• Twins Should Hit Waivers For Pitching Help

    After watching their lineup get decimated by injuries last season, the Twins were hoping they'd have better luck keeping position players healthy in the new campaign. So far, so good in that regard. There have been no broken bones, no bilateral leg weakness, no reemergence of concussion symptoms.

    Unfortunately, pitching has been a different story. The Twins lost Joel Zumaya, their projected top right-handed setup option, and Scott Baker, their potential No. 1 starter, before either threw a pitch in the regular season. Nick Blackburn will miss at least his next start due to shoulder soreness and Glen Perkins has been shut down temporarily due to a strained forearm.

    These injuries are especially unfortunate in that they are hitting players at the top of the depth chart rather than the bottom.Baker, Zumaya, Perkins and Blackburn are established MLB talents that the Twins were counting on to carry weight on a questionable staff. Attempting to fill holes with the same marginal pitchers who were rejected during spring training isn't likely to pay dividends.

    Instead, the Twins should take advantage of an opportunity afforded to them by their status as a retooling American League cellar-dweller.

    Up until the end of April, waiver claim priority is dictated by last year's records, meaning that the Twins get first dibs on any player waived by an AL club. At the beginning of May, the waiver order determinant flips over to this year's records, but the Twins should remain near the top of the list at that point unless they start rattling off wins over the next couple weeks.

    This is an auxiliary benefit of Minnesota's excessive losing in 2011 and early in 2012 that should not be overlooked. At this point in the season, many intriguing names tend to pass through the waiver wire as teams make early roster adjustments.

    There simply aren't many pitchers on the Twins' staff that Terry Ryan should be unwilling to expose to waivers if it means making room for a young hurler with some upside. Two such examples that have been discussed on the Twins Daily forum recently are Rich Thompson of the Angels and Michael Bowden of the Red Sox.

    Thompson, 27, is a right-hander who posted a 3.00 ERA and 9.33 K/9 rate for Los Angeles last year, though a decrease in velocity this spring contributed to his being designated for assignment. Bowden is only 25 and was a Baseball America Top 100 prospect in three consecutive seasons from 2007-09.

    These are just two examples of players with more ability than numerous members of Minnesota's current staff, and there are bound to be more hitting the wire in the coming weeks. The Twins certainly aren't in a position to be looking for short-term bullpen fixes, but if they can bring in a young player with a chance to fill a need for years to come, that would be a big win.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Should Hit Waivers For Pitching Help started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 32 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Bowden is so obviously the right decision.
    1. ossieO's Avatar
      ossieO -
      DFA Nishioka and Mastroianni to make room on the 40 man. 1 will never get claimed, and the other is redundant with Clete Thomas.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Not opposed to either move, but you have to ask yourself, why would the Angels, with their own bullpen issues, put a reliever 'who posted a 3.00 ERA and 9.33 K/9 rate last year' on waivers?

      Bowden seems a no-brainer though.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      To be fair, I'm not sure Bowden will actually hit waivers. Boston might find a trade partner before they need to expose him. But the specific examples are less important than the overall strategy.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      If there are extra cost involved, the Pohlad's won't do it.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      Waiver wire? I guess it could lead to marginal improvement but that clearly is not the answer.

      Here is the problem. We simply do not have a very good team and we need to rebuild. The run from 2002-2009 is over. The Twins need to get Joe Benson and Brian Dozier up, along with Chris Parmalee and Ben Revere. I would not be adverse to seeing them bring up Sano and Rosario either. The concept of moving these prospects up station by station essentially ends in a full scale rebuild. Players can be developed at the major league level without extended, one level per year minor league experience. Two World Series proves that. AS I have stated before, in 1984 Kent Hrbek was the American League MVP runner up. Using the one step at a time approach that the current Twins management use with high school signees, he would have been in AA ball instead.

      Greg Gagne, Kirby Puckett, Tim Laudner, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola, Randy Bush, and Kent Hrbek all essentially jumped from A or AA ball into the big leagues after one or two years in the minors. IT took time to win championships, but they were reasonably competitive relatively quickly.

      Now is the time to follow a new approach and rebuild the team.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      "Blackburn is an established major league talent". Have you ever seen him pitch?? If not for the stupid contract the twinkies wouldve cut him 2 years ago. Blacky has no business being on an mlb roster. The injury was a HUGE break for the twins because Liam is much more talented.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      "Blackburn is an established major league talent". Have you ever seen him pitch?? If not for the stupid contract the twinkies wouldve cut him 2 years ago. Blacky has no business being on an mlb roster. The injury was a HUGE break for the twins because Liam is much more talented.

      Blackburn is hopefully only out one game, and he's had two relatively solid starts, especially considering last year. Every source says there is more movement on his pitches and he's hitting his spots. Whether that will keep up or not is another thing, but he's been the Twins #2 pitcher. Again, that's not saying much, but with Baker going down, Blackburn needs to have a good season. It will be an added bonus if Hendricks and Swarzak pitch well, too, especially with an ailing and flailing Liriano, who does not look like a ML pitcher right now. Twins are going to need them all, but they should definitely be looking elsewhere as well.
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      Agree with twinswon1991---Blackburn is a marginal big-leaguer at best. We need to get rid of this pitch to contact philosophy. It is ok for some--but when you have a hard thrower--let him bust it in there. I think one of the reasons of Liriano's decline is too many thoughts in his mind. Ever listen to Tom Kelly on TV when he talks about hitting the 4 spot,etc. Could be one of the problems Winners had last year--they put too much on his plate. Although, Winners is not a power pitcher--just an example. A power pitcher cannot do this! There has to be a reason why we don't have many of those type pitchers in the system.
    1. ScottyB's Avatar
      ScottyB -
      Who gets sent down today when they put Marquis on the 25 man? Does Liriano have any more options? If so send him down for a rotation of Pavano, Blackburn, Marquis, Hendricks and Swarzak - but keep an eye to the waiver wire - or Oswalt?
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Given how bad the Twins pitching has been, waiver wire cast-offs from other teams should be better than the Twins own cast-offs. But once they get here, would the Twins know what to do with them or how to keep them healthy?

