• Can The Twins Afford Scott Baker?

    The news that Scott Baker is injuredÖ.

    Geek Chorus: Hold it Ė NEWS? Is that really news? At this point, wouldnít it be news if Baker got out of spring training completely healthy? Isnít ďScott Baker is injured in spring trainingĒ the status quo? Nobody says itís news when itís 70 & sunny in San Diego. Itís only news here because itís March and Minnesota.

    Touchť. Anyway, with Baker taking those first critical steps to yet another underachieving and frustrating season, I wondered about a debate that Aaron Gleeman and I have been having on the Gleeman and the Geek podcasts: will Scott Baker be with the Twins next year?

    Letís set the stage.
    Of the five Twins probable starting pitchers, three will be free agents at the end of the season: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano and Jason Marquis. Scott Baker could be the fourth, but the Twins have a $9.5 million option for him. I canít imagine him making that much per year on the free agent market if he has another year anything like his last three.

    On the other hand, there is (almost) no such thing as a bad one-year contract. He still has promise. And itís not like the Twins have a bunch of young arms in the high minors for which theyíre anxious to find a role. They might like a little stability, even if it means overpaying for Baker.

    The question is: could they afford to overpay for Baker? To figure that out, one needs to take a look at what the roster might look like in 2013 and do a little back-of-the-napkin calculating, which youíll find on the right.

    Can the Twins afford to pick up Baker's option? The short answer is: yes, probably.

    As things sit right now, the Twins would have $30 million to spend on four starting pitchers. Presumably, one of those is going to be prospect Liam Hendricks, who might very well take over Baker's spot in the rotation if he's out for any length of time. And heíll make less than $500,000.

    The Twins aren't likely to drop $30 million on the three remaining starting pitcher spots, because pitchers who cost $10 million per year tend to only be available on longer multi-year contracts which the Twins avoid. The exception, of course, would be Baker and his option year.

    So even if Baker has yet one more substandard year, he could be in line for that extension. A mixture of need, promise, likeability and extra budget dollars means that Baker could be around in 2013.

    We'll watch this season unfold before we pass judgment on should.

    Other Notes
    The Twins have two other decisions to make next year, too. First, Alexi Casilla, if he plays the full year, will probably be up for at least a $2 to $3 million salary. Just because they Twins seem to be focused on other options long-term, I didnít include him. I hope he has his breakthrough this year and Iím wrong about that.

    The other is Matt Capps. The Twins have a $6 million option on Capps for next year. I think the Perkins extension indicates the Twins have plans for him to ultimately take over the closer role, which might finally and mercifully end the Twins obsession with Capps. But I've been wrong about that before.


    TwinsDaily
    The hottest Twins topic is who is going to make the Twins roster, and Jim Crikket posted a nice primer if you want to catch up on who your newest Twins might be. If you want to be a little more specific, or check in on your favorite dark horse, check out Thryloss' dashboard look at how each bench and bullpen arm has performed.

    Seth, meanwhile, continues to take a look at how the Twins stack up against the rest of the AL Central at various positions. Surprisingly for a 99-loss team, they look awfully good. Of his latest two positions, I'd argue the Twins have the second best right-fielder in the bunch and the best center fielder. There just might be some hope after all....

    Things are not so sunny in the Forum. First, we keep trying to put last year behind us, but it really is hard, especially for the morbidly curious. Plus, when we focus on the spring, we're reminded that Tsuyoshi Nishioka still looks lost out there. Just how are we going to keep him off the roster?
    This article was originally published in blog: Can The Twins Afford Scott Baker? started by John Bonnes
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. davesaxton's Avatar
      davesaxton -
      Honestly, Im not a Scott Baker fan. He has given up way, way to many dingers in his time with the twins. He is a prolific fly ball pitcher who just happens to get a good deal of strikeouts, and when healthy, can eat up some good innings. However, He is a twin, in the truest sense of the word. He has put all he has into this organisation and has tried very hard to stay healthy over the coarse of his career here. The last 2 years have been hard because his elbow seems to be giving him problems and no one is really sure why. I say If he can get to double digit wins this year and can stay fairly healthy once he does get back from this set-back, give him another year to prove himself again. what could it really hurt? A stable starter in the 3 or 4 spot to suround younger arms with? sure, give the kid one more chance, he's earned it.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      If he has a year like any of the last 3, he would absolutely earn that money on the free agent market. The 9.5 million will be below market.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Baker's elbow gives him problems because his motion includes a sudden snap near the end, when he rotates his rotator very quickly to pronate his forearm. This motion puts a lot of torque on the elbow joint, especially if he tries to add power with his upper body. It's a dangerous motion because if his timing or form is off just a little, it can damage the shoulder and elbow joints. However, if done just right, it makes the baseball jump from his hand.

