Friday, November 25, 2011

Twins Bullpen

Joe Nathan's signing by Texas and Matt Capps free agency has the Twins looking outside the organization for next year's closer. Capps may still be a candidate for that job, but the Twins would have to sacrifice the draft choice they will receive if Capps signs elsewhere. But the larger question is, who do the Twins have for the other 6 or 7 spots in the bullpen?

Veterans (over 28):
Glen Perkins
Phil Dumatrait
Brian Duensing

These three are all left handed. Perkins had a great year last year and should be set as one of the go to guys in the 8th inning. Dumatrait is not a setup guy, but he will give you innings over the course of the year. Brian Duensing has been in the rotation, but pitched effectively out of the bullpen before that.

Update: Waiver Claims

Esmerling Vasquez
Jeff Gray
Matt Maloney

These three were all made available because they were released by taken off the roster of their previous club. We shouldn't really expect much from any of them, but they have a cahnce to win a place in the bullpen.

Young Veterans (under 27) not (under 25)
Jose Mijares
Alex Burnett
Anthony Swarzak

These three have all had some success, but have yet to really establish themselves. Swarzak was the swing man and long reliever last year, a role he is likely to continue in assuming he doesn't win a spot in the rotation. Mijares has not been at all consistent and is getting past the point where you can blame that on youth. He is arbitration eligible this year and its possible he won't be back. Burnett is only 23 and has talent. Whether he is ready to be consistent at the major league level remains a question. Jeff Manship, who was on the minor league DL most of last year, may also belong on this list. Its hard to know what to expect from him.

Prospects (with major league experience):
Kyle Waldrop
Jim Hoey
Lester Oliveros
Scott Diamond

Jim Hoey may or may not belong on this list. He came over in the JJ Hardy trade and is a very hard thrower who can't find the plate. You always hold out hope for those guys, but he is 28 and if he has a future its now. Kyle Waldrop is a former first round draft choice who was injured in the minor leagues and has had a very long comeback. Lester Oliveros came over in the Delmon Young Trade. He could quickly turn into a bullpen mainstay. Scott Diamond was the Twins rule 5 draft choice last year. He has been used as a starter and it is unlikely, but not impossible, the Twins would convert him to a reliever.

Prospects (no major league experience):
Tyler Robertson
Carlos Gutierrez
Update: Delios Guerra

Gutierrez is a first round draft choice with a great sinker. He needs to get control of it and refine his other pitches, but he may be ready to take a right handed setup role. Tyler Robertson is was a third round choice in 2006 and is still only 23 years old. He has been a starter in the past, but was converted to the bullpen at AA this year with great success. He may be ready to help this season. Both these guys will need to prove something to win jobs out of spring training. But the opportunity is there and they have the talent to take it.

Update: Guerra is the only player left from the Santana trade. He was seen as a potential ace pitcher when the trade was made, but he was moved to the bullpen last year. He did very well out of the bullpen at AA, is only 22 and still has the potential to be a top flight major league pitcher, but probably not next year.

That is 16 (12) pitchers competing for 6 spots. The Twins will no doubt add some additional pitchers to the mix via either free agency or trade. With Perkins the only guy who was successful last year in the setup role, the Twin probably need to add an established pitcher as a right handed partner for Perkins. But I would expect a hot competition in spring training between the other pitchers listed above.


Jim H said...

Actually, I think you could add the guys the Twins claimed off waivers this fall as well. They will all likely be given a chance at the bullpen as well. Perhaps several of the guys signed as 6 year free agents as well.

TT said...

Jim - You are right. The guys picked up on waivers should be on them. I will add them.

Jim H said...

I agree to not expect a lot from the waiver claims, but the Twins have had success from this method before. Guerrier was a waiver claim, and I believe the Twins picked up a number of useful relievers this way in the 90's. I was surprised the Twins added 3 guys this way, it is I think, a bit of a comment on upper levels of the Twins farm system.

thrylos98 said...

I would probably add Blackburn to the list. He is an expensive (close to $5M) reliever and the Twins want him to start, but they are stuck with his contract and he does not belong in an MLB rotation

TT said...

Jim -

The system is always "thin" on major league ready pitchers. But the Twins thin bullpen certainly explains why they claimed three guys.

Its also important to remember the Twins have first shot at American League players placed on waivers this year. So they are seeing a higher class of waiver candidates.

Guerrier spent most of his first year with the Twins starting at AAA. He was only 25 and was taken for his potential. The three guys they claimed this year are 27 (Maloney), 28 (Vasquez) and 30 (Gray). They are a lot more like Dusty Hughes last year.

thrylos -

I agree on Blackburn being a possible candidate for the bullpen. But right now the Twins only have five starters. It has sounded like they intend to give Blackburn a shot at the rotation this spring, but have already slotted Duensing as a bullpen guy. Blackburn is a guy who could really benefit from improvements on defense.

Shane Wahl said...

Mijares is 27 and Swarzak is 26.

I would look out for Gutierrez and Guerra this year.

Anonymous said...

TT, I understand what you are saying about always being a little thin for major league quality relievers in any system. Still, the Twins decided to add 3 waiver claims and expose guys like Bromberg, Morales, Stuifbergen and some guys they sent to the AFL this fall. While none of the guys exposed are likely ready for the majors, the Twins probably don't consider them to be high ceiling guys, either.

Clearly, they are probably right about Bromberg. He would likely of been claimed if anybody thought he had much upside as a major league starter. I don't really expect the Twins to lose anybody in the Rule 5 draft. I have no idea what to expect from the 3 guys claimed on waivers. I don't know if any of them can be sent to the minors, either. I would guess, though that one of them will end making the roster this spring.

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