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  • Shaun Marcum could be a fit for the Twins

    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 – particularly when you need a lot of it. And this is exactly the position the Twins are in so said the team’s general manager, Terry Ryan, during his offseason apology tour.

    In a recent interview with Twins Daily’s John Bonnes, Ryan admitted that his financial resources may keep the team from chasing the Zack Greinke’s of the world (shocker), but the team will be scouring the market for top of the rotation help.

    (The interview’s entirety can be found the Offseason Handbook in which Ryan expands on this topic and many more.)

    If the team is looking to maximize the return on a smaller investment, one such arm Ryan should be zeroing in on in the free agent market is the 30-year-old Shaun Marcum.

    If you were looking just at the radar gun, you would likely be nonplussed at Marcum’s fastball. Indeed, his 87.2-mph fastball over his career would incite plenty to label him yet another soft-tossing pitcher. After all, he shares the same career fastball velocity as one flame-thrower Bruce Chen.

    Recognizing his weakness Marcum uses his fastball extremely sparingly. Dating back to 2007, outside of the knuckleballers, only Roy Halladay (33.8%) has used his fastball less frequently than Marcum (38.2%). Once he gets ahead in the count – which we has more often than not – hitters have a better odds of seeing Halley’s Comet than his fastball.

    And it is his plethora of off-speed and breaking pitches that makes him so impossible to make contact against. Again, since 2007, Marcum has registered the sixth-highest swinging strike rate in baseball behind such luminaries as Cole Hamels, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Dempster and Max Scherzer. That’s right: He missed more bats than Justin Verlander. Now, this has not translated into a ton of strikeouts but it shows that he is consistently confounding opponents.

    What makes Marcum so effective in spite of the town ball-level velocity is his ability to keep the fastball away off the plate while mixing in a variety of pitches and speeds that make hitters’ heads’ spin. Take a look at this year’s heat map of his pitch location:

    To both sides, he served every down and away. The reason this is noteworthy is because this area is perhaps the most difficult for a hitter to square up and certainly one of the hardest areas to pull consistently. Furthermore, Marcum’s ability to change speeds to the mid-70s to 80 back to the upper 80s on almost any pitch keeps opponents from cheating on the outer-half. As we have seen at Target Field, it can reward hitters who can yank pitches into the right and left field stands thus having someone who keeps the ball away from those looking to do heavy damage is in the Twins’ best interest.

    In short, his ability to miss bats and keep hitters from pulling the ball with lethal intent would play very favorably as a potentially number two starter in Minnesota. So, what are the odds the Twins could end up with him?

    The Royals, Cubs and Blue Jays all may be landing places for Marcum. In fact, in an interview with a Toronto radio station, Marcum expressed interest in returning to the Blue Jays where he had been a member of the organization from when he was drafted in 2003 until being traded to the Brewers after the 2010 season. Marcum said that he would welcome a homecoming to his original team in part because of the coaching and training staff which he had a strong relationship.

    Presumably, Marcum’s past injury history (Tommy John in 2008) and recent flare up in Milwaukee this year (right elbow tenderness with required a trip to the 60-day DL) will likely drop his stock among all suitors. Even the Brewers, who have seen him up close and are just a year removed from a 200-inning season, have maintained radio silence with him and his agent. This probably does not bode well for his immediate financial future. As a result, his price range is likely going to fall towards more of a one-year plus incentives in order to rebuild his value while still in his early 30s (he’ll be 31 in December), at which point he can explore a longer, more lucrative deal on the market.

    The Twins have plenty of holes to fill and, sad to admit, a finite budget, therefore a one-year deal for a pitcher of Shaun Marcum’s caliber would be in Terry Ryan’s best interest.
    This article was originally published in blog: Shawn Marcum could be a fit for the Twins started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I *heart* Parker.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      This reminds me of your analysis of Willingham last year. Marcum is a pitcher who might fit very well in this ballpark and somehow will be fairly cheap.

      Am I to believe that the Twins could baseline Baker and Marcum for a combined amount under $10 million for one year!? Let roll the damn incentives up to $20 million! If they perform great, $20 million would be worth it. If not,$10 or so is not killing the team for one year.
    1. Land Of 10,000 Beasts's Avatar
      Land Of 10,000 Beasts -
      According to Ryan, you aren't getting a pitcher unless it's a multi-year deal. Would Marcum be an exception to that?
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      I would be happy with anything between 1-3 years for Marcum. Obviously 1 is low risk for the ball club, but 2-3 would control his cost in case he stays healthy and outperforms his contract like Willingham did this year.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Marcum will not save the Twins, he is nottin more than what we got.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      Marcum will not save the Twins, he is nottin more than what we got.
      True. Marcum does have two arms, two legs, and is capable of throwing a baseball from a mound.

      Past that, there aren't many similarities between him and the crap the Twins rolled out in the #2-5 spots in the rotation.
    1. Kyle Lobner's Avatar
      Kyle Lobner -
      FYI - It's Shaun, not Shawn.
    1. Ex-Iowegian's Avatar
      Ex-Iowegian -
      So maybe a Pavano lookalike (when at his best - think 2010) or a touch better, if only because of some consistency. Not a true number 1, but mid to top of the rotation guy. 60% wins, 3.7+/- era and 200 innings. That would be better than almost all of what was run out there last year.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Land Of 10,000 Beasts View Post
      According to Ryan, you aren't getting a pitcher unless it's a multi-year deal. Would Marcum be an exception to that?
      I'd give a guy like Marcum two years with a team option for the third.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Did I hear Bruce Chen?

      Maybe the Twins could work out a trade with the Royals for Chen. He's only under contract through 2013 for 4.5 million.
    1. iastfan112's Avatar
      iastfan112 -
      He's not my top choice by any means. Fastball velocity could get even more scary as he ages.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      If Marcum is one of 2-3 solid additions to the rotation, I'd be OK with that. If he's THE new top man of the Twins 2013 rotation, not so OK with it.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      I think Marcum is gonna have 5-10 teams chasing him as a 1-2 yr cheap option & that will drive up his price to 3yrs & put him 'just' out of the Twins range (which they seem to do often)
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Marcum would be a great addition. He'd be the best pitcher we've signed in FA since Kenny Rogers.
    1. Danchat's Avatar
      Danchat -
      Marcum would be a nice addition. If there's competition for him, the Twins are unlikely to get him, however.
      Something tells me he gets away.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      There's bound to be competition for pretty much anyone of value, which means you may have to roll the dice and go a little high for someone. I'd like to have Marcum, but I'm not sure he'd be the guy I would overspend for.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Seriously, don't the Twins have a half dozen Marcums in the organization already? There seems to be no need to commit years to a pitcher that doesn't represent a meaningful change for the future? It's better to commit to one excellent pitcher than two "decent" veterans.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Seriously, don't the Twins have a half dozen Marcums in the organization already? There seems to be no need to commit years to a pitcher that doesn't represent a meaningful change for the future? It's better to commit to one excellent pitcher than two "decent" veterans.
      It's clear that you have no idea how good marcum is. The Twins have ZERO pitchers as good as Marcum. the concern is that he'll be injured and not pitch at all.

      ERA's the last five years
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Yeah I've always been a big fan of Marcum. I'd be content with him as the best addition to this staff, primarily because I think he may be the best pitcher available this offseason if he stays healthy. Yes, that means I think he may be better than Grienke if he can stay on the mound.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Lot of talk about it being a thin market for pitching... That may be true but it doesn't matter because nearly every FA pitcher is better than what we currently have for the two slot.

      Marcum would be a solid signing.
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