      Baker eventually will be forced to retire because of elbow damage, but meanwhile he can pitch awhile longer if he emphasizes developing power with his legs and lower body. Like Sandy Koufax, he's going to have to develop almost perfect form.
    1. twinsfiend's Avatar
      twinsfiend -
      Love the article! Its fun forecasting next season. So much can happen, but its a fun exercise to see where we are headed. I have to believe the Baker is playing this year for that option. If he doesn't improve this season, I hope the Twins don't retain him. There are plenty of similarly performing (similar to last few years) pitchers on the open market each and every off-season that are far cheaper than $9.5 Million. I didn't realize that Blackburn is the only pitcher on the starting staff with a contract that runs into next season. I see some nice flexibility there. What is the word on Kyle Gibson? How is his rehab going? I suppose next year would be too soon to hope for him to make any noise at the major league level.

      Capps shouldn't be kept either, even if he performs well this year I don't think he is a $6 million pitcher, in any relief role. I firmly believe we can get a RH setup pitcher of good quality for $3-4 a year move Perkins to closer and Duensing to the lefty setup role.

      Casilla is playing for his future with the Twins. I hope the front office views this as his final chance to prove he belongs as an every day player.

      Here's to hoping for a solid season for all 3 of those guys! Go Twins!
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I'm thinking it's fairly likely the Twins pick up the option unless Baker has another injury-riddled year. Projecting the rotation at $30M seems reasonable, and with Balckburn/Hendriks costing a combined $6M, leaving $24M for 3 slots...$9.5M is viable. Especially if they think Gibson will be ready to be at least a 5th starter in 2013. That would still leave money in the budget to bring back Liriano even if his free agent number jumps over $12M per. A 2013 rotation of Liriano, Baker, Hendriks, Blackburn, and Gibson sounds pretty good to me, and shouldn't break the bank.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmlease1 View Post
      I'm thinking it's fairly likely the Twins pick up the option unless Baker has another injury-riddled year. Projecting the rotation at $30M seems reasonable, and with Balckburn/Hendriks costing a combined $6M, leaving $24M for 3 slots...$9.5M is viable. Especially if they think Gibson will be ready to be at least a 5th starter in 2013. That would still leave money in the budget to bring back Liriano even if his free agent number jumps over $12M per. A 2013 rotation of Liriano, Baker, Hendriks, Blackburn, and Gibson sounds pretty good to me, and shouldn't break the bank.
      I can't see any scenario that Liriano will be back though. If he pitches well and stays healthy, he will be looking for a multi year deal, and the Twins never give a pitcher more than four years, and with his injury and inconsistancy history, would likely only offer hime 2-3. If he underperforms again, the frustration Gardy and Rick Anderson have shown in him since his TJ surgery is going to force Terry Ryan to abandon any thought of offering him even a major-league minimum deal. If he pitches adaquately and is forced to take a 1 year Prove-It deal like Edwin Jackson, he will surely look to Prove-It in a different market seeing as this one is not very high profile.

      Of course all this is moot if the Twins are out of it by the All-Star break. He'll be moved for younger arms at that point.
    1. AT4MVP's Avatar
      AT4MVP -
      I can’t imagine him making that much per year on the free agent market if he has another year anything like his last three.
      I'm not sure if I necessarily agree with this statement John. Here is a link to one of the articles I have read recently saying that Baker is actually an extremely underrated pitcher.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/ind...lued-pitchers/

      He is also consistently in the top 10 in the league in K/BB, his K/9 has been over 7 since 2008 (not bad for someone considered a "flyball pitcher" to an extent), and besides them repeated trips to the DL last year that kept him at 134 innings, he has been at 170+ for three years prior to that.

      P.S. If someone could tell me how to quote what someone else said the proper way, that would be great!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      John, you might not know it yet, but you just have became "John Bonnes of the Minneapolis Star Tribune", per MLB trade rumors.

      Congratulations!!!!
    1. tharasix's Avatar
      tharasix -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfiend View Post
      What is the word on Kyle Gibson?
      He seems to be doing well with this rehab.
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