposing hitters. But he's not a guy you want to be bringing into a one-run game with runners on base.

    So the assignment seems forced. To his credit, the miscast mop-up man has performed well overall; after tossing three scoreless innings in relief of Mike Pelfrey Thursday, Deduno owns a 3.00 ERA with nine strikeouts in eight innings. But he's not in the proper role and he's being set aside for some guys who are not getting the job done.

    I have no illusions that the Twins are going to be a playoff team this year, but I think I speak for every fan out there when I say that the type of games witnessed at Target Field this week are quickly going to drain my interest. There should be little patience for these shoddy performances.

    Kevin Correia's leash ought to be exceedingly short. He's not in the future plans and he's not very good right now.

    I have more faith in Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes, and both are signed beyond this year, but if their results don't improve the Twins shouldn't hesitate to swap one with Deduno and put it on their shoulders to force their way back into the rotation.

    After all, Deduno is the only one who has really earned anything. He had a 3.83 ERA last year. He was the team's only good starter. What's going on here, anyway?

    In a lot of respects, I have a hard time getting worked up about the Twins' bad start, mostly because my expectations were quite low to begin with.

    But some of the decisions that have led them to where they're at are hard to stomach. They're starting Chris Herrmann and Darin Mastroianni in right field within the first 10 days of the season because they waived their only credible fourth outfielder in order to keep Jason Bartlett. Their best starting pitcher from last year is relegated to a mismatched relief role despite out-pitching everyone else in spring training.

    I want to believe in this regime. There have been signs that things are heading in a better direction. But what I'm seeing so far has me both scratching and shaking my head.
    Comments 48 Comments
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      By the way, when people say there is no downside to signing people to big contracts for multiple years, they rarely have these situations in mind. They say, "you can always trade them." I was all for trading Correia in the offseason. So were the Twins, according to rumors. No takers, despite the horrible state of pitching in baseball. If he doesn't improve, you eat his $5 million. Ditto for Pelfrey ($11 Million). Ditto for Hughes ($22 Million). Ditto for Nolasco ($44 million). (I might have my figures a bit off, but I like the progression.)

      I don't think any of those guys will continue to suck. But can we dispense with the talk about zero risk for signing free agents?
      Has there been such talk?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      don't think any of those guys will continue to suck. But can we dispense with the talk about zero risk for signing free agents?
      Their signings were still an overwhelming positive for this franchise.

      The problem is people became convinced they represented 100% odds of improving the team. Which was far from a foregone conclusion. (And the opposite, 10 games in, is also far from such a conclusion)
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by drivlikejehu View Post
      Wow. I would really love to see a single post anywhere in the history of this website that said free agents carried "zero risk." Inexplicable comment.

      I'm not a huge Deduno fan. He's a fine 6th starter since pretty much every team needs a 6th starter, and often a 7th, and 8th, etc. The problem is the lack of a #1 starter, #2 starter...
      My recollection follows with CMat, there has been a lot of call for "sign free agents, what do you have to lose, it's only money," types of arguments here at TD and at other Twins boards.... but every team, even the Yankees and a Dodgers need to sign quality free agents to risk-adequate contracts. It has yet to be seen if the pitchers signed this offseason are quality contracts.

      Deduno has been relatively successful compared to the rest of the rotation, but his control is terrible, and in turn his innings per game are low like a mop up reliever anyways. I recall Perkins being quoted as saying something to the effect of it took him a while to learn how to be a relief pitcher. Once he put his mind to being a relief pitcher, then he sought coaching, and the rest is history. I think Deduno could benefit a lot from reducing his pitch selection to 2, and focusing on getting those two right for 3 outs. Give him time to figure out his new role. Maybe we'll see him in higher leverage situations come August.

