06-16-2012, 11:19 PM #1
How to Fix the Starting Rotation.
I have pretty much retired from blogging and leaving negative messages on Twitter that irritates everyone. I really am just enjoying watching the Twins play this season and seeing some of the young talent (Revere, Dozier, Parmelee, & Hendriks) come up from the minors. However, I have to ask all of Twins Daily just one honest question about the starting rotation in 2013. How does GM Terry Ryan plan on fixing it? The Twins minor league farm system is completely depleted when it comes to power arms and capable starting pitchers. The 2011 minor league pitcher of the year was Liam Hendriks and he has looked lost so far in a handful of starts this year. Hendriks has good stuff but at best would develop into a 3 or 4 starter for the Twins when effective. Scott Diamond has been outstanding but for him to be the ace of the staff right now tells you how bad things really are. Diamond figures to be a 4 or 5 starter unless teams start to figure him out. The only other guy that comes to mind is Adrian Salcedo and he has a 5.64 ERA in 22.1 IP at Fort Myers. Salcedo also has a low 5.2 K/9 ratio and that is not very encouraging.
We know the Twins decided to pass on Mark Appel and Kevin Gausman with the #2 overall pick and took Byron Buxton. Perhaps Buxton was the best pick but Appel or Gausman could of helped out the rotation almost immediately. They also drafted in later rounds Berrios, Bard (he won't sign), Melotakis, Chargois, Jones, Duffey, and Martinez. All seven of the above pitchers were relievers in college or high school. They all throw hard but maybe Berrios is the only one with a chance to help out the starting rotation in a few years. Maybe the Twins decide to pay $9.25 million and bring back Scott Baker in 2013. This would be a huge risk considering he just had T.J. surgery. It's possible the Twins offer Francisco Liriano arbitration and he returns for $8 million. This appears to be very unlikely but just throwing it out there. We can assume the 2013 starting rotation will consist of Blackburn, Diamond, Hendriks, and maybe Gibson. This is asking a lot of Kyle Gibson considering he spent little time in Rochester and is not healthy yet.
The last part of this confounding question is free agency. The Twins have never spent big money on free agent pitchers and this is not going to change. They won't open up the vaults and go after potential free agent pitchers like Greinke, Hamels, Shields (if option not picked up) Peavy, or even Edwin Jackson. They would instead prefer to pay retreads like Jason Marquis $3 million and take their chances. It's just impossible to improve the starting rotation next season without massive change. One last point is no way GM Ryan is going to land a top notch starting pitcher using Span, Willingham, Morneau, Doumit, Pavano, and Capps as trade bait. I just don't see a solution to this problem anytime soon.
Last edited by Fanatic Jack; 06-17-2012 at 05:24 AM.
06-16-2012, 11:26 PM #2
06-16-2012, 11:44 PM #3
Bard has not signed yet and wants to return to Georgia Tech for another year.
06-17-2012, 12:06 AM #4
If he doesn't sign do we get compensation for it in next years draft?
06-17-2012, 12:12 AM #5
I hope you keep blogging. I have always enjoyed your podcasts and make it a point to read whatever you put out. You are one of the reasons being a Twins fan is so much fun. You aren't too negative, just realistic.
No question about the Twins having to make a lot of hard decisions about the starting rotation. That is why Ryan makes the big bucks.
06-17-2012, 12:13 AM #6
The situation indeed seems bleak. But there is the possibility of trading for promising minor league prospects. Or maybe offering Bard enough money that he might reconsider.
06-17-2012, 07:35 AM #7
Fantastic Jack----Great post--You hit it on the head! I've been saying this considerable times on various baseball sites for over the last few years. The only way to get out of this mess is for the Pohlads to "step up to the plate" and sign free agent pitchers. Actually, this could have been done already, but they chose not to. Oh, I disagree that Hendricks has good stuff. Dosen't have a good fastball, throws somewhat 3/4-- which kind of flattens out the ball. Has decent control. They want him to locate the fastball first and then the other pitchers. When you have underwhelming stuff, you then should pitch backwards--constantly. Hopefully, he could develop into a 5th starter. Hope I'm wrong on this!
