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Twins Fan From Afar

I'm Glad the Twins Aren't Paying for an Ace Right Now, and a Rock Cats Report

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With no Scott Baker in the fold, and with an
ineffective Francisco Liriano, the future of the Twins'
rotation is dubious, at best
[Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]


You all know the story by now: Last night was not a good night to be a Twins fan. A completely ineffective Francisco Liriano ruined what could have been some nice momentum in a tough, 4 game series against the Yankees, and we received news that Tommy John surgery was performed on Scott Baker, instead of a simpler procedure to "clean up" his right elbow. Liriano's awful performance (after a stellar spring), and Baker's 12 month (minimum) recovery period have likely caused a sea change in the way that the front office is viewing the starting rotation, for 2012 and beyond.


In my head, I had always penciled in one of Baker or Liriano as possibilities for 2013, thinking that it would be possible -- maybe even smart -- for the Twins to try to extend one of these veteran starters. Now, Baker's 2013 option will certainly be declined, as he is shelved for at least a year, and who knows what to do with Liriano? Sure, he could come back in his next start and fire a no-hitter, but that doesn't seem at all possible right now. Handed a 3-1 lead in Yankee Stadium, against CC Sabathia no less, Liriano couldn't even get out of the third inning. He threw more balls than strikes (I acknowledge, though, that the strike zone last night was bad), and Yankees hitters took advantage of pitches left out over the plate. This is not the kind of guy you build your rotation around. This is the kind of guy that winds up in the bullpen, which is where I expect Liriano will be by June if he doesn't straighten out. Worst of all, for a team that right now doesn't appear to be contending for anything other than the worst record in baseball, he's not even accumulating value for the Twins to trade him.


All of this brings me to my main point this morning. I, along with most of Twins Territory, wished during the past few off-seasons that the Twins would acquire an upper echelon pitcher. It hasn't happened, of course. Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis hardly qualify. But think -- just for a second -- if they had. What if, for example, we had gotten a guly like Cliff Lee, or Roy Halladay, or even Zack Greinke? What a colossal waste of money it would be for 2012, and probably 2013. We would be paying basically $1 million per win for this pitcher. In other words, $20 million for 20 or so wins. Yes, it'd be great to have a 20 game winner on staff, but not if that pitcher is literally your only consistent weapon. This team -- without Baker and with an ineffective Liriano -- still wouldn't be much better. Certainly it would win 10 or so more games over the course of the season, but probably not nearly enough to win the division. For right now, at least, it would seem like misallocated money. It's great to have a dominant pitcher -- the kind of guy that you know stands a very good chance of winning every 5th day and throwing 7, 8 or 9 innings -- but it's not so great if there are no #2 or #3 starters to round out the stable. I had always envisioned this ace alongside a couple other good, younger pitchers, leading the staff and perhaps even helping the others become better pitchers. For right now, anyway, it would seem like a waste of money.


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Amid all the bad news about the Twins, there is good news out of Twins Territory to report: The New Britain Rock Cats won their 6th straight game last night. Chris Colabello was the big star last night. He hit 2 home runs and had 3 RBIs to lead the way to a 6-3 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs. Colabello, 28, is one of those great baseball stories. He spent 2005-2011 playing in the Canadian-American League, which is an independent baseball league. He spent all but one of those seasons with the Worcester (Massachusetts) Tornadoes, and 2012 is his first year playing in the minor leagues. At 28, he's too old to be a top prospect, but you really, really have to respect the guy for going out there and trying to make a career as a professional ballplayer. I hope he does more than "provide minor league depth," or whatever scouts or front office people might tell you. Deibinson Romero, Pedro Florimon, Nathan Hanson, Evan Bigley, Chris Herrmann and Estarlin De Los Santos also picked up hits for New Britain. David Bromberg and Bobby Lanigan each pitched 3 innings for the Rock Cats, with Lanigan picking up the win after allowing no runs. Deolis Guerra got the hold, pitching very well in the 7th and 8th innings, allowing no hits and striking out 2. Lester Oliveros pitched the 9th and, although he got into some trouble, allowing 2 earned runs on 2 hits and a walk, was able to make it through the inning. The Rock Cats are now 10-3, and play this afternoon to wrap up what has been a very successful road trip.

Updated 04-18-2012 at 10:48 AM by Twins Fan From Afar

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Comments

  1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
    Enjoy your Rock Cats updates, Andrew.

    On the Ace, I think a lot of people were clamoring for an Ace before the 2009 and 2010 seasons -- and an Ace might have made a difference then. Some even begged before the 2011 season -- when we didn't know that injuries would decimate the line-up. But I think a lot of people who watch this team closely admitted that trying to find and pay an Ace for 2012 was likely to be a waste of money.

    What I wanted to see -- and still want to see -- is them using the next year or so to either harbor money to buy an Ace or investing in several players with Ace potential in hopes that one of them may pan out.

