Shipley: Blackburn aware he might be released
Nick Blackburn's past few years have not gone well at all. Since signing his new contract heading into the 2010 season, he has thrown 408 innings (averaging 136 per season) and has posted a 21-31 record, a 5.56 ERA and a disappointing 186-to-120 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
In that time, among all MLB starters who threw a minimum of 400 innings, he has allowed the highest amount of home runs per nine innings (1.48), possesses the highest ERA (5.56) and FIP (5.24) while missing the fewest bats (89.5% contact rate). When discussing his future in baseball, Blackburn was acutely aware of what could be in store:
Terry Ryan made it sound as if the organization was rooting for him to rebound but will not include him in any long term plans:
"I don't think anybody's going to pick me up because of the money I'm owed, but the Twins can't be happy with the way I've performed. I've been terrible," he said. "I'm very aware that I could be released. I'd be upset, but I can't say I'd blame them with the way I've produced since they gave me a very large amount of money."
"Right now we're going on without him; it's up to him to get back in our good graces," Ryan said. "It's not work ethic, and it's not that he's not a good guy and he's not a good teammate; he's all of the above. Now it's time for him to get the job done on that mound. In fact I'm rooting for him, and not just because we've got a lot invested in him. I'm rooting for him because he's a good guy."I'd like to see him succeed here. We can use his help. I'm positive that he knows all that; hell, it doesn't take much to look at our pitching situation and realize there is ample opportunity, especially for someone with his experience."
If the Twins do indeed cut ties with him prior to spring training, Blackburn's $14 million dollar contract will go down as one of the organization's worst in terms of value received for the salary. Using Fangraphs.com's valuation, Blackburn has provided the team with $1.6 million in value, meaning they "overpaid" by $12.4 million.
The honor for worst contract handed out will remain with Joe Mays. In 2002, the Twins rewarded Mays' 17-13, 3.16 ERA with a four-year, $20 million dollar deal. Injuries and then ineffectiveness led to Mays providing the team with just $4.9 million in value, a net loss of $15.1 million for the Twins.