06-17-2012, 08:06 AM #8
Shouldn't Scott Baker come back from surgery and become part of the mix, too? The Twins can see the many empty seats in the bleachers in the outfield. They have to know that will spread to the season ticket base next year. They have no choice - They have to sign at least one top of the line starting pitcher (and probably one legitimate middle of rotation guy, in other words something better than Jason Marquis) in free agency next year. They have to stop the bleeding in the season ticket base in the off-season by showing that they are serious in creating at least an adequate rotation. They have a decent lineup and the relief corps looks adequate - This can be a pretty decent team by just adding one or two starters in free agency.
06-17-2012, 08:41 AM #9
Starting pitching is such a crapshoot it's not hard to understand why the Twins are reluctant to spend big dollars on a free agent starter. Look at guys like Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay who have dropped dramatically this year. Then there is RA Dickey and Lance Lynn who may be your two front runners for Cy Young in the NL. When you factor in the injury rate, spending big money on starting pitching can be an expensive gamble.
There are probably 15 true number 1 pitchers in baseball. If you are not going to get one of them, I wouldn't spend more than $7-9 million on a multi year contract for a free agent starter, and would not go longer than 3 years for any starter period. One year, high dollar contracts can work as your risk is mitigated.
Last edited by Fire Dan Gladden; 06-17-2012 at 08:43 AM.
06-17-2012, 09:04 AM #10
The list of free agents
This list is from baseball prospectus.com. I deleted anyone with a club option as I figured if they were any good the club would pick up the option. If they are injured and the club doesn't pick up the option I figured the likelihood of them helping for the whole year was small. 16 pitchers, how many teams actually competing for the services? The price would be high.
I would have to figure the best way for the Twins for immediate help would be through trade. They would have to hope that some team is enamored with one of the Twins prospects to overpay. Trading veterans at the trade deadline might bring prospects for 2014. Nothing sure.
I think the list was before the season started.
Last edited by old nurse; 06-17-2012 at 09:20 AM. Reason: new info
06-17-2012, 09:15 AM #11
Matt Cain received an extension. If I remember it was the largest deal ever for a RHP.
06-17-2012, 09:19 AM #12
I don't think the rule changed. For the first two rounds if your player does not sign then you get that slot plus one. As there will not be as many compensatory picks I don't know if it means the Twins would get the 43 pick, or a pick before the 2 round starts. I thought when the selected Bard it might be so if he signed, great. If he did not, they could use the money to entice a lower round pick they liked. Slot value was 1.2 million.That could be a better bonus than the player might otherwise get.
06-17-2012, 09:30 AM #13
06-17-2012, 09:54 AM #14
If it comes down to money, Bard will sign. Next year's draft class is deeper. He will go later in the draft. This may also be a reason for the Twins to be firm if they still get a comp pick. It will probably be a better prospect.
I don't think the rotation can be fixed by free agency. It is very unlikely a top free agent will consider signing with the Twins. The Twins would have to overlay in both years and dollars. They can't risk another bad prospect. The way out of thehole is with the development and acquisition of prospects. I understand that more budget money is devoted to development this year. I hope it pays off.
06-17-2012, 10:23 AM #15
I see 3 pitchers on that list for Twins to target. I am guessing on the money needed to sign the pitcher. Colby Lewis 3 year 21-24 million? Pavano if healthy 1 year 5 million plus incentives to 8 million plus option for 2nd year if he pitches 210 innings? Joe Saunders2 year 12-15 million.
I don't know the extent of Pavano's injury but i suspect if he can throw the ball 88mph or better he can get a contract Saunders was offered a 2 year 12 million contract at one point and had to settle for one. He is a #4 starter that can throw 190-200 innings. Lewis is a number 3 starter who can do the same.
I am hoping the Twins sign Greinke and one of the 3 above. Another cheap starter is Milwood. There will be others like him next year.
