Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Twins Rotation - 2009

Barring trade or injury, the Twins rotation for 2009 seems pretty much settled. Baker, Liriano, Slowey, Blackburn and Perkins have all earned return engagements. Its hard to imagine any of them losing their spot in the rotation based on spring training performances, either by them or by any potential replacements. I don't recall the last time the Twins had a rotation settled from one through five for the following season. There may not have been a last time because it has never happened before.

Does that mean the Twins will have an outstanding rotation next year? No. They really lack a dominating ace. Baker is getting that buzz now, but he is really just the most dependable of the bunch. Liriano certainly has the talent and with another year into his recovery could take that spot. Slowey is a solid number three starter and Blackburn and Perkins both fill out the rotation. Its possible this crew will develop into a dominating rotation with another year of experience. Its also possible one of them will fall flat on their face next year. But at this point there is not much to do but watch with anticipation as it plays itself out next year

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Twins Bullpen - 2009

There is a lot of angst about the Twins bullpen. It has now reached a point that one of the local Minnesota sports writers is suggesting the Twins should be dealing for "two or three" new relievers next year. That seems like a huge over-reaction to an overworked bullpen.

The reality is that the Twins relief corps has more appearances and faced more batters than it did last year. And last year it was not underworked either. In 2008, with six games remaining, the relievers have made 460 appearances and faced 2032 batters. In 2007, they made 438 appearances and faced 2001 batters. In 2006, it was 421 appearances and 2066 batters and in 2005 it was 396 appearances and 1841 batters. This year's bullpen will have made the most appearances of the Gardenhire era and it will come close or surpass the largest number of batters faced.

That is hardly a surprise. The Twins rotation has been filled with young pitchers who have rarely pitched deep into games. In fact, Slowey and Baker are the only current members of the rotation who have averaged over 6 innings per start, and then only barely. Even "innings eater" Livan Hernandez ended up with only slighty over 6 innings per start after all his early exits at the end of his stint with the Twins.

So where are things for next year? Its likely that, with a year's experience behind them, the young starters will give the Twins more innings and a rested bullpen will be more productive. Aside from that, the Twins also have a lot of possible young pitchers who could step up and make the bullpen that much stronger. Here is what the bullpen looks like for next year:


Free Agents:


Guerrier, Crain and Bonser all have the experience and talent to be late inning setup guys. As does Neshek if he recovers. Mijares and Humber have the talent but they need experience. The rumor is that Humber is out of options, so they will have to find a place for him either in the bullpen or the rotation. My guess is that the Twins will try to resign Reyes. They might bring Guardado to spring training if he can't find anyone willing to give him a guaranteed contract.

In any case, it does not really look like the Twins have room for one, much less two or three, relievers. If they can find one dependable veteran who can bridge the 8th inning that doesn't cost and arm and leg in prospects or salary then they should make a move. But they are not really desperate for more options in the bullpen. What they really need is less work.

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