Twins Mgmt Convincing Themselves Fallback Plan Will Work?
So admittedly, I'm as itchy as everyone else on these forums waiting to see the Twins do something about their starting rotation. Obviously, nothing has happened. We hear continuously that they "are interested" in this pitcher or that pitcher, but no signings have occurred (yet). Most of us realize that the Twins' "interest" is akin to one of us saying that we "are interested" in Heidi Klum or Katy Perry. IOW, it ain't gonna happen because there needs to be mutual interest from both parties. And most of the (good) starting pitchers available on the market aren't willing to play for the Twins at some cut rate price and on a team that (for now) is a non-contender in 2013.
So I had this dreaded realization -- and premature, I certainly realize -- that Terry Ryan and the rest of the Twins braintrust might have already come to the realization that they really aren't in on any of the good quality starting pitchers who are available on the market. They don't stand a chance, either because they don't want to spend the dollars, or there just isn't mutual interest from the pitchers who are out there. So maybe all of this spurned interest has forced TR & Co. to move on to the fallback plan. I certainly hope not, but I can see them sitting in their offices already trying to convince themselves that the following rotation for 2013 will be good enough to get the job done:
1. Scott Diamond
2. Kyle Gibson
3. Liam Hendriks
4. Sam Deduno (or Cole Devries or P.J. Walters)
5. Innings eater street free agent
1. We know Diamond is a lock. Most people agree that he would be a #3 or #4 guy on any other team, but on the Twins he will be their Opening Day starter. Lock it down now, people!
2. Kyle is having a great season in the AFL. Seems fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. He might not start the season in the rotation, but it definitely won't take him long to fall into one of their open slots. The Twins might just try to rush him into the majors -- and yet limit his innings -- if no other options present themselves.
3. TR says (and yes, I'm making this up): "He got better the more we threw him out there. Had some good starts towards the end of the season. Once he got that first win, it seemed to relieve some of the mental pressure on him, and he pitched better. So we'll start the season with him penciled in to the rotation and go from there." (End of made up quote.)
4. Cole is still on the 40-man roster, so maybe he should be listed first. But my point here is that for all three of these guys -- Sam, Cole, or P.J. -- it was their first year as regular starters in the majors. The bright lights might have scared them a little. They might have taken awhile to find their groove. And by the time they did, the rigors of a full season might have started to wear on their arms/bodies a little bit. Maybe there was too much pressure on them in their first year. A 2nd year will give them time to settle in a little more. To be a bit more comfortable from the get-go in the starting rotation. That first year of seasoning will do wonders for them. They all had ERA's under 5, right, once you take out a few shaky starts and look at how they produced once they had settled in and weren't battling injuries? If we can get one of these guys -- whoever looks the best coming out of spring training -- to eat innings and hold an ERA in the low to mid 4.00 range, then with our firepower we can put enough runs up on the board to get a win more often than not. (Again, sounds like I'm quoting TR, but I'm just trying to think like him.)
5. And this slot would be reserved for the perennial bargain bin street free agent. The "gamble" or reclamation project made by the front office that we see every year, or more appropriately, the "innings eater" with a 4.54 career ERA who just might thrive in the friendly confines of Target Field. In the past it was Jason Marquis.... Carl Pavano (when they re-signed him).... Livian Hernandez... R.A. Dickey (yes, this 2012 Cy Young winner was on the Twins once, and signed as a reclamation project from Seattle).... Ramon Ortiz... and, let us not forget...Sidney Ponson. Unfortunately, as we all know (and I just realized yet again as I typed that list), this is "The Twins Way" and someone in this category WILL be signed before spring training begins.
So who will be this year's lucky winner for the #5 spot? Will it be the devil you know -- someone who has been on the Twins before, like Kevin Slowey (yes, the Indians released him and he's out there), Carl Pavano (who is now fully recovered and willing to sign a "prove it" incentive-laden deal), Francisco Liriano (who despite his inconsistency, COULD at times be very good)? Or will it be the devil you don't know, like Joe Saunders, or Jeremy Guthrie (who just re-signed with KC), or Shaun Marcum, or Joe Blanton, or Roy Oswalt, or ????
But my point is made. The Twins can easily (I'm afraid) justify going into 2013 with a rotation that looks pretty close to what you see above. I suspect they will make a trade -- no, I HOPE they will make a trade -- and bring in a quality starter in exchange for one of their Outfielders or Justin Morneau, but I think TR tends to overvalue his trade pieces. So even if he makes that trade, I wouldn't be surprised if he trades one of his major pieces for a bunch of prospects (aka a magic bag of beans) that aren't Major League ready with the hope that he can get by for another year with the 5-man rotation noted above while those prospects gain some seasoning in AAA until they're ready in 2014.
I'm rambling at this point. I'll stop. But I felt the need to vent a little frustration at the lack of activity and at the continued following of "The Twins Way" when it comes to filling in holes with unproven gambles or retreads. I know that I should have hope. And I still do. And I hope that I'm proven wrong. I really do. Maybe 2013 will have a rotation of Scott Diamond and four shiny new pitchers who will stay healthy and lead the charge back to playoff contention. We'll see! :)