    In late 2010 I posted that I wasn't sure how they could improve upon a team that won 94 games and yet was still dead in the water in the playoffs (and acknowledged that I was pretty depressed about the team's prospects given the repeated playoff failures). I felt then -- and continue to feel -- that they need to rexamine everything from top to bottom (including front office, medical and traing staffs and coaching in addition to players and the minor league process) Yes, I would call it rebuilding -- and it is likely to be pretty painful. But guess what? What happened last year and so far this year is painful too. To me, acknowledging that you need to rebuild and undertaking the process is like the old days when the doctor actually gave you a shot. It hurt at the time but you got better a lot faster.
  2. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
    Hey Twins Fan from Afar. Deolis Guerra's stats look good so far this season although it is a very, very small sample size. What is your over/under on him being called up to the big club before September? Not that September is a guarantee for him.
  3. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Thanks for the comments.
    With respect to Guerra, as you noted, it's a small sample size. But at the same time, we should take note of the 8-1 K to walk ratio, and the fact that he's only given up 3 hits in 8 innings. In Aaron Gleeman's write-up on Guerra, he noted that, although Guerra is a failed starter, his bullpen numbers at New Britain were solid last year: 2.77 ERA and 65-13 K to BB ratio in over 50 innings. This is a long-winded way of saying that, given all the pitching problems for the Twins thus far, if Guerra can keep doing what he started last season, and what he's continuing now, I'd be surprised if he's not at least in AAA by the end of the summer, if not MN.
  4. StormJH1's Avatar
    Totally agree with this take. Although I think more people were asking for the Twins to sign an ace than you may think. Despite our colossal depth of problems all over the roster, there are people who legitimately think we should've thrown $20 million at C.J. Wilson or Cliff Lee so we at least had one good ace. First, a free agent pitcher has to WANT to come play for you. Other than a slight pitcher's park, there's really no motivating factor for an ace to want to come here as opposed to LA or Texas (or Boston/NYY, etc.). Second, it would have made virtually no difference to the success of the team - not when you can't support the ace adequately with runs, and the 2-5 options are a mess. Look at the pitchers Seattle has had and been forced to dump because they weren't making a run. But they've been busy actually drafting power arms, so their chances of having a solid rotation 2 or 3 years from now are light years beyond the Twins'.
  5. TwinsFanLV's Avatar
    Whose money am I supposed to be worried about wasting??
    I want to see the Twins win games!! Using your reasoning, aren't the Twins also "wasting" money on Mauer and Morneau??
    I would enjoy seeing more wins and hearing fewer excuses. Whatever an Ace costs, the Twins will never be a hood team without one. The Pohlads have plenty of money.
  6. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TwinsFanLV
    Whose money am I supposed to be worried about wasting??
    I want to see the Twins win games!! Using your reasoning, aren't the Twins also "wasting" money on Mauer and Morneau??
    I would enjoy seeing more wins and hearing fewer excuses. Whatever an Ace costs, the Twins will never be a hood team without one. The Pohlads have plenty of money.
    I'm not exactly sure what your point is. Mauer and Morneau were under preexisting contracts when they suffered injuries, or underperformed, or whatever you want to call it.

    Check out my blog, Twins Fan From Afar. I was not at all in favor of their decision to lower payroll going into 2012. I still don't get it. All I'm suggesting in this post is that, given what has happened so far this season, this team wouldn't really have benefitted from the presence of an ace. Sure, the Twins would be more entertaining once every five days, but that's about it.

    If we're talking about 2014 or 2015, yes, the Twins need to spend on a top-of-the-line starter. For now, though, tell me, what will one get them, other than 5-10 more wins for a third or fourth place team?
  7. TwinsFanLV's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar
    I'm not exactly sure what your point is. Mauer and Morneau were under preexisting contracts when they suffered injuries, or underperformed, or whatever you want to call it.

    Check out my blog, Twins Fan From Afar. I was not at all in favor of their decision to lower payroll going into 2012. I still don't get it. All I'm suggesting in this post is that, given what has happened so far this season, this team wouldn't really have benefitted from the presence of an ace. Sure, the Twins would be more entertaining once every five days, but that's about it.

    If we're talking about 2014 or 2015, yes, the Twins need to spend on a top-of-the-line starter. For now, though, tell me, what will one get them, other than 5-10 more wins for a third or fourth place team?
    You're "glad" the Twins aren't paying for an Ace? Is it YOUR money? The Pohlads raise ticket prices after a 99 loss season. I don't CARE how much it takes to buy a winner, just DO it!! Have you ever heard a Yankee fan complain that their 27 World Series titles cost TOO MUCH money?
  8. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TwinsFanLV
    You're "glad" the Twins aren't paying for an Ace? Is it YOUR money? The Pohlads raise ticket prices after a 99 loss season. I don't CARE how much it takes to buy a winner, just DO it!! Have you ever heard a Yankee fan complain that their 27 World Series titles cost TOO MUCH money?
    You're right -- I don't have a specific and personal interest in the Twins' payroll, and it's not my money. I wish they would have spent $150 million back in 2010. It was the best team in years, and could have even been better.

    But we are fans of a team that apparently has a pretty strict budget. I can complain about it for a while (and I do), but then it becomes tiresome. And their financial strategy certainly is not going to change, if the last few decades are any indication. So instead of posting dozens of rants on the payroll situation, I focus on other things, like how they are allocating the money.
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