Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Twins Pitching Takes Shape

From their reaction, some Twins fans have been in denial about the real state of the Twins starting pitching. The idea seems to be that the Twins need to sign a high quality free agent and then fill out the rotation around them with guys from their system. But that isn't really true. The Twins went into the off-season needing at least two and probably three starters from outside the organization.

So far they have added two starters Vance Worley and Kevin Correia. I haven't heard that they are done and they still have a roster spot open. But whether they like it or not they may not be able to sign another pitcher. Given the demand for pitching, the high prices teams are willing to pay and the fact that the Twins are not a particularly desirable landing place for a free agent, they may not have any good options.

I did an analysis of the Twins pitching earlier. But here is what Twins rotation looks like this:

Scott Diamond
Vance Worley
Kevin Correia

Failing to add another starter means filling out the rotation with two of the following:

Roster:
Cole De Vries
Liam Hendriks
Kyle Gibson
Trevor May
Pedro Hernandez

Bullpen Conversions:
Brian Duensing
Anthony Swarzak

Non-roster:
Sam Deduno
Emiliano Vazquez
PJ Walters
Nick Blackburn

That long list includes only three pitchers who have not had past opportunities and failed, Gibson, May and Hernandez. I think Gibson is the only one of those three with any realistic chance to be in the rotation out of spring training and he is a long shot.

You can make the argument that De Vries and Deduno did not really "fail" their opportunities so much as looking like not very inspiring solutions. As a 5th starter, one of them might be acceptable. As the only two candidates for the 4th and 5th starter slots they really aren't.

Of course you can project one of those other guys stepping up to take a spot. But it isn't really realistic to rely on pitchers who have had a hard time getting five innings per start in their brief major league careers. What's more realistic is that, in desperation, they rush a prospect (Gibson) or step into the bullpen to pull out Duensing or Swarzak for another shot as a starter. Thus weakening the bullpen and/or sacrificing the future, while giving the rotation just another weak spot.

If you want to understand the signing of Correia understand just how thin the options are at the end of the list even after he was signed. The Twins really need one more starter so that Deduno and De Vries are fall back options for the 5th spot instead guys who are penciled into the rotation unless someone unseats them in spring training. Correia may not be the answer, but he is certainly a better option as the third or fourth starter than Deduno and De Vries.

They probably paid too much for him. But I suspect that goes with the Twins territory these days. Money is about all they have to offer. Moreover, Correia signed for about 1/15th the money Greinke got. He may have been a bargain in this market.

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