      I had resigned myself to a pretty dismal season this year. The one thing that would make me satisfied about the season is to see them make progress on rebuilding. i do not want to see another summer full of non-moves or last minute moves gaining nothing.
    1. PogueBear's Avatar
      PogueBear -
      Regarding Baker, could the Twins decline next year's option and resign him for, say, 2 years, $3-4 million? I think it would make sense for both parties. The Twins are desperately lacking pitching depth. By re-signing Baker, if he ever returned to form, they would be adding an experienced veteran pitcher on the cheap. For Baker, this injury couldn't have come at a worse time, so I think he'd be willing to consider some, albeit cheap, job security.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      The Twins should have been scouring the waiver wire earlier. Even with their original projected rotation completely healthy they were extremely thin. And maybe I'm in the minority on this, but I'm through crossing my fingers for Liriano. He's done.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by PogueBear View Post
      Regarding Baker, could the Twins decline next year's option and resign him for, say, 2 years, $3-4 million? I think it would make sense for both parties. The Twins are desperately lacking pitching depth. By re-signing Baker, if he ever returned to form, they would be adding an experienced veteran pitcher on the cheap. For Baker, this injury couldn't have come at a worse time, so I think he'd be willing to consider some, albeit cheap, job security.
      Yes they could do that, but I don't see Baker getting more than a 1 year offer for $1M plus incentives.
    1. deanlambrecht's Avatar
      deanlambrecht -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Waiver wire? I guess it could lead to marginal improvement but that clearly is not the answer.

      Here is the problem. We simply do not have a very good team and we need to rebuild. The run from 2002-2009 is over. The Twins need to get Joe Benson and Brian Dozier up, along with Chris Parmalee and Ben Revere. I would not be adverse to seeing them bring up Sano and Rosario either. The concept of moving these prospects up station by station essentially ends in a full scale rebuild. Players can be developed at the major league level without extended, one level per year minor league experience. Two World Series proves that. AS I have stated before, in 1984 Kent Hrbek was the American League MVP runner up. Using the one step at a time approach that the current Twins management use with high school signees, he would have been in AA ball instead.

      Greg Gagne, Kirby Puckett, Tim Laudner, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola, Randy Bush, and Kent Hrbek all essentially jumped from A or AA ball into the big leagues after one or two years in the minors. IT took time to win championships, but they were reasonably competitive relatively quickly.

      Now is the time to follow a new approach and rebuild the team.
      Well, sure, but... Nick's article is all about using the waiver wire to bring in pitching that might be useful in rebuilding, and at the least would be no worse than the marginal bottom-dweller pitchers we have now in terms of immediate usefulness. In fact, he specifically states that rebuilding is his recommended strategy in his conclusion: "if they can bring in . . . young [pitchers] with a chance to fill a need for years to come, that would be a big win."

      This recommended strategy aligns perfectly well with your comments about bringing up position players, yet position players haven't really been our main problem this year. We can bring up all those prospects you mention, and they may indeed field their positions well and potentially hit the cover off the ball on a regular basis, but that won't address the Twins primary need now and in the future: pitching.
    1. SirLoin's Avatar
      SirLoin -
      At this point, do you put Liriano in the bullpen and leave Swarzak in the rotation? Liriano could be an ok one inning guy. At this point, would they be any worse off with that setup?
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Waiver wire--other teams cast offs are not the answer. Terry Ryan may be a great GM but other GMs are not dumb. If a pitcher is put on waivers there is a reason.

      Put Liriano in the pen. Put Hendricks and Swarzak at the top of the rotation and hope they develop. Then draft a good college pitcher this summer who has a chance to help us in 2013 or more importantly 2014. Bring up the kids (Dozier, Benson, etc) and let them grow here. That also means playing Parmalee at 1B regularly--not Morneau--Parmalee is the 1B of the future.

      The Twins are not going to be a contender until 2014 at best. Lets start building that team now.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Highabove View Post
      If there are extra cost involved, the Pohlad's won't do it.
      That's garbage. Pohlads will spend if the baseball staff says it's worth it.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I think that if Liriano can't be sent to the minors, they should swap him and Maloney at least temporarily. I like the way Maloney pitches and though the ERA is high, it's a small sample size. Liriano can try to get his form back in low pressure situations and I think Maloney gives the tam a better chance to win than Fragile Frankie.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by SirLoin View Post
      Liriano could be an ok one inning guy.
      Designating someone a one-inning guy means high leverage innings when you do put him in; no bullpen has a one-inning mopup guy. So then, how comfortable would you be bringing Liriano in for the eighth inning with a one-run lead?

      There's also the question of getting him to accept a one-inning high leverage role. Just because Perkins did, doesn't mean Liriano would; two very different people. If someone doesn't embrace the role, he's not likely to succeed.

      I'm fine with putting Francisco in the pen, if it's to find himself again, during low-leverage situations.
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