      Bartlett (and Kubel at ST break) was a mystery to me, just like having 13 pitches and 3 catchers on this roster baffles me now. I get the extra reliever since the starters can't get thru the 5th, but good golly couldn't you send down Hermann to get your thirteenth pitcher? Or is Hermann now the super utility guy? Are we going to see Hermann taking fielding practice at SS? I don't see how a team can break ST without someone capable defensively to back up CF, and it wasn't fair to Bartlett, the team, or the fans, to shoehorn him into a role he was destined to fail.

      yes I'm aware that I just said, give Deduno time to figure out his new role, but Bartlett is already a failure at his new role. I think it's less of a stretch for a 30 year old somewhat successful pitcher to change his approach at the rubber, than it is for a 35 year old who didn't play ball in any capacity for the last season and a half to learn how to track slicing line drives.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Their signings were still an overwhelming positive for this franchise.

      The problem is people became convinced they represented 100% odds of improving the team. Which was far from a foregone conclusion. (And the opposite, 10 games in, is also far from such a conclusion)
      Odds of improving over the likes of DeVries, Walters, Albers, Hendriks, Hernandez? OK, maybe only 99.99% chance of an improvement over that crew.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Based on what, exactly? He's had almost nothing but success since coming over to this organization.
      I'm just not a believer in a guy that can't throw strikes, doesn't have velocity, and doesn't strike people out. He had a 35% LD against, yet only a .293 babip. Stupid luck right there. I don't have faith in guys like that. You can talk about stuff all you want, but that only takes a pitcher so far.

      P.S. I hope this post is better and I don't offend anyone.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Odds of improving over the likes of DeVries, Walters, Albers, Hendriks, Hernandez? OK, maybe only 99.99% chance of an improvement over that crew.
      And yet here we are so far. 10 games in and we need a 13th pitcher in the bullpen due to starter ineffectiveness. Long way to go, but it just goes to show each of these guys had major question marks.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I noticed a lot of posters are getting angry at the signings we made just over the winter. Seems a bit early. If Hughes develops into a sold number 3 starter then we got him for almost half off market value. Nolasco will be solid by the end of the season. I am glad Gibson is up and starting. I am indifferent on Corriea and Pelfry though I would like to give Pelfry a chance. Also 3.5 million of Pelfry's 11 million is incentives if I remember correctly. Deduno and Meyer are the 6th and 7th starters so to speak so that is good too. I would think that if Deduno is starting he would be on an innings limit of around 140 or so anyway due to not pitching that many in years if ever. I like how our pitching staff is currently set up and have no problems with it. We have options moving forward there.

      The big issue I have for this season is the injuries to both Sano and Buxton as I was expecting them to come up at some point this season and provide the team with support so Plouffe could play RF or LF if Willingham gets traded or moves to DH or if Arcia goes to the minors and Buxton could move Hicks to either RF,LF or bench. but instead they are hurt and so is both Willingham and Arcia so we have no replacements that fit as starters exactly. Bartlett on the roster didn't bother me because I don't think he is meant to get much time in the OF mostly just backing up CF so Hicks can get some rest. If you as a fan are upset about Bartlett playing LF in that game where the other OF was the DH, just wait till we play a game without the 3rd catcher while the back up C DH's...

      This is a season of transition and there is potential on this team to surprise. but it is deflating when all of the transition part of the offense is injured.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      It's really early in the year so I am not that worried about Nolasco and Hughes. Has anyone looked into how the Twins starters compare to the rest of the league in giving up runs in the 1st inning over the past 4 seasons now? Something seems really amiss with preparation and whatnot, whether it be Nolasco, Hughes, Correia, Pelfrey or Blackburn, Liriano, Marquis or Hendriks, Walters, and Gibson 2013.

      Are we really going to simply blame the pitchers?

      Anyway, I am not worrying about Nolasco and Hughes (though I worry about the extra year in both their contracts), but Correia and Pelfrey, obviously, is another story. Meyer is of course going to have a Gibsonesque innings limit (and the Twins will likely screw that up again too) and the more veteran guys they brought in are rather meh. Pray for May (the pitcher, not the month) to at least become a 4th starter this year!
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