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Rumor: Twins to spend over their Int. bonus limit in 2015...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 10:46 AM
This is completely a rumor, so huge grain of salt, but Kiley McDaniel, who is a legit source, posted it based on "surveying about a dozen...
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2014-2015 MLB Offseason Moves Thread

MLB Baseball Today, 10:42 AM
First "big" trade of the offseason went down today with Adam Lind moving from the Blue Jays to the Brewers for Marco Estrada in a move th...
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Article: Can Aaron Hicks Be Fixed?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:35 AM
One of the more critical openings the Minnesota Twins will have this year is in center field. If all goes well, that job will be Aaron Hi...
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SCHREIER: Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan: "We Want A P...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:35 AM
An interesting review of where the Twins stand and how they got there.  I don't agree with all of it (I think both Morneau and Cuddy...
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MINNESOTA TWINS PROSPECT HANDBOOK: What Do You Think?

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 10:15 AM
It's been about a week since Seth and Co. closed the book (literally) on our annual production. We were pretty proud of it, thankful to t...
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Position Analysis: Relief Pitcher

We wrap up the Position Analysis series with a look at the relief corps, which could best be described as "unstable." There's little question that the Twins will proceed with seven relievers and a short bench, as is their standard; to fill those seven spots, they brought a veritable army of flawed pitchers to compete in Ft. Myers.

With a week left to go, it appears that the Twins have settled on which arms they will carry north. As is always the case in spring training, this is subject to change – particularly with the uncertain situations surrounding Scott Baker and Jason Marquis – but here's a look at the seven relievers I believe the Twins will break camp with.
[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
Matt CappsAttached Image: capps.JPG
2011 Stats: 65.2 IP, 4.25 ERA, 15/ 24 SV, 34/13 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP

Capps spent most of last season battling a forearm strain. Pitching through the pain, he never complained, took the mound when he was asked and showed accountability when he failed to get the job done. He deserves credit for that. He also got hammered by hitters routinely, blew nine of 24 save chances and was booed off the mound at Target Field multiple times.

Capps has been an effective hard-throwing relief pitcher with outstanding control for most of his career and he's still only 28. If he's fully healthy he should be perfectly adequate in the closer role. Last year's arm problems were never addressed surgically, so there exists a real possibility that the injury could come barking once again.

Glen Perkins
2011 Stats: 61.2 IP, 2.48 ERA, 65/21 K/BB, 1.23 WHIP

The only member of this bullpen who looks like a remotely sure thing is Perkins, coming off a breakthrough season. In his transition to a setup role, Perk was flat-out unhittable over the first four months of 2011 but saw his performance deteriorate in August and September. Most likely, this was due to his high usage; he appeared in 65 games last year when his previous professional high was 39.

Assuming the southpaw's arm is in good shape, he's a solid bet to proceed as one of the league's better late-inning relievers. His fastball gained significant velocity with the switch to the bullpen, setting up a slider that is one of the league's deadliest weapons.

Brian Duensing
2011 Stats: 161.2 IP, 5.23 ERA, 115/52 K/BB, 1.52 WHIP

Last spring, I bemoaned Ron Gardenhire's decision to hand Duensing a spot in the rotation, reasoning that his success as a starter in 2010 was unsustainable and that facing righty-stacked starting lineups would eventually do him in. Sure enough, the lefty had a tough year in the rotation, finishing with a 5.23 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

Through the struggles, Duensing continued to mow down left-handed hitters, holding them to a .217/.242/.280 hitting line with one home run in 187 PA. Considering his major weakness against righties, it makes a world of sense to move him back into a role where he can be situationally matched up against same-sided batters. Played to his strengths, Duensing figures to have plenty of success.

Anthony Swarzak
2011 Stats: 102 IP, 4.32 ERA, 55/26 K/BB, 1.34 WHIP

Swarzak has been a useful swing man in the past, but there are plenty of reasons to be leery of his outlook. During his time in the big leagues last year, he struck out 12.5 percent of the batters he faced; only five qualifying pitchers in the majors had a worse rate. His 19-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38 1/3 as a reliever inspired little confidence. Hopefully a full-time switch to the bullpen will help play up his stuff, because it's hard to see his low 90s fastball and mediocre secondary offerings serving much value in anything other than a mop-up role.

Jared Burton
2011 Stats: 4.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 3/3 K/BB, 1.93 WHIP

Burton is probably the most intriguing guy in the bullpen mix. He's pitched a total of eight innings in the majors over the past two seasons, but prior to that he'd been a quality late-inning reliever for the Reds, and he's 30 years old. Injury issues derailed the right-hander in recent years, but he's been healthy in camp and his results on the mound have been excellent. He's the club's best hope for a reliable right-handed setup man to complement Perkins.

Matt Maloney
2011 Stats: 18.2 IP, 9.16 ERA, 13/4 K/BB, 2.14 WHIP

The Twins claimed Maloney during the offseason because they saw something in him despite an unremarkable 2011 season spent mostly starting in the Reds' system. Their belief in his potential as a reliever appears justified based on a 16-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 1/3 spring innings, but that's overshadowed by a lengthy record of mediocrity. Fortunately, as a third lefty option out of the bullpen and long reliever, he shouldn't need to see too many high-leverage spots.

Jeff Gray
2011 Stats: 48.1 IP, 4.28 ERA, 23/21K/BB, 1.51 WHIP

The buzz for Maloney is understandable, to some degree, but I'm baffled by the Twins' fascination with Gray. Apparently in line to make the roster by virtue of being out of options, he's a 30-year-old right-hander with a 50-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 88 2/3 big-league innings, a 6.6 K/9 rate in the minors and two strikeouts against four walks in 8 1/3 spring innings. Gray is a hard thrower, with a fastball that registers in the mid-90s, but the velocity hasn't translated into remotely dominant numbers, and he's been around for a while.


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