Over in Indian Wells, California baseballís head honchos are engaged in debates regarding rule changes, safety regulations and Ken Rosenthalís choice of bow ties. In between that and the golfing, teams have been aggressive in their pursuits for available talent.
ďIíve been in this business 21 years, and Iíve never seen anything like it,Ē said pitcher Anibal Sanchezís agent, Gene Mato of SFX. ďThis is moving really, really fast.Ē
Even the Twins
Rather than spew out some analysis based on hot stove rumors and theories (which I've already done on Shaun Marcum and Kevin Youkilis, by the way), I thought I would take the opportunity to field some burning questions from the Twins Daily followers via Twitter.
On to your questions:
Who will be the Twins starting rotation on Opening Day? [@MichaelRHerman]
As the Twins have said since the season started winding down in September,
If you were going to create a list of the Twins' offseason needs, you would likely write in big, bold letters STARTING PITCHING and underline it twice and put some exclamation points next to it for safe measure.
Clearly this area of the team put the Twins in significant default night after night. Shackled to the American League's worst earned run average (5.40), the focal point of the front office will be to beg,borrow and steal anything they can that can
The worst kept secret in baseball is that teams need an abundance of starting pitching. Like crack, you can never have enough.
Also, pitching, like crack, can be an expensive endeavor Ė particularly when you need a lot of it. And this is exactly the position the Twins are in so said the teamís general manager, Terry Ryan, during his offseason apology tour.
In a recent interview with Twins Dailyís John Bonnes, Ryan admitted that his financial
As Seth Stohs mentioned yesterday, while the rest of us at Twins Daily were all stark raving mad about Kyle Gibsonís performance in the Arizona Fall League, another Twins prospect was making noise even further south. Outfielder Aaron Hicks, who is playing winter ball in Venezuela, is off to a fast start this offseason, matching the expectation he set from his in-season performance at New Britain.
Just over a year removed from his Tommy John surgery, Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson has made two encouraging starts in Arizona, firing 92-to-95-mph bullets and keeping the gameís top prospects off-balanced with an 83-86-mph slider.
Thatís right: Hitting 95 miles per hour according to the Pitch F/X system in Arizona.
Letís take a look at why his AFL performance should give Twins fans hope.
According to MLB.com, Gibson has been aware of the velocity increase
For the past four years, we have produced an Offseason Handbook to put fans in the driverís seat of the Twins franchise. Within it, we highlight all of the winterís impending free agents, potential trade targets and review the organizationís strengths and weaknesses from top to bottom. This culminates with the presentation of our blueprints to improving the team.
In my blueprint, I laid out a fairly elementary explanation as to why the Twins failed so miserably
Joe Mauer hit just one infield fly ball all year making his 1.0% infield fly rate the second lowest in all of baseball. Thatís a significant increase over his totals last year when he did not hit a single fly ball to anyone in the infield. See, there is still plenty of reason to boo him.
Mauer is often credited with having the perfect swing, and the fact that he is not popping pitches up to the second baseman is telling how square he hits the ball. That said
Joe Mauerís noble effort to obtain his fourth batting title was thwarted when those cyborgs known as Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout were unrelenting.
That notwithstanding, this has been an outstanding rebound season for the Twins catcher.
Considering the slow start by his standards, his .320 average heading into the last day of the season is impressive nonetheless. At the beginning of May, his average was down to .270 before he checked into the
With the possible exception of the popularity of ďCall Me MaybeĒ, nothing has spun more out of control in 2012 than the Minnesota Twins starting pitching.
Categorically the Twins rotation has produced some of the least desirable stats in the American League. For starters, their misshapen 5.50 ERA tops the charts. Performances like Nick Blackburn (7.39 ERA in 19 starts), Brian Duensing (6.92 in 11 starts) and Liam Hendriks (6.13 ERA in 15 starts) shows where
Since assuming the closerís role for good, Glen Perkins has been absolutely brilliant, now converting 11 consecutive save opportunities.
There was one semi-minor hiccup Ė allowing a solo home run to Andruw Jones to bring the Yankees within one of the Twins. The pitch was clearly a slider which was intended to be buried at Jonesís feet but rather hung belt high over the plate. It wound up being the third home run Perkins has surrendered on his slider this
The front office will likely do some shopping-n-swapping to infill the rotation this winter however one member of the Twins staff who is almost certain to get an opportunity to win a role next spring is Samuel Deduno.
For the most part, Dedunoís unexpected and head-scratching success has continued across his 13 starts. He has struggled to get ahead of hitters (54% first pitch strike rate compared to the 60% league average) and then falls deeper behind in the count (8% of all his plate
The befuddlement continues as Hendriksí winless streak now reaches 17 starts and counting.
Dating back to beginning of 2011, Hendriks has put up two stellar seasons in the minor leagues, posting a 2.86 ERA with a 193/49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 245.2 innings split between New Britain and Rochester. In 2011, the Twins named him their Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Based on those figures and accolades, expectations were high for him.
Naturally, that has not quite panned
What happened to all that offense that showed up for the Cleveland series? Or pitching for that matter?
After scoring 24 runs, averaging six per game against the Indians, the Will Smith and the Royals stop the Twins bats cold and Kansas City would, as Ron Gardenhire would say after the game, hit the fire out of the ball.
The Twins offense was far from the productive group it has shown against Cleveland, and gave the Royals pitchers very little to sweat about.