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An illustration of what is in the heart of the Twins pitching problems

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Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch

With Catchers and Pitchers reporting in less that one month for Spring Training 2013, I decided to get ready for my Spring Training Coverage (teaser: expect 3 new guides this month) so I was looking at the past coverage here. I stumbled upon this little piece from the end of the 2009 Spring Training. It looks really innocent. After all it is a list of all 97 pitchers in the Twins' minors in 2008 from DSL to AAA, who were still with the organization in 2009 along with the 2009 MiLB FAs and where they would potentially end up in 2009.

Fairly innocent.

Until you fast forward to 2013, where you see that only 11 of those 97 players are still in the Twins' organization in any level and nobody made any impact in the Twins' rotation. The best players in the list were swingmen and bullpen arms. Here is the list of the 11 who are still with the Twins (the original list of 97 is here ):

Alex Burnett
Cole Devries
Brian Duensing
Deolis Guerra
B.J. Hermsen
Bruce Pugh
Tyler Robertson
Adrian Salcedo
Anthony Slama
Tom Stuifbergen
Anthony Swarzak

So if your minor league system does not feed the major league team with impact starters for 4 years and you do not sign impact starters via free agency or acquire them via trades, how do you expect to compete?

The writing for the mess that was 2011 and 2012 was on the wall for he Twins in 2009. They either just could not see it (by believing that their prospects were better than what they were) or they ignore it. Either way, it is equally bad.

Updated 01-19-2013 at 08:43 PM by Thrylos

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  1. johnnydakota's Avatar
    If you always do what you have always done,
    You always get what you have always gotten.
  2. Jim H's Avatar
    What do you suppose "normal" turnover is? I suspect that in the 4 years since your list, the Twins have signed between 80 and 100 pitchers from the drafts and international signings. Obviously a number of minor league free agents have been signed as well. I think the Twins have been hurt by a large number of injuries during this time. Clearly your point that not enough pitchers have developed into quality major leaguers is a valid one. But I am not sure that just looking at the number of pitchers from the spring of 2009 and checking on how many remain in the organization really tells you anything.
  3. Kwak's Avatar
    None of the 11 on the list would rank in the upper half of pitchers in MLB--a glaring example of the error of Twins pitching philosophy. Including the "injured"--still none.
  4. Seth Stohs's Avatar
    I'm not questioning the blog, I would also just be curious what "normal" is. You've have to look at all of the organizations. If you have 1 player from the DSL team each year that eventually gets to the big leagues, that's great. It would also take more than four years from there. If you have 1-2 GCL guys that get to the big leagues, that's pretty good. Things haven't been great, but I don't think this would be unusual. The list of 11 shows one player who has already been arbitration-eligible (Duensing) and two others that have over 2 years of big league service time (Swarzak/Burnett) and guys like Robertson and Slama who have pitched in the big leagues. Hermsen was added to the 40 man roster on schedule. Again, I agree that the Twins haven't developed much pitching, but I just don't know what 11 players means. I think it would be normal for a great majority of those 97 players that you include would not make it, especially if you're including the DSL and GCL and ET. Why isn't Hendriks on this list? He was around. Are others missing? Gibson and Darnell
  5. Thrylos's Avatar
    Hendriks was around and should probably be listed. The original list is a list of Twins' MiLB in 2008 and where there were assigned in 2009. Hendriks sat out in 2008. Darnell and Gibson came in 2010.

    The premise here was 3-fold:

    It is hard to compete (or even stronger - you are practically guaranteed to not compete) if:

    - your farm system has not produced any impact (read: top of the rotation pitchers) within 5 years (2008-2013)
    - you do not sign top of the rotation free agents
    - you do not trade for top of the rotation free agents

    (Pavano was never a top of the rotation free agent)

    Not sure what the rate is in other organizations, but if you look at the organizations that have been competing, they either have a lot of top of the rotation talent coming from the minors (Rays, As, Os) or they sign it (Yankees, Rangers, Phillies) or both (Red Sox, Cardinals)

    If you do not do one of the 3 you will not compete. And the last time the Twins did #2 and #3, McPhail was the GM (Morris and Smiley), so they do have to develop talent. If they don't they have no chance in competing. May, Meyer and Worley are bringing the Twins to a good place (and with Gibson, Hendriks and Wimmers and the lower level kids on the hold.)

    And to make my point, I checked and in 2008:

    The Rays had David Price, Jeff Niemann, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson (and Wade Davis) in their organization
    the A's had Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden (and Mickey Storey)
    Updated 01-19-2013 at 04:52 PM by Thrylos
  6. Seth Stohs's Avatar
    Like I said, I wasn't questioning the results, just what it means. Yes, the Rays have some good ones there, no question. Price was also the #1 overall pick. And, I know your three points, but your blog was on the pitchers in the organization at the time. Picking out two orgs that we know are good is one thing. Going through 30 organizations might tell us something else. I don't pretend to know and couldn't even guess and certain am not going to do that work. And Gibson was 2009. Wimmers and Darnell were 2010. If Meyer (2011) becomes a star, will you credit the Twins or give credit to the Nationals?
  7. Thrylos's Avatar
    I will credit the Twins for getting him from the Nationals. Same with May. The Twins are actually having a pretty exiting system now because of these trades, the better than expected return of Gibson from TJ surgery and the 2012 draft.

    (Gibson was 2009 but did not play until 2010, so that's when his pro debut was made; and the original list is for players who played in the Twins' system in 2008 and their 2009 destinations posted in April 2009, few months before Gibson was drafted - and btw, do you see Gibson in this ST 2012 photo? )
    Updated 01-19-2013 at 07:01 PM by Thrylos
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