06-17-2012, 10:53 AM #16
I like to dream as much as the next guy, but isn't Greinke just that - a dream? We're not gonna sign him. He's making 13.5M this year, and there is nothing in his performance this year to suggest he'll have to take a paycut. Somebody will give him a big-money, long-term deal. And even if the Twins (foolishly) tried to compete salary-wise, why would he come here? If I had spent my entire career playing for Kansas City & Milwaukee, I'd be wanting to play for a contender on my next deal. That's not the Twins.
06-17-2012, 11:36 AM #17
On bringing back Scott Baker: I'd do it. Why? Because Baker, unlike Francisco Liriano, already knows how to pitch. Even if Baker has to conserve his repaired arm, he's still got good balance and a clean delivery. He'll throw strikes when he gets back, because he starts and finishes on balance.
Now, like a lot of major league pitchers, Baker generates too much power with his arm, which caused it to fall off. He's going to have to learn to generate power with his legs, torso, shoulders and rhythm, then just flip the ball from the shoulder up. Pitchers with an "easy motion" have been doing that forever. Think Jim Palmer. Baker's motion had an unfortunate late cranking action where he torqued on his forearm, trying to generate speed late in the motion. You can do it, but eventually it will damage soft tissues in your elbow and rotator cuff.
When Baker gets back, I'll look to see if his motion seems easier on his arm. If so, he's got a future. If not, he'll have a year or two before he retires with more damage. He should model his comeback after Jake Peavy, a guy that used to throw like Baker, and now he's got a new career throwing a little softer.
06-17-2012, 12:09 PM #18
They won't open up the vaults and go after potential free agent pitchers like Greinke, Hamels, Shields (if option not picked up) Peavy, or even Edwin Jackson. They would instead prefer to pay retreads like Jason Marquis $3 million and take their chances. It's just impossible to improve the starting rotation next season without massive change. One last point is no way GM Ryan is going to land a top notch starting pitcher using Span, Willingham, Morneau, Doumit, Pavano, and Capps as trade bait. I just don't see a solution to this problem anytime soon.
Old Nurse posted a nice list. Pick two decent guys off the list. Shawn Marcum is solid. So is Colby Lewis or Anibal Sanchez. Re-sign Scott Baker. Stick Kyle Gibson in the rotation."Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand."
06-17-2012, 12:13 PM #19
You have to sign and develop prospects. This is probably a 3- 4 year fix. Outside of Colby Lewis who could benefit from Target Field most of the pitchers mentioned will command more dollars than the Twins will spend. Baker is a good point if you can sign him to a 2 - 3 year incentive laden deal, 2 years club option for 3.
I agree with the person who commented that none of the Twins trade chips will bring a front line starting pitcher or prospects. Except may be Span if a club close to the trading deadline is desperate enough. (Contender or playoff team with an outfield hole due to injury).
Twins still need 2 - 3 starting pitchers, they will be expensive
06-17-2012, 12:15 PM #20
Baker will more than likely be cut, because he has the option year bargaining chip. Then it becomes anything goes. Who is the first person to offer him a multi-year contract at what price. If the Twins could sign him for 2-years for $10 mil and an option year, I might say yes. If Pavano can pitch, he might be worth an option with incentives. Will be interesting to see if he does end up anywheres comes August. You can put a lot of $$$ into a first class starter if (A) He wants to come here which means (B) You better have an overall competitive team on paper. I don't see that happening. This was the year the Twins needed to invest, perhaps, another $20 million and if were right, could've would've competed in the division (weak division) except no one, and I mean no one expected the starting staff to fall to shambles. Would they be better with Francis o Maholm or any of he other names bandied around? If they had purchased just one $15-2o million star player for this year, would he be making a difference right now?
Interesting about Bard. I don't see him going high (the Twins seem to have taken a high gamble on him, classified mainly as a reliever). It would fascinating to ead a story about what goes on in the minds of draftees sometimes.